A question – should publishers monitor contributors by their nationality / ethnicity / gender / disability / sexual orientation / age / etc?
Most grant funding applications now require minority monitoring in some format, so supply of the information may be required. Most people probably want to hear more voices from more diverse backgrounds, but Wordcatcher has never asked for details, or even informally attempted to monitor authors or submissions by any such criteria. We haven’t attempted to fulfil anyone else’s criteria for publishing, or tried to tick any boxes for inclusivity for any agenda. We’ve taken books on because we like the individual, think we can work together, and most importantly, like the premise of the book.
Are we missing something by not asking for this type of information? While we might be able to set some guesstimates on the number of titles that might fall into ‘minority’ categories, we feel it’s intrusive to force an author to identify themselves in some way that they might feel uncomfortable.
We posed this question in a secret Facebook group we have for our authors and it sparked a healthy debate. Some authors wanted to identify themselves and their work in some way, others most definitely resisted.
Our current line of thinking remains the same – we don’t, and won’t, ask for this personal data, but if authors want to use it to promote themselves or their book, we’ll fully support them. We will continue to accept books on their merits rather than to fulfil any artificial quota. We do like to publish books that are intelligent and challenging, and if it happens to tackle a contentious topic, we aren’t afraid to consider it.