Last year, in an effort to create more intergenerational dialogue and supports, I launched a new mentorship program for artists of colour. I feel very privileged to have had the wonderful opportunity to work with nine fantastic, talented young artists. Through this experience, one of the most common questions was about how to get published.
Subsequently, as I enter my fifteenth year as a professional artist, I have been reflecting on the kinds of supports I required in the first decade of my career to push through systemic barriers in relation to cultural production in Canada. In particular, I have thought about how my lack of success at acquiring institutional funding required me to have a day job to fund my own work. Working full-time at a day job gave me the kind of economic privilege that allowed me to fund self-publishing my first book, God Loves Hair. For all the criticisms and challenges of self-publishing, I do believe that God Loves Hair—both the book itself and the responses to it—helped solidify my value as an artist and writer worthy of commercial investment.
In recognition of the barriers I faced, and of my desire to support young writers who are Indigenous, Black, or people of colour—in overcoming the barriers to publication they face—I am thrilled to announce that I am offering a new mentorship opportunity for one writer, paired with a publishing contract under my new imprint—VS. Books—with Arsenal Pulp Press. I chose the name “VS.” because it suggests versus, or against the grain, against the mainstream.
Arsenal Pulp Press has published four of my books, including a new edition of God Loves Hair, and showed interest in my work before any other publisher. They have been an incredible support in my literary career, and I believe they will provide a loving home for another unpublished writer of colour.
The mentorship will include:
- editorial feedback and writing support on your manuscript with me in person or via Skype meetings (one or two per month)
- advice and support relating to the writing process, grant-writing, CV-writing, social media, promotion, organization, self-motivation, the publishing process, touring, performing, and anything else that might be pertinent (e.g., informal conversations about art, process, the intersection of art with gender, sexuality, race & religion)
- a publishing contract with Arsenal Pulp Press & VS. Books, with a $1,000 CAD royalty advance and book release slated for Spring 2019
- my assistance in developing a marketing plan (alongside Arsenal Pulp Press’ marketing team)
- my assistance with booking and organizing a launch event
- a one month post-publishing debrief period with me to brainstorm future goals
If you are an unpublished writer who is Indigenous, Black or a person of colour between the ages of 18–24 living in Canada, you are invited to email VS.Books@vivekshraya.com with the following:
- your name, date of birth, and city of residence
- a completed manuscript in the genre of your choice (i.e. poetry, fiction, non-fiction, young adult, children’s book, graphic novel—whatever you like!) in PDF or Microsoft Word format. For illustrated titles such as graphic novels or children’s picture books, please also submit sample artwork from the book (5 pages for a children’s picture book, 10 pages for a graphic novel) along with a completed written manuscript.
- a half-page synopsis of the book
- a short bio and social media/website info
- a description of what kind of support you are looking for from me in relation to your book
Please note that if we have worked together before through last year’s mentorship program or in another capacity, you are still welcome to apply. You may also apply if you have self-published before, but the manuscript you submit must be new and not fully published elsewhere, including online. Feel free to email me if you have any questions!
The deadline to apply is September 15, 2017. All applicants will be notified before the end of October 2017. The selection process will largely be based on my ability to support your work on your manuscript.
Look forward to working with you!
Press coverage: rabble.ca · Quill & Quire · Open Book · CWILA · Feministing · The Globe & Mail