As all the articles and reports and discussions about the lack of diversity in publishing over the past few years have shown, it’s harder for diverse writers, particularly disabled writers, to get published. Thankfully, it’s not been just all talk, some organisations have endeavoured to even the field a bit more by providing specific opportunities for diverse writers. So today I’ll be sharing with you some of the opportunities out there to help disabled writers. While I’m focusing on disabled writers here, it should be noted that these opportunities are open to other diverse groups.
The reason I’m specifically promoting them as opportunities for disabled writers, is because I’ve found through doing research that some of the diverse writing opportunities out there exclude disabled people as being a diverse group. There are also opportunities that aren’t very suitable for disabled people that are aimed at them.
So I wanted to make an effort to specifically put together things that I thought would help disabled writers and have a discussion centred around their needs. Therefore, when I’m using the term diverse, the definition of diverse for each of these opportunities includes disabled people, but also includes other diverse groups. For specific details, view the website of each opportunity.
Before we get to the opportunities, there are a few things to note.
Firstly, this is not an exhaustive list of opportunities, they’re just things I’ve heard about. Much of this will be influenced by my own background as a UK writer. Secondly, these are all novel writing related opportunities.
Thirdly, many of these opportunities have time frames throughout the year, but I’m talking about them all now, to give you time to plan. Writing a novel is not something that happens in a day. Should I find more opportunities I will update this post or list the opportunities elsewhere, as appropriate.
The Good Literary Agency
New this year and the thing on this list that I’m most excited about, is The Good Agency. They are a literary agency that specialises in diverse writers. It opened in February 2018, so it’s still in its early stages, but it’s sounding cool so far.
They’ll be offering the usual representation services typical of literary agencies, but also they’ll be offering services to help diverse writers develop their manuscripts. This is to even out gaps in people from more privileged backgrounds having had access to more education, development opportunities or having more means to dedicate large amounts of time to their writing.
According to their website, they’re hoping to open submission in April, but advise subscribing to their news letter.
Visit their website here:
A new small childrens’ publisher, that are focused on publishing books that are as diverse as possible.
They take submissions directly from writers. But there’s a twist, they like people to pitch their ideas through a live chat. This may not be the best platform for everyone, however it certainly offers a new twist for people who may not be best suited to the more traditional methods of submitting.
You can find their website here:
Writing in the Margins
The Writing in the Margins mentorship is open twice a year, in spring for their summer mentorship and in autumn for their winter mentorship. The scheme pairs a diverse writer with a published author or an editor, who will help them improve their manuscript.
They publish specific requirements each mentoring session, but a noteworthy point is that when I looked at the requirements for the session this winter back in October 2017, they were very clear about wanting manuscripts that had been polished and were at publication quality.
They seem to have taken down their mentoring page at the moment, however it might be worth checking their website from time to time to see about this year’s opportunities:
We Need Diverse Books
We Need Diverse Books offers mentorships usually to ten writers, who either fit their inclusive definition of diverse or writers who are writing a story with a diverse protagonist or diverse central theme.
The mentees get a year of writing development support from a published diverse author. We Need Diverse Books is a USA based organisation, however the scheme is open to all of the English speaking world. They do however, only support writers of children’s books however children’s books encompasses all of childrens’ publishing. Their mentorship categories are: picture book, middle grade (what we often call juvenile fiction in the UK), young adult, non-fiction and illustration.
They usually are open for applications in October. They require that applicants have a completed first draft, however it can be a rough first draft that hasn’t yet been revised.
For more information you can find their mentorship page here:
Write Now is a UK based scheme run by publisher Penguin Random House.
Writers from underrepresented backgrounds, are able to apply to attend a day which will include talks about publishing from people who work at Penguin and one to one feedback on 5000 words of their manuscript, for which one hundred and fifty writers will be selected.
Ten of these writers are then selected for a year long mentoring program, where they will work with an editor to develop their work.
Write Now applications last year opened in June and closed in mid July. Applicants only had to submit 1000 words for the first round and were only expected to send 5000 words in August and the full manuscript in October if shortlisted for mentoring. The publisher themselves said that applicants could apply if they were still working on editing their novel. Timescales have been different in each of the years the scheme has run so actively seek information if you’re interested in this one.
While a wide reaching opportunity with one hundred and fifty people participating in at least part of it per year, it’s noteworthy that a day such as the ones they offer is possibly not the best opportunity for many disabled people to promote themselves in their best light. Furthermore, they only usually run these days in three major cities so travelling is a factor.
You can find out more here:
There may be more opportunities out there, but this is what I could find. I hope some of these are useful. Please let me know by email or on Twitter if you hear about any more or are offering any opportunities you think should be here.
Happy writing everyone and I hope that if you are a disabled writer or a diverse writer, that you are successful in your endeavours to get published.