Although readers and writers have been waiting three years to celebrate the Year of Publishing Women, this equality-driven initiative has failed to take root in the major book world. The Big 5 may be ignoring the challenge, but one independent publisher in Oregon, Not a Pipe Publishing, is only selling books by women in 2018, proving yet again that small businesses make the world a better place.
In 2015, British Pakistani author Kamila Shamsie wrote an op-ed in The Guardian that confronted the gender bias in the book world head-on by challenging publishing houses to declare 2018 as the Year of Publishing Women. In her passionate piece, the Home Fire author proposed an entire year in which no new titles by men would be released. Rather, women authors, who are often overlooked in favor of their male counterparts, would have 12 months dedicated to publishing their voices, their stories, and their work. Her radical idea was almost immediately met by overwhelming support from authors and readers, men and women alike. Unfortunately, not many publishing houses have risen to the occasion.
But Oregon-based independent publisher Not a Pipe Publishing is up to the challenge. Founded in 2013 and co-owned by spouses Benjamin and Paige Gorman, Not a Pipe decided to only publish books by female and female-identifying authors this year. Their list of nine titles, which includes epic fantasies, sci-fi adventures, and superhero stories, is enough to make any feminist, myself included, squeal with joy.
"Publishers, reviewers and prize committees are not intentionally shutting women out, but the financial incentives support male authors," Benjamin Gorman told The Oregonian. "Who would be foolish enough to buck that system? I am."
Not afraid of a challenge and proud to be stepping up to the plate to support women, the Gormans insist the Year of Publishing Women is in line with their existing values. In fact, they actually credit it with helping them "find some incredibly talented authors who wouldn't have noticed us otherwise."
Mikko Azul's fantasy The Staff of Fire and Bone, which was released earlier this month, is first of nine women-authored titles Note a Pipe is publishing in 2018. It is a thrilling story of a privileged young man, Cédron, who is forced to leave his life as the Regent's son behind when demons and deities alike begin to hunt him down in order to control his growing powers. Caught between his life as a man and his heritage as a demon, Cédron must decide to become a hero, or give into his darkness.
Other titles to look forward to include Survivor's Club, a science fiction adventure from debut author M.K. Martin; Shadow Girl, a YA fantasy inspired by Irish folklore by Kate Ristau (you can read a sample here); and Greener, a sci-fi dystopia for young readers by Heather S. Ransom. A seventh-grade life and science teacher, Ransom's new novel — the second in a dystopian series — was actually inspired by her students.
The Gormans are proud to be participating in Shamsie's initiative, but the publisher's weren't the only ones willing to meet the challenge. Two male authors — Kurt Clopton and Jason Brick — agreed to have the publication of their books postponed in order to support the Year of Publishing Women.
If you live in the area, you can help Not a Pipe kick off their year of publishing women on Saturday, Feb. 24 at TaborSpace in Portland. From 2-3:30, their phenomenal group of female and female-identifying writers will host readings, sign books, craft love letters, and celebrate the amazing contributions of women.