--I once served simultaneously as an advance reader for both The Book of the Month Club and for a prominent African American literary agent in New York City. For those unaware, The Book of the Month Club was and is a subscription service which selects books to present to its members.* [See note below for further information.] An advance reader is a person who screens a book prior either to publication (in the case of the literary agent) or prior to being picked up by The Book of the Month Club for presentation to its members. In both cases, my job was to provide a review of the book which would be compared to the assessment of other readers to help determine the suitability of the book for publication or inclusion. Also in both cases, I screened books by writers of African Descent (mainly American). I learned from these experiences that the very best novels the literary agent presented to me were never published, while what I considered sub-par novels were often the ones published. In the same vein, what I read for The Book of the Month Club was always of low quality. It became clear that American publishers routinely pander to the "lowest common denominator" when it comes to work by people of African Descent. The very best material rarely sees the light of day.
Now, since I was never privy to the decision makers, I can neither affirm nor deny that this is done intentionally (although I suspect this is the case). Nor can I state with any certainty whether decisions to foster the lower quality of novel by people of African Descent is something relegated to our writing or if this prevails across all ethnicities/ideologies (although I suspect this is the case). What I can attest to is this seems to be a fact. I read many truly exquisitely written novels that never went any further, despite my earnest entreaties to the contrary. This seemed true particularly for the literary agent, although I believe the agent was accommodating the prevailing trend rather than participating in setting it. It should be noted that, by the time books made it to The Book of the Month Club for consideration, presumably what I would have considered the best had already been weeded out. It became clear to me that there must be a wealth of truly remarkable writings by people of African Descent still out there which should be made available to the public. Truegalu.com is our attempt to achieve this goal.
We make no bones about our intention to deliver the highest quality unpublished work by black people to the public. The word 'galu' is a Papa New Guinea word meaning "gall". It takes a bit of true gall to break through. Years of study at some of the leading PhD programs in literature in America, and over 20 years practice in workshopping fiction writing, have equipped me with an ability to identify writing of superior quality. You be the judge.
Wendell Edward Carter Co-Publisher (with WB.)
*The Book of the Month Club (founded 1926) is a United States subscription eCommerce book club that offers a limited number of new books each month to members. Books are selected and endorsed by a panel of judges, similar to how the club originally operated when it began in 1926, and members can also discuss the books with fellow members in an online discussion forum .
The Book of the Month Club is part of a larger company called Bookspan that runs many book clubs in the United States and Canada. It was formerly the flagship club of Book-of-the-Month Club, Inc. In 2000, that company merged with Doubleday Direct, Inc. The resulting company, Bookspan, was a joint venture between Time Warner and Bertelsmann until 2007 when Bertelsmann took over complete ownership. Approximately six weeks after it acquired complete ownership of Bookspan, Bertelsmann initiated a major overhaul of the book club business, a process that eliminated 280 positions, or about 15% of its workforce of 1900. Many of the specialty book clubs, such as the conservative book club American Compass, were eliminated. [Wikipedia]