Penguin Michael Joseph is to launch an award for underrepresented commercial writers, especially those working in crime and thriller.
Doctor Louise Moore revealed the plans during a chat with journalist Sarah Shaffi at the London Book Fair yesterday, explaining why the industry fails to recognize the merits and importance of commercial fiction better. Moore said PMJ is “working passionately” on democratizing its commercial fiction and the award would focus on “all kinds of writers who we believe aren’t as included as they should be.” The publisher hopes to partner with an agency.
“It’s a question that agents are asking and publishing teams are asking how we find more business writers of color and wondering why we haven’t seen more of them,” Moore suggested, it may be linked to the “cultural cringe and need for acceptance and permission” created by the industry, which says “you can only be worthy and listened to if you are in the literary arena”.
She said the divide between commercial and literary “must stop”. “We need to get rid of the commercial versus the literary once and for all and start thinking about what the reader calls it.” She argued that books labeled commercial are often ignored by reviewers and booksellers, meaning they are “not talked about as much as they should” when they “bring billions to the industry.” “.
She cited the example of Marian Keyes, who despite working since 1997, received only her first book review in the Times and Sunday time this year, and said the industry needs to “lean in and vocally embrace commercial fiction”.
“It’s interesting, as adults we have a choice of what we watch and what we listen to. […] but somehow there is always this stigma attached to what you read,” she said. “We have a role to play as publishers, it’s around the packaging and the terminology we use, the way we talk to the media”.
Sally Rooney, for example, “has literary credibility”, in part published by Faber, she said, although her writing is similar to that of Helen Fielding. Bridget Jones. “You can sell a lot of books, whether you’re commercial or literary, they’re all commercial by definition commercial, and sell a lot of copies.”
She praised Richard and Judy for creating a space to recommend commercial fiction to readers, but said it was a ‘shame’ that this year’s longlist for the Women’s Prize ‘is all about literary fiction. “.