When Art & Commerce Meet – Interview with Wayétu Moore

Wayétu Moore, author of SHE WOULD BE KING and founder of the nonprofit One Moore Book, shares the publication journey for her debut novel and reflects on art, writing craft, commerce, and more.

Filmed at Succeed2gether’s Montclair Literary Festival 2019.


0:35 Writing a draft of SHE WOULD BE KING and exploring identity as an African in America and as an African-American

2:19 Pressures writers put on themselves, writing craft, and not resenting your art

3:26 Writing discipline and respecting your art

4:01 Publishing industry trends

4:23 Wayétu Moore’s next novel is about mermaids

5:32 Publishing SHE WOULD BE KING

6:00 Meeting literary agents at conferences

7:06 Editing a manuscript with a literary agent and making a book as strong as possible

7:54 “If you’re writing for yourself, keep a journal, but if you do commit to writing for others and being mindful and considerate to the sensibilities of others, then you do need to be conscious of what readers would be in to, how they would process your work. . .”

8:23 Shopping a manuscript to publishers, dealing with rejections, and the reality of when art meets commerce

9:14 Publishing SHE WOULD BE KING through Graywolf and the benefits of being with an indie press

12:00 Cover design and avoiding cliches designers use for African, Islamic, and Indian narratives

15:04 The meeting of art and commerce as well as time and capacity in Big Five publishing

15:59 Versify, an imprint by Kwame Alexander, and One Moore Book, a nonprofit serving children who rarely see themselves in print


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Versify: an Imprint from Kwame Alexander

Joshua Mohr on Writing and How to Publish a Book


Wayétu Moore is the author of She Would Be King, released by Graywolf Press in September, 2018. Her memoir is also forthcoming with Graywolf.

Moore is the founder of One Moore Book. One Moore Book is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that encourages reading among children of countries with low literacy rates and underrepresented cultures by publishing culturally relevant books that speak to their truths, and by creating bookstores and reading corners that serve their communities. Her first bookstore opened in Monrovia, Liberia in 2015.

Her writing can be found in The Paris Review, Frieze Magazine, Guernica, The Atlantic Magazine and other publications. She has been featured in The Economist Magazine, NPR, NBC, BET and ABC, among others, for her work in advocacy for diversity in children’s literature.

She’s a graduate of Howard University and the University of Southern California, and is currently a Margaret Mead Fellow at Columbia University Teachers College, where she’s researching the impact of culturally relevant curriculum and learning aids in elementary classrooms of underrepresented groups. Moore is an Africana Studies lecturer at City University of New York’s John Jay College and lives in Brooklyn, NY.


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