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WHAT'S NEWPUBLISHING‘I’m sent endless celebrity books that are the literary equivalent of Turkey Twizzlers’MADAME LEXI'S CRYSTAL BALL BAME NON- FICTIONit seems publishers have woken upto the fact that monocultures are dullCAREERBORROWING FIGURES Public Lending Right is the amount authors are paid when one of their titles is borrowed from the library – currently 7.82p. The £6 million pot is shared between 22,202 authors, including 205 who receive the maximum of £6,600. Last year Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train added ‘most borrowed book’ to her collection of accolades. Her book was followed by the two most recent Lee Child novels, Personal and Make Me. Perennial fave James Patterson came in 10th with Truth or Die – but remains unchallenged as most borrowed author overall for the tenth year running, though Catherine Cookson pips him to theIlove the diversity of today’s London. But pushingopen the doors of London publishers is like travelling back to the 1950s. All the bright young gels seem to be called Sophie and their colleaguesare mainly white Oxbridge wÜnderkind. But publishersare slowly waking up to thefact that monocultures are not just dull places to work, theyare dull places to publish – soif you’re an unpublished Black, Asian, minority ethnic author, now’s the time to polish up your manuscripts.Hard on the heels of a clutch of new BAME novelists has come a flurry of big deals for booksof non-fiction – albeit mainly for US writers. In January, 4th Estate announced plans to publish Little Black Book: A Toolkit for Working Women by Otegha Uwagba, the founder of Women Who, which aims to connect and inspire creative working women. Nigerian-born Uwagba’s booktop if stats for the last 20 years are totted up. Children’s authors also featurein the topten, with Jeff Kinney’s Wimpy Kid titles taking all thetop spots. But David Walliams occupiesall fivetop slotsin audio- books.TURKEY TITLES David Walliams’ name has a tendency to elicit the gnashing of teeth amongst children’s authors. ‘Full- time fiction writers are struggling while famous people attract big advances and sizeable marketing budgets,’ writes our Children’s Novel Comp judge CharlotteEyre in the Bookseller this month.will appear this summer and was acquired through Emma Paterson at Rogers Coleridgeand White. According to 4th Estate Publishing Director Michelle Kane, the book willbe an ‘invaluable companionfor women starting up in the creative industries and beyond, as well as acting as a refresher for those currently in the workplace’. I shall read it avidly – even this old dog can learn new tricks.Talking of inspiration, Penguin Press has just acquired Emma Dabiri’s début A HistoryOf Hair through RCW’s Paterson – on the back of last year’sfierce debate about the cultural appropriation of Black hairstyles, especially dreadlocks, by white people. Dabiri will use hair as a lens through which to examine ‘challenging questions of race and identity which continue to haunt us into the 21st Century’.At the centre of much recent discussion about race has beenPublishers are especially keenon comedians and YouTubers– because of their performance skills and ready-made brand recognition. ‘It’s enraging,’ comments author and critic Amanda Craig. ‘As a reviewerI’m sent endless celebrity books that are the literary equivalent of Turkey Twizzlers.’SPHERES OF INFLUENCEThe annual roll-call of themost influential 100 people in publishing was announced in December and includes Society of Authors President Philip Pullman and three Pottermore people, including J K herself. CEO of indie publisher Oneworld Juliet Mabey – a guest at our Max Monday online event – is mentioned twice! Not enough to increase women’s presence to reach parity with men’s, however. There were only 38 women in the top 100 in 2016, down by three compared to the previous year.‘unconscious bias’, which is tackled by social psychologist Dr Jennifer Eberhardt in Biased: The New Science of Race and Inequality. Heinemann acquired the book from Caspian Dennis of Abner Stein. As well as revealinghow unconscious bias works, Eberhardt will provide some answers to how we should tackle it – the book is due out in 2018.But the title expected to make the biggest splash of the year is The Black Angels: The Untold Story of the Nurses Who Helped Cure Tuberculosis by New Yorker Maria Smilios. Championed by none other than Oprah Winfrey, it will be published in the UK by Virago in a deal brokered by Anna Carmichael at Abner Stein.The book is about the 300 Black nurses who helped prevent a public health crisis in New York. It really is a remarkable hidden history that, I am told, is delivered with power and verve. Another treat in store for 2018. I can hardly wait. ❐50 Mar/Apr/May 2017 mslexiaPHOTO: COVER OF DIARY OF A WIMPY KID BY JEFF KINNEY

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