Though it feels wrong to celebrate anything in light of current events, I'm feeling incredibly grateful to have been selected for a Print Futures 2020 Award.
I want to ensure my little business gives back to the writing community in more ways than just helping authors who can afford to hire an editor. Financial barriers have kept underrepresented voices from being heard for too long; it's the reason I've always kept my editing fees deliberately below the industry standard, to offer a more accessible editorial service for writers.
But I know this is not enough.
It's our responsibility, collectively, to look inward and ask ourselves how we can use our skills to uplift the voices of those who are being overlooked. There's a long overdue movement going on in our world right now, which we all need to make sure we're involved in.
From my original application to the Print Futures Award back in April, in response to the question, What excites you about the industry you work in?:
"I'm most excited by the prospect of a new wave of diverse authors and stories coming to light. I believe, as the industry expands to allow greater means for self-publishing and access to new platforms through which authors can make their voices heard, we're stepping into a really exciting time, with a lot of potential for undiscovered writers to step up and share their experience. I'm excited to see how this changes the shape of the industry too. Already, lots of schemes seem to be cropping up to allow for professionals from a wider range of backgrounds to enter Publishing. I hope this continues on an even greater scale, to allow underrepresented and overlooked voices to be discovered in all areas, not only between the pages of the books we're publishing but in the teams who help to create them."
Needless to say, my interview with the judging panel a few weeks ago involved a great follow-up discussion about diversity and inclusion. This topic goes beyond racial discrimination, which remains a huge issue in publishing. For example, in an industry dominated by degree-educated, heterosexual white individuals, how do we open up the doors to minority backgrounds, disabled individuals, working class individuals, the LGBTQIA+ community, and people who can't afford to live and work in London, where the majority of publishing jobs are concentrated? I fall into this category, and I'm very passionate about making sure doors are open for everyone.
There are so many reasons why we, as an industry, need to address the above issues and create more inclusion and diversity within our teams and on our shelves. Amplifying the voices of those who have been previously overlooked is only the tip of the iceberg.
We all must do our part, however small, to make our communities inclusive and welcoming to individuals from every background, so that we're not repeating the same harmful, closed-door patterns of previous generations.
What will I be doing with my grant?
The Print Futures Award grant will enable me to complete the Adobe InDesign training I need to develop a selection of free editorial resources for writers, which I plan to launch in 2021. It's a small drop in an ocean of much more necessary changes, but it's a goal I'm fully committed to.
Additionally, the grant will allow me to complete further training with the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading, since one of my aims for 2021 is to work with traditional publishing clients. This additional training will give me the much-needed confidence boost to do that!
I'm so grateful for the funding, for the privilege to still be working for a growing list of authors, and for The Printing Charity, whose work has had such an uplifting impact on so many people.
You can apply for a Print Futures Award grant too!
If you're aged between 18 and 30 years and you work in the printing, paper, packaging, publishing, or graphic arts sector in the UK, be sure to visit https://www.theprintingcharity.org.uk/ to learn more about the Print Futures Awards 2021 and find out if you're eligible to apply.
Speaking as someone who gets incredibly nervous about video calls, I can honestly say, it's been an entirely positive experience all the way through, and the interviews aren't scary at all. Actually, I left the call feeling very empowered, all nerves forgotten! Give it a go—you could receive a grant of up to £1,500 to develop your skills and achieve your goals.
Advocating for change...
If it wasn't already obvious from the above, I'm in full support of the ongoing #BlackLivesMatter movement and have been listening, researching, signing petitions, and spreading the message where I can. Now is the time for real change.
In the twenty-first century, and especially in the middle of a global pandemic, nobody should be forced to protest for their basic human rights. Use your voice to support the cause. Silence and neutrality in the face of oppression is harmful ignorance. We can all do better.
All images in this blog post were sourced from www.unsplash.com.