Roxane Gay Pulls Her Book from Simon & Schuster’s Lineup Because of Milo Yiannopoulous’ Book Deal

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Like most of us, Roxane Gay didn’t approve of Simon & Schuster offering a lucrative book deal to internet hatemonger Milo Yiannopoulous. Unlike us, she was in a position to actually do something about it that would catch the attention of the folks at Simon & Schuster, and so, she did.

When the publisher announced Yiannopoulous had been awarded a $250,000 book deal, Roxane Gay didn’t even remember that she had a book coming out with them. She knew she had a book coming out soon with TED Books, however, and then she realized that TED Books is an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Her book, which was to be titled How to Be Heard, would have been published in March of 2018.

I say “would have” because How to Be Heard is no longer on the Simon & Schuster publishing docket, since Roxane Gay has decided to pull her project from their lineup. She told Buzzfeed, “I can’t in good conscience let them publish it while they also publish Milo. So I told my agent over the weekend to pull the project.” She also released this longer statement explaining her reasoning:

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.

Gay then followed up by saying, “I have not placed the book elsewhere. I do hope the book is published someday.” She then sent a tweets in which she emphasized that this option isn’t available to every author. Since she’s a best-selling author at this point, it seems likely that she’ll be able to find a new publisher. Because of her position and her career, she’s able to take a stand like this that many other authors may not be able to do:

It may be true that Roxane Gay can “afford” to take this stand… but that doesn’t mean it’s not still a difficult stance to take. It would have been easier for her to quietly publish the book with TED Books and say nothing about the Simon & Schuster connection. Instead, she chose to withdraw the book, and now she and her agent will be looking for a new publisher.

Of course, by publicly withdrawing her book, Roxane Gay may also face hate speech and harassment from Yiannopoulous’ vocal fans, none of whom would have bought her books anyway… although, they really should. And so should you! Today (and any day) is a great day to check out Roxane Gay’s full bibliography.

(via Buzzfeed, image via Eva Blue on Flickr)

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Maddy Myers
Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (, and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (