What is it we do?
#LoveOzYA Committee Chair, Michael Earp, talks about what it is we do.
#LoveOzYA came into being in May of 2015. Our origin story has already been chronicled well (here and here) so I won’t linger on how we came about. But when the Committee recently underwent some changes, announced on social media, I was congratulated online and in person and then was repeatedly asked ‘What do you do?’
I sometimes consider ‘Committee’ and ‘Chair’ as very official sounding terms for what are essentially enthusiastic volunteers at the helm of a grass roots movement that’s here to celebrate Australian authors and help readers find stories that speak to their unique experience. But then I remind myself we are officially passionate about this and while we are not a group that influences what gets published or its content, nor generate money or organise author promotional events, we do try and offer an (inter)national platform to showcase ALL the stories that are written and published by Australian authors.
Danielle Binks has written a fantastic summary of everything that #LoveOzYA has achieved and inspired in her 2016 End of Year Report. It shows that many people contributed to getting #LoveOzYA underway, each lending their individual talents and passions to really solidify a foundation. The work of the Committee itself can be summarised to two major accomplishments: the establishment of the website as a place to aggregate national news, events and resources, a place to fuel the conversation on Australian young adult literature; and the completion of our Charter.
The Charter was an important document to put in place, especially as we grow. It sets guidelines and establishes procedures to ensure that the community is represented as fairly as possible. It shows how we are here to build people up and empower them to find the full range of Australian YA that is being, or has been published. The Committee is always changing. This is both for practical reasons (members are required to donate their time and personal situations change) and governance reasons (the charter stipulates Committee term limits to ensure that there is opportunity for different voices to be heard). For this very reason, there is always a list of potential members being discussed, with diversity at the forefront.
But what do we do? I hear you ask.
We meet via Skype every month to talk about what’s going on in the world of OzYA and what we can be doing to help raise its profile. Going forward, you’ll be able to read the minutes of these meetings to ensure transparency and to keep you up to date. The core work we do is to use #LoveOzYA as a way to spur on the discussion in the young adult sector encouraging local content. We manage our website and social media profiles – again, using them to centralise information and boost voices that might not be getting the media attention that others do (especially blockbuster international authors). We talk about ways that we can further promote Australian YA to everyone. #LoveOzYA came from the community, is community driven, and seeks to serve the community. Our true “profits” come when a reader discovers an Australian voice which they might have otherwise missed.
We seek out and create content to share with the community. An initiative new in 2017 is our Newsletter. This is one of the things that we spend our time on and is a great way to get new release information in a succinct, monthly email. If you haven’t subscribed, you should! And if you’re an author or publisher with upcoming #LoveOzYA releases, be sure to submit them in time to be included. We are potentially looking at grant funding to enable us to raise awareness of #LoveOzYA and what it can offer, to continue to talk about Australian young adult literature within existing institutions and circles.
When it boils down to it, #LoveOzYA is a conversation, so join in! Every voice is welcome and encouraged.