MILWAUKEE, Wis. – It’s no secret that diversity within the publishing industry is lacking. About 75% of authors are white. But a major publisher turned to a voracious reader to shine a light on the work of black authors. She now helps organize and advocate for writers through social media.
Every Thursday morning, Cree Myles takes to Instagram Live to talk to writers about books.
“I’ve always been a reader and I don’t like the whole thing like kitsch, like, I’m the quiet alternative girl who reads. I’ve always loved to read. I’ve always had a book. So, that has always been like this, and I’m excited and want to talk about it,” Myles said.
For the past year, Myles has channeled his enthusiasm for reading into creating a dedicated space to celebrate black writers and the readers who love them.
“I read about four hours a day and talk about an author about once a week,” she said.
Myles had previously worked with publisher Penguin Random House on a read-a-thon, celebrating Toni Morrison. And thanks to that, she became the first editor and curator of their All Ways Black initiative.
“They came back, and it was like, ‘Hey, we’ve got this idea that we’d like if you could direct it.’ And I was like, ‘So, would I be a professional reader? Yes. Absolutely.’ That’s how I started,” Myles said.
The initiative came after Penguin Random House completed its own internal audit and found that 76% of books published between 2019 and 2021 were written by white authors.
As a book influencer, Myles is trying to help change that from within.
“If you want to have soul-searching in any space, of course you have to add more seats to the table and then listen once people are seated and tell you what needs to happen,” he said. she declared. “I spend time setting up reels and taking photos and taking photos of books and there’s this hashtag ‘influencers out there’ so like sometimes I’ll just be outside, holding a book above my head, taking a picture, and people are like, ‘What is she doing?’
They recently launched an All Ways Black product line.
Proceeds from this first broadcast will go to support Black Girls Who Write, a nonprofit celebrating authors within the black independent book community.
Like so many young readers, Myles says she was influenced by Reading Rainbow and LeVar Burton.
“I think about him all the time. We added the ‘Always Black Awards’ and gave him the Lifetime Achievement Award,” she said. “I just feel like what’s happening on social media is just the witness what he was doing.”
Today, Myles hopes to pass on the baton to inspire readers from all walks of life.
“My whole dream is for you to march and keep seeing us like ‘take this book, take this book. Take. At the top. This. Book.’ It will eventually be like, OK, you can take it.”