Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Publishing Edition

If you're wondering why publishing so white, so male, so straight ... this is why. Those are the ONLY questions most publishers ask. Used to be, they also wondered if a given author had "more books in them," that is, they were looking to build careers and willing to invest both time and teaching to make it so, thus looking for potential. That rarely happens anymore. They just want to make the most money possible, as fast as possible. Sadly, this means publishing a lot of repetitive crap.  While there are publishers, mostly indie, who want to make great books and/or give voice to the voiceless, they are outnumbered by the bulwark of homogeneity.

It also means it's hard for any disadvantaged person to get a contract from a major publisher, competing against advantaged people, because -- outside a few genres like romance where women dominate -- there is usually more money in backing popular people who write about things other popular people like. This is magnified by the problem that most of the publishers and editors also tend to have advantaged traits more than disadvantaged traits. More whites than anything else, more men than women, more straight than QUILTBAG, more rich than poor, etc. And most of them don't want to hear from the rest of us.


We don't actually have to care about that anymore. We have the internet now; we have crowdfunding. All of us can now write, edit, publish, prompt, sponsor, and promote whatever we damn well please. It's even pretty easy to make paper books if you want them. As a literary scholar I can tell you there's better stuff in crowdfunding and even fanfic than in a bookstore nowadays.  One of this year's finds was Common Bonds by Claudie Arseneault, an anthology of speculative fiction featuring aromantic characters and centering platonic relationships.  By all means, badger the publishers for better and more diverse material if you like tilting at windmills.  But if you just want to make and enjoy great stuff, you have other options now.

Smash the bottleneck! Go buy some alt stuff! \o/
Tags: activism, cyberfunded creativity, ethnic studies, gender studies, networking, reading, writing

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