Over the last few weeks, I’ve been digging into the particulars of diversity and how it is, or is not, or could be better represented in the publishing industry–that is, in both traditional publishing and in self-publishing. But you’re here reading this blog, which means you’re either a self-published author, or interested in self-publishing, and that means the stakes are higher in this matter, that you have an incredibly unique place in the argument. I’ve already written a little bit about how the track record for self-publishing is somewhat more diverse than it is in traditional publishing, and why. Authors and readers like you have already brought about change. You are the change.
That’s right, you are the change. (This bears repeating, I think.) Without you and your investment in bringing about a better, more diverse world of words, we would not have authors like the aforementioned CJ Lyons, Orna Ross, Lara Nance, HM Ward, Kailin Gow, Margarita Matos, Abdul Qayum Safi, Lozetta Hayden, Manuela Pentagelo, Tejas Desai, Aleysha Proctor, Mary Sisney, Liz Castro, Nadeem Aslam, Johnny Townsend, and Qasim Rashi. We would not have created a niche market that has blossomed into a fully-fledged mainstream market, and we would not have opened the doors in traditional publishing by exerting pressure from the indie sector … without you.
So how does this relate to self-promotion? Well, that’s a good question. There’s all manner of potential ways in which we could layer further exploitation and abuse on minorities and under-represented groups by trying to turn diversity into a promotional gimmick. You definitely don’t want to find yourself on the other side of the gimmick line, dear readers. No buts, howevers, or addendums allowed. The connection between diversity in self-publishing and a solid foundation for self-promotion is this: honesty. Yes, honesty. In your marketing, as in all other things related to your book(s), you should and must be honest. Are you an author of diverse heritage, or identity? Awesome. Get that out there. Are you an author who comes from outside the “diversity sector” but who wants to uphold the vision, beliefs, and self-realization of those who do? Awesome. Get that out there.
Author Beth Revis, who self-published her latest Young Adult novel (The Body Electric) writes eloquently on the role and nature of such allies in the world of words. “Representation is important,” she writes. “At its most basic level it says: I see you. And in this world of bright lights and hollow dreams, of statistics and caricatures that turn people invisible, that is important.” Read the rest of Revis’s blog, and you’ll see that there is a place for the ally–even though it is vital we recognize that saying we support something isn’t the same as actually making it possible. It’s equally vital that we not put ourselves up on pedestals as allies, when we’re often not the ones who have borne or are bearing the brunt of marginalization.
Perhaps the best thing we can do, both as self-published authors and as authors working on self-promotion, is to make room in our lives and works for the conversation about diversity. It’s really taken off on certain platforms (most notably, the social networking websites, such as Tumblr and Twitter), but it hasn’t yet reached critical mass. The more we make ourselves at home with diversity as a topic, the more footholds diversity has to make visible the invisible.
If you’re looking for my earlier posts on diversity & self-publishing, see:
And check back next week on Wednesday as I launch a new series on the merits of merchandising for self-published authors interested in self-promotion!
|ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.|