KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf
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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Bright White Publishing

U.S. book publishing professionals were pretty much all white and mostly female when I joined the industry in the mid-1980s.

Almost 25 years later, that hasn't changed much. I know only one black woman in publishing; she's in middle management. And I know only two Latinas; both are production editors.

Oh, it's great that there are so many women in power in publishing. But the overall homogeneity of the industry doesn't provide much variety of professional backgrounds, life experiences, or points of view. Publishing is already a small, incestuously interconnected industry; it needs all the variety it can get.

Freelancer writer and book promoter Bella Stander noticed, at Book Expo America earlier this month, that the ranks of authors are pretty pale too. But Bella's not the only one who's noticed: see this, this, and this.

How skewed are the worldviews presented in American books if most of the authors who get published and most of the publishing professionals who work on those books are white and if authors of color who do get published see their books placed in ethnic sections in bookstores? And how do we make it possible for more writers of color to be published by the big publishers? How do we make mainstream book publishing more accessible and desirable as a career to people of color?



7 comments:

Bestselling Author, Pontif. said...

Great post. I think one of the first, fundemental changes needs to be allowing authors the right to artistic freedom. Stop forcing black authors to write "black books."

It would help if publishing professionals stopped thinking in terms of race and focused more on the business at hand. As it is, black editors are usually working for black imprints, acquiring black manuscripts.

Katharine said...

You're exactly right, Bestselling. Good writing is good writing is good writing. I find humans' need to pigeonhole one another ridiculous.

KathyF said...

There were quite a few black editors in romance publishing a couple of years ago; not sure if that's changed. There are always lots of comings and goings; I can't keep up!

Monica said...

I wrote a post about Negro Editors on my blog about the topic (in no way dismissive or critical, 'cause that's who I deal with and I love 'em to death) musing about how that works in publishing?

How are black editors hired to deal with the imprints and black authors? They can't run an ad, I thought--or do they?

Katharine said...

Monica, thanks to the link to your important post. I'll be adding you to my blogroll very shortly, because I've been reading your blog and like what you have to say.

Everybody: I e-mailed the Association of American Publishers after I posted here, looking for stats on blacks, Latinos, and other groups in publishing. The association didn't have any, but I've found some online anyway. I'll be posting about that info soon (I hope before my vacation, which starts on July 14, but I have a deadline with a manuscript to meet), plus I'll review the association's DVD on its diversity program.

Ancient Reader said...

I do appreciate the expressions that focus on the destruction of a major life enemy, a cancerous decay like racism.

Too many tasteless folks are comfortable either participating in it or just abstaining from taking a position on the issue, that's not good.

I raise the hands of all human being who see life without the uselessness skin color and rather delight in love that cares for each others without bias.

Cheers to the intelligence of the host.

Katharine said...

Ancient Reader, thanks for stopping by. Yes, it does get tiresome when people focus so much on what others look like and not on what they do.

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