[Issue 096] 📚 Diversity in the Publishing Industry


Happy Thursday!


This has been quite the week for me.

The highlight by far has been taking over the Shine Registry's Instagram account yesterday, where I showed folks what it looks like balancing my full-time job with creating ABL each week. I also introduced everyone to the team that makes all of this possible.

If you missed it, you can find the stories in the Highlights section of the @ShineRegistryaccount!

As for this week's newsletter, I'm excited to introduce you to Jessica VerVoort! She's one of ABL's most engaged readers and encouraging supporters. We connected recently to chat about the work she's doing, and I immediately knew I had to get her voice in the newsletter.

Scroll down to learn more about the publishing industry and Jessica's thoughts on what needs to change. I may or may not have added an extra GIF or two...




Jessica VerVoort is the Owner, Editor, and Author of The Pinkley Press, a space where real talk and honesty take precedence over all other writing. From a very young age, she has worked consistently to hone her voice and support the voices of those around her. When her nose isn't buried in a book or writing a new essay she is obsessing over her foxhound puppy, Oliver.


A memorable painting of our most historic authors shines above where you can purchase your two for one cookies at the Barnes & Noble cafe and as I read the names of each person, I ask myself, where are the women?


If you look closely, one is present, but she hides herself behind the faces of white middle-aged men, depicting the never-ending state of our publishing industry; it has always been white men painted in the light and glorified by readers.

The time has come to move along, replace these outdated paintings with contemporary and historic authors of color and female identification, for they are the ones changing history.

So, what needs to change? How can we begin to publish more female authors of color?

Currently, when people think of an editor many imagine a woman proofreading books and signing authors. This image isn't wrong. Women do take up more space in the publishing world than men.

Unfortunately, however, there is what The Bookseller and Ooligan Press call the “fetishization of men in publishing,” giving men higher pay and larger bonuses in order to lure them into the publishing field, creating more incentive for men to overturn the majority. So while women may currently take up more office space than men it doesn’t mean they have the power to decide what gets published and promoted.

To make matters worse, mass publications like The New York Review of Books are constantly promoting the latest “to read” list with an overwhelming majority of white male authors; this increases their sales and keeps publishing train running on the same track.

In 2017 VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts exposed the publishing data from some of our most respected magazines, showing a 75% majority of male to female authors were promoted in their book reviews. Additionally, 76% of the reviewers were also male.


What’s even more discouraging, is the intersectional data VIDA provided that same year. An overwhelming amount of authors/editors were classified as cisgender white males.

As a PR tactic, some Literary Magazines promote special “Diversity” issues which, some might argue, detracts from the issue at large and gives them an “out” for doing the hard work necessary to incorporate a more diverse ongoing publication.


All this information begs the question, is there any hope for writers who classify outside of cisgender white male?

As grim as it may seem the answer is yes, there’s hope for the majority of authors, as the era of close-minded cisgender white male authors is beginning to end (finally). Feminist activists such as BUST Magazine are constantly working to promote POC and Female writers to encourage book sales and publications from women.


Editor Danielle Pafunda states “in the women’s [submission] pile alone, there’s probably enough good work for a fabulous issue—and we needn’t even call it our Special Edition on Lady Business.” There are endless pieces of amazing work from authors outside of the cisgender white male category and lack of submissions can no longer serve as an excuse from editors.

At The Pinkley Press we strive to stamp our publication with activism and change into the new era of publishing.

Our submission guidelines state the following: We reserve the right to publish work that coincides with our values as a publication and deny acceptance to those works that do not. If you are unsure of our internal values please see the homepage to see the communities we actively support. We do NOT accept any writing that is subtly or blatantly racist, homophobic, transphobic, sexist, or destructive in any fashion.

As an editor and author myself, my mission is to encourage and act toward inclusion in the publishing and bookselling industries.

And as readers we also have a role to play, as our capitalistic economy dictates what is purchased and sold. I encourage readers of all kinds to start diversifying their bookshelves and show the publishing industry that we are ready for the start of a new era.

You can learn more about The Pinkley Press at pinkleypress.com and via Instagram. You can also find Jessica on Instagram.


Are you following ABL on Instagram yet? If not, you're missing out on great content between newsletters! ⟶ instagram.com/abovethebottomline

Highlights Magazine Issues Statement Condemning Trump’s Detention Centers. In response to a report that exposed the inhumane conditions present at President Donald Trump’s immigrant detention center in Texas, the CEO of Highlights Magazine, Kent Johnson, issued a statement condemning the policy of family separation. He asks readers to contact their local government officials and to have “moral courage”. // CBR

A Black Transgender and Disabled Model Just Landed Her First Major Magazine Cover. Aaron Phillip is the first black, transgender, and disabled model to be on a magazine cover. Philip was born with cerebral Palsy, and had already made history at just 18 when she was signed to the renowned Elite Model Management in September of 2018. Her first major cover is for Paper Magazine. // CNN

Bank of America Finally Says No To Private Prisons. Bank of America has joined a growing number of companies that are responding to the President Trump’s immigrations policies by ending all financial support for the private prison and detention companies, CoreCivic and CEO Group, who work with the immigrant detention center. // TRIPLE PUNDIT

⟶ See also: SunTrust To Stop Financing Companies That Manage Private Prisons.SunTrust announced on Monday that they will end financing for companies that manage private prisons or immigrant detention centers. // REUTERS

Amazon Workers Are Planning A Strike For One Of It’s Busiest Shopping Days Of The Year. This year, as Amazon plans to stretch their annual prime day sales on July 15th to over a 48 hour period, employees at the Amazon fulfillment center in Shakopee, Minnesota are planning to strike for 6 hours on the same day. William Stolz, and employee at the fulfillment center hopes that consumers will understand that while Amazon says they can ship a Kindle to your house in one day easily, there is a lot of pressure to make that happen, and Amazon should protect them in their jobs, and provide safe, reliable working conditions. // BUSINESS INSIDER

Former Tesla Workers Claim They Were Fired For Using Maternity and Sick Leave.This article details the claims of Tesla employees who have been fired for attempting to use their maternity or sick leave. Devon Beccera worked at the Tesla Giga factory in Sparks, Nevada and was a few months into her employment when she was promoted to supervisor. However, she soon found out that she was pregnant, and informed management that she was planning on taking her maternity leave when eligible. When she was 7 months pregnant, 2 weeks before Christmas, she was fired. Tesla was able to do this because Nevada is a right-to-work state, so they don't need any reason to fire her. // The Guardian

To Understand Rising Inequality, Consider The Janitors At Two Top Companies, Then and Now. This article compares two companies side by side, years apart. Gail Evans and Marta Ramos are both janitors for two major tech companies. Evan was a janitor for Eastman Kodak in Rochester in the early 1980s, while Ramos currently cleans at the Apple headquarters in California. However, these two employees are treated incredibly different, and it helps showcase growing inequality in America. While their wages adjusted for inflation are pretty similar, Evans, the woman who worked for Kodak, was considered a full-time employee, and thus received 4 weeks of paid vacation, some tuition money, and a yearly bonus payment, Ramos, the woman currently working at Apple is actually an employee of a contractor that Apple hires to clean their headquarters, and thus Ramos has no vacation time, no bonuses, and no transferring within the company. // NY TIMES

These Are All The Businesses You Never Knew Were Owned By Amazon. As presidential candidates, regulators, and lawmakers propose splitting up Amazon and other huge tech companies to break up their power, Buzzfeed News has created a list of all the companies and businesses that are owned by Amazon, with many being unknown to the average person. According to the online ecommerce research firm eMarketer, Amazon makes up an estimated 38% of the US e-commerce market. // BUZZFEED NEWS

A 15$ Federal Minimum Wage Won’t Cost Americans Jobs, New Study Says. The first study analyzing the effects of a $15 federally mandated minimum wage is out, and the findings are good. The impact it would make on inequality could be huge, while the effects on job losses are very low. When researchers calculated how doubling the minimum wage would affect rural areas that may not be able to keep up with the wage increase, they found that almost everywhere, even low-wage states, can absorb a $15 minimum wage. // VOX

This week's headlines were curated by ABL's intern, Lora.

"As readers we also have a role to play, as our capitalistic economy dictates what is purchased and sold. I encourage readers of all kinds to start diversifying their bookshelves and show the publishing industry that we are ready for the start of a new era."

- Jessica VerVoort

Nikita T. Mitchell