1 (edited by QWLauren35 2022-03-28 15:27:45)

Topic: Afro-Bougie Blues - What's in a title?

TheNextBigWriter is primarily a white group of authors, so I ask your opinion honestly, knowing your demographic.

My book is a collection of short stories about black middle-class people, women, families, going through situations that money can't fix. The stories that are particular to race include colorism, passing for white, corporal punishment and inter-racial dating. There are lots of other stories as well. The stories include topics like: abortion, alcoholism, teenage love, obesity and weightloss, bisexuality, incarceration, infidelity, domestic violence, death and dying.

The term bougie (or boujee more recently) is a term that everyone in the black community understands as people who have money, or act like they have money, and like to throw it around. It's actually not a nice term. Sometimes it suggests people who "have forgotten where they came from", i.e. people who cannot relate to being poor, or working class, and is used by working class black people to describe black people they think are snobby. (Not Uncle Tom/Clarence Thomas. That's an entirely different term.) I can't actually think off the top of my head of anyone famous who might be considered bougie, but my husband calls my family that all the time.

At any rate, all of my black friends IMMEDIATELY know what the book is about. But white people may not have any idea.  The question is - should I change the title to something that is more "white-friendly", to appeal to a white female audience, or should I keep the title as is, because "it's a black thang, and you wouldn't understand".

Re: Afro-Bougie Blues - What's in a title?

Who is your audience?

The word 'boujee' (from bourgoise?) is used regularly by Chris Carton on clear-channel WFAN out of NY. To be fair, Carton (white) acts like an obnoxious fourth grade class clown.  He's also done time for fraud inspired by his gambling addiction.  He's a terrible waste of drive time air.  Your Mileage May Vary, of course.

Also, from where I sit, the worst damage to poor folks is done by people of pure intentions, like cutting them off from legal credit because the rates that have to be charged to cover the paperwork are 'too high' for short term loans with high risks.  So legally-regulated lenders are out of the market and the loan sharks move back in.  The people who do this get tens of thousands of dollars for a speech and have no idea what it's like to live from paycheck to paycheck.

Re: Afro-Bougie Blues - What's in a title?

Hi NJC,
    My primary audience is college-educated African-American women. According to an article I read recently, that is the biggest demographic of readers in America, so I feel good about targeting that market. Some of the stories are universal to non-black American women. Some may be interesting to an international audience. Most men will hate the book, because some of the stories are pretty down on men.  There is a balance of strong black men, and horrible men, bad husbands and good husbands. But by comparison, there are no bad women (unless a woman who has an abortion or has an affair is a bad woman automatically. I pitch the stories from their point of view.)

However, I don't want to turn off/alienate potential readers. A white friend of mine had a very strong opinion about the title, because it confused her. A few other white friends immediately thought the book was about dancing and music.

I'm strongly attached to the title. VERY strongly attached to the title. But if its really a problem, I'll have to re-think it.

Re: Afro-Bougie Blues - What's in a title?

Hi njc, I did a quick Google search on Bougie and Boujee. Boujee was apparently coined from a hip-hop song by Migos called "Bad and Boujee" and refers to new money, without losing your roots. And is not an insult.  Bougie is more old money and forgotten your roots, used as an insult. So, it would be highly inappropriate to use "boujee" for this book.

Re: Afro-Bougie Blues - What's in a title?

I've always thought of the word 'bougie' in a similar way to 'yuppy.' While the definition in my mind may not be exactly the way you defined it above, it is similar enough that I wouldn't find myself confused by that terminology. However, 'blues' obviously has two definitions that could make sense—one which refers to music. So, the full title isn't completely self-explanatory. Perhaps a subtitle to explain that these are short stories?

Re: Afro-Bougie Blues - What's in a title?

I'm not familiar with the term, but then again, most people aren't familiar with the title of my novel, Root Hog or Die, so my opinion at first glance would be keep the title you like until an editor/publisher requests you to rethink it for marketing reasons. If your key market would recognize the significance of the title, then that is half the battle. Of course, if you do want to attract a more diverse audience, then some modification might be in order. Within that mindset, you could have a sub-title which could clarify to some extent the origins of the term. Also the book cover and or blurb could help convey the subject matter in a way to potentially attract a more diverse audience. At any rate, I would suggest sticking with what you feel comfortable with and let it play out as you receive more reaction from readers, especially if you draw that segment you don't think you will merely from the title. Just my opinion. Good luck. Take care. Vern

Re: Afro-Bougie Blues - What's in a title?

Hi Ricka, I am thinking about a subtitle. I just want to make sure it's not dry. Thanks!

Re: Afro-Bougie Blues - What's in a title?

Hi Vern - you're right. I have no idea what your title means, and that indicates that you have an audience in mind. Thanks for the thoughts. I definitely like my title.

Lauren

Re: Afro-Bougie Blues - What's in a title?

I'm late to the party, but as a very pale individual from rural VA, I know what Bougie means, and I expect most southern millennial-aged people do as well. Even if I hadn't known it before from reddit/memes/regular use by people I know, it's also in the song "Fancy Like," which is pretty popular.

Re: Afro-Bougie Blues - What's in a title?

Thanks, Apricot. Good to know.

Re: Afro-Bougie Blues - What's in a title?

QW--
This reminded me of Catcher in the Rye. The only way you would know the meaning of that title is to read the novel. So I don't see a problem with you using a term most people aren't familiar with, it will just encourage people to read the book. 
smile

Re: Afro-Bougie Blues - What's in a title?

Hi Dagny - hadn't thought about it that way. Thanks.