Having a number of writing projects on the go and working full-time does not leave me much time for this, but I have decided to make a concerted effort to at least get about to more literary events which will enable me to learn more about what feels like ‘the publishing maze’.
At the tail end of 2013, I attended a literary event entitled, ‘The State of Black Publishing in the UK’. It was organised by Words of Colour Productions.
The panel consisted of four individuals from the publishing world. They were: Patsy Antoine, former editor at HarperCollins and former commissioning editor for Random House, Steve Pope former editor of The Voice newspaper and co-founder of X Press, Kadija (George) Sesay the founder of SABLE LitMag and series editor for the Inscribe imprint at Peepal Tree Press. The fourth was Jacob Ross, whom I have learnt a great deal from in writing workshops I attended in the earlier stages of my writing. I discovered at this meeting that he was also a former editor of Artrage Intercultural Arts magazine and an associate editor for fiction at Peepal Tree Press.
At the event, Joy Francis, Executive Director of Words of Colour Productions, informed the audience, that there is a long history of Black publishing in this country. However, one of the key messages I took away from the event was that Black publishing in the UK is next to non-existent or at least struggling to exist.
(Did anyone notice the word ‘former’ attached to the titles of most of the panelists?)
A member of the audience said they felt there was a lack of trust on the part of talented Black writers towards Black publishing houses and also a lack of collaboration and mutual support between the two.
Even before attending the event, questions which sometimes crossed my mind (and still do) are:
1. Would Black writers benefit from having Black publishers?
2. Do Black publishers have a better understanding and appreciation of the work of Black writers and hence are more likely to publish their work?
3. Is getting one's work published simply a question of whether or not one's writing ‘meets the mark’ i.e. is interesting and of a high standard, therefore making it publishable and marketable?
Very intriguing, I’m sure most of you will agree. This is something I will return to again in future blog entries.
Do you have any thoughts on this?