Racism In Publishing? Seressia Glass Has Her Say...
When did you first get published?
What genre do you write in?
Romance: paranormal, multicultural, interracial
What race/colour are the majority of your characters?
Almost all are partially of African-American descent
How is your work marketed?
My current work is marketed through largely AA venues (Booking Matters, Black Issues Book Review), and my own website though it was advertised in Romantic Times Magazine as well.
Where are your books generally shelved?
If one can find them, they are in African-American fiction/literature.
Where would you prefer your books to be shelved?
Both romance and AA ficiton would be nice if such an area exists in the store.
Have you been subjected to direct/indirect racism from editors, publishers etc in your publishing career?
No, other than to say that AA dark paranormal is a tough sell.
How do you feel about Oprah Winfrey’s book club- Do you think she could do more to promote AA authors?
She has chosen several AA mainstream fiction and literature authors. She's never going to choose a romance though. Her perogative.
Though while she may not like rap and its unflattering portrayals, she continues to ignore a genre that shows women of all backgrounds in a generally posiitve and fulfilling light.
Do you believe that publishers are more ambivalent when it comes to marketing AA books?
I think they push what they think is hot or going to be. For AA fiction, that seems to be the thug-a-licious books, or urban fiction. 50 cent had 3 books on a table in a recent Borders I visited. In fact, for Black History Month, the table was all AA fiction but only two titles were romance, and only four could be considered literature or mainstream fiction.
Which race groups would you say bought the majority of your books?
As for the interracials, a lot of diverse people have purchased those. Some have filtered to my straight AA romances, but the IRs sell more.
What do you think needs to change in order for more white people to read African American books?
Take the people off the covers? I hate people covers no matter what I'm reading. Just give them a try. Thumb through them in the bookstore. Of course, they have to be able to find them first.
Have you ever been snubbed by white readers/white authors during a signing?
It's been mixed. They'll pick up the book, look at the cover people, then put it back down. Unless it's interracial. If they actually flip through, they usually find somehting that catches their eye, and it gets purchased. Paranormals, though, the readers don't care about race. Imagine that.
Have you ever been overlooked by an editor in favour of a white author?
Have you ever been asked to tone down, or increase the ethnicity within your books?
No, but I write for Multi-cultural publishing houses. I have had readers get mad because my characters weren't Black enough.
Are you familiar with Millennia Black’s lawsuit against Penguin? If so, what do you think her chances of winning are?
It depends on how much money she is willing to give to the cause. It will drag on for years. It will be difficult unless she's got documentation.
How do you think her victory will affect the way AA authors are treated within the industry?
I honestly don't think it will make a large difference in general. It will make a difference for her and I hope she's successful. I don't think a sea change will emerge from a victory for her though.
What are your thoughts on niche marketing? What do you think the limitations are if any?
Niche marketing gets us to the majority of our readers, so I really don't have a problem with it. Hopefully some of those readers are telling their white friends about this great story they read.
Going to Slam Jam and meeting up with bookclubs that have read my books is a lot of fun—and a lot less stressful than being one of 900 authors at RWA's national convention.
Do you think this will still be a controversial subject in five years time, or do you think major changes would have been made by then?
I don't think there will be major changes, expect perhaps urban fiction will go through a winnowing period and only the best of the lot will remain, and in smaller numbers.
Because of that, perhaps authors will no longer be asked to urbanize their characters.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.
If you want to learn a little bit more about Seressia and her books, you can access her website here. (Love the look of this website)
Coming up next, Raine Weaver.