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  • Writer's pictureThe Publishing Post

Celebrating Our 100th Issue: Shaping Discourse

By Nadia Shah and Michelle Ye

As we celebrate the milestone of our 100th issue, we take a moment to reflect on the journey that has brought us here. This centennial edition is not just a marker of our growth and success, but a tribute to the issues that have shaped our discourse and inspired our community. To commemorate this special occasion, we are looking back at our very first article, ‘Do Better, Be Better, Treat us Better,’ which tackled the urgent need for diversity and inclusion in the publishing industry.

‘Do Better, Be Better, Treat us Better’

Reflecting on the journey of the publishing industry in the context of diversity and inclusion reveals significant strides since the increased awareness brought about by the Black Lives Matter movement. In our first article, “Do Better, Be Better, Treat us Better,” we highlighted the urgent need for systemic change within the industry, especially for Black authors. The call for action has resulted in various publishers taking meaningful steps toward creating a more inclusive literary world.

One of the key issues raised in our first article was the significant barriers that Black authors face in the publishing industry. The need for a level playing field and equal opportunities was emphasised, and we pointed out that the industry could be particularly harmful to Black writers. 

In response, many publishers have shown their commitment to supporting Black Lives Matter and diversity initiatives. For instance, Hachette and Penguin Random House have made donations to relevant campaigns and acknowledged the need for more rapid change. In Penguin Random House UK’s 2022 Diversity and Inclusion Report, the publisher highlighted three priorities for their inclusion strategy: (1) representation in all teams, at all levels, (2) a culture where everyone can belong and (3) publishing books for everyone. However, merely supporting the movement isn't enough. The emphasis now is on making real, tangible changes that go beyond symbolic gestures.

One shining example of this effort is Faber & Faber’s Diversity Action Plan. Faber’s approach goes beyond surface-level changes, focusing on a comprehensive strategy that involves regular training, encouraging staff to engage with literature highlighting under-represented voices and setting measurable diversity targets. Their goal to have 15% of their employees come from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds by 2022 is a concrete step towards accountability and inclusivity.

It's clear that real progress involves embedding diversity into every aspect of the publishing process. This includes not just hiring practices, but also the types of books being published and the voices being amplified. Publishers like Faber are showing that true commitment to diversity involves an ongoing process of education, self-reflection and systemic change.

The rise in popularity of books like Reni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race is another indicator of positive change. These books have topped bestseller lists, highlighting a public appetite for diverse perspectives. In addition to this, the publishing industry has seen positive trends in the popularity of books written by authors who identify as BIPOC since 2020. For example, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center reports that 40% of the books they received were written by BIPOC authors. Furthermore, in various current bestseller lists, including those from HarperCollins, Hachette Book Group and Waterstones, books by BIPOC authors continually appear in the top ten. This success underscores the potential for diverse voices to achieve both commercial success and critical acclaim, challenging the industry to continue diversifying its offerings.

Additionally, the support for inclusive independent publishers remains crucial. Publishers like Knights Of and Jacaranda are creating spaces where Black authors can thrive, free from the additional burden of educating others about race. And beyond the UK, publishers such as Cassava Republic Press in Nigeria continue to create opportunities for African and Afro-diasporic authors to thrive in the publishing industry. 

Our reflections on the initial article reveals that while progress has been made, the journey towards true diversity in publishing is ongoing. The industry is beginning to embody the diversity of the society it serves, thanks to the efforts of forward-thinking publishers and the public’s growing demand for diverse voices. However, the need for continuous commitment is paramount and, as we witness the strides being made by the publishing workforce, we hope that this progress will be echoed in the industry’s senior leadership as well for lasting change at every level. 

In summary, the publishing industry has taken notable steps towards greater diversity and inclusivity since the issues were highlighted in our first article. The efforts of publishers like Faber & Faber demonstrate a comprehensive approach to addressing systemic issues. By setting measurable targets, engaging in continuous education and supporting under-represented voices, the industry is making progress. Nevertheless, it’s undeniable that ongoing dedication and self-examination are essential to sustaining and deepening these changes.



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