As part of the #Latinx week for @LGLonlinefest I also had the wonderful chance to work with Yamile Mendez author of the upcoming book On These Magic Shores releasing June 9th 2020. She is so hardworking and especially during our current situations very busy with family and life, so I am extremely honored that she took time out of her day to answer some questions for us!
Check out what she had to say below about her experiences as a writer, her challenges, and her advice for people who are thinking of making writing their career:)
Q. Please introduce yourselves and explain what experience you have in the writing industry. My name is Yamile (sha-MEE-lay) Saied Méndez. I was born and raised in Argentina, and I love fútbol (soccer), music, and pizza’m an award wining author of picture books, MG and YA novels, and short stories. I’m represented by Linda Camacho, from Gallt and Zacker Literary. I have a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adult from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and I’m also an alumna of VONA (Voices of Our Nations).
Q. What’s something about the publishing industry that you wish you knew when you first started out? I wish I hadn’t obsessed with the “dream agent” ideal. I used to think that the only way to succeed would be for me to sign with the most popular agent, the number one in the blogosphere or twitter. When I signed with Linda, she was just starting out. In a couple of weeks will be the 5th anniversary of my signing with her. The best decision I ever made in my career. I’m honored that she chose me as her client when I had no writing credits whatsoever. We’ve both grown together, and she’s the best partner I could’ve dreamed of. She’s my dream agent, and my career wouldn’t exist or would be very different without her.
Q. Do you have any challenges you’ve faced, personally or professionally, in the industry as a Latinx author that you’d like to vocalize?
It took me a long time to sell a book after signing with my agent. We received a myriad of nice rejections that went along with “we already have a Latina author” to “no one will want to read a book set in another country.” Although I believe everything happens for a reason, and that my books are coming out when they’re most needed, the rejections still hurt a lot. I’m glad I didn’t quit, and that the market is now ready for the stories I tell. But I grieve for the stories we’ll never know by all the other authors whose voices were silenced.
Q. Do you feel like your writing paves the way for others in your community?
Every story by an author of color or from a marginalized community paves the way for more to come later. I’m proud and grateful to add my little brick to this road.
Q. What were some of the best surprises you’ve had getting into the industry?The community! The friends and networks I’ve made in the last twelve years I’ve been part of this industry are the reason I’m here today. From Las Musas (a collective of womxn and non-binary authors) to Pitchwars, VONA, SCBWI, I’ve found my traveling companions in the journey to publication and the road as a published author.
Q. Do you have any advice for people just getting into this industry?
Remember that the craft of writing and publishing are not the same thing. Often, when we’re starting out, we fantasize with the more glamorous aspects of being an author, but the truth is, the joy resides in the writing, always and forever. Write what excites you, what brings you joy, what makes you uncomfortable and keeps you up at night. Write when you think no one will want to read your stories. I know there are people craving to see in words the things they keep inside their hearts. Be true to yourself above all, and the rest will follow.