This week Lee and Low Books released the results of their 2019 diversity baseline survey gathered from publishing houses, the Association of University Presses, literary agents, and review journals. The survey measured "the racial, gender, sexual orientation, and ability makeup of their employees."*
Lee and Low's first survey, completed in 2015, revealed what many of us already suspected: the publishing industry then was predominantly white, straight, able and female. There were many important conversations and changes made toward diversifying the industry. Have they made an impact? Yes, in some ways--children's books offered a bright spot in that regard-- but much of the industry remained stagnant.
Why does it matter? As the report states, "the book industry has the power to shape culture in big and small ways. The people behind the books serve as gatekeepers, who can make a huge difference in determining which stories are amplified and which are shut out."*
As a member of the main demographic (white, 50+, female), I am still learning how to make room for other groups who aren't as well represented. But I'm just one person. This is an issue that anyone who loves a good story needs to be aware of and challenge. Different voices in publishing make the field richer and more vibrant for everyone. It increases readership across the board. From the trad pub marketing teams who get the say on who is published by their house, to the agents who represent authors, to the independent editors who look for new clients, to the authors themselves, we all have a role to play in making our beloved field a representative one and one that bucks our national (US) trend. I'd love to have a conversation about how inclusion imbues your creative work. Please drop a comment! *Quotes from the Lee and Low Books Blog article "Where is the Diversity in Publishing? The 2019 Diversity Baseline Survey Results," by Jason Low and Hannah Ehrlich, with excerpts from Laura M. Jiménez, PhD.