It has been half a year since we published our statement on Equity in Publishing back in July. In that statement, we directly name our commitment to “championing work that is not only devoid of explicit racism but also actively anti-racist.” This extends to other forms of systemic discrimination and persecution, including but not limited to sexism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and xenophobia. The work that we publish, and therefore the work of Booth, must actively push against these institutional forces.
To this end, Booth is implementing a new type of rejection system for submissions our staff determines are harmful. This will apply to submissions that are implicitly or explicitly supportive of any of the oppressive institutional forces listed above.
This initiative was prompted by several discussions among staff about trends we were seeing in work being submitted to Booth. When we receive material that manifests harmful language, we reject it. But under our current submission guidelines, writers whose work is rejected for this reason are able to submit new material, which may or may not demonstrate the same harmful beliefs. What do we do with material that is not explicitly harmful but, if published, would give a platform to someone who has already demonstrated harmful beliefs to us?
Starting immediately, we will be sending a new rejection letter for work our staff has found to be harmful. This letter includes a request that the writer not submit to Booth again for a full calendar year. Any submissions we receive from that writer within that year will not be read. We will automatically decline them.
These conversations are never easy. As writers and readers ourselves, we feel the deep desire to tackle material that does not inherently live inside of us, that perhaps we’re only beginning to feel pulled to engage with. 2020 was an eye-opening year for so many of us. We respect the desire to explore and investigate personal and institutional biases, but we reserve the right to not publish harmful material.
Our genuine hope is that within this year, the writer will take the time to interrogate themselves and their work: to both recognize the potential for harm inherent within it and reflect on how they might combat their own prejudices. Each rejection letter will include a list of resources that the author can use to begin that journey of growth and introspection. This resource list will also be archived on our website.
Booth Resource List for Writers
What White Writers Should Know about Telling Black Stories, Nancy Johnson
Book Authors Are Getting Real about How Much They Are Paid, Tomi Obaro and Arianna Rebolini
Who Gave You the Right to Tell That Story?, Lila Shapiro
Usage of #OwnVoices, Corinne Duyvis
How to Be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi
The White Man’s Guilt, James Baldwin
This Bridge Called My Back: Writing by Radical Women of Color, Cherríe Moraga & Gloria Anzaldúa
Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, Audre Lorde
Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics, bell hooks
Economic Justice Resources
Covering Poverty: What to Avoid and How to Get It Right, Denise-Marie Orwday & Heather Bryant
How to Write about Poor People, Irin Carmon
How (& Why) to Write Inclusive Fiction, Kristen Kieffer
LGBTQIA+ Equity Resources
Franny Choi’s Periodic, Franny Choi
100 Easy Ways to Make the World Better for Trans People, Kai Isaiah-Jamal
Ableist Words and Terms to Avoid, Lydia X. Z. Brown
I Am Not Your Inspiration, Thank You Very Much, Stella Young