Sisters in Crime, an organization supporting female crime writers, has released "Report for Change," a study about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the mystery community.
Comparing Sisters in Crime membership data to U.S. census data, the report found that white, non-hispanic people make up 93% of the Sisters in Crime membership, compared to 62% of the U.S. population. The report, which surveyed 1,100 of the group's members, found that only 3% identify as African American, with another 1.5% identifying as Native American, 1.5% Asian, and 1% Hispanic or Latino.
“We recognized that writers of color, LGBT writers, and writers with disabilities face additional obstacles to getting published and finding readers that had not been fully explored,” Sisters in Crime president Leslie Budewitz said in a statement. “Our goal with this report is to provide data, experience, and recommendations that everyone in the crime fiction community can use to deepen our understanding and expand opportunities.”
The report also found that the rise of e-books and self-publishing has seen writers of color flocking in that direction to avoid gatekeepers in the publishing industry proper. While only 21% of Sisters in Crime members who completed the survey reported having self-published their last book, 63% of writers of color in the organization went with that option. 50% of LGBTQ authors surveyed also reported self-publishing, compared to the 10% that reported publishing through one of the Big Five.
“As difficult as it is for white authors, it's tougher for people of color,” one Sisters in Crime member who completed the survey noted. “The mainstream publishing world is very white and privileged and disconnected from the reading audience. Editors have trouble imagining an audience that isn't like them.”