Now that I’ve got your attention, let me keep going. Then, I’ll get back to the free part again.
Rosalyn Story wrote a well-reviewed book, Wading Home—Washington Post, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, and Essence reviewed this book about a community and family in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It was Story’s third book of prose and her second novel, but apparently, it didn’t sell as well as it should. At all.
I hear y’all saying, “Well, Honorée, if this book was so good, why didn’t it sell? There’s a dead cat on the line somewhere here.”
But you already know Story’s story because it’s an old one.
Remember, Zora Neale Hurston? She was the award-winning author of The Black Woman’s Second Bible, Their Eyes Were Watching God. Well, she died in poverty and her work had to be resurrected by industrious English university professors and Alice Walker.
And then there are all those good Black films that didn’t even get nominated for Oscars, let alone win, like Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing, Kasi Lemmons’s Eve’s Bayou, and Daughters of the Dust by the genius Julie Dash.
Can I get a “dang” here?
Somehow, it takes the rest of the world fifty to a hundred years to catch up with good Black art. But now, we Black folks have the internet, and guess what? It’s easy to spread information about Black art. If you’ve got a computer and can pay $19.99 a month for internet access, you, too, can be part of a new, self-empowered, and internet-based Black Arts Movement.
But here’s the thing to learn from the previous BAM that took place in 1960s and 70s: We got the power in our hands, y’all. Trust.
But first, we have to free our minds of the attitude that if White folks don’t put us in the paper, we can’t make a decent career in the arts. That’s just not true. The internet is now the extension of the African American grapevine—just like dinner in the church hall after Sunday service, the beauty parlor, and the barber shop.
That doesn’t mean that we can’t and won’t appreciate when White folks put us in the paper, too. Don’t get me wrong, now, because every little bit helps. And I like to see my name in the paper and so does my mama, by the way. But it does mean that we have a long tradition of having our own publicity and news outlets in the Black community, both non-traditional and traditional.
In addition to those three places I mentioned, we had Ebony and Jet magazine, too. Collectively, those five venues were all you needed, back in the day, to get your hustle on.
I’ve been talking about this issue for a while with a very good friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous, but suffice it to say, I think we need to be talking more about it with more self-awareness. There are pockets of us who are self-aware about what the positive uses of the internet, but too many of us Black folks only use the internet to keep up with the myriad ways Beyoncé flaunts her glorious butt cheeks in glamorous locales, or to start beefs with people (with ridiculous online aliases) that we’ve never met and never will. More of us Black folks need to start understanding our power to extend the “community” beyond our physical neighborhoods, and how that can be both a good and bad thing.
But for now, it’s all about the good.
So let’s spread the word about this sister’s fabulous, sassy book, and it will be easy for you to do, because until February 28–the end of Black History Month– her book is available from her publisher for free. That’s right. YOU CAN GET THIS SISTER’S NOVEL FOR NO MONEY. I told you at the beginning of this post that you were going to get free swag.
Do I ever lie to y’all? I think you know the answer to that question. So you also know I’m not lying when I say that within ten minutes of finding out this information on Tayari Jone’s Facebook page, I downloaded this book, because y’all know I sure enough love me some free swag.
Here’s what to do.
One, download the book for free by clicking this link right here and support this sister’s publicity of her hardworking art hustle.
And then, two, once you read this book, go on over to the Amazon page for the novel and write her a nice review, when you get the time. (I recently found out that this helps Amazon–and other prestigious venues like The New York Times bestseller list–choose sales ranks, in addition to how many people actually buy the book.)
Then, three, join Good Reads and list it as one of your books, so other (non-Black) people can start reading the book and spreading the word in the circles of their friends.
And finally, four, if you have a blog, write a short piece about the book, and include a link to the book’s Amazon and publisher pages. There are some fabulous Black writers blogs out there–look on the right side of this page and scroll down, and you’ll find links to several of them– but you can start your own, too. In many cases, it’s free to start your own blog.
And keep doing numbers two, three, and (if possible) four for each Black book you read that you think is good–and that you spent money on– whether it is poetry, fiction, or non-fiction. It sounds simple, and it is–but if every one of us did that for every Black book we read that we liked, we could boost sales, bit by bit. And we could help kick (slowly and to a painful death) that rumor that we Black folks don’t read “real” literature and we don’t support it with our money either.
I’m feeling empowered today, y’all, and I hope you are, too. Let’s get this thing going.