the public face of publishers (and authors and agents and...

Lesbian short story and novel publishers.

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the public face of publishers (and authors and agents and...

Postby FranW » 02 Jul 2010, 07:13

Sometimes publishers do great things, sometimes they do horrible things. Usually behind the scenes. But sometimes in public.

Today's Horrible In Public: yet another case of whitewashing. If a book doesn't sell well, there can be a zillion reasons. But if a book doesn't sell well and it has a non-white girl on the cover, why oh why is it always the publisher's assumption that that's the reason?

The original cover:
Image

The publisher decided the book didn't sell well enough, and OF COURSE IT MUST BE because the cover model isn't white-bread, so they've yanked teh book and are putting it out with a totally new cover that hides the other-ness of the character. The sequel has a very similar cover to the new cover for the first book:
Image
Sigh.

It's not the author's fault, as she has no say about the cover art. She's trying to keep her chin up about it, though she's clearly not thrilled with the publisher's decision. Poor woman.
http://cindy-pon.livejournal.com/31874.html
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Re: the public face of publishers

Postby wildlx » 02 Jul 2010, 07:49

Why do you assume the problem is the person being Asian :dunno:? The word I would use for the original cover is kitsch.
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Re: the public face of publishers

Postby ElaineB » 02 Jul 2010, 07:56

I wonder if they weren't also trying to make it look more like a Twilight book. She also comments that the story is different from other YA stuff out there. Another thing publishers don't like. Why be innovative when you can jump on a bestselling bandwagon?
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Re: the public face of publishers

Postby Baker » 04 Jul 2010, 08:19

That's an interesting point, Elaine. The publisher might be trying to ride on someone else's coattails by a lookalike cover. Mind you, I have to agree with Wild: I'd say the problem with the first cover is that it's tacky, not the race of the woman.
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Re: the public face of publishers

Postby FranW » 04 Jul 2010, 09:25

I'm just the opposite: I thought the first cover was splendid and perfectly designed for the YA reader. Different strokes for different folks, I guess!
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Re: the public face of publishers

Postby Baker » 04 Jul 2010, 09:40

But I do agree with your contention that the publisher's deciding that the portrayal of a non-white woman was the problem with sales is reprehensible.
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Re: the public face of publishers

Postby FranW » 09 Jul 2010, 09:39

Credit where credit's due: NightShade Books has been getting heavily slammed by its authors for screwing up everything from returning phone calls to sending out royalty payments:
My agent eventually got a response by calling from an unlisted number and has confirmed that this silence appears to have been a tactic of deliberate avoidance....

Nine months ago, Night Shade made a verbal offer to pay me a small sum for the rights. I agreed. They’ve never paid me....

http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs ... lle/?p=547.

Night Shade has now come clean and admitted publicly that they've made a balls-up of it and want to do better:

We screwed up.
This has been a wakeup call for us.
At this time, we would very much like any of our authors, past or present, who have or have had issues with our conduct or business practices, to step forward either to us or to SFWA, so that we can attempt to resolve any hardships we have may have caused.

http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/genreville/

Night Shade has put out truly excellent books for many years, and I hope they can come through this shining and whole.
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Re: the public face of publishers

Postby FranW » 10 Aug 2010, 14:54

I've never heard of Pearlsong Press, but I like their emphasis:
We refuse to publish or sell anything that is size/fat-negative, encourages dieting or bariatric surgery or otherwise supports the weight loss industry.

Using the word "obesity" or "obese" (in fiction or nonfiction) without indicating your awareness of the medicalization of that term and the problems and prejudices inherent in labeling bodies as diseased simply because of their size or body fat percentage will most likely get your query or manuscript sample immediately rejected. We don't like the term "overweight," either, because of its implicit reference to there being an externally (authoritatively) determined acceptable weight. (Over whose weight?)

http://www.pearlsong.com/submissions.htm
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Re: the public face of publishers

Postby FranW » 08 Sep 2010, 08:07

I'm going to cheat and extend "the public face of publishers" to agents.

My understanding is that when an agent takes on an author, that agent has a pretty good understanding of how to sell that author's book to editors. Agents don't take on books that they personally enjoy but know they can't sell. My understanding is also that agents keep their authors regularly informed of how things are going. So I was taken aback, for several reasons, by agent Lori Perkin's blog post. First, she appears to chastise the author for checking in regularly to ask how things are going -- shouldn't the agent be keeping the author updated? Then she tells him that publishing as an industry has pretty much tanked -- which I don't think is really true. And she ends by chastising him for not keeping up with the industry news, which is....odd. But she also says:

I think it's almost impossible to place a first horror novel right now in print.

I can refer you to one of the other agents in house (go to our website) after Labor Day, but I do think epub is probably the way to go for horror right now.

http://agentinthemiddle.blogspot.com/20 ... 3328134192

Horror has always been a hard sell, but I'm not aware that now is worse than any other time. However, I wouldn't be bothered so much except for the fact that this agent is part owner of an e-publisher. It gives the impression that she's steering her clients to publish with her own press, which has the potential for a big conflict of interest.
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Re: the public face of publishers

Postby FranW » 15 Sep 2010, 07:45

Now, THIS is an agent whose attitude I like. Query Shark (Janet Reid, who I think used to be Miss Snark) publicly critiques people's queries, and it's a fabulous learning tool. But recently she also critiqued an author's attitude -- and showed that her own is really admirable.

The author's query ended with:
I appreciate your time and would be humbled if you would consider reading sample chapters of (TITLE OF BOOK).

http://queryshark.blogspot.com/

And Janet replied:
NEVER EVER EVER dismiss yourself this way. Be humbled my ass. You are not a beggar. Don't act like one.

You've made every single mistake in the book, including being published by PublishAmerica but you are a writer, and as such you deserve courtesy and respect.

Pleased, sure. Grateful, ok. Humbled, no, no, no.

I never want to see this in a query from a writer EVER. I don't care if you ARE, don't ever say it. Don't even think it.

If you become my client, we are on the same team. We are colleagues. You're not a fucking supplicant.


That alone puts Janet Reid at the very very tippy top of my If I Ever Write A Book I Want Her For My Agent list.
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