Cynthia Ballenger is the Acquisitions Manager for Lift Every Voice, a division arm of Moody Publishers where we publish books for/by African Americans. As the acquisitions editor she makes contract agreements for authors, designers, editors, illustrators, etc. on behalf of the partnership of Moody Publishers and the Institute for Black Family Development.
LH: It's been said that books with people of color on their covers limit their audience or reach. What is your opinion on that?
CB: I believe that rings true with people of color on the cover or with people of European decent on the cover. However, if your book is targeted to a specific audience you should show your audience that you are sensitive to their wants and needs by keeping up with current events/issues that pertain to people of color and creating a cover that speaks to that audience. The subject matter and the way the book is marketed can then cross over to other ethnicities due to the appeal of the subject matter.
LH: Do publishing houses use African American (AA) marketing firms to help them market the book? If not, are there any efforts underway to consult with AA marketing professionals?
CB: From what I know of, most companies do not get African American marketing firms to market their African American titles. I believe that there may be efforts underway, but not enough measures are taken to partner with African American marketing firms.
LH: To the best of your knowledge, are there any African Americans working in marketing for Christian publishing houses?
CB: Most African American marketing firms I am familiar with are not Christian based. However, there are more and more Christian African American publicity/marketing firms making themselves known on a regular basis.
LH: Does CBA's relations with CAABA (Christian African American Booksellers Association) have any reach?
CB: I believe the reach that CAABA has is fair and getting stronger each year bringing awareness to the CBA marketplace.
Thanks, Cynthia for your involvement in this month's series. Your viewpoint is invaluable.