“Get your hands off me, you damn Coal!”
After this Eden panics and is set upon because she said an offensive term to her boss because, in this world, established in the first ten pages (even if you want to check merely the preview on Amazon for free it’s there), coal is still considered a racial slur.” Legendary Women
I’ve debated whether to post about the book Save the Pearls by Victoria Foyt because it is such an awful book and the marketing is so terrible (blackface) and the comments by the author have been racist (“Conceivably, if the book had not reached the African-American community of readers, if such a category still exists, perhaps there might be some backlash.”). I didn’t want to give such a negative thing any attention at all, but if I were to give it attention, I would want to point toward some great critiques of the book which says everything that I think and then some. (See also here)
If you want to hear a full throated defense of Agency pricing, you can enjoy this podcast interview with Simon Lipskar, President of the Writers House literary agency. That said, you may want to read Courtney Milan’s takedown of Lipskar’s letter to the DOJ before listening to Lipskar’s podcast.
LendInk brought strangers together, allowing them to lend legitimately purchased ebooks to each other under the terms and policies set by each publisher (whether it was a self published author or a traditionally published author). Unfortunately, for some reason a number of authors believed that the site was engaged in piracy and in three days got the site shut down. I participate in both the Kindle Owner’s Library program (which requires the ownership of some kind of Kindle device rather than simply downloading a Kindle app) and I’ve received and lent books through Amazon when the book rights permit it. When I use the lending feature enabled for a book, the author does not get a royalty for that book but that is how the system is designed based upon the rights granted by the publisher and in the case of indie authors, by the author herself.
Apple did approve Amazon’s Instant Video App so it’s not really silencing competitors in the video market.
This is in Australia but given the international reach of the internet, it is something to think about.
Last year, Bloomsbury published a book called Liar by Justine Larbalestier. The narrator of the story is Micah, a bi racial “nappy headed” tomboy. The first cover featured a white girl. After much controversy driven by the YA blogs, the cover was eventually changed. No real apology was issued by Bloomsbury. Now we know why. Bloomsbury doesn’t want dark skinned people on their covers. The recent Bloomsbury release, Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore, features a beautiful cover. The problem? The protagonist is “dark skinned”. Read this letter from a teen on this subject.
So is Bloomsbury just trying to cater to the YA book buying public by not putting people of color on the covers of its books? Are white people the only people who buy books? Isn’t it insulting to white people to suggest that they will only buy books with white people on the cover even if the book is about a person of color? It’s certainly offensive to people of color to have the covers whitewashed.
I don’t even know what Bloomsbury is thinking but the message seems to be clear: “whites only”.
What is the appropriate response to this sort of thing? An email or letter writing campaign? Public shaming? Personal boycotts of all Bloomsbury books? Here is some contact information:
Editorial and Marketing office:
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010
This is a list of Bloomsbury executives (white, male, old) and here is a list of contact emails. Bloomsbury Children appears to be distributed by Macmillan.
Links to other blogs:
Feel free to copy this entire post and put it on your blog (no need to give DA a link back. Just go forth and shame Bloomsbury).
more cat pictures
During the past couple of weeks, the Smart Bitches and Karen Scott’s blog hosted heated debates regarding the state of African American romance fiction. For the most part and with few exceptions, romance books written by African Americans are shelved with African American books. To some authors, this is a regressive trait in what we like to pretend is a post racial culture. There has been a request by some authors that readers take a stand since the majority of romance dollars are spent by white females. The problem is that there are several ways in which romance readers can address this issue but I don’t know which is the one we should take.
There was one commenter at the SB’s who said she needed an ally. I find that to be true. If an author or a group of authors stepped up and said this is the direction we would like you to go, then I would take up the standard and run with them. But right now, I am stalled at the starting line, wondering which fork in the road I should take.
CHALLENGE 1: African American authors are relegated to niche marketing through segregated shelving.
1. Eliminate niche marketing for all African American romance books.
PRO: Exposure to a larger audience. Reduce the possible stigma that books featuring African American couples or books penned by African American authors are somehow different and not appropriate for the mainstream audience.
CON: Not all AA authors want to eliminate niche marketing. With niche marketing, books get in front of a pool of interested buyers. There is also increased shelving space, possible longer shelf life and no competition with the 400 other romances that are released each month.
2. Allow authors to choose where they want to be shelved.
PRO: This would solve the problem of the issue of treating African American authors as one hive mind. There are clearly some authors and readers who appreciate the niche marketing. By having the authors designate where their books should be shelved places the onus and power with the author and not some corporate schlub.
CON: First, feasibility. Bookstores, generally, refuse to double shelf because of the limited shelf space, the logistics of double shelving. Second, equality. African Americans who want to be shelved in the romance section (versus the AA section) state that they want equal treatment. If African Americans authors were allowed to choose where they want to be shelved, would booksellers be forced to treat non African Americans the same way? This would create a logistical nightmare as authors would send in requests to be shelved in certain areas and I’m sure that there would some who would ask to be shelved in romance who aren’t writing romance books.
3. Require publishers to stop selling books as niche marketing. As I understand it, chain booksellers have buyers for different genres. The marketing arm of the publisher pitches the books to the particular buyer. Who buys determines where the book is shelved. If publishers would have their marketers pitch a romance book to the romance buyer, it is more likely to end up shelved in the romance section.
PRO: Requiring publishers to market romances as romances regardless of the race of the books’ characters and the books’ authors would eliminate the logistical and feasibility problems that arise in the bookseller in control scenario described above.
CON: Like the removal of segretated shelving described in Scenario 1, this treats all African American romance authors the same regardless if they prefer the niche marketing.
As I stated at the outset, I think some of the lack of response to the issues raised by African American authors is due to issue paralysis. We don’t know which issue to take up as our cause. One other area in which I think we need to work together to achieve is increased visibility for African Americans authors on romance blogs.
The main problem for us at Dear Author is that because of the volume of books that we receive, we tend not to read anything that is not sent to us via email or snail mail. Dear Author posted 40 reviews in the month of April. The number of reviewed books that the reviewers had purchased was 2 or 3.
I’m sure that Dear Author is not the only blog who feels overwhelmed by the number of books it has the very good fortune of being offered. Truly it is a blessing but it is a blessing that causes us to be absentminded about books that are published and not before our eyes
The best way for an author to increase her chances of being read, reviewed, and recommended is to send us an email with a blurb and link to an excerpt. If the excerpt or blurb is interesting enough, we’ll buy our own copy so we don’t require a free book. Janine bought Ginn Hale’s Wicked Gentleman and on recommendation by Teddy Pig, I bought, read and enjoyed Josh Lanyon’s Adrien Fletcher mysteries (review to come). Both of these purchases seeded other purchases. Janine bought another book from Hale’s small print publisher and I bought two more books by Lanyon.
So we at DearAuthor need help. We need authors and readers to send us recommendations of books by African American authors. I think we’ve proven that we’ll read anything so long as it is a good book regardless of race, sexual orientation, or sub genre. This is not something that we are asking only African American authors do. As I blogged about last week, there are some things people can do to increase the likelihood of the group here reading and reviewing a particular book.
What I am saying is that authors and bloggers can work together to achieve positive results, but the key here is working together. If all we do is hurl insults at each other or talk past each other or say the one side doesn’t understand the other, we will never move from our current position and in ten years, we’ll still be bemoaning the segregation of African American romance fiction.
An article in Seattle Weekly today explores the lack of a multi cultural presence in the billion dollar romance industry. Author Edwina Martin-Arnold relates her experiences with Greater Seattle chapter of the Romance Writers of America, “I went to one [GSRWA] meeting, and it was extremely uncomfortable. It was a clique. Seattle’s local chapter is distant–"I guess that’s a good word. I stay away.”
The article is largely dismissive of romance stating the the “paperbacks are cheap and hardly literary” and wondering “Why would anyone want to write them?” But it does bring to light the strange practice of segregating the books by author ethnicity instead of by genre. It also questions why such a popular genre is so lacking in multicultural figures, both behind the covers and between them.
Glenda Howard, the executive editor for the African American Harlequin line, Kimani, believes that African-American romance is a growth area, calling it “robust and it’s flourishing.” But authors who aren’t African-American and aren’t Caucasion find themselves adrift. There is no South American, Asian-Pacific Islander writing groups or lines devoted to those ethnicities. “Sarkar-Mishra echoes Flynn’s comments about Asian writers when she says, ‘If it’s not African-American fiction, it’s Caucasian–"and no in-between.'”
If you can withstand the constant romance put downs, the article is an interesting read.
Via Seattle Weekly.
Last week was banned book week so it is a provocative time for Little, Brown Books for Young Readers to pull Tintin in the Congo from its fall list. Tintin in the Congo has been widely criticized for its racist depiction of Colonial-era Africans. The “in the Cong” book will also be excluded from the box set of 24 books in the Tintin series to be released to coincide with Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson's forthcoming Tintin movie which is slated to debut in 2008.
Belgian artist HergÃƒÆ’Ã‚ © wrote the Tintin book and drew the accompanying illustrations which features dialogue that is considered racist as well as pictures of Africans who resemble monkeys. Borders will be stocking the book in its adult section.
This is truly a tough call. On the one hand, I hate the idea of banning any kind of book. On the other, I hate the idea of racist literature being widely available and perpetuating inaccurate stereotypes.