It's Time to Amplify #OwnVoices Authors
#OwnVoices describes books with diverse characters that are written by authors who also represent those groups. It started in 2015 as a hashtag on Twitter as a way for people to recommend diverse books and to promote the inclusion of all colors and kinds of characters, and it has grown in popularity since.
Who does #OwnVoices include?
are ethnic & racial minorities
are in the LGBTQ community
Do I think an author has to look just like and be just like their characters? No. But I do think we should promote and amplify books that do reflect experiences different from the white, hetero, non-disabled characters that have dominated pages in the United States for centuries.
Why Are #OwnVoices important?
Humans learn about the world through stories. If we only read white, hetero, non-disabled authors, then we are only seeing one slim side of the story. To best understand the humanity of today and yesterday, we need to read from multiple perspectives.
These perspectives are especially important in children's and YA books. When young people see characters who are like them, they feel like they belong in our society, like they have a place.
Or as author Rudine Sims Bishop put it: “Literature transforms the human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection, we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation.”
Why has American literature historically focused on stories about white, heterosexual, non-disabled people?
It's simple: because that’s who is selecting the stories to be published.
Lee & Low Books is the largest multicultural children's book publisher in the United States. They've done a survey to determine the makeup of publishing industry employees.
Their 2019 survey of people working in publishing found:
76% are white
74% are Cis women (someone whose sex and personal identity are both female)
81% are heterosexual
89% are non-disabled
This means if we want to see books about characters that better represent all the different kinds of people there are, we need to start asking for them. Here is a humongous list of diverse books you can read now.
At Dot and Dash, we support and nurture #OwnVoices books. And if you're an #OwnVoices writer, we want to help you. We have three free services to offer you.
1. We will look at your first chapter and give you feedback.
2. We will give you a free 45-minute session of coaching and consultation.
3. And if you are ready for beta reading or editing now, we will give you 50 pages free off a full edit/read.
Don't forget about our resources library, and if you're looking for an online writing community where there's no judgment, only encouragement and education, then join Dot and Dash's private writing group on Facebook.