I loved the library as a little girl. So often it can feel like such a thing of the past. Libraries that is. But I remember how I used to go, find a book, check it out with my card, and then get lost in a world that was not my own.
My mom and I would take trips there. She would always recommend books for me and as I got older, she would just pass down what she was reading. There were so many great stories and authors names that escape me now. Although I had thoughts that I too could write stores, I never really imagined becoming an author too.
As my path would have it, I came back to those stories I loved. I wanted to write about my experiences and my journey. As I dug into the work, I remembered things like how small the African-American literature section was. And I had no understanding of why our stories weren't the same as everyone else's. Why weren't we simply, literature?
Lee & Row Books did the first major study of diversity in publishing and found that 80% of people who work in publishing were self-defined as white. 77% specifically in marketing and promo. With gatekeepers that don't necessarily look like us or understand how to reach us, many of our stories remain untold to the masses.
Among Amazon editors' top 20 picks of 2014, just three authors were minorities. It's not that we don't have amazing works, they just seemingly don't receive the acclaim or visibility.
"Writers shouldn't romanticize rejection: in the literary world, talent isn't hiding. It's being ignored." Kavita Das, The Atlantic.
I'm not sure if we're not submitting enough or whether our voices are not seen as universal, but I know there is a lack of representation of authors of color on the larger stage of major publishing. And I believe the infrastructure to tell those stories is much needed.
I started out so focused on what I wanted to say, but it became important to me to become the catalyst to amplify the voices of other writers like me as well. I always feel there is more we can do together than apart.
As a part of that work, I am introducing, "Permission to Write," a digital literary journal to help promote the work of writers of color. This quarterly publication features essays, creative non-fiction, and book excerpts from talented writers across the country.
In my own career, I stopped asking for permission and just started doing and I want to give writers like you the opportunity to do the same.
Are you excited about reading work from independent authors and writers across the country? This is your opportunity to discover your new favorite writers. Receive your quarterly copy of Permission to Write by signing up below! The first issue is set to be released June 2017!