People around the world have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. While it’s impossible to compare the loss and grief caused by the virus, one population has been unexpectedly affected: authors of new books. As author events are cancelled and publishing dates are shifted, it’s become increasingly challenging to promote new works and get books in the hands of readers. And for writers who have spent years working on books, the joyous book release they expected has become difficult to navigate.
That’s why the Disability Visibility Project is launching a new grant program to help disabled authors promote their 2020 books through virtual events. Through the Disability Visibility Book Circle, 15 writers will receive a one-time $1000 grant to help them organize their own public book promotion event via video conference.
📢 New project by @DisVisibility
Disability Visibility Book Circle 📚
Funds for Video Conference Book Events by Disabled* Writers 🖥💵💬📖
— Alice Wong (@SFdirewolf) April 6, 2020
Grant recipients can use the funds for costs associated with virtual book promotion events, including CART (communication access realtime translation) services, ASL (American Sign Language) interpreters, honoraria for moderators and hosts, publicity, and the writer’s time and labor.
This new opportunity comes from Disability Visibility Project founder and director Alice Wong, a disability activist, media maker, and consultant. The project is “an online community dedicated to creating, sharing, and amplifying disability media and culture.”
How to Apply
If you are a disabled writer with a book being published between January 1, 2020, and June 31, 2021, you may be eligible for a Disability Visibility Book Circle grant. According to the grant application, “disabled” includes all kinds of people; for example, “chronically ill, sick, housebound, immunocompromised, D/deaf, Mad, neurodivergent, etc.” Priority will be given to authors of color and debut authors.
Grants are available for a variety of books, including zines, chapbooks, graphic novels, novellas, anthologies, ebooks, and audiobooks. Self-published authors are also welcome to apply.
To apply, authors must complete a short survey before May 1, 2020. More information and a link to apply are available here.
Why It Matters
Although 20 percent of the population is disabled, disability is rarely reflected in media and literature, according to DisabledWriters.com. And when disabled characters are represented, they’re far too often written by nondisabled authors, for a nondisabled audience.
The Disability Visibility Book Circle seeks to change that by supporting disabled writers and allowing them to reach a wider audience. Requirements for grant recipients also seek to allow disabled readers to more easily participate in events. Video conference book events must include CART and ASL interpreters, alt text for all images and graphics, and a publicly accessible recording of the event with captions.
This grant program is particularly important during the COVID-19 crisis, as many disabled writers are immunocompromised or have limited access to necessary resources to protect themselves from infection. Funds to support virtual events allow writers to promote their books while also meeting social distancing guidance.
As more writers turn to virtual events during the pandemic, the value of flexible, accessible author events may come to light. Increased familiarity with video conferencing technology could make bookish events more accessible for disabled writers and readers far into the future.
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