AMERICAN DIRT + Barnes & Noble | Why Publishers Are Stupid: Part 2

We’ve said before that publishers can make BIG mistakes. Then came AMERICAN DIRT. Here’s our take on controversies rocking publishing in 2020. Links mentioned in the video are below.


0:49 An overview of the AMERICAN DIRT controversy.

4:22 There are many books by Latinx authors. So why aren’t Latinx authors being supported? Why is the money going to white authors?

04:54 Lee & Low Books released the Diversity in Publishing 2019 report earlier this year. The survey reveals the alarming lack of diversity in the the publishing industry hasn’t changed significantly in editorial since their 2015 report. The exception to this trend was among interns, who are now more diverse than the rest of publishing.

05:27 What was the fallout for publishers and Oprah after AMERICAN DIRT?

06:10 The defensive reaction from some white writers and why it’s problematic. Instead, write responsibly and learn when it’s better for someone else to tell a story.

7:50 Controversy #2: The Barnes & Noble tried to launch a line of classic novels with new covers featuring people of color. Instead of supporting authors of color, they put blackface on the covers.

08:26 The Barnes & Noble covers were cancelled when their bottom line was impacted.

08:55 What do we do? 1) Support people who write great books by buying their books. 2) Buy a book by someone who doesn’t look like you or share your experiences. 3) Make your voice heard. 4) Share information from other authors. Amplify their voices. 5) Start your own collective. 6) Start your own publishing house to publish, serve, and reach people who are often ignored by New York publishing.

11:52 Controversy #3: The reaction to the 2020 Newbery and Caldecott winners.

14:26 We share some GOOD NEWS.


Myriam Gurba’s review of AMERICAN DIRT…

USA Today’s critique of AMERICAN DIRT and the author’s note…

Diversity Baseline Survey by Lee & Low Books…

Carlos Greaves’s article in McSweeney’s…

Barnes & Nobel cancels “diverse” editions…

The 2020 American Library Association awards…

The Wall Street Journal reaction to the ALA awards…

Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop’s “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors”…

In Praise of a Scholarly Force: Rudine Sims Bishop…


Why Publishers Are STUPID

We Need Diverse Books and Voices

Cheryl Willis Hudson, Author & Co-founder of Just Us Books, on Children’s Books


We’re Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry. Between us, we have almost half a century’s worth of experience turning talented writers into published authors. Arielle is an author and agent-at-large at the Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency. David is an author and before writing professionally, he was a comic and actor. We’re dedicated to helping writers get their books published. Successfully!

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