Writers of color: We want to support your voice and vision as a writer

At Author Accelerator, we believe that diverse voices and perspectives are critical in a society that is truly striving for equality. And while the publishing industry has come a long way in recent years, it still has a long way to go in recognizing the importance of diverse perspectives in literature, particularly when it comes to authors from historically marginalized groups.

As book coaches we recognize that there are myriad barriers for writers of color in the publishing industry. That’s why we’re launching a scholarship program with the mission of amplifying under-recognized voices by providing editorial guidance and career mentorship to emerging writers of color.

This scholarship provides two back-to-back Manuscript Accelerator coaching programs, a $5,200 value, over the course of a year, as well as career mentorship, which may include introductions to literary agents if appropriate.

Three scholarships will be offered beginning in January 2019, and are open to writers of color who meet the following criteria:

  • Have not yet published a book with a print run of more than 1,000

  • Are not currently represented by an agent

  • Have a book-length project currently under development

  • Seek to establish a career as an author

 

Writers who fit these criteria are invited to apply between August 1 and August 31, with the following components:

  • 10-page writing sample (does not need to be from the project you’d be working on in this program)

  • Scholarship application

That’s it—no application fees or letters of recommendation required. We want to make it as simple as possible for writers who qualify to apply.

 

Three winners will be selected for our yearlong scholarship by the diverse members of our scholarship advisory board, based on the following criteria:

  • Promise of the manuscript project

  • Strength of the writing sample

  • Potential for the manuscript to be completed in the course of a year

  • Writing background (while it’s not necessary to have a long string of publications prior to applying, this is a scholarship for emerging authors who are seeking to build a career)

Three winners will be chosen and results will be announced by January 1, 2019.


Why writers of color?

In early 2016, the first Diversity Baseline Survey of the publishing industry found that it was 79% white.

In the executive, editorial, sales and reviewer departments, that percentage was more than 80%.

Shortly thereafter, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) published statistics that showed that black, Latinx and Native authors combined wrote just 6% of new children’s books published in 2016.

Similarly, a 2017 report on the romance industry by the Ripped Bodice found that while the industry as a whole published 5.5% more books in 2017 than 2016, the percentage of those titles that were written by people of color actually decreased.

These are trends that will continue if they are not addressed. As a company dedicated to lifting the voices of authors across all genres, we feel we must do what we can to address this inequity.

Who qualifies?

This scholarship is intended to help writers of color break through in the publishing industry. If you identify as a writer of color and meet the criteria noted above, then you qualify.

Yes, “writer of color” is a general term—intentionally so. We seek to amplify voices from as many racial, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds as we can, and we trust our applicants to identify honestly.

Why writers of color and not other groups?

The Author Accelerator Diverse Voices Scholarship is our first scholarship program. As we move forward, we hope to expand this program to support a broader array of voices in the years to come.

 

We want you to finish your bookand finish strong.

Instead of struggling in solitude, grabbing at quick-fix offers, or hoping for a miracle, you can have a clear path to success. It's called Manuscript Accelerator and it looks like this:

Whether you just have an idea for a book or are deep into a draft, we'll hand-pick one of our book coaches to guide your project from wherever you are to "the end."

We'll make a customized plan to help you finish or revise your draft, and then we'll guide you in all the elements you need to pitch or publish. You’ll submit your work on deadline, and in return receive detailed feedback on the page as well as phone and email support from your coach. It will involve deadlines where you submit your work; on the page feedback; phone calls; and email support.

It's part project management, part editorial guidance, part magic voodoo that comes from pairing our own highly trained book-loving coaches with writers who are ready to stop messing around. No more talking about writing a book. It’s time to do it.

It's a method, not a miracle

Manuscript Accelerator gives you the three essential elements you need for creative success:

1. Accountability so you can't make excuses

  • You’ll be reaching for your laptop instead of the remote control when you have a book coach waiting for your work.

2. Focus so you don't get off track

  • Professional, detailed feedback as you go means you won’t waste hours, days, or years of your life on a story that doesn’t work.

3. Support where it counts the most

  • No more despairing about whether your work is any good. Your book coach is there to support you, so you can spend less time doubting yourself and more time writing forward.

How it works:

  • You commit to finishing a rough draft or a revision of your manuscript over the course of a year
  • You work with your book coach on a project plan that takes into account your work and family obligations, your vacation plans, and your writing style.
  • You agree on a deadline schedule—usually every other week.
  • You can email your coach between deadlines for quick questions, fast brainstorms, and support in moments of doubt.
  • You can schedule phone or video-conference calls with your coach to go over things face to face—OR use that time to get feedback on more pages.
  • You get free membership in our Membership Group where you can join Ask Me Anything sessions with Jennie Nash, participate in live working sessions led by our coaches and special guests, and connect with other writers who could be perfect beta-readers for your work.
  • In addition, scholarship winners will get periodic check-in calls with their Advisory Board mentor over the course of their program.

What our coaching clients have to say:

I was so shy about this strange story I wanted to tell, but [my coach] just got the story and me immediately and has an uncanny ability to pinpoint exactly what is missing or needs to be tweaked. So many times, I get stuck in a rut and my mind is just spinning without knowing how to move forward, and each time she comes to the rescue and tells me exactly what I need to do. And always in such a patient, positive and supportive way.
— Aditi Banerjee
I worked with [my book coach] on some major revisions for my completed adult novel. She was exceptionally flexible, positive, constructive, and helpful. Not only is my manuscript much better. . . I’ve improved as a writer. In the meantime, I sent a query and then my manuscript for a middle-grade novel I wrote and landed a dream agent. Kristy Hunter from The Knight Agency. Lots to celebrate!
— Lynn Katz
[My coach] helped me complete a first draft four months into the six-month program. I’m learning so much from her! She has helped me dig deeper and improve my pacing, all while offering great suggestions and insights. I love her genuine enthusiasm for my story! She’s honest when I’m not hitting the mark, but communicates it so well with thorough comments that I can’t help but improve my writing.
— Veronica Guiterrez

You are the right fit for the scholarship if...

You are an emerging writer of color who is not currently signed with an agent.

You need structure, feedback, and support to get moving on your book.

You are prepared to make finishing your book a top priority for the next 12 months.

The scholarship can be awarded to writers in any genre.


How can I help?

Thank you for supporting us in our mission to amplify under-recognized voices! Here are some of the ways that you can help:

  • Spread the word about this scholarship program via social media (like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn)
  • Tell your writers’ groups, friends and members of your community—anyone who might benefit from Author Accelerator's Diverse Voices scholarship

Thanks for your support!

Together, we can amplify under-recognized voices—and ensure that our literature reflects the diversity of the world we live in.


Meet our advisory board

 
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An author, editor, and educator, Susan DeFreitas’s creative work has appeared in (or is forthcoming from) The Writer’s Chronicle, The Utne Reader, Story Magazine, Weber—The Contemporary West, and Daily Science Fiction, along with many other journals and anthologies. She is the author of the novel Hot Season, which won a Gold IPPY Award, and a contributor at LitReactor; in 2017, The Oregonian named her one of “25 Oregon Authors Every Oregonian Must Read.” A first-generation American of Caribbean descent, she’s committed to helping writers from diverse backgrounds find their place in publishing. She’s on Twitter at @manzanitafire.

 

Aditi Banerjee is the author of a forthcoming novel to be published by Bloomsbury India. She is a practicing attorney at a Fortune 500 financial services company. She co-edited the book, Invading the Sacred: An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America. She has published several essays on Hinduism and the Hindu-American experience in publications such as Outlook India and Swarajya, including “Hindu-Americans: An Emerging Identity in an Increasingly Hyphenated World”, which was included in the Columbia documentary History of Religion in America Since 1945, and “Hindu Pride,” which was included in Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs in America: A Short History (Religion in American Life) (Oxford University Press). She is on the board of directors of the World Association for Vedic Studies (WAVES) and frequently speaks at conferences about issues related to Hinduism and Indic civilization. She earned a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School and received a B.A. in International Relations, magna cum laude, from Tufts University.

“I have personally benefited from strong mentoring relationships in my professional career, and one of the most fulfilling aspects of my work currently is being a mentor to others. I want to pay forward the investment that others have made in me that have made me a stronger individual today. Also, as a strong proponent of diversity and inclusion, both in the workplace and also in the arts, as an #ownvoices writer exploring my civilizational heritage and culture through storytelling, I believe it is critically important to promote diverse voices in fiction and literature.”

 
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Since Nancy Johnson found her voice, she hasn’t stopped using it to tell important stories about race, class, and identity. She's an Emmy-nominated, award-winning former television journalist who is writing her debut novel. Her writing has appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine and she’s a regular contributor to Writer Unboxed. Nancy was selected to attend the 2018 Tin House Summer Novel Workshop and she’s also a 2018 Kimbilio fellow. She’s excited about helping bring new, diverse voices to literature through the Author Accelerator Diverse Voices scholarship. Please follow Nancy on Twitter at @NancyJAuthor.  

Piper G Huguley, named 2015 Debut Author of the Year by Romance Slam Jam and Breakout Author of the Year by AAMBC, is a two-time Golden Heart® finalist and is the author of "Migrations of the Heart," a three-book series of historical romances set in the early 20th century and featuring African American characters. Book #1 in the series, A Virtuous Ruby, won Best Historical of 2015 in the Swirl Awards. Book #3 in the series, A Treasure of Gold, was named by Romance Novels In Color as a Best Book of 2015, received 4 ½ stars from RT Magazine, and won an Emma Award for best historical romance in 2017.

Huguley is also the author of the "Home to Milford College" series. The series follows the building of a college from its founding in 1866. Book #1 in the series, The Preacher’s Promise, was named a top-10 historical romance in Publisher’s Weekly by the esteemed historical romance author Beverly Jenkins, and received honorable mention in the Writer’s Digest Contest of Self-Published e-Books in 2015.

Her new series, “Born to Win Men,” starts with A Champion’s Heart, which was named by Sarah MacLean of the Washington Post as a best romance novel selection for December 2016.

She blogs about the history behind her novels at http://piperhuguley.com and tweets at @piperhuguley. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and son.

 

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The Author Accelerator Scholarship Team

Kathleen Furin, book coach

Jennifer Hawkins, book coach

Lizette Clarke, book coach

Laura Franzini, Author Accelerator managing editor

Jennie Nash, Author Accelerator founder and chief creative officer

 

About Author Accelerator

We operate in the gap cracked open by savvy indie authors who curate their own team of publishing pros and left open by traditional publishers who no longer offer sustained editorial guidance. Through our human-centered matching process, writers are paired with coaches who understand their genre needs, have an affinity for their topic, and have been trained in the project management skills needed to guide a complex creative project to the end.

We are currently serving hundreds of writers, a surprising number of whom are accomplished professionals who have MFAs or publishing deals, or who themselves work in the writing world, which is testimony to the efficacy and consistency of our coaching. Writers coming through our program have recently been selected as Pitch Wars mentees, Women’s Fiction Writers’ Association Rising Star finalists, and National Independent Writing Award winners. Several of our writers recently landed New York agents. We are proud of these successes, but the true power of our program does not lie in accolades. It lies in the soul-level satisfaction of the writers we serve.

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Author Accelerator is dedicated to the art of book coaching. Our 30 coaches have all been hand-picked and trained by founder and Chief Creative Officer Jennie Nash, who developed a rigorous training program that includes shadowing, oversight, and ongoing discussion about how best to teach, inspire, and manage the creative process. It is through this training process that we are able to scale our services to reach a wide array of writers.

Jennie Nash is a book coach whose own coaching clients regularly land top New York agents and book deals with houses such as Scribner, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and Random House. Jennie is herself the author of four novels, three memoirs, and an inspirational book for writers. She has spoken at the Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Workshop and the San Francisco Writing Conference, and has written for popular writing blogs including The Write Life and Writer Unboxed. She is a columnist at Writers Helping Writers and an instructor at Creative Live. She taught for 12 years at the UCLA Extension Writer’s Program. 


Your next steps

  1.  Apply between August 1 and August 31
  2. You will receive an automated acknowledgement that your entry has been received
 

Our next steps

  1. Applications will be evaluated by our advisory board through September and October
  2. 12 finalists will be announced November 1 – finalists will be posted on this site and will be alerted by email
  3.  Finalist applications will be evaluated by our advisory board through November and December
  4.  3 winners will be announced by January 1, 2019
  5. Writers will be paired with their book coach during January
  6. Coaching will start February 2019

Winner steps

1. Get paired with one of Author Accelerator's book coaches in January 2019. We will work to pair all winners with coaches who have an affinity for your topic, an expertise in your genre, and the ability to support you for a full year of coaching.

2. Start work on your book with a coaching call to set up project expectations and goals. Plan for holidays and vacations. Plan on your deadline days.

3. Write forward with confidence!