Agents, Editors, and the Publishing Industry (for BIPOC)
This one-day class offers an overview of the publishing business geared toward BIPOC writers of fiction and nonfiction. We will discuss ways of subverting the "white gaze" in publishing and building networks of support. Participants will learn about writing query letters, finding the agent that is the best champion of their voice, and advocating for their vision/project in a white-dominated publishing industry. The class will bring in agents (with an opportunity to pitch selected projects to an agent!), as well as editors from a big publishing house and an independent press, people who are looking for books by BIPOC authors and are working to change the industry from within.
Soumeya Bendimerad Roberts
Soumeya Bendimerad Roberts is a literary agent and VP, Foreign Rights, at HG Literary.
In fiction, Soumeya is seeking literary and upmarket novels and collections, and also represents realistic young-adult and middle-grade. She likes books with vivid voices and compelling, well-developed story-telling, and is particularly interested in narratives by people of color and fiction that reflects on the post-colonial world. She's currently on the hunt for narratives set in enclosed settings, stylized literary takes on genre (especially literary thriller and suspense), novels set in other countries or shot through with elements of travel, family sagas, historical narratives (especially those that intertwine with the present), honest, updated, politically charged takes on the domestic family novel, and unconventional love stories. A lover of craft, she is drawn to observant writing that illuminates dynamic relationships between complex but sympathetic characters, intelligent experiments with form, and stories that enchant and transport the reader in authentic and inventive ways. In non-fiction, she is primarily looking for idea-driven or voice-forward memoirs, personal essay collections, and approachable narrative non-fiction of all stripes: politics, current events; popular culture, (especially anything that deals with subcultures – the more minute the better), unconventional business, popular science, adventure, psychology, and more. She also represents practical nonfiction in the areas of cooking, design, craft, gardening, travel and the outdoors, humor, health, and parenting.
Laura Gonzalez is an editorial assistant at Catapult Books. Previously, she was a marketing assistant at Catapult, Counterpoint, and Soft Skull Press and a bookseller at The Strand. She lives in Philadelphia, where she likes to bake cookies and play with her cats.
RAKESH SATYAL is an Executive Editor who specializes in serious narrative nonfiction, as well as literary fiction and fiction in translation. He acquires across all the HarperOne lists — HarperOne, Amistad, HarperVia, and HarperCollins Español. He held previous editorial positions at Atria/Simon & Schuster, Harper/HarperCollins, and Doubleday/Random House. He has acquired and edited many New York Times bestsellers, including Let Love Have the Last Word by Common, Resistance by Tori Amos, I Have Something to Tell You by Chasten Buttigieg, the Children of Eden series by Joey Graceffa, I Can't Date Jesus by Michael Arceneaux, Holding by Graham Norton, and Furious Love by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger. Other authors with whom he has worked include Michael Ausiello, Guy Branum, Terry Castle, Paolo Cognetti, Marcia Gay Harden, Daniel Lavery, Armistead Maupin, Janet Mock, and Jake Shears.
An award-winning novelist (No One Can Pronounce my Name and Blue Boy), Rakesh has taught in the publishing program at New York University and currently serves as Vice President of the board of Lambda Literary, the world's leading LGBTQ+ literary organization. He is based in New York.
Sonora Jha is the author of the novels The Laughter (2023) and Foreign (2013) and the memoir How To Raise A Feminist Son: A Memoir and Manifesto (2021). After a career as a journalist covering crime, politics, and culture in India and Singapore, she moved to the United States to earn a Ph.D. in media and public affairs. Sonora’s OpEds, essays, and public appearances have featured in The New York Times, on BBC, and elsewhere. She is a professor of journalism and lives in Seattle. She teaches fiction and essay writing for Hugo House, Hedgebrook Writers’ Retreat, and Seattle Public Library.