The bad news: It's because the publisher is so discouraged with the lack of attention the book has received. Publisher Doug Seibold writes on Agate's blog:
Please note that I’m stressing the “attention” Wading Home attracted, as opposed to “praise”; while I certainly believe it praiseworthy, my first-order concern is the dismaying lack of exposure the book got upon release--even from places that had singled out Rosalyn’s earlier work for very high praise indeed. In fact, to its publisher’s embarrassment, Wading Home has gotten hardly any attention at all--despite the hundreds of advance reader’s copies we distributed months before it was published, despite the efforts of PGW’s excellent sales force, despite the author’s appearance at BEA, despite how the book’s publication coincided with the fifth anniversary of Katrina. And despite the fact that I’ve had a hard time finding any other such novels from trade presses--novels by black writers addressing this event, which had such a huge impact on how both black people and others think about the lives of black people in this country today. Next to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Katrina and its aftermath may have been the most consequential event of the last decade. You wouldn’t know it by the response of the book publishing industry***....
I was put in mind of this issue earlier this month when I noted all the attention devoted to the statistics assembled by VIDA about women’s representation in major magazines. Ha, I thought to myself. Wait til they look at African-American people’s representation in those places. Then I thought some more: Don’t hold your breath. Black writers and editors talk about this problem all the time, but that doesn’t appear to be having much impact on the gatekeepers at the major review media, or at the major book publishers and retailers. This is an even older story, unfortunately, than the fall-off in reviewing. What’s the effect? Less good work is published, and fewer people find out about the good work that does get out there. Even for a writer like Rosalyn ... whose first book seemed like such a solid start career-wise, in terms of both reviews and sales--this diminished attention can make it impossible to build on that initial success and reach new readers, or even the readers who loved her first book.
I said of Wading Home in my mini-review about books about Katrina:
I just finished reading Wading Home by Rosalyn Story. It's a novel about a young jazz musician who has left New Orleans seeking fame and fortune and goes back in search of his father after the hurricane. An accessible, uplifting story about family set against the backdrop of New Orleans immediately after the storm. It comes out September 1st. It's published by Agate Bolden and reminds me a bit of their novel Before I Forget.But whether or not I liked the book or not is beside the point. The real issue is how much more "worthy" of media coverage (reviews, articles) does a book's subject have to be before the so-called mainstream media pick up on it? A book that takes place during Katrina released on the 5th anniversary of Katrina seems like a no-brainer. Why wasn't it? Read Seibold's entire blog post and draw your own conclusions. Then download the ebook and then go over to Amazon and leave a review. Post a review on your own blog. Tell your book club members. Maybe the buzz will help sales starting next month.
Hat tip to Agate Bolden for attempting a re-launch of one of their books. Most publishers would have sadly moved on and cut the author loose. Let's hope like that saying "it's never too late to have a happy childhood" that it's never to late to launch a book!
***Jewell Parker Rhodes' novel Hurricane is coming out in April and is available for pre-order now.