I consider myself incredibly lucky to work at a publishing house like the Feminist Press, a nonprofit founded in 1970 to advance feminist voices from around the world. Everything we do is based on our mission, including our acquisitions, and so I don’t have to justify my editorial choices based on the bottom line. Instead, I think about how a book fits into our mission to create a world where everyone sees themselves in a book, and I discuss the project with the whole team. Over the years, I’ve taken on many authors who experienced their fair share of rejection and unsolicited advice. I’ve worked with authors who were told their manuscript would be more marketable if the queer characters were written straight, if women characters were written male. I’ve worked with authors who were told their stories were “too sad” to sell. Perhaps you, too, have received similarly infuriating feedback or requests to change your vision. To this, I say, Resist. Resist and persevere. Your story deserves to be told, needs to be told, in whatever form you want it to take. So my advice is to not make compromises on your vision, especially those based on the subjective gatekeeping practices of an overwhelmingly white, cis, het, and abled industry. Instead, find the writing community, publishers, and agents who support your values, vision, and voice. Find the folks who have championed your favorite books and writers and get in touch with them. It might take time, it will inevitably be frustrating, but it will be worth it.
—Lauren Rosemary Hook, senior editor, Feminist Press