The Importance of Dreaming: Why Diversity Matters in Science Fiction and Fantasy – by C. Taylor-Butler

January 26, 2015



I’m a dreamer. I grew up in a lower middle class environment where the stretch goal was simply survival. Many of my neighbors had never ventured far from the city. Reading wasn’t a popular hobby. Dreams were for other people.

But my mother introduced me to every free or low cost cultural program she could find. I took art classes at the Museum of Art. Spent days sketching by a replica of The Thinker near the reflecting pond. And my weekends existed living in the stacks of the Public Library and carrying home as many books as I was allowed at the end of the day. Whenever I needed to escape my environment, books were there to guide me. I immersed in Barbar and envisioned myself traveling with the king to a far distant land. I was Madeleine lined up in a row of similarly dressed girls. All the while I doodled designs of futuristic cities while munching popcorn in front of Lost In Space. I imagined being tutored by the magical Mary Poppins. But in those books and movies the characters were animals or they were white. Other than Star Trek, people of various backgrounds didn’t exist in the imagined futures for our world. I loved Uhura, Checkov and Sulu. But I wanted them to be my Captain Kirks.

A few years ago, I spoke at a public library in Arkansas. Over the course of a week I talked about writing to 25 busloads of elementary school children. At the end of the week a teacher returned and said one of her students was perplexed that I had gone to MIT. The teacher, confused by the girl’s question, pressed her. The young girl wanted to know if she could go to a school like that, given that she was Hispanic. She wanted to know if it was allowed. And if so, could she tag along with the teacher who, herself, was studying for her Masters degree at a nearby college. In that child’s neighborhood, college wasn’t in the vocabulary. And in her literature, girls like her didn’t exist at all.

I want you to think about that a minute.

Decades after the multicultural Star Trek series debuted, contemporary literature and the media still play a large role in the perception that options for children of color are severely limited. Popular fiction and blockbuster movies center around children who are not Hispanic, or Native American or . . . (fill in the blanks). In the rare instance where they are, movie directors make a course correction. For instance, in writing Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula LeGuin created a world in which all of the communities were populated by people who were various shades of brown. No specific ethnicity is delineated. The hero is brown, the villain is blonde and blue eyed. In translating the book into a mini-series for the SyFy channel, Producer Robert Halmi of Hallmark Entertainment cast all the characters using white actors and said he had “improved upon the author’s vision.” Ursula LeGuin responded by saying he had wrecked her books.

In recreating the popular Avatar: The Last Airbender, director M. Knight Shamalayan cast all of the Asian heroes with white actors. The villain who was white in the series, became Asian in the movie. Children of color are tokens in the background of Harry Potter’s universe but not in his inner circle. The olive-skinned girl in Hunger Games becomes Jennifer Lawrence. See the trend? For children of color the message is clear: when it comes to being a hero in a fantastical adventure . . .

Not you.

But it also sends a more dangerous message to society. For people of a majority race it may imbed a subconscious message of “only you,” or worse . . .

“Not them.”

In watching the protests around the country starting with, but not limited to Ferguson Missouri, I found myself wondering if someone like ex-officer Darren Wilson grew up surrounded by images of people like him who were the heroes, the leaders, the enforcers and where people who didn’t look like them were villains to be feared. Police officers who are later assigned to patrol neighborhoods where gifted children are stunted because they were trained by society, and sometimes their own communities, to stop dreaming beyond the end of the street.

In crafting The Lost Tribes I envisioned a world where those children were integral to the story and allowed to take center stage. Children who were very smart, but not perfect. Children who bickered and made mistakes while they worked out solutions and came together as a team out of necessity but remained together out of mutual respect. I envisioned characters informed by their cultural backgrounds but not constrained by them. I wanted to create an environment where the characters faced frightening situations and had to work out the solutions without the use of magic wands or other tricks that would substitute for logic and team work. In a sense – if your world is falling apart what would an ordinary kid do with few skills and no training?


I had a vision, for instance, of who the character of Serise would be. She’s Navajo and I knew book research wouldn’t substitute for spending time in her environment. So I spent two weeks in Rock Point, Arizona. It is a small town on the reservation where I met two teens who were Goth and quiet. I met another who was quite outspoken. I came armed with books, including a lot of age appropriate fiction. They leaped for the nonfiction, showed me how to log on to a password protected satellite dish so I could check emails, and talked about their lives and dreams with me. And so Serise was reborn as a computer hacker, far from the stereotypes people have about Native American girls.

My protagonist, Ben, thinks basketball is the ticket to success. He eschews his parent’s scientific interests as the stuff of nerds. In working with urban students I learned that many hide being smart. It’s easier to be athletic. It’s expected. It’s often emphasized. So it is fascinating that a friend and librarian forwarded an excerpt of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s book in which he talks about fulfilling society’s expectations of aspiring to be a top athlete until he read a fascinating fact about the speed of light and black holes. He decided science was infinitely more interesting and became an astrophysicist.

Moai of Easter IslandMy characters, like my readers, crave adventure and as an engineer writing science fiction I understood that Earth already held much stranger backdrops than anything I could make up. For example the Moai of Easter Island or the Terra Cotta Army.

I wrote Tribes to say “Yes. You belong in the wider context of the universe.” “Yes. You can be the center of an adventure.” “Yes, children from different backgrounds can and do work together for a common purpose.” “Yes you can dream bigger than the landscape of your own neighborhood.”


“Yes.”  Terracotta warriors


As we approach February, inevitably children across the country will be introduced to the same ubiquitous fare that adults provide every year. We’ll fill their reading lists with realistic fiction, historical fiction and angst based nonfiction centered around race. But we won’t tell them they can aspire to slay dragons, build castles or venture out into the great unknown. They won’t travel to outer space or even abroad to a foreign land. When they are looking at the stars, we’ll quiz them on books that go no farther than their own environments. And when some children are dreaming of the future, we’ll be drilling into their heads only visions of a painful past.

During Black History Month we’ll ask, “What are you doing to fulfill Dr. King’s dreams?” and therein lies the rub.

Because it’s the wrong question.

We should be asking, “What are you doing to fulfill YOUR dreams?” and then make it our priority to point them toward a path that will get them there.

I’m still a dreamer. I found my path forward in books and used the clues to figure out how to reach for the stars. Perhaps it is time for publishing to provide those clues forward without our readers needing a universal translator to see themselves between the pages. Perhaps it is time for a broader selection of children to be shown leading the way.

Tribe cover













C. Taylor-Butler is the author of more than 70 books for children. A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with dual degrees in Civil Engineering and Art and Design, she serves as Chair of one of their regional Educational Councils. After traveling the world and speaking to thousands of children with dreams of their own, she has decided children of color shouldn’t have to settle for second place.

The Lost Tribes Series
“Well-written and well-paced: a promising start to what should be an exciting and unusual sci-fi series. (Science fiction. 10-14)” Kirkus Reviews, Jan. 2015

To find more speculative fiction featuring children of color (sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal, time travel, alternate history, dystopia, horror, etc.), see the list compiled by Zetta Elliot.



Shining the Light: Announcing the Honorees

January 19, 2015

28dayslogoToday, we are proud to announce the honorees for our eighth annual 28 Days Later campaign, a Black History Month celebration of emerging and established children’s book creators of color. Each day during February, we will showcase an outstanding author or illustrator. We invite you to come along on our journey and spread the news to your friends.

The submissions window for our campaign opened in September and closed on October 31. We are grateful for the wonderful suggestions from librarians, teachers, publishers and kidlit lovers that came in. Our team considered those names along with internal nominations and nominees from past years, keeping focused on our mission to raise awareness of the many African-American voices writing for young readers.

The campaign will begin on Sunday, February 1, 2015, and we will honor 28 children’s book creators in all – 23 authors and five illustrators. This year, we’re honoring an up-and-comer who has selflessly given to others as she pushes toward publication among the authors too.

The honorees and the day they will be featured are as follows:

Vanguard authors/illustrators in bold.

1. C.J. Farley

2. JaNay Brown-Wood

3. Connie Schofield-Morrison

4. R. Gregory Christie

5. Dhonielle Clayton

6. Stephanie Perry Moore

7. Langston Hughes

8. Katheryn Russell-Brown

9. Jan Spivey Gilchrist

10. Jackie Wellington

11. Jesmyn Ward

12. Fredrick McKissack, Jr.

13. Patrik Henry Bass

14. Wynton Marsalis

15. Faith Ringgold

16. Tonya Cherie Hegamin

17. Betty Bynum

18. Misty Copeland

19. Christine Taylor-Butler

20. Mildred Pitts Walter

21. K’NAAN

22. Lucille Clifton

23. Jerry Craft

24. Justina Ireland

25. Georgia McBride

26. Brandy Colbert

27. John Steptoe

28. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar



This Black History Month, Let’s Support Reading Achievement, Fitness, Health

January 4, 2015

axhdsht2Guest post by Irene Smalls

This Black History Month, let’s support reading achievement, fitness and health.

According to the CDC, during the years between 2007 and 2010, 51% of Black and 41% of Hispanic children were informed by doctors that they were overweight. The State of Obesity Report 9/14, shows that of children ages 6-11, 23.8% of Black kids were obese, while Whites were 13.1%. Obesity is higher for Black and Latino kids with rates increasing at earlier ages, and with higher severity. A Health Journal 9/14 review says obesity impedes a child’s achievement due to low self-esteem & poorer health. The National Association of Educational Progress’ 2014 report, shows Black students lag 26 points in reading by age 9. Research shows fit kids perform better in school. Exercise increases the formation of new brain cells and connections between brain cells.

Here are16 Black Children’s Books for Better Bodies and Better Brains51CZARxh4nL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

•Maya Loves to Dance, by Cheryl Willis Hudson
•Jonathan and His Mommy, by Irene Smalls
•Kevin and His Dad, by Irene Smalls
•I Told You I Can Play! by Brian Jordan
•JoJo’s Flying Sidekick, by Brian Pinkney
•Shoes Like Miss Alice’s, by Angela Johnson
•Happy Feet: The Savoy Ballroom Lindy Hoppers and Me, by Richard Michelson
•Jump Rope Magic, by Afi Scruggs
•Watch Me Dance, by Andrea and Brian Pinkney
•I Am a Jesse White Tumbler, by Diane Schmidt
•Jazz Baby, by Lisa Wheeler
•My Nana and Me, by Irene Smalls
•Catching the Moon; The Story of a Young Girl’s Baseball Dream, by Crystal Hubbard
•Rap A Tap Tap: Here’s Bojangles – Think of That, by Leo and Diane Dillon61ILQ0xgZHL
•Dancing in the Wings, by Debbie Allen
•Firebird by Misty Copeland


Making Our Own Market: Justin Scott Parr

December 27, 2014

justin-scott-parr_portraitHabari Gani? Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)! “To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.” We celebrate this Kwanzaa principle today with a post by Justin Scott Parr, author of the Sage Carrington middle-grade series.

Inspired by his little cousin’s curiosity about his travels to Africa and Latin America, Justin created his first novel, Sage Carrington: Eighth-Grade Science Sleuth which blends culture, history and mystery. The titular character is a 12-year-old African-American girl who loves science, baseball and fashion and treasures her friends. His second novel, Sage Carrington: Math Mystery in Mexico City, and the second companion journal, Book of Love: Math Edition, debuted earlier this month.

His engaging website,, transports you to Sage’s world through educational and fun activities like “Realizing Your Civic Power” and “Cultivate a Garden,” a peek inside Sage’s best-friends journal that she shares with BFF Isabel Flores and a profile of Sage, Isabel and their friend Benji. Learn more about Justin, a former web developer for Oracle, in this Black Enterprise feature.

Here, he shares his writing journey and mission to celebrate children of color:

About Me

I was born and raised in Greensboro, North Carolina and am a lover of all things science, math, and technology related. An adventurer at heart, I impart my love of “the journey” into each Sage Carrington tale. My first international travel was to Africa…the Nile Valley of Egypt. That voyage changed my life by awakening a deep historical curiosity. Since then, I’ve accumulated wisdom from myriad travel experiences, and I want to help kids learn about the various cultures and vibrant locales that make our world such an incredible place. Sage Carrington is the vehicle that allows me to do this.

Who is Sage Carrington?

Nefertari Sage Carrington is a 12-year-old girl who lives in Washington, DC. She’s also a math and science lover who enjoys exploring the wonders of our natural world. Along with her best friend Isabel Flores, Sage is a confident, curious, intelligent girl who lives in a thriving community that enables and encourages her pursuit of happiness.

How is Sage Carrington different from other characters in children’s fiction?

Kids love unique characters who march to the beat of their own drums. And so I began with the idea of a dynamic, engaging girl who exists beyond stereotypes. Yes, she’s a black girl. And Sage Carrington is also a science geek, the star pitcher on her baseball team, and she has a funky, fresh personal style. For example, Sage sports countless natural hairstyles, and she shares a love of mismatched sneakers, jewelry, and clothes with Isabel.

The most impactful characters in children’s fiction are reflections of kids’ dreams, hopes, and desires—like a mirror—and when this occurs, the readers latch on…and they won’t let go.

What was the first book about?

sagecarringtonbookSage Carrington, Eighth-Grade Science Sleuth is an adventure-mystery in the style of Encyclopedia Brown, The Hardy Boys, Cam Jansen, and Nancy Drew. In this first story, Sage and Isabel discover an antique treasure map near the Washington Monument. The story revolves around their quest throughout the nation’s capital using science and logic to decipher the map, outsmart a bully, and ultimately locate the treasure.

And the second book?

Novel #2, Math Mystery in Mexico City, sends Sage and Isabel on a journey with their parents across Mexico. The girls discover a peculiar numerical code sagemexicopainted inside a portrait by revered artist Frida Kahlo, and they must use their math skills to figure out what the code ultimately means. This second book has allowed me to fulfill a major goal for the series, which is to send Sage and Isabel on an international adventure, thoroughly immersing my readers in another culture.

Have you always wanted to write novels?

Although I’ve always loved to write, I never intended to become a children’s author. Originally, I just wanted to visit my local bookstore and purchase a story featuring positive, enriching characters who my 9-year-old cousin could identify with. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find an appropriate novel for middle school-aged kids featuring children of color. So, I decided to write the books that I wanted to buy that day in the store.

Why write in the amateur sleuth genre?

I was a reluctant reader as a child. In fact, if it weren’t for The Hardy Boys, Cam Jansen, and Encyclopedia Brown, then I wouldn’t have read much at all as a boy. Fortunately, I had access to gripping stories centered upon logic, math, science, and suspense to hold my attention.

But most people don’t realize that The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series were first published in the 1920s, Encyclopedia Brown in the 1960s, and Cam Jansen in the early 80s. So I felt it was time for a new kid detective, a fresh face for this 21st century…a kid who’s super smart and super cool.

This book series includes novels and journals, correct?

Yes, each volume is actually a 2-book set: the first novel, Eighth‐Grade Science Sleuth, was published bookoflovejournaltwoalong with the full-color interactive journal Book of Love, Volume #1. The second novel, Math Mystery in Mexico City, was released with the journal Book of Love, Volume #2: Math Edition. I think it’s critical that we not only develop our children’s reading skills, but also their abilities to write. Reading and writing are two sides of the same literacy coin.

Why a story featuring girls instead of boys?

As mentioned previously, I wrote this book for my cousin, Destiny. It just so happens that my cousin was a girl. If my cousin were a boy, then I would have written a story featuring boys. I created Sage Carrington because I needed to find an appropriate character for her to connect with. I desperately wanted Destiny to see her skin complexion, hair texture, and sensibilities portrayed in a smart, balanced, positive character.

Why is it important for you to portray children of color?

All too often, books featuring black and brown characters revolve around stereotypes of dysfunction such as drug use, violence, domestic abuse, and sexual exploitation. Another common tendency is a narrow focus on historical and biographical topics. These books are important, but I think we should also tell contemporary stories in which our kids can immerse themselves in modern-day tales of adventure and mystery.

How were the first volumes of this Sage Carrington series produced?

In 2012, I self-funded novel #1 and journal #1, and in 2014, I self-funded novel #2 and journal #2. Costs are significant and include everything from book editing, interior layout, and proofreading to cover art, cover design, and over 100 original illustrations.

This is truly a labor of love, but I’m just following my dream to do something about the lack of children’s books featuring positive characters of color. Plus I figured there must be a market for these stories. The void is huge, so surely other buyers are just as frustrated as me.

So far my hunch has proven correct. Within 24 hours of the first book’s release, Eighth-Grade Science Sleuth reached the bestseller list. And novel #2, Math Mystery in Mexico City, is now also a bestseller.

What’s your opinion of the current landscape in children’s literature?

Children’s literature is booming. In fact, young-adult fiction is growing faster than the adult market. Books have never been more popular. Of course, the concept of a “book” is changing with digital readers and other electronic devices displacing paper. Nonetheless, a story well told is still in high demand, and parents, educators, and kids are all thirsting for quality books.

What’s your vision for Sage Carrington?

My vision is to grow the Sage Carrington platform. As we all know, children’s brands lend themselves very well to licensing and merchandising, so it’s easy to envision Sage Carrington notebooks, backpacks, and apparel. I also plan to adapt these stories into other formats, particularly live theater, episodic television/web series, and feature films.

Are you available for school visits and library readings?

I enjoy few things more than visiting schools to talk about reading, writing, and Sage Carrington. I’ve delivered presentations in classrooms and libraries across the country for students from kindergarten through 8th grade, and I’m available to visit schools, libraries, and community centers.

How can we learn more about Sage Carrington?

You can find illustrations, games, and learn more about her at You can also connect with Sage on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Her handle across all of these sites is /SageCarrington.

A Chat With Author-Illustrator James Ransome

December 9, 2014


J RansomeI bet “a new bike” is on plenty of Dear Santa letters. Whether Santa agrees or not, every child should have a copy of New Red Bike. It’s a deceptively simple story of friendship—an even greater gift. Join James in his studio to understand how it evolved. Listen. Isn’t that Get the Funk blasting on his playlist?

In the beginning . . .

As a young child, I recall coloring with my stepsisters, spread out on the living room floor of an apartment building overlooking a park in Passaic, New Jersey. There, I envied their ability to create masterpieces with the crayons they chose. Their talents seemed so natural and effortless.

The Influence of comic books . . .

This, along with television cartoons, was my first exposure to art. Just a few years later, while living in a small home with my grandmother in Rich Square, North Carolina, my own artistic abilities began to blossom. It could have been the quiet, rural setting or maybe it was simply boredom that found me day after day, curled up on a couch with wads of paper, pencils and my favorite comic books. I used these comics as reference to copy again and again, while the television rambled in the background.

In my work as an illustrator creating books, I continue to use a simple technique. The only difference is that now I create in my studio in upstate New York. Instead of a television, I create to the strains of my favorite jazz station or  Parliament Funkadelic music.


Dear Santa, please . . .

Bike CoverNew Red Bike is in many ways a throwback to my youth. A simpler, uncomplicated time where summer days were spent outdoors, exploring and playing with friends in the woods behind my home. I feel that many of the books today are geared more toward adult tastes. And often there are few books with African American characters for very young readers. New Red Bike was my attempt to offer a fresh take on children’s classics featuring an African American character.


New Red Bike . . .

The first part of story focuses on spatial movement, when Tom, a young boy who receives a bike as gift from his parents, rides, up, down, back and forth, round and round. The second part of the story touches on the importance of sharing. I was striving to create text that could be easily deciphered by a younger child, and, to that end, I owe a good deal of credit to my editor, Mary Cash, who helped me shape this story into one that manages to keep it’s appeal to a younger audience.

Image_023 (3)

 Professor Ransome . . .

sk (3) The act of illustrating and  writing

are very  separate processes that each  require a specialized and individual approach. As a  professor of illustration  students, I often tell my  students that at some point you need to go in a corner with your materials and figure things out. In writing, it is the same. You need the space to tell the story you want to tell in the way you want to tell it. When I complete the writing process, often between other illustration projects I am working on, I then turn my attention to the pictures, and just as if I were illustrating a book submitted by a writer, I comb very carefully through the manuscript to develop a unique way to tell the story with images.

 Why James creates art . . .

Whether it is spread out on a living room floor, curled up on a couch, or at a drawing table in a studio, creating a

James Ransome's Studio at Night

James Ransome’s Studio at Night

book has always provided me a sense of solace and a way to express myself artistically.

James Ransome

Check out James Ransome’s website to learn more about his amazing body of work. You can also find him on Facebook. The New Red Bike is published by Holiday House.

Frankly: The 2014 Frankfurt, Germany International Book Fair by Irene Smalls

November 21, 2014

Irene Smalls

In the middle ages, Gutenberg invented the printing press not far from where the Frankfurt Book Fair opens every year to about 7,300 exhibitors from more than 100 countries, around 275,000 visitors, more than 3,700 events, 9,000 journalists and over 1,000 bloggers. In October, Irene Smalls was one of those exhibitors. Irene is a multi-publshed author and creater of Literacise.

Why the Frankfurt Book Fair
Think of a foreign country with 230 million children under the age of 16 most of who study English. That is China alone. The International book market is worth $108,000,000,000 and counting. For authors and illustrators interested in expanding their sales and market my advice is to Go Global! The first stop to expanding your book brand globally is The Frankfurt Book Fair located in Frankfurt, Germany. With so many countries represented, it is diversity at its best.

Globe staff photo David L. Ryan




How US Authors and Illustrators Benefit
Frankfurt is the world’s largest and oldest book fair. Frankfurt is a rights fair. Publishers go to Frankfurt largely to buy and sell international translation rights to their titles. For authors and illustrators this is lucrative. With international translations, you can sell your book potentially 120 times and receive royalties from all of your deals. This can be separate and apart from any from US publishing contracts.





Her Personal Stake
Seeing this huge book market opportunity, I had asked my publisher many times if my books were being presented for international rights sales. Repeatedly, my editors at a major publishing house, told me that there was no interest in my books globally. I decided to find out for myself. Indeed, in Frankfurt, I found the major American Publishers do not bring diverse books. An editor from a large trade publisher in the US when asked about the lack of diverse books represented, responded in very huffy tones. “We never bring those books to Frankfurt.” When asked why, the editor said, “All they ever write about is slavery, civil rights or struggling. Nobody is interested in reading about that.” It is ironic at the most diverse book fair in the world American publishers showcase their lack of diversity.

In 2014, I formed 2GoGlobalMarketing. Its motto is “Take Your Message to the World.” With the assistance of two book professionals, publicity guru Ayanna Najuma and Art Director/illustrator Cathy Ann Johnson we showcased 35 books in our booth for five days. It was a whirlwind experience. We met thousands of people from all over the world. Ten countries expressed interest in our titles: Saudi Arabia, Brazil, South Africa, Italy, UK, Taiwan, Poland, Nigeria, Finland, and Sweden. I am in talks with a UK educational publisher about creating a UK school version of one of my books. I am also in talks with another publisher about creating songs based on my books. My work is not finished. I will follow up with two contacts. For the authors and illustrators we represented one author/illustrator had three publishers interested in her title, another author had a publisher interested in expanding her book and her creating a teacher’s editions for his Arabian country. Cathy Ann Johnson found a business partner in Italy. She is preparing the European launch of her Soul Amazing children’s books starting in Italy.

My Nana and Me

My Nana and Me

The Take Away
There were lessons learned. Frankfurt is an appointment driven fair. Frankfurt is different from others book fairs where buyers browse through booths. At those fairs, it is important to have a booth to display titles. A booth is not essential in Frankfurt. What is essential is having appointments. The first three days of the Frankfurt Book Fair is to the trade only. The last two days are open to the public. Frankfurt Book Fair appointments are set up starting in August for the October fair with the book scouts, agents and book buyers from all over the world.

African-American authors and illustrators are not taking advantage of the Frankfurt Book Fair opportunity. In 2014, I was the first African-American female to ever exhibit in the 66 years of the Frankfurt Book Fair. Go Global. The world is diverse whether American publishers like it or not. The diversity that is embraced is high quality story telling with fully rounded characters. Most countries of the world are not interested in American history. These countries are interested in their own history and their own historical figures that tell a universal story. Authors must tell a great story of love, hate, and passion filled laughter and the world will want to read your words.

Who Qualifies
You need to have foreign translations rights to your book at a minimum. But, it is best in negotiating your original contract to retain as many rights as possible such as audio rights, video rights, etc. Also, try to limit the time a publisher has control of those rights. For an example, I had no idea when I went to Frankfurt that I would meet a publisher who was interested in creating songs of my books. Since I control the audio rights, it was not a problem. In addition, if a publisher has not sold any of your rights within a few years it is highly unlikely they will ever sell those rights. By limiting the time a publisher controls your rights once those rights revert back you can sell them yourself.


What Happens Next

Our first time at the fair we do initial follow-up with the publishers expressing interest in one of the books we showcased. After that, it is up to the author to follow-up and seal the deal.

Not an Easy Sell
It is difficult to make appointments. Most are long standing relationships. Rights buyers set appointments with familiar people and companies. However, in the course of meeting people and chatting, 2GoGlobalMarketing was able to make appointments during the fair. I do not recommend this approach. It worked but we were not able to meet with the top buyers whose calendars were completely booked. The appointments are set up in 30-minute increments. If you miss your appointment, you have to wait until next year.

Lesson Learned
I do plan to return next year. We will start recruiting authors in March. I will not get a booth. This time I will focus just on getting appointments with key people.
Knowing Irene, her appointment book will be filled. She constantly pushes and champions other authors and illustrators. If you want your book represented in 2015, contact 2GoGlobal Marketing. Her schedule will fill fast.
Keep up with Irene on Facebook , follow her on Twitter @ismalls107, and email:

Posted by Gwendolyn Hooks

Please support #WeNeedDiverseBooks!

November 10, 2014

We Need Diverse Books™ (WNDB)  is a grassroots organization created to address the lack of diverse, non-majority narratives in children’s literature. They are committed to the ideal that embracing diversity will lead to acceptance, empathy, and ultimately equality. Being that WNDB shares many of the goals we’ve set here at the Brown Bookshelf, I want to encourage you to support the fundraising initiative, happening right now at

As of this date, WNDB is at  90% of their fundraising goals, with two weeks left to contribute. Many perks are being offered to contributors that include “query passes” that allow contributors to jump to the front of the line of an agent’s inbox for a MG or YA manuscript; portfolio reviews and phone calls with agents for illustrators and author-illustrators; and opportunities to co-sponsor a 2016 Walter Dean Myers Grant for an up-and-coming diverse author!

Obviously, as a founding member of the Brown Bookshelf, I’m supporter of diversity in children’s literature myself. Therefore I think it’s important to support this very important initiative with our dollars. I hope you will, too.

Don Tate


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