re: Pitching a Novel as Multicultural

in General fiction/Teen/Middle Grade Fiction by

Dear Editor . . .

Can you refer to your novel as multicultural if only your secondary characters are from a different background, but not your protagonist?

Thank you,
T. J.

Dear T. J….

Readers of diverse cultures want to see themselves and their experiences in a book—and who wouldn’t love to be the star of the book? But if your secondary characters’ specific cultures factor into your plot or themes in significant ways, or if you offer substantial, meaningful looks inside their cultures, then multicultural lit fans will feel satisfied. Teachers, librarians, editors, agents, awards committees, and reviewers seek stories that expose readers to diverse cultural experiences. If you’ve got racial diversity but haven’t done anything significant with it, then “multicultural” is misleading for all. Google a multicultural literature list such as the CCBC’s “30 Multicultural Books Every Teen Should Know.” Can you truly see your book’s title alongside the others without feeling the need to justify its presence? If so, you’re good to go.

Happy writing!
The Editor

2 Comments

  1. As a former children’s librarian, I will add that I was frequently given money by different community organizations to buy books that were multicultural in general, or targeted to a specific group of cultures, such as Asians.

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