Dear Publishers: An Open Letter to Book Publishers in 2018

Dear Publishers,

Please do have a seat. Would you like a glass of water? A cup of tea? I have orange pekoe! No? Okay then. Well, get comfy in that ripped vinyl seat because I have some things to say to you.

As the cartoon villains in this current White House flee their roles (like cockroaches when the lights come on), I know it’s going to be very tempting to offer them book deals. You see those dollar signs dance in front of your eyes like that weird little baby in Ally McBeal. You can think of nothing but those sweet, sweet preorders and the possibility of outselling Our Once and Future Queen, Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama. It’s understandable to want to get a little of the action that these public figures are bound to see when they start to dish the dirty deets of their time bowing to a racist. You want your publishing house mentioned in articles where Buzzfeed excitedly talks about swear-laden insults from the White House Chief of Staff. You hope to be lucky enough to be mentioned in the same breath as tales of casual racism spoken in the halls of the West Wing.

However, I’d like to advise you strongly against giving into this greedy urge. The main reason…these people are, brick by brick, dismantling our democracy. Therefore, why the hell would you pay them real American dollars that could go to an unknown author of color or a promising LGBTQ+ writer? Why would you reward them for attempting to destroy something that took us 242 years to build?

For each of these individuals you give a book deal, another one is just sitting in the Oval Office, biding their time…knowing they can help push along racist, xenophobic policies and lie to the faces of the American public and STILL look forward to a six-figure book deal. I ask you, does Betsy DeVos really need a fifth yacht?! At the cost of the education of our children? I don’t know about you, but I want my child to know that it doesn’t require a photo ID to purchase Lucky Charms. Yes, I know it’s rather presumptuous to expect more out of my 5-year-old than I do the 72-year-old who holds the nuclear codes. What can I say…guilty coastal elite over here. You caught me!

These people did not simply “do their job.” If I applied, interviewed for, and got a job and, on my first day, I was handed a pair of steel-toed boots and an adorable Labradoodle puppy, you better believe I’d be turning in my security badge pronto. A job in the White House isn’t mandatory, and if you’re willing to promote racism and foment hate in an effort to be able to feel important…you don’t deserve an Amazon Author Page. And let’s not forget another time in world history when a collection of people doing heinous things argued that they were “just following orders.” In 1962, Holocaust organizer Adolph Eichmann argued that he and other low-level SS officers were “forced to serve as mere instruments” to a genocide-loving Hitler. How eager would you be to send Eichmann on a 10-state book tour?

Time will tell just how detrimental this administration has been to the very fabric of our country. We see it already. Reality no longer has any place in our nation (thanks, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Sean Spicer). Once proud generals continue to prostrate themselves at the feet of a dollar store dictator (looking at you, Kelly and Mattis). Do we really need to finance their nonsense too?

We still see publishers hesitate to sign on another female author of color if they’ve already supported one that year. We still see publishers sign cis authors over those who are transgender. We still see a surfeit of books about straight white bros thinking thoughts while walking around Brooklyn. So while you’ve done commendable work to make your stable of authors more diverse in the recent past, there’s still work to be done. Therefore, it’s simply bad optics to keep a book by a black lesbian off the shelves because you felt it was vitally important that we all hear the (I’m sure riveting) inner thoughts of Kellyanne Conway. And when you do this, don’t think readers don’t see your whole ass. We’ve clocked your publishing house and it’s not going to be pretty for your bottom line.

In conclusion, DON’T.YOU.FUCKING.DARE. Now get the hell out of my office!

With my humblest gratitude,
A Reader Who Pays Attention

Elizabeth Allen: Lifelong book lover, Elizabeth Allen managed to get a degree in something completely unrelated that she never intends to use. She’s a proud Connecticut native who lives in a picturesque small town with her black olive-obsessed toddler daughter, her prom date-turned-husband, and her two dim-witted cats Penny Lane and Gretchen Wieners. She spends her days trying to find a way to be paid to read while drinking copious amounts of coffee, watching episodes of Gilmore girls until the DVDs fail, waiting for her husband to feed her, and being obnoxiously vain about her hair. Elizabeth’s work can be found at www.blackwhitereadbooks.com, where she is currently reading and reviewing all of the books referenced in Gilmore girls. She is also the cohost of two podcasts discussing the work of Amy Sherman-Palladino (“Under the Floorboards” and “Stumbling Ballerinas”). Basically, her entire goal in life is to be a bookish Lorelai Gilmore. She clearly dreams big. Twitter: @BWRBooks