Diversity in Book Publishing

Diversity in Book Publishing

  • Between 1950 and 2018, 95% of American fiction books published were written by white authors.
  • Author diversity has since increased but white writers are still over-represented.
  • Non-hispanic white authors wrote 89% of the books analyzed for the year of 2018.
  • As of 2020, 75% of industry respondents claimed their employer had made efforts in the last year to increase diversity and equity.
  • Just 50% of employees where DEI initiatives had been introduced believed it would result in real change.
  • As of 2021, Erroll McDonald (VP & Exec. Editor: Alfred A. Knopf) claimed more people of color were given senior publishing positions within the last year than in decades.
  • However the entry-route to these positions was often to enter the industry from the outside.
  • As of 2021, more than 52% of those in publishing executive leadership were women in the UK. 
  • This increased to 56% for senior management positions.
  • UK ethnic minority group representation has increased to 15% (excluding white minorities).

Diversity in US book publishing

  • 95% of American fiction books published were written by white authors between 1950 and 2018.
  • Despite increasing author diversity, white writers are still over-represented.
  • For the year of 2018, non-hispanic white people wrote 89% of the books analyzed.
  • As of 2020, 75% of respondents in the industry claimed that their employer had made efforts in the last year to increase diversity and equity.
  • Despite these findings, around just 50% of employees where DEI initiatives had been introduced believed it would result in real change.
  • Erroll McDonald (VP & Exec. Editor: Alfred A. Knopf) claimed in 2021 that more people of color were given senior publishing positions within the last year than in decades.
  • A drawback however was that the entry-route for many was to enter from outside the industry.
  • Tracy Sherrod (Editorial Director – Amistad) noted a “correlation between the number of people of color who work in publishing and the number of books that are published by authors of color”.
  • As of 2020, more than 50% of the 10 most recent books to receive the National Book Award for Fiction were authored by people of color.

Racial diversity in US book publishing

  • As of 2019, white/caucasian industry respondents represented 76%. This is a drop of 3% since 2015.
  • 7% was made up by asian/native hawaiian/pacific islander/south asian/southeast indian respondents.
  • 6% was made up by latinx/latino/mexican respondents.
  • 5% was made up by black/afro american/afro caribbean respondents. This is a 1% increase since 2015.
  • 3% was made up by biracial/multiracial respondents.

A chart to show racial diversity in US book publishing is given below:

Gender diversity in US book publishing

  • As of 2019, 74% of respondents in the industry were cis women. This dropped 4% since 2015.
  • 23% of respondents were cis men. This is an increase of 2% since 2015.
  • Genderfluid/non-binary/genderqueer/non-conforming represented 1%.

A chart to show gender diversity in US book publishing is given below:

Orientation diversity in US book publishing

  • As of 2019, 81% of industry respondents were straight/heterosexual. This has dropped 7% since 2015.
  • 10% of respondents were bisexual/pansexual. This represents an increase of 6% since 2015.
  • 6% of respondents were gay/lesbian. This has dropped by 1% since 2015.
  • 1% of respondents were asexual.

A chart to show orientation diversity in US book publishing is given below:

US diversity in book publishing by disability

  • As of 2019, 89% of industry respondents reported that they did not have a disability. 
  • In total, 11% of respondents did report having a disability. 
  • The number of respondents with a disability has increased by 3% since 2015.
  • This increase in the number of respondents with a disability during the period could also be attributed to an increased recognition of disabilities caused by mental health issues.

Diversity in UK book publishing

  • As of 2021, more than 52% of those in executive leadership in the industry are women. 
  • For senior management positions, this increased to 56%.
  • Within the publishing industry, ethnic minority group representation has increased to 15% (excluding white minorities).
  • 13% of industry respondents identified as lesbian, gay, bi or preferred to self-describe their sexual orientation.
  • In 2017 this was just 5% but the figure has grown each year.
  • Trans industry respondents represented 1%, in line with UK population statistics.
  • People with a disability within the industry have increased to 13% in 2021, from 2% in 2017.
  • There is an overrepresentation from privately educated individuals (19%) and those who hold a degree (83%), when compared to the UK population.

#PublishingPaidMe

  • In 2020, a Twitter movement was created by US author L.L. McKinney to highlight pay disparities between Black and non-Black authors.
  • Once viral, a Google document was created so that writers could crowdsource and share information about advances.
  • Within a week, the document contained information for more than 2,500 books.
  • This document showed that well-recognized black authors were earning small advances when compared to some unrecognized white authors. 
  • Jesmyn Ward is a black author who is also the first woman to win two National Book Awards for fiction.
  • After winning her first in 2011, she tweeted that she had to heavily negotiate to receive a $100,000 advance. 
  • N.K. Jemisin, is a black author and the only person to win a Hugo Award three times in a row.
  • For her trilogy “Broken Earth”, she received an advance of $25,000 for each volume.
  • For “Great Cities”, her follow-up, she received an advance of $60,000 for each volume.
  • Due to the movement, multiple white authors commented that they were shocked to find out that they received high advances when compared to black authors.