By Dapinder Dosanjh
With approximately one million books published annually in the US, there are bound to be some resounding similarities between titles. But what about the unfortunate resemblance glaringly evident when books are stacked side-by-side on bookstore shelves and placed on the bestseller lists? What exactly is the issue? Author diversity. Or lack thereof.
When writer, designer, and illustrator Ash Huang discovered this unpleasant and frustrating truth, she decided to take action and use her wordsmithing skills to create change.
Ash found that the range of published authors, and their backgrounds, did not accurately reflect the rich cultural diversity of the population. Furthermore, the majority of characters, especially protagonists, did not mirror her identity, personality or beliefs, nor did they resemble others who were ‘different’ to the norm.
So in order to help widen perspectives within publishing and reach underrepresented readers, Ash chose to share her own writing and develop dynamic characters who find themselves in worlds and universes we all can relate to and enjoy.
The writing bug bit Ash long before she released her first novel, The Firesteel last July. She actually came up with the initial idea for the book at the age of 14. Over the years, and with multiple rewrites, Ash carefully crafted the story until she felt it was time “to make it real.” At this point, she faced a very important choice -- whether to go down the traditional route or to self-publish.
Ultimately, it was clear the most important factor was how fast the book could make its way into the hands of readers. So instead of waiting years for the right agent to come along, Ash decided to take charge of the production of her own novel and release it quickly.
Armed with her business instincts and experience working in the tech and startup industries, Ash began navigating her way through self-publishing. She employed an experienced freelance editor to revise and prime the manuscript. The crowdfunding campaign for The Firesteel launched on Kickstarter in July, and Ash started marketing the book to friends, acquaintances, and readers. Her creative talents in professional design came in handy in creating the cover art and typesetting page layouts.
Despite the “rollercoaster ride,” Ash’s efforts paid off two-fold. The campaign received 100% funding, which meant that all campaign-backers received copies of the book, and Ash won first place in the 2015 Writer’s Digest self-published eBook category for The Firesteel. Not bad for a debut novel.
The successful experience in crowdfunding The Firesteel gave Ash confidence in her ability to produce a quality piece of literature. So when her next writing project, a novella meant to serve as a “palette cleanser” after her first novel, developed into a full-length book, she again considered the traditional publishing route. But then the crowd-publishing services offered by Publishizer caught her eye.
Ash could crowdfund Suspension on Publishizer, with the added benefit of having the book proposal sent out to publishing houses for review. So she decided to “level-up.” Ash realized that this could be her way into traditional publishing, while still staying close to her self-publishing roots and focusing on getting the book to readers.
With Suspension, Ash is enjoying the challenge of “universe building,” working with a familiar, yet hypothetical version of an extremely politically-charged America in 2018. Readers can expect an epic journey into a country riddled with bipartisan in-fighting, struggling to suppress a contagious viral outbreak. When a journalist turns the spotlight on the story of a controversial terrorist attack, she must face the consequences of her role and the implications of the discovery.
Through this post-apocalyptic thriller, Ash hopes to reach new readers, sharing her unique voice and furthering her experience as a published author.