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Wednesday Midday Links: Publishing, Not Just Print, Is Dead

Ewan Morrison writes a long essay published in the Guardian about how advances are declining and may be discontinued (true for the former, unlikely for the latter) and because of the demise of print, publishing is doomed. He ends the essay with a call to action for everyone to think and take actions against this depressing future. Ewan Morrison mixes facts and myth to make his convincing albeit unsound case that publishing will no longer be able to pay a living wage to authors.

The movie industry is a prime example of how doom is coming to publishing because it has lost purportedly $6.1b due to piracy. Of course Morrison does not cite the reports that global box office receipts grew 8% in 2010 because that wouldn’t fit his narrative:

Global box-office receipts for all films released last year reached a high of $31.8 billion, an increase of 8% over 2009, according to a newly released report from the Motion Picture Assn. of America.

In the US, piracy is really only used by a small portion of the population – 9% and falling – and that population is known for spending more on content than other demographic groups. Piracy is highest in developing countries.

Morrison also cites piracy as the reason for the decline in music industry profits. It is true that overall revenue for the music industry has declined, particularly sales of albums, but the reason for that is because the music consumer is no longer buying albums but individual songs. Record companies made the most money off the sale of albums.

But guess what? Sales are up

Overall music sales (which include albums, singles and music videos) are up 8.5% over the same period in 2010, from 756 million to 821 million. Overall album sales (physical and digital, plus track-equivalent albums, in which 10 tracks are counted as one album) are up 3.6%, from 213.6 million to 221.5 million.

The music industry is discovering new ways of monetizing the content through digital licensing fees. It is true that the music industry has lost billions in revenue because consumer usage and consumption has changed.

While retail sales of video games (another media form cited by Morrison) is in decline, other forms of video games are experiencing growth.

The way in which consumers are buying and consuming media, whether it is books or games or music or movies, is changing but that doesn’t mean that all future content will be free or that no one can make a living wage. I have heard reports from authors that their self published digital backlist sales are booming. Change in an industry doesn’t mean a total demise.

Advances are the key to a living wage for Morrison because that is how it has always been.  What will need to be changed in lieu of no advances is quicker speed to market from acceptance of the manuscript to the publication.  Royalties will have to be paid more rapidly.  Instead of 6 months, it will need be at least quarterly.  Reserves against returns may have to be eliminated, requiring the publisher to take some greater risk in that regard which would mean more royalties, earlier, for authors.  I think the drumbeat that advances are the only way to make a living wage is nonsensical.

Publishing, the business of putting out books for others to read, is not dying nor is it dead. It is being transformed and therefore the expectations of how to make a living are changing as well.


This news report made me think of the longhorn shifter book I read a while back (and yes, it is as horrible as it sounds). Bull semen is foul smelling. That is all you need to take away from this:

Canisters of bull semen caused quite a scare on the on-ramp to Interstate 65 South Tuesday morning.

The canisters fell off a Greyhound bus just after 5 a.m. as the bus traveled around the curve of the ramp just south of downtown Nashville.

Fire and emergency crews were called to the scene amid reports of a foul odor.


Publishing is killing the desire for boys to read because it is marketing books toward girl readers, or so says Robert Lipsyte for the New York Times.

Michael Cart, a past president of the Young Adult Library Services Association, agrees. “We need more good works of realistic fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels, on- or ­offline, that invite boys to reflect on what kinds of men they want to become,” he told me. “In a commercially driven publishing environment, the emphasis is currently on young women.”


Editors who ask writers of books for boys to include girl characters — for commercial reasons — further blunt the edges.

The problem is that while girls will read books about boys; boys don’t want to read books about girls. Sounds like a cultural problem more than a publishing problem.


Here’s a great marriage proposal told in pictures.

And some engagement photos (scroll down)

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. John
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 10:35:16

    That article made me so unbelievably angry. I’m a guy and can read books with female characters. It’s not HARD. You are reading a story about another person. What’s hard about that? I think our society is really messed up for blaming publishers/authors when girls have been reading books with guy main characters by guy authors for ages without any problems.

    Why is it that suddenly boys need a gender crutch? They don’t. It’s about getting parents to show their boys that reading can be fun period instead of forcing them to do a billion sports.

    I could go on forever. This is such a sore spot for me.

  2. Jayne
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 10:39:40

    I love that marriage proposal story. Swoon!

  3. LG
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 10:46:03

    About the article discussing boys and reading: I remember reading somewhere that part of the problem is the way people define “reading.” A boy who likes graphic novels or non-fiction is told that he should be reading something else, because reading those things is not really reading – as though only fiction novels count.

  4. MD
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 11:07:17

    Here is a much better article regarding characters in children’s books. I think it does a very good analysis of the real state of publishing, and of cultural assumptions.

    From the conclusions:

    Male is default. That’s what you learn from a world of boy dogs and Smurf stories. My daughter has no problem with this. She reads these books the way they were intended: not about boys, exactly, but about people who happen to be boys. After years of such books, my daughter can happily identify with these characters.

    Except it’s not happening the other way. The five-year-old boy who lives up the street from me does not have a shelf groaning with stories about girl animals. Because you have to seek those books out, and as the parent of a boy, why would you? There are so many great books about boys to which he can relate directly.

  5. Marsha
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 11:08:28

    1) Lovely engagement story. Lovely. My husband of (almost) 16 years will be disappointed to learn that he is not the only guy to ever hide an engagement ring in a book. He carved out the hole himself, though, so I’ll allow extra points for use of power tools.

    2) My 10 year old son regularly reads books about and with girls (addition to those with/about boys) and, so far at least, has exhibited no signs that they represent a sub-optimal reading experience. For him, I think it’s more the subject matter that counts rather than the sex or gender of the protagonists. He’s unlikely to join his sister in reading a book about horse shows whether there are girls or boys in the story. Space travel, though? Sign him up either way.

  6. Marsha
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 11:12:57

    I just ran the reading-about-girls thing by my son (referenced in my previous comment) and he said, “That’s dumb. No one would do that – you might miss a good book that way.”

    The kids are all right?

  7. P. Kirby
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 11:19:24

    I find it interesting, or perhaps I should say “shortsighted,” that Lypsite seems to put the onus for boys’ disinterest in reading on the publishing industry. As he notes, it’s a business, and it goes where the customers are; in this case, to the girls. What’s intriguing is that despite the underlying misogyny in this article, he’s written some rather insightful articles on gender and the harm done by the uber-masculine jock culture. Harm done, particularly, to boys. He alludes to his views toward the end of the article.

    So on one hand, he acknowledges that our culture shapes, even forces, young males into gender roles that negate “softer” pursuits like reading. At the same time, he decries YA literature that utilizes so-called feminine themes and characters: “Children’s literature didn’t always bear this overwhelmingly female imprint.”

    It’s rather contradictory and surprisingly lacking in self-awareness, particularly for a writer.

  8. P. Kirby
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 11:25:36

    @LG “About the article discussing boys and reading: I remember reading somewhere that part of the problem is the way people define reading. A boy who likes graphic novels or non-fiction is told that he should be reading something else, because reading those things is not really reading as though only fiction novels count.”

    I see this as a problem that spans gender. My mom didn’t let me read *comic books when I was kid. She tolerated my reading of horror and fantasy, but periodically would try to get me to read a classic. I hated, BTW, reading the “classics” in school, particularly because we couldn’t just read the bloody books. Noooo. We had to analyze them for “themes” and “symbolism.” Sucked the joy right out of reading.

    *Now, my mom, in her late sixties, not only reads graphic novels herself, she reads webcomics. She’s still a voracious reader, but I don’t think she’s read anything “classic” in years.

  9. Berinn
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 11:28:22

    Morrison’s article only addresses one side of the story. I agree we’re going through a kind of freevolution, where folks (me included) are jumping on glomming onto free and cheap reads. My e-library has grown exponentially–most of the stuff I’ll never get around to reading. But, I could never not buy my favorite authors, regardless of book price. Thanks for sharing the news, Jane!

  10. Becca
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 11:32:18

    regarding the article about boys reading books about or by girls, the following article crossed my desk from another list I read

    “Women are underrepresented in literary publishing because men aren’t interested in what they have to say”

  11. Ros
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 11:58:03

    My dad used to be a dairy farmer. He once won a prize of £100 worth of bull semen. My mother and I found it hilarious, though I have to admit, he didn’t see anything funny about it at all.

  12. Miss_Thig
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 11:59:15

    On a side note, I read one of the longhorn shifter books referenced above and truly, it was so full of WTFery that all I could think while I was reading it was how much I wanted to read a Dear Author or SB Sarah review. It was so bad that it’s possible there’s a hole in the space-time continuum. Srsly.

  13. Miss_Thing
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 12:01:14

    Err, that would be “Miss_Thing.” It helps to press “preview” and not “post.”

  14. Ann
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 12:15:00

    @Marsha: Marsha, yay to you for having a kid who is definitely all right!

  15. Julia Spencer-Fleming
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 12:30:09

    @LG – I agree. When my now-17-year-old son turned 10, he stopped reading novels. He would read magazines, nonfiction (especially if it involved gross biology or horrible history)and manga. Lord, he loved manga. I gritted my teeth and bought the stuff for him, telling myself at least he was reading. For pleasure. I must have spent enough to fund his college tuition over the years until somewhere around 14 or 15, he suddenly dropped the manga and started enthusiastically reading novels and adult nonfiction. For pleasure.

    I believe that kids, regardless of gender, should be encouraged to read what they enjoy. If we, as parents and teachers, don’t privilege one type of literature over another, boys and girls can keep the joy of reading through the difficult middle years and into adulthood.

  16. Brian
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 13:01:39

    The problem is that while girls will read books about boys; boys don’t want to read books about girls.

    Not according to my 10 year old nephew, he just wants to read and reads all kinds of stuff (some of which could be considered “for girls” by someone narrow minded enough). He just had me load up his Sony reader for a vacations trip with his parents so he’d have plenty of books to read.

  17. thetroubleis
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 13:03:41

    I love how it’s so hard for boys to read books about girls, yet as a little queer black girl with disabilities, I was lucky if I got a tiny bit of representation in the fiction I read. I was even luckier if they weren’t a token character.

    Maybe I’m just bitter, but I don’t think it’s “girl’s” books that need to change. The devaluing of all things feminine needs to stop.

  18. Kate Pearce Pearce
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 13:25:29

    Um, really?
    Harry Potter anyone? Full of girls. :)
    I have 3 boys and when they were young I encouraged them read anything they wanted from comic books, to Captain Underpants to girl books to Spiderman, because it’s all reading. As late teens and older they continue to read all over the map.

    And as for the demise of publishing, Steve Berry put it very well at RWA this year when he commented that readers will always read, it’s just the method of delivery that changes. I’m not panicking yet.

  19. joanne
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 13:36:57

    I’m shocked that Ewan Morrison didn’t mention that the sky is falling.

    Thank you to your son @Marsha: for reminding us that it isn’t.

  20. Jackie Barbosa
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 13:44:53

    @LG: I remember reading somewhere that part of the problem is the way people define reading. A boy who likes graphic novels or non-fiction is told that he should be reading something else, because reading those things is not really reading as though only fiction novels count.


    I have this issue with my oldest child. I’ve heard it said that boys often read for information rather than entertainment, and this is certainly the case with him. Although he will read science fiction novels, by and large he prefers non-fiction. He just finished reading Stephen Hawking’s THE GRAND DESIGN and is currently reading Brian Greene’s THE ELEGANT UNIVERSE. He’s 14. Despite his obviously well above average reading ability, he’s still regularly castigated in English classes for “not reading enough.” /sigh

  21. Jane
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 14:12:14

    @Miss_Thing I need to correct the CSS a bit so that the preview text isn’t next to the post button.

  22. Jane
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 14:12:30

    @Miss_Thig I had planned on reviewing it, but I kind of forgot. I’ll have to dig out my notes.

  23. Best Art Blog » Wednesday Midday Links: Publishing, Not Just Print, Is Dead – Dear …
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 14:15:46

    […] more here: Wednesday Midday Links: Publishing, Not Just Print, Is Dead – Dear … Categories: Books, Uncategorized Tags: blunt, blunt-the-edges, books, currently-on-young, […]

  24. MaryK
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 14:19:41

    I just wrote a really ranty comment about this and lost it because I hit “subscribe without commenting” by accident. *headdesk* At least you’ve all been spared. To summarize:

    I see the girl vs. boy divide in the way my brother and his wife treat my nephews. They strongly discourage “girl” interests or activities, and I think their views are the mainstream.

    If a boy chose Nancy Drew books over The Hardy Boys, how many parents or teachers or librarians would say nothing? I would bet that most adults would at least casually suggest the “boy” series as an alternative.

  25. Jane
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 14:22:50

    @MaryK There is no question that gender differentiation happens early and everywhere from the classroom to the playroom. It’s sad.

  26. DS
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 14:23:45

    @Ros: My dad raised cattle and all I could think was the amount of money the bull semen was worth. Wicked expensive. I did try to imagine someone trying to sell it on the street corner as having fallen off a truck.

  27. Ros
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 14:55:20

    @DS: LOL! Black market semen. I love it.

  28. Miss_Thing
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 15:05:59

    @Jane – awesome! I cannot wait to read your review. My eyes were rolling so far back in my head at some parts that I was really worried they were going to get stuck. I’m just glad I wasn’t reading on public transportation or people might have thought I was seizing :-). And no worries about the preview/post buttons; that was due to my over caffeinated excitement.

    As a former children’s book buyer/retailer, it’s been my experience that the kids themselves don’t care about the male or female perspective. They want an appealing protagonist and a storyline and issues of gender tend to be secondary unless of course a parent or friend weighs in with a dismissive or negative opinion. @MaryK, I’ve seen plenty of children get steered to a more “gender appropriate” book choice and it was always kind of irritating to me when I saw that happen. I seriously doubt there are going to be negative repercussions from letting your male child read the Baby Sitters Club series or your girls read the Time Warp Trio books .

  29. Jane
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 15:07:15

    @Miss_Thing: Is the fear that if boys read too many girly things that they’ll become gay?

  30. Kerry D.
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 15:13:10

    I did this to my son in the library the other day. His eye was caught by a sparkly book cover (it was pink and had either a cute animal, a princess, or both on it) and I told him it was a “girl” book and he didn’t need it.

    I am SO embarrassed about it now, especially in light of the discussions on the subject that have come up this week.

    It isn’t something I’ve done before and I don’t generally try to control his reading (unless it’s content I don’t think he’s ready for) and I fell into the trap of seeing such a very “girly” cover (and it was) and reacting without thinking.

    I won’t be doing it again now I’m aware I did it once, but in all this very sensible discussion about boys reading, I kind of feel this need to confess.

    I do think the point that has been made in many places that this is more a social problem than a publishing problem is very true. But we’ve got to start working on it in as many places as we can, and publishing is one of those. Not stopping my son from bringing home a pink book if he wants it is another way.

  31. MaryK
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 15:31:05

    @Jane: Judging by my brother, I think so. It’s a gut reaction, I think, and complicated. You’re either macho or gay so you have to avoid all soft girliness or you start sliding down to the gay end. So it’s also a measure of machismo. What red blooded American male wants his son to be sensitive and nerdy?

  32. MaryK
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 15:47:16

    @Kerry D.: It’s so easy to do! That’s part of the trouble. It’s insidious and kids are so easily influenced by casual comments. I hate the idea of it, and I still catch myself making mental judgments about whether something is too girly for my nephews. It’s so pervasive in our culture that it affect me even though I’m opposed to it. That’s probably one reason why I get so ranty about it.

  33. Isobel Carr
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 15:48:08

    I always think kids are much more open than adults give them credit for. I recently asked my godson what he wanted for his birthday (he’ll be 9 in Nov). He said he wanted a My Little Pony, preferably a unicorn or Pegasus*. He told me all about how that’s the top game at school and if all you have is a mundane pony (he actually used the word MUNDANE) you weren’t as cool as the kids with magical ponies, LOL! I love that his hippie school and his crunchy granola parents make no distinctions about what toys/games are appropriate for boys.

    *He also wants to go to the Monetary Bay Aquarium and see sharks.

  34. Carin
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 16:36:49

    I have elementary aged kids, 1 boy and 1 girl who are voracious readers (yay!). We’ve worked really hard to never point them toward gender type toys or books. Still, they each prefer to read books with main characters of their own gender. This makes sense to me – they want to read with characters they identify with. They don’t refuse to read about the opposite gender, but there’s a definite preference.

    Gender roles with kids is pretty amazing stuff, though. I’ve got a really athletic and competitive daughter, and I have to bite my tongue to keep from asking her to be nice to her opponents. (I do that to my son, too, but the urge is there more with her.)

    I think things were pretty gender neutral at home and at preschool, but Kindergarten was the start of new times for us. My son wanted his nails painted when I was doing my daughters. He picked green and asked me if it was a “boy” color. I told him I thought it worked for boys and girls. Unfortunately his classmates didn’t agree about the nail polish and he came home in tears asking for polish remover. His teacher was awesome – she told the whole class that her college age son wore nail polish all the time. But the damage was done and he’s never joined us in painting nails again.

  35. Courtney Milan
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 17:27:14

    The problem with boys not getting to do girl things is pervasive–not just for young kids.

    The question I persistently asked law firms in interviews was this: “How many male associates in your firm took paternity leave?”

    The answers I got were 0, 0, 0, 0, and 1 (and the male associate in question there was gay and he and his partner had just adopted). Just about everyone admitted that there was basically no question that a male associate who took paternity leave, even though allowed by the firm and the law, would never be taken seriously as a partner prospect. It was okay for women to do family, but not men. But what that meant is that women had de facto second class citizenship: it was “understood” that women (rather than men) had to take on the duties of family. And that in turn means that if you have a marriage between two working people at approximately the same professional class, the burden of parenting fell disproportionately on the woman, because she is the only one who can acceptably shoulder it.

    Women have worked really hard to be able to do “boy” things without anyone blinking, and it’s so exciting to see that we’ve made so much progress. But I think it’s as important for both sexes to be able to do “girl” things without anyone blinking, or thinking that girl things are “lesser.” Because when “girl” things are stigmatized, it’s sending an unconscious message that what women do is unimportant, and it turns the main focus of female equality into, “Some women are competent enough to manage boy stuff.”


  36. Lilian Darcy
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 18:31:05

    I think it’s interesting – in a good way – that most of the comments here are about the Gender and Reading topic, and not about the Sky is Falling in Bookworld topic.

    @thetroubleis – Part of the problem, here, is perceived ownership of stories, I think. Certain stories and themes a writer isn’t perceived as having the credentials to write about unless s/he has a personal or family connection to them – the Holocaust is a prime example.

    It’s inconsistent. No one thinks you have to have personal experience of, say, murder to write about serial killers. I would say it’s not necessarily that writers don’t want to write characters with disabilities or characters from different ethnic backgrounds to their own, it’s that they’re afraid they’ll be challenged on it:- “Where are your credentials for this?”

  37. Lynn Raye Harris
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 19:14:56

    @Courtney Milan: Please don’t be alarmed, but I must publicly declare my love. That was awesome, and exactly what I wanted to say but definitely wouldn’t have said so eloquently.

    Jane, thanks for your comments on the gloom and doom article from the Guardian. I read it this morning and thought there were some logical gymnastics at work, so I’m glad to see someone take the article to task for its misleading claims. I went about my work today anyway, in spite of his claims my days at this profession are numbered. ;)

  38. HK
    Aug 25, 2011 @ 00:10:26

    @Courtney Milan: Exactly! My brother took his time when each of their kids were born and the number of derogatory comments he got was alarming. He ended up leaving the job he had when each child was around 8 months old (yes! Each time he had to leave the job after he took his time) Even my mother said a few things and I told her to stop.

    Both my kids regularly read books aimed at ‘girls’. We’ve even listened to them together on long car trips. But, I let my youngest boy buy pink cowboy boots, so I’m probably not a good example.

    My husband has learned it irritates me to no end when his family asks (constantly) “When is she going to get a job?” and he doesn’t remind them that I have a job – it’s taking care of 2 little boys and volunteering time in their classrooms.

    I used to grit my teeth whenever someone would excuse bad behavior from my child with “it’s OK, he’s just a boy”, if I wouldn’t let my (hypothetical) girl child get away with it, my (actual) boy child couldn’t get away with it.

  39. Sao
    Aug 25, 2011 @ 02:50:41

    I tend to look for books with at least one male main char for 11yo son. I’ve learned he’s more likely to be interested. It doesn’t surprise me, at his age, while I was a voracious reader, i prefered books about girls. Id read stuff like the three musketeers and Sabatini, where the plot was all adventure, but boys becoming men plots I found tedious.

    I think kids’ books that have any social content, ie facing issues that a kid might face, would have a different focus with girls than boys.

    My son,does like nonfiction, and that doesn’t count for reading at school. They are happy to have him read The diary of a wimpy kid or captain underpants, though. I guess fart jokes are more literary than space exploration.

  40. Sao
    Aug 25, 2011 @ 03:01:51

    The problem with Max Barrys’s thesis is that the cultural bias towards men is even more true in Russia, but the generic animal is female. Because all words are gendered and you refer to feminine nouns with a feminine pronoun, the animals are automatically “she,” like streets, schools, pototos and other female nouns.

  41. DS
    Aug 25, 2011 @ 07:12:08

    I think my last post went into the spam bin. I quoted an article from the Telegraph where Graham Swift, 1996 Booker Prize winner was talking about writers being unable to earn a living in the future due to ebooks. He thinks if authors see they are unable to make a living from writing they will just give up writing and go do something else.

    Taken with the Ewan Morrison essay, this is starting to look like talking point.

  42. thetroubleis
    Aug 25, 2011 @ 11:39:40

    @Lilian Darcy

    Well, it’s that and that fact that works by people with disabilities, queer people and women of color aren’t taken as seriously. Because we’re not “objective”.

    I’d rather see an author attempt something, mess up and learn from it than not try, but I’d also really like to see people of color, people with disabilities and queer people being trusted to write about charters like themselves.

    I’m working on two books, just for fun. One of which is modern fantasy that has a girl of color who doesn’t have a left forearm. It’s not really a plot point, it’s more that charters like that don’t really get to be in many books without being the token. I find this really silly in books with advanced enough magic or science that there is very little reason for disabled people to not go on epic adventures.

    The other book, which is a bit more techomagic based has more of a disability rights sensibility to it, although it’s once again not the main plot point. Some of the charters share one of my disabilities and some don’t. The nice thing about knowing lots of other folks with disabilities is they’re often willing to answer my inane questions. I know there is plenty of writing out their on portrays of disability in fiction, which is helpful when you don’t know anyone in particular.

    I think the most important thing when “writing the other” is to actually listen to people’s lived experiences. I think too often the problem is the author goes in with preconceived notions that turn out to be wrong in the worst way. They may have not meant to harm, but they did. Of course, no group is monolithic enough to agree on everything, but generally one can get a pretty good idea of things to avoid.

    And, I’ll be shutting up now. I just have a lot of ~feelings~ on things like this. Please excuse any typos, I have dyspraxia and it can make things a bit trying.

  43. Moriah Jovan
    Aug 25, 2011 @ 12:02:55


    I’d rather see an author attempt something, mess up and learn from it than not try

    As someone in a culture that’s completely misrepresented in fiction by every non-member of that culture who has tried and completely messed up, I’ll have to disagree with you.

    When other people not of your experience and culture attempt and fail to define that experience and culture correctly, they have defined you FOR you to a wide audience, who assumes the expertise of the author. I’d rather it be nonexistent than mis(dis)represented.

  44. thetroubleis
    Aug 25, 2011 @ 13:48:55

    Fair enough. Personally, I feel the same way about certain subsets of my identity, but I’m lucky enough that other aspects seem to get an okay, if not great treatment.

    I’m likely to get yelled at for this, but if someone with pull is such a fan of X experience why aren’t they helping out an X author who likely can write it better?

    I read post awhile ago about the bargain of triggering tokenism or erasure. I think it’s on What Tami Said. Anyway, I go back and forth on whether or not I want neurotypical, abled people to try writing people like me. Often, the portrayal is actually painful rather than just annoying and oppression reinforcing. I imagine if that’s what happens in respect to your culture, it must be infuriating. For instance, I’d rather not see black characters in historical romance than be treated to the Stepin Fetchits and Magical Negroes that show up way too often. I’d rather avoid the Mad Woman in the Attic than have women with mental illnesses around.

    I don’t think really is any one prefect answer for all situations, so I’m just going to keep attempting to support people who subvert the kyriarchy with their work.

    Also, thanks for replying because your blog looks very intriguing.

  45. Moriah Jovan
    Aug 25, 2011 @ 14:14:29


    Well, thank you!

    You said you were working on something for fun, and it seems you’re really interested in reading about people who “look like” (in a figurative sense, sharing your experience somewhat) you.

    I find that when a reader takes a great enough interest in wanting to read about someone who “looks like” her to have begun doodling, they may have some traction to actually write that story or stories.

    I’ll tell you what happened when I decided to go full-bore on creating characters that “look like” me and the world that “looks like” mine: I got lots of email from other writers who hadn’t dared to put their stories out there. They’re still hesitant, but I did it and they know it’s out there and they now feel they have a reasonable outlet if they should ever gain the confidence to step out.

    So what I’m saying is (not to sound harsh), write it yourself. (I probably wouldn’t say that if you hadn’t already mentioned you were doodling.) That way, you give yourself some satisfaction and perhaps blaze a trail for people who already have those types of stories sitting under their beds or in their drawers.

  46. Moriah Jovan
    Aug 25, 2011 @ 14:19:08

    Oh! More things to say.

    And the fact of the matter is, people WILL read it.

    Putting aside the frustration of never reading about people who “look like” them, people really read to experience others’ lives and experiences.

    There may not be a blockbuster number of people who’ll read it, but I bet you’d be surprised.

  47. Amber
    Aug 25, 2011 @ 23:19:17

    As a mom to 2 young boys, I think we tend to forget how trapped boys are in their gender identities. It’s fine for young girls to do “manly” things. It’s encouraged, even. But boys are often bullied if they dare stray into the feminine.

    My oldest (a reluctant reader) has a strong enough sense of self to shrug off teasing about liking Ivy and Bean or the color pink. We’ve taken pains to not to deride “girl” stuff, although his rejection of my Serendipity books due to excessive/girly eyelashes in the illustrations made me sad.

    I also find it a bit odd that there is so much discussion about the importance of having a character who looks like you (in terms of racial identity) but it’s deemed unimportant when discussing gender identity.

    Boys can and should read books with female protagonists. But there’s nothing wrong with wanting to read books about boys, too.

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