Angeleno Avenue Publishing’s Nataly Wright Discusses Diversity in Children’s Book Publishing
Thursday, March 14, 2019
Posted by: Christopher Locke
|Angeleno Avenue Publishing founders: author A.E. Wright (left), CEO Janet Breceda Wright (center), and Editor-In-Chief Nataly Michelle Wright (right).
As part of IBPA’s spotlight on diversity in publishing, IBPA member, author, and Editor-In-Chief of Angeleno Avenue Publishing Nataly Wright shares her thoughts on the progress that has been made so far and the strides that still need to be made.
“The increase of diverse literature for children and young adults is a long time coming,” says Nataly. “It’s exciting to see the variety of literature representing the vast experience of people of color and diverse communities. As with knowledge in general, the most profound positive effect of the increase is exposing young readers to issues, experiences, history, and lifestyles that are unfamiliar to them. When an unfamiliar culture or lifestyle becomes more familiar, it also becomes less stigmatized and feared, creating more empathetic and open-minded thinkers.”
Nataly explains, though, that “there is a disparity of culturally diverse literature for children and teens because the publishing industry also has a disparity of authors and publishers of color. Currently, 86% of the publishing industry is white. How can literature be created to reflect diverse cultures, when the industry itself does not reflect diverse cultures? Once representation in the publishing industry is more inclusive, literature will follow.
“It’s difficult being underrepresented. Children need to see themselves in literature in order to develop a healthy self-image. Without that reflection, children of color can grow to feel marginalized and invisible. Monochromatic literature can be dangerous because it is limiting. It is vital for children of color and white children to see characters of color who are engaged in regular life experiences that contrast racial and gender stereotypes. Diverse literature (this includes characters with disabilities and LGBTQ characters) provides children and teens of color the opportunity to feel validated in a world in which they are not always seen.”
|Angeleno Avenue Publishing's The Audacious Little Princesses by A.E. Wright, Janet Breceda Wright, and Nataly Michelle Wright.
Nataly also shares some ideas for indie publishers to ensure that literature is more diverse. “Some tips for independent publishers would be to actively seek content that reflects a diverse people and messages written by authors of color. For example, develop relationships with local educational institutions and seek out writers that may fit the bill. Also, hosting a meet-up or providing workshops may attract diverse authors.” She adds that, “independent publishers can market and distribute diverse literature by developing relationships with independent booksellers and platforms such as We Need Diverse Books and Diversity in YA.”
Nataly founded Angeleno Avenue Publishing alongside her mother, Janet Breceda Wright (CEO), and her sister, A. E. Wright. They wrote the award-winning The Audacious Little Princesses together, which Nataly discusses at length below. It’s the first book in a series, and the second is set to release in 2020. They also have a book of poetry, Mercies of the Lord. . . I Will Sing, by Sister Jean Marie Kirby that will be released later in 2019.
Five Questions with Angeleno Avenue Publishing Editor-In-Chief Nataly Wright
IBPA: Can you explain the process of writing and publishing The Audacious Little Princesses with your mother and sister?
Nataly Wright (NW): The Audacious Little Princess was a collaborative project written by myself, my mom, Janet Breceda Wright, and my sister, A.E. Wright. The story is based on a true occurrence when our mom found our oldest sister, who was five-years-old at the time, trying to scrub off the brown of her skin (because she thought she was dirty) in an attempt to achieve the same color as our fair-skinned Latina mother. Thirty years later, the same incident occurred again, but with the same sister’s daughter who was trying to scrub off her color. Our mom was devastated to find that three decades later “nothing had changed.” Thus the inspiration for The Audacious Little Princesses was born. In the book, six little girls of different backgrounds discover the greatness of their diverse cultural heritages. This was also the impetus of our publishing company.
IBPA: Can you list three key lessons you’ve learned about how one can succeed as an independent publisher?
- Subscribe to the most current publications/organizations/websites/etc. in order to keep up with the latest in the industry.
- Get involved with your community of independent publishers and authors for support and information. For example, our participation and involvement with the Latino Literacy Now organization opened so many doors for us as new independent publishers. We were introduced to the industry through the organization, and without them we would have had a much more difficult time figuring out the intricacies of publishing. Attend as many conferences and workshops, and take as many webinars and classes as possible.
- Be persistent and patient. Starting a business is challenging. Believe in what you’re doing and keep pushing.
IBPA: How has it been beneficial to you to be a member of Independent Book Publishers Association?
NW: Being a member of IBPA has connected us with a community of like-minded publishers, and provided a variety of information that assists with finding resources needed during the publishing process. The webinars and workshops have helped us immensely as we were developing the company.
IBPA: Because every month (not just February) should honor black history, do you have book recommendations?
NW: The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas (YA), Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and The Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (YA).
IBPA: Do you have book recommendations that are a great representation of diversity in children’s and YA literature?
NW: The 16 Rule by Evelyn Gonzalez and The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet by Carmen Agra Deedy.
IBPA: Thank you, Nataly, for sharing your insight with the IBPA community, and for all the work you do to increase diversity in the publishing industry!
Click here to learn more about Angeleno Avenue Publishing!
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