I haven’t been blogging very consistently, I know—which made me only realize today that despite my many mentions of it on Twitter and Facebook, I haven’t yet talked about our New Visions Award here on the blog yet! With less than a month left before the deadline, I wanted to go a little into further detail about why we’re running this contest, and why you should share it far and wide with all your writer friends!
As you know, I focus on diversity in fantasy, science fiction, and mystery. We don’t require that our writers be people of color. Writing cross-culturally is perfectly valid—we’ve talked a lot here about how important it is to get a culture right if you’re writing cross-culturally, and to me, that’s what matters most when it comes to diversity in our books: that the books themselves reach beyond the status quo, and get it right while doing so.
But a vital part of getting it right is also welcoming voices from those communities we’re talking about, discovering new voices and adding them to the choral symphony. Look at CCBC’s 2011 numbers—the number of writers of color have mostly stagnated at roughly 6% of all books published, with roughly 8% of all books published featuring significant content about people of color (including formulaic non-fiction). Compare that with the population at large, which is roughly 25% PoC—or to the percentage of kids of color, our audience, which is fast approaching 50%—and you can see how stark those numbers really are, how bad we’ve been as an industry at offering “mirror” content to our readers and at sharing voices from their communities. If we were able to break it down into genres (does anyone have access to that kind of information? I’d love to see it), I have a feeling that YA SF and fantasy would have numbers that would look much worse.
So with that in mind, we started the New Visions Award, modeled after Lee & Low’s New Voices Award, to seek out new voices in genre fiction for young people. All the details can be found at our site (plus some awesome words about the contest from awesome people like Mitali Perkins and Nikki Grimes), but I’ll post a bit of it here so you can get an idea of what we’re looking for:
TU BOOKS, the fantasy, science fiction, and mystery imprint of LEE AND LOW BOOKS, award-winning publisher of children’s books, is pleased to announce the first annual New Visions Award. The award will be given for a middle grade or young adult fantasy, science fiction, or mystery novel by a writer of color. The Award winner receives a cash grant of $1000 and our standard publication contract, including our basic advance and royalties for a first time author. An Honor Award winner will receive a cash grant of $500.
TU BOOKS was launched in 2010, dedicated to diversity in the beloved genre fiction market for young people. Titles include Wolf Mark, Tankborn, and Cat Girl’s Day Off. This fall will bring the publication of Morris Award nominee and Pura Belpré Award winner Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s Summer of the Mariposas. For more information about TU BOOKS, visit leeandlow.com/p/tu.mhtml.
- The contest is open to writers of color who are residents of the United States and who have not previously had a middle grade or young adult novel published.
- Writers who have published work in other venues such as children’s magazines or picture books, or adult fiction or nonfiction, are eligible. Only unagented submissions will be accepted.
- Work that has been published in its entirety in any format (including online and self publishing) is not eligible. Manuscripts previously submitted to TU BOOKS will not be considered.
Dates for Submission:
Submissions will be accepted from June 1, 2012, through October 31, 2012, and must be postmarked within that period.
Notice that the deadline is coming up at the end of this month!! So please share on Facebook and Twitter, share with your writing groups, share with your listservs—post it wherever it might be appropriate to share it around. Let your writer friends know! And if you, reading this right now, have a book that would be right for me, send it along!
I’d also add for those who aren’t new writers of color who want to submit a book to me, we’re always open to submissions from all writers, both agented and unagented, in our general submissions.