After the Hollywood fallout, women from all industries are speaking out about injustices. One brave woman, Kamila Shamsie, was challenging the traditional publishing industry before any of the hashtag movements. As a newly formed hybrid (cross between indie and traditional) book publisher, I am realizing that one of the oldest industries still needs transformation.

The year of 2018, is the year women are being encouraged to speak up in many industries. As a result, someone sent me a story from the Guardian Magazine shortly after my business partner, Kivi Leroux Miller released her first book "C.A.L.M not B.U.S.Y" through our company.

Shamsie has been challenging the traditional publishing industry to make it the “year of publishing women,” since 2015 when the novelist suggested the book industry not publish any new titles by men for a year, in order to “redress the inequality” of the literary world. “In the end, the tiny independent And Other Stories was the only publisher to rise to her challenge while others called her antics “crazy.” With the rising tide of movements such as #metoo and #timesup, people are taking this call to redress seriously -- especially indie publishers.

I admire her work, but had never heard of her before the shared article. I’ve wanted to be a publisher for many years because of stories like 20-year-old Charlotte Brontë who sent a selection of her poetry to England’s poet laureate Robert Southey and was told: “Literature cannot be the business of a woman’s life.” Thankfully for the future of literature the author of “Jane Eyre” disregarded his advice.

Some of our most celebrated literary works were written by women who adopted male pseudonyms. Louisa May Alcott, a 19th-century writer, began her career publishing short stories with Atlantic Monthly under A. M. Barnard. While her most famous work, “Little Women,” was published under her given name, she gained notoriety as Barnard in the mid-1860s.

Mary Ann Evans, known by her pen name George Eliot, was a prominent journalist during the Victorian era with an entrée into the literary world that criticized women writers.

It was not known publicly that James Tiptree was actually American author Alice Bradley Sheldon until 10 years before her death in 1987. Tiptree never appeared for interviews but wowed in the science fiction genre. Her identity reveal was a shock. In an Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine interview, she explained: “A male name seemed like good camouflage." The Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted Tiptree in 2012 and Japanese-language translations of her/his fiction also won two Hayakawa Awards and three Seiun Awards as the year’s best foreign, overseas and translated works.

It was no coincidence Nelle Harper Lee published “To Kill a Mockingbird” under the androgynous Harper Lee. One of my favorite authors, Chloe Ardelia Wofford, came to use the nom de plume, Toni Morrison. The Nobel Prize in Literature and Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winner wanted distance from the label of feminism.

Joanne Rowling, better known as “J. K.,” gained worldwide popularity with the Harry Potter series and submitted the first installment to publishers under her name. But there was a fear that the target audience of young boys would not read a book written by a woman. Rowling, like most struggling writers, was desperate to be published. “They could have called me Enid Snodgrass,” she said to The Telegraph. “I just wanted it [the book] published.” J.K. Rowling's original 'Harry Potter' pitch was rejected 12 times by traditional publishers.

In a recent exposé, author Catherine Nichols revealed how submitting her manuscript under a male pseudonym brought her a greater number of responses. After sending out her novel to 50 agents, she received just two manuscript requests. When she set up a new address under a male name and submitted the same cover letter and pages to 50 agents, it was requested 17 times. “No one mentioned his sentences being lyrical or whether his main characters were feisty,” writes Nichols. “He is eight-and-a-half times better than me at writing the same book. Fully a third of the agents who saw his query wanted to see more, where my numbers never did shift from one in 25,” she said. “The judgments about my work that had seemed as solid as the walls of my house have turned out to be meaningless. My novel wasn’t the problem, it was me – Catherine.”

Most people don’t realize that 80 percent of U.S. books are produced by the “big five” publishers--- Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette and Macmillan (or their many imprints) — and although they aren’t rushing to invest in a diverse catalog of books, small presses, hybrid publishers and indie publishers are taking up the slack. This women’s history month, we can #redress the inequity in the book publishing industry but only after readers start taking notice.

Antionette Kerr is a local news contributor, author and book publisher.