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tv   Discussion on Diversity in the Publishing Industry  CSPAN  September 13, 2020 5:45pm-6:47pm EDT

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with 100 days i learned how to nap during the day is a wonderful project. i'm glad you did this. it is a wonderful book for you, it is also a document on how this time. it is such a good one. i think it is now 8:00 o'clock. and thank you everybody. >> thank you everybody thanks for joining us. >> yes. think everyone who has questions, if you missed any of the events, and of course by the book. we have links, want to thank everyone for tuning in. >> thank you chris, thank you billy we love you. >> thank you powerhouse for
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hosting. good night. >> and now on cspan2 book tb, more television for serious readers. hi everybody i am vivian schiller and i the aspen institute. really glad you could be with us today. the near times bestseller list can often be a mirror of the national psyche. as such, this year it seems to reflect the nation going through an awakening on matters of race. books written by people of color and about matters of race and racism have filled those lists. both fiction and nonfiction. that is the good news. sadly the publishing industry does not always reflect that reality. the recent twitter protest # publishing paid me expose a major pay disparity in the
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industry between black and nonblack authors. there's a few people of color who served as publishing staff or literary agents. and even fewer who operate at decision-making levels. and for those who are published, sometimes the marketing exposure can be suboptimal. and this year of national reckoning on racism, we are going to take a look at the book industry. the book publishing industry. whether it needs to bring more racial diversity to the fields. this is our part of changing the narrative series. which look set issues of race through the media. we have upcoming, another program on the entertainment industry. we explored the challenges. but importantly we also look at the new possibilities this case for publishing more book about people of color. just a reminder, this is a
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live program. the among our moderator and our fantastic panelists. slow but this is q&a. anytime starting now and enter this question. it is jus just as l'amour texture and context of the question. we will then puréed the question and provide those to the moderator will pose us to the panelist rates of anytime click on it starting now now will introduce our panelists we can get started part b have with us regina brooks, the founder president of serendipity literary based in brooklyn her agent is represented and established a diverse base of award-winning clients in adult and young
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adult diction, nonfiction and children's literature. nicole is the author of here comes the sun, and maritimes notable book in the year in 2017 land literary award winner her best-selling second novel, is a 2020 award winner and near times editor's choice, a financial times critic choice a stone well books choice and best book of the year list. lisa lucas has been the executive director of the national book foundation and is the incoming senior vice president and publisher of pantheon and shokin books. prior to joining foundation, lisa served as the publisher, a nonprofit online magazine focused on writing that explores the intersection of art and politics within international and diverse focus. we have with us also harold mcdonald the vice president executive editor and penguin
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random house speaker where he has worked in various editorial capacities for more than three decades. among the distinguished authors he has published are jack henry abbott, james baldwin, cat bases, henry louis gates, friendly with, toni morrison and many, many more. and finally, i am so pleased to introduce our moderator today, adrian roeder. she is the head of the executive director of aspen word purchase also the author of the memoir wild game which is development for film. during his 15 years the publishing industry, adrian founded a literary magazine with filmmaker friends within acquiring editor and h&h books and served as a judge with other literary context for it she's been published far and wide literary arts nonprofit with the aspen institute.
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which has the aspen words literary pride. or so pleased to have you with this, my beloved colleague and i turned over over to you and the other panelists. >> thank you so much vivian for that introduction. in thank you into all of you, our panelists, and to all of you who are zooming in today, for your interest in changing the narrative something long overdue in the publishing industry. as an fyi, for all of you watching, this group met yesterday to have a little pregame conversation. and we decided as much as possible, we would like to make you a forward thinking solution driven conversation. so in other words, while we are not going to sugarcoat any of the facts or the historical situation surrounding racial inequality that exist in publishing, we are also not
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going to spend too much time restating and rehashing the obvious. the obvious being, one, the publishing industry has always been predominately white's, 76% according to a recent survey. and that figure skews higher when it comes to the highest positions in the industry and two, that as a result of that power structure and this has literary culture, black writers and other writers of color that have had a harder time getting published with there are of course other issues, vivian mentioned that we will have lots and lots to talk about. fields important to acknowledge i am aye woman and am sure have blind spots in terms of my own privilege we
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only to do that. again on all of us on this call no, we are lucky enough to work in one of the most fascinating, exciting, wonderful industries of literature and storytelling drew you to a literary world, needs to do now to open up opportunities to people of color and regina i thought i would start with you maybe you talk a little bit about your experience at howard university press book institute. i think about the genesis of how very serendipitous. that is the name of my company
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i was going to this publishing program at howard university and really change my life changed my world upside down. i've always had kind of a background interest, i say background. background interest in books. just interviewed probably about a week ago. i was trying to think, gosh regina you have always been a person is gone to the library. this library right right on the corner from my house. and i realize, asked my mom to go upstairs there is a certificate. it was one i'd given to james and baldwin and award. [laughter] so i've always been a part of the publishing space. but it ended up at the howard university publishing institute. that institute no longer exist
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today. it's 27 years ago. that is how i was introduced to the publishing marketplace. as an engineer, i started working out for john wylie & sons. i started in sales. and eventually they move me to it new york and i became editor. i worked as an editor in the engineering discipline, mechanical, chemical, electrica electrical. but it is so funny because again just thinking back there to people that i met at that publishing institute that are still in the business today. one of them is a business partner now. one was marie brown she's a literary agent, i also met sherrill hudson, she is a publisher with her husband wade. and they again are still in the business. so something to be said about the longevity of being in the
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business as a black person. there's also something to be said the fundamentals that were learned at that publishing institute. that no longer exist today. when i think about what kind of things could the industry do to bring more people into the business, and also sustain them. think of being awesome idea there other institutes that exist like the denver institute institutes, but i think that numerous publishers today are trying to figure out how to get to the talent? how do we get to the talents. there's no bigger and better way than to have the institute. >> and i did read, just today that and publishing perspectives that the echo in
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partnership created a publishing diversity fellowship which is new i believe part of combi publishing course something that segues to what lisa was talking about yesterday about the bounty of jobs in publishing the udo necessarily all know are there and talk about that lisa? i probably would have been a literary scout probably is a 28-year-old i did start working so i was employed at 33. he went outside the industry moves a real education all the
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things that no one had told me. i think we have to be thinking about diversifying with decision-makers when you think about marketing folks hr and all of those things that go into sales has an imprint. it has a title of an author. and i think this person made this book. but it takes an actual team to make a lot of these books. and if you don't have diversity to every level, you don't have a diversity of information the authors and the editors back to be
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thinking really broadly that made an entire team possible or an imprint possible or publishing possible. or the agents representation. regina is so important. she had to really educate people about what books are. i think sometimes they work their own i think one of our jobs is to work with teenagers. in becoming film makers. think the most important thing we did was to be mystified would it look like to articulate below the line jobs. understanding what was happening and we are happy to make it seemed like we make magic. like everybody who does art is like our magical art form that i work in and no one could ever figure out what we do. and that all obscured that there are roles for people to fill. and that there are job trajectories. i think that a parent of a
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child might not support them if they go be an author or go be an editor. they might understand what it means to be in hr and a huge corporation. [inaudible] to work in the arts with a law degree or whatever it is. : : because we are telling those stories and i think we think about only ãand the artist first but there is so much that has to happen for that art to live and we need to educate people about those as well. >> maybe we can turn to the artist, to nicole, ask you what your career journey was like and was it hard for you to find
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traction in the industry in the beginning finding an agent and editor, with your first novel? >> definitely it was a challenge. be enlisted by the industry, i knew nothing about the industry. i'm coming from a public medical background so of course fourth-generation immigrants you are told that's what you ought to do but yes i knew i always wanted to be a writer. i didn't have any avenue whatsoever, did not know any races growing up, so when i came to the u.s. and of course at the college and the whole msa program, i was surprised i was one of two black students in the program. long story short we are told getting agents are the hardest thing i'm thinking that's the only hurdle you have to jump
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through to get into the realm of publishing and that's far from the truth. i think as mentioned, you have the ãit took me a while. the person ended up telling you to check out ãbtake out the jamaican tactile in my book because a woman to woman from michigan would never read it. i thought that was the end all be all i thought i had to do that to be successful so i did. of course reading my book it didn't feel like mine, luckily i had a mentor and she was the head of hearts and right where had a fellowship. she said let this one go, as a writer it's a part of the game to get rejection. go back to the drawing board, get on the computer and start ã that's what i ended up doing. i ended up writing a whole book
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and resubmitting to agents. i went to the writer's database and a couple weeks that i got hits from three agents. i was so happy that julie barer was so, my mentor, very important to have mentors. one thing my reader said to me was that your agent it's like a relationship. a lot of young writers out there ãthat's what you're told you ought to get to be successful but it's important to have somebody who gets your work and especially as a black immigrant writer tapping into very dark issues, sexuality, all these things the person has to get it to sell the book well. i had the luck of having that happen but not many publishing boards got onto it.
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here comes the sun was a hard sell. and spots the only publishers that latched onto the book was katie adams from live ãi was getting messages it's too commercial. so in terms of diversifying publishing, i feel like if i had more black editors who were looking at the work and said, yes, we get that, we understand the importance of seeing the other side of the so-called paradise that people see but bob marley and all of these things but i was getting deeper into who we are as a fantasy and i feel like nobody got that except for one woman who happens to be right, two men who happen to be white. it suggests the importance of
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allies as well. one thing that happened in 2020 that i was really happy about given my foot was in the door, got the pack deal, lisa was coming on, he or she has in her new position, there is dana kennedy ãberroll, regina brooks, the young me did not know these people, the young nicole coming up i knew nothing about that. now it's more in this rail on this level, these individuals are no place in higher positions i interviewed dana kennedy two weeks ago for zora magazine and she said, it has to happen from the top. it has to trickle down but the top is where it happens first. i honestly believe that and i'm so happy that she is sitting at
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that talk and looking at the people, forget msa, a writer coming into the game you know you could see yourself in other pages you can do it as well. you can achieve that because there are people behind the closed doors that are also rooting for you. that's really where i'm coming from. >> thank you. erroll, you've obviously been in the industry for some time, 40 years. why has the industry been so very slow to diversify? and what other initiatives need to be developed to achieve greater inclusivity? >> there is so much fake news out there about publishing in general and publishers have done such a lousy job accounting for and describing the industry that i don't know where to start. let me begin by saying the publishing with literary
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publishing per se because publishing is a huge universe of category that most people don't pay attention to, the press is mostly interested in literally a commercial fiction. i think publishers can increase diversity and inclusion by the advertising jobs in a multiplicity of categories and a multiplicity of function. i echo what lisa says that along every aspect of the publishing chain, we should think about it, reflecting america, reflecting how america looks. right now the emphasis is strictly on decision-makers.
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that should not be. if it's going to be on decision-makers it should be on decision-makers in publicity and marketing and sales and the bookselling community. >> that's very true and it is such an enormous industry. i would like to for a moment turn toward the very current moment we are existing in. i think we can agree that it's a unique moment in time or a special moment right now but in recent weeks black authors including isabel wilkerson, brooke bennett, abram conti, kennedy and michelle alexander amongst many other have surged to the top of the bestseller list. i know all of us wish that this moment hasn't been brought on by this racial reckoning that took place in the aftermath of the murders of innocent black
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people, george floyd, breonna taylor, ahmaud arbery, this since this moment feel different to you? and maybe erroll, we can keep going with you. does it still feel like ãbdo you think this one is going to last? does it feel like a moment? what can white and black publishing professionals do to sustain recognition of authors with color so it's not just a list that winds down. >> it is a long list and i don't believe it's a reflection on the history of publishing. one remembers that books by black writers were hugely popular in the 60s and 70s during the civil rights movement and during the black power movement. that went away. right now we are at a moment where the narrative is still being defined by a certain
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degree ãbto a certain degree by people in power so that those books that are on the bestseller list are there mostly to educate whites. whites have taken on these books as if they were self-help program. i believe that interest in these books will continue weight but i do think that their appearance on the bestseller list has increased interest in acquiring more books like those among publishers. >> okay. regina, why do you think that black story is have been ãb
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this is and how it works in the music industry for instance, what can we do from your perspective or from the literary agents perspective to continue to change this? you are on mute. >> sorry about that. that's a big question. there are a number of different ways to approach answering that question. i think the first thing echoes back to what was said before is that it's very difficult for people to penetrate the market place if there is a lack of understanding of the content. as literary agent one of the things i'm consistently asked, editors, is if you know that there is an audience or book and you know that the book is going to sound but the book is not messerli something that ãb not necessarily something you would read or pick up at the bookstore would you acquire that book?
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more often than not, editors say if it doesn't resonate with me, and it's not a book that i feel like i can truly champion, then i'm not the best editor for that book. there is a true understanding from an agent and editor standpoint why they might say that. but that is a big hurdle because most of the people, again, that are in these positions of power to make decisions, are white. that doesn't mean that white people can't enjoy books that are written by people of color but generally speaking, the people that they do raise up and buy books from our celebrities better people of color. [laughter] so that is one big obstacle. it starts in the editorial side. another thing that i hear too is the fact that even if they were interested in buying the book, understanding how to position the book once it is
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acquired, that's a big issue. what do we mean by position? how do we get it out into the market place so that the audience that is going to be interested in this book actually knows about it. this is both in the children's, young adults, adult marketplace, all of the different areas within publishing and do we have issues. and staffing issues. if there were people in the sales department, people in marketing, people in publicity that were people of color, there could be a lot more understanding of how that book could be positioned. i was just on a call today where i was talking to a marketing director and explaining that i'm okay with at this point that you don't know how to position this book but i'm here to stand in the gap.
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i have my finger on the pulse of certain communities and i want you to use me as an ally to help position some of these books. but there are a lot of people like me, agents typically don't help with marketing and then the second thing is that when they do, the structure is not set up to allow agents to have that kind of access to the marketing department to the publicity department. it's mainly with the editors. >> for instance, nicole, since you had a ãbwhite team, marketing, publicity, sales, who was helping you with that gap? did you have someone help in the second with patsy ãbboth of your books have been very successful but was there something did you have the equivalent of regina to guide you through some of that? >> my agent also did that as well. she stepped into that gap but i
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had a really great publicist who ãbhe had his fingers on all the pulse. i felt like this time around especially more people knew who i was i felt like i saw more folks coming on board. as well as jamaicans who wanted to read the book as well. they also got patsy and i for me i think it was audiobook that did that because i had a jamaican ãwho read the audiobook and then i had i had these hits from jamaicans saying we have to get the book as well. all those things happened i think multiple factors came into play and i was really
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happy that all the stars were aligned. >> i actually did listen to your book too and it was wonderful reading. >> lisa, you've always nicely been credited with revitalizing national book award in its annual award and i think in 2008 authors of color swept all five categories, is that right? >> 2008. >> 2018, sorry. [laughter] why do you think there is a disconnect between the recognition and the perception of marketability for authors of color? >> i think back to a point that erroll made earlier that if you really want to facilitate change of the top you need to think about marketing think about publicity. functionally the national award is a publicity wing of books. we make noise about books, we try to serve readers we are not
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publisher basing we are not author facing we are reader facing. we are audience facing. our job is to really widen the audience for books. that's what we work to do and i think that's about the way that the panels we present our show, who we have as hosts, the different programs we do and giving books to young people and families in public housing or doing middle school programs for young readers are selecting books about mass incarceration and coming up with interesting ways to get people to read those books they know more about the car several system in this country. these are always to connect reader and book. ultimately one of the reasons why we see the problems we see is about a failure to imagine a different or new audience. i think the foundation is nimble enough, small enough
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that we can do that really easily. i can get a new job and say i think we can reach a bigger audience and somebody will put me on the news i can say that and thunder will give us money and we can start doing the new program. it's not as difficult to implement change. i think on the publishing side where i have not yet been but will soon go. >> it's gonna be soon. i think one of the things is there seems to be such a resistance of people in publishing, literary publishing to think about what we so as a commodity. we are making a transaction between consumer and seller. if you were apple and you said, just seems like black people just don't like the ipads so we are not going to sell them ipads. we are going to focus on who likes ipads and sell them ipads within ever-increasing black population we are going to throw the money in the garbage and say, not worth it, they don't like ipads.
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that feels like a bit of what publishing has done, it said we know that black folks will buy this kind of book that can guarantee us a fail and everything else, never to happen. maybe there's a shot in the pan a flash in the pan, i'm the worst at mixing metaphors. [laughter] whatever the expression is, this happened to be a big bestseller but never will it ever happen again, let's move on and go back to selling your grandma in iowa a book because we know she will buy it.the question for me is how do we get your grandma in iowa to love books? how did we get her to know she is willing to like a very specific book that's market research, investment, building the audience, working on how to ensure that a community has consistently well served and involved business and continue serving that cash cow that is that particular demographic segment of america and in continued refusal to actually consider that we might seek
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market share by doing more innovative business i think we do the greatest disservice we could possibly do to all of our black and brown communities in america, to our rural communities in america i think we really often fail on that front and that's the thing i keep coming back down to which is, do we like to sell things, yes or no? are there more people who demonstrated again and again that we over index on all cultural consumption and we want to sell them things? yes or no. we love stories we people of color in america, yes we love podcast, television, books, how do you transfer that actual factual information into sales of a product? that in so far as i understand it's our job and i think we are
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the continuation two when we were talking earlier about all these books going off the bestseller list our job is to keep them on the bestseller list to continue pumping things into the reading population that doesn't face away gaze consistently. we need to adjust critical apparatus talk about the fact that there are very few black booksellers, very few latino booksellers, very few indigenous booksellers, very few bookstores and communities that serve these communities. so what you do with that? it's like the whole thing is structured to look only at white people and it's a big shift and you have to really systematically look at where those points are where we are continually failing and adjust not just for equity not just for justice but at the very baseline most cynical level for money. >> do any of the rest of you want to add something to what lisa just said, it's so fascinating. >> i want to focus on them books that have been on the bestseller list. these books on race and racism
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because even those books, which are described as so-called black books are in fact addressed to white readers. i haven't seen a lot about people who try to be an antiracist, subways until when it came out. i don't see a lot of people reading white fragility. we have to understand that publishers need to broaden their understanding of what books matter to black people. >> absolutely. anyone else? >> i would argue that as a country we have to decide that black people matter before we can decide that black folks deserve good culture. it's the exclusionary history, it is suppression, i think the thing is we use this language that is so soft, and even in harsh language it's so soft,
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this is cultural suppression. the article that kim bought about the ãand the conclusion of only for filmmakers that were black, two living. the fact that the books, the films have not been canonized have not been given the same treatment. we are excluded from what's considered the best. that is suppression. when you think about julie dash, just another girl in the iron at t. you think about so many unsightly films anything about all these incredible things that have shaped black culture and shaped black thoughts on the film side and they are actual exclusions, this incentivizes participation, you can't win so why play. it fails to educate the american population.
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it suppresses our real voices but if we are not saying the thing that speaks to this gatekeeper that it's not of value. that person is able to articulate what value is through culture to everyone and then we become devalued so i think the dangerous nature of this, i think that's the thing people don't understand. even people who are making these decisions don't understand but it's not just an equal, it's not just unjust, it's also violence done to people who live in this country. , that might be slightly off tangent but i feel like we have to really understand that foundation about being cynical about whether what black people will read and artificially manufacturing a cultural landscape that suppresses the real black voice in so many
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different instances. it's part of what is destroying our country. >> it's interesting that erroll is here because toni morrison brought me to the ãand i watched her interviews or read her essays and she always say do not write for the white readers, write your story true to her. what erroll said about the books that madebestseller list "teaching white people. even though ãbcritic leah claim, i didn't get any awards, apart from london and wasn't bestsellers like new york times bestseller, i was elected i mentioned about that i was like oh my gosh it's so interesting, she said, what was toni
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morrison say? i would say when you say it. because you're an artist you stay true to the art form i think that's very important and at the same time, i understand, i do see that the book on the list i do see that pattern and a sense of i love most of the people on that list their friends or colleagues of minds. you look at the issues that's written about it tends to have that element so i haven't given it that much thought until erroll said what he said. it's a lot of pressure on the artists sometimes especially if you're a young artist and wondering if it's being pushed all the time and panels and what if we are writing adobe wants to read what we write.
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you don't know where your head of what people are going to latch onto, just write. from my perspective as an artist any other artists listening to this conversation, just write. they are gatekeepers in place to hopefully listen. >> i'm glad you are a part of this conversation. before i realize we are getting close to turning it over to the audience q&a but i wanted to ask one last question as sort of a ãwhat does give you hope about the industry these days and are there things that really are, i think you mentioned some but are looking up that you feel hopeful about and that any of you can chime in on. >> one of the things i'm really excited about is i am on the
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board of the association of office representatives, am i on mute? i'm on the board of the association of representatives and we are doing quite a bit to try to bring more people of color into the agent world because they are the gatekeepers within the publishing houses but also in order to get into most of these mainstream publishing houses you do need an agent and a lot of times for people of color can be difficult getting an agent. just being an agent is a very difficult thing too because of the way the business model is set up. not too many people of color are able to live in new york city, unfortunately that is shifting, and being where the salary is set up based on you eat what you kill. as an agent i get 15 percent of
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the monies that my authors get further advance. that's my commission. you mentioned earlier the publishing paid me hashtag as an agent of them working with clients that are black, i have a combination but if i'm working with black authors who work is being devalued and we are getting only a small percentage, it's a very difficult business to be in. there is a lot of changes that are being addressed and that part of the business and i'm super excited to be one of the people helping to make some of those shifts. >> thank you, anyone else? >> one of the things that excites me, there are two things that excite me, one is that there appears to be a generational shift in the publishing industry. i was hardened by the attempted
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insurrection by some young people recently and making certain demands of publishers. i think it's not unhealthy that an older generation, which adheres to certain narratives, i hope it is unhealthy that that generation might be dying out. [laughter] >> i would agree, i think the thing that gives me the most optimism is not necessarily the older generation leaving but the new generation coming in. i'm 20 years into a career, hopefully a while left to go. kind of happily in the middle but you look but i came up the way i came up i had to change the way that i spoke or acted or what i said and the things that i accepted that i feel ashamed of now in many cases.
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they are growing up believing this to be unacceptable. the narrative is different for them the larger landscape is different for them, even things that i is a pretty outspoken enraged person feel and think and do, they are so much more radical than i could ever dreamed of being. i just can't wait. the thing that i can give i've had many mentors many from the old guard, lost one who was more of a model than a role model than a technical mentor but to try and really seek out young people who can change this and to give them whatever information or context or contacts i have to empower
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them, as they stage their great shakeup of the cultural world they have all the tools they could possibly have. at one point they are going to say, lisa, you are too conservative. you are not doing enough, you're not changing fast enough and i welcome it because they deserve the power to actually be able to make this world a little bit more jux. i think we have the opportunity to change a few things and i think that the book, i think that people have demonstrated that they still value the book. i wish more people dead but it's like people think about the book, the news cares about the book again a little bit more than it did maybe 10 years ago and i think that intersection of young people who care about literature, no name for instance, the rapper from chicago his incredible who is taking a deep and profound interest getting books into prisons and talking about anticapitalist books doing a book club and really thinking
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about who we are speaking to and being spoken to by it's like i want to see what that looks like and i'm really excited for that future. they might not even include me and the degree that i would like it to and that's okay. >> i think we have a lot to think the four of you for about the resurgence of the book. i'm going to look at these questions that are in the chat online and ask you some of these. here we go. libraries are part of the larger book ecosystem and collectively have significant buying power. how can libraries that advocate for and push for change in the publishing industry, how can libraries staff advocate for and push for change ãbsorry ã ãin the publishing industry. any thoughts there? >> it's the same role in many ways as a bookseller. you have a community of people coming in that want to participate in the book. what your shelves look like,
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what you are buying many copies of what are you presenting, the programs you run around those books they're all going to speak to how welcome someone is or isn't in that space. that's the place to start with this based four, who are we creating these spaces for. when he actually designed spaces with the real community in mind and real openness to what that community might want to receive culturally, i think you start a conversation. librarians are doing god work honestly. i don't have a lot of the critique for the library community on the diversity issue because that's like ground zero where people go to get books. i love the librarians. you want to see the library and say who is this set up for? and to continue to if you're a senior librarian, nurture young staff, empower them, you young
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people know more than we give them credit for and we got to let them, they are living they are building a more equitable world. sharing power when you have two different generations having different conversations about equity we have to have let young people who are far more progressive on these issues to rise and do things on their own and independently, i think that often builds a lot of equity in space as well. i love the libraries a whole bunch.>> mentor ship is one of the big takeaways of this talk. we have another question from erica ^ whatever activism needs to happen in order to throw back the person on the other jobs within publishing? >> i don't know if there's much to add beyond we already said. >> i really do feel like it would be super advantageous, i
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don't want to be redundant but to create you can't talk about all the different positions available within the industry i think having people come in and talk to young people about what opportunities exist a lot of it is just access and knowledge and being able to see it. >> i agree with that. >> i just want to say, i worked at nonprofits for 19 years i've never worked at a publisher. i still can't make heads or tails of who does what i'm trying to figure out at night from the internet on zoom how many people work there who does what who works on what and how it all works together is totally obscure there is no way to figure it out from outside and i literally have the job.
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if i can't figure out what in the world then how would anyone else and then how do you even start to address the issues when there is no transparency about how it works. i have to say that i was a little bit flabbergasted. who does what, where, how does this work? >> it's like that internally and externally. like how many times do i have to explain what a literary agent actually does? there are multiple aware ways that literary agents approached the is very nontransparent. >> i'm speechless and just how little i actually know and how hard it is to figure out and it's not because people don't want to tell you it's not that kind of thing, it just is very complex and there is nothing you can read or download that's can be like god it this is exactly how this works and these are the jobs and this is what needs to happen earl made
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this point ãbtrendãbjust tell p how books are made dan's organizations have classes and schools to explain what dance is to the people, imagine if dance was like, we are like books and every child needs us to learn how to read. we have such access this is such a big part of everyone's life the fact that they are truly these magical objects that we don't really understand how they are made or where they come from it's really concerning. i think ã >> even within the publishing industry if you were to ask five different editors how do you build the book, you're going to get five different
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answers. >> absolutely.just working for different places. >> some things are just fundamental even that's even really challenging and i think why would you ever want to grow up and be a book jacket designer if you don't know how that works or that those jobs exist. it's difficult. >> it sounds like we should be inviting any of the big five polishers watching to support the reinvigoration of howard's program. [laughter] let me read another question. michael julius, an author, what can be done to make pursuing publishing careers accessible to passionate and talented first-generation college graduates and those from working-class background who may also have to contribute to supporting their families? from the iowa writers workshop. >>. >> erroll? [laughter]
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[laughter] >> i think that the industry is going to be changing dramatically as a result of covid-19. i think it's going to change in ways we can't even imagine. i think working at home is going to become prevalent for certain functions. i think that might open the door to some constituencies that not self-publishing to be attractive. i don't know that definitive announcements can be made but i do know that the industry is changing dramatically and people should keep their eyes open for opportunity. >> in fact, because of the
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pandemic, i have a fellow who is working from belgium and i also have someone in washington dc and i also have an agent right now in san diego. i know from an asian perspective there is deftly going to be much more openness to people working remote i'm internally building a system so i can educate how to become an agent even if they are not on site. >> that is great i feel like what we learn from the situation that we are all figuring out how to work and other places in new york and less expensive places than new york. the final question is so long and very complicated and i've been reading it and still
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haven't quite found the question. i think i'm going to go back to something we talked about a little bit late yesterday that has to do with language and the language surrounding some of our goals, the goals and publishing to be more inclusive, lisa, you talked a little bit about it but about the language of supremacy but out how to make things more inclusive on that particular level. is that something you'd want to speak to? >> as of lately i've been reading a lot about the changing of the guard for obvious reasons the we they are using is not the we that includes me. i think when we talk about ãb we are talking about america's literature. the world's literature. when we are saying us and them it's up to us to do this to make sure they feel this way, we failed, it's over. we still haven't started the
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conversation. and i think we have to learn how to on that level talk in language that actually acknowledges that the table is shared as opposed to i'm going to give you a seat at my table it is the table and we must speak about it as such. secondarily i think we industry wise because there is a majority and a very small minority that majority talks about books by the other as though it is the other, how can you sell that? you're not selling to another community. we are all one community i just don't understand, some of the words i hear or read in the newspaper or that people say to me in discussions on panels and how bothered i feel not because my feelings are hurt, my feelings aren't hurt, i've been
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called worse. because it just seems that the point has not been taken this very loud very moral very clear point that has been made over and over and over again for decades. the fact that we with our language betray that we still don't understand the very fundamentals of working in an us and them environment means that you still believe yourself to be supreme which you are in fact not. >> the things we have to appreciate the very language of diversity and inclusion's and self problematic. >> in is a master narrative who's doing the diversifying and for what? who's doing the including and for what? what's often left out of that language is one word which is
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equity. diversity inclusion and equity and publishers have had hard times with that keyword. >> yes absolutely. i can't find the lie. as they say. >> i think that is a wonderful note to end the questions on. i think vivienne is going to be coming back in, it's 4:00 p.m. but i want to thank you all so much for participating, for letting your voices, for being a part of this discussion. it's been really wonderful and educational and helpful.thank you. >> thank you for having us. >> thank you everyone that was such an incredibly powerful's endowment powerful conversation. lease, erroll, regina, thank
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you so much, adrienne ãthank you for your moderating. ãbthank you for this entire feelings and our producer beth ãthe video we posted later tonight or tomorrow you can find on at aspen digital, will have the link on our twitter accounts and for those of you that registered we are also mail it to you. thank you so much everybody, we will see you next time. >> you watching booktv on c-span2 with top nonfiction books and authors every weekend. booktv, television for serious readers. >> good evening and welcome to gibson's bookstore remote. i am joined this evening by author rick tyler, who is the author of "still right: an immigrant-loving, hybrid-driving, composting american makes the case for conservatism". he is joined by friend and


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