#WeNeedDiverseBooks… And This Is What We Need To Do Next


For those of you who missed it, May 1st marked the kick off to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, voicing a demand that stories by and about people of colour, varying abilities and genders, and the LGBTQ community become more readily available to readers, particularly in children’s books and YA fiction.

Twitter and Tumblr users alike shared their reasons and support for diversity in literature, and the feeds are well worth checking out. They’ve also made an impact: The Book Con has finally added people of colour to their guest list.  Better very, very late than never, I suppose.

 So, what’s next?

What do we need to do now with all this feedback, not just at Sumbola as a start up publishing company, but as readers and writers?  After all, if feedback isn’t put to good use, well… it just isn’t useful.

For us, it comes down to empathy. We’re not here to lecture or patronize any reader, writer, or publisher, but what we want to advocate for is active consideration of others, particularly those of whom have experiences and perspectives that differ from our own. 

We believe that it is vital that every story teller and story lover place themselves in the shoes of the writers, and even the characters, with perspectives other than their own.  Secondly, we need to fully appreciate how important and wonderful it is to find ourselves and our loved ones in fiction, and everyone deserves this opportunity.

A little bit of empathy goes a long way; it leads to voting with our voices, voting with our dollars, doing the extra bit of research, and not accepting played-out ethnic or gender-based character tropes. It leads to a deeper understanding of literature (from comics to classics), and a better understanding of ourselves and the human condition. 

That’s it.  No six step guide, no infographic, no cartoons to help illustrate how to build a diverse bookshelf.  We’re just saying this: practice empathy, and keep on encouraging others to do the same.  Diverse and awesome stories will be the result.  

There is a fitting quote from Audre Lorde that encapsulates the importance and the blessing that diversity is:

“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”

This is why we need empathy.  This is why we need diverse books.

If you’re still looking for another reason, here are just a few of our favourites:

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#WeNeedDiverseBooks because it shouldn’t be easier to identify with a talking animal than with a human being who isn’t straight and white.

— Steve Foxe (@steve_foxe) May 1, 2014



So simple. So successful.

BREAKING NEWS: Articles Now Available

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Big and wonderful news everyone: Our tremendous and tireless technical team has added a brand new feature to Sumbola for writers and readers alike!  Now, Sumbola members can write and submit articles directly on to the site for others to browse through, read, comment and vote on.  It’s a big step in our efforts to allow you to self publish, and we can’t wait for you to test it out.

One of the biggest reasons we’re excited to launch our Sumbola Articles is that it gives a platform to both the casual and the consistent writer. If you maintain a blog elsewhere on the web with regular content, you’re free to copy and paste your own essays and articles from your site, exposing your work to a different viewing pool.  If you lack the time or desire to maintain your own blog to begin with, this is a great tool for you as well! You can post as frequently as you like, and your content can vary as much as you please.

An additional tool we’ve added to our Articles is the ability to attribute blog posts to content that is not your own.  This is a great way to share other perspectives and will link back to the original author or publisher’s site.  While it’s great in many ways, we do advise caution in what you link to: may sites will have strict rules about sharing their work even with attribution, and if not, it’s always polite to ask permission anyways.

If you have content that you’re ready to share, feel free to jump on in and start sharing- we would be delighted!  That being said, please check out and adhere to the Sumbola Terms of Service to know what types of content and activity is prohibited as well as our policy on copyrights.

While this is a big jump for us in terms in what we have offered so far, we are still looking to make this feature (and Sumbola as a whole) the very best it can be!  If you have ideas for new categories, we want to hear them! If something isn’t quite working for you, we want to fix it! Feel free to submit any and all feed back to us by commenting below, reaching us by our support email (support@sumbola.zendesk.com) or visiting our support desk!

Ready to start?  Great! Hop on over to Sumbola’s Articles Section to add your voice.

In related and also awesome news for all writers with books ready for publishing: we’re just about ready for you, so stay tuned for updates!


Hogwarts Is Here, And It’s The Most Magical Massive Open Online Course Ever.

Harry Potter Fans, being the wonderful but sightly intense creatures that they are, have done it again: they have found a new way to bring the magic a little closer to home.

A team of dedicated volunteers have designed and built a thoroughly imaginative and awesome MOOC, or Massive Open Online Course, which is, according to the website,

“…Thanks to the efforts and resources (plus a little magic) from the Wizard-Muggle Integration Movement, … entirely free.”

Excuse us for a moment while we regather our composure.

That moment you heard JK Rowling questioning Hermione and Ron’s romance.

Ok. We’ve got it.

This is the perfect nine-week course for all of us who lived vicariously in the hallways of Hogwarts and dreamed of receiving our own magical letter. It is ideal for all those have debated anything about the Harry Potter Universe, from the logistics of the Ministry of Magic to the plumbing of the magical world. It’s also fantastic for writers in general, as a lot of the course content is based upon creative (but serious) essay writing.

Alex Heinbach, writer for Slate and now a Ravenclaw student, enrolled for the course and wrote a little about it here, but if you’re already sold on the idea, you can go to Hogwarts is Here to sign up.

It’s really too much fun not to.


Are you already a course member? What house did you enroll in?  Are you chillin’ in Slytherin? Learnin’ stuff in Hufflepuff? Let us know in the comments, or go ahead and just tweet at us!

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Scary Authors, Twitter Essays and Claire’s Imaginary Reads

Keep Calm and Read YA

Young Adult author A.S. King has had her share of criticism for the mature subject matter of her novels. She posted the article Who’s Afraid of A.S. King?  on her blog, Here’s Me Using the Word Blog in a Sentence.  King asks if it is the content itself that disturbs her critics: the cursing, the sex, violence, death, abuse, drugs, alcohol, or bullying that offends them, or rather if it simply that she chooses to explore the topics in novels designed for teen readers.   Quite wonderfully, she explains the importance of writing about the concepts, choices and consequences that teens face rather than hiding it, to which we say, write on, King, write on.

Twitter’s First Immigration Essay

Last week, author Teju Cole published a 4000 word essay on the American immigration system and its injustices… on Twitter. Cole told BuzzFeed that the he chose Twitter for the medium of the essay because a serious topic written about in a serious essay doesn’t have to be printed out in a serious major magazine.  Teju Cole continued, “I just feel so strongly that there’s an audience here, and audience that deserves to be treated with the same seriousness as the paper crowd”.  We love the idea of exploring new methods and mediums for getting a good story or idea out, and if you haven’t yet, “A Piece Of The Wall” is well worth the read.

Claire Underwood’s Bookshelf

Claire Underwood, the captivating, incisive leading woman of Netflix’s House of Cards, probably has amazing literary tastes.  Since she’s fictional, we probably won’t ever have a full understanding of what her favourite authors and to-be-read list would consist of, but that hasn’t stopped Book Riot contributer Wallace Yovetich from supposing the front runners of her book collection.  Of course, he’s got to be right on the money with Sun Tzu’s Art of War, and Machiavelli’s The Prince, but I bet you could find Slaughterhouse Five and The Bell Jar on her nightstand as well.

The Giver Is Finally Here

Or at least its trailer is anyways. The long awaited movie adaptation of Lois Lowry’s The Giver is well on its way, starring a strange and wonderful cast, including Meryl Streep (of several Oscar winning performances) , Jeff Bridges (of The Big Lebowski), Alexander Skarsgård (of True Blood) and Taylor Swift (of pop-country music that inevitably gets stuck in your head). The dystopian story of the boy chosen to bear the memories of his society is set to open in theatres August 15, 2014.


Do you have a publishing story you want us to share? Comment below, or tweet it to us @sumbolacosi!