And Other Stories to take part in Year of Publishing Women 2018

We accept! In 2018, we’ll only publish books by women.

The Guardian and The Bookseller published a talk Kamila Shamsie gave at Hay Festival as part of Writers’ Centre Norwich’s National Conversation. It lit a fuse by talking about the fact that books by and about women are still significantly less likely to win literary prizes or to receive as much recognition as their male counterparts. She therefore challenged publishers to have a Year of Publishing Women in 2018, and we’ve accepted!

So far as literary fiction is concerned, we have no doubt that she is right and that the industry is biased towards male writers. But why? That’s the million dollar question! We alone cannot redress any numerical imbalance in the representation of men and women in our bookshops and in the media, but we hope to help widen the debate, as well as to make an impact in the area of publishing women in translation (where the statistics are even more skewed towards men).

We want to focus our attention on this issue and share our experiences. We will look at our submissions and acquisitions processes and consider whether there’s any inherent gender bias in the way we choose books. We see it as a continuation of our ongoing project to open up publishing, which started with our brainstorming events, our subscriber supporter base and our reading groups for discussing foreign language books we could publish. Our senior editor Sophie Lewis wrote more about our Year of Publishing Women for The Independent.

We’re really excited about the books we might discover, and we hope you will be too! Keep an eye out for our writing about how it goes – we’ll be sharing our experiences at events, in the media and on our Ampersand blog.

18 Comments

  1. Matthias says:

    This is very cool! Can I subscribe right now for *all the books* (not just six) of your Year of Publishing Women 2018? I’ll probably forget all about it by then and it’ll be a splendid surprise.

    Reply
  2. Anneke says:

    As a female final publishing student myself, I do believe that there is an integrated bias in regards to gender based publication. However, there are several reasons for this:
    1. A history of uneven development and fragmentation in terms of race, language and gender.
    2. It also requires time in order to form an equality.
    It is important to note that by excluding male writers will not rectify the problem of more males being published currently. This will lead to reverse-discrimination. Rather, all authors should be held to the same standard, and their submissions should be evaluated on the same terms in order to publish quality works,
    A publisher’s role is first and foremost a “gatekeeper of knowledge”. Therefore a publisher should still be held to that standard and cannot be biased towards any differentiation in authors, but should be able to recognise quality work and then make an effort to publish those works, regardless of gender, ethnicity, culture or religion (etc).
    It would be a better method to encourage all writers to submit their manuscripts than to discard any capable, creative and quality candidates work based on gender biased.
    It will be interesting how female writers respond to this – and whether or not quality works will be created in this challenge.

    Reply
    • Nichola Smalley says:

      Interesting points Anneke – however, what we’re trying to do is analyse our own processes to find out why we’ve published more men than women in the past. This means going beyond the common sense argument of ‘publishing on quality’ and trying to understand our own biases about what quality is.

      Reply
  3. Stefan Tobler says:

    Glad you like it, Matthias!
    We aren’t offering the 2018 books in a separate subscription, but we hope you might still like to subscribe to our upcoming books of course!

    Stefan

    Reply
  4. Kat Connors says:

    What an amazing thing to do!!!

    Taking it a step further, may I also suggest using women to illustrate/design the cover art during that time? We feel the same lack of representation as artists, illustrators and designers in the boys club world of publishing and illustration!

    ^_^

    Reply
    • Stefan Tobler says:

      That’s a nice idea! As it happens, our current designers are all women. Hannah Naughton does most of them.

      Reply
  5. I think this is a worthwhile initiative, and have been looking for female authors for my own next books. I have one already on my shelves waiting, and am here in Colombia now on the trail of at least one more.

    I have considered this question before, and wondered if one factor in the imbalance, and which I’ve not heard discussed, relates to the traditional role women have had in the home: work which never ends, and continues even if the woman is also employed outside the home. It might be, then, that women generally have less time to dedicate to personal ambitions, for I’m sure both sexes (gender is a word that permits misunderstanding in some contexts) seek to express themselves through the arts, equally. As I say, it might count for some of the evident imbalance between the sexes in the representation on our shelves.

    Reply
  6. This sounds really promising. I am a new writer from Kenya based in the UK, so double minority. I hope people like me will get a chance because most gate keepers are not open to the possibilities of being challenged by something new. Please let us know how to go about submitting.

    Reply
  7. Valkyrja says:

    So as a transgender woman, if I were to submit my manuscript, would I also be subject to this for the fact of the genitals I was born with? Furthermore, would transgender men also be allowed/disallowed based on their choice to pursue their identity or the genitals they were born with? I feel like this isn’t quite as black and white an issue as we’re making it out to be.

    Reply
    • Nichola Smalley says:

      Hi Valkyrja,

      Thanks for your comments.

      We’re certainly not trying to make this out to be a black and white issue – in fact we’re keen to include anyone who identifies as a woman – get in touch via our contact/author submissions page if you’d like to find out more.

      Reply
    • I think Valkyrja’s interesting note highlights a small battle I’ve been (pedantically) fighting for a few years, now, around the use of the terms “sex” and “gender”. My understanding of “transgender” is of an individual who has chosen to adopt cultural or social customs or habits traditionally associated with one or other of the sexes, while not at the same time adopting that sex – which is a biological state. A person who is “transsexual” would have changed sex biologically – and I don’t know if this is possible, whether the surgical creation of the opposite sex’s genitals can signify this.

      Perhaps, if it’s not too much of a nuisance, Valkyrja could help me with this.

      I apologise for jumping into this discussion with both (large) feet, and coopting what is a rather different discussion in this way. The AOS clarification seems consistent and correct.

      I certainly applaud AOS determination to bring more women’s work to the public, and think I’ve found a candidate here to add to my list if not theirs.

      Reply

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