Dear Publishers: We Demand Equity in Publishing

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Dear Publishers, 

We, a community of bookstagrammers, readers, authors, influencers, and educators, demand that publishers address their racist policies and practices. 

On April 15, 2021, Post Hill Press, an independent publisher and distribution client of Simon & Schuster, announced a book deal with Jonathan Mattingly, one of the cops who murdered Breonna Taylor. These demands are in response not only to Simon & Schuster’s contract with Post Hill Press, but also to Simon & Schuster’s failure to truly recognize and address their involvement. Although Simon & Schuster has since distanced themselves from the distribution, their initial and ongoing involvement reflects the deep-seated issues of racism and oppressive practices within many publishing houses. For this reason, it is necessary to hold publishing houses accountable to change.

Of publishers, we demand the following to be made publicly available and updated at a minimum of a yearly basis: 

  1. For Simon & Schuster: address the demands of your own employees. For all other publishers: read, share, and ensure that your own company is being held to the same standards. 
  2. Workplace demographic data, along with statements of commitment to diversity and inclusion that include short and long-term action plans*.
  3. Reported book publishing numbers for all imprints and divisions that include, but are not limited to: 
    • The mission statement, focus, or purpose of the division or imprint
    • The percentage of accepted and published titles authored by BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, disabled, and individuals from other marginalized communities (as self-disclosed) 
    • The estimated percentage of rejected titles authored by BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, disabled, and individuals from other marginalized communities (as self-disclosed)
  4. A commitment to yearly auditing of imprints, divisions, and distribution clients in order to ensure and maintain accountability for diverse and inclusive standards.
  5. Reported marketing budget distribution that includes but is not limited to*: 
    • The planned and confirmed percentage of marketing budgets distributed amongst titles 
    • A list of titles that receive ARCs and the number of copies received 
    • Tracking of ARC distribution, specifically ARCs distributed to #OwnVoices readers
  6. Proof of social impact. Examples could include donations made, legislations proposed/supported, and/or communities actively sponsored.

*Examples of such reports include, but are not limited to, Lee & Low Books’ diversity baseline survey results and The Ripped Bodice’s state of racial diversity in romance publishing reports. 

Simon & Schuster’s failure to see a distribution agreement with Post Hill Press as problematic is a clear example of the extent to which white supremacy is embedded within America’s publishing industry. Even if Simon & Schuster decides to not distribute this title, they continue to support and profit off of a company that has chosen to commodify Breonna Taylor’s murder. 

We are in solidarity with the employees of Simon & Schuster demanding change. We demand that publishers become transparent in their practices. We demand accountability for the companies that less than a year ago, pledged to “stand against racism and violence.”

The book community is watching. Do better. Be better.