November: Giving, Gatekeeping, & Indigenous Stories

Literacy groups making stories heard, barriers to entry in publishing, industry news & awards, indigenous writers reading list, + my favorite green tea.

Greetings readers & writers,

I had a whole message planned, about newsletter metrics and ‘reach,’ but then as I’ve been prepping for this strange, holiday season before us, I realized very few of us are probably thinking of marketing right now. We’re thinking of our families; we’re worried about our jobs, our health, our homes, our country. And how/if we can even manage to fit writing into any of that. If our stories are even worth telling (They are. They always are).

So instead, I thought I’d direct you to some organizations that are working tirelessly to make stories heard in case you have a little extra to give this year:

  • 826 Boston / 826 National empowers traditionally underserved students ages 6-18 to find their voices, tell their stories, and gain communication skills to succeed in school and in life.

  • Mass Poetry harnesses the power of words to engage and empower diverse communities across Massachusetts.

  • Lambda Literary is an organization devoted to nurturing LGBTQ writers and readers, through programing, awards, resources and by creating a safe, enthusiastic space for artists, both virtually and through residencies.

  • PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. 

  • Carl Brandon Society’s mission is to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction.

  • We Need Diverse Books advocates for essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.

  • Girls Write Now mentors underserved young women and gender non-conforming youth to find their voices through the power of writing and community.

  • Grub Street Inc. fosters the creation of meaningful stories and ensures that excellent writing remains vital and relevant by rigorously developing voices of every type and talent and by removing barriers to entry. (Disclosure: I regularly teach at Grub Street. They offer lots of scholarships and free programming that is supported largely through outside donation.)

These are only a handful of the amazing causes out there; please share more below! And know that stories are worth fighting for.

Do you have a favorite literacy cause? Please share in the comments!

Thanks for engaging with this newsletter. I would love to know what’s kept you coming back and what other awesome content you’d like to see. Take a few moments to fill out this short survey and you could win a $10 gift card to an indie bookstore!

Upcoming (Virtual!) Workshops:

Events are remote and require registration unless otherwise noted!

  • Dec. 10 (10AM): Speculative Fiction Variety Hour* - FREE! (email me for link)
    *actually 90 minutes of exploring topics in speculative fiction, genre, and writing

Writing/Marketing Resources:

“So the root, the real root, of the problem lies not just in whether submissions should be read blind, then, but in what those at the top refuse to, or simply cannot, see.” — Joyce Chen

Joyce Chen challenges us to acknowledge cultural context when evaluating submissions in The Politics of Gatekeeping: On Reconsidering the Ethics of Blind Submissions from Poets & Writers Magazine.

Best Sellers Sell the Best Because They’re Best Sellers from The New York Times gives an inside look at the current trends in book marketing/publishing through the lens of Penguin Random House and it’s powerhouse U.S. chief executive Madeline McIntosh.

In Getting a Job in Publishing - What Does an Editor Do?, Mabel Hsu, an editor at Katherine Tegen Books, takes us on a virtual tour of a day-in-the-life of a children’s book editor.

Chase Jarvis, of CreativeLife, interviews marketing guru Seth Godin about his new book, The Practice: Shipping Creative Workin a wide-ranging and inspiring conversation about feedback, imposter syndrome, process, and trusting yourself.

“Writer’s block actually means ‘I’m afraid of bad writing’ and if you can let go of your fear of bad writing and are willing to do bad writing and you do enough… sooner or later some good work is going to slip through.” —Seth Godin

Industry News

Books and Awards

Reading Corner: Indigenous Peoples’ Month

I mentioned 826 Boston above. Their students and volunteers at their Writers Room at the John D. O’Bryant School of Math and Science compiled a superb list of books by and about indigenous people for readers of all ages and genres (I particularly enjoyed Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse).

The last book on the list is In Mad Love & War by U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. Here she is reading her gorgeous poem “The Speaking Tree”:

Congrats to Lyle McKeany, winner of one of October’s free consults! Lyle is a fellow Substack writer, sharing his funny, moving, personal essays in his newsletter Just Enough to Get Me in Trouble.


In addition to their Belgian Chocolate tea I mentioned in my last newsletter, I also received Brooklyn Tea’s Immunity Gift Box which had a delicious sampling of low-caf and herbal teas. My favorite? Their Pomegranate Hibiscus green tea which I have been carefully rationing because I love it so much. Delicious as a gentle, fruity pick-me up in the morning or a refreshing glass of iced tea over lunch.

Keep reaching out and supporting each other and your communities. Always happy to boost any projects, resources, or new books you’re working on!

All the best,

Writer & Marketing Coach
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