People Of Color With Albinism Ask: Where Do I Belong?npr.org
“In a society where race is intrinsic to the fabric of our society…where do people of color, but without color, fit? Do they need to fit? And how should everyone else change their own perceptions about albinism?” @nprcodeswitch
Cautionary Tales: Being a Queer Girl in YA Litnitatyndall.tumblr.com
“We owe it to queer girls to publish and write stories about them. We owe it to them to say ‘You are not a cautionary tale. You are complex and messy and confused and happy and your story is valid and you are important, your story is important.’ @nitatyndall @thegayya
Tell us about the most recent diverse book you represented. My most recent sale, which has not yet been publicly announced, is a young adult novel that fearlessly confronts the national and cultural issues concerning the “Black Lives Matter” movement. I can report that this project sold in a highly aggressive auction, which would indicate that publishers are very interested in this kind of narrative. I’m looking forward to sharing more news about this fantastic book in early 2016!
How do you go about finding diverse authors and illustrators?
I have found social media, particularly Twitter, to be very useful as a platform for letting writers know the kinds of themes and stories I’m looking to represent. Several of my now-clients first approached me because they saw me talking about issues and concepts I was hoping to find in my submissions. Also, the sales of past books with diversity elements have helped position me as an agent with a strong interest in this area.
Contributed by Mark von Bargen, Senior Director of Trade Sales of Children’s Books at Macmillan
With the year coming to a close, I am finishing up a two-year term on the CBC Diversity Committee. It has been a great honor to work with the committee. They are doing amazing work, putting together terrific programs that are bringing about real change in our industry. As a final blog post, I wanted to share some thoughts.
When first starting on the committee, it seemed like a swirl of ideas, opportunities, and issues, all combating preconceived notions. It was hard to get a sense of where to go. One issue that kept coming up was the ability to find diverse books — the problem of “discoverability.” With somewhere between six hundred thousand and one million books being published each year, accurate categorization is vital to ensuring that books can be found. Our industry subject codes, the Book Industry Standards and Communications (BISACs) are outdated, with some categories not represented. Some books that address diverse social issues do not have an aligned category code. As a result, they are given overly generic codes. When this happens, especially with novels, they are often lost in the tidal wave of “fiction.” Thanks to the work of the committee, there are new codes being added to help the categorization problem. There is more to be done. Categorization is not static. It evolves, like language. As a group we need to keep current.
Contributed by Nikki Garcia, Assistant Editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
As someone who’s been lucky enough to be an editor for over two years, I’m interested in highlighting and advocating for all kinds of diversity. By now, we’re all familiar with the different types of diversity: race and ethnicity, sexuality and gender, ability, and religion—but one that doesn’t seem to be spoken about as much is socioeconomic diversity. This is the one I have felt deeply over the years. Money plays an important role in all of our lives—whether it’s the school we attended and the amount of financial aid we received, or access to job opportunities, our identities have all been shaped by finances from an early age. I often felt like I had to figure it out for myself—and figure it out for my family too. So when we talk about diversity of authors, their characters, and their stories—and the publishing professionals who turn these stories into books—economics are and always will be a factor.
Contributed by Yolanda Scott, Editorial Director at Charlesbridge
I’ve been following the controversy surrounding the text and illustrations of the picture book A Fine Dessert (NPR story here and NYT article here), and I want to comment from my perspective as an editor. I wasn’t the editor of A Fine Dessert, but I could have been. Well, not literally, as the manuscript wasn’t submitted to me, but I mean that I easily could have been the editor of a book that despite my best intentions was accused of propagating stereotypes about slavery. It could have happened because I’m white: the product of a white-dominant society and a white-dominant industry that influence me in ways that I am sometimes blind to.