Lack of diversity in any industry is troubling. Within the book publishing industry, both in terms of the composition of the workforce and the types of books being produced, diversity is a trending topic. Publisher’s Weekly brought this subject to our attention in their article, “‘People of Color in Publishing’: Striving for More Industry Diversity.”

Publishing staffers from a number of houses and agencies have joined to form People of Color in Publishing, a grassroots organization addressing the need for greater representation within all areas of children’s and adult publishing. This isn’t the only effort and certainly not a new approach. In 2014, the #weneeddiversebooks movement was launched.

Author Jael Richardson, the founder of the Festival of Literary Diversity, says the industry has never taken racial writers seriously. “I think there has been a common perception that white writers are experts at writing and diverse authors are experts on diversity,” she says.

A deeper look into hiring and publishing practices across the industry shows that publishers care about diversity, but many haven’t taken effective steps to bring about lasting change. A step toward making better decisions in that area will take time and will rely on publishing houses hiring more diverse people in their acquisitions departments.

Melody K. Smith

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