The Los Angeles Wave looks at the struggles that black authors are facing in getting their voices heard, and how local bookstores and publishers are working to overcome these barriers to entry.
“Black bookstores have the greatest ability of breaking [in] new authors. Fifteen to 16 years ago we got a book called ‘Tapping the Power Within: A Path to Self-Empowerment for Black Women’ by Iyanla Vanzant and the black bookstores knew immediately this was going to be a great book. It did very, very well and she ended up signing with Simon & Schuster and becoming a bestselling author,” said James Fugate, owner of Eso Won Books. “It may not have happened if you hadn’t had black bookstores.”
Fugate recalls when McMillan began contacting black bookstores in the late 1980s about “Mama,” her debut novel. “That helped pass the word along,” he said. “Even with Zane, or the ‘Coldest Winter Ever’ by Sista Souljah, I think black bookstores knew well before anybody else that [these] were going to be big books and really promoted them.”