Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
Go to almost any publishing party and you’ll see a predominantly white crowd. It’s no secret that the industry—whether because of racism, poor career mobility, unrewarding wages, or all of the above —doesn’t maintain a multiculti work force, even though it’s speaking to and for a variegated audience. And naturally, the folks in charge buy only the sensationalistic, moneymaking manuscripts that fit their impressions of other races and cultures—accurate or not. At 1 p.m. this Saturday, Nov. 19, Vertigo Books sponsors a “Publishing and Diversity Panel” to address an issue that has gotten plenty of press lately (see Walter Mosley’s May 29 LA Times Book Review article; Calvin Reid’s May 23 Publishers Weekly piece; or Jonetta Rose Barras’ Oct. 28 “Literary Lockup” in this paper, to name but a few). The panel format originated from an earlier “Publishing From a Black Perspective” meeting, which Vertigo owner Bridget Warren says was attended primarily by young writers who’d published their work in journals but had difficulty pitching novels to agents and presses. Discussing the dearth of African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Latinos, and other people of color in the publishing field will be Black Betty author and PEN Open Books Committee Chair Mosley; Bronx-based novelist Abraham Rodriguez (Spidertown); literary agent Faith Childs; and Cheryl Woodruff, executive editor of Ballantine Books’ “cross-cultural” One World imprint, which has published work by Ralph Wiley, Cristina Garcia, griot Arthur Flowers, and Bebe Moore Campbell.