The Publishing Business for Urban Lit
Since we were just chatting about agents in another thread, I thought maybe we should open up a discussion about the publishers out there who are putting out Urban literature. I think the situation is kind of bleak overall, but I could be quite mistaken. The following comes from a position of significant ignorance, but these are impressions I've gathered when looking for places to publish:
-It seems to me that small-press publishers of urban fiction spring up here and there occasionally, they mushroom, and they may vanish... they look to have relatively short shelf-lives as businesses. And thus, I suspect that two-year-old news is OLD news.
-Triple Crown was once the place, they published a lot of titles, and as far as I know they're defunct, and some authors may not have gotten all of their royalties... did they rebrand or reaffiliate... maybe get some share bought up by another publisher like... was it Urban Books? I thought I remembered that being the case... Now, Urban Books, they were active for a while, now their website is still announcing books soon to be published in December 2015... i.e., they didn't even bother to update their website since about two years ago... they have since been listed as publishing partners with Kensington Publishers, and Kensington appears to be legitimately active (and has been for a good long while).
-Which leads to the question, Is Kensington the best publisher with a specific focus on Urban Literature? To be specific, I mean through their Dafina Books imprint, which publishes a lot of African-American Interest books, including Urban and Street Lit. They've got a submission page listing Selena James as the Daphina Executive Editor: http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/page.aspx/submissions and their catalog http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/catalog.aspx/category/17500 has about 500 titles going back through 16 years of publishing.
-K.C. Blaze's blog mentioned Life Changing Books a few years back, and I came across their name somewhere else too... forgot where... and it appears they're still at it:
-All kinds of publishers, from big-5 (or their imprints, or imprints of imprints) to small-press may be open-minded without having an urban-fiction specialty, but I also think a lot of them don't know what to do with an urban book, may read a query letter with interest, but may also pass because they don't know what to do with the product. Of course Sister Souljah got published through a Simon and Schuster imprint, so big publishers have a history of taking on some books and making big business off them... but then, apparently the imprint (Pocket Star Books) has since gone ebook-only and still doesn't have an urban-fiction focus.
I could ramble on longer, but then I'd get further into speculating and further away from any real knowledge of what I'm talking about. What do the rest of you know or think about this? Who are the publishers worth noting, and how many of the good books in the genre do you think are coming out through self-publishing?