You know Bryant Terry as the author of several vegan cookbooks. He’s also a James Beard and NAACP Image Award-winning chef, and an educator known for his activism to create a healthy, just, and sustainable food system. And most recently, he became the editor-in-chief of a new Ten Speed book division called 4 Color Books. Now he’s looking for authors with a strong point of view, a strong social media following and those know how to market.
Here’s Bryant on how he went for his dream job, and what he’s looking for in authors:
Q. How did the idea for 4 Color Books come to pass? Did the discussion start as a result of your forthcoming anthology, Black Food?
A. My literary agent, Danielle Svetcov, and I have long had a vision of my running a publishing imprint. But I never imagined it would happen this soon. I have always imagined publishing other people’s work, but I created unnecessary barriers for manifesting that goal: We’ll pitch this idea when I have x amount of social media followers or x amount of books under my belt or x amount of years in the publishing world. . .”
In the summer of 2020, I felt a real sense of urgency to do my part in helping diversify food media after the fallout at “Bon Appétit” magazine and other food media companies. First I pitched Black Food, then we pitched 4 Color. I feel so grateful that Ten Speed Press has been so supportive of me as an author over the years, and now they are enthusiastically supporting me as I get this imprint off the ground.
A major lesson in 2020 was to get out of my own way and go for my dreams now.
Q. What is your job as editor-in-chief? Are you now a full-time employee of Random House?
A. I’ll never be a full-time employee for anyone but myself. As editor-in-chief of 4 Color, I will work with my creative director, Amanda Yee, to determine which projects we’d like to acquire.
We will also work closely with our authors to develop their book projects. With almost two decades in publishing, I know the ropes. I’d like to support my authors as much as they feel comfortable with throughout the process, from helping determine the best structure of the book to assembling the best team for creating the visuals. Of course, I will use my platform to market and promote our books. I imagine that many of the projects on 4 Color will have a slow burn like my books, and continue to sell well beyond their publication year.
Q. Does 4 Color celebrate the work of all people of color (BIPOC) versus African-Americans?
A. 4 Color will celebrate the work of any author doing dope work that we like. As far as building our list, we want to sign a diversity of authors, including white folks. There will be an emphasis on giving voice to authors from historically marginalized communities, however.
Most importantly, I want to publish authors who share the ethos of 4 Color. I often say we will publish people who color outside the lines.
Q. What kind of books are you looking to publish annually? Will they be primarily cookbooks? Is there a particular focus?
A. I think it’s important for me to build the foundation of 4 Color with cookbooks, since that’s my wheelhouse. If it’s a highly visual four-color book, it potentially belongs on the 4 Color list. I want authors who have a strong point of view and bring a cutting-edge approach to the food and publishing world.
But we will be publishing books about all the things that I love: music, visual art, poetry, and self-help.
Q. How many books per year will 4 Color publish?
A. We will initially publish two to three. I imagine that number will grow once we are more established.
Q. How can potential authors contact you?
A. Proposals should be sent to submissions AT 4colorbooks DOT com.
Q. What kind of social media platform do authors need to be published with you?
A. It depends. I’d like for our authors to have a strong social media following, but what that means will vary. Some of our authors will have lots of followers, but others will have a moderate amount who are very passionate.
I’m most interested in working with authors who have diverse and creative ways to market and promote their book over the long term. One piece of advice I have often given to budding authors over the years is to be grateful for the support your publisher gives you to market and promote your book. But the success of your book is ultimately up to you.
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You might also like: How Bryant Terry Sells Cookbooks Through Appearances.
Photo of Bryant Terry by Adrian Octavius Walker.
(Disclosure: This post includes a affiliate link.)