Why did you start a publishing company?
I get asked this question often. The short answer is writing a children’s book was not enough. When it comes to representation, we often talk about what’s in the book— who is in the book and how are they portrayed. And while this is important, we almost never talk about the decision makers, the publishers, who get to determine what content gets published in the first place.
When I first started Gloo Books, it became clear to me that publishing-- in particular big publishing-- is a really traditional industry. Things have been done a certain way for decades. For many publishers, that formula has worked and made management, executives and owners a lot of money. A lot of your favorite children’s book imprints are probably owned by only 5 major publishers that control about 80% of the trade book market. You’d think with all the resources big publishers have, there’d be more innovation, but the reverse actually tends to happens. With more consolidation, there’s less competition, which means less diversity of thought. More of those resources go to guaranteed blockbusters and less toward risker imprints or titles. And of course, those who decide what gets published and what doesn’t are using their calculus based on what they believe is marketable and thus profitable (which is largely informed by how things have always been done). And those gatekeepers remain predominately white, cis gender and straight.
So, for me, if I wanted to in any way shape how children see themselves and the world around them, writing one book wasn’t enough. I didn't want to ask for a seat at the table. I wanted to create my own table.