Only a few weeks before I had the pleasure of meeting Edi (active high school librarian turned university reference/instructional librarian focused on increasing literacy in teens of color) in person at ALA Midwinter 2014, she was nice enough to mention Quill Shift in her Sunday Morning Reads.
Twinja Book Reviews, a website whose mission is to fight to bring multiculturalism to YA fantasy and science fiction novels, asked Ayanna Coleman of QSLA to answer a few questions. Here’s one below.
The word on the streets is that publishers are LOOKING for more diversity in books, but the amount of books released with multicultural themes is greatly lower than ones that aren’t…..What gives???
Publishing houses are companies. Companies filled with well-intentioned employees, but still companies with bottom lines. If there’s a pervasive thought within the industry that yes, diversity in books is an overall good thing, but diverse books don’t sell, then why would publishers invest money in creating more of them? Then, when they do publish books with characters deviating from the norm, they aren’t seeing the sales that they’d hoped for. Why is this? Is it because the publishers are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy where they don’t invest time and money into books and therefore they don’t do well or is it something more? Either way, I do believe publishers want more diversity but the above thought is part of the reason we aren’t seeing more come through the pipeline.
“Libertad Araceli and Guinevere Tomas are…of Afro-Latina ancestry and insanely interested in many different other cultures, their biggest mission is to create and promote stories that feature people of color, LGTBQ, differently-abled, strong women of any size, and explorations of other religions.”
Ayanna explains on their blog amongst other things:
The need for more minority protagonists in kidlit
The need for more more people in the publishing industry to come from varying backgrounds to help produce and promote more inclusive material effectively
How Quill Shift Literary Agency strives to make a difference
Check out this Q&A Ayanna Coleman participated in for her alma mater in their series highlighting what past students are up to after graduation. In the interview Ayanna talks about her work with the Children’s Book Council, her fond memories working alongside The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books reviewers, advice for students about to enter the workforce, and how she enjoys spending her free time. Below’s a little snippet:
I couldn’t have gone into the publishing industry with only the knowledge I had acquired through my undergraduate education. I didn’t know anything about the publishing industry besides what I read in magazine and newspaper articles. Working at the CCB, talking to reviewers at The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, attending classes about collection development and genre fiction, and learning the theory behind how and why readers read—those interactions prepared me to enter the publishing industry with an arsenal of information that allowed me to differentiate myself…