#PublishingPaidMe, Black Lives Matter, and more!

Black British authors top UK book charts in wake of BLM protests (The Guardian)

As Black Lives Matter protests continue around the world, several bestselling authors have spoken out against the predominantly white publishing world. On Wednesday morning, bestselling novelist Dorothy Koomson, who was supported by writers including Nii Ayikwei Parkes and Courttia Newland, slammed UK publishing as a “hostile environment for black authors” and criticised those in the industry for posting “gaslighting social media posts”.

#PublishingPaidMe and a Day of Action Reveal an Industry Reckoning (New York Times)

Using a hashtag, #PublishingPaidMe, that quickly began trending on Twitter, authors shared their advances, which is the amount of money they receive for their books before any royalties, typically based on copies sold, start coming in. The young adult author L.L. McKinney, who is black, started the hashtag on Saturday, hoping to highlight the pay inequality between black and nonblack writers.

Where Are Our Black Boys on Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Novel Covers? (Tor.com)

The why of the question is therefore simple: when a group already underrepresented in literature and readership (read: black boys, since it’s still believed that black boys don’t read) are also visually underrepresented within their age group and preferred genre (read: YA SFF), it inadvertently sends a message to any black boy who loves to read SFF: you don’t fit here. This is not to say that YA is not making strides to increase representation within its ranks. Publisher’s Weekly’s most recent study of the YA market notes various progressive strides, touching base with senior publishing professionals at teen imprints in major houses, who say today’s YA books “reflect a more realistic range of experiences.” Many of them credit the work of We Need Diverse Books, #DVPit, #OwnVoices and other organizations and movements as pacesetters for this growing trend.

How White Crime Writers Justified Police Brutality (New York Times)

Crime fiction tends to favors “a return to order from chaos,” said Steph Cha, the author of the novel “Your House Will Pay.” “It requires an assumption that the justice system resolving this chaos is a functioning system, which, clearly, it isn’t.” Early crime fiction, to its credit, often viewed law enforcement with skepticism. Justice came at the hands of private investigators. Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe and the other great P.I.’s found the police corrupt or incompetent.

No pubs, no kissing, no flying: how Covid-19 is forcing authors to change their novels (The Guardian)

While there have already been numerous announcements of novels purposefully set during the lockdown – Avon has already snapped up Love in Lockdown, about two neighbours who meet on their balconies, while Hodder & Stoughton has acquired Stay Home, in which a married woman breaks lockdown to find her lover murdered in his living room – many more writers are in Watson and Robertson’s boat, making tweaks and adjustments to reflect our current situation, rather than big changes to plot or character. After all, who among us knows what our future will look like?

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One response to “#PublishingPaidMe, Black Lives Matter, and more!”

  1. I maybe going out on a very dodgy limb here, evidence of political correctness appropriately or inappropriately applied but here goes: real black people are very few and far between. I can say that because most ‘apparently’ black people are anywhere from 70% dark chocolate through milk chocolate to milk chocolate with added cream and many may be sweet but all are human.
    I do get it that some people stupidly think other people are inferior and most of us have been bullied by somebody, at sometime. I do sincerely believe that ‘Black People’ is now a racist description because it puts ‘darker’ people in separate boxes and thus divides them, whereas people go into one box and animals go into another and for any other things we’ll need yet another box. Boxes are cheap but people are priceless.
    Call me naive but I think it’s stupendous that people get recognized for their writing achievements but calling them out based color just has to be racist. I know that you’re inclined to call me knee jerk reactor or naive and that’s ok but I’ll never put people in boxes based on sex, color or ‘looks’. You either do or you don’t, as in you impress or you’ll try again if you don’t.
    Compelled as I was to stand up and say this, I do most sincerely respect plurality and what these budding writers have already contributed to the human experience. More than that, I hope they can make a living out of what can often be a quite solitary vocation.
    You probably didn’t notice that I had to keep you waiting before raising a colorless glass filled with a darker substance. Cheers.


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