Announcing Tu Publishing, and a video challenge

I’m cross-posting this from the Tu Publishing website, the website of my small press. I promised you the announcement of a project, and I’ve finally finished it at 3:15 a.m. I’m going to go ahead and share it everyone despite the video needing a little fine-tuning still. (I seem to have a different resolution camera than Christine Taylor-Butler, who helped me out by providing an educator’s and parent’s perspective on multicultural fantasy and science fiction.) The Tu Publishing site is a work in progress–I didn’t have time last night to completely update it when I posted the video, but it will be changing and getting more informative soon.

Just a reminder (though I iterate it below, too) that those who have used the “donate” button here on this blog are on the list to receive the same incentives put in place in the Kickstarter project. You’ve been very helpful as we’ve gotten through the red tape to start a company, and I want to reciprocate, even if it’s a pretty small gesture comparitively.

Tu Publishing is a woman-owned small press startup that believes in the power of books to change lives. Children’s books, especially, have the ability to inform, inspire, and entertain in a way that few mediums can.

The word “tu” means “you” in many languages, and in Ainu (the language of Japan’s native people), it means “many.” Tu Publishing is dedicated to publishing fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and historical fiction for children and young adults inspired by many cultures from around the world, to reach the “you” in each reader.

Kids who love to read do better in school. One way to encourage that love of reading is to provide stories that readers can identify with. By increasing the number of books that feature multicultural character and settings, we can influence the multicultural world of tomorrow.

Fantasy and science fiction, mystery and historical fiction–these genres draw in readers like no other. Yet it is in these genres that readers of color might feel most like an outsider, given that such a large percentage features white characters (when they feature human characters). It is the goal of Tu Publishing to publish genre books for children and young adults that fills this gap in the market–and more importantly, this gap in serving our readers.

As author Mitali Perkins and many others have pointed out, books can be both a mirror and a window to other worlds for readers. Tu Publishing hopes that by publishing books that feature multicultural characters and settings and books with worlds inspired by all the many non-Western cultures in the world, we might shine a mirror on you and open a window to many.

To be able to achieve that goal, we need to raise enough money to fund the acquisition, production, marketing, and distribution of our first two books, for which we hope–with your help–to begin acquiring in January 2010. With your help, we can make this happen.

We have officially started our fund-raising project at and invite anyone interested in being a part of making Tu Publishing a reality to check out the project.

What is If you know Cheryl Klein, you might have seen her project to publish a book of her essays on writing there. This project is similar, except that it’s a bit more than Cheryl needed because we also need to pay a modest advance to the authors and publicize and market the books we acquire. It takes a lot of money to get a publishing company started, and we thought that this would be a nice, secure way for anyone interested to get involved, and to get something back for it. Kickstarter runs their payments through Amazon payments, and the project is only funded if the full goal amount is reached by the deadline. If it isn’t reached, no harm, no foul, and no payments go through, with the idea being that it would be worse to have a project be underfunded than not funded at all.

For those who have already donated before we started the Kickstarter project, you are on our list already of people to receive the same incentives here. Thank you for your support.

ETA: Yay! I’ve figured out how to fix the video. I had to completely upload a new one to replace the one that squished Christine, so I ended up adding music and making it shorter, too. If you’ve been sharing it, please note the new location.

The challenge portion of this

Whether or not you can donate, I’d love to see people, especially teen readers/nonreaders, share their own video or blog responses to this video, discussing whether you identify with the characters in the books you read and whether it matters to you. Mitali Perkins got this ball rolling separately as a part of the larger conversation about race in children’s and YA in her blog post asking “are books windows or mirrors?” I found her use of the mirror/window analogy very important–books can be a window to other worlds, but they also need to be mirrors in some ways, especially for young readers. The more “mirror” books we have for every child, the more “windows” there are for everyone. What do you think?

7 thoughts on “Announcing Tu Publishing, and a video challenge

  1. Great cause. I’d love to see a change in demographic economics due to efforts in this area. We as human beings, and Americans in particular, should be past the whole race issue. I’ll go through my finances tomorrow when I get paid and see what I can donate. How about starting something on Facebook so people can become fans and pass it around? 🙂

    In thinking on this issue, I am impressed to reexamine my own writing and see what I can do about ethnic diversity in my fantasy worldbuilding. The books you’re hoping to publish have to be written by someone, right? Why not me? But how can I, a middle-class white writer from a predominantly white neighborhood, write convincingly and sincerely about a culture that I have few ties to? It can’t come down to just research. I almost feel as though I have no right to write them, as though I’ll be ridiculed for trespassing on private property. Do you have any thoughts about what we white writers can do?

  2. Brittany: I’ve always liked the way Ursula Le Guin handles it in some of her fantasy worlds, where in fact the vast majority of characters are not white, but she doesn’t go out of her way to point that out and hit the reader over the head with How Sensitive And Multicultural She Is. Same with that guy…that guy who I really like and whose name escapes me…Neil Gaiman! Right.

    From a worldbuilding point of view, it’s not like you are going to write pages and pages of info-dump about your world and its different cultures (please, tell me you’re not going to do that). Making an effort to have a non-Western-European background/landscape, clothing, language, food, appearances, trade items, weapons, customs, that are just mentioned in passing while your characters get on with the plot, go a long way to developing a flavour of diversity without having to either feel like you haven’t done your research or that you’re trespassing.

    And anyway, you’re making up the world – it doesn’t really have to be based on any one culture at all. It just has to be internally consistent.

    Good luck with the new press, Stacy.

  3. Thanks for the tips, Wendy. Ursula Le Guin was subtle enough that when I read her books (ages ago, granted) I never noticed the ethnic aspect. Neil Gaiman does do a fabulous job in Anansi Boys, you’re right. At least we know it can be done, then!

    I like what you suggested about non-Western-European setting. That opens up worlds of fresh folklore and material to draw on. Maybe I’m not so removed as I think. I think you’re right – the best way to avoid being obviously Sensitive and Multicultural is to just not bring undue attention to the details, but simply unfold the world as casually as I would any other fantasy world. That helps.

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