Gillian Philip at the Forth Valley Feminist 2023 Woman’s Festival.

Gillian Philip is a former author turned truck driver and writer who has experienced first-hand the difficulties of speaking out in the publishing industry, going from being a successful children’s writer to being cancelled and fired in a matter of days. Gillian spoke about TERFing in the publishing industry at the Forth Valley Feminist 2023 Woman’s Festival.

After a decade of working in publishing and being highly opinionated on a number of contentious political topics on Twitter without incident, she found herself at the centre of a controversy when she tweeted in support of JK Rowling in 2020. As a result, she was fired from her publishing job after a severe tweet storm, highlighting the fear that publishing companies have of mobs and the power they hold in dictating what is acceptable.

The publishing industry has a problem with women, particularly when it comes to the issue of trans rights. Publishers are afraid of facing backlash from teen TRAs, furries, and other social media mobs. They take their orders from sites like GoodReads and Twitter, and it is these mobs who now decide what books and authors are worthy of being published.

Bookbloggers, once a source of inexpensive PR for publishers, now believe they have the power to decide who should and should not be published as an author. They hold immense influence over the industry, and publishers have caved to their demands. This has created an environment where writers must conform to certain ideologies to be published, and those who hold GC views are at a disadvantage. In the past, if an author wrote something that was deemed nonsensical or offensive, editors would provide feedback and suggest changes. Now, sensitivity readers comb books for offensive material, and if the author does not agree with their findings, the book will be pulled.

Rachael Rooney wrote a children’s book titled “My Body is Me,” which was a beautifully illustrated and diverse book filled with rhymes about the importance of self-acceptance. Despite its positive message, Rachael was forced to leave the publishing industry due to a clique of children’s authors and the abusive treatment she received from them. When Rachel turned to the Society of Authors for support, they refused to get involved in what they described as a “private dispute”, despite one of their main principles being freedom of speech. When Gillian pointed this out, they blocked her on Twitter.

However, despite these difficulties, Gillian believes that people are waking up and becoming more aware of these issues. There is a growing community of authors who are not afraid to speak out, and she believes that they will eventually win the fight for freedom of speech and expression in the publishing industry.

Gillian’s experience highlights the challenges faced by authors who dare to speak out on controversial issues in the publishing industry. The industry is controlled by social media mobs and bookbloggers, who have a significant impact on what is considered acceptable and what is not. While the situation is difficult, Gillian believes that change is on the horizon, and that the tide is slowly turning in favour of freedom of speech and expression.

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