Diversity in publishing is not Black and White

Another year may have started but at the tail of end of 2017, we received another article on the lack of diversity in publishing – this time focused on the UK. I mention this because I would like to see greater diversity in diversity articles.

They are all the same: statistics showing that white middle-class people are responsible for the vast majority of book generation – either in the production of the novel or in its generation. They constantly contain interviews with people of gender, sexuality, colour etc stating how hard it is for them to be successful or get published in the first place. Now I know this sounds churlish, but it’s a hard business and the fact they have hitherto been overlooked doesn’t make it a gender/race/disability issue. Might do, I don’t know.

What I do know is that I am white and middle-class and I gave up trying to get published the traditional route after two years of rejection. Was it because I was white, male, middle-aged and middle-class? I’m not blaming my facticity on my failings – I leave that to other people. If you don’t like the old system then use the Internet and cut out the broker in your relationship with your readers.

The other thing I’d like to point out – and this was the real point of this post – is that writing newspaper articles about the parlous state of equality in the book publishing industry doesn’t achieve very much. Most industries in the English speaking world – and beyond as well I am sure – are run by white middle-aged men. Why should we imagine book publishing to be any different? The only thing I find interesting about the demographics in this industry is the extent to which it mirrors primary and secondary school education ie the high proportion of women in the majority of roles. Of course, we then see more men in positions of absolute power at the top of the hierarchy.

Oh, and happy New Year!

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