During week two of my #Giveaway4Good Challenge, I’m supporting independent bookstores and the writers whose books grace their shelves.

 

In case you missed my last email, let me remind you of this week’s challenge.

  1. Purchase something from an independent bookstore, and I’ll give you one ticket for this week’s drawing.
  2. Purchase something from a Black-owned bookstore, and I’ll give you three tickets for this week’s drawing.
  3. Write a review on Amazon AND Goodreads for a book you recently read and I’ll give you one ticket into this week’s drawing. You can earn two tickets if the book was published in 2020, and three tickets if your review is for an author of color.

 

All emails should be sent to lisa.cooper.ellison@gmail.com.

 

Your week two prize is a 45-minute coaching session with me. You’ll also be entered in my grand prize drawing for a one-hour coaching session with me (includes 10-page manuscript review) PLUS a spot in Jane Friedman’s self-study course How to Write a Book Proposal.

 

Now, let’s talk about why I’m offering additional incentives for Black-owned bookstores and reviews for books written by authors of color.

 

George Floyd’s death sparked a worldwide outcry around the treatment of Black people by the police.

The problem wasn’t new, but for many in the white community, the outrage was either new or intensified by George’s brutal murder.

Many donated to causes that support people of color or started reading books by authors of color so they could better understand the oppression of Black people living in America.

 

Studies have shown that reading, and in particular reading stories, helps us build our empathy—that storehouse of feeling that allows us to be with another person’s experience.

This is the way I think about it.

 

With textbooks, I learn with my head.

With stories, I learn with my heart.

Personally, what I learn with my heart is what actually sticks.

 

While I can never truly understand the experiences of a person of color, reading stories written by Black authors helps me better understand their experiences and feel alongside them as best I’m able.

 

My heart connections to their stories help me see the world with clearer eyes and live in a more wholehearted way.

 

When Ta’Nehisi Coates shared his experience in Between the World and Me, I could better understand both the fears and hopes he has for his Black son.

 

Toni Morrison’s Beloved reveals how the brutality of slavery impacted the way Black mothers loved and cared for their children during a time of enslavement.

 

Krystal Sital’s book Secrets We Kept: Three Women of Trinidad opened my eyes to how the island’s caste system, tolerance of cruelty, and rigid gender roles allows domestic violence to pass from generation to generation.

 

Jesmyn Ward’s Sing Unburied Sing helped me better understand the complicated journey some children with parents of more than one races face.

 

Athena Dixon’s essay collection The Incredible Shrinking Woman gives voice to the ways Black women are socialized to shrink as a way to avoid negative stereotypes. Incidentally, her book was published in 2020.

 

While many of these titles can be found in independent bookstores, Black-owned bookstores are more likely to prominently display them. They also support equally important and well-written titles that don’t get as much attention in the press.

 

This support is vital for many Black authors and authors of color because they often receive smaller advances than their white counterparts. For some, their books are unfairly labeled as niche or they are pigeon-holed as “Black authors,” which can limit their reach. To learn more about this, click here.

 

My #Giveaway4Good Challenge is about finding all of the ways we can generate good in our literary community.

 

That is one of the reasons why I’m offering extra tickets to those of you who support Black-owned bookstores and those who write reviews for authors of color.

 

Books by people of color help us learn with our hearts.

 

The more our hearts understand, the better our world will be.

 

So, here’s your week two challenge recap:

  1. Support any independent bookstore (ten-dollar minimum) and I’ll give you one ticket for this week’s drawing.
  2. Support Black-owned bookstores like Books and Crannies in my home state of Virginia, or one of these 125 Black-owned bookstores, and I’ll give you three tickets into this week’s drawing.
  3. While I’m offering tickets for this week’s drawing for any review you write, I will give you 3 tickets for reviews written on behalf of an author of color. To learn more about why these reviews matter, click here.
  4. Reply to this email with the following information:
    1. The item you purchased at the independent bookstore
    2. A screenshot of any social media posts you made on behalf of the Black-owned bookstore as a way to boost their online presence.
    3. The name of the book you reviewed and why you liked the book (or a screenshot of your actual review).

Last week’s challenge brought in $20, 279 on behalf of families.

 

Let’s knock this week’s challenge out of the park and help Black-owned independent bookstores and the authors of color whose voices need to be heard.

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