If it’s safe to say that we’re all aware of the need for greater, more accurate representation of marginalized voices in publishing, then how do controversies like the one around AMERICAN DIRT continue to happen?
Words have power, and the way fictional stories about mental health are told can have just as crucial of an impact on readers as facts presented in news outlets. Editors have the responsibility to put forth stories that promote a respectful and authentic perspective on mental health, and below are four practices they can implement to achieve this goal.
Research is an important aspect of writing, often prompting authors to reach out to experts in the topics they are writing about. But things start to get complicated when we talk about fiction.
Editors must consider and balance the feelings of two groups of people when suggesting language changes: firstly, they must consider how the reader will react to the language of the original manuscript; and secondly, they must consider how the author will respond to the suggested edits.
As a culture, we are growing more inclusive every day, but not all young readers grow up in the same environment. Not every town offers good examples, not every family is understanding, and not every book teaches the same thing. When you’re marketing a novel to a young adult readership, it is important to understand that while the internet is a map to nearly every young reader, it can also be the thing that destroys a novel.
Our May 2020 title faces down its darker elements—including violence, bigotry, and abuse—with both unflinching realism and hope. Importantly, it portrays the struggles of two main characters who fall under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella. Because these identities do not exist as a monolith, and also because this is a book intended for a YA audience, Ooligan chose to incorporate authenticity readers (sometimes called sensitivity readers) into the editorial process.