Okay, I’ve occasionally run my mouth at conventions about the burgeoning crop of black horror writers, what we can do to increase diversity, and how the horror market needs to quit whining about the shrinking audience and instead actively expanding its audience. You know, rather than decry books like the Dark Dreams series as somehow “reverse racism” (oh, yeah, I LOVED those discussions), embrace them as the opportunity that they are. For example, when I spoke to Jason Sizemore at Apex Books about marketing Orgy of Souls, I asked how he planned on marketing to the black audience. I fully expected something along the lines of “we published you”. Instead, there was a gentle glow about his face, his head tilted to the side (he gets like that when he’s in love, and in this case the object of his affections was … more sales) and with a lilt to his voice he asked “what’s our next step?”

With help from my friends (another random shout out to RAW Sistaz), I’ve been posting resources like Black Literary sites, places folks can send their books to market themselves better and build new audiences. I’ll be posting a similar list of black book expos and conventions for folks to begin to add to their convention schedule. And I’ve compiled a list of black book stories which folks are free to contact me to receive.

In addition, I recently received this blog which I have permission to re-post.

My Name is Greg Fisher and I’m the Undead Rat.

I’m a a librarian assistant at the Cleveland Hts.-University Hts. Public Library. I work 20 hours at the main library on Lee Rd. and 20 hours at the Noble Neighborhood Library (a branch). So I get the experience of working at a branch and working at a main building.

Today I wanted to talk about Maurice Broaddus and an idea mentioned at last year’s Context 21 convention.

He was on a panel — I think the topic was ‘is the horror genre dead?’ — and he mentioned the book he’d written with Wrath James White called Orgy of Souls. Orgy was published by Apex in trade paperback format at a reasonable price. Maurice said that he thought Apex had done a great job marketing the book in all the available horror fiction venues but . . .

They hadn’t explored marketing the book in any African American venues.

Not to black book discussion groups, not to any black book-of-the-month clubs, black book review magazines and online journals nor the blogs. Not a fault of Apex, it just didn’t occur to them.

I heard what he said and it got me thinking (and that can be a really bad thing . . . )

At the Noble branch we have a horror section (it’s still considered an experiment although last month it circulated books better than the cookbook section) and an African American fiction section. An ideal set up to test his theory.

I purchased, for Noble, two copies of Orgy of Souls, Succulent Prey and The Book of a Thousand Sins both by Wrath James White, as well as two copies of Bad Blood and Bite the Bullet both by L. A. Banks. I would have liked to have purchased more books but my budget limited me.

Still, it’s enough for an informal test so . . .

One set of each was cataloged HORROR while the other set was cataloged as AF-AM FICTION. Currently both sets are listed as New Books so they’re in special promotional bins — one bin for new horror novels and the other bin for new African-American novels.

All this year I will monitor how many times each book goes out. I’ll periodically report on it here in Horror Mall’s The Haunt and send Maurice a copy for him to distribute.

It’s not scientific since I have no control group or enough diversity (i.e., only 3 authors) in my study group but it might give us a clue how to better promote the horror genre.

And perhaps someone running a bookstore might pick up this idea and run with it? I’d love to hear about it if you do.

I’m all about continuing to experiment. Not every effort will be successful and folks may not see immediate dividends, but we’ll all be the better for it.

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.