This week I have been thinking about Diversity and the representation of diversity in publishing. Some of this was sparked by the campaign of an 11 year old girl who was searching for books that showed people of her race as the main characters in books.
I was talking with my writing buddy recently over my characters and I made the comment that none of my main characters were the same colour as me. I always saw them as mixed race though I never made a point of describing them as such. As my writing buddy hears and critiques my writing first... the fact that the characters were mixed race was news to her. This sparked a conversation about whether to info dump character information. (NO)
Info dumping statistics this week was Lee and Low, children’s publishers, with their report on Diversity in Publishing. We all know that publishing is White Skin dominant... It is also female gender dominant...
Here in very multi cultural NZ, the loss of many of our NZ publishing offices to Australia has always concerned writers here. It widens the ditch that our distinctive Maori/Pasifica stories have to hurdle over to get published.
Today I was watching #Pit2Pub on Twitter. It was interesting to see the number of pitches that used diversity hash tags. A new kid on the Twitter pitch block is Pitch Match. – this is a 3 hour pitch fest broker party happening on the 11th.
A brief Twitter storm happened with the reporting that Amazon was opening bricks and mortar bookstores across the U.S. This was quickly shut down on Twitter but it still raises questions...
Bob Mayer has been rallying the writing troops this week with two great posts on ambushing writing fear and what is becoming his annual exhortation to writers to face up to the harsh truths of this writing business. Go in with your eyes open...
This has been echoed by Agent Jennifer Laughran when she answered a question about sham agents and how you can tell who they are. (Especially important for people doing Twitter pitches)
You’ve dodged the sham agent and got your diverse story polished, what can you do next on your publishing journey?
You need an Author Business plan. This one is a comprehensive lists of things to think about on your way to establishing your author business.
Joel has put together a workflow checklist for book designing and publishing your project.
When it comes to selling this discussion on Ingram’s acquisition of Aer.io, a turn key bookstore that can be dropped into an author website, by Bookworks has some interesting opinions.
In the Craft Section,
The problem with revealing information- Janice Hardy
Using a scene template- C S Lakin Bookmark
Seven stages of the writer process- Orna Ross- Bookmark
Drafting in layers- Elizabeth S Craig- Bookmark
In the Marketing Section,
How to develop and perfect your author marketing- Rachel Thompson Bookmark
24 tips for using photos in your POD book- The Book Designer
Rethinking book cover design – Dave Bricker
Book Marketing ideas -Bookbub- Bookmark
The last memory I have of the late, great Dame Katerina Mataira (Ngati Porou) was the speech where she didn’t mince any words to the publishing establishment. ‘Where are our Maori books? ‘The market is too small’ they said. So I have to do it myself.’ She went on to write, publish and sell in all genres across the board at over 70 years of age. “You have a niche product. No one will publish you. Get out there and do it yourself.”
The Pic is the cast of the new Harry Potter play. Yes, that is the Golden Trio. J K Rowling has said she never mentioned skin colour in the books for Hermione. Score for Diversity!
Kiwi writes claim the high ground over OZ in terms of greater diversity in publishing - however not engaging with Australia has led to the scenario of of hardly any Kiwi books at all being published now.
Yes, it is a worry... Huia Press and Te Papa press are doing wonderful work in the traditional publishing arena for Maori language. The wero (challenge) that Katerina laid down to us to publish yourself and bypass the traditional publishers was directed at those of us that wrote stories outside the mainstream... and that included having main characters who didn't fit the the publishing norm... Unfortunately with our big publishing companies now based outside our country... NZ is now a niche market in Australia. This makes support of our own small publishers important. They have to survive.... which they can only do if they can sell the books they produce... which means mass market driven... which means playing it safe in a lot of ways.
I'm writing this on Waitangi day... our National day. There is a lot of discussion on who we are as a Nation. Another nation effectively gatekeeping our stories is a repeat of colonialism.
As a nation we need to be growing readers... we need to be reaching out to the large demographic who have abandoned reading... and to celebrate the many fine writers that come from NZ.
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