Monday, January 18, 2010

Publishers In Agreement On How to Market the "New Negro" Literature

Tracy Morgan memoir: I Am The New Black

Helena Andrews (black, female) memoir: Bitch is The New Black

Paul Mooney Memoir: Black Is The New White (points for originality!)

Disclosure: my book WAS gonna be called .... Black Is The New Black.

what's up with that? ... my original title was deemed a little dangerous, and this was a suggested alternative. i wonder if that's the case with the others. it's sort of whatever, sort of an interesting bit of ethnocultural groupthink by publishing pros who have to determine the best ratio of risk/reward with books on race.


  1. I love your blog.

    This post makes me think of Web 2.0 for some reason. How to market the 'new' version of something (or someone) that is still present?

  2. I'm surprised there's not an Obama book with that title.

  3. Anonymous1/18/2010

    The Tracy Morgan memoir reads like a 30 Rock bit, where Tracy Jordan is just telling oddball stories to be transcribed and published.

  4. I just signed up to have Amazon tell me when your book is available. Can't wait! What was the dangerous title you wanted?

  5. Anonymous1/19/2010

    ...The "is the new black" has definitely been a hyper-mainstream part of the zeitgeist for a while now... The pun was irresistible... but the thinking behind it? It seems like publishers, who I can only assume are mostly white or have white folks behind them, want to signal a shift, the same way on a deeper level there has been backlash against practices that promote diversity, the decline of affirmative action, etc -- some white people believe they are "oppressed," that the tables have turned. The "post-race" shift is mythological, of course, but if it exists anywhere, it's not, obviously, in largescale economic realities, education, or the criminal justice system, but on the surface level of pop-culture and media -- the face of a black president, the hegemony of hip hop/rap -- so "is the new black," a term referring originally to fashion, feels like the right pitch. A claim, basically (spurious) that the tables have turned racially, but to (as you point out) risk-averse publishers, appropriately light. ...that being said, the implications of the sentiment -- that being black is ultra-cool *NOW*-- seem ahistorical -- "being black" has been "cool" since at least the '60s. In fact, words like "cool" and "hip" -- even the concepts -- wouldn't exist in an all-white America. Furthermore, being "the new black" never helped black people in America much before -- or signaled a deeper change.

  6. Anonymous1/21/2010

    well if you take all these titles together the new black is: absurd, bitchy, white and um black?
    that seems about right to me.

  7. Nobody's taken White is the New Black yet, that could be your "niche."


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