Letter from BookThug Publisher Jay MillAr | Book*hug Press

Letter from BookThug Publisher Jay MillAr

Hello Amazing Readers!

We wanted to take a moment to let you know about some changes that are taking place at BookThug. These are mostly in response to the current social climate that we find ourselves in, one that brings to light certain issues around a perceived norm that we feel must be addressed. BookThug was built around the belief that books should get people talking, and we wanted to build a publishing house that was willing to take chances and push boundaries (to be nerdy and/or badass). From the time of our first publication run in 2004 through to this, our twelfth year, we’ve been confident in our ability to deliver on our mission to create a diverse book list. And yet, despite all of the innovative and wide-ranging books that we’ve published over the years, we’ve come to realize that we can do better. We stand by the belief that no BookThug book walks in the middle of any road, but even though we’ve worked with writers over the years who are “not straight” or who are “not white” or who are “not male,” a definition of diversity that addresses only notions of style ultimately fails to take into account much of what the word truly means.

For the past few months, we have been thinking and talking a lot about diversity and the imagined normal. We have decided to learn more, and to read about colonialism, patriarchy, racism, feminism, capitalism, and the environment. We have adjusted our own reading practices to include more work by writers working outside the framework that we understand, which we openly admit we learned through institutions that are predominantly white and predominantly male. These topics have generated lots of conversations with lots of people: each other, our families, other writers and artists, people across the country, and people beyond our borders. As we continue to listen to those voices whose experiences differ from our own, this ever expanding conversation has changed the way we see the world. We’ve taken great pleasure in what we’ve managed to learn, namely that the notion of diversity goes far beyond simply evoking a variety of styles.

In response to all of this, we recently re-jigged our submission guidelines to not only continue to encourage women and members of the LGBTQ community to submit work, but also to encourage Indigenous Writers, Writers of Colour, and Writers with Disabilities to share their writing with BookThug.

It is impossible for these changes to happen overnight. Based on the nature of timelines in the publishing world, the forthcoming catalogue for Fall 2016 will remain more in line with earlier definitions, as we signed contracts for many of our upcoming books a long time ago. However, change is coming. We are still at the beginning of what we imagine to be the new face of BookThug, and it may be some time before even we come face to face with what that is. In the meantime, rest assured that we have some fabulous books coming your way for the fall season, and we’re proud to represent the outstanding writers from our current season as well. We’ll continue to work to further diversify our publishing program, and to question imagined norms. We’ll use whatever privilege we have in this world to do so in as great a capacity as we can.

Sincerely,

Jay MillAr and Hazel Millar

(BookThugs for life)

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