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Sangeeta Mehta

Three Online Diversity-Focused Writers’ Events to Attend This Summer and Fall

Kids Book Fest Logo

Last month, I had been scheduled to speak at the Editors Canada conference about how developmental editors can help writers balance cultural sensitivity with craft. It would have been an incredible experience to exchange ideas with other editorial professionals who also want to work more effectively with writers whose culture and experiences are different from their own. Understandably, this conference was cancelled due to the pandemic, but I was encouraged to learn about the following three events geared specifically toward writers from marginalized backgrounds. If you are aware of any other diversity-focused writing conferences, festivals or events, please add them to the comments. And I hope we can meet at the Editors Canada conference next year!

Name: [margins.] by The Word, A Storytelling Sanctuary

Description: “[margins.] is a collaborative effort between literary arts organizations based in Denver that will feature authors, educators, agents, publishers, and publishing industry experts. [margins.] will offer panels, workshops, and readings promoting voices from underrepresented communities and diverse backgrounds.”

Dates: The main conference is Aug.12, 2020. In addition, a meet and greet is scheduled for July 31, and query feedback and agent speed dating sessions will take place on Aug. 4.

Price: General admission is US$75, plus a US$6.20 processing fee for live participation, but a free admission option is also available. Registration is open until Aug. 1, 2020.

Additional notes: Founded in 2016, The Word, A Storytelling Sanctuary is a non-profit organization working to build a publishing community that will fight for inclusivity.

Name: DVcon

Description: “DVcon, a product of #DVpit, is a free, two-day virtual writers conference for self-identifying marginalized book creators … The mission of DVcon is to educate and connect authors and illustrators who have been historically underrepresented and marginalized in the book publishing industry. Featuring a diverse faculty as well as #DVpit alum, DVcon will offer informative workshops, fun micro-content, and [focuses] on community-building and forging connections.”

Dates: Not yet announced, but according to the #DVpit website, the conference will take place in late summer or early fall.

Price: Free, but pre-registration is required.

Additional notes: #DVPit ™ is a biannual Twitter pitching event for self-identifying, historically marginalized authors and illustrators. The first #DVpit took place in April 2016.

Name: FOLD Kids Bookfest

Description: FOLD Kids Bookfest promotes “diverse Canadian children’s literature through interactive events that engage readers, inspire writers, and empower educators.” This year’s bookfest includes “a fantastic array of events featuring a diverse array of authors and illustrators who’ve created books for young people (ages 0–18) … [and] opportunities for adult writers of children’s literature to take part in pitch sessions and to develop their craft through in-person workshops with the festival’s incredible lineup of authors.”

Dates: Oct. 3–4, 2020.

Price: Not yet available, but registration will open on Sept. 21.

Additional notes: The FOLD (The Festival of Literary Diversity), Canada’s first festival for diverse authors and storytellers, launched in Brampton, Ont., in May 2016. The first FOLD Kids Bookfest was held in September 2019, also in Brampton.

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Sangeeta Mehta

Sangeeta Mehta has worked in the book publishing field since the late 1990s. She has been an acquiring editor at both Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and Simon Pulse. Sangeeta currently consults on book projects for corporate and independent book publishers (with clients including Macmillan, Lee & Low, and Workman Publishing) and individual authors. She also leads workshops with Inked Voices.

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