Megaphone – making plans!

Happy National Writing day! As good a day as any to let you all know that I AM planning to run Megaphone again. It was so successful and we built such a warm and supportive group, that it seems right to build on that foundation. The current plan (open to your suggestions for change) is to run the Writer Development Scheme once again, offering places to six mentees, and, in addition, to run events around England that support BAME children’s writers at different stages of their writing life. The details are still being firmed up and the grant application is in progress,  but I wanted to let you know that things are moving.

Here’s how you can get involved right now:

Last time, Megaphone was supported by some fantastic partners, without whom the programme would simply not have happened. This time, we are continuing to build on these partnerships and to make new ones. Are you a writer, publisher, agent or organisation who would like to be involved in the next phase of Megaphone? There are lots of ways in which this could happen, and I’d be glad to talk through ideas. Please get in touch to let me know of your interest. Email Leila at megaphone.write@gmail.com

Are you a children’s writer of colour who has strong feelings about what is really needed to create, support and sustain meaningful diversity in children’s literature? Are you reading this, shaking your head and thinking “Yes but….” or “What she ought to be doing is…” Please get in touch. Email Leila at megaphone.write@gmail.com . I would love to hear your thoughts. There is a Facebook group for consultation so please let me know if you would like to be added to that too. Or tweet me using the hashtag #MegaphoneWhatWeNeedIs . Or comment below!

Huge thanks to everyone who has supported the scheme so far – you have made the difference.

Leila Rasheed

The Emma Press wants your picture books!

From 14th January 2019, The Emma Press will be accepting picture book proposals for children. Successful proposals will be matched with an illustrator, and authors who illustrate their own work are also welcome to submit. Find out more here: https://theemmapress.com/2018/11/call-for-picture-book-manuscripts/

I’ve known The Emma Press for a while now, as an energetic and exciting Birmingham-based poetry publisher with a strong reputation for bringing translated work to the UK. They are now branching out into picture books, and having seen some of their illustrated books, I am looking forward to some wonderful, high quality publications. Good luck to all who apply!
Emma-Press-logo

Survey results: are BAME writers being published in 2018?

Back in June, I posted a survey into how many single-authored children’s books (7-11 age range) by BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) writers were due for release in 2018. I can only apologise for the delay in publishing the results – it has just been a really busy year. Anyway, this is a small sample of 6 respondents and therefore limited conclusions can be drawn (you should wait for the big research by Book Trust and Melanie Ramdarshan Bold!), but I thought people might be interested to see the results anyway.

Key conclusions:

  • Small publishers are doing a much better job of publishing BAME authors than medium-to-large publishers.
  • 50% of respondents were publishing no BAME authors at all in 2018.
  • 7% of forthcoming titles in the 7 – 11 age range are by BAME authors. 13% of the general UK population is of BAME origin. This is a discrepancy of nearly 50%.

Full data (you will need a .pdf viewer. Please let me know in the comments if it isn’t working.):
How many BAME children’s authors are being published in 2018.ods

The survey remains open at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/VP5ST3T so if your organisation has not yet completed it, please feel free to do so and I will update as soon as I have enough data.

Apply for Write Now by July 9th

Late to this party, but there’s still time to apply for this excellent opportunity:

“Penguin has launched WriteNow – a programme which aims to find, mentor and publish new writers and illustrators from communities under-represented on the UK’s bookshelves!

WriteNow offers:

  • Free workshops in Liverpool, London or Nottingham where budding writers and illustrators can learn more about the publishing process, hear from published authors and literary agents, and receive one-on-one feedback on their work from one of our editors or designers;
  • Chance to join our mentoring programme, being matched with a Penguin editor or designer for a year to develop their book or artwork;
  • Aimed at people from under-represented communities including Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) writers, LGBTQ writers, writers with disabilities and writers from socio-economically marginalised backgrounds
  • Open to illustrators of children’s picture books this year for the first time.

Now entering its third year, WriteNow is already having a tangible impact on our publishing – so far we’ve signed deals with 5 writers from the programme, with many more to come.

To apply, writers and illustrators need to visit www.write-now.live. The deadline for applications is Monday 9 July.”

THE MUSLIMS is the 2018 Little Rebels Award Winner!

I’m reblogging this and linking to a piece I wrote a couple of years back, to underline why I really loved The Muslims by Zainab Mian. It really is a desperately needed and important book: http://theasianwriter.co.uk/2015/10/a-new-scheme-hopes-to-promote-bme-voices-in-childrens-literature/ I would love to see bookshops stocking it widely – I had to order it into Birmingham Waterstones when it should be front and centre in the shop: there is such a big audience for this book in this city!

The Little Rebels Children’s Book Award

Zanib Mian collects her prize at the London Radical Bookfair

The Alliance of Radical Booksellers is delighted to announce that the winner of this year’s Little Rebels Children’s Book Award for Radical Fiction is Zanib Mian for her book, The Muslims (Sweet Apple Books 2017).

The winning title is a comic-style-illustrated chapter book which explores the life of Londoner, Omar, as he navigates a new school which comes complete with its resident bully. Keen to apply Islamic teachings to the challenges he faces and armed with a fiercely hyperactive imagination, Omar’s journey is a hilarious take on life as a 9-year-old child with a proud Muslim identity in contemporary Britain.

Praising the winning title, judge Patrice Lawrence said, “This is a very funny and very effective challenge to the widespread misrepresentation of Muslims in the news. More children need to get to read this book”. Judge Emily Drabble added, “If…

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Lancaster Playwriting Prize open:

An opportunity that may be of interest – NEW deadline: 5th August 2018.)

The Lancaster Playwriting Prize is a new initiative arising out of the cultural partnership between Lancaster University and The Dukes Theatre, Lancaster; it is supported by Lucy Briers, Tamasha Theatre Company and Arts Council England. In this inaugural year, the Prize is focused on BAMER (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee) playwrights. The aim is not just to discover new voices, but to empower playwrights from culturally diverse backgrounds in general by building skills, confidence and networks.

All longlisted scripts will be read in full. Up to five shortlisted finalists will have their script workshopped with professional actors and directors, and see extracts performed at a public showcase event held at The Dukes, Lancaster.

The winner will receive £1500 and will be invited to become part of the Tamasha Playwrights group for 2018/19, receiving tailored training and mentoring as they develop their careers (http://www.tamasha.org.uk/tamasha-playwrights/). The winner will also receive travel support to attend weekly Tamasha Playwrights workshops in London from October 2018 to July 2019. Two of the other shortlisted writers will receive writer on attachment bursaries at The Dukes of £500 each (with further support to cover travel costs); these postings will entail mentorship opportunities and the chance to observe the development of two shows at the theatre.

 

  • The window for scripts opens on 23rd April 2018. Scripts must be emailed by noon 22nd June 2018.
  • The competition is open to any BAMER (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee) writers who are originally from, resident or work in the North West of England. For the purposes of this prize, the North West consists of Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside.
  • Writers must be over 16.
  • The play must be an original, unpublished and unproduced piece of work. It cannot have had a professional production anywhere in the world. For the purposes of this prize, development performances (such as rehearsed readings and workshops) do not constitute full productions; amateur productions also do not count as full productions under these criteria.
  • Adaptations of existing works of musical theatre, radio, television or other media are not eligible; translations of said works are also excluded.
  • Musical theatre scripts are not eligible.
  • Scripts must be a minimum of 40 minutes long and all pages must be numbered.
  • For more details on how to enter and our criteria, please go to www.lancaster.ac.uk/playwriting or email lancasterplaywriting@lancaster.ac.uk

Want to be a picture book author/illustrator? FREE event at Discover, London.

 

Calling all aspiring picture book authors or illustrators! Discover has an event coming up called Drawing Stories on Thursday 17th May, which aims to bring professionals from the picture book publishing industry together with those people who are trying to make their way in. All levels and experience welcome and it is completely free.

More details:
Drawing Stories – Join Discover Children’s Story Centre on Thursday 17th May for an evening of illustrator and author workshops ranging from portfolio consultations to discussing the process of writing and insights on publishing. This will be followed by an open format Q & A discussion led by a diverse panel of self-published authors, experienced illustrators, and literary agents with inside knowledge of getting your picture book out there. There will be an opportunity to ask our panelists any questions about getting into the industry. Stay on to enjoy drinks, networking and live performances.

Discover aims to nurture new diverse voices and better reflect our visitors’ backgrounds/experience. We particularly welcome attendance from people currently underrepresented in children’s publishing.
To book: http://www.discover.org.uk/drawing-stories-2/

Blake Friedmann offering work shadowing for people of backgrounds ‘under-represented in publishing’

The well-known literary agency Blake Friedmann have re-opened applications for the  Carole Blake Open Doors Project – a two week, all-expenses-paid work shadowing scheme for candidates from backgrounds that are under-represented in publishing. There are more details here:

http://blakefriedmann.co.uk/carole-blake-open-doors-project/  . The deadline for applications is 18th May.

More about the scheme from Hattie Grunewald at the agency:

The Carole Blake Open Doors Project, is a programme specifically aimed at encouraging candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds to enter the publishing industry. Carole Blake was born in south London, and grew up in a house which did not have many books. When she left school at the age of sixteen with hopes of becoming a librarian, she found a job as secretary at George Rainbird Publishing. The experience kick-started her love of art, broadened her education, and introduced her to the classics. She moved to Michael Joseph in 1970, becoming the publisher’s first Rights Manager, and in 1975 joined Sphere Publishing to run their rights, contracts and publicity teams. After founding her own literary agency with some of the authors she’d come to know and love, Carole merged agencies with Julian Friedmann in 1982 to create the Blake Friedmann Agency.

The Carole Blake Open Doors Project will offer ten days of work shadowing to a selected applicant over a two-week period, including funding for travel and up to twelve nights’ accommodation in London. The programme, which will run twice a year, will include close mentorship with Blake Friedmann’s book agents, the opportunity to attend selected meetings with editors and clients, and the chance to be involved in every aspect of day-to-day life as an agent. It is intended that candidates will come away from the project with varied knowledge of working for a leading literary agency, the beginnings of new and essential relationships in the publishing industry, and some excellent experience to include on their CVs.

“Carole offered me my first internship in publishing at Blake Friedman. She was a formidable figure, yet warm and funny. She was deeply encouraging to me as one from a diverse background based on my age, class and race – though it was our mutual love of a great pair of shoes that really sealed the deal!  An unforgettable, truly phenomenal woman.” – Valerie Brandes, Founder & Publisher, Jacaranda Books, and former BFA intern
Carole Blake and the Blake Friedmann team have always placed great value on diversity and openness, in the company’s client list as well as its hiring practices. We aim to build on this foundation and be proactive about drawing from a wider pool of talented applicants who are passionate about books and ambitious about getting a job in publishing.

You can read an account of taking part in the project from our first Open Doors intern Ada Igwebu here.

Skylark Literary sponsoring a place on the Book Bound writers’ retreat

Skylark Literary are generously sponsoring a place on the Book Bound Writers’ Retreat in order to advance and support inclusivity within children’s publishing.

Amber and Jo of Skylark say, ‘We firmly believe that children’s publishing would be all the richer for the inclusion of more diverse voices. We’ve long been considering what we can do to help achieve a more even playing field for all aspiring children’s writers, no matter their background or financial position. The Book Bound team are experts in giving authors the skills to strengthen their craft and, hopefully, develop writing careers. We are excited to give that Book Bound opportunity to someone who might otherwise not have had the chance.’

For full details and how-to-apply, click here: https://bookboundretreat.com/grant/