Thursday, April 17, 2014

Diversify! - A New Blog Series

As a person from several diverse backgrounds – religion-wise and family-wise in particular, it is hard to ignore the problem facing diversity authors in the publishing industry.

Their books don’t sell well.

Some of them aren’t even picked up at all.

If diverse books happen to raise their head above the waves, they usually are ones that don’t offer proper representation – seeded with tokenism and stereotypes that don’t offer the cultures or races involved what they need or deserve.

As my friend Kelly Jensen points out, diversity is not an “us vs. them issue’. We all need representation, because this is the reality of our life. Everyone needs for their voice to be heard.

I remarked the other day in a conversation that often it seems like those asking for diversity or even odds in the industry – including me – are like Oliver Twist, timidly wringing our hands and whispering, “Well, this is good, but please, can we have more?”

Women authors deserve more. Diversity authors deserve more.

So what is this new series about?

The other day, I mentioned via social media that I might want to make two separate series for the blog. I’ve been feeling recently like I want to do more to support authors besides book reviews (and also, as much as I love book reviews, they can get a little boring if that is the bread and butter of my posts).

One of these series will focus on midlist authors, several of whom I am fond and consider friends, and who deserve more of a buzz around them than they actually get.

And another – the one that I’m discussing today and will kick off Monday the 28th – will focus on diversity: those who write it, who campaign it in the industry, and who are willing to discuss it and the issues.

How will it work?

I don’t know who else used to be a huge fan of Yu-Gi-Oh, or any other trading card games that kids pass around and trade back and forth. What I want to do is focus on the heroes in action of diversity – and we’re going to be doing it in RPG/trading card format.

I’ll be taking a figure or author in the industry who stands for YA, with their “stats” and “strengths” – why does diversity matter to them, how have they taken a stance, what books they’ve written – and so on. I’d also like to see if I could get them to contribute a few quick facts in a mini-interview format, so you can see exactly why they are so cool.

Between these features, I’d also like to do some specifically diversity-geared reviews, with a discussion of why this book is needed – or, possibly, why it might be problematic.

How can you help?

First of all, thank you so much to everyone who expressed interest in this. I would love if you could just get in touch with me through the form below and let me know if you’d like to help out or offer your voice for this series. 

Let me know how you feel about this initiative. Is there something you think I should add? Something else you also think I should keep in mind? I would definitely like to add an occasional podcast feature in there to discuss the issues, so if that is something you’d like to see, here or on DiversifYA (which I recently joined as a contributor!), please sound off and let me know!

In addition, nothing would help this more than passing it forward. Do you know an author who might want to get in touch? Pass it on!

I am so excited to be doing this, and I am gratified for the positive responses I’ve received thus far. All of us can be part of this movement for change. We all deserve to be seen in the books we love and champion. Diversity authors need to be nurtured and encouraged that they are needed.

Let us make 2014 the year when we start moving forward.

Be sure to check back on April 28th for the inaugural post, and later on this week for a briefing on a summer project related to diversity that S.E. Sinkhorn and I will be spearheading! 


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