I had a chance to speak with Tanya Guerrero, one of the founding members of the online Middle Ground Book Fest which will take place on August 1st.
Hi Tanya! I’m pumped to hear there’s an online book festival coming on August 1st. Can you tell us how you got involved with this project?
Hi Kathie, thanks for hosting me on MG Book Village once again. A few years ago, when I got my first book deal for HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE SEA, I met Shannon Doleski (MARY UNDERWATER), Janae Marks (FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON) and Lorien Lawrence (THE STITCHERS) in the Roaring Twenties debut group. Since then, we’ve formed a small group, which we’ve nicknamed The MG Squad. We chat almost daily about our publishing experiences, our works-in-progress, our personal lives, and so much more. When all the virtual book fests started popping up, Shannon sort of jokingly posted on Twitter about the possibility of creating an MG only virtual book fest that would highlight 2019 and 2020 debuts. Low and behold, she got loads of enthusiastic responses, so she thought, Why not? That’s when she brought the conversation to our group chat, and we all agreed that it was a great idea that we could definitely pull off together as a group.
What was the reason for starting the event?
It’s a pretty well-known fact that conference panels are quite competitive. Many authors who are just starting out apply for them, but may not necessarily get approved because of a limited amount of slots. Priority is usually given to bigger named authors, as well as lead authors that have big marketing budgets to back them up. We noticed that when the virtual book fests started happening, the playing field was still pretty skewed. It’s really hard for debut authors and midlisters to get the same kinds of exposure as the bigger named authors, even in a virtual platform.
We saw a void that needed filling, so that was a huge motivation for us to create the Middle Ground Book Fest—a safe space where a diverse group of MG authors can get together to discuss varied themes in MG literature. It’s an opportunity we want to give to authors who may have been snubbed from bigger events. In a way, providing a more even playing field not only for debuts and midlisters, but for international authors as well.
You are open for applications for presenters. Who do you hope will apply?
Yes, we officially opened up our application process on May 1st and will be continuing to accept applications until the end of the month. Besides 2019 and 2020 MG debuts, we are hoping to get applications from marginalized authors, authors from smaller presses, international authors, as well as bloggers, reviewers, editors, agents, educators and librarians who specialize in MG books.
What will differentiate the Middle Ground Book Fest from other online book-related events?
We feel like MG literature is really having a moment right now. So why not put MG books and their creators front and center? We want to give that spotlight to authors, educators, librarians, agents and editors, who may not have been given those opportunities in the past.
Additionally, we view this as way to bridge the gap between creators and gatekeepers. By boosting the voices of educators who work with middle school kids on a daily basis, authors, agents and editors can benefit greatly from hearing their experiences. It’s important for those of us creating books to listen to readers and gatekeepers, especially when it comes to knowing what works and what’s needed content-wise.
Can you tell us where we can go to keep up-to-date on everything you have planned?
Please check out our website for more info, including the application process at:
And for the latest updates, you can follow us on: