Diversity / Publishing / Writing / YA Lit

003. The Next Step

Hi there!

I hope everyone’s still enjoying NaNoWriMo. I know week two’s a doozy but you all can do it. You’ve got this. I believe in you!

I bet you’re wondering why I’m being so encouraging and not mentioning how I’ve been fairing in my own mission to write 50,000 words in a month. Well…as what’s beginning to become a tradition, November has gotten the best of me. I was so swamped with paperwork that I was pretty much dead to the world when I came home from work last week. I was so tired that I could barely keep my eyes open long enough to set my alarm for the next day. As a result, I didn’t get much writing done so my current word count is a little less than 2,000. I don’t want to be completely defeated by NaNo so I’m going to attempt reach 25k by the end of the month. Even though I won’t technically “win,” I will have a solid start on a new project.

Though I haven’t done much work on my NaNovel, I have done some writing-related stuff this month. Last week, my editor Beth sent back the developmental/copyedits for my manuscript. A single thug tear rolled down my cheek after I finished making the suggested changes. I’ve accomplished a goal I’ve had since I was but a wee lass. I wrote a book. Let me repeat that for the cheap seats. I WROTE A FRICKIN’ BOOK! I still can’t believe it. I wrote something that someone else enjoyed (something that a couple of people enjoyed #actually). I get verklempt every time I think about it.

Once I finished beaming with pride and quit singing a writing-themed remix of Whitney Houston’s “So Emotional,” I knew it was time for the next step. I’ve spent the better part of this year working out the kinks in my manuscript and pestering my critique partners in preparation for this moment. The time to begin the querying process has come. While waiting to hear from everyone, I made a game plan. I knew the first step was to make a list of literary agents who are looking for a story similar to the one I wrote. My process largely consists of utilizing QueryTracker, stalking #MSWL on Twitter, checking the MSWL tumblr and other blogs in search of agents.

This process has been oddly intimidating. Not because I lack faith in my manuscript but because I’m not sure who would be interested in my protagonist. See, much like myself, Dia is a woman of color. She is Afro-Latina and identifies as such but the story is not an ethnic narrative. Dia’s story is YA Paranormal. In my years as a reader, I’ve found that genre works featuring PoC leads aren’t something you find very often in young adult literature. The absence of protagonists that looked like me in genres I enjoy prompted me to write Dia’s story. I will delve deeper into my motivation to write young adult literature featuring people of color in a subsequent blog post.

It seems as though the planets aligned or something because as I was searching for agents who may be a good fit for my work (if they’re interested), I came across the Lee & Low article discussing the diversity gap in publishing. It’s an interesting read. I recommend you take a few moments to check it out and when you’re done, check out Léonicka’s response. She offers up excellent ways to begin addressing the problem. Me while reading it:

Léonicka’s suggestions echo things I’ve said to my writing homies Cat and Cara while discussing our projects. They’re in similar boats with their works. Space Time* and reset. both feature PoC leads. We’re just not sure who may be interested.

Yesterday, I retweeted a link to Léonicka’s article along with some of my fears about Dia being deemed “unrelatable” because she is the other. The response I received was unexpected. I was surprised by the number of encouraging tweets from people who understood where I was coming from and identified with me. I was offered information and links to resources, all of which will be useful on my journey toward publication. I can’t begin to express my appreciation. Knowing I’m alone is making this process less intimidating and more manageable.

So now, I’m preparing for the next step. And that seems to be crying tears of blood while trying to create the perfect query. This should be fun!

-Brit

*Space Time isn’t the actual title of Cat’s book lol.

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