Eaton Hamilton

the problem with being trans is cis people. The problem with being queer is straight people. The problem with being disabled is abled people. The problem with being Black is white people. In other words, prejudice.

Tag: diversity in publishing

Diversity in authors and subject matter

painting by: Eaton Hamilton 2020; woman in wheelchair

I knew diverse representation in publishing was bad, but I didn’t understand quite how bad it really was until authors divulged their advances on twitter’s #whatpublishingpaidme thread a couple years back. Even to me, who absolutely expected evidence of racism, homphobia, transphobia and ableism, it was a shock how publishing advances often had nothing to do with prior publishing success and a whole lot more to do with whether or not the author was white, able-bodied, straight and cis, and, often (still), male.

The red carpet rolls out for those folks, and not so much for the rest of us. I do maintain that most agents and publishers give lip service to wanting diverse books and authors, but in actuality they really only want to want them. They used to tell us that our stories were overloaded by the addition of queer characters and they’d suggest the protagonists be straight so as not to distract from the storyline, but now they say there’s just not an audience. What they really mean by that is that they’re not willing to give a good advance to work they’re not personally interested in, nor go to the trouble and expense of finding the book’s enthusiastic market.

I’m sick of it. It’s lasted all my literary career. All of it, over 35 years of it. You don’t know my books because of this discrimination, and that is true for thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of other artists as well.

If you build it, to quote WP Kinsella, they will come.

Here’s The Guardian discussing diversity in publishing lately:
Changing the narrative on disability: is representation in books getting better? by Lucy Webster

and here they are, recently, discussing senstivity readers:

Stop moaning about sensitivity readers – if there was diversity in publishing we wouldn’t need them, by Juno Dawson

Diversity in Publishing … Not


photo: Jane Eaton Hamilton, unknown date, Jericho Beach, Vancouver

When I became a writer, my first books were received warmly and were shortlisted for prestigious awards … then I came out and that was pretty much the end of that. Either I was a worse writer from there on in or something else was at play, something systemic, something unthinking, homophobia. I’ve gotten a lot of rejections that say something like, “Just not a good fit for our publication” or “We published a lesbian last issue and we want to diversify,” but mostly it’s just no, and no again.

I’m pretty certain my work is better now, but I am queer, and older, and disabled. I barely get read. The promising career that I was ready for never panned out, until, in January 2004, after dismal reactions to my last book of stories, I quit. I’ve been back since 2011, but the things that I hoped would be changed haven’t changed as much as the players would like to think they have.

When the gatekeepers are able-bodied, white, and straight, if you aren’t, that’s pretty much a wrap.

Here is “You Will Be Tokenized”: Speaking Out About the State of Diversity in Publishing from Brooklyn Magazine by Molly McCardle


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