Number-crunching the overwhelming whiteness of the book publishing industry

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Which would tend to suppress, I think, both smaller independent publishers and older backlist titles (less likely to have digital editions). How that would skew the results is hard to say (I’d think indie presses would be more diverse, but backlist less so). Maybe that doesn’t matter so much, since the trends of publishing would still be largely determined by the big NY trade houses. And my own experience there is that they’re not very diverse places. More so than in the days when it was mainly a playground for trust fund kids, but still not great.


It’s also overwhelmingly straight. Most of the other LGBTQ authors I know that have strong LGBTQ representation because they want to write about people like them and theirs, are all self published.

I will be moving away from a publisher to self publish because despite having a very trans friendly first book, it was a total shit show, and honestly watching my friends self publish with works that are as good or better than what I’ve seen from traditional publishing was inspiring.





What do you think the unpaid internships in the world’s most expensive cities, the extensive networking and the “exposure” building in the industry are for, if not to ensure that these high prestige jobs with lots of cultural capital continue to go to a very narrow, rich section of society?


If the supply of people who can and want to work for a business is high, salaries are going to be low. This means that for prestige businesses with a reasonably low barrier to entry, salaries are going to be low (along with internships, etc.) Just look at journalism.

And that means the people who can afford the “luxury” of being editor or a writer is going to skew pretty upper-middle class and higher.

In the end, publishing is a straight money-making businesses, and as such, I wouldn’t look to them for leadership in market directions. That is were the smaller publishers and self-published works come in. And as those grow successful because of unmet demand in the market, the larger companies will follow, not because of good citizenship, but because there turns out to be good money in meeting readers desires.

Shall we stay on topic, please?

Yes, class-bound elitism is a factor here, but the whiteness of that “narrow, rich section of society” contributes greatly to the parlous fact that 95% of published authors are white. And to another egregious fact, that even today, authors who aren’t white find it more difficult to get published, just because they (and usually their characters and topics) are not white.


Wow! That’s pretty bad. Not surprising, though.

I think, much like the music industry and hollywood, getting more people of color to actually run publishing houses and to be editors, etc, would be helpful.

It also strikes me that campaigns to promote writers of color by well known authors of any race (such as some sci-fi/fantasy writers have done the past couple of years, with advocating for committing to read only writers of color for an entire year) could help diversify who publishers see as being in demand.




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