Publishing is an industry based on the dissemination of information. This information is available in newspapers, magazines, and books. One of the reasons the invention of Guttenberg’s Press is considered the greatest invention ever, is it made the written word available to many. Words equal knowledge, which means the written word has the power to change and shape cultural issues. This is why it behooves us to include as many voices to reflect the diverse world we live in. Unfortunately, this in an area the book publishing industry has struggled with.
The old saying, the fish rots from the head, is an old, but true statement. The lack of diversity in publishing begins in its own halls. According to Alison Flood’s January 30th, 2020, article in The Guardian, US Publishing Remains as White today as it was Four Years Ago, 7% of respondents described themselves as “Asian/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander”, with 6% “Hispanic/Latino/Mexican”, 5% “black/African American” and “biracial/multiracial” at 3%. Native Americans and Middle Easterners each comprise less than 1% of publishing staff.
Sadly, the same lack of representation exists with their list of authors. In the New York Times Opinion Section, Just How White is the Book Industry, 95% of books were written by white authors. This goes beyond simple racial bias. Gender, sexuality, age, socioeconomic background, disabilities, and religion are also factors. Publishing needs more diverse writers/authors who can give voice and give readers a chance to learn about other people’s perspectives to broaden their views on a variety of topics and issues.
She Writes Press is a women-focused publishing house. In 2019, they were the first hybrid publisher to receive the 2019 Independent Publisher of the Year. Reedsy, the blog for writing professionals and publishers, defines hybrid publishing as companies that combine elements of traditional publishing and self-publishing. In other words, they function as a traditional publisher, with the key exception that their authors will subsidize the cost of publishing and will not be given an advance on royalties.
If you would like to know more about the differences between hybrid, traditional, and self-publishing, Reedsy or Publishers Weekly, can provide you with the details along with the pros and cons of each option.
She Writes Press takes the need for BIPOC writers seriously. So, as a way to address the need for broader representation in fiction and nonfiction, She Writes Press launched the SparkPress Toward Equality (STEP)contest for BIPOC writers in furtherance of its mission to give voice to more women.
If you have a project you would like to enter, the contest is open to fiction and nonfiction writers and submissions are open until July 5, 2021. If you’re a woman of color and a writer, you can check out their website for more information about the contest and their company.