When the sale of her debut middle grade book, “The Moon Within,” was announced Aida Salazar was approached by marketing groups dominated by privileged white males. Meanwhile, she noticed that other writers of color were publishing children’s literature and figured that by uniting forces, they could create their own debut marketing group. “I have an arts activism background organizing communities of color and I immediately knew that we could create something entirely new that would build an alliance for people of color kidlit authors,” she told Pulso.
Fellow young adult and middle grade authors Jen Cervantes, Yamile Saied Mendez, Emma Otheguy, Claribel Ortega and Tehlor Kay Mejia joined the cause. Las Musas formed after the group decided to narrow the focus to Latina writers and Latinx writers who identified on the female spectrum. Mia Garcia, who has published two novels and worked in publishing, was instrumental in helping shape the collective. “The genius of the members took over and soon we had a website, social media accounts and were on our way. We became the first debut group of its kind in the history of publishing,” Aida said.
Since launching earlier this year, Las Musas has offered a sisterhood to Latinx writers in their debut writing journey. Fellow Musas share one another’s milestones, whether it’s cover reveals, reviews or book launches, and, when able, they meet in person at conferences or other events. Higher profile Musas help lift those new to social media or to book touring. Each member has a page on Las Musas’ website and can post article, essay or blog posts. The website receives about 1,000 visitors weekly and continues growing. There are also monthly Twitter chats and a small cohort of Musas dedicated to providing Musas-related content on all the collective’s social media accounts.
Las Musas is 40 members strong and just added a Las Musas Madrinas and Hermanas Program mentorship program. Mentees are unpublished authors seeking to get into children’s literature. But the support Las Musas offers extends far beyond the debut years.
Ultimately, Aida said Las Musas would like to grow awareness of their efforts so that more of their books get into the hands of children. “My wish is that our existence will expand Latinx children’s possibilities to dream, to be more than the damaging narratives we have been given, when they see themselves positively reflected in texts as great as these,” she said.
Together, Las Musas hope to show the publishing industry that the Latinx community is not one voice, but many diverse voices, and that there is a need and an audience for all of these voices. Aida said the group is working on Las Musas Picture Book debut group, a new writer’s research page and an online conference. “I hope our contributions will continue to carve out spaces for more Latinx writers, more books, more readers, and a broader affirmation that Latinx folks exist with an immense diversity, with artistry and dignity in the world,” she said.