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RETHINK WHAT IS CONSIDERED ‘QUALITY’ Publishers can sometimes believe that publishing more diversely means compromising on “quality”. While editors need to maintain faith in their own judgments, they also need to understand that notions of “quality” are not as universal as they may think. In fact, supposedly universal notions of quality correlate strongly with a particular education and class position. The monocultural nature of publishing leads to the reproduction of this narrow version of “quality”. Sometimes a writer of colour is rejected for the reason that their book is not of a high enough quality, when in fact it is more about the failure of the publisher to find the right audience, or a reluctance to sell to a particular audience that is perceived as having less value. We all have our own cultural biases, which we need to gain an awareness of in order to challenge them.


RETHINK YOUR HIRING PRACTICES Hiring more people who belong to marginalised communities will benefit publishers strongly in terms of helping them tap into new audiences—but only if they are given the resources and freedom to do this work. Racial and ethnic minorities must not be expected do all the labour related to attracting BAME authors and audiences. If they are hired for this purpose, then this should be made explicit in the job description, so it is then up to the candidates to decide whether they want to work under those circumstances. Advertise widely and imaginatively in order to get the widest pool of candidates.


RETHINK WHO YOU COULD JOIN FORCES WITH Many respondents in our research talked about the scarcity of time and people-power, particularly in communications and finding writers. But publishers and agents do not have to do everything on their own. There are many not-for-profit and grassroots organisations working across the UK to engage communities with reading and writing. They have created long-term relationships with their communities, and have their trust and attention. Both sides could benefit from partnerships. Such relationships need to be long-term and built on trust, genuine commitment and an understanding of (in)equalities.


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