Rethinking ‘Diversity’ in Publishing – #RethinkingDiversityWeek

It’s official! We’re online! We’re holding our report in our hands and we’re very much looking forward to sharing our findings with the world (ever so modest).

We’re launching our report today, on 23 June! And you can access the e-version here:

quotations: •	Assumptions about audiences being white and middle-class still prevail, which is the only audience the big publishers are interested in. •	Publishers still see writers of colour as a ‘commercial risk’. •	Black, Asian and minority ethnic and working-class audiences are undervalued by publishers, economically and culturally, impacting on the acquisition, promotion and selling of writers of colour. •	Comping practices, when books deemed similar are compared to others as a predictor of sales, create obstacles that privilege established authors and restrict ‘new voices’.We carried out this project and wrote this report to do two things: find out how the publishing process impacts on writers of colour in every phase of the process and hopefully help those in the industry who claim that they want to change to get some inspiration for ways to start this change. So this is not an academic text, but an industry report based on Anamik’s and my qualitative interviews with 113 people in the British publishing industry across professions, publishing houses, and hierarchies.

We have set up conversations throughout the whole week to engage as many people as possible and encourage them to reflect their practices when working with writers of colour and on their books. And on Friday, The Bookseller is publishing a whole supplement about this important topic, a condensed version of our report.

So today at noon (UK time; 1pm German time) my colleague Dr Anamik Saha, the principal investigator on this project, and I will kick off the launch events in conversation with Joy Francis from Words of Colour. We will be joined by the award-winning author Alex Wheatle, Rishi Dastidar (chair of Spread the Word), and Philip Jones (editor at The Bookseller). After our contributions there will be time for a Q&A. This event is on invitation only, but the following ones will be open to everyone.

You can either join us live or watch the videos later. You can engage in the conversation via the comments function on Instagram, by commenting on Twitter using our hashtag #RethinkingDiversity or #RethinkingDiversityWeek – or you can send us questions beforehand via email to s.vanlente[at]

Now it’s out in the world, I’m curious, of course, what you think (I’ll share my thoughts later on Literary Field Kaleidoscope).

These are the other events planned for this week:

Wed, 24 June 2020: The Booksellers: Looking beyond the white middle-class reader

Time: 12pm-1.30pm (UK time)
Platform: Instagram Live (@wordsofcolour)

  • Valerie Brandes, Founder, Jacaranda Books
  • Alex Call, WH Smith’s former Head of Books Marketing and Founder of online bookstore Bert’s Books and
  • Meryl Halls, managing director of the Booksellers Association

Moderator: Dr Anamik Saha


Thu, 25 June 2020: Rethinking how books by authors of colour are sold, marketed and promoted

Time: 12pm-1.30pm (UK time)
Platform: Instagram Live (@wordsofcolour)

  • Award-winning novelist Dorothy Koomson,
  • Times bestselling author Abir Mukherjee and
  • Publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove (Dialogue Books)

Moderator: Dr Anamik Saha


Fri, 26 June 2020: The future publishing pipeline and meeting the needs of writers of colour

A specially condensed version of the report will be published online by The Bookseller.

Time: 12pm-1.15pm (UK time)
Platform: Zoom Webinar (with BSL interpreters), open booking via Eventbrite (details on

  • #Merky Books author Derek Owusu
  • Jhalak Prize founder Sunny Singh
  • Publisher Aimée Felone (Knights Of)
  • Literary agent Emma Paterson and
  • Award-winning author and co-founder of The Good Literary Agency Nikesh Shukla

Moderator: Joy Francis, Executive Director, Words of Colour


Please engage, ask questions, write comments, share, etc. …

There’ll be another post from me after this week (and a short break), but I’m always interested in hearing what other people made of the report and the conversations.

Link to our report:


Media contact:
Joy Francis, Words of Colour Productions

Mobile: +44 771 382 7372
Official hashtag: #RethinkingDiversity
Supporting hashtag: #RethinkingDiversityWeek