You Have the Money

Marketing & Promotion, Mental Health

This past weekend was the third weekend in a row that I didn’t let myself do any work. My attempt at resting on the weekends has been a year-long journey, full of starts and stops, and many anxiety-ridden days where I failed to just be still. But rest, like everything, takes practice.

Stepping away from the work, even for short periods of time, is scary for me. But just because it makes me anxious and jittery and irritable doesn’t mean it’s wrong. And the good news? Those feelings do subside. Over time. After trying and failing and trying again. It gets easier.

What has also helped is coming to the realization that this need to hustle, to grind, to work myself to the bone, isn’t my true nature. It’s something that’s been shoved down my throat; forced onto my identity. It’s who capitalism wants me to be…but it isn’t me.

Now when I think of rest I think of it as a radical act. And I remind myself that I shouldn’t have to sell three books a year just to make it as an author. The financial inequities faced by authors of color in publishing is not a problem that can be fixed by my own overproduction. And that’s the goal, isn’t it? Not just that I can somehow figure out a way to continue writing and publishing full-time but that all authors from marginalized backgrounds can have that same option.

So it’s not on me to fix this. It’s on publishing.


Stop requiring significantly more labor from your marginalized authors in order for them to build careers. Stop putting it on marginalized creators to figure out how to navigate an obviously biased system. Throw out your P&L reports and commit to paying marginalized creators a living wage, not because of the slim chance you can make a return on your investment in a world where books by and about BIPOC are systematically at a disadvantage, but because it’s the right thing to do.

Because achieving equity doesn’t always make financial sense.

Justice doesn’t always turn a profit.

If you’re just a business, make that clear. But if you’re one of those businesses that came out publicly in support of Black lives, of the Latinx community, of the Asian community, and the Muslim community, and every other marginalized community that has experienced violence in recent years due to white supremacy and systemic racism then it’s time for you to give up some of that power you promised you would.

By taking care of the whole author. That means enough money to pay their rent, their bills, their physical and mental healthcare. Enough money to invest, to buy a home, to build wealth.

Take a look at your lists. How many of those authors deserve the chance to be fully supported by their work? How many of those authors could avoid burnout and the negative toll to their physical and mental health if you’d just make that happen? Yes. You.

You who gave a prince 20 million dollars for a memoir. You who gave a white woman with no connection to immigrants from Central America seven figures to write an extremely harmful version of their experiences. You who gave a multi-million dollar deal to a vice president who participated in the eroding of our democracy, in the practice of government sanctioned child abuse at the border, in the spread of misinformation during a deadly pandemic that killed hundreds of thousands of people.

You have the money to pay marginalized authors more than a living wage.

You have the money to pay assistants and editors and other publishing professionals what they’re actually worth.

You have the money to create an equitable and compassionate system.

You have the money to do what’s necessary.

You have the money to do what’s right.

So do it.


A Non-writing Work Day

Marketing & Promotion, Writing Process

I have been a full-time author for seven months. In that time I’ve turned in a draft of the second book on my contract, finished and sold two picture book manuscripts, and revised and sold a middle grade novel. But for the past seven weeks while waiting on my edit letter for my second YA novel, I’ve been taking a step back from writing and exploring other creative outlets.

When I was teaching, writing was my escape. Now that writing is my full-time job, I needed another. So I recently started a podcast called Author Pep Talks, which is a podcast on writing through grief, trauma, and heartache, in which I interview authors who have personal experience balancing writing with difficult experiences and who offer advice on how to maintain a creative practice even when it feels like everything else in the world is falling apart.

The introduction aired on Christmas day and the first episode went live just yesterday! So please check it out and if you enjoy the first episode, remember to like and subscribe!

I’ve also been working on launching a podcast for an organization I’m a part of called Las Musas. The teaser went live on December 28th and the first episode airs on Monday, January 4th. There are a few ongoing series all about debut year and then an “Ask a Musa” series where we’ll be answering listener questions. I hope you’ll give it a listen and follow us wherever you enjoy your podcasts.

Right now, these two endeavors have absolutely no ties to my income and I love it. It’s so nice to be working on these passion projects that allow me to be creative in a whole new way. I’ve learned to edit audio files, have become so much more comfortable listening to my own voice on a recording, and I’ve met so many awesome people who I wouldn’t have otherwise reached out to.

I’m also three months out from debut so I’m taking care of lots of admin-related tasks, such as sending out ARCs, creating graphics for social media, and planning virtual events for April. So I thought I’d give those who are curious a snapshot of what a “non-writing work day” looks like for me as of late.

7:00 AM
The puppy is awake! Take her out to potty and then hold her teething ring while she gnaws on it. Try to share her doing something cute on my Insta stories like wriggling under the bed or sucking on her hedgehog but it’s tough because she’s camera shy.

8:00 AM
Gambit’s awake and everyone’s hungry. I feed the dogs, take my vitamins, and eat a breakfast bar. There wasn’t any rain last night so we play in the backyard, which as per usual, is me and Gambit playing fetch while Storm has the zoomies.

9:00 AM
Storm’s getting sleepy. I turn off all the lights and pretend to nap until Storm dozes off. Really I’m checking email on my phone.

9:15 AM
I put Storm back in her crate for a nap and finally grab my laptop. I answer emails, create my checklist for the day, and then begin working my way through it.

Today, my checklist looked like this:
1. Read edit letter & jot down notes.
2. Read editors in-line comments & jot down notes
3. Finish blog post on reflections over 7-week break
4. Write new blog post on identity & POV characters
5. Write *this blog post* about my schedule on a non-writing work day
6. Edit episode three of the Author Pep Talks podcast
7. Record the intro/outro for episode 3
8. Record pep talks #2 & #3
9. Send emails to creative writing teachers to schedule virtual school visits
10. Write 4 librarian postcards for a total of 9/50
11. Look for tea blends to send my grandfather
12. Create the social graphics for Author Pep Talks launch day

9:30 AM
I read my editor’s edit letter and am relieved that no issues were pointed out that I wasn’t already expecting. I jot some notes in my phone of possible solutions to some character development issues. Then I open the manuscript and read her in-line comments, savoring the really nice ones.

10:00 AM
I hop on WordPress and finish writing the blog post I started the night before. I tend to be struck by inspiration for blog posts all at once so I’ll be prepping and scheduling multiple posts today.

After I finish the blog post reflecting on the seven weeks I just spent taking a break from writing, I switch to writing a blog post about identity and POV characters. I use notes from a presentation I gave recently as a basis for the post and detail how I try to make ethical choices as a storyteller by “staying in my lane” in terms of writing rep for pov characters. After I schedule the post, I move on to this one and outline what a non-writing workday looks like for me until I’m interrupted by the dogs again.

12:00 PM
Gambit wakes up the puppy but it’s okay because it’s lunch time and I need a break. We go outside and Storm finds a piece of trash and I chase her around the backyard for twenty minutes until she gets tired and collapses in the grass. I play fetch with Gambit until he’s tired and then they both lay in the sun while I make my lunch.

12:30 PM
I’m one of those people who eats the same thing for lunch every single day. Mind you, I will go through phases in which I switch it up but I can go months eating the same meal and still enjoy it. For the past few weeks I’ve been eating a giant Honey crisp apple with almond butter, cheese, and salted pretzels.

1:00 PM
I play with the dogs some more–tug-of-war with a ratty rope we should have thrown away a long time ago but haven’t because for some reason they love it–and then I hold Storm’s teething hedgehog until she finally starts to get sleepy again.

1:50 PM
I feed Storm a little early since she’s starting to get sleepy. Gambit doesn’t get lunch so he pouts on the couch.

2:00 PM
Storm goes down for a nap and I set up my mic in my office to record some things for my Author Pep Talks podcast, which includes an intro and outro for the third interview and two short episodes where I give a pep talk to writers.

3:00 PM
Storm wakes up an hour early from her nap! I play with the dogs AGAIN but they’re being lazy so I try to work on filling out some postcards for librarians at the kitchen table while they lounge in the sun. This doesn’t work and when Storm starts digging holes I bring them inside.

4:00 PM
Storm’s sleepy but she won’t let me put her in her crate for a nap so I put on the Ariana Grande concert on Netflix for the dogs while I add some more timestamps to this blog post. Storm is fascinated and doesn’t take her eyes off the screen.

4:30 PM
The intro for the Author Pep Talks podcast goes up in a few days (I’m actually writing this on Thursday, December 24th) so I open Canva to make some promotional graphics. I also type up some copy to post with my Twitter and Instagram announcements.

5:00 PM
The Las Musas podcast launches next week so I go ahead and type up some copy for those promotional posts. Storm finally dozes off.

5:20 PM
I check Twitter to pull book news for the Las Musas newsletter, which I’m taking over in 2021.

5:30 PM
Storm wakes up again and I know I won’t be able to check anything else off my to-do list for the day so those leftover tasks will carry over for tomorrow.

In total, I got about four and a half hours of work done, which compared to my pre-puppy schedule isn’t a lot. But I’m so glad that I no longer have to squeeze in these tasks in between teaching, which means that those 5-7 days a week of working 4-ish hours really adds up quickly.

I’m also trying to see the positive in being forced to take breaks. Tending to the dogs helps ground me in the present and I love getting those much-needed doses of vitamin C while we play in the backyard together. Also, I’ve come to realize that play is so important. It’s joyous and liberating and just overall great for the soul.

How I’m Spending My Book Advance Part II

Marketing & Promotion


To read about how I spent my first advance check, click here.

Here’s a quick recap:

6-months of financial coaching: $1,525 ; 3.5% of 1st advance check
Accounting Services: $1,000-$1,200 ; 3% of 1st advance check
2019 Taxes: $10,000 ; 24% of 1st advance check
Student Loans: $8,600 ; 20% of 1st advance check
Roth IRA: $6,000 (this is the maximum contribution you can make per year) ; 14% of 1st advance check
(I decided to go with Ellevest in case you’re curious. Use my link to sign up and you’ll get $20!)
3-Month Emergency Fund: $8,500 ; 20% of 1st advance check
(I actually increased this to $12,500 based on advice from my financial planner. I’ll be adding another $500 from my next advance check to reach $13,000)
AWP Registration: $250
Lodging: $425
Miscellaneous: $6,000 ; 14% of 1st advance check
(I ended up making some extra car payments with this money, $1,500 is going towards a Highlights retreat I’d like to attend in September, $700 was set aside for author photos, and $2,000 is going towards a new home office so I don’t have to write on the couch anymore.)

When it came to my first advance check, getting clear about my values was key to me making financial decisions that I didn’t end up regretting later. Did some of my plans change? Absolutely. That’s life. But because the things I valued most were at the top of my priorities list, and therefore taken care of first, I was able to be flexible in other areas of my budget without feeling like my plan was completely ruined.

For this second check, I have another list of priorities, which will most likely also experience some shifting. But here’s how I plan to spend the money based on my current circumstances:

1. Taxes

I’m stashing away another $10,000 for quarterly tax payments. After filing for 2019, I’ll have a better idea of what I’ll actually owe (and hopefully it’ll be less than this amount). But for now, I think it’s better to be safe than sorry.

2020 Taxes: $10,000 ; 47% of 2nd advance check

2. Emergency Fund Completed

I’ve been regularly meeting with a financial adviser since August. At a recent meeting, we pulled budget data from the last four months and determined that a true 3-month emergency fund for me would be about $13,000. After taking some funds from my first advance check, I was still $500 short so I’ll be topping it off with this second check.

I use a budgeting tool called YNAB. I absolutely love it and have found the different data reports it provides incredibly enlightening. It’s similar to budgeting in QuickBooks but YNAB has more capabilities and an attractive, easy to use interface. There is a fee to use the software but I think it’s well worth it, especially in terms of planning ahead for larger expenses or things like taxes.

3-Month Emergency Fund: $500 (+$12,500 from previous check = $13,000) ; 2% of 2nd advance check

3. Car Loan

I somehow managed to secure a car loan with only a 1% interest rate, which is why I chose to pay off student loans and build an emergency fund before paying off this debt.

Some people would have more peace of mind knowing they’re debt-free. I knew what would give me the most peace of mind was completing my emergency fund so I chose to focus on that instead.

Once that $400 I was previously putting toward my car loan is freed up, I’d like to start investing through the same platform I’m using for my retirement account, Ellevest.

Car Loan: $2,000 ; 9% of 2nd advance check

4. Roth IRA

I used money from my first advance check to max out my contributions for 2019. With the second check, I’ll be contributing money for 2020. The amount below is only about half of what can be contributed for 2020 but I’m hoping I’ll be able to secure another contract this year. Otherwise, I’ll take that extra $400 a month that used to go to my car payment and put it towards the IRA instead of an investment account.

Roth IRA: $3,500 ; 16% of 2nd advance check

5. Writing Expenses

I really have no idea how much money I should be setting aside for the marketing and promotion of my debut novel. Everywhere I look, I get conflicting advice about how much money to spend and what’s actually worth spending money on. Some people say conferences are absolutely worth the expense and others say they’re a waste of time and money. Some people fund their own tours while others only go where their publisher sends them.

I’m hoping I’ll have some more clarity on this issue by the time my book actually comes out. In the meantime, I’m setting aside $5,000 just in case. I came up with that number after considering the cost of travel but it could end up being way too much or not enough. Luckily, I don’t need that $5,000 for anything else essential–all my debts will be paid off and I’ll have a fully stocked emergency fund–so there’s no harm in saving it for the next twelve months or so until I have a more concrete marketing and promotional plan.

Marketing & Promotion for Book 1: $5,000 ; 24% of 2nd advance check

These are my plans for now. If you’re reading through them and asking yourself, but where’s all the fun stuff? You obviously have not been reading my blog for very long. I’m a security-seeker. Fun is inconsequential. I want to feel safe.

Do I hope that check number three will afford me a few treats and luxuries? Sure. I’d love to remodel my kitchen. I’d love to get another dog. I’d love to go on a vacation because I’ve heard they’re nice. But I would never be able to enjoy any of those things if I didn’t have these other safety nets in place first.

The last thing I want is for this advance money to feel like winning the lottery. Instead, I’m in this for the long haul and the decisions I make now will either make it easier to pursue this career full-time or they will make it practically impossible.

Again, please keep in mind that I am not a CFP and I don’t have a degree in finance. The categories above are by no means an exact template for you to follow. You have to think about your values and what’s right for you and your family.

*Stay tuned for what I’m prioritizing with advance check #3!

Marketing Your Book-18 Months From Launch

Marketing & Promotion


18-24 months out from publication there are still a lot of things up in the air. You probably don’t have a book cover yet. Maybe you don’t even have a title finalized. You may be in the middle of revisions, meaning the actual text is still changing too. This definitely limits what you can share online about your book, which makes it the perfect time to start thinking beyond this one book and to your author brand as a whole.

With more than a year until my publication date (which is also still TBD) here are the things I’m focusing on in the meantime in order to establish connections with potential readers and solidify my online public persona.

1. Become a Regular Patron at Your Local Book Store

I’m a library girl. I love reading on my Kindle, I love listening to audiobooks on my commute, and I love the convenience of having a school library right down the hall from me. I’m spoiled like that. But now that I have some extra income, I want to make it a priority to become a regular patron at some of the local bookstores in my area.

Booksellers, like librarians and teachers, are incredible allies in this industry. But you can’t leverage those relationships if they’re nonexistent. As a traditional publishing newbie, it’s also likely that I could learn a lot from local book people about how certain books make it into certain readers’ hands. Booksellers are also key to arranging school visits and making sure they’re lucrative. In other words, establishing this relationship is essential.

But it must be cultivated genuinely. That means supporting your local indie booksellers financially, attending other author’s events, and bringing family and friends to shop there as well. We all have the same goal, after all. To create thriving book-loving communities.

2. Create a Consistent Newsletter Schedule

Seriously, y’all, my newsletter is what made my self-publishing career and it’s never too early to start one. Even if at first it’s just friends and family interested in your publishing journey, that’s great! What’s most important is that it’s consistent.

My newsletter has evolved so much over the years but I finally feel like I have a format and schedule that works for me. Entice people with behind the scenes exclusives, share snippets of your WIP, record video messages specifically for your subscribers. The possibilities are endless in terms of what you can offer your growing audience. But the point is that it’s growing. And if you start now, by the time your book comes out, you’ll have a personal and immediate way of getting the word out to hundreds of people.

3. Familiarize Yourself with the Cons & Book Festivals Near You

Book festivals and conferences tend to post applications very far in advance. Research all of the festivals within driving distance and map out when and where they are, as well as typical application deadlines.

As a debut, it might not be possible to book yourself for larger festivals, but you’d be surprised to know how many smaller festivals exist that would probably love to showcase you and your book. Definitely, don’t overlook small towns and rural areas. If you’re willing to make the drive you might end up being their keynote speaker as a debut!

4. Recycle Old Content for New Platforms

I’ve been blogging since 2012. That’s almost an entire decade’s worth of words and not all of them garbage.

My old blog posts have given me a treasure trove of inspirational quotes related to writing, creativity, and dealing with mental health issues that I’ve been repurposing for Instagram. I’m using Canva to create some simple graphics and posting them a few times a week. The next step may be slapping these things on some coffee mugs or custom notebooks.

I’m also planning to use some excerpts, essays, and original poetry to make chapbooks to be sold on my website. I’ve seen poets hand selling them at markets and they look like so much fun to create.

Think about what you’re particularly good at and then think about all of the ways that could exist in the world. And remember, you’re only limited by your own imagination.

5. Join a Professional Organization

This step is one I’m taking as much for personal reasons as professional ones.

Making friends as an adult is hard. Recently, I was thinking about how I used to make friends when I was younger and I realized that I did most of my socializing through school and community clubs and organizations.

I recently joined SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and am looking forward to attending their regular meet-ups and events. I also found some organizations for creatives and entrepreneurs in my area so you definitely don’t have to stick to just writing communities. Any way to get connected with people who may know about local resources that could help you with marketing/promotion later is a good idea. And connecting with people across different industries may inspire you to think outside the box.

*Due to the recent issues with RWA, make sure you’re approaching a reputable organization that shares your beliefs and values. If you attend a few meetings and something feels off or you notice implicit bias or discriminatory practices, know that you don’t have to continue that relationship.

Professional organizations can be helpful but they’re not absolutely necessary. The most important thing is finding a creative space where you feel safe and supported and where you know people from marginalized communities feel safe and supported as well.

6. Keep a List of Marketing & Promotional Ideas from Other Writers and Creatives

One of my favorite things about social media is seeing how others use it, especially other introverts. Usually, when we think of social media we think of something curated or even fake. It can sometimes feel performative and disingenuous. I’ve been trying to get over these hang-ups and one of the things that’s helped has been looking at my social media accounts as another mode of story-telling, except the story I’m telling is my own.

This has allowed me to think of it in terms of my values and priorities. What do I want to amplify? What do I want to celebrate? What do I want to share with others that brings an even deeper meaning to my work? I’m a writer, yes. But it’s the experiences and unique perspective that I bring to my writing that gives it life. That makes me interesting.

Luckily, there are so many writers out there who have mastered the art of being authentic, unique, and accessible. Now when I’m scrolling through social media, I’m looking for inspiration. Who is posting content similar to the things I’d like to create? What glimpses into their personal lives do readers resonate with the most? How are they engaging the community both on and offline? What’s aesthetically pleasing about their feed? What design resources are they using? Can I access those same resources? Can I learn those same skills?

I have a Pinterest board full of aesthetic and design ideas and a checklist in Trello of marketing and promotion ideas. Right now I’m collecting everything that seems relevant to my book and sounds like fun. I’ve heard over and over again that you should only invest time into marketing and social media that brings you joy. Otherwise, you’re going to be overwhelmed and miserable.

So far there are things on my list like character quizzes and Instagram polls, custom pins and accessories, collaborating with a  local bakery, creating custom postcards for teachers and librarians in my area, pre-order giveaways highlighting Latinx artisans and shop owners, developing an educator’s guide, and creating annotated copies to giveaway through my newsletter.

Every single one of these ideas I got from other writers and while I might not end up doing all of them it gives me a starting point. From there I can determine which things are actually feasible, which I would actually enjoy, and which just aren’t a good fit for me and my project. After that, I’ve got the information I need to create a marketing budget and timeline, which I can then use to plan and complete things in between drafting and revising new projects.

These are the things I’ll be tending to between projects until summer break. Then, for the first time, I will NOT be teaching summer school, which means I can complete some of the more time-consuming things on my to-do list as well as experiment with some ideas I wouldn’t otherwise have had the time to try.

And that’s the point. Not to do this whole social media thing perfectly. But to just try. To take chances. To have fun.

This brainstorming phase when your book is still just a tiny blip in the future can be incredibly blissful. The future is full of possibilities and despite all that’s out of your control on this traditional publishing journey, there are still things you can do to try to get the word out about your book. That’s a great feeling because it means we don’t just have to sit and wait. We can do something. And it may not move the needle quite like our publisher can. But if the result is a supportive community, or the discovery of a new creative outlet, or even just one reader, then it is absolutely worth it.

3 Ways to Support Marginalized Authors

Marketing & Promotion

ahmed-zayan-684478-unsplashIt’s been absolutely incredible to see more and more books by marginalized authors being published. But it’s still those creators who are shouldering a huge amount of the promo they need to sell copies and, you know, make money.

I’ve been thinking a lot about money lately and about how marginalized creators are at such a disadvantage from the get-go because generational wealth hasn’t afforded us the privilege of being able to take many financial risks, like quitting our day jobs to write full-time or funnel any of the money from that day-job into marketing our art.

It’s obvious that when it comes to generational wealth, who has it and who doesn’t reinforces so many of the systems of oppression operating in this country. This is evidenced by the recent “Varsity Blues” scandal in which the rich and powerful bribed colleges to let in their mediocre children, spots that could have gone to qualified students from marginalized communities.

Not only are most marginalized creators facing many obstacles to becoming wealthy but we also are not allowed to be mediocre. It’s a lot of pressure, which is why it’s so incredibly important that we support each other in our efforts, not just to make the kind of art we want or to find a way to support ourselves financially with that art, but also towards the goal of building generational wealth that will benefit our families and communities.

Bottom-line: I want every marginalized artist I know to be rich. I want them to create the kind of wealth that allows them to become a force for good in the world.

So I’ve been thinking of ways I can use my resources and platform to better support marginalized authors and I’ve settled on a few things that are within my power to contribute. Maybe some of these will inspire you to increase your support of a marginalized creator you love.

1. Tell people they exist and how much you love them

I created a new newsletter feature called “Latinx Book Love” where I’ll be sharing books by Latinx authors I love. I’ll also be posting about them here on the blog. These aren’t traditional reviews because there is no critiquing going on. Instead, these are reactions where I talk about how the book made me feel, which themes resonated with me most and why.

My newsletter has almost 700 subscribers and this blog has over 1,000. They’re not huge numbers but if even one person chooses to buy a copy of one of these books from reading about it on my blog or in my newsletter then I’d call that a success.

How can you do something similar?

I know this one seems obvious but I also know a lot of readers who don’t write reviews. If you’re at all intimidated by posting your thoughts on an online retailer, find your own online space to share the books you love. AND remember: a review does not have to be time-consuming or 1,000 words long.

Like I said, my posts will be more like reactions to what I loved. A quick reflection on how a book made you feel is plenty to post as a review on Goodreads or Amazon and those reviews have a huge impact on a book’s visibility. As soon as you finish a book by a marginalized author, open up notes on your phone or grab a sticky note and jot down a few thoughts before you forget. Then post them to Goodreads, Amazon, or another online retailer whenever you can. Don’t forget text the reaction to a friend who you think would also love the book or share your reaction on social media.

2. Make your neighborhood libraries more inclusive

I mostly read library books because I happen to have a library right down the hall. Our ESL team has a great relationship with our librarian and at certain times of the year she asks for diverse books recs and/or linguistically accessible books (what we’d call low-level high-interest) that our ESL students might enjoy. I see this as an awesome opportunity to make our library’s selection more inclusive for all. The more diverse books that are in the library, the more likely it is that students will pick them up, fall in love with them, and want to read more by that author.

How can you replicate this at your own library? It’s super easy! I worked in libraries for several years before becoming a teacher so I know for a fact that the librarian at your local branch is a superhero and would definitely love to hear what you’d like to see more of. Especially if you check out books often, staff will really take your recs to heart. Even if you’re new to the library it’s really important that a library’s selection reflects the values of that community. So if you don’t see a book by a certain marginalized author on the shelves, give the title to the librarian who will either request it through an inter-library loan (which gets the books on their radar) or add it to their next order.

3. Make your neighborhood classrooms and communities more inclusive

Personally, it’s better for my budget to use the library at the school where I work to get most of my books. BUT because money is power I also want to make sure the things I’m doing are leading to actual sales for those marginalized authors. One of the ways I do this is by allotting a certain amount of our ESL department money to stocking our classroom libraries with diverse books. I always buy two copies of everything so reading is more social and kids can talk about what they’re reading with a friend who’s also reading the same book. This also helps when I want to do lit circles led by student choice because it ensures every book in my classroom library is an option for discussion.

Check out my lit circle haul from last year focused on diverse nonfiction texts:

Left to right *marginalized authors only: 1) Diary of a Tokyo Teen by Christine Mari Inzer 2) The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind byWilliam Kamkwamba 3) I Am Malala byMalala Yousafzai 4) Americanized by Sara Saedi 5) In the Country We Love by Diane Guerrero 6) I Will Always Write Back by Martin Ganda &Caitlin Alifirenka
And here’s my BOY haul focused on diverse anthologies & multi-genre texts:

Left to right: 1) Kim’s Convenience by Ins Choi 2) American Like Me *edited by America Ferrera 3) Fresh Ink *edited by Lamar Giles 4) Our Stories, Our Voices 5) We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices *edited by Wade Hudson 6) Flying Lessons & Other Stories *edited by Ellen Oh
And the summer reading books I’ll be giving away to students at EOY:


TOP-Left to right: 1) Darrius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram 2) American Road Trip by Patrick Flores-Scott 3) Love, Hate, and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed 4) To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
BOTTOM-Left to right: 5) Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert 6) We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia 7) The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe

As we approach our spring deadline for spending our budget money, I usually use it to purchase even more books. This year I bought the above summer reading books for my 9th & 10th graders and plan to do a gallery walk in May so students can choose one before summer break. I was very careful to find books containing representation that matches the diversity in my classroom and purchased books by and featuring marginalized people across different racial, religious, and cultural backgrounds.

How can you replicate this if you’re not a teacher and don’t have free money specifically allotted to buying diverse/inclusive teaching/reading materials?

You could start a book club with friends or coworkers for the purpose of reading books by marginalized authors. Whether the people in your group choose to buy the book themselves or request it at their local library the author is still making money. And who knows? Maybe someone (or multiple people) in your book club will fall in love with that author’s work and buy their entire backlist. Personally, when I discover a book that ends up blowing me away and becoming an absolute favorite I buy a personal copy to someday shelve in my *dream* home library.

If you have kids, you could also encourage them to start a book club like this with their friends.

If you’ve got the money to spend you can also seek out organizations that provide books to students in low-income schools. Or check out Donor’s Choose and search specifically for literacy projects focused on diverse books. Each year I make a few donations around Christmas time to teachers in my hometown who are building diverse classroom libraries or who need class sets of diverse books. If you can’t afford to fund one of these projects, share it on social media to help get the word out. You could even stop by a school in your neighborhood and ask if they need diverse book donations.

Again, if you don’t personally have the funds for this, organize a book drive and collect donations.

I think the most important thing to consider if you want to support marginalized creators is how can you leverage your own privilege and community to make a difference. We all have different financial situations and different levels of influence. If you can’t afford to spend your own money on these books, that’s okay. Find other ways to shine a light on them by reviewing them, shouting about them online, or recommending them to people and institutions that do have the funds to purchase them.

The methods listed above are just some of the ways I’m using my available time, resources, and platform to bring attention to diverse books. But as my financial situation and zone of influence changes, hopefully this list will change and I’ll be able to do things that make an even greater financial impact on the lives of these authors.

Because the more money these authors make, the more likely it is they’ll be able to build a sustainable career, and the more marginalized creators with successful track records, the more likely it is that publishers will be willing to invest in the work of other marginalized creators. A rising tide lifts all boats so let’s help each other rise and reach our goals while also getting these books into the hands of people who really need them.