It’s hard out here for authors these days. You really can’t be just an author. In order to support yourself—because, let’s be honest, most book advances only go so far—you have to be writer, teaching artist, lecturer, hustler, marketing guru, business owner and grant junkie. And when you do get a chance to write, you’re distracted by the headlines screaming that the traditional book world is going to hell and the chilling reality that many black writers are still left out in the cold. As Kurtis Blow mused, these are the breaks? But wallowing doesn’t feed burdened writers. Hence, this new book column. You can say it’s a way for The Root to level the playing field a little. To break it up, break it up, break it up. To shine light on the great writers doing great work, and in the process, help them gain more readers. To discuss the issues within publishing—the good, the bad and the ugly. To uplift books to their deserved prominent place in our society and collective psyche. So to get this party started, I thought a little fantasizing was in order. Again, with the help of Kurtis Blow, I contemplated, what if, authors in the struggle ruled the literary world? I asked a diverse group of writer folk to tell me: How would things be different?

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is a writer, speaker, author of books for adults and youth, and the book columnist for The Root. Her most recent book is \"The Message: 100 Life Lessons from Hip-Hop’s Greatest Songs.\" Visit her at


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