"Black Writers On Tour Unites Authors - To Save Their Industry"
By Dr. Maxine Thompson

If Blacks collectively come together, they can accomplish anything! It is time that African-Americans set the rules to the "game" for the publishing industry. Their images are etched into the minds of the world by what people see on television, the news, the music industry, and by what they see on BET (Black Entertainment Television). Unfortunately, Blacks are not the decision makers for any of these businesses.

According to Dr. Rosie Milligan, Executive Director of Black Writers On Tour, an accomplished woman who works relentlessly to unite writers for positive change, "If we collectively come together - we can accomplish anything!"

Dr. Rosie Milligan, a Mississippi native and economic empowerment activist, is often referred to in the community as "our modern-day Harriet Tubman" and the "Motown of the Black publishing industry." She has authored eleven books and co-authored two. Since 1997, she has helped to launch ten Black publishing companies and has published more than 150 new African-American authors ranging from ages 7 to 90 years old.

Milligan Books is the fastest growing female-owned African-American publishing company in the nation. As a literary agent, Dr. Milligan has sold works to some of the most prestigious publishing houses in New York and one of her authors has a movie option contract for his novel.

Dr. Milligan explains what motivated her to launch the publishing business and Black Writers On Tour. "Well, as an ex-cotton picker and ex-farmer, I would like to answer you in farmer's language. I want to see Black writers get their rightful economic share from their work. For example, I am tired of seeing Blacks pick cotton, take it to the White man's cotton gin, get paid minimally, and yet leave happy. Meanwhile, the cotton gin owner sells the cotton at a high price (perpetuating continual wealth for his next generation), while the weary Black farmer dies prematurely - leaving his/her family to struggle. Yet, the cotton gin owner's children and their children's children continue to profit from the business. It's time for Black writers to profit from their intellectual properties and labor in a fashion that will create an economic legacy for themselves, their families, and their communities.

Another reason that motivated Dr. Milligan to create the Black Writers On Tour was, as she states, "I was simply tired of Black folks taking their stories and ideas to the grave because of mainstream rejection letters. I was also tired of New York publishers making the decisions on what literary works get published and what doesn't get published. I realized that what we Blacks read and write can shape and change the image that we want for ourselves and for others.

"Furthermore, I believe that Literacy Is Everybody's Business!" We want our children to develop a love for reading and writing at an early age. Our children will preserve our history and culture, as well as shape our images through their writings."

Black authors and Black newspapers are the means to correct the negative images that have been depicted about African-Americans and the hope for fostering new images. Dr. Milligan firmly states, "I am determined to make sure that mainstream publishers will no longer be the gatekeepers for what Blacks read or write. I have helped many Blacks to start their own publishing companies. Black Writers On Tour has created a new revolutionary movement in the literary industry.

"We have encouraged Black authors who are published by New York publishers to demand that their publicists arrange book signings at Black bookstores when sending them on book tours."

Through the efforts of Black Writers On Tour, Dr. Milligan expects greater understanding regarding the importance of writing. Black writers need to move beyond writing as merely a hobby to pass time. Writing is a business, in fact, a large business. Every class taught from preschool through college requires a textbook. There are preparation books for every licensing examination in all professions and vocations. Life revolves around the written word. Every sitcom, soap opera, feature film, newspaper, magazine, CD-ROM, or technical manual requires a writer. Dr. Milligan acknowledges, "I want African-Americans to reevaluate the writing industry and to participate on a larger scale. I want to see Blacks start thinking about owning their own publishing houses, their own book presses, and their own book distribution companies. I want to see us translate our books into other languages and market them globally. We must take a serious look at this industry. Who is printing the growing number of Black magazines and Black community newspapers? It's about time that we come together, not just to meet-and-eat, but to make definitive gains in our economic future, which includes the 'business of writing.'"

Black book sales are to the point where a lucrative market exists for Black-owned publishing houses, book presses, and distribution companies. Following are some interesting facts presented in the Target Report. Between 1990 and 1993, African-American book expenditures increased 48 percent between 1988 and 1993, and Black purchases of books at retail outlets increased 100 percent. Interest in books and articles by African-American writers is at an all-time high. Many of them are on the bestsellers lists and have remained a part of mainstream's most popular books for month after month. In 2003, more than $326 million was spent on books about and by African-American writers. These figures more than merely suggest a demand for Black-owned publishing houses, book presses, and distributing companies.

Black Writers On Tour can help the local and unknown authors jump-start their writing careers. Dr. Milligan's heartfelt interest and desire is to give exposure to African-American authors and writers, increase their book sales, motivate them, and develop aspiring new writers and authors.

This notable event will not only bring the authors face-to-face with readers, but also with their peers, which will unite them for the purpose of becoming more visible in the marketplace. Visibility is key for an author. Authors have joined together on book tours as traveling partners. They share hotels and their homes in different cities, which help to give them more exposure and curtail expenses.

Black Writers On Tour has been designed to provide writers with the practical information they need to work in the literary industry. Publishers, as well as agents, will attend. Fourteen writers' workshops will be held throughout the day and will cover a variety of topics from How to Publish, How to Write a Bestselling Novel, and Legal Aspects of Writing and Publishing, as well as a Free Writing Class for children ages 10-15.

General Admission is free as well as the previously mentioned writing class for children. Chat with writers from all genres - fiction, nonfiction, poetry, children, and Christian. Attend the Poetry Jam Competition - WIN CASH! There will be open exhibits and authors signing throughout the day.

This year's highlight: Mothers of Celebrities Who Write: Beverly Green - Snoop Dogg's mother, author of Real Love, and Verna Griffin - Dr. Dre's mother, author of Privileged To Live. Also "Let The Elders Speak," a forum of African-American writers age 65 and older sharing their collective wisdom. We encourage your youth to come and listen at the feet of these elders as they share insight, vision, and life lessons.

The 2006 Literary Award will be presented to Dr. Frederick K.C. Price, author of Race, Religion & Racism, and Bishop George D. McKinney, author of The New Slave Masters. These are pastors whose literary work is "outside the box." The renowned Andre Eggelletion, syndicated talk show host and author of Thieves In The Temple, will be the keynote luncheon speaker. Participants include - Dr. Maxine Thompson, attorney Joe C. Hopkins, Kola Boof, and Rita Hall. Out-of-state participants include - Erick Henderson, Contessa Walls, Don Spears, Professor Walter Williams, Andre Eggelletion, Jeremiah Camara, and others.

Saturday, March 11, 2006
from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
at the LAX Radisson Hotel
6225 W. Century Blvd.
Los Angeles, California

Authors wishing to gain exposure, attract new readers, and sell books, as well as anyone wishing to participate in the Poetry Jam Competition
visit: www.blackwritersontour.com or call (323) 750-3592.