How to Publish a Book For And About Your Community
4BROWNGIRLSWHOWRITE share their insider tips
Sarah Ben Romdane
Many things in life feel unfairly inaccessible for most millennials (houses, mortgages and disposable income to name a few). But in the face of rising unemployment and on-going political crises—despite the common misconception that milliennials are lazy, self-centred and apathetic—this is also a generation that are defiantly focused on representing their communities, fighting for racial equality and trying to make their voices heard.
And this is why the DIY publishing scene is experiencing a huge boom, finally giving a space for radical opinions and viewpoints, far from the typical voices of cis white, middle class men that still dominate the publishing world.
As women of colour, London-based collective 4BROWNGIRLSWHOWRITE decided to publish their own poetry book last fall with FEM Zine, an independent zine that celebrates misrepresented and invisible intersectional narratives exploring feminism, femininity and femme identity. “In the summer of 2017, I met Sunnah, Sharan and Roshni on a boat on the Thames, as we were sharing poetry and having drinks with friends. We really resonated deeply and found strength in each other’s voices and decided to create a space to nurture each other’s writing and share in vulnerability”, says Sheena Patel, referring to how the project came about organically.
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✨It’s TONIGHT✨ This is genuinely how delighted we’re feeling about seeing you all later ❤️ We’ve nearly sold out of tickets online 🙈 so grab yours QUICK! There will also be a limited number on door. Link in bio 👆🏾 See you @7.30PM 🎉WE CAN’T WAIT 🎉 . . . #4browngirlswhowrite #stourspace #spokenwordlondon #poetrycollective #wocpoetry #pocpoetry #partylondon #booklaunching
MILLE caught up with Patel and asked her to share her tips on how to publish your own self-governing book for and about your community.
Use Instagram to build your network
It’s a fantastic place to create the world you want to inhabit and also make friends, be generous, say hi to people you’re interested in, engage in their work but also don’t be put off if they don’t DM you back.
Collaborate with your friends
You need to manifest ideas in the physical world and the best way to do that is to collaborate with your friends. We are four sister poets who cheer each other on and who are sources of inspiration. We’re a team. We also have my best friend BK who designed our book and created our set for our book launch and our friend, Aish who assisted and gave us a beautiful arrangement of flowers and put pomegranates on the floor to perform next to, which was so poetic. Find your people, they will be endless support.
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✨We still can’t get over how magical Friday night was✨ What a beautiful space we ALL held for each other & that crescendo of rain drumming down for us was just other-worldly 💫 Full hearts ♥️❤️❤️❤️ Have a beautiful Sunday 😘 @shaguftakiqbalpoet @psychology_and_poetry @t.ffuego @damilolaoh @femzinelondon @theyoniversecollective Set design: @bkontuesdays & @aishgn Flowers: @aishgn Photocredit: @gyllzd Jewellery: @ani_and_shi With thanks to @stourspace for having us #4browngirlswhowrite #4bgww #booklaunch #womenwhowrite #spokenwordpoetry #londonpoet #poetry #wocpoets #pocpoets #stourspace #gratefulheart
Don’t wait for permission
We were fortunate that Georgia from FEM Zine, asked us to make a book with them. The idea never occurred to us. Our book is their first foray into publishing so we are all starting out essentially and all six of us (the four of us, BK and Georgia) did a phenomenal amount of work getting the book made. We’re in bookshops across London now and on the night before Valentine’s day we were sold by Waterstones – you don’t need to knock on doors, build it and they will come.
Write from the heart, go to the painful places
You need content that connects and that only happens when you write from honest places. Without this, nothing else matters. Find your voice and keep writing.
Photography by Alia Romagnoli