It is “absolutely the responsibility” of the publishing industry to inspire and empower the next generation, Dialogue Books publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove has said, while urging the trade to ensure inclusivity in the workplace is "the norm, and not just a trend".
Accepting her award for FutureBook Person of the Year at the Futurebook conference which took place on Friday (30th November), Dialogue Books publisher Lovegrove said that while she is seen as a "disruptor", she is really a "modern woman who’s able to analyse and strategise and be agile and fully inclusive". She added: "I bring that to all areas of my life really naturally.”
Lovegrove expressed gratitude to her publishing team, as well as her authors, and agents for understanding that the inclusive imprint is “publishing for everyone in this country”.
“I'm really grateful for this year and the books that I published. I'm publishing a lot of different people – fiction, non fiction, commercial and literary – I’m publishing for everyone in this country. I thank my team – it’s so hard for them; I’m so demanding. We don’t really use the elastication of what we can do with our publishing houses enough so sometimes I get quite frustrated. They are brave and bold and they keep pushing boundaries with me."
Lovegrove also said she was "hugely proud" to announce that three of the five books the Little, Brown imprint released in its first year of publishing will appear in national books of the year round ups. "It proves as industry we really need to look at ourselves and think about the impact individuals can have when they think differently".
Revealing that she also took the idea for her inclusive imprint to HarperCollins and Penguin Random House, Lovegrove praised the leadership and vision of Little, Brown m.d. Charlie King and Hachette c.e.o. David Shelley. Shelley himself gave the opening keynote to the Futurebook conference.
“David is greatest champion of diversity in this industry", said Lovegrove. "HarperCollins and Penguin Random House didn’t see the vision when I took Dialogue to them. I’m proud to be at Hachette with such visionary publishing leaders.”
In an impassioned plea to close her address, Lovegrove said: “It’s so hard to be this person and to be this black woman in this industry. It's so hard to say 'please make space for us'. I’m not going to say 'please' anymore. Next year we’re just going to do it."
She added: "For me the best things are books and stories. I want an inclusive future that centres around brilliant stories and writers and inspires readers. Let's make books for everyone everywhere. Let's ensure that inclusivity in the workplace is the norm and not just a trend.”
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