Diversity in Publishing Isn’t Hurting Privileged Writers

It just isn’t.

Gina Denny
7 min readJun 14, 2022


This piece has been sitting in my drafts for a while as I try to get my thoughts perfectly clear.

Then James Patterson said some bullshit to USA Today, and, well… here we are.

If you belong to a marginalized group — whether you a person of color, LGBTQ+, a religious or ethnic minority, disabled, some combination of those, or some other marginalization altogether — and you are trying to be published traditionally, you have likely heard some version of the following:

Oh, you’re so lucky! Diversity is so hot right now!
Well, it’s easier for you, since so many agents/editors are looking for people like you right now
I wish I could write <insert your lived experience> books, but apparently that’s “appropriation”. It’s not fair.
It’s so much harder for white writers right now.

Or, as James Patterson said,

“Can [I] get a job? Yes. Is it harder? Yes. It’s even harder for older writers. You don’t meet many 52-year-old white males. [It’s] just another form of racism.”

I will wait while you go punch a wall and collect yourself.

It’s Not Racism

Racism is racially-based discrimination with the power of infrastructure and systems supporting it. Racism can only come from the top down, the word only applies to white institutions and systems oppressing people of color.

People of color can engage in racially-based discrimination and white people can experience racially-based discrimination. Fact. But that’s not racism. It’s an uncomfortable situation and it might even be wrong or harmful, but it does not have the power of world governments and mega-corporations behind it.

James Patterson has never and will never be a victim of institutionalized or systemic racism.

It’s Not Harder

The day this quote was published, June 13, 2022, the USA Today Bestseller List (the paper in which he was quoted!) was topped by . . . John Grisham. A 67-year-old white man.

Also on the list:

Ed Mylett (51-year-old white man)
Dr. Seuss (dead white man, would be 118)
James Clear (36-year-old white man)
David Sedaris (65-year-old white man)
Dav Pilkey (56-year-old…



Gina Denny

Author, editor, publishing professional. I help you make your writing better.