I’ve been hearing a lot about book clubs lately, or more specifically how authors are really lucky if their books get into one. And I’m not talkin’ your high school or library book club: I’m talkin’ Oprah’s book club. I’m talkin’ Reese Witherspoon’s book club. Books clubs created by big companies and well-known public figures. I’ve never really thought twice about those because I couldn’t imagine someone like Oprah or Reese Witherspoon (or most of their target audience) ever being interested in the kinda books I write–namely, sci-fi/fantasy stories with brown characters.
But–big, hairy BUTT–today I found out that Lilly Singh–THE. LILLY. SINGH.–has started a book club. Focused on South Asian stories.
Needless to say, I lost my sh!t.
This. Changes. Everything.
In case you’re wondering WHY I have lost my fecal matter, it’s quite simple: not only will desi readers finally have a major book club that’s just for them, but desi authors will finally be given a spotlight in the big white world of traditional publishing.
This has reverberating effects for all desi books, not just the ones selected for the club.
Publishers now know there’s a demand for our stories, which means they will now a) finally acquire more desi books, b) pay more for those books, and c) actually MARKET and PROMOTE those books.
Another factor in the losing of my tutti is that Lilly Singh is… familiar. She’s a mammoth celebrity but she doesn’t feel that way; she doesn’t feel distant. She’s a down-to-earth person who knows the people she reaches and has a genuine interest in making the world a happy place (I was all for her Girl Love initiative aimed at encouraging girls to support each other vs. hating on each other desi-drama style). I watched her vlogs every day (literally) when I was going through the grueling process of editing my first manuscript, and her productivity, humor, and overall light was an infectious energy that helped motivate me to get things done.
Khairr, this is some major feel good news and I couldn’t help but post about it. It really does feel like the cherry on top of a year that’s been a strong one for diversity. Good things have been happening in publishing–good, quantifiable things like more diverse books being acquired, more initiatives turning up to support diverse narratives (ex. The Highlights Foundation Muslim Storytellers Fellowship–which I didn’t get into BUT still feel great about because there are some truly cool, promising storytellers on that roster).
Beyond getting published and having readers enjoy my book, I’ve never had any solid author goals, nothing to really put on a vision board. Heck, I don’t even have a vision board. But I’m thinking maybe it’s time to make one.