BuzzFeed News reports that noted author and feminist Roxane Gay has pulled her upcoming book from Simon & Schuster in response to the six-figure deal the publisher offered Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos. Gay told BuzzFeed News that she couldn’t “in good conscience” move forward with publishing How To Be Heard through S&S imprint TED Books, not when Yiannopoulos is being given a significant platform for his hateful alt-right preaching via S&S’s Threshold Editions.
Yiannopoulos landed the $250,000 deal with Simon & Schuster in the wake of being booted from Twitter for instigating the online harassment of Leslie Jones, whose website was also hacked. Jones, of course, criticized Simon & Schuster for the decision, and she wasn’t alone. Now the actress-comedian has been joined by Gay, author of such acclaimed works as Bad Feminist and An Untamed State. Gay tweeted that she’s putting her money where her mouth is, while also acknowledging that not everyone can afford to make this kind of decision.
Gay remained noncommittal about placing the book elsewhere, but even if it’s never published, she’s still accomplished her titular goal of How To Be Heard.
Here’s Gay’s full statement to BuzzFeed News:
When the announcement about Milo’s book first came out, I was relieved because I thought I didn’t have a book with Simon & Schuster and tweeted something to that effect. Then I remembered my TED Book and that TED is an imprint of Simon & Schuster. I was supposed to turn the book in this month and I kept thinking about how egregious it is to give someone like Milo a platform for his blunt, inelegant hate and provocation. I just couldn’t bring myself to turn the book in. My editor emailed me last week and I kept staring at that email in my inbox and finally over the weekend I asked my agent to pull the book.
Though TED Books and Threshold are vastly different imprints, they both reside within Simon & Schuster and so I guess I’m putting my money where my mouth is. And to be clear, this isn’t about censorship. Milo has every right to say what he wants to say, however distasteful I and many others find it to be. He doesn’t have a right to have a book published by a major publisher but he has, in some bizarre twist of fate, been afforded that privilege. So be it. I’m not interested in doing business with a publisher willing to grant him that privilege. I am also fortunate enough to be in a position to make this decision. I recognize that other writers aren’t and understand that completely.
The editor of TED Books is Michelle Quint. I don’t think Michelle is an employee of Simon & Schuster. She works for TED. She is, from my experience thus far, smart, kind, patient, and committed to putting good books into the world.