Let’s Talk Bookish: Gatekeeping

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme that was originally created and hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books starting in August 2019, and was then cohosted with Dani @ Literary Lion from May 2020 to March 2022. Book Nook Bits has hosted since April 2022.

November 18th: Gatekpeeing in the Book Community
(Nicole @ Thoughts Stained With Ink)

Prompts: Are there times where you have noticed gatekeeping in the book blogging community? What about in the publishing industry as a whole? What does this gatekeeping look like? How can we combat this?

I think possibly when I first started – it felt really hard finding new bloggers, and from the outside it really looks like people have their own circles/groups. Which naturally happens within almost any community. But on the whole, once I started putting myself out there a bit more, things did open up! Bloggers are very helpful too – it really does feel like once you make an effort, there are so many folks out there more than happy to give you a boost.

Not that I don’t think there’s any gatekeeping, but if there is I don’t tend to see it. A lot of bloggers will also put out posts with tips and advice to help new bloggers, allowing others to easily research topics that concern them, and a lot of people who run larger blogs seem often willing to answer questions that come their way.

With publishing as a whole – yes, there absolutely is gatekeeping. A lot of it is necessary – agents and publishers themselves act as gatekeepers, vetting the work that comes their way and making decisions based largely on saleability. But there are other routes for writers nowadays – self-publishing is a way someone can skip the gatekeepers, and self-publishing has become an industry in itself. Unfortunately, there are too many instances of agents and publishers using their positions to gatekeep margenalised writers, often with the argument they already “have a book like that”, when the only thing the books have in common are MCs that happen to be margenalised themselves.

As book bloggers, we do have some power to combat this. We can support books by margenalised authors, and help spread the word about them. We can listen when LGBTQIA+, Black, Indigenous, disabled etc readers point out harmful books, and we should strive to read blogs by different people, not ones all written by, say, white bloggers etc.

Basically, read diversely. Read books by Big 5 publishers, yes, but try and find books published by indie publishers and authors, too. There are absolute gems out there, and it’s always worth having a look around for lesser known books. There’s a wonderful feeling when you’re able to champion books that may have been overlooked for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with the book itself! We can also combat it by being open and helpful – where we can and to a point – and encouraging those who are new in the industry or new to book blogging, passing on our tips and what we’ve learnt along the way, whether we have 100 followers or 5K!


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