#Diverse Voices Inc., the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that hosts the #DVPit Twitter pitch events connecting diverse writers with agents and editors, is launching DVcon, a virtual writers’ conference for marginalized authors and illustrators of books for all ages and in all genres. DVcon will debut on January 30–31 with a weekend of programming: 10 live-streamed panels and more than 30 short videos. The conference will be hosted on its own YouTube channel and all programming will include captioning.

Literary agent Beth Phelan of Gallt & Zacker, who launched #DVPit in 2015 and serves as DVcon conference director, told PW that this conference has been a project she had envisioned for several years before she took action to make it a reality.

“I had always wanted to provide marginalized authors and illustrators with more substantial help, beyond the Twitter pitch event #DVpit,” she explained. “I started planning it as a 2020 con, and then author J. Elle and agent Samantha Fabien randomly reached out to me at the end of 2019, saying they were planning a con with a similar mission. I told them my plan was already in the works, so we decided to join forces! We were later joined by the rest of the DVcon 2021 committee”: —Lauren Abramo, Kat Cho, Claribel A. Ortega, Shelly Romero, Melody Simpson, and Michaela Whatnall.

The convention is intended to be an annual one—although it may not always take place in January—and will remain virtual. “We want it to be as accessible as possible without the barrier of travel and cost,” Phelan said.

Programming will feature educational sessions on craft as well as the business side of publishing. Panelists include more than 50 of today’s most critically acclaimed diverse authors, such as Tochi Onyebuchi, Rebecca Roanhorse, Zoraida Córdova, and Ellen Oh, as well as 25 literary agents and editors, and a half-dozen other publishing professionals.

DVcon’s series of short videos offer snapshots of a variety of topics including “Identifying & Elevating the Freshest Hook of Your Story,” “Something You Probably Didn’t Know About Marketing + Publicity,” and “Drawing Your Reader In.”

Also included will be networking and q&a sessions on a Discord server, to which attendees may gain access beginning on January 24, the Sunday before the conference opens.

While the conference is free to attend, attendees should register for access to the panels and to obtain an invitation to the exclusive Discord chatroom.

DVcon’s 2021 sponsors include Abrams, the Authors Guild, Erin Murphy Literary Agency, Gallt and Zacker Literary Agency, HarperCollins Publishers, the Highlights Foundation, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, Penguin Random House, Penguin Young Readers, Scholastic, and Wednesday Books.