What Publishers are Asking for

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You may remember that I was going to KidLit2017 on the 20th of May. Among other things I got to hear some really interesting panel discussion with people in the publishing industry – specifically children and young adult publishing.

A recurring theme during these discussions was the idea of diverse voices. Unsurprisingly authors for children and young adults mostly come from white, middle-class, backgrounds. You only had to look around the auditorium to see that. Publishers were saying that they would like to see stories from other groups of writers.

If you are white and middle-class (that’s me) then your first reaction might be to get defensive. Let’s all take a breath. Of course you can write any story you want and from any perspective you want. That is part of the joy of writing. But you should ask yourself, is that story truly yours to tell? Is it best served by you telling it? Is that community best served by you telling their story? Are you appropriating someone else’s story and culture? This may be hard to hear but here’s the truth – it’s not about you.

Encouraging writers from different backgrounds to tell their own stories is a win for everyone. Those writer’s and their communities win because they’re represented in authentic ways. Readers win because they get great stories told from a real perspective. And writers who fall into the ‘white and middle-class’ category win because we get to support other writers and still tell our own stories. And that’s what we, and all writers, do best.

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Last weekend I had the immense pleasure of attending the first KidLitVic writers’ conference. It was incredible! I have never been to a writers’ conference before and it exceeded all my expectations. For the first time I referred to myself as a ‘writer’ in public. The audacity of it! To actually say to someone that I am a writer!

It was wonderful to meet so many like minded people, all striving for the same thing, in such an encouraging atmosphere. I felt like I really belonged and that I was part of a ‘tribe’. I’m hoping to keep in touch with some of these people and I’m so excited to see how their writing journeys continue.

I feel that my journey has taken a real step forward. I had a meeting with Marisa Pintado for Hardie Grant Egmont and she liked the initial pages of my book and asked to see more. To. See. More. Of my work! Can you believe that. I know it’s just a first step and that she might not be interested in the completed novel but…Oh my God! It really encourages me to keep on going. This isn’t the end of the journey, it’s not even the middle, but it’s a real step in the right direction.

If you’re a writer (confirmed or otherwise) and you have the opportunity to attend a writers conference then I highly recommend it. I had the most wonderful time and I’m sure you will too.

A Brand New Year

There’s something about a new year. It holds promise. You open up that new diary and marvel at all those little squares just waiting to be filled.

And I’ve already started filling them!

Among the birthdays and summer catch-ups there’s the KidLitVic writers conference in Melbourne which I have bought my ticket for. So. Ex. Cited. It makes me feel like a real writer! I can’t wait to meet other writers and to hear what the publishers and people in the know have to say.

January in Australia brings heat, fire and flood but it also brings the smell of gum leaves in the north wind, blushing tomatoes and nodding daisies. It’s easy to feel positive about 2016 when there’s such a nice opening number.

I hope your, and your loved ones, year is as wonderful as ours will be.