Rethinking ‘Diversity’ in Publishing

Across the cultural and creative industries in the UK media organisations increasingly recognise that they do not reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the nation, let alone produce content that reaches these communities.

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As a consequence, we have seen the implementation of various initiatives designed to diversify the composition of the workforce, based on the assumption that this will automatically lead to ‘diverse’ output that will reach wider audiences. But is this assumption correct?

The aim of this research is to look at how cultural production itself might disadvantage racial and ethnic minorities. Using the British publishing industry as a case study, the research explores how ‘writers of colour’ experience the publishing process.

We examine each stage of production – from acquisition, to editorial and design, to marketing & PR, to sales, to retail – to see the particular challenges (or at times, opportunities) ‘writers of colour’ encounter.

Since the start of the project in May 2019, we have interviewed over 100 people who work in the publishing industry, including authors, agents, publishers, editors, experts in marketing, PR and sales as well as retailers and festival curators.

In addition to academic outputs, we will produce an industry report that provides an overview of the findings and will hopefully help publishers – and everybody else involved – work better with writers from underrepresented backgrounds and reach wider audiences in the process.

The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and carried out in partnership with Spread the Word and The Bookseller. The report will be published by Goldsmiths Press.



Dr Anamik Saha
Senior Lecturer, Co-Convenor of the MA Race, Media and Social Justice
Principal Investigator
a.saha (
+44 (0)20 7717 3258

Dr Sandra van Lente
Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
s.vanlente (
+44 (0)7548 940873

Upcoming Events

  • 20 April 2020: Workshop with British and German experts from the publishing industry and academia, Centre for British Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
  • May/June 2020: Launch of the industry report -details to follow