Irish independent publisher Tramp Press has said it will reject submissions from “overtly sexist” writers who refer to the publishers as “dear sirs” or declare they do not read books by women.
Announcing it decision on Twitter earlier this week, the press, which is run by Lisa Coen and Sarah Davis-Goff, said it experiences sexism in "lots of ways all the time, being dreaded women". The publishers highlighted one "really annoying" way they experience sexism as when authors send manuscripts and address them as "dear sirs" and/or declare they do not read books by women in their cover letter.
In response, the founders have decided to make "a small but important change" to their criteria for submission. "If you do either of those things, we will decline to read your manuscript", they said.
The pair continued: “This is a big deal for us – we've always kept the 'slush pile' open lest we let any truly exciting piece of work pass us by because of rules. It turns out that while overtly sexist authors send us a lot of work (a lot), they have never sent us anything we've wanted to publish. Not in over four years at Tramp, nor in our past publishing lives. But more importantly, people have to stop thinking there are no consequences to being sexist.”
The submission guidelines on the press’ website now reflects this change, saying: “If you address us as ‘Dear Sirs’, or list only male influences, we will decline to consider your work.”
The guidelines also refers writers to Man Booker Prize winner Anne Enright’s recent article in the London Review of Books about sexism in publishing.
According to Davis-Goff, since making the change, the press has had "zero people calling [them] Sir, lots of cool literary influences of both genders and more subs from women".
Davis-Goff told The Guardian, that the people who address her and Coen as “dear sir” “haven’t stopped to look with a critical eye”. She added: “And words are so important – writers should know that better than anyone. If we could just get them to stop for a second, and consider why they might do this, that would be great.”