Authentic Voices Writing & Publishing Program

Authentic Voices Matter

Women of color have stories to share. Stories that we need to hear, read, experience.

But statistics continue to show us that women of color are not offered the same opportunities in the publishing industry.

I want to change that.

I’m Natalie Obando, a literary publicist, working in my dream career.  But it’s been a hard road to get here. As the daughter of a single mother, we were by no means financially sound. In fact, we struggled so often that survival was always front of mind. Creativity was pushed aside with the sole goal being to make enough money to pay bills.

I was lucky to have mentors, angels really, who never let that ember of creativity blow out completely, and because of them, I have been able to work in a career that has surrounded me with books, authors, publishers, and writers of all types. And my life is so much richer because of it.

But as much as I love working in this field, there are problems that must be addressed. The major one is the lack of resources that women of color from marginalized communities have to contend with when it comes to being able to tell their stories.  With a lack of writing programs in their communities, opportunities to get paid for their writing, and understanding how to navigate the publishing world, often the dream of becoming a writer becomes an anxiety.

Another problem is the lack of people who can empathize with their situations and can truly understand the importance of promoting their stories. The most glaring being the lack of visual representation in this industry. The statistics of BIPOC representation in literature, the publishing industry, and the book world in general are abysmal. Study after study has shown the lack of BIPOC authors in the book world.

It’s because of these reasons that I created the Authentic Voices program through the Women’s National Book Association and Women of Color Writers. This experience is an initiative that highlights diversity in publishing by bringing authentic voices to the table in an educational, immersive, and equity-building program. It’s been a decade in the making (in my head) but its need has been more apparent over the past few years with the statistics that have surfaced, the societal stigmas we still face, and the need for understanding that our nation is thirsting for. In order to build equity in publishing, we must provide BIPOC communities the foundation and tools needed to understand and compete in the publishing world.

The Authentic Voices program will take seven participants from traditionally marginalized communities and immerse them in instruction from other women of color in the publishing industry. At the end of four months, these seven participants will not only have their stories published, they will understand what it takes to succeed in publishing and be prepared and confident to pursue their writing dream.

Of course this all takes money. Authentic Voices participants will be paid a stipend so that they don’t have to worry about survival and can focus on creativity. We are also paying our instructors because we believe in their expertise. Women, especially women of color, should be equitably paid for their work.

Our goal of $15,000 will allow us to show the seven participants that they, and their stories, are important. We can show our instructors that their wisdom is appreciated and impacts the literary landscape. We can show the publishing industry that change is here.

I am a firm believer that people’s stories matter. Now more than ever we need opportunities to not only create empathy, but to truly understand each other in a way only the written story can provide.

Please help bring the Authentic Voices program to life. Every donation, no matter the size, every bit helps us to create a better understanding of each other. For the price of a coffee, or maybe a lunch, you can help make a BIPOC woman’s dream of publishing come true.

Women’s National Book Association is a 5013c and all donations are tax deductible.
  • William B.T. Taylor 
    • $20 
    • 5 mos
  • Kayla Stierwalt 
    • $100 
    • 15 mos
  • Caitlin & Melinda Dahl 
    • $100 
    • 18 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $44 
    • 19 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $25 
    • 20 mos
See all

Organizer

Natalie Obando 
Organizer
Torrance, CA
Womens National Book Association Inc (Los Angeles Chapter) 
Registered nonprofit
Donations are typically 100% tax deductible in the US.

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