diversity in publishing

Hannah Fields, PhD in Publishing Studies

November 13th, 2018 by Hannah Fields | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Hannah Fields, PhD in Publishing Studies
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Working Title: Industry Shakeup: Independent Publishing and the Plight for Change

Topic: My research aims to examine the methods and publishing practices of independent publishers to close the diversity gap within UK publishing. The diversity focus includes race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and class. It is also my hope to answer the following question through my research: Are various forms of diversity/social justice better dealt with by independent publishers rather than large/corporate houses?

Research Interests: independent publishing; diversity; representation; identity; inclusivity; publishing studies; social justice; politics; sociology; bibliodiversity


Professor Claire Squires (Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication)

Dr Gill Tasker (Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication)


Hannah on Twitter: @thehfields
Hannah on LinkedIn

Email: h.m.fields@stir.ac.uk

New audience development: The advantages of cross-platform storytelling

March 1st, 2017 by Sharna | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on New audience development: The advantages of cross-platform storytelling
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Okay, to start, a disclaimer: I wasn’t originally going to cover this section of the Scottish Book Trade Conference, but I was so inspired by Crystal Mahey-Morgan, that I couldn’t possibly pass up the opportunity! I mean, it could just be because I was so enamoured with her South London accent during the  presentation (we all miss home in different ways!) but beyond that, she made some really important points. So here goes.

How many debut authors in Britain do you think were black males last year? Definitely a few, right? At least a handful?

Just one… Mahey-Morgan announces. I’m shocked, I look over at a few people and they’re clearly a bit shocked as well. You hear about publishing trying to branch out diversity-wise, but it’s pretty evident from this statistic that it’s just not happening all at once.

Rewinding a little, Mahey-Morgan then shows a presentation about her company’s (OWN IT!) recent project Don’t Be Alien. Don’t Be Alien started life as an interactive book, incorporating text, animation, and music for a fully immersion experience. This version retails at 99p. But it doesn’t stop there. As Mahey-Morgan explains, it is important for OWN IT! to cover a range of platforms in order for it to reach its target audience; those who would rather download a song or video onto their smartphones than a book (16-24). Therefore, you can buy the Don’t Be Alien track from iTunes for 79p and corresponding t-shirts for £30. Cross-platform! It’s a really well thought out way to get a younger audience to connect to the story. As well as this, when OWN IT! were releasing Robyn Travis’s Mama Can’t Raise No Man, they put on a launch event at Hackney Empire, which just so happened to sell out its 1300 ticketed seats. Pretty good going and is also proof that people are interested! People will pay for these things and they want to see these authors at events and buy these books.

Mahey-Morgan also explains the difference in the OWN IT! business model from regular publishers. Instead of paying their authors an advance, they split the profits of every outlet 50/50 with the author. The average annual income for an author is about £11,000. That’s less than minimum wage, which is quite frankly ridiculous. But this different business model would explain why No Place to Call Home author JJ Bola chose OWN IT! over several other publishers in a high-stakes auction.

When asked about branching out her storytelling lifestyle brand, Mahey-Morgan insists that she wants her company to publishing diversely throughout the country as well as globally, and in spite of their .london domain, they are not London-specific.

The most important point (in my eyes) that Mahey-Morgan made during her presentation is that publishers shouldn’t be publishing BAME authors because ‘it’s the right thing to do’. I mean, it is the right thing to do but publishers should be championing these authors; they should be publishing BAME works because they want to and because they believe in the content, not just because they’re obligated to!

You can follow Crystal Mahey-Morgan and OWN IT! on twitter @CrystalMMorgan and @OWNITLDN or you can check out their shop and support them (do support them, because they’re doing great things!) at their website: ownit.london

– Sharna Vincent

PPA Scotland’s Paul McNamee: Fund Diversity!

February 27th, 2017 by morven_gow | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on PPA Scotland’s Paul McNamee: Fund Diversity!
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The Big Issue’s UK editor, Paul McNamee, took up tenure as Chair of the PPA Scotland on Wednesday evening (15th Feb) in Glasgow, in front of a strong gathering of over 100 people from magazine and newspaper publishing in Scotland.  At this special reception for the new Chair, Neil Braidwood of Connect Communications gave a lively introduction to McNamee as he handed over the reins used to guide the organisation for the last two years. In his acceptance speech, McNamee painted a vivid picture of himself when as a young man of potential, he was keen to get access to the world of publishing and communication.

Bringing the scenario up to date, he pinpointed what was wrong with the industry now – and echoed public statements and report findings produced by the book publishing industry, and indeed many other sectors including marketing and advertising.  He spoke passionately about the lack of diversity in the newspaper and magazine industry, the lack of young people joining the sector from less advantageous backgrounds. “If kids don’t have money behind them, you’ve got to put money in front of them,” he told us and our response was wholeheartedly positive. With the backing of the PPA Scotland, he wants to see the industry supporting disadvantaged young people who have potential and a desire to enter publishing.

Listening to him, I was reminded that in the late Seventies/ early Eighties, I was one of the last to benefit from a full grant for further and higher education, a luxury not available to many in the UK these days.  Now, if someone from a disadvantaged background does decide to become a student (taking on the psychological and practical burden of debt required to do so) and graduates in due course, they will frequently find that to break into their chosen business sector, they are expected to work for nothing often for long periods in the hope that this trial will end in paid-for employment.  Who can afford the luxury of an unpaid internship, where often not even travel is reimbursed? Only those already blessed with some degree of family financial support?  Is it right that entrance to the creative/ knowledge/ communication sectors across the UK can be based on an individual’s financial resource? Surely this must change or the work produced, whether in a newspaper, magazine, book, app or website, will become increasingly irrelevant to most of the population.

It is not wise to have a minority controlling cultural communication.  A monoculture does not reflect society and should not be imposed. Publishers of books, magazines and newspapers have a responsibility to ensure that all voices are represented.  Looking forward to seeing how the new Chair and the members of PPA Scotland tackle this initiative.

By Morven Gow


PPA news link to Paul McNamee’s Chair Reception evening

Guardian article: Penguin Random House – publishing “risks becoming irrelevant”

The Big Issue: latest issue on reading and libraries