The blurb that accompanies Lorraine Devon Wilke’s novel, The Alchemy of Noise, describes it as “a suspenseful drama driven by issues of privilege, prejudice, police profiling and legal entanglements, and the disparities in how those provocative themes impact the various and diverse characters involved.”
I received this book to review free from Reedsy Discovery, a pay for review site (my opinion regarding this service (?) was published in a previous blog which you can read at https://rodraglin.wordpress.com/2019/03/16/reedsy-discovery-another-paid-review-bogus-up-voting-book-marketing-site/)
I stated in my review that “The author’s take on inherent and systemic racism, something her characters are challenged with daily, sounds authentic and credible. In that regard, it is an important book that deserves a larger audience.”
My opinion hasn’t changed. I gave The Alchemy of Noise five stars.
I like to research the path new authors take on the road to publication. I’m always looking for something I haven’t tried that might offer a modicum of success.
Wilke has self-published two previous novels with Create Space Independent Publishing platform, that’s Amazon’s publishing division for paperbacks. I know, because all my books have been published on that platform as well.
The first was After the Sucker Punch in 2014 followed by Hysterical Love a year later. Both garnered a number of positive reviews though some are from paid for review sites which, at least in my opinion, makes them suspect because of the inherent conflict of interest. Neither books achieved much acclaim though they appear to have done significantly better than any of mine.
This time, Wilke decided to go another route and chose a hybrid publisher, She Writes Publishing (SWP).
Hybrids take your manuscript and make it publish-ready. In the case of SWP that includes cover design, proofreading, conversion to e-book and a bunch of other stuff that you can easily do yourself or isn’t necessary. They quote one price of $7,500 which doesn’t include any copyediting.
I think one can assume Wilke paid at least that much as well as $425 for a Kirkus Review, $499 for a Foreword Review and, of course, the $50 for my review on Reedsy.
That’s a minimum of $8,424 before one sale. I hope she recoups her costs, but there are no guarantees.
Reviewers on Wilke’s Amazon site herald The Alchemy of Noise as an a “powerful look at racial tensions in modern America” and “strikes at the heart of contemporary race issues”.
I tend to agree, but what do I know, a white guy from Canada. It’s interesting though, to consider how this story would have been portrayed if written by a black person, but how likely is that to happen given today’s circumstances?
While there are many high-profile examples of African-Americans receiving widespread acclaim in most areas of American society, the success of those individuals isn’t representative of the economic status of African-Americans as a whole.
Between 1983 and 2013, white households saw their wealth increased by 14%. During the same period, black household wealth declined 75%.
By 2013, the wealth of the median black family in the US had fallen to a mere 10% of its white counterpart. Whereas, in 1953, four-fifths of white families made more than the typical black household, 60 years later about to nine-tenths did.
In 2014, the median net worth* of white households had reached $130,800. The median net worth of black households was $9,590.
While wage growth has improved in all racial groups in the past two years, so has the disparity between white and black wage earners.
Last year a survey1 found that in America whites severely underestimate the racial wealth gap. They think that black wealth is about 80% that of whites, while data from the U.S. Census Bureau reveals that black wealth is about 7% that of whites.
Perhaps it’s not surprising then that a book considered by one reviewer as an “exploration of race and privilege” is written by a white person.
What new black author could afford to risk $8,424?
1Americans misperceive racial economic equality. An article published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, by Michael W. Kraus, Julian M. Rucker, and Jennifer A. Richeson, Sept. 18, 2017
State of Working America Wages 2018, Wage inequality marches on.
By Elise Gould, published by The Economic Policy Institute, Feb. 20, 2019
A median household income refers to the income level earned by a given household where half of the homes in the area earn more and half earn less. It’s used instead of the average or mean household income because it can give a more accurate picture of an area’s actual economic status.
*Net worth is the total of what you own minus what you owe. It’s a mathematical reckoning of assets accumulated (including cars, homes, Roth IRAs and that dish of loose change on the dresser) and debts accrued (such as mortgages, auto loans, student loan debt and credit card IOUs).