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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Terry McMillan mad as heck over superhead books
    Posted: Oct 10 2007 at 4:05pm

The following email, written by Terry McMillan, was forwarded to me this afternoon.

I emailed Terry and asked if it was okay to post the her email shown below in blue.

The frustration and anger in this email is palpable.


Our exhange follows:

From: Terry McMillan
Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2007 6:09 AM
To: karen hunter, louise burke, carolyn reidy

Subject: Emailing: RAY-J Tell All Memoir 'Sex Machine' in the Works

The three of you, along with the other publishing houses who have been kind enough to add “special” urban/ghetto imprints are all about to see a major shift in your ongoing and relentless publication of exploitative, destructive, racist, egregious, sexist, base, tacky, poorly-written, unedited, degrading books. Like a number of Black bookstores who are starting to refuse to sell this trash, I, along with other Black literary organizations, supporters, book clubs as well as writers are about to make our opinions known, to aid in making clear to the public just how demeaning these books are and what it means to our community.

It is sad that it took years of selling trashy sexually-driven as well as tell-alls before so-called black writers were ever allowed in the Big Publishing Houses’s Little Rooms enough to FINALLY get our own imprints. Why hasn’t Walter Mosley or Edwidge Dandicat or Barak Obama or Terry McMillan or Jamaica Kincaid among others ever offered our very own imprints, I wonder?

I’ve heard that Simon & Schuster has even gotten some of its authors out of jail just to go on a book tour. Karen, you should be ashamed of yourself, but like Jonathan, I can tell that you (along with your sister-in-law Wendy Williams) are all cut from the same cloth. You care nothing about pride as a Black woman or you wouldn’t align yourself or even put your name on some of the ugliest words and stories possible. You are an embarrassment and for someone going around bragging about being a Pulitizer Prize winner (which I understand you are not, that you were associated with other writers at the Daily News who actually deserved it) you should be ashamed of yourself for relying on such a prestigious literary prize to co-write some of the despicable and outrageously base books that you can. I find it sad indeed when a Black woman of your so-called reputation was willing to help my ex-husband write a tell-all describing “the juicy details” about our so-called relationship. You know he is a liar and a thief and that he played me and you didn’t care. As long as you got paid, and this is precisely why no one (last week I understand according to Book Scan a whopping 600 copies had sold nationwide, and only 87 on the entire west coast) is buying it. Karinne “Superhead’s” book is tanking just like Balancing Act, and RJ’s book is not going to fly either.

This is the beginning of a brand new trend, so be prepared for it. Years ago white folks bought us and worked us as slaves. You’re doing the same exact thing. The only problem is that back then we didn’t go willingly. Malcolm X and Dr. King and Rosa Parks, among others, didn’t fight for us to get to This, and this is precisely why you are beginning to see a lack of support for these disgusting books.

So Karen Hunter, you can put your name on them if you want to, and you along with Louise and Carolyn have already been reading on Black Voices (among others) what they have to say about Simon & Schuster (but they’re referring to all of the Houses with these ghetto imprints) among other sites, how people are getting fed up with these books, even the “reluctant readers” are bored with who’s having sex with whom and degrading tell-alls that show black people in a negative and stereotypical light, have no respect for these type of books, for you Karen Hunter (“run the other way when you see her name”) and you have already seen the beginning of downward spiral in your sales department, I’m sure. It’s going to continue, because with all things exploitative, the reign always comes to a halt.

Jonathan’s reign of terror is. And the publishing industry’s exploitative role in all of this is too. And Karen, there are only so many scandals out there, and people are getting tired of reading about others’ sex lives. Why don’t you write about yours. Give ‘em something to talk about.

Sincerely,
Terry McMillan



From:
troy@aalbc.com
Sent: Thursday, October 04, 2007 4:56 PM
To: terry mcmillan
Subject: Is the Letter you wrote an "Open" Letter

Hi Terry,

We met briefly at the Smile Book party on Tuesday. We were on the street speaking and you asked me; was I was Thumper.

I saw the letter you wrote complaining about the exploitative tactics of publishing houses, in general, and Karen Hunter in particular.

I wanted to share this message on my discussion board. Yours is an important voice and folks forget there are actually real people behind the tell all books that are so popular today.

Let me know if it is OK to post the letter on my discussion board. I will not post the names or anyone’s email addresses.


From: Terry McMillan
Sent: Thursday, October 04, 2007 11:51 PM
To:
troy@aalbc.com
Subject: RE: Is the Letter you wrote an "Open" Letter

I do remember you! Of course!

I don’t really mind your using this except this was an e-mail and not written for publication. It has errors in it: tense and grammatical. I wrote it quickly and without going back to edit, as should be obvious. But what the he--, go ahead.** News certainly does travel FAST, doesn’t it? I sent this e-mail to the three addressees and I have NO IDEA how it managed to eek its way out of Simon & Schuster’s offices. Louise Burke is the publisher of Pocket Books (as you probably know) and Carolyn Reidy was the Publisher of S&S but is now CEO (she makes my side ache and I threatened to sue them – you want to see some letters !! – it’s the reason balancing act tanked, I scared the daylights out of them. I don’t’ have a slave mentality and they don’t intimidate nor scare me. I even called them bailsbondswomen who gave my ex- his get-out-of-jail free card. They make me sick and I’m sick of them.

**However, I also initially responded to the story on www.blackvoices, which may be what started this, not sure, but I felt bad about how I lashed out at Karen, especially since she’s not singularly responsible for this, which is the reason why I also apologized to her personally, and on the same blog. I did NOT however apologize nor rescind what I said about the publishing industry and the books, etc, just for pointing the finger at her publicly. It was insensitive and I regret the manner in which I did it, and I told her and the public.
I would appreciate your putting the apology behind this piece if would like to use it, because my admission of my own bad behavior is just as important as pointing the finger.

Best regards,
Terry McMillan

P.s. the whole point was to get the publishers to take notice that there time is up. Karen is merely a conduit. Unfortunately she seems to be unaware of this. Or perhaps she is.



From: Terry McMillan
Sent: Thursday, October 05, 2007 00:49 AM
To:
troy@aalbc.com
Subject: RE: Is the Letter you wrote an "Open" Letter


Hi Terry,

I appreciate your willingness to share. This is an important cultural issue. Your knowledge and experience in publishing plus being the target of a tell-all book gives you a very unique perspective.

I wrestle with related issues myself. I promote, and sell books I know are not contributing anything of value to the culture, but even worse, may be doing us harm. I attempt to balance the negative titles with books anyone would be proud of but, but I often wonder, if that is enough.

I’m not as confident as you are that the publishers time is up. I see things getting worse before they get better…

Perhaps Smiley Books will contribute to making the difference.

And yes news does travel fast when it is, like this message, interesting, important and sensational.



Peace,
Troy
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 10 2007 at 4:33pm
Interesting....
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 10 2007 at 4:40pm
Thanks for sharing the emails. I love Terry M.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 10 2007 at 4:53pm
I guess the publishing industry is the same as the record industry.
Terry still mad at Jonathan but can ya blame her, but I feel her 100% though. I'd like to see a lot more black authors get published and promoted instead of Superhead and the like.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 10 2007 at 5:27pm
Originally posted by hennypenny hennypenny wrote:

I guess the publishing industry is the same as the record industry.
Terry still mad at Jonathan but can ya blame her, but I feel her 100% though. I'd like to see a lot more black authors get published and promoted instead of Superhead and the like.
Me too .There are plenty of talented writers out there and we glorify the trashy ones such as Supahead,(if i can call her a writer),Wahida clarks and other urban ghetto fiction writers that most of the times demolish black people pride filling their books with negative stereotypes and hyper sexualized stories.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 10 2007 at 5:33pm
Originally posted by TrueEssence TrueEssence wrote:

Originally posted by hennypenny hennypenny wrote:

I guess the publishing industry is the same as the record industry.
Terry still mad at Jonathan but can ya blame her, but I feel her 100% though. I'd like to see a lot more black authors get published and promoted instead of Superhead and the like.
Me too .There are plenty of talented writers out there and we glorify the trashy ones such as Supahead,(if i can call her a writer),Wahida clarks and other urban ghetto fiction writers that most of the times demolish black people pride filling their books with negative stereotypes and hyper sexualized stories.


That is exactly why I don't understand the big deal with Superhead. Blacks  especially black women have enough negative stereotypes going against us to begin so what is the point of reading the book or supporting these type of books.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 10 2007 at 8:14pm

Thanks for posting.  I remember a time when I could go in the Afro-American Fiction section in the book store and have a field day....but the past few years I almost feel embarrassed while looking for a good book to read. The covers of these books are ridiculous. So raunchy that I have to peep over my shoulders before pulling a book off the shelf and hide the titles if some one walks pass.  I don't don't want nobody seeing  me picking up  "Kiesha's baby daddy." or "Hood Rat Fantasies." Sorry. I don't want a book with a half-naked stripper on the front.  I can't even imagine going to the register and putting that mess down on the counter. I've read some of these books before........they can be entertaining to a certain degree....but it's like they truly outnumber the classic fiction that I'm used to such as Toni Morrison or J. California Cooper.  And it's sad.  Until reading that letter, I didn't dawn on me that these authors were given their own imprint..........

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 10 2007 at 8:24pm
what do u mean given their own imprint?
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 10 2007 at 8:49pm
i've read my share of "urban erotic" novels or whatever. they are basically all about the same thing: sex, lies, drugs, and money. the sex tell-alls are really getting played out. i hope people stop supporting that trash that's supposedly an "autobiography".
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 10 2007 at 9:05pm
Well as far as I know, an imprint is like their own special department at the publishing company that's dedicated to putting out a certain type of book.... Sort of like subsidiary publishing company... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imprint
 
For example you have your major publisher, such as Harper Collins...then Harper Collins has seperate imprints under them such as Avon Books or Collins books  that cater to a certain demographic or type of book.  When a certain type of book or author gets it's own imprint  it means that "an existing publisher finds their name or ideas so valuable they feel it deserves an independent list of it’s own. Those books will still be published by the parent company, but they’ll carry the name of the imprint on the binding and title page. " So in other words this image of black america is valuable to them (and to "us" because somebody is obviously buying these books). 
 
What I'm getting from TM letter is that, even the best black writers were never given their own special department at a Publisher.  But this new sub-genre develops and it's gets it's own imprint. That's why there are so many of the books...    I guess it is an insult to Terry McMillian or any writer who takes the craft seriously....but it's funny, when she first came out, some felt like her fiction wasn't of quality.  But IMO is alot better than this stuff coming out now.   I guess good fiction is like beauty- in the eye of the beholder. 
 
 
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