Episode 42: Literary Agent DongWon Song on #PublishingPaidMe and Decolonization

DongWon Song speaks on reframing “diversity” and why #PublishingPaidMe shouldn’t discourage marginalized authors.

Each deal is a very individual thing. Every book that you sell, every opportunity that you have is specific to you, is specific to the agent, is specific to the editor… So don’t worry about the systemic thing when it comes to your work, but when it comes to pushing the industry forward, we need to think about it on that group level.

It’s been a wild couple of weeks in publishing. Fortunately, Dongwon Song was around to offer insights on systemic injustices, and how we as individual workers and writers can navigate them.

On this episode, we discuss…

  • How authors can find agents that align with their ethics and style;
  • How BIPOC, disabled, queer, and other marginalized authors can build support systems;
  • How these authors can identify allies who will advocate for them in an unjust industry (and not just when it’s convenient);
  • A better framework for discussing “diversity” in publishing;
  • The potential audiences that are ignored when you only acquire books for one demographic; and,
  • What DongWon, as an agent, is doing to better serve black authors.

It’s 2020 and a lot of institutions are being challenged. If you’re one of the ones challenging them, keep it up.

Guest Bio

DongWon Song is an agent at Howard Morhaim Literary Agency representing science fiction and fantasy for adults, young adult, and middle grade readers as well as select non-fiction. They were formerly an editor at Orbit, a product manager for an ebook startup, and have taught as an adjunct instructor in the publishing program at Portland State University.

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