The BackList

This is a retired blog. For the new and improved BackList blog, please visit!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Is he for real?

Fantasia's father is suing her publisher, Simon & Schuster, for 10 million libel. According to AP he alleges that her book contains"false, exaggerated, sensational, intentional and malicious untruths."

Is he for real?

Then Publisher's Lunch points out that the book's ghostwriter, Kim Green, who was paid 45,000, talked to Radar Magazine and has come forward because she wants people to know she wrote the book. She's mad that no one consulted her about the lifetime movie about Fantasia's life. Uh, okay.

This is why I have no ambitions to be famous.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The First Book by Vibe's Street Lit imprint is...

Death Around the Corner by C-Murder. Remember 2Pac's song with the same title? I'm sure many authors will feel the same way Samuel Jackson felt about rappers becoming actors. But I have to say I was happy to read parts of C-Murder's author note:

The first thing I did was I started reading a lot. Sometimes I read a book
in one day. So I started getting real interested in everything about books. And
I just started feeling the flow and how different authors express themselves in
a book. I learned a lot by just hands-on experience. Whatever I’m doing, I learn
quick. So that was the first process, just reading and getting interested.

Then I’m like All right, let me just try writing. But I’m my
biggest critic. So then I said, I need some info on this. I need a book that can
teach you how to write a book and write a novel, and all about publishing. I wanna know everything about the game, ya heard me? So I got all that information through the library.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Genesis Press Not Paying Folks?

An article in PW by Calvin Reid says that about 30 authors published by Genesis Press are upset about not being paid royalties and other unprofessional dealings. In the article, author Kayla Perrin told Reid that she didn't receive royalty statements for two years.

Read the entire article because he does talk with the current executive editor. But things sound real shady.

New Radio Show about Books

Kwame Alexander is hosting a new weekly talk radio show called "Word of Mouth." It airs every Sunday from 3-4 pm (EST) on WMET 1160 am, you can hear it live online at, and for you Apple folks, it's podcast also.

The show is about books. Kwame says he's taking the books off the shelves (and getting between the sheets) talking to your favorite authors, finding out the juicy book gossip (it's cutthroat people) and just having a good time at the hottest (and probably the only) on-air book party in the country. Tune in for the first show THIS SUNDAY FROM 3-4 PM.

More info at

Friday, September 22, 2006

When HipHop Grows Up

I attended Kevin Powell's booksigning yesterday at McNally Robinson for his new collection of essays, Someday We'll All Be Free.

It was a really great turnout. And not just quantity but quality. Folks came eager for some knowledge, debate, reflection and answers.

Kevin hit the mic and did a nice short speech, read two short passages from two essays (one about Katrina and one about the 2004 presidential election). He was eloquent and down-to-earth. To me, Kevin represents what can happen when hiphop culture grows up. One can be political and current. One can be a writer and a speaker. One can know the latest about 50 cent and be able to speak in the words of the youth. One can also deconstruct what's wrong with 50 cent and speak it in the words of the youth. One can quote Sonia Sanchez and Gloria Steinman. One can write several books and care about his/her community. When hiphop culture grows up, or shall I say mature, it's an incredibly powerful force.

After Kevin's time, there was a question and answer period. Since the audience was primarily of color, Q&A turned into a debate about the social/political/economical/pyschological ills of our community. Some had some really insightful comments, some wanted to hear themselves speak. And Kevin came prepared to offer genuine suggestions/solutions. The most important one being: what is your plan? He made it a point to say he feels like he's been involved in every kind of debate and is tired of the empty rhetoric (Amen). We know things are dire, so what is your plan?

A woman made a comment that she felt the debate was missing a discussion about love and self-love. Ms. Susan Taylor, of Essence Magazine was in the house and offered a heartful response. That was priceless.

It was a booksigning that turned into a quesi townhall meeting. But I think some folks left feeling motivated/agitated and Kevin sold some books in the process.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Why I do what I do

Why do I spend time blogging about the world of publishing from a black perspective?

Why do I spend even more hours pulling together content for BackList?

Why do I seek out opportuntities to spread the word about the great work of writers of color?

Why do I make it a personal mission to keep books in style? Especially those written by writers of color that may not necessarily get the shine they deserve?

Why do I encourage writers of color to write, publish and promote their books?

Why do I help writers of color promote their books?

Why do I write African American publishing pieces for PW?

Why do others like Ron Kavanaugh, Troy Johnson, Tee Royal, Marlive Harris and countless other folks devote hours upon hours to promoting black books?

Trust me it ain't to get paid.

Surely half of the reason is purely for love. But honestly the other is from a sense of responsibility.

I get so tired hearing people of all races say that they can't find any good books. There are plenty of good books, but many times these books and these authors don't get the shine they deserve. And even with the dedication of BackList and other wonderful sites/people/festivals (check out the upcoming Up South Festival) there's much progress to be made.

And that's why BackList exists. We have to be proactive in finding the good stuff. And believe me there's some good stuff out there from a range of diverse voices. People assume that because I spend a majority of my time writing about books by writers of color that my reading interests only lie there (although they don't assume the same about white bloggers). But I am, and let me be clear, unequivocally committed to spreading the word about good books by writers of color.

Yeah, yeah in a perfect world race wouldn't matter. Books would be published and promoted on the quality of their content not by the color of their author. Let us not fool ourselves. We're not there. It would be a beautiful thing, but we just ain't there.

So why? Why do we need outlets/forces/folks/street teams/big mouths/media/websites/bloggers/literary icons/publishers to publish and promote the works of underrepresented authors?

This is why. Shout out to Fred Joiner for passing on this link. I honestly appreciate Sara's admission about not knowing much about black authors and their books. I'm not interested in getting into to a debate about her personal reading interests. Nor will I jump down her throat because I respect the fact that, despite a few misguided comments, she's initiating a dialogue.

I'm keeping my eyes on the prize with this one. Let's focus on the larger issue that Sara's blog presents. It was good for me to read her words because it 1) confirms what I know to already exist about the lack of visibility for many black authors 2) tells me I have more work to do and that the work is very, very necessary.

I wish I could say that I stumbled upon this passion in a better way than I did. But some of you know the story. There I am an intern in an editorial meeting at a respected, PROGRESSIVE publisher and as I look around I notice there is not one person of color in this meeting. There isn't one person of color deciding what books will publish, not one person of color helping to decide what topics of interest should be written about. You don't have to wonder why people aren't that familar with black authors (except Toni Morrison).

Sara said she'll stop by BackList and I hope she does. Everyone's welcome. And new content coming sooner now that I know we all desperately need it.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Up South Literary Festival

September 29 - October 1 @ the Gatehouse of Harlem Stage/Aaron Davis Hall, Inc.

THREE DAYS & NIGHTS CELEBRATING WORLD CULTURENative, Latino, Asian, African and African American Writers, Artists and Thinkers presenting their best on the Page and the Stage


For more information, visit

Farai Chideya Named Host of News & Notes

Thanks to Mark Anthony Neal for passing along this link. Farai Chideya has replaced Ed Gordon as the new host of News & Notes.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Sign up for my Mediabistro Book Publishing 101 Seminar

I've been wanting to teach a book publishing basics seminar for sometime now. So I'm excited about teaching Book Publishing 101 an upcoming seminar presented by Mediabistro. All D.C. area writers, sign up today!

Tuesday, November 21
6:30-9:30 pm

The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church
1313 New York Avenue, N.W., Park LevelWashington, D.C. 20005

Anyone looking to get their book published.

$65 ($50 for AG members )

If you are a writer, you are not only in the business of writing, you are in the business of publishing. The most successful writers understand how the book publishing industry works and know how to navigate the complex waters of the industry. Education is power. By understanding the realities of publishing (not everyone receives a six-figure advance) you'll be able to find ways to maintain a successful writing career.

In this seminar, you will learn:

*Publishing basics- how the industry works
*The structure of publishing houses
*How to get to know the major players- literary agents, editors, and publishers
*The realities of advances and book sales
*What really goes on in an editorial meeting and how decisions are made about what books are published
*What happens once your book is published
*How to develop a marketing plan for yourself and your book


Capital Book Fest--Come to my panel

I will be on the State of Black Literature Panel at this year's Capital Book Fest.

The panel is from 1:05 to 2:05 pm and features Ms. Marita Golden.

The second annual Capital Book Fest takes place on October 7 at the Cap Centre Plaza in Largo, Maryland from 10:00 am - 7:00 pm.

For more information and the extensive list of participating authors, visit

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Profile of Edward P. Jones in NYT

I'm a big fan of Edward P. Jones's short stories. I really look forward to reading his new collection. When? Not sure. But it is definitely high on the list.

One day I really need to count how many books are on the list. Or would that task be completely futile since the list seems to grow daily?

Back to Jones. There's a great profile of him in the NYT. No really, it is good, connecting Jones's hometown, DC, to his writing.

Also read the review of All Aunt Hagar's Children written by Dave Eggers of the new collection.

Kim McLarin on Interracial Love

Check out Kim McLarin's Modern Love essay in the New York Times. She talks about interracial dating when one person grapples with race and the other person does not. As always, Ms. McLarin is refreshingly open and honest.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Another installment of lit news on AOL Blackvoices

Check out a new installment of literary news from yours truly on AOL Blackvoices's book blog, More than Words.

This time the picture of me is huge. Yikes.