The Annual Nonprofit Event Gifts Books For Classrooms
|Free downloadable poster. Artwork by Julie Flett.|
The program is the brainchild of children’s reading and play advocates Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book and Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom, who teamed up to create the ambitious (and much needed) national event and non-profit initiative, as noted on the event website (https://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com).
VO: Are the majority of the MCBD entries self-published?
RF: I would say it's an even split between traditionally published and self-published with our MCBD Sponsors and Authors. There also been an uptick in Small-to-Midsized Boutique Presses like TimTimTom Books, Language Lizard, Starlight Books, Chickasaw Press, and Ohio University Press.
VO: What makes self-published diversity books different than commercial diversity books?
RF: The thing I love about self-published books is those authors are not afraid to write books about important, but not-as-common, topics like foster care, anxiety in kids, adoption, and diverse religions, holidays, cultures, and traditions. Self-published books can also be produced faster which means they can get into the hands of readers quicker. Self-published books have gotten a bad rap for years because there are cases where the books are not well edited and don't have the "polish" of a traditionally-published book. Though there are instances of self-published children's books being a little rough around the edges, the amazing thing about book readers and buyers is that, if an author produces something subpar, they will certainly let the author and other readers know via reviews and social media!
RF: What I have noticed about self-publishing as a whole is the fact that it has grown in popularity. Authors who have struggled for years to find an agent or spent months querying publishers can now take matters into their own hands and with the vast amount of online tools and tutorials produce and publish the book they've always dreamed of creating. I would have to say that the quality of self-pub books has increased as well.
VO: Are there any common stories, experiences, or motivations that self-published authors in this community share?
RF: Mainly that it can be hard to get traction and visibility for their books and even harder to get them into libraries. Self-published authors are their own marketing and P.R. team so it can be frustrating to try to find ways to be seen. That's another reason why MCBD is so helpful to all authors-it offers a unique opportunity to get their work in front of a huge audience of book readers and buyers.
VO: How does this program compare to other programs that may be similar (consider organizations like WNDB)?
RF: MCBD and WNDB have a common goal of raising awareness for the need to shine the spotlight on the kids' and YA books that let readers "see themselves" in the pages of the books they read. WNDB has been very instrumental is encouraging change in the publishing industry since many of their core members are diverse authors. MCBD is more a grassroots movement that works directly with readers, caregivers, parents, teachers, and librarians by getting multicultural books into homes and classrooms as a non-profit. There can never be too many folks advocating for change in the world :).
VO: What do you anticipate will happen with this industry in 5, maybe 10 years? Will it rival traditional publishing?
RF: It's hard to say. Traditional publishing will always be around but the smaller and more nimble small presses and self-publishers will definitely give them some competition.
VO: What's the Male/Female breakout for MCBD authors?
RF: Oddly enough, there seems to be a much stronger female presence, even though it does vary a bit year-to-year.
VO: Do you know what average sales are for your program participants?
RF: MCBD never promises or guarantees book sales in any way shape or form. We use our reach, vibrant social media and core of parents and educators to raise awareness of an author or publisher's work. Visibility is so important in an online world that tends to be noisy and crowded. MCBD offers an effective way for authors and publishers to get their books in front of the eyes of their ideal customer.
VO: Is there an ethnicity breakdown for your authors?
RF: Since every year is different, I don't have any stats on that.
VO: Are authors largely teachers/educators? What is the average length of time authors have been writing as self-published authors?
RF: We've had quite a few self-published authors who are educators or former educators. We've also seen quite a few who are doctors or mental health professionals as well. Advice to Self-publishers: Spend the time and money making your diverse children's books the best it can be. Have it professionally edited several times and invest in a quality illustrator. If you want book-buyers to take you seriously and buy your book, you have to offer up only your best work.