‘There Are Tons of Brown Faces Missing’: Publishers Step Up Diversity Efforts

This summer, as people across the United States gathered to protest police brutality and racial injustice, Krishan Trotman, an executive editor at Hachette Books, approached the head of the company with a proposal.

Ms. Trotman was worried that the conversation about inequality in the literary world would fade away after the marches died down.

“I’ve worked in publishing for more than 15 years, and I’ve seen Black voices become a trend, and I’ve seen the trend die,” Ms. Trotman said. “We should not have to wait for a moment in the country like George Floyd to wake everybody up to the fact that there are tons of brown faces missing in the room.”

So she pitched a new publishing imprint called Legacy Lit, dedicated to social justice and focused on works by writers of color. Michael Pietsch, Hachette’s chief executive, said yes, and Legacy is now planning to release its first books in January 2022.

Publishing houses across the industry are making senior-level hires and structural changes to try to make their companies, and the books they acquire, more diverse — racially, ethnically and even geographically. While critics, including authors and publishing insiders, have accused publishers of paying lip service to these issues, the companies are increasingly making lasting changes to the way they do business, and in some cases they are already being driven by newly hired executives of color.

On Thursday, Simon & Schuster also took another step in that direction when it announced the hiring of a new vice president and executive editor: Aminda Marqués González, the executive editor of The Miami

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