White People Everywhere

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White male editors still dominate publishing and white male authors still dominate bestseller lists. Writing over at Plougshares, literary agent Eric Nelson explores the problem:

I have frequently presented books as an editor to a room full of only white people. And even from the sixteen books I’ve sold in the past twelve months, less than a third were by women, and only two were by non-white writers. The lack of diversity really is that bad.

But there is hope. Editors with a more diverse portfolio will find their careers advance faster, he advises, and ultimately editors will always seek out the new:

Editors favor novelty over relatability. They want to see a story they haven’t seen before. They want basic human conflicts—romance versus family, dreams versus practicality, culture versus justice—and they want to see those in scenarios they haven’t seen before. They want something that feels universally true but in a milieu they don’t know much about.


Ian MacAllen's fiction has appeared in 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, Joyland Magazine, and elsewhere and nonfiction has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, The Negatives, Electric Literature, Fiction Advocate, and elsewhere. He is the Deputy Editor of The Rumpus, holds an MA in English from Rutgers University, tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at IanMacAllen.com. More from this author →