If it’s safe to say that we’re all aware of the need for greater, more accurate representation of marginalized voices in publishing, then how do controversies like the one around AMERICAN DIRT continue to happen?
There is an ongoing conversation about conscious editing and how important it is to making great inclusive stories. I would be the first to tell you how crucial it is for books to be edited consciously, as it increases the accuracy and the quality of a book and helps it appeal to a wider audience—something that is very important in publishing. But that is not the only area in book production that has so much to gain from conscious practices, diversity, and different perspectives—design can also benefit from these things.
Diversity in publishing has been widely discussed in recent years due to a lack of diversity among publishing professionals as well as among the stories being published. This problem has been the subject of various panels for a number of years, and the question of whether diversity is simply “trendy” has been raised in the publishing industry just as it has elsewhere. But two organizations are working to make sure that the push for diverse books is not just a trend, and so far they’ve been successful.
To anyone that’s been paying attention to recent trends in young adult (YA) over the last four or five years, the line-up of books slated for 2019 is both timely and highly anticipated. With the push for diversity in literature and media still going as strong as ever (perhaps even stronger than ever), it seems that publishers have finally started to seriously answer the call. Young adult (and middle grade) lists are heavy with POC leads and the number of books about LGBTQ characters has doubled since the last few publishing seasons (and that’s just looking at books coming out—pun intended—between January and April! The list for May through June is even longer!). This is extra important when you consider that as recently as 2012, just over 1 percent of YA books had any LGBTQ content at all.
The saying is “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but the truth is, we all do—and we’re actually supposed to. Someone designed that cover with specific intentions for you, the reader, to pull the book off the shelf and take a closer look. If I think about it too hard, I realize how shallow and materialistic I am as a reader and how hard a cover has to work just to get me to pick it up. My recent interest in cover design has to do with a challenge I’m undertaking this year to read at least thirty books with a main character who would be classified as a minority in America. Finding books that show this diversity on the cover is actually a lot more difficult than I expected.
Some fields, such as mathematics and philosophy, have more than seven author credits given to men for every one given to women.