Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Wish List


July 1 question – There have been many industry changes in the last decade, so what are some changes you would like to see happen in the next decade?

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t yet have much experience with the publishing industry. But as a life-long reader, what I’d really love to see is more diversity. At the moment, I am most focused on racial diversity, but we also need more diversity of upbringing, of class, of gender identity and sexual orientation and able-bodiedness.

I want to see more people of color in my books and stories. Everybody deserves to see themselves as the heroes of their own stories, whether those stories are escapist, gritty, or anywhere in between.

I want to see more books by people of color, as well. Yes, authors can (and should!) learn to write characters who are different from ourselves. We should do our research, hire (and listen to!) sensitivity readers when appropriate, and listen when corrected (And if you’re interested in doing that work, might I recommend checking out Writing the Other?). But Black, Asian, Latinx, disabled, trans, queer, and poor authors deserve space to tell their own stories. We can all strive to write about worlds that are full of diverse characters, we also need to recognize that while our imaginations may be limitless, not every story is ours to tell.

I also would love to see more diversity in our editors, publicists, and agents. Even with the best of intentions, it’s easy to favor stories by people who have had similar life experiences, or to believe our experiences are universal. Yes, that’s something that those of us with more privilege can (and should!) improve on in ourselves, but if we want to see more diverse stories, we need more diverse gatekeepers, as well.

I could say more, but as a white woman, it’s not really my place to say exactly what writers of color need from the publishing industry. I just want them to get that support, so that I can read their books.

6 thoughts on “Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Wish List

  1. Last time I was in B&N it was rife with diversity. I have no issues with diversity, but I will say diversity for the sake of it is egregious racism in its own right. What we need is beyond sensationalism. A focus on art, culture, storytelling so the we share who we are with one another. What we need to experience is a diverse PERSPECTIVE, not a load up of book section by color/gender. I was in the music biz for 40 years as an artist relations and product specialist guy. 95% of my artists were gentleman of color and it was never discussed. Herbie Hancock, for instance, is one of nature’s true gentlemen, not a color or a number or a symbol of any kind other than an example for the entire human race, not just one. And that’s what we need. To step up and stop all this one hand clapping nonsense and be a people, not a pie chart.

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    1. I agree in principal, but in practice, the publishing industry is still very white. It’s getting better, but it takes focused action to correct an imbalance. For example, according to a 2017 survey (https://firesidefiction.com/blackspecfic), only 4.3% of stories published in pro-rate SFF magazines were by Black authors. The statistics show that Black authors are submitting, and I see no reason to believe that those authors are, on average, less skilled than white authors.

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      1. I appreciate that % however the context is very narrow. Look at the various “writing” outlets available and where the “race” intensity is directed. Beyond the obvious media pigeonholes in music, screen writing etc. What is the percentage of “black” authors submitting to SFF? Romance? Self help? Tech, niche, arts? My bet, by global sales, is that “blacks” and Hispanics own the music business. And well they should. White guys in cowboy hats aren’t even in the same league. Any narrowed field can show an injustice. I used to not be allowed to be seen or known to be programming drum machines for “black” dudes. The game is played out on a much larger stage than niche market mags. Fin$ m3 the number of submissions and the perceived quality of work, as well as how an editor knows what “color” an author is without it being a point. There’s a “black” university with my last name in it. I don’t consider it a liability or an asset. It’s a non issue. Here’s my stuff, read it, print it or return it, next.

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