A mentorship and publishing opportunity
for an Indigenous or Black writer, or a writer of colour,
between the ages of 18–24 living in Canada
The opportunity takes the form of a new imprint at Arsenal run by Shraya called VS. Books. On her website, Shraya explains that the idea behind the name “VS.” emerged from the idea that “it suggests versus, or against the grain, against the mainstream.” The project involves in-depth one-on-one mentorship with Shraya that culminates in a publishing contract with Arsenal and VS. Books slated for spring 2019. When I say in-depth, I mean it: the mentorship includes editorial feedback and writing support; advice and support on so many of the other aspects of writing such as “grant-writing, CV-writing, social media, promotion, organization, self-motivation, the publishing process, touring, performing”; assistance developing a marketing and promotion strategy including a book launch; and an after-publishing debrief to help decide where to go next. The publishing contract also comes with a $1000 royalty advance!
This project is just so beautiful and generous and also so necessary (unfortunately). Although plans for the future of the imprint after its first publication will depend on how the first book goes, the hope is that the imprint would continue to publish a new Canadian writer of colour every year, according to this Quill & Quire article.
Shraya describes in detail what led her to approach Arsenal Pulp Press with the combined mentorship/publication deal collaboration:
as I enter my fifteenth year as a professional artist, I have been reflecting on the kinds of supports I required in the first decade of my career to push through systemic barriers in relation to cultural production in Canada. In particular, I have thought about how my lack of success at acquiring institutional funding required me to have a day job to fund my own work. Working full-time at a day job gave me the kind of economic privilege that allowed me to fund self-publishing my first book, God Loves Hair. For all the criticisms and challenges of self-publishing, I do believe that God Loves Hair—both the book itself and the responses to it—helped solidify my value as an artist and writer worthy of commercial investment.
She writes that VS. Books is born out of “recognition of the barriers I faced, and of my desire to support young writers who are Indigenous, Black, or people of colour—in overcoming the barriers to publication they face.” I’m always excited to see what exciting work by authors of colour and/or queer authors Arsenal Pulp Press is putting out (look for a post highlighting their fall titles soon!). But I know I’ll be extra eager to see what book comes out of this partnership, especially given how much of a fan I am of the work Shraya has already done. (Check out my review of Even This Page Is White for evidence!).
For more information on applying for the project, like what kind of deliverables you’ll need to send, go to the VS. Book webpage. Shraya says in the interview with Open Book that she’s looking for “work that is unpredictable and takes risks.” And remember, the deadline is September 15th, so get cracking!