Black Literary Agency Broadens Opportunities For Authors of Color

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Since book publishers have a difficult time marketing, publicizing and promoting quality books by African-American authors, seasoned literary agent Regina Brooks is stepping to the plate to answer this call after assembling a diversified team of seasoned veterans to maximize more opportunities for authors of color. 

“As a community, we’ll read mainstream authors because their books are well publicized and marketed,” said Brooks, founder of the Brooklyn-based Serendipity Literary Agency, LLC. “We’re interested in all literature but people have to know the books exist. Our goal is to acquire more literary and commercial projects from people of color around the world.   Our community grew up on quality literature, reading authors like Jamaica Kincaid and J. California Cooper, but those type of authors have grown silent  in the current marketplace. Our agencies  focus is to find and support authors who  respect and understand the true craft of writing and are willing to aggressively promote their work.”

Among Brooks’ foot soldiers are Senior Agent Karen Thomas, a former executive editor at Grand Central Publishing who’s worked with heavyweights like Carl Weber, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Teri Woods, Tyrese Gibson and Karrine Steffans; Associate Agent Dawn Michelle Hardy, founder of Dream Relations who’s helped launch the careers of numerous self-published authors using local and national media from The New York Times to Good Morning America to MSNBC; and Associate Agent Foladé Bell, whose experience includes sales, negotiation and management skills after having worked at places such as Reed Elsevier, Business Wire and Radio & Records.

Shanta Inshiqaq, former international sales manager for Penguin Group Inc., has a direct relationship with bookstores in the Caribbean and other international markets.  She’ll work to broaden opportunities in those markets.

“Sometimes our books are not aggressively sold in those marketplaces,” said Brooks. “I want to make sure titles that I represent, their constituencies, have access to our books. That’s going to mean a difference for some of my authors selling between 10,000 books and 20,000 books.”

Social media strategist Arielle Loren comes aboard to help writers increase their visibility and platforms pre and post publication.

“You can’t just come to an agent with a great idea anymore. You have to have a built-in audience who are eagerly wanting to hear what you have to say,” said Brooks. “That’s why you see a lot of celebrities getting their books published. But there are awesome writers who don’t have built-in audiences. If you come to us with a great idea and a limited platform, my social media strategist can help you develop a platform so publishers can get interested in buying your book.”

With national bookstores like Borders closing across the country, it should come as no surprise that the eBook market is the wave of the future. And Brooks is ready.

“They’re anticipating that 60% of books will be sold as eBooks. People who have purchased devices are buying their books online,” she said.  “This opens up an opportunity for us to look at the way that we develop material. It’s an opportunity for us to publish different types of books. The enhanced eBook market is going to be a strong one. Independent bookstores are still going to exist, but I think as a community we’re going to have to come up with other ways to see our authors, kind of like in the music industry.”

Herself a published author, Brooks penned the how-to-book Writing Great Books For Young Adults (Sourcebooks). A forthcoming book is in the works, You Really Should Write Your Book: How To Write, Sell and Market Your Memoir (St. Martin’s Press).

Brooks also formed a partnership with Marva Allen, founder of Hue-Man Bookstore, and long-serving literary agent Marie Brown to form an imprint called Open Lens. Their first book was Randall Robinson’s critically acclaimed novel Makeda.

“Our team is looking for authors and books that entertain, are buzz worthy and those that provoke readers to take ACTION to better themselves.”

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