Exploring the art of prose


Publishing Industry Resources to Combat Racism

protester holds cardboard handmade sign that reads, "It's a privilege to educate yourself about racism instead of experiencing it."
Photo by James Eades

Understanding Systemic Racism in Publishing:

The 2019 Lee & Low Diversity Baseline Survey

“The 2015 survey reported that overall, 79 percent of people who work in publishing self-report as white. Given the sample size difference, this 3 percent change in white employees does not meet the bar for statistically significant change. There is no discernible change to any of the other racial categories. In other words, the field is just as white today as it was four years ago.”

“When ‘Good Writing’ Means ‘White Writing’” in Electric Lit

“Whose language is universal? Against whose language are we judging the quality of prose? Who are we asking them to try and become?”

“‘A Conflicted Cultural Force’: What It’s Like to Be Black in Publishing” in The New York Times

“Black publishing professionals are becoming exhausted from being heard only when it benefits the company’s bottom line.”

“The PW Publishing Industry Salary Survey, 2019” in Publishers Weekly

“The industry’s racial makeup became slightly more diverse last year—though, with whites comprising 84% of the workforce, publishing remains an overwhelmingly white business. In 2017, whites comprised 86% of publishing employees.”

“How 10 Women Of Color Actually Feel About Working In Book Publishing” in Bustle

“If we want to diversify our workforce, we have to address the economic inequality that keeps certain people from entering or staying in the industry in the first place.”

Rethinking Diversity in Publishing

“This research explores the obstacles that writers of colour face in trade publishing with a focus on literary, crime and YA fiction. We rethink ‘diversity’ by shifting the debate from a sole focus on the quantity of minorities who work in publishing to the quality of the experience, particularly for writers of colour.”

“Diversity In Book Publishing Isn’t Just About Writers—Marketing Matters, Too” from NPR’s “Code Switch”

“In Marketing and Publicity, 77 percent were white. These are people who make decisions on how to position books to the press and to consumers, and if and where to send authors on tour — critical considerations in the successful launching of any publication. For writers of color, the lack of diversity in book publicity departments can feel like a death knell.”

“Just How White Is the Book Industry?” in The New York Times

“Look at the books that appeared on The New York Times’s best-seller list for fiction, though, and a different picture emerges: Only 22 of the 220 books on the list this year were written by people of color.”

“Publishing must make room for disabled authors—for its own good” in The Guardian

“And if we want more disabled writers out there, we need to look at the rest of the industry. Publishing professionals—agents, editors, critics—shape how readers view disability, as well as whether disabled talent is either elevated or ignored. Helping get more disabled people in these positions of power will take a cultural shift, but there are also simple practical measures that will help – from ensuring internships at publishers are paid, offering remote or flexible working, to putting out job ads that explicitly ask for disabled applicants.”

“Finding a Place for Disability in Publishing” in Publishers Weekly

“Of the more than 15 people—at various stages of their careers—contacted for this story, most hit on the same concerns about publishing: too much work for too little money and poor work-life balance. Another key problem for disabled publishing workers in the U.S. is the health care precarity that comes with the job. Some made career decisions based almost entirely on how much health care support they could get.”

“Rewriting history: why book publishing must embrace LGBTQ+ stories—and soon” in The Bookseller

“It’s heartening to see that on both sides of the Atlantic, work by Black gay voices are being published, such as Paul Mendez’s Rainbow Milk, Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other, Dean Atta’s Black Flamingo and Brandon Taylor’s Real Life. But it’s still a drop in the ocean. Where do you turn to see yourself if you are a Black or Asian gay man? What if you are a lesbian or bi woman of colour?”

Editorial Tools We Use and Recommend:

Conscious Style Guide

Editors of Color Database & Database of Diverse Databases

Radical Copyeditor

Writing With Color

Disability Language Style Guide

Trans Journalists Association

Further Reading:

CLMP’s “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion” resources list

Critical Creative Writing’s “Issues in the Workshop” reading list

Critical Creative Writing’s “On Racism, Interlocking Forms of Oppression, and Creative Writing” reading list

We Need Diverse Books’ resources page for writers

Diversity and Inclusivity in Publishing: A Guide for Indie Authors

“How to Make Your Virtual Meetings and Events Accessible to the Disability Community”

C4DISC’s Antiracism Toolkit for Organizations

Submittable: “How To Reduce Implicit Bias with Anonymous Review”

Social Justice Organizations We Support:

Please visit our page in support of Black Lives Matter.

The Audre Lorde Project

Color of Change

Disability in Publishing

LAMBDA Literary

Latinx in Publishing

LGBTQ Freedom Fund

The Loveland Foundation

National Police Accountability Project

People of Color in Publishing

Police Brutality Center

Representation Matters Mentor Program

Transgender Law Center