Change Behind the Scenes
Monday, 30 November -0001
Posted On 2017-02-02 11:01:17 |  Last Update 2017-02-02 11:08:52 |  Read 4908 times | 0 Comments

As part of our project to put together a YA anthology of BAME writers, we were keen to ensure that diverse voices were being heard throughout every stage. So we set out to find an aspiring editor from a BAME background to shadow the book’s editor, Ruth Bennett, and get some vital hands on experience along the way. Our successful candidate Aa'Ishah joins us on the blog to talk about why she applied.

A Note from Aa'Ishah

Working on A Change Is Gonna Come, the YA BAME anthology that Stripes will be publishing in August 2017, is exciting for more reasons than one. Selfishly, it means more experience for me, in the hope that one day I’ll be able to start my dream career as an Editor. It’s the chance to stay with a book from first draft (or drafts, in this case) to finished product; it’s the chance to work with YA, my great love.

But I also applied for the role of mentee because of what this anthology represents: diversity. Progress. The acknowledgement that things as they stand are not enough and that we need more. More people at every single level of the publishing industry from diverse backgrounds to reflect the society we live in. More people from marginalised groups having their voices heard. I’ll admit this is also a selfish motive – I’d like to see myself in literature and bond with industry professionals after work over tea or ice cream because we don’t drink – but I’m okay with that.

It’s also great to be working on one of the few UKYA books by BAME authors being released this year. The wonderful Mariam Khan compiled a list of these books, and the final number is shockingly small. Small enough that we don’t even reach double digits. We’ve got a long way to go, but I’m glad for the chance to work with both established voices and new ones. Now more than ever we need voices speaking up and speaking out; we need to continue fighting back so that we can move forward. Those in the industry have the ability to make a difference, so it’s important they do. In applying to Stripes, I was hoping for the chance to be a part of that. I’m grateful to them, and to Ruth (my mentor) in particular, for allowing me that chance.

Not to mention, of course, the prospect of immersing myself in quality writing and helping to produce something thoroughly enjoyable. As an editorial mentee, a lot of my time is spent reading or discussing what I’ve read – how amazing is that? I mean, yes, I did come away with a fair amount of paperwork in just two days and a sizeable to-do list … but on the other hand my first day also brought cookies. I’m very excited about learning how to edit an anthology; hopefully by the end of it I will have picked up plenty of insider secrets, and generally just be more knowledgeable about how the whole process works. Maybe I’ll even delve into the great unknown that is InDesign. It’s going to be hectic – it already is – but it’s going to be fun.

And, by the end, we will all have a wonderful new anthology, full of amazing and diverse voices.

A word from Ruth

One of the main barriers to getting into publishing is experience. What better experience than being involved in the editorial process of working on a book from start to finish? We were so impressed with the quality of the applications we received for the A Change Is Gonna Come shadowing opportunity – lots of talented people applied and I sincerely hope that they go on to build the careers in publishing they wish for. Aa'Ishah's application stood out because of her passion for YA writing and the sincere and thoughtful way she engaged with this project. We've already had fantastic chats about books and stories and writing, and I know she will be a great asset to the project. In return, I hope we can give her an insight into the process of publishing an anthology that will set her in good stead for an editorial career.

Stripes will publish A Change Is Gonna Come in paperback on 3rd August 2017. Details on the open submission process can be found at:

Ruth and Aa'Ishah


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