Industry Q&A with publisher Christy Ottaviano
Please tell us about the most recent diverse book you published.
I recently published Jumped In by Patrick Flores-Scott. This novel is about Sam, a Mexican American teen who’s in a depressed state due to the breakdown of his family. He’s pretty much getting by in life by being a slacker, always remaining under the radar so he can fade into the background. But then he’s paired in English class with the much feared Carlos, a Latino who is said to be in a hardcore gang. Together the two team up in a poetry slam contest and emerge, after much introspection and hard work, as very capable, talented students. It’s a book about breaking boundaries and stereotypes, as well as friendship, tragedy, and the power of words.
What is one factor holding you back from publishing more diverse books?
Nothing is holding me back from publishing diverse books — it’s very much something that I feel passionate about doing. I don’t feel I see enough submissions about diverse characters just living in the world and experiencing life through strong storytelling. In other words, submissions where the story is the story and the characters just happen to be Latino or African American rather than their diversity driving the storyline. I tend to see more agenda-oriented books on the topic and these can be harder to position and market, and are often less appealing to young readers.
Bolded for emphasis. Amazing and informative interview! But…
What does ‘diversity driving the storyline’ really mean? The traits that fall under the ‘diversity’ umbrella are things that always influence and drive people’s real life storylines, in both subtle and less subtle ways…
Reblogging for the important commentary from Rich in Color.