Kindred BooksEdited by Vanessa Willoughby
“There is nothing new under the sun, but there are new suns.”
― Octavia E. Butler
We tell stories in order to learn how to live. In a publishing world that is overwhelmingly white, stories by minority and/or marginalized voices are often viewed as a way to fill a diversity quota, turning an author’s creative artistry into tokenism or exoticism. Those who are “spared” this type of treatment are either ignored or dismissed. Despite the progressive attempts to combat the whiteness of the industry, marginalized authors still must fight to get their stories properly told.
In a recent response to a New York Times article about the purpose of sensitivity readers for children’s book authors and publishers, author Joyce Carol Oates tweeted, “No one should censor writers--just don't read what offends you. Start your own publishing houses & magazines as many (of us) have done.” For many marginalized and non-white authors such as N.K. Jemisin and Angie Thomas, Oates’s tone-deaf response was a reflection of the systemic racism and discrimination of traditional publishing. Not only does Oates fail to realize that her argument suspiciously echoes segregationist thinking, it also dismisses the fact that the whiteness of the industry impacts accessibility. People of color have never waited for permission from white supremacy to start their own writing and publishing platforms. However, this still doesn’t guarantee the same type of exposure, publicity, and monetary support and funding reserved for white authors. Despite contradicting protests from old guard authors such as Oates, marginalized authors are not competing on an even playing field. The idea that these authors should happily accept the status quo is as regressive as it is oppressive.
Inspired by the unrelenting ambition, perseverance, and trailblazing vision of MacArthur Fellow and sci-fi writer Octavia Butler, Kindred Books aims to put marginalized voices first. The imprint champions and spotlights diverse identities, but also understands that these narratives do not simply end and begin with racial/gender identity and/or sexuality. Fiction Editor Vanessa Willoughby is actively seeking narratives that make readers reflect and question the world around them. She is especially interested in fiction that evokes the stylistic language and themes of authors and writers such as Jesmyn Ward, ZZ Packer, Danielle Evans, Toni Morrison, Hilton Als, Zora Neale Hurston, Zadie Smith, Angela Flournoy, and Celeste Ng. She would be pleased to acquire emotionally raw, coming-of-age stories concerning young people of color, especially black girls and women. Kindred Books believes that diversity in publishing, whether it specifically concerns the authors, agents and/or editors, is a necessity to the lifeblood of the industry.
About Vanessa Willoughby: Vanessa Willoughby holds a BA in writing, literature, and publishing from Emerson College. Following Emerson, she attended The New School and earned her MFA in creative writing. Her bylines have appeared but are not limited to the following publications: Bitch, The Establishment, The Hairpin, Hazlitt, The Toast, and Vice. A full archive of her work is available on her blog.
Guidelines: Your electronic submission of a manuscript pitch and 1-2 sample chapters will be accepted at the Brain Mill Press submission portal at brainmillpress.submittable.com. Up to two manuscripts may be submitted per person. Incomplete submissions and manuscripts, or manuscripts that are discovered to not meet the guidelines of this call, will be automatically rejected. All other submissions will be read by the editor in a timely manner. Authors who have not heard from the editor eight weeks from submission are welcome to inquire about their submission to firstname.lastname@example.org. Form rejection should be anticipated by authors whose submission does not meet the needs of the editor at this time, but comments and feedback may be occasionally offered per the editors’ discretion.
Good luck, and direct inquiries not answered in this call to email@example.com.