Publishers are celebrating Pride Month this June with a myriad of creative initiatives, including partnering with educational charities and collaborating with bookshops.
Indie publishers have stepped up to curate sell sheets for booksellers, with a focus on promoting frontlist titles by LGBTQ+ authors, while bigger houses have pledged their support via social media campaigns.
The arrival of Pride Month has coincided with an upsurge in LGBTQ+ literature sales, with London indie bookshop Gay’s the Word reporting busy trading. Indie publisher Icon has reported good sales of Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker and Jules Scheele, and published a second book from the duo, Sexuality: A Graphic Guide, in February. The press is also preparing to highlight Pride in London.
Icon senior marketing executive Hamza Jahanzeb said, “We’re arranging promotions with leading sex educator Topher Taylor who appears regularly on Channel 4 and Channel 5, and we’re looking ahead to Pride in London which will take place in September – we’ll be looking to arrange promotions with the leading LGBTQ+ bookstores in the capital.”
Pan Mac imprint Picador has partnered with akt, the national youth homelessness charity which provides safe homes and better futures to LGBTQ+ young people, and began by taking part in its Pride celebrations last week. The publisher has hosted a virtual event featuring Andrea Lawlor, Julia Armfield, Emma Donoghue and Kiran Millwood Hargrave giving practical tips to young people for turning writing into a career, and talking about what their queer identity means to them as artists. The partnership will also be covered on the June episode of the "Literary Friction" podcast.
Hachette Pride, the publisher's LGBTQIA+ employee network, is partnering with imprints across the company to host a month-long digital celebration of gay, bisexual and trans authors and their stories from around the world. Meanwhile, Oneworld has prepared a Pride orientated sell sheet for indie and chain booksellers, showcasing its most prominent LGBTQIA+ titles. This includes Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings, Will Dean’s Tuva Moodyson thriller series, along with Nicole Dennis-Benn’s Here Comes the Sun and her most recent title, Patsy.
Juliet Mabey, co-founder and publisher, said: “We have several YA titles on this list with the gender-bending, feminist, futuristic Arthurian novel Sword in the Stars and its sequel by Amy Rose Capetta and Rori McCarthy, and the hugely exciting Chinese-set Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao, out in October but with proofs causing a huge stir right now. We are setting up e-book promotions for all the titles on our Pride sell sheet, and are both highlighting them on our website and will be launching an LGBTQIA+ series of tweets throughout the month focusing on each title in turn.”
In children's publishing, Nosy Crow has transformed its logo across its social media accounts and webpage, replacing the dark grey of the crow’s body with the rainbow colours of the Pride flag. It said: “Several of our Nosy Crow colleagues are part of the LGBTQ+ community, and several of our authors and illustrators are too. Creating a rainbow crow is a small way of showing our recognition of and support for them all, for the printers, distributors, publishers outside the UK, retail workers, librarians, teachers and children’s carers who buy and who help us make and distribute our books and who are part of the LGBTQ+ community, and for the LGBTQ+ community in general.
“We are a children’s publisher, and not many of our books directly address the joys and challenges of an LGBTQ+ identity, but we are proud to publish some books that include explicitly LGBTQ+ characters.”
Profile is celebrating the month with a pop-up stall in collaboration with Hackney indie bookshop Burley Fisher. Alongside other publishers, it has invited some of it’s frontlist LGBTQ+ authors to curate their favourite Pride reads for the stall. American author and Folio Prize-winner Carmen Maria Machado will also be doing an online event hosted by the bookshop later this month.
The publisher also plans to ramp up its social media and trade campaigns, highlighting titles published by imprint Serpent’s Tail. These include Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters, In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado, City of Night by John Rechy and Man Enough to Be a Woman by Jayne County, a new updated edition of the trans star’s memoir. It will also preview upcoming titles such as To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life by Herve Guibert, out in July, a new edition of fictionalised memoir of gay life in 1980s Paris by Foucault’s lover, and All of You Every Single One by Beatrice Hitchman, the second novel by Polari-nominated author of Petite Mort about queer families and belonging throughout 20th century history.
On the high street, Waterstones has commissioned a series of blogs authored by LGBTQIA+ writers, including Jack Guiness, Mark Gevisser, children’s author Benjamin Dean and author and drag queen Amrou Al-Kadhi. Additional displays promoting LGBTQ+ titles will also feature in store, along with increased promotion across its social media platforms.
Penguin Random House said it will be celebrating “ a strong season of queer writing”, including We Can Do Better Than This, an anthology of essays on the future of LGBTQ+ rights, featuring contributions by Beth Ditto, Lady Phyll, Riyadh Khalaf, Olly Alexander, Owen Jones and more. Upcoming titles publishing this summer include a coming-of-age novel from Paris Lees, a “pivotal” examination of transgender rights in Britain from Shon Faye, and a YA novel from George M Johnson exploring the duality of growing up Black and gay. Autumn sees books from "Drag Race UK" winner Lawrence Chaney and the show’s breakout star Bimini Bon Boulash, also published by PRH. Its staff monthly book club will include a Pride celebratory reading list, and the press has has plans for further activities that are yet to be confirmed.
At Oxford University Press Children's, Pride Month coincides with the publication of The Pirate Mums by Jodie Lancet-Grant, illustrated by Lydia Corry, a “swashbuckling LGBTQ+ adventure celebrating the importance of all different types of families”. The press has produced classroom packs to accompany the story, in partnership with the charity Just Like Us, to help teachers to facilitate discussions about different types of family, the LGBTQ+ community and the importance of Pride.
OUP will be also be hosting an internal in conversation event with Jodie Lancet-Grant event about the importance of LGBTQ+ diversity and inclusion in children’s books, and is teaming up with American drag queen Shelita Bonet Hoyle for a reading of the book.