This Award-Winning Writer Was Tapped By RuPaul To Help Empower Queer Authors

People of color constitute only 13% of the publishing workforce and of those there is a marginal number of individuals who actually choose to publish and amplify authentic stories reflective of diverse communities.

Rasheed Newson is aiming to change that.

He was recently tapped as Literary Curator-At-Large for Allstora, the online bookstore co-founded by drag legend RuPaul and bestselling author Eric Cervini. A dream job for a voracious reader and brilliant writer, two titles Newson has proudly worn for decades.

Before joining Allstora, Newson forged a path as a TV writer and producer working on shows including Lie to Me, Narcos, The Chi, Shooter, and most recently Bel-Air. In 2022, he also released his debut novel My Government Needs to Kill Me, an eye-awakening move in his career he says.

“I don’t think people realize how difficult it can be for authors to get the proper push they need to make sure you even know about the book they’ve written, even if they have a deal,” he tells ESSENCE.

He explains that he was drawn to the role with Allstora because of its commitment to highlighting diverse works regardless of their release date.

“When your book launches, it’s designed to give you this big burst for three months,” Newson says. “You’ve worked on this book for years, and you got 90 days to sell the world on it being important. And that works for some people, but not for most. They need more that 90 days to raise awareness around this labor of love they’ve poured themselves into.That’s where we come in.”

Newson, alongside the Allstora team handpicks literary works that showcase the wide breadth of the human experience. He says they were thoughtful in organizing the platform in a way that showcased their commitment to diverse storytelling. For instance, the book categories are organized by literary genre, but also by the story’s context, like gender identity, and race.

“We’re reaffirming that these stories are worthy and good and we know there’s an audience for them,” he says. He also stresses the value Allstora puts on their writers’ work via its author’s program, a component the company says is focused on putting money back in authors’ pockets.

“We don’t make the kind of money people think we do or that we should,” Newson says, pointing out that Amazon makes 5x more than the author for every sale of a book. Allstora’s authors’ program pays enrolled authors 100% of profits from individual book sales. Allstora’s goal is to double full-time author’s earnings in book sales, which is around $10,000 per year.

“What I hope is that not only will people fall into something on the platform because they identify with that sexuality or that gender or that race, but also want to learn something outside of themselves. That what books are for. That’s always been their purpose.”

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