16 June 2020
More than 100 writers have signed an open letter calling the publishing industry to address racial inequality and become more inclusive
Writers including Malorie Blackman, Bernadine Evaristo and Benjamin Zephaniah have formed the Black Writers’ Guild and are calling on the UK publishing industry to examine racial inequalities within its practices and become more inclusive.
The Black Writers Guild has more than 200 members. More than 100 writers signed an open letter calling for deep-rooted racial inequalities in major publishing houses to be addressed was sent to the Big Five publishers on 15 June. Signatories include Candice Carty Williams, Dorothy Koomson, Lenny Henry, Diana Evans, Courttia Newland, Irenosen Okijie, Kit de Waal, Keith Jarrett, Kwame Kwei-Armah and Raymond Antrobus.
The requests include an audit for work by black authors including genre, ration to submissions to acquisitions and comparable size of advances with white authors. The letter also requests more black commissioning editors and publishing staff; specialist publicity and marketing to support titles by black authors; publishing support to expand and build an network of black literary agents; the inclusion of black members on core leadership boards and a commitment to new initiatives amplifying black talent, including literary awards.
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