Joanna Stampfel Volpe was allowed to use the blog of former agent, Colleen Lindsey, to respond to the claims made by authors Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith that they were asked to make the gay character straight, or else remove his viewpoint and all references to his sexual orientation. The authors stated that they felt that this was an industry wide epidemic. Malinda Lo, an author of a series that features a lesbian protagonist added a post with charts! and graphs! to show even though the big publishers and the little ones put out LGBTQ books less than 1% of YA books have LGBTQ characters.
I used the post to illustrate that agents have a lot of say over what editors see, particular editors who only read agented manuscripts, and thus have a lot of say over what is actually published.
Even though Brown and Smith did not name any agent, the rumor of who the agent was that initially turned them down circled the internet. According to Lindsey, several people contacted her to confirm with her as to whom the agent was. Joanna Stampfel Vogel was not the agent but she is with the Nancy Coffey Literary Agency, the house that turned the authors down. In order to respond, of course, Stampfel Vogel choose to sweep aside whatever anonymity that the authors had afforded them. Stampfel Vogel explained that the gay POV was just one of several POVs that should be excised and that all sexual references be excluded so that the book would be more suitable to middle grade students.
Stampfel Vogel then proceeds to claim that the authors were lying.
Let me repeat this: there is nothing in that article concerning our response to their manuscript that is true.
Stampfel Vogel goes on to accuse the authors of exploitation:
One of our agents is being used as a springboard for these authors to gain attention for their project. She is being exploited. But even worse, by basing their entire article on untruths, these authors have exploited the topic. By doing that, they’ve chipped away at the validity of the resulting conversation.
I’m concerned about the tone of this agent’s post and I have to wonder whether they consulted a lawyer before posting this response piece. This piece is dangerously close to defaming the authors (calling them liars is defamatory per se) and it also seems to be a potential breach of fiduciary duty. Fiduciary duties can arise from a person in a trusted and confidential position giving advice to someone else. For instance, a lawyer who offers a free consultation with a person can be sued for malpractice if that advice given is incorrect or leads to adverse consequences even if no formal attorney/client relationship is formed. Once a fiduciary relationship is created, the fiduciary is held to higher standard.
This is not to say that I don’t think the Nancy Coffey Literary & Medial Representation firm should not have responded. They could have said:
We disagree with the authors’ statements regarding the consultation we had with their book. We love LGBTQ books and look forward to representing the right ones for our clients. This is an important discussion to have as we also believe in the importance of representing diversity in color and sexual orientation in literature, whether it is YA or adult fiction. Unfortunately the manuscript from Smith and and Brown was not the right project for our firm. We wish the best of luck to authors Smith and Brown with their manuscript.
The authors rebut the rebuttal here. Frankly the book sounds like a hot mess. 5 POVs? A teen who is an polyamorous relationship with two girls (isn’t that just playing the field?) It’s hardly a book that screams bestseller. What is the end result? It’s a classic case of she said / she said with some dangerous oil on the fire being thrown by the Nancy Coffey Literary & Media Representation firm. It all gets away from Malinda Lo’s excellent point. Less than 1% of YA books feature LGBTQ teens.
PW is now accepting digital arcs from small press and digital first publishers.
Beginning September 15, Publishers Weekly’s romance and science fiction/fantasy/horror reviews sections will accept digital galleys for review consideration. This includes galleys for digital-first publications in those genres.
We especially encourage small and independent presses to make use of the new system, which we hope will make it easier to send us galleys three to four months ahead of publication. Uploading digital galleys is also an eco-friendly alternative to packaging and shipping physical galleys.
All of PW’s current submission guidelines apply to digital galleys. We accept .epub, .mobi, .rtf, and .pdf formats. Please only submit each book once; there is no need to submit both physical and digital galleys of the same title.
Wonder why publishers are so anxious to wrest pricing control out of the retailers? Because once a price is out there, it is markedly hard to raise. Netflix is seeing the negative effects of attempting to raise prices. Netflix has a 25 million customer list and many of those customers are unhappy:
On Thursday, the company said that customers were canceling their subscriptions in greater numbers than it expected, about a million in total, causing a projected quarterly loss in customers for only the second time in its history. The company did not signal a shift in direction or a change its financial guidance for the quarter; still, its stock dropped almost 19 percent in heavy trading on Thursday, closing at $169.25 and worsening a season-long selling streak. In July, the stock peaked at $304.79.
Starz, which supplies Sony and Disney films to Netflix, has announced it will not renew its contract, leaving the Netflix library missing some big titles. That Netflix is struggling to make money for itself and its content providers will likely impair Amazon’s ability to create a large digital library of free book content for its Prime subscribers.
If you are a goodreads member (of which I am), you’ll notice a new feature that rolled out yesterday called “recommendations”.
Goodreads is generating recommendations based on other’s libraries’ similarities to yours among a billion other data points. You get a recommendation bar for genres in which you’ve expressed interest and each of your shelves. I have a DNF shelf and so that reads like a list of books from which to stay away:
I’ve actually meant to try Cynthia Eden again. Her Brava books didn’t work for me but maybe her RS from Forever will. Need to mark that one as “Want to Read”. The James “rec” is spot on. Her Samhain series which is super popular has very marked dialect in that using the letter “h” is the basis for social ostracism. However, I did read one of her NAL books and it was fairly good. The dialect was toned down quite a bit. Lacey Alexander is all over the place for me. I liked her H.O.T. Cop book, but have disliked most previous publications. The Dahl book had one of the most unlikeable heroines I’ve read in a long, long time. It’s pretty interesting and I suspect I’ll be over at Goodreads doodling around and trying to make my recommendations work harder and better for me.
Clark and I met on the Thursday before Labor Day, August 30, 2007. I don’t know exactly when we first said I love you, but the first email exchange containing the phrase, which he casually includes before signing off, is dated October 3 of that year.
So begins a piece posted over at good.is wherein the author recreates some precious moments from her gmail archive chronicling her romance with Clark and her loss of him. The last line of the piece is terrible poignant. I encourage you to read it.