Somehow I’ve only just discovered this site, but it’s got a great conversation up right now about diversity in YA fantasy fiction—stop by to hear the thoughts of Cindy Pon, Shveta Thakrar, and other authors. Here’s some of what Cindy had to say:
as a reader of color with a love for fantasy, i never saw anyone like myself in any of my favorite books, much less on the cover. i’ve been writing since around twelve years old, and it wasn’t until Silver Phoenix (when i was thirty-two!) that i wrote a story featuring fully asian characters. before then, they were all white–like the stories i read. it wasn’t anything i analyzed or thought about when i was younger, it just was.
And here are Shveta’s thoughts on “getting it wrong”:
Again, that’s a valid fear. No matter what we write, it’ll hit someone wrong, and that’s okay. All we can do is try our very best.
I may be a writer of color, but I’m not immune to this fear, either. My perception of what it means to grow up as an Indian American kid is probably very different from someone else’s, and my novel may well hit an Indian American reader as false. That’s fine; I’m certainly no authority. I did my job, and the reader did his or hers.
Since I published my self-publishing story, I’ve gotten several requests to read other folks’ manuscripts. I’m afraid I don’t provide editorial services, but my good friend Laura Atkins does! Visit her site and read the many testimonials from authors who know—as I do—just how brilliant an editor Laura is. She asked me to come up with some tips for self-published authors, so here they are:
7 Tips for Self-Published Authors
1. Self-published books have a bad reputation because so many of them are poorly written, so make QUALITY your top priority. If you need help, hire an editor, hire a designer—get professionals on board so that your final product is the best it can be.
2. Do your homework. I went with Lulu.com because three friends recommended it. Then, a few months later, another friend decided to self-publish and she found dozens of POD sites. It was her research that convinced me to switch to Create Space, which was a much better fit for me. The technology is changing rapidly and you have a lot of options, so shop around.
3. Make yourself visible—set up a blog or website so that potential readers and reviewers can find out more about you. You can also post excerpts, and include a button or link to an online bookseller so readers have instant access to your book.
4. Be professional. Put your best foot forward when approaching booksellers, educators, librarians, or potential buyers; be polite and assertive, but not aggressive. Put together a press kit, and print postcards, bookmarks, and business cards so that you have something to offer besides the book itself. In my press kit I included a hard copy of an online interview conducted by a book blogger, a short bio, a page of “blurbs” from my best reviews, some postcards and bookmarks, my business card, and a color flyer with my book’s ordering information (price, ISBN, distributor, etc.).
5. Network with other authors so you can share resources. I learned a lot from talking to other authors (those at small and large presses) because they were often out there promoting their books, too! Few authors today get a big marketing push from their publisher, and that means you have to be prepared to go to conferences, solicit reviews, make your own book trailer, give free workshops, develop a study guide, etc.
6. Get to know book bloggers so that you can target those who are most likely to review your book. Participate in online discussions, read other books in your field, demonstrate that you’re invested in something more than your own book’s sales.
7. Be clear and realistic about your objectives. What is it you want for your book? Who’s the target audience? How can your book be used (book clubs, classrooms, professional seminars, etc.)? I wanted my book to be in libraries and classrooms in NYC, and I was able to achieve that on my own. If you want to wind up on a bestseller list, you will likely need to invest a lot more time and money!