March, 28, 2018
One of the latest trends in publishing, sweeping across social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram, and driving corporate movements like the establishment of Diversity and Inclusion guides in major publishing houses, is #OwnVoices. It’s a trend that particularly brings a smile to my face, because I actually wrote my Masters thesis on Diversity and Inclusion in Publishing.
If you’ve never heard of this trend, or aren’t yet really sure of what it is, you’ve come to the perfect place! “Own Voices” is where an author has direct personal experience with a marginalized identity under-represented in publishing being addressed in a manuscript or book.
For example: Having a child with a disability does not make you an “Own Voices” for disability, but having a disability yourself does.
A gay man writing a book about characters in a gay community would be an example of “Own Voices.”
There are so many reasons why #OwnVoices is an important movement in publishing and reading today. I think we can all agree that we get that awesome feeling when we read about characters like ourselves, who have been through experiences that we’ve been through–first hand. It’s a thrilling feeling and an important aspect of publishing — to display and explore the world for not only how it used to be and how it may one day be, but for how it truly is now, in our moment in time, as well.
Because of this, people from all walks of life are speaking up and speaking out for #OwnVoices. And our collective voices DO make a difference. How do I know? Because I recently worked with a major publisher on the development of their Diversity and Inclusion guide, aimed at promoting voices from all walks of life for a more accurate and enjoyable reading experience! It’s a huge step in the publishing world, one that was once dominated wholly by “white, heterosexual, able-bodied” people. That world is now opening up and letting others in, letting new voices shine through — and #OwnVoices is an important part of that movement.