I recently received an email from an author stating “I hate to ask, but…” She had read the review I wrote for her book and she knew I really enjoyed it, so she asked me if I’d nominate it for an award. Can you imagine how she felt? I assume it’s something like how I feel when I as an author to do an interview, but a little worse.
And, she should have to feel like that, shouldn’t have to ask! Reader, I’m on a mission here to promote literacy for teens of color and by default, to promote authors of color and books that feature teens of color. I feel like I’ve been failing that mission. How about you? Are you promoting authors better than I am, and if so what are some of the things you’re doing?
Here are my suggestions.
- As soon as you finish reading this post, go to your local library’s online catalog and look up 2 -3 new books by authors of color or that do an excellent job of featuring main characters of color. If the library does not currently own the books, request that they purchase them.
- Buy your next 2-3 books by authors of color at a local bookstore. Call ahead and if they don’t have the books you want, have them place an order. Wait a few days to pick up the books so that the store employees can have a little time to explore the books.
These next suggestions are really, really important.
Nominate your current favorite books written by authors of color for awards and booklists. We have to stop passively complaining about how few authors who write for teens of color are included in a booklist if we make no effort to have their books included.
You might have missed the opportunity to nominate books for NPRs list of best books ever, but you still have time to vote on the finalists.
Nominations are open for YALSAs Best Fiction for Young Adults. Anyone can nominate a book, but authors cannot nominate their own books. So, nominate for them.
Finally, each state has lists of books that are nominated for awards in that state. These lists are often what teachers look at when selecting books for class reads and many librarians rely upon them to select must have books for their libraries. These lists are critical in getting books by authors of color to become part of the curriculum and thus part of the cultural landscape. Know what list your state uses and know the process for getting books on these lists.
The Cybils will begin soon and what was once a small award among bloggers has grown into something quite prestigious. Be sure to get your favorite authors nominated.
Part of the reason that Latino, African-American, Native American and Asian American authors have a difficult time publishing new books is that they’re not getting on these lists; their works are not getting enough recognition.
Readers, we often hold the key to our favorite author’s success!
It’s really late here. I’ve tried to proofread this, hope I’ve caught my typos but I hope you’re feeling my passion here and I hope it motivates you to do something!