publishing industry

Romance, Representation And You

So the last post I reblogged got some interesting comments I want to touch on, namely people stating that they don’t dislike Romance because it’s fluffy and feel good, but because it is often sexist, misogynistic, ableist, heteronormative and woefully lacking in diversity, which yes, absolutely, yes. Those are entirely valid criticisms of the genre—indeed I find them to be valid of any genre, whether it’s sci-fi, fantasy, young adult or otherwise. There is a shocking lack of diversity in our fiction and media—and not because people don’t want it or aren’t trying to make it, but because publishing houses and media can’t see the co-relation between what their marketing teams are telling them, and the actual reality that of course straight white stories are selling the best, of course it is, because you won’t sell anything else, that’s why there’s no sales numbers for anything else.

I worked in a romance publishing house for a good few years, I also worked for their erotica team, and do you know, not once did I ever come across a manuscript with a disabled person? Not a single one. There was also never a manuscript that featured a character with mental illness who wasn’t the villain, or whose issues couldn’t be Fixed With Love™(*vomit*). 

The few times a story featured non white characters, it was usually “The Best Friend Who Gives Sassy Real Advice”, or so horrifically racist that our modus operandi was to nuke it from the office servers rather than try and deal with it because how do you politely tell an author, hey, you’re a fetishistic piece of shit please find God and change the entirety of your story so we can print it, (Answer: you don’t there is no polite way to tell someone they are a  fetishistic piece of shit and you never want their work to darken your inbox ever again.) when you can instead say “Sorry, not what we’re looking for a the moment” and retreat to the relative safety of the slushpile where maybe, just maybe, a hidden gem awaits excavation.

And our publishing house prided itself on diversity because we had an LGBT section, and oh boy let me tell you I was so excited when I got moved over onto that side…only to realize, there’s no w/w fiction because “it doesn’t sell well” and 90% of the m/m fiction is being written by women for women and they fired the one gay author cause his work wasn’t “what was selling” and every bisexual character I ever encountered was either Actually Gay/Actually Straight, or surprise! The Evil Greedy Homewrecker who needs to pick a side, booo hiiiiss, grab your pitchforks and burn the witch.

And I remember, I remember looking to my senior editor who was also my friend at the time, a poly bisexual, mentally ill woman and saying “what the fuck Rebecca” (yes, her name was actually Becky) and she looked at me over our skype call and said “You want to keep your job? Deal with it.”

Because you see, Marketing reigns supreme, and Marketing doesn’t give a shit about people like you and me. It doesn’t care if the neurodivergent person wants to see people like them in fiction, it doesn’t care that people of color want to be more than just the friend/villain, they don’t care that there is more to LGBTQIA+ than the L and specifically the G, it doesn’t care if disabled people want to be represented as more than someone ele’s story arc prop. They don’t care they, don’t care, and do you know why so many publishing houses look down on indie publishing and self published authors and try to call them hacks? Because we don’t give a fuck that they don’t care and we’re doing what we want anyway.

Oh sure you get the usual “but the work is so unpolished, no one has vetted it, it’s just bad, this is why we need publishers to stop the crap from rising to the top”—and yet Fifty Shades of Grey still gets a multi-billion dollar production budget and to the top of the best seller list—do you see, where I am going with this? They’re not interested in selling the best they are just interested in selling, and we are living in a society that has a system designed specifically to a quite literally straight and narrow demographic. So of course XYZ stories sell well, of course they do, because that is where the vast majority of marketing goes, to make sure you buy into it. And Romance…Romance is a lucrative industry to be in if you can get the weight of that campaign behind you…but if you can’t? Well, not only do you have to compete with lack of funding and resources, but also the pervasive lie that because you’re not affiliated directly with X Publishing House or Y Agency, you are not good enough, and no one will want to read your story.

And that’s a bunch of baloney. It’s so much baloney you can slap it between two slices of bread and cover it in mustard because the whole thing is a ham.

Do you know what I would have loved growing up? (And still would) Stories about girls who liked people regardless of gender—and who wasn’t conflicted over it because people are people and gender is fluid and irrelevant to love. Stories about people with mental health issues, where the person is still loved and shown as functional, with their mental health issues, not despite. Stories about disabled and ill people who have fulfilling lives whose arc doesn’t revolve around being brave for simply existing or how much of a saint their families/loved ones are for putting up with them. And do you know what I get instead, even now as an adult who has worked in the industry that sells these stories? I get things like Fifty Shades of Domestic Abuse, and train wrecks like You Before Me where the death of the disabled person is seen as a romantic gesture of selflessness that sets the love interest free to fully live her life. HOW FUCKING FUCKED UP IS THAT. Oh you can argue with me all you want that wasn’t  Moyes intent when she was writing it, but it damn well was the end result.

Yes, Romance is lacking, and yes it needs revamped, it needs more cultural diversity, it needs more inclusion, it needs so many things—but it also needs for people to not want to not write for it because it’s “fluffy” and cheap, like somehow they are selling their souls away. 

I’ve got friends who have written amazing, diverse stories told from their point of view…but they won’t ever get them published because as soon as you mention self publishing or the Romance industry they turn their noses up. And they’re shooting themselves in the foot in doing so, because there ain’t no way a story about XYZ is going to make it in a sci-fi house, no matter who much tech you add in. On the flipside of that, I’ve also got a friend who has written about her experiences as a Black queer disabled woman and it’s filled with relationships and great life stuff and so funny…but she can’t get it published anywhere because she’s been explicitly made to feel like she doesn’t belong in the genre because her stories are too complex, they’re too different they’re too comedic…too…too…too (the list goes on). And that’s awful because Romance is a genre that is primarily about people and if you as a Romance house are telling me you can’t sell a story about people, boy are we well and truly fucked.

The biggest criticism of the Romance genre shouldn’t be that it’s too damn happy and therefore unrealistic and nothing but fluff. What’s unrealistic is the complete lack of diversity and inclusion in the genre that makes it so alienating that a huge part of our society immediately feels like they don’t belong. 

And that’s a bigger problem than fluff.

So great, yes fine, Romance isn’t for you, you can tell me all the time that you don’t like Romance and I will cheerfully talk to you about literally anything else. But don’t ever tell me you don’t like Romance because it’s simple and fluffy when there’s a whole wealth of actual problematic shit to dislike it for.

And to you, yes you, I’m talking to you. You with the idea in the back of your head and the worry that you’ll never be a Serious Author because all you want to write about is romance and people and angst and fluff and also thinking no one wants to read stories about people like you: take that idea and run with with it, learn from your experiences and keep doing it some more and maybe one day we’ll have the publishing industry we deserve that will acknowledge you. But until then: Rebel and Do It Anyway.

Illustration: Chelsea Beck/NPR

Podcasts — everyone seems to have one. And more and more people are listening to them. At the same time, sales for audiobooks are growing faster than any other segment of the publishing industry. That got NPR’s Lynn Neary wondering: Are podcasts helping to drive listeners to audiobooks? The answer, as it turns out, is more circular than that.

A Publisher Tries Podcasts As A Gateway To Audiobooks

  • write that sentence, that dialogue, that scene that terrifies you
  • don’t delete shit, just move it to another document
  • have a “bits and pieces” document for all the odds and ends you can’t fit anywhere else
  • think of the color of a person’s eyes, imagine something reflected in them, now write that scene
  • fiction doesn’t have to be 100% accurate, don’t research yourself to boredom
  • i’m being serious there’s a thing called suspension of disbelief and it’s magical (yes that’s me making a joke)
  • write something that makes you cry
  • write something that makes you laugh
  • write something you can’t explain to other people
  • write something you won’t remember until you read it the next day
  • don’t read about the publishing industry until you really, really need to. all it will do is make you unbelievably tired
  • listen to music from open world RPG video games, you’re welcome
  • always take a small journal or some paper and a pen with you
  • write by hand in a journal every once in a while
  • put the ending of your story in the beginning and see what happens
  • listen to input from other people. yes you’re the writer, but they’re the reader and they want to help you make something spectacular
  • said is not dead dude like wtf
  • the thesaurus is shiny and lovely and a great resource but don’t let words get in the way of your story telling, you don’t need to write prose as poetry for it to be beautiful
  • just finish the draft first, worry about perfection after
  • yes, you do have talent
  • yes, you can do this. you already are

I would not be bothered by anti sjm blogs if they

-talked about other books that have the same issues as sarah’s. or, talked about the ya publishing industry in general and how it can be improved

-actively promoted books by women of color and LGBTQ authors and ownvoices. because it’s probably more important to promote these authors than it is to tear a white author down for her lack of diversity. im all for criticism and have written some of it myself but i also recommend and talk about books by authors who belong to marginalized groups or books that feature marginalized ppl. 

-acknowledged how important the narratives of abuse and recovery that are in both ToG and ACOTAR are

-acknowledged how important the representation of recovery from PTSD is to readers who have experienced trauma

-acknowledged how important it is to have positive representations of sex workers

-acknowledged how important it is to have books that feature female friendship as the driving force

-acknowledged how great it is that acotar and acomaf deal with the issue of male rape victims and the sexual objectification of men

-didn’t treat fans of sarah’s books as if they are somehow racist or support abuse because they read these books. 

-that last point annoys me in particular because so many victims of abuse take comfort in feyre’s narrative and these anti sjm blogs will just scream YOU SUPPORT ABUSE. but lol, no we don’t. 

-didn’t sound like a cacophony of screeching baby pterodactyls incapable of listening to reason 

-made constructive arguments

-acknowledged that not every book is capable of doing all the work that you want it to

-realized that you can still enjoy a book and also have some negative things to say about it. 

-understood the concept that people are allowed to enjoy things regardless of if tumblr rhetoric labels it “problematic”

  • Meat industry: *publishes 6,000 billboards around the country telling people to eat more beef and 500 online articles telling people that veganism is bad because field mice*
  • Y'all: That's not propaganda! That's just the meat industry advertising a product and making a honest living! What do you expect? You can't just dismiss that information because it doesn't conform to your bias!
  • 'Vegan propaganda': Advertises vegan ice creams and an article about how cows are just as sentient as dogs and don't like being killed
  • Y'all: This is all part of an insidious worldwide conspiracy to turn people vegan enough with your broccoli-industry funded lies.
I want a book magazine

Like, popular and easily accessible. Maybe YA marketed since it’s so popular.

Imagine it: Book reviews, author interviews, book box reviews, spotlights on certain genres, interviews with people in the editing and publishing industry, ads for upcoming books, places to buy book-themed goods, recipes of foods from books, looking a fan art and stuff inspired by books, news from the publishing and bookstore business. 

I want it. Badly.

anonymous asked:

Hi hope you're doing well today. The HSA Inc. company It had seen listed before, someones blog awhile ago, but just sat there I believe, but now what does that actually mean to Harry? What do they publish? Do they get money separately from the things he does in print (i am so ignorant about this.) The Erskine Records Limited, what do they do with his career. I do not understand how HSA, ERL and the touring company work together, why three separate things?

Hi anon! The three companies will control and manage the rights, assets and revenue from different areas of Harry’s business. So Erskine Records will probably manage his recording rights & revenue, HSA Publishing will manage his publishing copyrights, and Erskine Touring will manage his income from tours.

He needs three separate companies because….well, basically he’s hella rich and there’ll be a huge amount of revenue coming from lots of different directions and they’ll need different entities to deal with them.

HSA Publishing deals with Harry’s underlying copyright to the songs he writes - for anyone, not just himself. Every time a song gets played on the radio or used on TV or used in an ad or a public event, Harry will get a royalty payment. We know that Harry has signed a deal with Universal Music Publishing (UPMG) for his song publishing, so that was probably signed via HSA Publishing. 

Incidentally, remember when the hacked photos from Anne Twist’s phone were being removed from the internet? The copyright notices sent to people demanding they take the pictures down were from HSA Publishing. So that’s probably the company that will deal with all Harry’s copyright such as image rights, photos, artwork, merchandise etc

Harry’s record deal with Columbia was probably signed via Erskine Records rather than Harry directly (for his exclusive services) and who knows - maybe one day he’ll use it to release his own music directly, or even sign other artists. 

And Erskine Touring will look after all his touring business.

Hope that clarifies things a little bit :)

Work Comes Home - Part 8

Summary: You work for the company that publishes Hamilton: The Revolution.

Words: Approx. 6100

Author’s Note: Thanks to everyone who read this over (@ourforgottenboleros​, @secretschuylersister​, @letsgiggletogether​: your enthusiasm and excitement honestly helps me to write this. @iwrotemywayto-revolution​ THANK YOU for fixing my horrible grammar - you’re amazing.) Let me know if there’s any little mistakes, I can go in and fix later <3

Disclaimer: I’m sorry for any pain, there’s a few more parts left in this story so please stay with me. Feel free to yell at me all you like because I UNDERSTAND. Again, the timeline is definitely a little weird and artistic liberties were obviously taken in reference to the publishing industry. 

Warnings: Angst, maybe swearing

Askbox | Masterlist | Previous Chapter | Next Chapter

Tags@hoppybunnny​ @doctorstethoscope@smileystumph​  @invisiblerambler​ @lookingformygus @theselfishllama @genericusernameblahblahblah @musicals-lin @ruth-hamilton-delrio

Keep reading

alexis-harsgreaves  asked:

I read your post about sharing the 2.5D stage shows and other media. I can imagine it can be hard to be on both the Western and Japanese line with the fandoms, but thank you for all your hard work and dedication to doing what you do. It's a shame that Japan is one of the worst countries when it comes to exporting their media so by people like you who share the merch and experiences from he shows means a lot.

Mm, I would call it a very unfair assessment to say that Japan is one of the worst when it comes to exporting their ‘media.’  

As I said a few times, live theater is a niche market in any country.  Broadway shows don’t make DVDs to share and export their performances.  There is no way we’re getting a stage Hamilton DVD at any point in the near future; you simply have no choice but to go see it live.  And I can’t imagine that demand is all that high around the world to see an American musical focused on one of its founding fathers for them to bother with making it available worldwide.

Licensing and distribution laws are always going to be a barrier.  Cost of distribution is always going to be a barrier.  Language, cultural themes, DVD region-locking, advertising for it, etc… there’s a lot that goes into sharing anything you make, and there are a lot of barriers to try and overcome, and it’s not always going to be financially worth it in the end.  Japan in recent years has actually gotten quite good about exporting the media that’s going to SELL.  They’ve finally embraced international streaming, even figure companies like Good Smile Company have embraced shipping internationally, marketing overseas for their products, etc…  Several sites that sell merchandise ship overseas or provide an English version of their websites (amiami, Hobby Japan, Amazon Japan, CD Japan)… The DVDs may never be subtitled or not-region-locked, but they’re at least available somehow.  I can’t say that for Broadway or for every performance done at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.  The only immediate example I can think of that comes close is Cirque du Soleil, since there are DVDs for some of those shows, but not all as some shows are meant to be permanent installations in Vegas or toured and then retired.

You’re also never going to do away with Japan’s fascination for limited edition goods or special event items.  And only the things that they KNOW are going to sell well are the things that they work hard to try and export.  The same is true of any country with its media.  It’s not like we have access to alllll the Chinese and Korean dramas, movies, and music.  Just the ones that they know will probably do well in overseas sales.  Not everything has the potential to be a global smash hit, not everything is supposed to be this huge industry.  Hollywood is the exception to the rule, not the standard.  There have been many Japanese musical artists who have done their best to try and cater their music to a Western audience in the hopes of having a more international career (Utada Hikaru, for one, a name in the music industry most people recognize), but just because you try and go for that international distribution doesn’t mean it pays off.  Utada’s English albums have never done well as not enough English-speaking listeners bother with it, and the drastic change in style alienates the Japanese fanbase on top of it.  

I would say Japan has come a long way and again I have to reiterate that live theater is ALWAYS going to be niche.  The medium demands a live audience with live performers.  There’s no way it’ll ever have the reach as any show or movie that can be streamed anywhere at any time without the need for the performers to always be present.

I understand that limited access can be frustrating, but please try and consider it from the industry’s perspective as well.
Online Writing Submissions: What You Must Do Before You Hit Send!

Like it or not, the process of submitting your writing to literary journals and agents has moved irreversibly into the digital age. And while most writers have happily embraced the convenience of submitting work online, others still need to be dragged, kicking and screaming, up to the computer keyboard. Either way, the reality is unavoidable: The printed, mailed submission is going the way of the inkwell and parchment paper.

Using an online submission manager allows you to easily make, track, and manage your submissions. Many literary journals now accept submissions via an online submission form or a submission manager – and some have stopped accepting print or email submissions entirely! Literary agents as well have embraced the ease of electronic submissions and are accepting e-queries, sample pages, and even entire books by email.

But, while online submissions have made sending your work easier and faster, they’ve also made it possible for you to send glaring errors and avoidable mistakes with lightning speed too.

Here are a few reminders to help you make the best possible online writing submissions.

The Steam Dichotomy

The dysfunctional thinking between what developers have and what they think they want

Valve announced that Steam Greenlight was no more, and then Steam Direct became news everywhere. Not much has been said yet, other than Steam Direct will be about as much as Steam Greenlight was – and this has sparked debate among indie developers. Some show support with the initiative, whereas others are disappointed in the low fee and the consequences they assume from it.

Thinking less competition will provide for better opportunities for sales is absurd. You can try standing on a street downtown selling candy by yourself, but the fact that you would be the only kid diung anything doesn’t mean that anyone would buy from you. Ideally, having a market involves the concept of multiple variables efficiently coexisting, without it the concept of a market doesn’t exist. Without company diversity operating in the same supply and demand, indie developers would be nothing but quirky kids doing creative things that belong nowhere in the economic spectrum. Having a healthy market indicates more to work with, there are more games but also gamers too; having more people to perceive as potential users is a positive thing.

Without the data a market provides, companies like Steam would not exist. There would not be enough of a user base to build up a distribution platform that would operate as an important hub in the industry – you would be stuck working on your own Wordpress website, with your GoDaddy / Shopify store.  I sure remember those days, way before even social media existed. To assume a company should do less to serve third-party expectations is flawed, a company works for itself, even if it is a hub that provides a service to many other smaller companies and indie studios.

 The thing indie developers understand as a problem is the denial to accept the bar gets raised every single time there is a surplus of content. More games dictate gamers will have choices, providing new bars for what is value and price, including options for costs and quality. When more is asked of you, you shouldn’t complain about giving less – learn more instead; there is so much to work with, having fewer people playing games won’t dictate your success, but having more venues to reach out to more.

There is not much to discuss on Steam Direct so far, we need information on how content will be curated now, and what this new platform will offer for indie development. For now, all we can do is revise the concepts of cost and price, and quality and value – all sound similar, yet they are not. Not long ago, I wrote about the difference of cost and price, this time I want to introduce quality and contrast it with the concept of value, all relevant to the future of your games.

Value is something that becomes defined by the user, if it is something that serves a purpose for any specific use, or that it becomes something that resonates in sentiment. Quality relies entirely on the company, and sometimes it might even set the bar for cost and performance. Also, while important, users might buy not because it has quality but they will not buy it in the absence of quality, reason why quality and value need of each other.

Maybe your game presents the most refreshing imaginative creation yet on its genre, but if the game crashes on start, it matters very little how meaningful it is if it’s unplayable. Maybe your game runs perfect, but it is yet again another pointless shooter clone without even a story to it – development should not impair marketing, just as marketing can’t exist without development. Yet, it is often known that developers can market a game for five years and more, or simply just launch without marketing at all – neither scenario is healthy without understanding how variables like quality and value will set the bar for cost and ultimately, price.

Steam is one of many distribution options for digital content, and it is one of the fundamental ones. It widens your options as a publishing platform, but it doesn’t provide success by default. Everything you combine with the concept of cost, quality, value and price will.

Game development production is fundamental: the time you take working on something, the time it takes to promote said something, the money you inject into it. There are so many variables that need time and money, and if you do not have the money then it should take ten times the work and attention. But thinking because you can’t afford it, that it might not be needed, is what makes indie developers fight to be in a new releases listing rather than organize a genuine marketing plan instead. Invest your efforts wisely, don’t be afraid of competition – grow with it.

“Loads of moneeyyyy! Money, money, money ♪ ♫ ♪ ”
When I Call Myself Bisexual
Finding this difficult to believe, I said, "Surely the Human Rights Campaign or Lambda Legal has bisexual board members." Not one openly bisexual board member, they told me. Yes, there was a bisexual woman they knew of on a national board, but she chose not to come out as such. As much as we know that the closet is a sad place, and while I personally frown on closeted gay people in most instances, I could relate to not wanting to disclose all of who you are, sexually speaking, when you're already dealing with the ongoing, daily hassles around just being gay. Who wants to add another layer to one's outsider status, especially within one's own community? In fact, I found it completely understandable that someone would serve on the board of a national LGBT organization and remain closeted about their bisexuality, because I did it myself.
It's not THAT hard to get published... right? WRONG.
Hey! I have a question… Everyone tells me that it’s insanely hard to get a book published, something like 0.01% chance. But then someone else told me that it’s not THAT hard if you write well and have a good story to tell, since most of what is sent to agents and publishers is utter crap. Is this true?
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It’s not THAT hard to become an astronaut. All you have to do is be good at math and physics and have better physical stamina than most of NASA’s other applicants.

It’s not THAT hard to become President of the United States, either. All you have to do is have a (relatively) spotless record of public service and access to the millions of dollars in funding required to run a successful campaign against someone who’s just as good at politics as you are.

It’s also not THAT hard to become a neurosurgeon. All you have to do is go to a top medical school, be top of your class, and memorize the neurological pathways of the delicate and complex human brain backwards and forwards.

For that matter, it’s not THAT hard to become a world-famous actor. All you have to do is be conventionally attractive and good at faking emotions in front of a camera. 

In case I haven’t made my point clear yet, let me spell it out for you: when you put it that way, yeah, it’s really fairly simple to get published… in theory. In practice it’s pretty damn hard. 

One of my authors recently gave birth to healthy twins without anesthesia. She says getting her first book published was harder.

Writing a book is, either fortunately or unfortunately, one of the most common endeavors known to humankind. Everyone and their grandmother is writing a book. Your weird uncle Malachi is writing a book. So’s your bank teller and Mrs. Thompson next door. Some of them will even finish. Some of them are even good writers with good stories to tell, to use your criteria. And all of them are trying to get published. So it’s a game of numbers. This is not a big-fish-in-a-small-pond scenario. It’s a big-fish-in-a-galaxy-of-oceans-filled-with-other-equally-large-fish situation. 

The people who send me utter crap are an amusing and/or frustrating waste of time. But I spend far more time deliberating between pretty good writing. The amount of pretty good writing I receive is at least equal to the amount of utter literary vomit I receive. Of the good stuff, I need to weed out what isn’t right for my publishing house and list (ie. the people with good work who didn’t bother to research who they should’ve sent their query to), and then from there pare it down to what is absolutely blowing my mind all over my office walls at that very moment.

So your book may be very well written, and it might even be a good story in the telling. But as I hear it, NASA’s a pretty exclusive program, they won’t let just anyone do brain surgery, and I’ve seen some pretty fabulous performances off Broadway.

Do your homework. Be awesome. Practice your writing craft and research agents and editors. Don’t take your success for granted based on your innate talents and the value of the story you have to tell.

Standing out above the crap is only half the battle. Be prepared to compete with writers who are just as talented and on top of their game as you are. Do not expect an easy time just because you’re good. Being good isn’t good enough. You have to be better.


P.S. Writing is hard.

It frustrates me that publishers are treating e-books like print-books.

It frustrates me that you don’t actually buy the e-book, but instead the license to own one.

It frustrates me that they expect people to buy e-books at ridiculous prices even though people can’t lend most of them, can’t return the book if you don’t like it, or sell it, or donate it.

It frustrates me how technophobic the industry is and how far behind with times.

It frustrates me that I actually have to wait to borrow an e-book at the library if someone already has it checked out. There shouldn’t be a limit, it’s an electronic file for god’s sake!

It frustrates me that only the most popular books are readily available to be borrowed as e-books, amongst otherwise pitiful collections.

It frustrates me that they don’t trust their readers.

It frustrates me that they pit authors against their readers.

It frustrates me that a lot of authors are against e-books because they see as a threat to print.

It frustrates me that many readers with no means are forced to rely on piracy because they cannot afford to read their favorite authors otherwise.

It frustrates me that people think that piracy is the answer, instead of an overhaul of the system.

Playing Bisexual Book Detective

So here at bisexual-books, we frequently talk about playing “bisexual book detective.”  What does that mean?  It means the strange and frustrationg process by which we attempt to find fiction books with bisexual characters, content, or themes.  Since so few books actually use the b-word when describing their bisexual protagonists, we end up reading the jacket copy for clues as we try to guess whether this “transgressive cutting-edge exploration of the ambiguity of love and sexual identity” is really just about a bi character.

 In many ways it’s like searching for old lesbian pulp novels. In the 1950’s and 60’s, the L-word was rarely used so readers had to look for certain key-words and euphemisms. “Twilight girls” was a good one. “Strange” or “Odd” women. “Shadow worlds.” If you saw a cover advertising the “Shadow world of twilight love and strange women,” you knew you had yourself a lesbian pulp! You can see some good examples here or on the wallpaper of fuckyeahlesbianliterature.

So just like old post-WWII lesbian pulps, modern novels with bisexual characters rarely just come out and use the dreaded b-word on the cover (or as we frequently notice, use the word anywhere at all). So as a public service, here are a few of the phrases we look for when we play bisexual book detective:

  • “ambiguity”
  • “curiosity”
  • “confused sexuality”
  • “fluid sexuality”
  • really if it says anything int he first sentence about a boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife and then a “surprising attraction” to someone later in the jacket description 
  • “cutting edge”
  •  “sexually transgressive”
  • “a novel of desire”
  • an “impossible choice” between two people who are conspicuously not gendered in their description
  • “sexual adventure”

There are two things we want to note about this list: 
First, notice how many of these things are variations on bisexual stereotypes.

Second, notice how they make our orientation all about SEX.  It is dehumanizing.  Bisexuality is not an identity, but a sex act. 

It makes us wince and rub our temples. 

- Ellie and Sarah 

“The Hate U Give” and The Reviews I Hate.

***DISCLAIMER: I saw a lot of the reviews mentioned weeks ago, mostly during release week.***

So, first off, yay! THE HATE U GIVE is a #1 fucking New York Times Bestseller. I can’t be happier about this.

Originally posted by thecynicalcrayon

THE HATE U GIVE (aka THUG, if you’ve seen the hashtag on Twitter) by Angie Thomas is a truly revolutionary book. It’s introduced to the YA community and publishing industry that not only do diverse stories written by people of color and marginalized writers matter, but also that they are demanded by consumers. For years, agents, editors and publishing houses were saying that there was no market for books like THUG. Welp. As it turns out, that was just fake news! Anyway, THUG hitting the New York Times is a massive deal, and I think we’ll see more changes within the industry. At least, one can hope.

The point of this post though is to open up the discussion of how to talk about THUG without being problematic. And this is mostly aimed at white reviewers, bloggers, journalists, etc. I’ve read several reviews, blog posts, Tweets, and general articles about THUG that rubbed me the wrong way, and I’m just going to highlight some of those things here.

My thoughts are probably going to be scattered and this might have a zillion typos because I’ve not yet had coffee and it’s early for me, but just hang with me.

First off – let’s start with the title. THE HATE U GIVE. It comes from Tupac Shakur who had a tattoo and a life motto of: T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E. It stood for “The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody.” It’s a statement of what white society feeds into our youth (hatred, racism, and systems of oppression) and how it comes back around with long, devastating effects and stereotypes between white society and the black community. That’s why a lot of times when we see black and brown kids getting gunned down by racists, we’re always hearing that, “they were no angel. They were just a thug.” This is what Tupac was warning us about. 

The usage of the letter “U” and not “you” is AAVE. The letter “U” is deeply rooted in black culture, mostly through music. I’ve seen a lot of people (usually white reviewers) write “THE HATE YOU GIVE” and though a lot of people don’t get corrected, it’s still kind of a microaggression. If you find that annoying, it’s probably because you’ve internalized that your way of speaking is superior, thus, walking the lines of white supremacy. Ignoring the usage of the letter “U” is erasure of an intimate element to Angie Thomas’s novel and black culture. Please don’t intentionally correct the title to “THE HATE YOU GIVE.” That’s offensive.

Speaking of AAVE:

AAVE is African American Vernacular English. It’s a whole rule-bound dialect of English with very clear, defined grammar structures. THUG is full of AAVE, which is part of the reason I love it so much. If in your review, you mention something along the lines of “a language deficit” or “incorrect/ungrammatical” structures, that’s problematic logic. Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t make it wrong. If you don’t understand what something means, please don’t hesitate to Google, if you can. It will save you.

However, Starr, the main character in THUG is constantly code-switching. Code-switching is when black people switch our behavior and language to certain navigate situations. It’s how we balance who we are with who we have to be at times. Starr lives in the hood, but goes to a very “preppy” school in the suburbs where she’s one of the only black kids in her class. She speaks and behaves differently around her friends than she does when she’s at school and around white folks because she absolutely has to. It’s a survival tactic. That’s a real thing that people have to do. So, stop calling it “inauthentic” and “unrealistic.”

Which brings me to…

Comparisons to novels by other black authors

It’s important not to box in black culture, especially when it comes to language. Yes, we code switch. Yes, we manipulate the English language. But black people are not a monolith. When you read books by black authors who write black characters don’t expect them to use AAVE in it and don’t expect them not to. We know standard English. A lot of us have degrees in English. In a lot of reviews by white reviewers, I’m seeing people compare THUG to ALL AMERICAN BOYS. Just stop it. Don’t. Do. This. You’re totally allowed to like one more than the other and whatever, but comparing the two, saying one is “more realistic” than the other because it fulfills whatever prejudiced views you have of black people and our experiences is pretty dang racist, if you didn’t know.

Lastly, for now because I may come back to this: #BlackLivesMatter


If you haven’t already, go pick up THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas. You won’t regret it. It’s amazing and beautiful and heartbreaking and real as fuck.

Originally posted by usedpimpa