Hachette UK has launched a new diversity initiative, a creative writing hub called The Future Bookshelf, to make publishing more accessible for writers who feel they aren’t well represented by the industry.
The initiative aims to "demystify publishing", by guiding users of the website through the process of writing, editing, submitting and publishing, and will offer monthly tips and shareable infographics from its own authors and other experts.
It will also hold an open submissions period from 1st - 7th December this year for writers who are both unpublished and unagented and "feel the industry doesn’t adequately represent people from their background or with their experiences". They may be authors of either novels or non-fiction.
The Future Bookshelf was revealed yesterday evening (23rd March) at Hachette’s "Diverse Voices in Publishing" event at Carmelite House, hosted by Nikesh Shukla and featuring Sceptre author Rowan Hisayo Buchanan.
Contributing authors include Bailey’s Prize and Desmond Elliott Prize winner, Lisa McInerney, who called The Future Bookshelf "a dynamic, positive response to the important conversation we're having now about diversity of voice in literature", and Buchanan, recently longlisted for the inaugural Jhalak Prize, who echoed her support for the initative as a "life changing opportunity to writers who may feel left out of mainstream publishing".
Other authors who will contribute to The Future Bookshelf include Felicia Yap, Mike Gayle, Juno Dawson, Jess Richards, Patrick Gale, Sarah Winman, and Vaseem Khan.
Khan, author of The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra, added: "Publishing has long suffered from a perception that it is a closed shop. But things are changing. There is increased room for diverse new voices. Authors from non-traditional backgrounds and communities bring colour and stories from all over the world – there is a new appetite in the publishing industry for this sort of work. I was delighted to be asked to contribute to The Future Bookshelf initiative as I am a living breathing example of how the winds of change are sweeping through the industry. Helping Hachette nurture other writers from similar backgrounds gives me immense personal satisfaction ... I am truly excited to see what comes out of the box.”
Figures in the trade have also contributed to The Future Bookshelf’s online content, including Bookseller Rising Star and literary agent at PFD, Nelle Andrews. She said: "The Future Bookshelf is one of those simple yet effective initiatives that is a digital opening of the doors to authors at all stages of their career. It’s a forum of truly expert advice from the industry that is about broadening the publishing landscape as much as it is to inform. I am proud to be part of such a worthy scheme.”
The Future Bookshelf is part of Hachette's "Changing the Story" programme - an overarching scheme tasked with making it "the publisher and employer of choice for all people", regardless of age, disability, race, gender, sexuality or socio-economic background - and has been created and implemented by employees from all levels of seniority.
Francine Toon, editor at Sceptre, commented: "To make publishing more diverse, we have to diversify our approach and The Future Bookshelf is one way we are hoping to achieve this.”
Kate Craigie, assistant editor, John Murray added: "As publishers, the books we produce should reflect the diverse society we live in, but in order for that to happen the industry needs to be open and accessible to all people, from all backgrounds. That was the motivation behind The Future Bookshelf: to utilise the expertise of our authors and industry insiders to reach out to the authors of tomorrow and give them the opportunity to share their writing with us.”