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We here at Blue Crow Publishing express a preference for #OwnVoices books on our Submissions page:

Own voices, only, please. “Own voices” means that if you are writing a main character who is part of marginalized group, you are part of that marginalized group. If you are writing a trans* main character, you are a trans* person. If you are writing about an American Indian main character, you are American Indian. If you are writing about a disabled main character, you are disabled. And so on. Please mention if you are an own voices author in your submission.

When we say, “mention if you are an own voices author in your submission,” we mean something like this: “This is an own voices story because my main character has a mood disorder, and I, too, have a mood disorder.”

Why does Blue Crow Publishing prioritize own voices so much? One reason is because we believe it is our job, as a publisher, to help people tell their own stories. That is, own voices is, in part, about representation.

Kayla Whaley of Disability in Kidlit explains why #OwnVoices is important for representation in publishing:

Time and again, marginalized people have seen their stories taken from them, misused, and published as authentic, while marginalized authors have had to jump hurdle after hurdle to be published themselves. Many feel they must fight to receive even a fraction of the pay, promotion, and praise that outsiders get for writing diverse characters’ stories, and that’s when they’re allowed in the door at all.

But there’s more to own voices than better representation in publishing. Own voices is about telling better stories. As Whaley explains:

Even when portrayals of diverse characters by majority-group authors are respectfully and accurately done, there’s an extra degree of nuance and authority that comes with writing from lived experience. Those books that are #OwnVoices have an added richness to them precisely because the author shares an identity with the character. The author has the deepest possible understanding of the intricacies, the joys, the difficulties, the pride, the frustration, and every other possible facet of that particular life — because the author has actually lived it.

Blue Crow Publishing prioritizes own voices. Be sure to tell us that you are writing own voices in your query letter when you submit to us.