Publishing Agent Tells Black Author 'African American Fathers Are A Tough Sell'

by Madison Vanderberg
Originally Published: 
Publishing Agent Tells Black Author 'African American Fathers Are A Tough Sell'
Arnold Henry/Instagram

Arnold Henry published his book Daddy’s Mini-Me through Kickstarter after a publishing agent said books with Black fathers are a ‘tough sell’

Arnold Henry, a father and children’s book author, recently took to Instagram to share a rejection he received from a publishing agent in 2018 when he pitched a children’s book that featured a Black father. Many authors face rejection letters, but this one was different — the publishing agent specifically said that books that feature “African-American ‘fathers‘” are “tough sell.”

“Imagine you’re a black author. You’ve written one of your best work about fatherhood. You’re super excited to get it published. You believe that it is much needed in our world because there are a lack of diversity in children’s literature at your local bookstores and online. You submit query letters to publishing agents, hoping that you finally get a big break in the book industry. But only to receive a rejection letter targetting the colour of your black protagonist,” Henry wrote alongside a screengrab of the rejection email.

“This isn’t just about me as a black author,” Henry added on Instagram. “But, one of the many examples of the lack of opportunities and unfair treatment for black people, simply based on the colour of our skin.”

When the publishing agent rejected Henry’s book, they blamed it on the “harsh reality” of the publishing world, but instead of fighting that reality by accepting Henry’s book and challenging the status quo, this publishing agent made the cowardly decision which only perpetuated our global racist culture. Henry told Scary Mommy that while he’s received rejection letters before, “it was never to this extent.”

Henry went on to raise the funds himself through a Kickstarter campaign and eventually published his book Daddy’s Mini-Me, inspired by his own experiences as a dad to two sons, a 5-year-old and an 8-month-old. The book is now climbing the top-sellers list on Amazon as well. Henry also just recently published Patiently Waiting For Hope which is described as “a story for parents and children about faith after miscarriage.”

As for any other writers out there who might face or are facing this same kind of racial discrimination, Henry shared this advice with Scary Mommy.

“Never allow anyone to deter or determine the outcome of your dreams. Be proud of the color of your skin, your background, and origin,” he says. “Our creativity, artistry, and storytelling are revolutionary and our work is needed more than ever today. Continue writing because there is always someone waiting for a story like yours. And if a traditional publishing company never picks up your manuscript, there are other routes to take with lots of resources to allow you to become successful.”

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