There’s a #PublishingPaidMe hashtag out there to expose how much less writers of colour get paid than their white counterparts. It’s probably all going to be shockingly depressing for anyone getting into the racket, but you should go in with eyes wide open. (I have published nine books since 2000, eight of poetry and aphorisms and one for children, and the advances go like this: $0, $750, $750, $300, $350, $350, $350, $350 for the poetry and aphorisms, and $500 for the kids book. So, just give that a long mull over before you decide you’re going to go make it big in the poetry world.) It’s really hard to stomach how little Roxane Gay got for some of those books, which are everywhere in our house. And NK Jemisin, who is a new favourite of mine. WTF?
As a means of exposing the book-advance imbalance of white and black authors, urban fantasy novelist L.L. McKinney created the #PublishingPaidMe hashtag on June 6, which aims to hold publishing houses accountable for why black authors typically don’t receive the same advances as their white peers. “Come on, white authors. Use the hashtag and share what you got for your books,” McKinney wrote. “Debuts as well. Let’s go.” She added that the movement is meant to highlight “the disparity between what’s paid to non-Black authors vs. Black authors. Not PoC. There’s a reason for that, especially in the context of this moment.” Since the hashtag was first tweeted, hundreds of authors have been encouraged by McKinney’s movement and shared their salaries, who range from big names such as Roxane Gay and Matt Haig to smaller indie scribes. Several authors were also inspired enough to share the complete history of their advances.