It’s the Economy
Contributed by Nikki Garcia, Assistant Editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
As someone who’s been lucky enough to be an editor for over two years, I’m interested in highlighting and advocating for all kinds of diversity. By now, we’re all familiar with the different types of diversity: race and ethnicity, sexuality and gender, ability, and religion—but one that doesn’t seem to be spoken about as much is socioeconomic diversity. This is the one I have felt deeply over the years. Money plays an important role in all of our lives—whether it’s the school we attended and the amount of financial aid we received, or access to job opportunities, our identities have all been shaped by finances from an early age. I often felt like I had to figure it out for myself—and figure it out for my family too. So when we talk about diversity of authors, their characters, and their stories—and the publishing professionals who turn these stories into books—economics are and always will be a factor.
This is something I’ve experienced firsthand. Growing up in New York City, one of the most expensive cities in the world, money was a constant worry. Even when I was too young to really understand how money worked, I still held my breath until this magical day arrived… payday. I knew money was something my parents stressed about. I could feel it in the air. But it wasn’t until I was much older that I truly understood that many of my hardships came from a socioeconomic level. My family didn’t have an understanding of the best ways to handle money, and this lack of knowledge was passed down, generation by generation.
My parents also assumed I was being given all of the information I needed from my high school guidance counselor regarding affordable colleges and how to apply for financial aid for school. But because the school was extremely overcrowded, I never received this information. This led to attending colleges I couldn’t really afford and racking up a student loan debt I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. So much information was missing, and I wasn’t taught to go look for it because… well, that was just not something we did.
These hiccups along the way to working in publishing made it so much harder to get to this moment in my career. This makes me question whether many people in publishing have had similar experiences. I wonder about the aspiring authors who can’t afford writing classes, or the promising future editors, publicists, and others who can’t afford to spend a summer in New York City to take on an internship. And what about all of those smart and diverse individuals who don’t even know that publishing exists as a viable career option? What can we do to help bring more socioeconomic diversity into the world of publishing?
I’m so happy to see organizations like We Need Diverse Books begin to tackle this problem. Their scholarship program is only the first step in adding more diversity. So I’m posing this question: How do we reach the high school and college students that are figuring all of this out on their own? How do we help the ones who don’t have the means or the information to help themselves? All suggestions are welcome.
Nikki Garcia is an assistant editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers where she works on books for all ages. During her time at LBYR, she has had the honor of working with authors such as Peter Brown, Wendy Mass, Matthew Quick, and Monica Brown. Born and raised right here in New York City, Nikki graduated from St. John’s University, and thankfully didn’t have to travel very far to make her dreams come true.