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AG in Action

AG in Action: Advocating for BIPOC Authors at the Association of American Publishers’ DEI Summit

Authors Guild logo in white on a teal background

Earlier this month, the Association of American Publishers held its annual Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Summit at the Scholastic Corporate Headquarters. Authors Guild general counsel Cheryl L. Davis, Guild council member Jaunique Sealey, and writer and editor Jennifer Baker led a panel called How Can Publishers Better Work with BIPOC Authors?

The discussion centered on the findings of the Authors Guild’s recent income survey, which highlighted significant disparities in marketing and compensation between BIPOC and white authors. The data revealed that full-time Black authors earned a median income of $15,250 in 2022, compared to $20,000 for their white counterparts. Additionally, the survey showed a trend towards self-publishing among Black authors, with two-thirds of the respondents younger than 55 choosing this route.

The panelists discussed the need for traditional publishers to adopt more inclusive strategies. This includes diversifying marketing and publicity teams, allocating specific budgets for BIPOC-authored titles, and involving #OwnVoices authors in the publishing process. The session underscored the importance of moving beyond viewing inclusive works as niche and providing robust support for books addressing racial topics.

The session concluded with a consensus on the need for actionable steps towards equitable support and promotion of BIPOC authors in the publishing industry, including:

Increased Support for Black Authors: Traditional publishers should increase marketing budgets and provide more resources for publicity outreach and author communities.

Investment in Marketing: Successful BIPOC authors often invest their own time and money in targeted marketing, focusing on underserved audiences. This is something publishers can focus on supporting more actively.

Community Engagement: Building relationships with niche online book communities and independent bookstores that cater to marginalized groups is crucial for effective word-of-mouth promotion.

Longer Sales Cycles: Recognizing that books by authors of color may have longer sales cycles, publishers are encouraged to view their support as a long-term investment.

Cross-Promotion Strategies: There was a strong call for publishers to collaborate across imprints and titles to help expand the readership for books by Black and marginalized authors.

The Authors Guild will continue advocating for these efforts and supporting those who are actively engaged in seeing them through.

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