And Other Stories accepts Shamsie challenge

And Other Stories accepts Shamsie challenge

Independent publisher And Other Stories will only publish books by female writers in 2018, in response to a call for a Year of Publishing Women by the author Kamila Shamsie.

The initiative, to be held in 2018 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of women getting the vote in the UK, would help to reset the gender imbalance in publishing, said Shamsie.

The idea has been greeted with mixed views by the trade, but literary press And Other Stories, which is based in High Wycombe and publishes 10-12 books a year, confirmed today it would be holding a Year of Publishing Woman in 2018.

Publisher Stefan Tobler told the Guardian: "We’ve realised for a while that we’ve published more men than women. 

“This year we’ve done seven books by men and four by women... We have a wide range of people helping us with our choices, and our editors are women... and yet somehow we still publish more books by men than women.”

Male authors scheduled to be published by And Other Stories in 2018 will probably be rescheduled, senior editor Sophie Lewis said.

Lewis said she would use the year “to examine the selection and promotion process, the production of their books from commissioning to reader’s bedside”.
She continued: “By taking on the challenge we will expose our systems and the paths of recommendation and investigation that brings books to us, and we will end up becoming a kind of small-scale model for a much bigger inquiry about why women’s writing is consistently sidelined or secondary, the poor cousin rather than the equal of men’s writing."

While trade figures largely agreed with Shamsie's assertions that there is gender inequality in publishing, most greeted her Year of Publishing Women initiative with caution, with literary agent and Curtis Brown joint c.e.o. Jonny Geller saying he "would support any initiative to promote women's fiction and new voices but never at the expense of another writer's".

In a blog for The Bookseller, Hannah Westland, publisher of Serpent's Tail, said that "where fiction is concerned, the idea that women writers are underserved by publishing or literary culture is a myth". However, Julia Kingsford of Kingsford and Campbell said she hoped Shamsie's "extreme idea will push us as an industry to demand the equality that frankly should already exist".