We got some big news to share. The Read with Pride Northwest initiative is coming to a close after five years and five successful conferences, plus many other reader events that we’ve organized together since 2013.
We know this might be a surprise. It’s been a wonderful journey over these past few years, and it’s been a true joy to work with so many wonderful writers, publishers, and readers so that together we can celebrate and spread awareness of LGBTQIA stories.
Thanks to YOU there’s LOTS to be proud of
Whether it was participating in a reading event, joining a conference panel, donating a book, or providing a reading recommendation, there’s been a lot accomplished over the last five years as a community. Some of those accomplishments include:
1- From 2013 to 2017, we hosted five annual conferences to celebrate LGBTQIA romance and genre fiction, with hundreds of attendees served. The last two years, we were able to offer the conference as a FREE event, making us the only free LGBTQIA genre fiction conference in the United States.
2- Readers, writers and publishers donated over 1,000 books to Seattle community libraries to boost their LGBTQIA collections. That’s AMAZING and really forwarded our mission of having resources financially accessible to community members.
3- Through our partnership with the Seattle Public Library, SPL added hundreds of new LGBTQIA genre fiction books to their own collection. This is not only wonderful for Read with Pride attendees, but for the whole Seattle community as it means *anyone* can now access these books in the Seattle Public Library system.
4- Each year, writers and publishers donated hundreds of free books to conference attendees, so each year, readers always got to take home new stories with them.
5- Over the years, we’ve held over 20 events, along with the annual conferences, that highlighted many LGBTQIA fiction authors, both established and new. Sometimes we hosted an author’s very first public reading. These kinds of events were a crucial part of our mission of providing free public spaces where writers and readers could come together to celebrate LGBTQIA stories.
There’s so much to be grateful from this experience. Whether it was the publishers who helped support the conference, authors who traveled across the country to be part of the event, or readers who came together to share about their favorite stories, all of this together made these five years a true gift.
Thank you so much for making Read with Pride a very special experience.
What does this transition mean for the Magic & Mayhem anthology?
Now that RWP is closing, we no longer need to host a charity anthology, so Magic & Mayhem will be going out of print. It was an amazing project, and the funds raised through sales helped support our 2017 conference. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to the volume and to everyone who purchased it.
Magic & Mayhem will be available for a limited time for free download
We know it can be disappointing to readers when a book goes out-of-print, so we are making Magic & Mayhem free to download from Smashwords for a week. After February 4, it will no longer be available digitally online.
Can I still access RWP keynotes and podcasts?
Yep! Everything on the RWP website, our youtube channel (2016 and 2017 programming) and Soundcloud (2015 programming) will still be accessible, so you can find past keynote addresses, transcripts, and panel discussions.
How can I do something similar to what Read with Pride did?
Great question. We’ve added a section on the site called Connecting to the Community. It provides some information and recommendations about what we’ve learned from working with libraries, bookstores, and local nonprofits.
Why is RWP ending? I really wanted to go again.
We know these kinds of changes can be hard, especially if you were looking forward to joining again. (Or you were hoping of joining for the first time.) Running a nonprofit, volunteer-organized conference is pretty tough, and we’re so happy we got to do it as long as we did. I know for some, seeing it happen once back in 2013 was surprising enough, so doing it five times over the years was pretty phenomenal.
Realistically though- there were a lot of factors that went into this move. Our hosting organization is having their own transition right now, so something like that affects us. Some of our partners are going through their own changes, which means we can’t just move the whole program over to another organization. Publishers are also surfing through a lot of shifts in the industry, so that might mean sponsoring an event like ours may be less feasible.
It wasn’t an easy decision for us. We loved running this program, and we LOVED LOVED LOVED working with you all on highlighting these wonderful stories. Multiple puzzle pieces came into place though, and we knew it was a good time to come to this decision.
Thank you for all your support and for making this program so successful.
Are there other things I can look for or try?
There are lots of other events planned for this year and later. We hear Flame Con in New York City is awesome. We’re big fans of GeekGirlCon here in Seattle, which normally hosts some LGBTQIA content, and the upcoming Emerald City Comic Con is hosting multiple LGBTQIA-related sessions this year. There’s also Clexa Con this year in both Las Vegas and London.
And that’s just some of the events going on this year. One big difference between now and when we started back in 2013 is that there are a lot more options to celebrate LGBTQIA stories.
For LGBTQIA fiction publishers and authors.
We recommend submitting panels to cross-media conventions. Conventions are looking for more diverse programming, and more and more comic-related and “geek” culture events are interested in hosting panels that highlight LGBTQIA stories and characters.
We’ve organized LGBTQIA-related science fiction panels for two GeekGirlCons, and not only was each a great experience, we were able to highlight LGBTQIA stories in front of hundreds of attendees each time.
(To put it in perspective, we reached more attendee exposure at doing a panel at a large event like GeekGirlCon than at our own conference. Our panel had hundreds of attendees listening to authors talking about their books. Tip: Hand out a reading list. Readers who go to these kinds of panels are hungry for reading recs. A simple hand-out like a book list is really appreciated by attendees.)
If you are pitching a panel- prioritize diversity of voices. As a con organizer and having also pitched to other conferences, many events are looking to highlight a diverse array of voices. This means thinking about racial diversity, gender diversity, diversity of abilities and diversity of sexualities when planning your panel. You’re doing a conference a favor when you think about their need to present a diverse array of voices. Thinking about that when planning your panel can really elevate your pitch.
Do you have a favorite memory from a past Read with Pride conference?
In the meantime, let us share our deep gratitude to you all for walking with us this long. Thank you for making this time a truly unforgettable experience, and thank you for sharing your love of these stories with us.
Let’s read on, and continue to celebrate and love these stories together.
Tracy, on behalf of the Read with Pride NW team