Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hispanic Marketing, Waiting to Exhale sequel and other Ethnic Musings

I had lunch with the editor of La Voz on Friday and I was wearing a big chunky colorful bead necklace. She asked me where I got it and I told her that, like many of my pieces of jewelry that people often admire, I bought it from a jewelry lady at some Hispanic event.

"Haven't you ever noticed that at every Hispanic event there's a lady selling jewelry?" She had never thought about it but agreed now that I pointed it out.

"You can be at a  Hispanic Chamber event, the Latino Book & Family Festival, or the Latina Style event and there is always someone there with a table selling jewelry. The jewelry is always something really nice and unique, very different from stuff you may find at a jewelry store."

"And it probably costs less," she said.

"Yes, exactly. Fifteen dollars for a matching set, necklace and earrings."

There are so many things that I love about being Hispanic and this is one of them. We do things different from a lot of other ethnicities. A friend commented on FB today that there was a band at Fiesta (a popular grocery store in Houston that caters to Hispanics) today playing "La Bamba."

Or when I blogged a couple of years ago that a woman came into a bar around 1:30 a.m. every weekend to sell tamales. I saw all the new non-Hispanic people at the bar buying tamales and very pleased with their purchase.

Of course 37% of Houston's population is Hispanic or Latino of any race. And Hispanics and Latinos constitute 15.4% of the total United States population, or 46.9 million people. Houston is always going to have things that market to this unique audience. So it doesn't surprise us that big US companies are also trying to market to this dynamic group of people.

There's the Lay's Limon, Lay's Chile Limon, Coffee Mate Dulce de Leche, and Kool Aid now has Aguas Frescas, including Jamaica. Progresso is now making new soups like Tortilla Soup, Menudo and Caldo de Pollo, obviously all Hispanic products. Those are just a few of the many companies that have launched a product to appeal to Hispanics.

In the literary market Latina authors took off around ten years ago when all this Latin excitement started. Author Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez sold her novel Dirty Girl's Social Club for an unprecedented $500,000. She paved the way for many other Latina authors.

Before the Latino literary movement started there was one book that started it all off for books by non-White authors. She caused such a stir with her book that when Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez came on the scene she was referred to as the Latina Terry McMillan.

McMillan's book Waiting to Exhale, spoke to women everywhere, of all ethnicities. It was even made into a major motion picture in 1995 starring Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine (from Houston) and other actors. Now author Terry McMillan has announced that Getting Happy, the long-awaited sequel to Waiting to Exhale, was published on September 7, 2010. It picks up on the women's lives fifteen years later. I can't wait to read it!

I wouldn't mind being referred to as the Latina Terry McMillan. My husband refers to me as the Latina Amy Tan because my novel is about three women and their mothers. I take that as a compliment. Amy Tan is one of my favorite authors. I've heard her read in person only once before around fourteen years ago. In one week she comes to Houston for the Inprint Reading Series and I get to hear her again. I'm trying to read her last novel Saving Fish from Drowning before her visit, although I think she's going to talk in general and not specifically about that one book. But either way, I want to read her most recent work before going to hear her. Last time she was here she was promoting The Hundred Secret Senses. It's hard to believe it's been that long. Time flies!

In only two and half weeks I'll be in my second favorite city in the U.S., New York. Houston being the first of course and Chicago my third favorite. I can't wait to be there again in the hustle and bustle of the city, riding the subway and taxis, going on sales calls. I love that place! Even though I'm usually there wearing my advertising hat, I can see how writers love that city and feel inspired. I love New York in the fall!

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