All tagged Publishing
“We can start with the money. White people sell, on the surface. The truth is people of color sell too, when their stories are given the proper exposure. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is always a movie I like to point out. Amazing, award-winning film and not once have I heard anyone say, “That really could have used more white people.” It did well in the US market because it was a great film that got proper exposure. Marketing matters, people. When it’s really difficult to find positive and realistic stories about people of color, white and people of color alike think those stories don’t exist. ”
Romance Around the Corner hosted a fantastic week of posts celebrating and deconstructing heroines in romance-focused fiction. (I was thrilled to participate, with adiscussion and recommendations for brave YA girls.) While all of the posts were thought-provoking and compelling, author Rebekah Weatherspoon's post about representation was the one that I kept coming back to. It has over 50 comments at this point, and that discussion is definitely worth reading as well.
In that episode, we focused on reader perspectives on this emerging segment of the book market. This time, I'm talking to three smart ladies with first-hand experience with the publishing side of New Adult: Suzie Townsend, agent with New Leaf Literary & Media; Cora Carmack, author; and Lisa Desrochers, author (scroll down for their complete bios).
As always, you can listen to the podcast by streaming on this page, downloading the MP3 below or by subscribing in iTunes. If you're an iTuner, we very much appreciate your rating the podcast, as it helps us to show up in iTunes searches.
And JJ Abrams has approached xenobiology and xenoanthropology in a very Star Wars way in his reboot. Background puppets abound, used to illustrate the diversity of the universe, but this is still a universe where the actions of the humans are those that matter. Scotty has a non-verbal alien friend who plays an almost identical role to Chewbacca in Star Wars; he’s a silent cipher whose words must be surmised only through the pauses of the more plot relevant human. Kirk bags a space babe, but she’s mostly just a sight gag. And there are Romulans and Klingons, but they’re villains–obstacles to overcome, really. But still not people, not fully, not yet.
I meant to share this outstanding, thought-provoking post from author Phoebe North (Starglass) last week and somehow omitted it. She dissects diversity and otherness in the context of the new Star Trek movie, and points to J.J. Abrams' frequently problematic treatment of alien characters in his work. This is a companion to her earlier post about Star Trek: Into the Darkness, which (warning) contains spoilers, but is an important read.
We don’t want the behaviors of this septic culture to become or seem normalized. If we’re quiet about it, we contribute to the normalization of misogyny or any of the other cultural poisons.
Like I said the other day, this isn’t about playing the hero — we aren’t going to fix it with our magical man-hammers, and women are not our Death Star Princesses to rescue. But we can signal boost. We can support. We can be on the side of the angels instead of the side of the diseased dick-bags (they don’t rate being devils, honestly) who want to trumpet their hate and rampant shittiness. We can try to do better and ask that others do the same.
This week author Chuck Wendig (Blackbirds) wrote an unintentional three-part series about sexism as a result of the mess of misogyny from the SFWA (which I mentioned last week). I recommend reading each post, but the last one about why men should speak up about this type of behavior struck a chord with me.
First, a bit of funny-slash-crazy to start. All week, my husband has been sending me links to videos of pop songs reinterpreted with, um... goats. Yes, GOATS!!! Screaming goats! My two favorites are below. The first is for Bon Jovi's Livin' on a Prayer, the second Taylor Swift's I Knew You Were Trouble. I dare you to not die laughing.
You could argue that affiliate links aren’t technically ads, but that misses the point. If you slap a banner ad on the top of your website, at least readers know it’s an advertisement and they can take it with a great big grain of salt. But when they read a glowing review from someone they trust, then click through to place an order for that book–without knowing said reviewer is getting a kickback–isn’t that worse?
I'm sure I'm not alone in my fascination with the Brainpickings "scandal" that was all over the nerdy corner of the internet this week. It seems that the popular site's claims of being ad-free are definitely a case of parsing, as affiliate links are likely a considerable source of income for the blog, which solicits donations under the auspices of remaining "ad free."
My take? What this issue comes down to is the importance of transparency and erring on the side of caution in ensuring that you're not misrepresenting yourself to readers. This hasn't been touched on, but one of the things that bothers me most about the "ad free" language is that it's backed up by a .org URL, which insinuates a not-for-profit status. (I also question the costs and hours the blog author cites, because both seem out of whack estimates.)
I don't begrudge anyone for using affiliate links and monetizing their sites--clicks on Amazon links pay the hosting bills around here (thank you!)--but I really don't understand why it's still common practice in the day of FTC rules for blogs to be sketchy in this way (this reminds me of the controversy about sponsored content on The Atlantic Blog).
Disclose, disclose, disclose. It's really that simple.
"What has changed in a really exciting way is the ways you can get people's attention. It used to be one book review at a time, a daily review, maybe you get into Time magazine. Now there's, with the Internet, this giant echo chamber. Anything good that happens, any genuine excitement that a book elicits can be amplified and repeated and streamed and forwarded and linked in a way that excitement spreads more quickly and universally than ever before. And what I'm seeing is that really wonderful books — the books that people get genuinely excited about because they change their lives, they give them new ideas — those books can travel faster, go further, sell more copies sooner than ever before. It's just energized the whole business in a thrilling way."
...traditional publishers are in the business of not publishing books but of selling books. And there's a big difference there. So they seek to acquire books and authors who they think have the greatest commercial potential. But the challenge here is they really don't know which books are going to go on to become bestsellers. Only readers know that.
Laura pointed me to this two-part series on NPR this week about self-publishing versus traditional publishing. The traditional publishing side is representing by the incoming CEO of Hachette while the Smashwords CEO makes the case for the supremacy of self-publishing. Both have an agenda, but it's interesting that both are so enthusiastic about the future of publishing and its potential. It's a nice contrast to the doom and gloom stories we hear so often.
However, although the term “sick-lit” may be new, the range of situations the teens in these books are experiencing certainly aren’t. Abuse, depression, suicide, terminal illness; YA authors aren’t fabricating these topics. Many teens throughout the world have already been, and still are, living these tragedies every second of every day.
Over at The Hub (the Young Adult Library Services Association's blog), Dena took a look at the idea of "sick lit" as criticized in a recent Daily Mail column. She hits the nail on the head in critiquing original piece.
Honestly, some "sick lit" bothers me because it feels a bit (or a lot exploitative), but some is done very, very well. Ultimately, like so much related to literature, it's all in the execution.
This is a large conference and trade event for the library profession. I also saw a number of people with identification indicating that they were teachers or educators, authors, agents and, of course, bloggers (I didn't see as many as I expected, however--I suspect the smaller midwinter meeting doesn't attract as many people who travel just for exhibits). The Big Six publishers all have a presence, as do many of the smaller ones, such as Algonquin, Soho and a number of independents I wasn't familiar with. Notably missing was the Harlequin empire, which I understand only exhibits at the major ALA conference in the summer.
Here's a roundup of some observations from ALA--this is by no means exhaustive, as I was only able to spend a day and didn't attend any of the social activities. (Though we did get to hang out with Mindi for half a day, which is more awesome than any of the organized meet-ups.)
The vast majority of the books showcased were young adult and younger titles. We intentionally went on the "spotlight on adult fiction" day so we could see a diversity, but with the exception of some literary and women's fiction and a few key imprints or publishers, most were targeted at younger readers. I heard a number of librarians complain about this to exhibitors, which I though was interesting gossip. I was pretty disappointed that several publishers didn't even have their adult fiction catalogs available. I was also their wearing my educator hat, and was seeking non-fiction I could use in my communications classes, but only Wiley had much in the way of academic titles featured.
I was pretty shocked at how little romance was being promoted, since I know that it's the most popular genre and that libraries carry romance pretty heavily. I assume more of this is showcased to librarians at their larger annual meeting. Even in the YA exhibits, it definitely skewed toward the fantasy/science fiction/historical fantasy realm (fans of YA fantasy should be very, very happy this spring and summer) or Issue Books (eating disorders, cutting, incest).
Today's topics: the return of the asshole alpha male character, marketing saturation and delayed ebook releases.
In real life most women I know wouldn’t walk but would RUN from this man. But romance isn’t real life and there is no shame in liking what you like. We just have to hope that all this testosterone is sometimes countered with books about incredible women. Because I want to read her story too.