Whether you’re a graduate student in a publishing program, an editorial assistant at a Big Five press, or an intern at a boutique literary agency, we are all expected to accommodate hours of unpaid labor, even to the detriment of our mental health. The proverbial hamster wheel that is publishing truly never stops spinning, and it’s often the most marginalized publishing professionals who reach their breaking point first.
Sensitivity reads have become an important aspect of editing in recent years. When an author who does not identify with a characters’ demographic writes experiences or narratives from that character’s perspective, a sensitivity read—also called a diversity read—can help point out any potentially harmful stereotypes that a character may be subjected to in the book.
Clarity, brevity, and utility were our main goals in updating our mission statement, and our group is incredibly proud of the work we’ve done. In moving towards our values of inclusivity, however, the mission statement is just the first step. Updating our mission statement is at the core of things that Ooligan Press wants to accomplish in terms of shaping literature and the publishing industry, and our work is still cut out for us.
Between the outrage over American Dirt, Woody Allen’s Apropos of Nothing, the murder of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement, and #publishingpaidme, there has been tremendous pressure on the Big Five to do their part to decolonize book publishing. As a show of good faith, each of the Big Five publishing houses made public promises to be more socially conscious. We are now well into 2021, which is heralded as the year that is meant to save us from the horrors of 2020, so let’s see if the Big Five have made any progress on following through with their promises.
Numerous scholars have dedicated their careers to understanding why it is that people need to see themselves represented in stories, so a format like this one could never adequately address (or even summarize) the complexities of the problem at hand. But these complexities shouldn’t deter us from the conversation, so I want to offer an explanation for one aspect of this problem in the hope that it will help equip anyone in a position to address issues of equity with a cogent reason why we should be actively providing more representation in publishing. This reason is symbolic annihilation.
BookTubers are a well-known part of the book-loving community. BookTube is the place on YouTube people go to hear others rave about books they love or discuss all things wrong with the books they don’t. Throw in some fun bookish tags and it is the perfect space for readers to get more content when they aren’t curled up with a book. That being said, BookTube has gone through some important changes over the years and one vital change is that the personalities and faces of these channels are becoming more and more diverse.