The African American Writer's Handbook: How to Get in Print and Stay in Print

Robert Fleming, Author
Robert Fleming, Author One World $12 (352p) ISBN 978-0-345-42327-6
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With publishing house conglomeration, bestsellers and the bottom line occupying agents, editors and others who used to have more time to shepherd writers through the publication process, handbooks increasingly fill the gaps. In one of the first targeted specifically to the burgeoning numbers of African-American writers, Fleming provides not only basic information but also the historical context surrounding the publication of books by black authors, profiles and interviews with writers and industry veterans, and genre specifications. During the 1990s, African-American publishing shifted from an emphasis on literary fiction and nonfiction to commercial fiction (e.g., Terry McMillan's Waiting to Exhale) and inspirational nonfiction (e.g., Iyanla Vanzant's spiritual self-improvement books). Journalist, critic and author Fleming (Wisdom of the Elders) succeeds in his goal of arming new writers with tips about effective query letters and proposals, dealing with agents and editors (including working with black and white professionals), self-publishing and electronic rights. Ranging capably over a wide field, he gives advice about self-promotion that will educate even a seasoned author, although he doesn't clearly discuss how to work with a public relations consultant, nor does he mention independent editors as an option for writers in need of extra attention. Surprisingly, he refers to the Internet mainly as a research tool, giving less attention to its potential as a vehicle for publicity or electronic publication. Despite these quibbles, the rich context and down-to-earth advice he brings to the publication of books by black authors is well worth the price of this comprehensive guide. Agent, Victoria Sanders. (June)
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