Some good news: today, Publishers Weekly reported that We Need Diverse Books is partnering with Penguin Random House on a series of programs to get more books by Black writers published. The Black Creatives Fund initiative involves a “Revisions Workshop”; a mentoring program; and marketing symposia designed to demystify the marketing process, in partnership with the Brown Bookshelf. The whole initiative is overseen by Dhonielle Clayton, author and COO of We Need Diverse Books.
Twelve Black authors will be selected for the Revisions Workshop, which will be led by five faculty members, including Nic Stone, Jewell Parker Rhodes, and Karen Strong. Each faculty member will lead a separate craft workshop; then each participant will have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a writing coach to revise their manuscript for six months. At the end of those six months, writers will have a finished manuscript to present to Penguin Random House editors—but writers are not locked into publishing with Penguin Random House. Says Claire Von Schilling, Penguin Random House senior vice president and director of corporate communications, “The scope of the Black Creatives Fund goes beyond the Penguin Random House portfolio. Our goal is to help expand the industry-wide pipeline for elevating Black voices and stories.”
All Revisions Workshop participants will also receive a stipend, and the program will likely begin taking author applications in the next few weeks. The first of the Black Creatives Fund’s marketing symposia will likely be held mid-summer and will be open to all Black authors interested in building their author brands, using social media, and holding events. Clayton also hopes to begin the one-on-one mentoring program this summer. And Clayton hopes the initiatives backed by the fund will live beyond 2021: “Too often, Black authors don’t know the right steps to take in the publishing process and they get cut out of the pipeline,” said Clayton. “We want to fix that.”