SHE LIT: The High Cost of Supporting Marginalized Authors ⚖️

#currentlyreading Belonging: A Daughter’s Search for Identity Through Loss and Love by Michelle Miller

DiverseVoices folds under pressure to ease barriers for underrepresented creators

We have lost a literary nonprofit organization dedicated to making sure more authors across diverse backgrounds enter the tough publishing market.

DiverseVoices Inc. has closed its doors online, according to an email and social media messages sent out last Friday. Founded in 2019 by Beth Phelan of the Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency, the organization aspired “to empower and advocate for minority, underrepresented and other marginalized groups of writers, illustrators and other book creators.”

It rose from #DVPit, one of the more popular hashtag campaigns used on Twitter by aspiring writers from underrepresented groups pitching their stories in 280 characters or less for literary agents to take notice.

#DVPit will live on, but the organization that blossomed from it seems to have fallen prey to the excess work necessary to diversify the publishing industry. DiverseVoices mainly connected mentors, the established book creators, with mentees, the aspiring book creators, to guide them through the industry-standard labyrinth of editing and preparing manuscripts to querying and signing with agents in the long game to get their books published.

“i’m really sorry, yall. it’s been an honor serving the community but it was not sustainable for me. i’m heartbroken,” Beth tweeted in the announcement.

DiverseVoices says it had “insufficient resources necessary to sustain the organization.” The website alone, which expires next week, probably cost hundreds of dollars to be hosted online. The organization’s remaining funds will go to its more successful counterparts We Need Diverse Books and Our Voice Alliance.

All of its programs will cease, but YouTube videos will still be available. #DVPit has its own website. The 2023 dates for the pitch party have not been posted yet.

It’s unfortunate an organization dedicated to amplifying underrepresented voices will have to fold so soon. Though it was in existence for four years, that is not enough time to have seen its maximum potential, especially when you throw a yearslong pandemic in the mix.

The country is currently in a chokehold over banned books in spaces children frequent, so the need to ensure all serious authors are getting a fair shot to have their voices heard through their writing is more crucial than ever. Hopefully, other similar organizations can survive these trying times of financing support for authors who historically never received it.

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What we’re highlighting

Texas court orders books to be returned to library shelves

A Texas federal court ordered last week the return of at least 12 books taken off shelves in Llano County public libraries, according to multiple media reports. Last year, a group of residents sued county officials over the removal of the books, including thousands of digital copies. On March 30, a judge with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio said those books need to be returned to shelves and no others can be removed while the case remains ongoing.

D.C. bookstore employees follow competitor to unionize

Solid State Books is the latest bookstore to see employees join the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400 Union. The Black-owned independent bookstore in Washington, D.C., is the second local bookstore to unionize in recent months. Competitor Politics and Prose Bookstore unionized last September.

Here are some April book club picks:

Also what’s lit…

Noname Book Club canceled last month’s meetups across the country for its monthly selection The Temple of My Familiar after Alice Walker defended J.K. Rowling over her transphobic remarks.

White Lotus actor Will Sharpe plans to direct the film adaptation of Crying in H Mart based on the best-selling and award-winning memoir by Michelle Zauner, who’s also the lead singer of the indie pop band Japanese Breakfast.

Taylor Jenkins Reid’s latest novel Carrie Soto Is Back will be getting a film adaptation in partnership with independent film producer Picturestart.

Original Pink Power Ranger actress Amy Jo Johnson is writing her own version of a Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comic book series with publisher Boom Studios as the franchise celebrates 30 years.

What we’re reviewing

What we’re watching

The Australian TV series Wellmania has soared to the top of Netflix’s top 10 list. The half-hour dramedy follows a New York journalist who flies home to Australia to surprise her best friend who’s turning 40 but becomes sick enough from her everyday habits that she fails to get a green card to fly back to the U.S. The story is based on Brigid Delaney’s memoir of the same name.

What the plans are

The 11th annual Black Comic Book Festival on April 14-15 invites enthusiasts of Black comic books and graphic novels for panel discussions, workshops, and cosplay showcases at the Schomburg Center in New York City.

The Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival will be held in-person and virtually on April 12-14 at the University of Southern Mississippi campus in Hattiesburg with discussions on the latest trends in kidlit.

Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, the self-proclaimed first publisher in North America devoted to publishing works by women of color, is marking on April 20 the 40th anniversary of its 1983 title Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology.

Where the opportunities are

Rebel Girls is seeking a managing editor to work on a growing list of titles from anthologies to guide books aimed at girls ages 0 to 14 and their parents.

The Farrar, Straus and Giroux Writer’s Fellowship is accepting applications until April 10 for its yearlong program designed to give an emerging adult fiction, nonfiction, or poetry writer from an underrepresented community additional resources to make writing a career.

“What’s going on is unbelievable. It’s crazy and scary. It is coming from our government, lawmakers drunk with power with a need to control everything. Sure, it’s still sexuality — but it’s gender, it’s LGBTQ+, it’s racism. It’s history itself that’s under fire.” Judy Blume at Variety’s Power of Women lunch on April 4 in New York

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