Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Politics and Publishing

Not too long after the election a reader asked the following question, “What effect, if any, do you think the election will have on the publishing industry? Specifically, I was wondering if some of the 'boundaries' might be expanded with the advent of a more liberal administration.”

And I guess my answer would be a question for you, “What effect, if any, do you think the election will have on readers?” So frequently writers forget that the publishing industry buys for readers. I know when you’ve received your 100th rejection that might seem difficult to believe, but it’s true. I’m not sure a more liberal administration is going to make any difference at all in publishing. You’ll still see political books from both liberals and conservatives, you’ll still see romances, mysteries, SF and fantasy, you’ll still see business books and humor and health books.

I guess I’m stumped a little by this question, but intrigued enough to want to post it. Because I wonder if the reader is implying that publishing is too conservative and that a more liberal administration would mean more liberal-leaning books. But liberal how? Erotic romances seem pretty liberal with their sexcapades, thrillers liberal with blood, guts, and how a crime can be solved, and certainly paranormal and SF worlds are extremely liberal, or can be. Do you mean nonfiction? Both liberal and conservative titles have had their successes and failures and it seems to me that those were decided by the readers.

If the mind-set of the reading public changes, so does the publishing industry. If politics plays into that then so be it, but I’m not sure we can guarantee more liberal books simply because the administration is seen as more liberal. So let me throw this question to readers: What effect, if any, do you think the election will have on you as a reader?

Jessica

63 comments:

Kathleen Peacock said...

It’s an interesting question and, to be honest, one which I hadn’t considered.

I don’t think it will have a drastic effect on the overall types of books being produced and read (people will still stay within their comfort zones) but it may have an impact on the types of characters we see emerging and the lives those characters lead.

For example, two of the characters in my last book comprise a gay couple. Because of the decisions in Canada and Massachusetts legalizing same-sex marriage, I was able to write them as I saw them – a loving couple who were married. Possibly not the best example, but it would have been more difficult had policies and legislation not changed in those regions.

Sheila Connolly said...

I think the better question is, what is the impact of a president who not only reads (look at the impact of sales of Goodwin's Team of Rivals since the election), but who actually writes (and can speak articulately). This is an outstanding model, and let's hope it encourages reading of fiction and non-ficiton.

Annette Lyon said...

I'm with you--the question sort of stumped me. Why would the person in the White House have any effect whatsoever on publishing? It's not as if the president makes legislation surrounding it. If there are changes, it'll be because the readership attitude has changed and the administration will be an effect of that, not the other way around.

acpaul said...

The only effect I can see is that once my taxes go up, I'll have less money to spend on books?

Anita said...

As a Latina, I'm hoping that by having a person of color in the White House, it will become more acceptable to have people of color as protagonists. Growing up, I'll bet I read 1,000 books before I ever read a book with a person of color as a protagonist. For all you more caucasian folks out there, imagine the situation was reversed, and the first 1,000 books you read all had mexicans or african american protagonists.
I don't mean to gripe---I'm certainly not angry---I'm just giving you a different perspective.

natica said...

On my reading? Uh, none.

But I bet you'll see a shift in the kinds of submissions you get in the next six to twelve months. It's been a while since Americans have had such a dignified president, and that element is going to find its way into novels where the top levels of government might not be the bad guy, authorities might be doing the right thing, and absolute power might not corrupt absolutely. A "heavy is the head that wears the crown" sense. So really, I half expect books to become a little more authoritarian.

Anonymous said...

What I read will remain the same. Maybe the question is more of concern about; will what we write and read be looser concerning moral issues? I certainly don't intend to stop reading or read less, nor will my preferences change, and I certainly hope we don't change what we write based on a 4 year term.

Anonymous said...

I read the question as do you think the publishing indsutry's financial tightening will loosen when the new administration comes in? In the last month, there's been so much of a pull back from signing new authors. Maybe publishers, as well as the rest of the country, will start to believe things will get better, and again take more risks with new authors.

Anonymous said...

Anita and Natica,
You're comments are hilarious.

Anita
If you want to see those things maybe you should talk to people of your same race and get them to write about your race. Americans are Americans, having a black president will not change what an author is going to write about. An author is more than likely going to have the protagonist their own race. It's human nature, not racism.

Natica,

That's really funny. Did you forget that the American people have always elected the presidents. Democrat or Republican, LOL sorry can't stop laughing; bad guy that's too funny, we elected all of the presidents. If we see are president as a bad guy, maybe we should consider living somewhere else.Authoritarian crack me up!

Justus M. Bowman said...

I don't foresee my reading habits changing because of the presidential election.

I generally favor traditional SFF, and the dwarves (or aliens) don't care who gets elected on planet Earth.

Anonymous said...

Sheila, I agree! The fact that we finally have a President-elect who values the importance of education and learning, and who wants to make it more affordable to attend college, will definitely help in the long run!
I think Obama values reading over "shopping" any day. Consider his own well-written bestsellers. I, for one, can't wait.

Anonymous said...

To say that publishing is "conservative" is very ironic. Publishing sex in young adult literature cannot possibly be considered a conservative value.

Anita said...

Anonymous 10:05:

Glad I could give you a giggle.

Honestly, I AM hoping Latino writers will be inspired to submit more work featuring Latino protagonists. I have a feeling many of us have been doing just that for a looooong time, but as I said before, I hope the approach will become more welcome with a person of color in the White House.

Kathleen Peacock said...

Anita:

I agree with you. I think authors do tend to create protagonists they identify with, but I think the recent election will perhaps broaden their horizons and encourage them to step out of their comfort zones.

I also think (hope) the election will encourage people of color in that they'll see larger possibilities and demand for more diversity in fiction.

Kate Douglas said...

The one thing I've been hearing regarding the incoming administration is that there will be a strong stance taken on copyright laws, much as what has been done to protect the music industry. That's a subject near and dear to my heart--especially since I was just notified today of two more sites illegally offering my books as free downloads.

Juliana Stone said...

ouch Kate...that has got to piss you off! I hope the laws do get more stringent....

persistentdreamer said...

I don't think the election will have any effect on what I read, but the economy, etc might. I've noticed that I'm more interested than ever in watching movies and reading stories that take me out of the present and into a cozier world, if you will.

Dal Jeanis said...

Wow - that line almost cost me a keyboard. "...that publishing is too conservative..."

OMG.

Ryan Field said...

I read in Time Magazine that Joe the Plumber got a book deal. Ha.

H. L. Dyer said...

A president who values and enjoys reading can make a difference... the James Bond novels broke out in a big way after Kennedy mentioned his fondness for them.

So perhaps now we'll see some books besides "My Pet Goat" getting presidential attention.

*snort*

Heather B. Moore said...

I don't think there will be any effect directly related to publishing. The only changes would be the platform or angle of some of the non-fiction memoirs. Instead of Hilary's "How I won," it will be "Why I lost and how I ended up with a killer job anyway." Or maybe the bailout plan can include the book industry as well? :-)

Anonymous said...

The downturn in the economy is more likely to have an affect on the themes we see in fiction. We may see more books based upon faith, for example, because folks will re-evaluate their priorities (check out some of Amazon's top sellers for 2008, such as The Shack). In non-fiction, we'll see more books geared to personal finance. We may also see a trend towards books that offer hope and/or have happy endings as folks will look for positivity in their entertainment to lift their spirits.

Evangeline said...

Perhaps seeing a loving black couple living in the White House with their children will convince non-black readers that they can "relate" to romances with black protagonists--that any non-urban lit book with black people in them aren't about thug life or "hating whitey", and that a romance novel is a romance novel, regardless of the color of the author and the characters. And if the publishing world is liberal, maybe editors and agents will push against the status quo regarding race and fiction.

Julie Marie said...

I'm with you, the question stumps me. Yes, I realize a writer in England put forth the theory that everyone who lives in the mid-west owns guns, chews tobacco and has he IQ of a potted plant therefore they elect someone like George Bush so they can feel superior. However, I'm the same person today as I was last year. I will buy the same books. I will read the same books and I rather doubt my skin has change tone, my intelligence has changed or my lifestyle has changed because we have a new president.

The only thing that will change is less money for books as my taxes go up so we can properly support the proposed socialist country.

Frankly, I wasn't aware any president has affected the way books are published, nor should they be.

I hope they don't as I will write what I write, not what might appeal to a president.

"Wow - that line almost cost me a keyboard. "...that publishing is too conservative..."

OMG."

Umm, yeah, can we be friends? That was was my reaction.

"So perhaps now we'll see some books besides "My Pet Goat" getting presidential attention."

Actually, I think his favorite book is a biography of Sam Houston. Oh, you were being commenting about intelligence. Well, golly shucks. Guess I better go get My Pet Goat, since Bush and I have close to the same IQ.

Anonymous said...

Unlike Bush & Co., Obama actually respects journalists and writers and regards them in high esteem. After all, he's a published author with an agent so of course he can empathize and sympathize with writers of non-fiction or fiction. Not only will Obama make reading and education "cool" again, he'll support legislation that allows motivated students to attend college. I welcome an intelligent, informed, articulate and literate President in the White House. Yes, we can get published!

Julie Marie said...

I'm with you, the question stumps me. Yes, I realize a writer in England put forth the theory that everyone who lives in the mid-west owns guns, chews tobacco and has he IQ of a potted plant therefore they elect someone like George Bush so they can feel superior. However, I'm the same person today as I was last year. I will buy the same books. I will read the same books and I rather doubt my skin has change tone, my intelligence has changed or my lifestyle has changed because we have a new president.

The only thing that will change is less money for books as my taxes go up so we can properly support the proposed socialist country.

Frankly, I wasn't aware any president has affected the way books are published, nor should they be.

I hope they don't as I will write what I write, not what might appeal to a president.

"Wow - that line almost cost me a keyboard. "...that publishing is too conservative..."

OMG."

Umm, yeah, can we be friends? That was was my reaction.

"So perhaps now we'll see some books besides "My Pet Goat" getting presidential attention."

Actually, I think his favorite book is a biography of Sam Houston. Oh, you were being commenting about intelligence. Well, golly shucks. Guess I better go get My Pet Goat, since Bush and I have close to the same IQ.

Robena Grant said...

“What effect, if any, do you think the election will have on readers?”

I've noticed a change in my reading choices. I'm looking for great characters who overcome even greater odds.

I had the same feelings after seeing the movie, Australia, which was set in 1939. I came away thinking of how far we've come as people, how far we've come with technology and industry. Yet, we've become soft, fat cats, so to speak.

So, yes, my reading material and viewing material have changed. I look up to President-Elect Obama and Michelle Obama. They seem to have good family values and a deep abiding love and respect for each other, and they bring to office a sense of hope.

I want to read about characters who can look beyond a persons education, background, race, sexual orientation, income level, and see the real person within and honor that. Characters who leave me with more understanding of human nature.

Anonymous said...

I'm just curious, Anita, did you read twilight? While Jacob is neither black nor a Latina is an Indian. Which just like blacks and Latinas I consider a race, but also an American. Now, I have to wonder if you have seen the Team Edward and the Team Jacob shirts. The American teenagers I know are split on whether they want Jacob or Edward to win Bella. Jacob is not even meant to be the hero, but he is anyway. Since the teens I know are predominately white, I have a hard time understanding where race comes into reading and what the protaganist should be. I really get tired of the racial issue thing. We elected a black president. The point is whether or not a book is good. Write your book, if it's good it will sell. If not, don't blame it on race.

Anonymous said...

Family values? Obama supports Partial Birth Aboration. Since when is killing a baby that fully capable of living if it was born right then considered family values? Go conservative, the more we accept the easier it is to do unmoral things. Sorry, my taxes going up does not help me buy books. I like conservative, just the same as most adults and teens that I know. Sorry, P.C. Cast.

Anonymous said...

Bush started a war with the WRONG country and thousands of innocent US solideirs and Iraqis are getting killed and wounded every day--and all you care about is your taxes which may or may not go up? That's what Bush was all about--selfishness and greed--and look where that got us after 8 years of so-called "conservative family values." Give Obama a chance and give me a break!

Cat said...

I doubt that we'll see much change in the publishing industry itself. But like any other notable event in history, it will impact our old nemesis "timing."

A new administration's policies on war, national security, health care and immigration will impact the timely relevance of many works of fiction. Many of us will have to work hard on revisions to keep our work from appearing dated. While national security issues immediately spring to mind for thrillers, I think that socialized medicine could skew many works of women's fiction by radically changing the problems associated with health care. It's well worth keeping an eye on proposed policies to see what the world might be doing by the time our books actually hit the shelves.

Anita said...

Dear Anonymous 1:14,

I have a daughter who is a big fan of TWILIGHT. You're correct...one of the characters is native american...and I am thrilled...my daughter gets to experience more diversity in her reading than I did at her age. I hope my daughter's younger siblings will see even more diversity in their reading. I don't care if that comes about because of a new administration or reader polls or whatever.

I also believe good books sell...I'm seeing tons of good books on the market today...many with characters who reflect the population in regards to ethnic and religious backgrounds.

And, for the record, I have nothing against protagonists of any color/gender/religion, etc., but I do enjoy learning about other cultures and I'm pleased that more of those types of books are becoming popular recently. For example, I am currently reading WHEN THE ELEPHANTS DANCE. Very good stuff.

Finally, I am also tired of the "racial issue thing." Someday, I hope it will go away.

Madame Lefty said...

The only real change I have noticed from this new political era is that I'm more interested in reading books about certain political figures who have something of worth to say.

Notice, I did not say Sarah Palin.

But, for the most part my reading tastes have not changed.

Julie Weathers said...

So, are you regretting posing this question yet, Jessica?

I predict the anon posts will rise dramatically as the venom spews.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I wonder if Jessica meant to turn this into a political agenda. I think Sarah Palin would make a great heroine:)She's strong, and can kick butt. This is hilarious. It's almost like watching the election all over again.

Eileen Wiedbrauk said...

After Obama was elected I found myself wanting to write hopeful stories. It's not that there's a liberal agenda, it's that Obama represents hope and opportunity to so many people.

But I have no idea how I'll write a hopeful story when I still think I need to be darkly serious to earn my stripes.

Anonymous said...

Julie,

Just wanted you to know I always post Anon, but it's not because I'm trying to hide my identity. I just haven't taken the time to open an account. I do have to admit unless you normally write books about your political agenda, posting your views un-anon isn't very smart. Ask the Dixie Chicks.

Deb

Julie Weathers said...

“There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again . . . If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.” Obama

Bush started a war with the WRONG country and thousands of innocent US solideirs and Iraqis are getting killed and wounded every day-

I'm sure no one will die when we invade an ally.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anita,

I get what you're saying, and I'm pleased to see that there are books making it to the best seller lists about Barack Obama, #9 in Children's Picture Books BARACK OBAMA: SON OF PROMISE, CHILD OF HOPE, by Nikki Grimes. In children's paperback books BARACK OBAMA, by Roberta Edwards. Illustrated by Ken Call.
His autobiographical books also are still on the non-fiction lists
(NY Times and USA TODAY). But this is not just about Obama, though his win could be used as a tool to inspire children who needed a role model like themselves. I do not wish to get into a political discussion, I only hope that the doors will open for more multicultural writers and that all writers include (or at least consider including more diverse characters). I know when I write, that's what I do, however the choice is left to the individual.
And because I've had to step in when I saw injustice through the years, I know that for many, "That Racial thing" will not go away, whether it be subtle or overt. And yes, it can go both ways. We're imperfect people. But that's one of the reasons why I write. To educate and entertain. I truly enjoyed Twilight. Perhaps there can be a story just as engrossing being penned for YA's of color, which are an underserved population. Just this week Publisher's Weekly had an article concerning reaching out to African American teens, though I hope they include Hispanic and other groups as well. Sorry this is so long, and I don't wish to seem argumentative, I do see both sides, and I feel there's room not only in writing, but in many fields for greater minority representation. It's not from lack of trying, or lack of authors of color not writing. It goes without saying, this business is subjective, and one must be as persistent as "a pitbull with lipstick" to succeed:)

Anonymous said...

I'm Anonymous 3:13 PM (the long winded post) I see an opportunity here to build bridges and to jump on the new puppy in the white house bandwagon. If anyone wants to contribute to a children's book on puppies applying for the job (I've got Rottweilers covered) email me at Onyx5525yahoo.com.)
the rottie puppy I'm writing about guards the Obama's daughters and makes a mess of things.

Anonymous said...

A pitbull with lipstick would be very intersting to see. Maybe 4 years from now will get luckier. Politics and Anon are the only smart way to go. Afterall we are all allowed our own opinion it's the American way. Just like it's the American way to by books based on your beliefs or refuse to buy books based on your beliefs. And even more certainly if you intend to voice your opinion and put your name with it, you should certainly have your facts straight and know how to spell correctly. As for the race issue, it will never go away if no-one gives it a chance to.

Anonymous said...

ACpaul said: The only effect I can see is that once my taxes go up, I'll have less money to spend on books?

*****
You know, if you're earning over $250,000 a year, then you probably have some discretionary income to spend on books even if your taxes do go back to the rates you paid under Bill Clinton. Obama said the only tax increases he would enact are on people earning more than $250,000 a year. Frankly, if I were at that pay grade, I'd be pretty darn happy.

Anonymous said...

Over at Pub Rants there have been entries about scientologists wielding power to stop the distribution of books they suspect would give an unfavourable view of their beliefs and practices. Maybe this is the sort of thing the person making the query meant?

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:52

250,000? Do you know what tax credits are? Do you get any now? I do, but not for long. i.e. my taxes are about to go up, and I don't make anywhere near 250,000. Bye, Buy books :(

Anonymous said...

"What effect, if any, do you think the election will have on you as a reader?"

For me, I like the insider stories.
There are some juicy true life backstories and probably a few fiction titles that could come out of this. Carl Rove is already writing a book and claiming that he's going to call out the Repubs that didn't support Bush. I'd like to read Sarah Palin's book, well, just because. Instead of those commemorative plates they keep hawking on TV, I'd like to see Obama write one on how it felt to realize he'd actually become President, especially in this time of economic upheaval (sorta reminds me of the joke in that Airplane movie "I picked the wrong week to stop smoking"). This is off topic, but for the exec who still wants his 10 million dollar bonus because he kept his company's loss in the low billions,I'd like to see his book listing why he thinks he should get it.

Anonymous said...

One of the lasting legacies of this election is the dozens of sites devoted to all-things-political all-the-time. I had multiple web sites I checked on a daily basis to scan polls, skims quotes, fume over ads, etc. And many of them were really well-written.

This 24/7 stream of sound-bites changes us as readers. We want fast. We want succinct. We want crisp. Every word has to count. And we know it is possible now; there are a thousand blogs that prove it.

I used to buy a hundred books or more each year. I'd say that has dwindled to a dozen--even as my income climbed. And it's mainly because I find too many bloated novels out there. I check books out of the library--especially for the first time I read an author--before I'm willing to buy. Because I want an efficient read. Like I can get on the web.

spyscribbler said...

I write at Borders every day (work at home, so I gotta get out sometime!), and over the last eight years, I've noticed a HUGE increase in conservative, right-wing, and the-government-should-be-more-Christian books. Where I used to see one on the front tables every now and then, I would venture to say that over the past two years, there are almost always four or five. (The election may have something to do with that, LOL!)

So... I don't know, but these sorts of books scare me and sadden me. I'm hoping this election is proof of a more tolerant and gentle trend.

But those are just hopes. If Bush saw a swing to more conservative political books, shouldn't it swing the other way? I hope?

Anonymous said...

I forgot the question!

Elissa M said...

I feel sorry for anyone who is so shallow that their book choices are based on who is president. Or who is not president for that matter. Seriously.

This goes for publishers as well as readers.

spyscribbler said...

Elissa, I would agree that people don't walk into a bookstore and think "because Obama was just elected, I'm going to buy that book."

It's just that every single one of us is effected by the world around us. Very few of us live in a vacuum. Art, books, and music, throughout time, have almost always reflected the society and culture its time.

Bush made a very different America. Americans are hoping Obama will make a very different America, and we can't argue that his election was historic.

It's only natural that, on some--arguably--perceptible or imperceptible level, this election and, hopefully, the new politics it brings, will change the way we see things, and therefore the books writers write and the books readers and editors select.

Just in July, David Baldacci released a book with the hook: "Dick, I need a war."

It's fiction, sure, but it's definitely reflective of the times of a Bush presidency. It resonated with readers because of the sociological context.

It's not shallow. It just is what art is supposed to do.

AstonWest said...

To answer the question, the election will have no impact on the publishing industry other than all the non-fiction books regarding the election and individuals involved that show up on the shelves until the next big thing shows up.

Jen said...

I just finished reading "Minders of Make-Believe" by Leonard S. Marcus (basically a history of children's publishing). The question reminded me of this book, because the author discussed how administration changes have had dramatic impacts on children's publishing, at least. For instance, Marcus discusses how under the Johnson administration, public schools received massive funding to purchase books for their school libraries, which led to dramatic growth in children's publishing, and also an increase in multi-cultural books. Under Reagan, tax cuts led to fewer books being purchased by schools and public libraries, and the conservative approach to education meant schools purchased more text books and fewer trade books.

NerdSnark said...

Finally, I am also tired of the "racial issue thing." Someday, I hope it will go away.

The only way for this to go away is for everyone to acknowledge that one still exists and work towards bridging the gap.

Yes, a romance should be a romance. Though in some bookstores AA romance is shelved next to books like Terry McMillian just because the authors are the same race.

I've known people who refuse to write characters who share the color of their skin, because "insert race and genre" doesn't sell.

Faulty thinking, but it's more common than people think.


That's beside the point. To answer your question...I don't think it will change my reading habits. I read everything, but non-fiction. I'm more than sure I will continue to do so. A leopard doesn't change their spots because of politics.

Julie Weathers said...

I've known people who refuse to write characters who share the color of their skin, because "insert race and genre" doesn't sell.

Which seems odd since an author at Books and Writers was writing a fascinating story about with a black protagonist and she was roundly criticized by several people in the industry for having to audacity to write about a black woman when she is white. How can she possibly know how to write about black people?

The critics were black. So, it seems to me while some are trying very hard to ignore the race issue, others prefer to wear their martyr status proudly.

What happened 100, 200, 300 or 400 hundred years ago to my ancestors has no bearing on what I choose to make of my life.

I have enough strength to be able to choose what I enjoy reading without consulting what the current president likes or doesn't like or what is popular. Call me a maverick.

Anonymous said...

For another more African American take on this question please take a look at the op-ed piece on The Root titled The Obama Effect on Publishing by Lori L. Tharps.

http://www.theroot.com/id/49013?GT1=38002

Anonymous said...

You "mavericks" are missing the whole point! This has nothing to do with a President's likes or dislikes, it's the divisive way Bush ran the country (us vs. them).
What happened to separation of Church and State? Killing innocent victims (by illegal guns or war) is wrong, no matter what your religion is or political side you're on. Who can afford to buy books when millions of jobs have been lost since Bush stole the election 8 years ago?
The Borders guys i right--Bush tried to change the whole culture into a racist, fear-mongering, pseudo-religious country. Let's see more balanced, not biased, books on the shelves!

Julie Weathers said...

Anon 6:30.

Can you give some actual facts about how enlightened we were during the Clinton era and what Bush did to destroy publishing?

Seriously. You can spout all the rhetoric you want about this, but come up with some statistics about this.

The question was, how will politics change my reading habits? My answer was, and is, I can make up my own decisions about what I like to read without consulting the president. Yeah, I know it's radical to make up my own mind about what I like to read regardless of who is in the white house.

Frankly, the only remotely interesting "political" book in ages was the one with Reagan's letters.

Anonymous said...

"Which seems odd since an author at Books and Writers was writing a fascinating story about with a black protagonist and she was roundly criticized by several people in the industry for having to audacity to write about a black woman when she is white. How can she possibly know how to write about black people?"

Hi Julie, without knowing the book it's difficult to know what could have set the audience off. There are many wonderful books written by non-minority authors that are enjoyed by African Americans. The Astonishing life of Octavius Nothing, Vols 1 and 2 come to mind, as well as the classic "To Kill a Mockingbird." It may well be that the author touched a nerve with some members of the audience that didn't ring as authentic, but offensive or bordering on stereotypical. And that can happen regardless of race. But please know, what may seem offensive to some may not set someone else off.
It would be interesting to find out if there were others who didn't share the viewpoint.
But back to the question. I hope it opens up more discussions, like these. It's best not to ignore but to communicate, because that's the first step.

Dal Jeanis said...

Interesting how quickly the mention of politics leads to cliche'ed hyperbole.

It's not that there have been a greater number of (only) conservative books under Bush, it's that the polarization that mushroomed under Clinton has continued. There are more books aimed at *both* margins, not just the right.

And I'm not blaming Clinton - both parties are worsening it, along with the national media. The polarization probably actually started with Nixon's Southern strategy, which pulled conservative whites over to the Republicans and aligned the two parties on a left-right axis rather than the more fractured lines that existed previously.

With the retirement of old-style conservative (Zell Miller) Dems, and the ostracism of any Dems that deviate from leftist orthodoxy (Lieberman), you're likely to see the polarization continue, especially if the Reps counter with a similar nasty ostracism on their more liberal members (Powell). Neither party really believes in diversity, that's just a slogan or shibboleth on the left.

Dal Jeanis said...

Julie Marie -

Sure! Friends are great.


Anon 5:20

Interesting article. Still seems to think that ... how do I put this?

In all my time studying and interacting with people in publishing, I have never met a single one that screened fiction queries or manuscripts based upon the race of the author. Word usage, yes. Character usage, yes. Grammar and spelling, yes.

The assumption that President Obama will have any effect on how queries or manuscripts from black authors are received in the publishing industry is... ummm... mistaken. Yes, that's a polite word.

Mistaken, in my experience.

Anonymous said...

"I have never met a single one that screened fiction queries or manuscripts based upon the race of the author. Word usage, yes. Character usage, yes. Grammar and spelling, yes."

Hello, I took a look at the link and I didn't get the same impression as you, so I hope we can agree to disagree on this one, as I do see your point. But from what I gather of the article, its saying some black authors feel the book industry seems to put a damper on their literary works or to type cast them, believing their works only appeal to their racial group, when the writers themselves feel their works could be appreciated by all, and hope that the industry will be more open minded now. It's the age old commercial versus literary debate. I do hope that this part of the article comes to pass, but only time will tell if "Obama has proved, after all, that readers of all races and backgrounds can take to non-mainstream literary portraits of the American experience."
imho authors of literary works, no matter what race are having a tough time getting published, that's where I differ with the article.

Thanks for the link, whoever provided it.

Anonymous said...

Julie--your idea of "interesting" reading seems worlds apart from most people. No sense in arguing with you since you seem stuck in the past. My guess is you're over 60? Time for a new generation and a more progressive era...the Republicans have had 8 years to ruin this country--time to move on, whether you like it or not.

Anonymous said...

Publishing definitely still uses racial stereotypes in their marketing - case in point - The lawsuit between Millenia Black and Penguin.

Basically the author's self published 1st novel had race-neutral characters.It did so well that Penguin became interested. The did a cover featuring 2 wedding bands (no people).

The acquiring editor at Penguin asked the agent what the author's race was. Upon finding out the author was black, the company refused to release the book as general fiction. They promptly changed the cover art to show 2 black women and marketed it as African-American fiction only despite the author's objections.

Then when the editor got Ms. Black's draft of her 2nd novel featuring clearly white characters, she was told it would have to be re-written with black characters.

Some might think it doesn't matter but it definitely changes who looks at the book. I've rarely seen non-black women picking up books with black people on the cover in the stores.

I DON'T think this is intentional on their part either. Most people naturally gravitate towards what looks familiar/comfortable.

The only reason people of color don't do the same thing is because living in a society where you are surrounded by images that don't represent you, you become almost immune to it. You also start to identify with the majority culture much more than the majority culture identifies with you.

Like I said - I don't think people are avoiding reading about multicultural characters on purpose, their subconscious is just inclined to believe they won't "relate" to those books.

The major lesson of this lawsuit IMO is that it's not the publisher's business what race the author is. They also shouldn't be using their preconceived notions of that race to market the book. Let the book stand on it's own.

http://bestsellingauthor.blogspot.com/2007/01/millenia-blacks-complaint.html