Little, Brown and Company shared a quarantine house tweet Monday morning to its almost half a million followers, but it was quickly met with criticism after sharing six houses with all white authors. After most of the responders asked the publisher to delete the offensive tweet, the publisher later did just that and apologized for its oversight. But this incident added fire to the continuous discussion on diversity and inclusion in the publishing industry.
The quarantine house tweet trend has taken over the social media network with users grouping well-known people in a particular industry in so-called houses and asking their followers to pick a number, a house they would want to be quarantined in. The trend is supposed to be a viral uplifter amid the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic where most people are staying home in quarantine. But the fun feel of this tweet backfired.
A few authors and other tweeters quickly noticed that none of the houses featured authors of color. The publisher responded that it purposely highlighted its roster of authors, which isn’t diverse.
Some responders mentioned that the Hachette Book Group imprint is associated with authors of color such as: Attica Locke, who is currently a writer on the Hulu series Little Fires Everywhere promoting her recent book Heaven, My Home; Walter Mosley, who won the Los Angeles Times Robert Kirsch Award Monday; Malcolm Gladwell, the well-known intellectual with a recent book called Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know; and Marie Kondo, whose new book Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life came out last week. Walter and Marie later were promoted on the publisher’s timeline along with press articles about their work.
Dawnn Karen, the author of Dress Your Best Life: How to Use Fashion Psychology to Take Your Look—and Your Life—to the Next Level, and Leslie Gray Streeter, the author of Black Widow: A Sad-Funny Journey Through Grief for People Who Normally Avoid Books with Words Like “Journey” in the Title, are two black women authors with upcoming books within the imprint. A promotional tweet for Leslie’s book was shared by Little, Brown and Co. and another one was retweeted, so the social media promotion for authors of color ramped up after the quarantine house tweet was taken down.
Little, Brown and Co.’s admission that its author roster was not diverse should force the publisher to take diversity more seriously like Flatiron Books promised to do after the backlash around Jeanine Cummins’ best-selling novel American Dirt. The diversity issue in publishing also coincides with #DVpit Twitter pitch party for marginalized authors looking for literary agent representation next week on April 22 and April 23.