Racism in Publishing: a Case Study

Earlier today, Gollancz, a UK speculative fiction publisher, tweeted a link to this list of Christmas reads from their authors. Maureen K. Speller pointed out a problem with this list:

@Gollancz Gosh, you really don’t publish much sf by women, do you?
— maureen k speller (@maureenkspeller) December 23, 2015

Out of curiosity, I took a look at the list of authors on their site, and noticed a problem. Here’s a partial screenshot of the sidebar, so you know what I’m referring to:

So I went through the complete list and picked out which ones weren’t white men:

Aliette de Bodard’s name has an asterisk because she’s not actually on the sidebar, but I happened to know that her novel House of Shattered Wings and its forthcoming sequel are published by Gollancz in the UK. Her not being on the sidebar is also why she’s out of order here.

I ran the numbers, and found that, of the 88 authors listed above: 96.6% white, 3.4% POC; 73.9% men, 26.1% women. A crosstab table:

There are seven times as many white women listed as Gollancz authors as there are non-white men and women combined, let alone the white men — as a reminder, that’s three non-white authors in the list above out of 88, or more than 28 white authors for each non-white author.

Yes, there’s manifest sexism in the list above — nearly three quarters of the authors are men. But the bias against non-white authors is painfully manifest.

And, yes, this is only one publisher, but unless you’re talking about publishers that specifically seek out and sign non-white authors, I suspect long-form fiction publishers in the English-speaking speculative fiction world are going to look much like the above, especially larger publishers that are part of the Big Five. (Short fiction isn’t quite so dire, which is one of the reasons it’s the majority of what I read right now.)

Originally published at asymbina.tumblr.com.

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