“Bulk Fiction”: Atlanta Welcomes Three Black Literary Conferences

By Aileen Dodd Contributing Writer | 7/26/2013, 2:52 p.m.
Despite the poor selection on some retail bookshelves, the urban fiction market grosses about $50 million annually.

In the aisles of national book chains, novels by urban writers can be hard to find even when you search for big names like New York Times best-selling authors Terry McMillan and Nathan McCall. Locating books by emerging writers can be just as exhausting.

Despite the poor selection on some retail bookshelves, the urban fiction market grosses about $50 million annually.

Authors and their publishers are using social marketing to push urban books into the hands of readers online and in person. And Atlanta has become one of the main hubs of the social marketing movement in urban fiction, as well as other literary genres. 

At least once a year, readers who download the books of urban authors and follow their work online through websites, Twitter and Facebook get to meet them in person in Atlanta. Next weekend, hundreds of visitors will travel to Atlanta for special events that are bridging the gap between authors and audiences searching for books that speak to their experience. 

On Thursday,  Aug. 1, the literary weekend kicks off with an event staged by Ella Curry, the Internet radio talk show host of “Black Authors Network” and owner of the Washington, D.C.-based “urban lit” marketing firm, EDC Creations.

Curry will host an author networking event called the “2013 ATL Chocolate Social”, which will be held at 7:30 p.m. at  Shula’s 347 Grill inside the Atlanta Marriott Buckhead Hotel. The celebration will feature a selection of chocolate desserts, drinks and intellectual discussions on urban books. Readers will have a chance to talk books with 13 successful authors and book agents seeking new talent. The event is expected to draw 200 people, including many who are visiting Atlanta for next weekend’s coinciding literary events.

“Guests will have three hours to meet authors one-on-one and ask them questions about their books and how to get into the business and find an agent,” Curry said.

“It’s not like posing a question on the Internet and hoping that someone will answer. The authors are there in person.”

Registration for the night of networking costs $60 and can be done online at http://www.edc-creations.com/chocolate2013.htm.

On Friday, Aug. 2, the weekend’s marquee event, the National Book Club Conference, will begin. The event, which runs through Sunday (August 4),  is expected to attract at least 400 people to the Atlanta Marriott Buckhead Hotel. The conference takes the “Oprah’s Book Club” phenomenon to the next level of interactivity.

For 11 years, Atlanta journalist and author Curtis Bunn has been organizing the annual meeting of book club members and avid readers to expose them to best-selling authors and emerging writers they should know. The conference features panel discussions with veteran and new authors and seminars on entering the literary field. There are scheduled sessions on writing and getting published and special events where readers can get their books autographed and socialize with authors.

Trice Hickman, a full-time author, credits the book conference for giving her the start she needed in the business. She came first as an attendee and later as a published author.