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The Unkind Publishing Industry

31 August 2016

From News24:

It is time we really examined the publishing industry. As a writer, I wouldn’t be engaging in any justice if didn’t raise these matters which directly impact on me and with the hope that, they relate to other writers and the hope that, am afforded a platform to raise them.

Of course, like in any other scenario in the contemporary capitalist driven society, profit prevails. It is a priority in the business. However, we need to re-examine the ideology in the arts of the pen and paper. We need not be that greedy at the expense of sabotaging the arts of the pen.

To do this, we need to engage with facts, comfortable nor not so comfortable.  Certain characteristics remain dominant in this publishing industry.  The first one is, it seems, to be very white centred. It is very difficult for a black person to penetrate into. The promoted content seems to be centred on the idea of targeting and accommodating the white market. Particularly affecting the ‘unknown’ or ‘upcoming’ as they say writers.  This is an extremely unfair perimeter of operation simply because everyone was ‘unknown’ before they became ‘known’.

The second characteristic is rooted in the fact that, fiction writing is not promoted in the South African publishing industry by the dominant publishing houses! They even state so in their mandates! Why is this so? It becomes even more difficult when you ‘unknown’. The only platform that is afforded in the promotion of fiction writing, is for the already ‘known’.

. . . .

The third characteristic lies in the contract clauses which limit the writer. This unjust idea that, the publisher has prerogative to alter and edit the work of an artist! Why is this so? Writing is an art, so why shrink the freedom of expression for the writer? It’s like telling a painter, ‘no we prefer the shape of the nose to be like this’! Imagine if the Mona Lisa with Long neck was told, ‘no, the neck is too long’! We would have been deprived of such beautiful art.

It is not fair that the artists of the pen and paper get dictated to.  If the publishing house holds certain views which are against the presented views by the artist, then they are at liberty to scribble their own book because in essence, by altering and editing the views, they are robbing the writer of their original concept.  The work is really no longer there but is diluted with the publisher’s ideologies and this is not fair from any angle one may look at.

Link to the rest at News24 and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Non-US

54 Comments to “The Unkind Publishing Industry”

  1. Let people like this go indie and stop complaining about oppression.

    Then maybe they’ll find out if there’s a reason the publishers target the markets they do. Or not.

    If you think the world is against you, you can complain, or you can do something about it and prove them wrong.

    • What comments like this neglect is that independently publishing to Kindle or Kobo or wherever doesn’t actually counter the fact that there are systemic issues within the publishing industry and the media (and society at large, for that matter) that are unrelated to the market digital publishing can reach. Sure, it’s great that just about anyone can hit KDP and click a button and make their work available, and it’s great that hundreds or thousands or millions of readers can then potentially find that work.

      Print and readership are declining, certainly, but indie still has a long way to go to making inroads with regard to the general cultural conversation of literature. Reviews and discussion and coverage across media, in places like morning talk shows or NPR or wherever.

      I think that will change, but it’s not yet. What seems to be continuing so far as a parallel evolution of both those sides. Maybe we’re seeing the sunsetting of the old corporate retail model as digital publishing starts to mature, but it’s got a long way to go just yet.

      All of which is to say I think I’d position it better as go indie and continue to advocate for systemic change. Why not both? Because writing is about more than just book sales and a market. Or it can be, anyway.

      Being the change you want to see in the world begins to change it, after all.

      • My problem with the basic premise is that it assumes “someone’s listening”. As in, “if I complain about injustice, someone will do something.”

        This is pretty much a religious point of view, overt or otherwise. “Please, God, hear my plea — smite that unjust person/institution/whatever.”

        In my (aetheistic) POV, God helps those who help themselves. Set your hand to do whatever you can do yourself, and encourage others to do likewise. But reaching out for some other power to do it for you smells an awful lot like “Please, God/Government, make that person/institution over there stop (even if it’s not actually illegal).” And that interferes with my notions of free will, free markets, and free association — I won’t give those up lightly.

        • I can see that. Like I said, I’m thinking “Why not both?”

          “This is unjust. I’m going to do something about it while simultaneously explaining why it is unjust, and together we can work against injustice.”

          My problem with “Stop complaining about oppression because you have a perfectly good option and should take it” is that it seems to imply the same as “Separate but equal.” Which might have bearing here, as the author of the OP seems to have grown up either under or just after Apartheid.

        • @ Karen

          Yes. This. I’m all for changing the world. My world. One dollar at a time.

          Selfish? Perhaps. I’m sure some think so. But IMHO, altruism begins at home. I’ve always felt that so-called selfless do-gooders do it for the basest, most self-centered of reasons: It makes them feel good to see themselves as saviors and messiahs of the world.

          For myself, I’ve got my hands (and mind!) full dealing with my own life and goals.

          • altruism begins at home.

            Er. Altruism is by definition selfless, if not (as in the animal kingdom) actually detrimental to the organism itself. So that seems to run a bit counter to what altruism actually means.

      • Doing well and succeeding independently would be strong evidence against the establishment, for those interested in reforming society.
        For those not so inclined doing well is reward enough.
        The good thing is you have a choice and both are independent. You don’t have to be a crusader anymore.
        Live and let die is a valid option

      • Because writing is about more than just book sales and a market.

        Perhaps it is. But people choose where to invest their money. They select the aspect of writing that appeals to them. People who are interested in investing in the sales and market aspects do just that. That’s fine.

        Other aspects of writing may not be an attractive investments. They may be ignored by investors. That’s fine, too. Investors have no obligation to put their money behind anything.

        There is no reason to expect someone else to pay to support the “general cultural conversation of literature.”

        • There is no reason to expect someone else to pay to support the “general cultural conversation of literature.”

          Never said there was. Just that some writers hope to influence and contribute to the conversation just as much as they hope to sell scads of books.

          And that that conversation is still largely closed to indie authors.

          “Eh. Just go to Kindle” and “Meh, just go around it” and “Hey just build your own roads. You can do it!” and “You know, Amazon doesn’t care what color your skin is” and “Well, the Lord helps those who help themselves” don’t actually offer a solution to the problem being discussed (not to mention the condescension inherent in them). And ignoring problems doesn’t necessarily mean they go away.

          • I take full credit for introducing the idea that nobody has any obligation to pay for the “general cultural conversation of literature.”

            The post title was the “Unkind Publishing Industry,” and the author did focus on publishers. So, we can further focus the issue by observing investors have no obligation to writers to support any conversations or ideas.

            NPR doesn’t talk to someone? OK. For whom is that a problem, and why should we care?

            God Bless Amazon, for KDP makes anyone published.

            • I just think it’s a problem (for me and for all of us, really) when the media isn’t inclusive. Like, specifically in publishing, where outlets and publications and awards note in their guidelines that they’re “closed to self-published works.”

              But some people care, and some people don’t. I’m one of the former — and if you’re asking “why should we care,” it seems like you’re including yourself in the latter (if you cared, you wouldn’t be wondering why you should). And I’m not saying you should. It’s fine you don’t.

              I’m just saying that when the problem noted is that the publishing industry and the media has systemic problems, “KDP makes anyone published” doesn’t actually solve anything. And you can say “Well, that’s not a problem for me,” which is totally fine because it probably isn’t a problem everyone experiences or cares about, but to say “It’s not a problem because KDP” doesn’t really help.

              • Uh, the media has never been inclusive.
                Still isn’t.
                “The power of the press belongs to those that own one” is as true now as it ever was. The criteria for whose opinions to “include” still exclude those whose opinions run counter to the gatekeepers’ bias.

                I assume by now most have heard that Facebook’s answer to the claims of bias in their news operation was to fire the humans filtering the news and accept the occasional embarrassment of surfacing the odd hoax. They still deny the editors were dying anything wrong. But they fired the whole lot nonetheless.

                Today’s “inclusiveness” is simply replacing one establishment orthodoxy for another. With a lot of self-congratulation attached.

                • Nailed it.

                • Uh, the media has never been inclusive.
                  Still isn’t.

                  Uh, I know. That’s what I said. That it’s a problem. It’s, in fact, the broad problem I’m talking about, and what I see as one of the OP’s major claims.

                  That’s why I don’t think the solution to the problem is “Of course it’s not inclusive. Go elsewhere! It’s just as good.”

                • Saying it is is a problem implies it is fixable.
                  It isn’t.

                  It is an intrinsic feature of the system. By design and intent. And “inclusion” is the product of the system, not an alternative.

                  The choices are to play their game their way or play your own game. Just like the publishing game.

              • I just think it’s a problem (for me and for all of us, really) when the media isn’t inclusive.

                Why should the media be inclusive? What does that mean? The media writes about whatever it wants, just like authors do. If someone wants something written about, then do it.

                I suspect we have a situation where a subset of authors want attention from some small subset of people, and aren’t getting it. OK. They may see that as a problem, but it certainly doesn’t rise to the level of a societal problem.

                Ths isn’t a problem that needs a solution. Authors don’t get the attention they want. So what? Neither do widget makers.

          • It’s not meant to be condescending, Will. Depending on what one wants from publishing, there are different paths available. There are many things one could want from publishing, including validation by the the establishment, having one’s work available to the public, making money. Different people will want different things from publishing, and it’s almost never a case of one or the other but a ranking of relative importance.

            If one wants to put one’s work in front of the public, the publishing establishment is not needed.

            If one wants validation by the establishment, the establishment is needed by definition. If validation is the goal, campaigning to lower barriers could be counterproductive. If publication is easier, validation is less special. You see this attitude in a handful of unpublished writers who complain loudly about how barriers prevent them from publishing, but absolutely will not consider self-publishing. They don’t want publishing to be easier. They want to be one of the select few. If publishing were easier the value of the prize, in their eyes, would be lessened.

            Some writers who want validation don’t want it for themselves but for an idea they champion. The incentive to champion barriers for everyone else is less but not zero. My idea is special. It’s discussed by a select group.

            That brings us to the general conversation of literature, which has not been defined. Who is having this conversation? Why is it important?

            In an era when indie genre fiction is approaching half of all genre sales (by copies) in the US, when indie authors are routinely hitting best-seller lists despite those lists being fiddled with, when major hit movies are made from indie books what conversation is closed to indies?

            Perhaps all our trite and condescending comments will not solve the problem. But I ask, is there a problem? I say no.

            The problem is rooted in the importance of the establishment. Fretting that the system must be changed feeds that importance. It increases the problem. What importance does the establishment have other than self-importance? They control the conversation by controlling the production of books. They control the production of books by controlling access to the market. Except they no longer control access to the market. And they no longer control the production of books either by controlling access to the market or access to the printing presses. Therefore they no longer control the conversation.

            This is a rare problem that will go away by ignoring it. With fewer new recruits to provide content, with fewer people buying what content they produce, the establishment publishing businesses will diminish. The individuals who have used the power formerly inherent in their establishment to prevent the publication of certain points of view or authors of a certain class will die. Physically die. Rot. Turn to dust. I have no desire to save their souls.

            The system has changed. The only power the establishment has left to control the conversation (whatever that means) is the power individuals give them. Don’t give them that power.

            • All of this. There’s no problem to be solved here, there’s only a “problem” if one is determined to care that others are thinking and doing the wrong things. There’s no need to care about them and no point in doing so: They have no power over you. None.

              We all know that the chattering class have a bias. It’s only annoying if they don’t admit it. It’s only a problem if they’re the only ones allowed to speak. That problem was never absolute and now it’s non-existent.

              “Establishment media” is a non-existent problem for any writer who is interested in writing and publishing. They’re only a “problem” for those writers who want to beg them for scraps and pats on the head, like dogs. Stop begging and be your own master.

              This just isn’t complicated.

            • That brings us to the general conversation of literature, which has not been defined. Who is having this conversation? Why is it important?

              That’s fair, and partly my fault, perhaps; I used a period where I should have used an em-dash. Here:

              the general cultural conversation of literature — reviews and discussion and coverage across media, in places like morning talk shows or NPR or wherever.

              Better?

              Currently that conversation basically only covers indie authors when they’ve sold a ton of copies, and generally, that conversation goes that they did so despite that they were “self-published,” with an implied “which is of course indicative of their actual quality, or lack thereof, as the market doesn’t really know from great books.”

              What importance does the establishment have other than self-importance? They control the conversation by controlling the production of books.

              I think we’re talking about two different things here. I’m not talking about book producers or even publishers, though the publishing industry is a part of it. I’m talking about the conversation around publishing.

              I think it’s changing, though I don’t think it’s entirely changed yet. I think it’s getting better, and will continue to improve. And one way I see it as improving is to continue to discuss these problems. You say they’ll go away by ignoring them, but I’m talking bigger than that. I’m talking culture in general, which doesn’t go away, only grows and evolves and hopefully improves.

              And you may be right that it’s not meant to be condescending. It just seems like posts like Jamie’s there can’t avoid it.

              • LOL — I’m condescending by telling people they don’t have to be victims, but it’s not condescending to tell people they must care about those who can’t even oppress them anymore? Oh dear.

                Just out of curiosity, the establishment media you’re on about are the people who this apartheid-surviving writer is complaining about. You get that, right? Yet — oddly — you decide that the good opinion of these people actually matter. That conversations with these people are important. For what? Did you also seek the approval of the bully who stuffed people in lockers? Have you considered getting standards that exclude them? I have.

                I don’t get it, why should I value the opinions of people who want to exclude me based on skin color — remember the excuse you gave for why it’s bad to disagree is that the writer lived under apartheid — and yet you strenuously insist it’s important to care what they think, as if they actually matter.

                I made a post here a while back on John H. Johnson, founder of Ebony magazine. Look for it. Johnson could not even vote when he managed to found his magazine. Johnson, like other successful black Americans in this country, particularly in the pre-Civil Rights era, did what Brian said below: he built his own and did not waste time whingeing about the status quo.

                There is no downside from the apartheid survivor learning that lesson. I see plenty of downside to your encouraging the thought that those who would exclude him actually matter. They don’t.

                KDP, CreateSpace, Lulu, Lightning Source, and any number of printers have seen to it that the Terry MacMillans — who once had to sell her books out of her car trunk because tradpub did not believe black people read — no longer have to give a damn about establishment stupidity. You chase after them.

                I will continue to tell people that they are no longer obligated to care about tradpub and “exclusive media.” I will continue to tell people that the chains are off and they can do as they please. If that’s condescending, tant pis.

                • Do you even read?

                  But some people care, and some people don’t. I’m one of the former — and if you’re asking “why should we care,” it seems like you’re including yourself in the latter (if you cared, you wouldn’t be wondering why you should). And I’m not saying you should. It’s fine you don’t.

                  I’m just saying that when the problem noted is that the publishing industry and the media has systemic problems, “KDP makes anyone published” doesn’t actually solve anything. And you can say “Well, that’s not a problem for me,” which is totally fine because it probably isn’t a problem everyone experiences or cares about, but to say “It’s not a problem because KDP” doesn’t really help.

                  I mean, I know it wasn’t actually a response to you, but seriously, it’s right there.

                  Did you also seek the approval of the bully who stuffed people in lockers?

                  No, I seek to get the bullies kicked out of school until they can learn to be civilized members of society. In fact, when I was bullied in school, I stood up for myself, went to the administrators, and got the bully suspended.

                • And you may be right that it’s not meant to be condescending. It just seems like posts like Jamie’s there can’t avoid it.

                  Your words. Own it.

                  When I was bullied I dealt with the bully, I did not run to other people to get them to deal with the bully.

                  Also, it appears your reading comprehension is broken. I know that you said that KDP doesn’t solve anything, which is obviously false, as I said. I don’t know how you keep missing it. It absolutely solves the actual problem: not being heard, not being published, being subject to gatekeepers who want to keep you out for one reason or another.

                  You’re fixated on the notion that what other people are thinking is a problem. It isn’t. Not so long as they are unable to keep you from doing as you wish. KDP means that the South African can publish. That means the problem IS solved: It is no longer necessary to care that publishers are unenlightened. They don’t matter. This is obvious, and cause for rejoicing.

                  Is it really difficult for you to understand that the systemic problems of the media are irrelevant? Why are their problems relevant when you can reach readers without them? You can get your books on the shelves without them. You can publish to a worldwide audience without them. Why are they still a problem?

                  They can only be a problem if you believe that what they think matters. This is a perverse notion but it’s entirely a choice to submit to it, hence the examples of people who did not submit to it even in those days when resisting was less of an option.

                  Telling people to go to KDP means they don’t have to put themselves in other people’s power. It means they don’t have to wait until other people are willing to be nice to them. It means they don’t have to go running to other people to make the bad guys behave: they can deal with the problem themselves. Having to do so is a problem. Not having to do so: not a problem.

                • Oh, no, I own it. I called your post condescending. Of the two of us, your reading comprehension is worse. You said it’s condescending “to tell people they must care.”

                  I obviously haven’t. That’s exactly opposite of what I said.

                  Had I dealt with the bully your way, I might have avoided being bullied myself. The way I dealt with it, I ensured that there was a very specific period of time during which the bully couldn’t bully anyone (the suspension), and further ensured that it was more difficult to do so when he returned.

                  But as you say, tant pis. At this point, I’m just getting dirty.

              • I’m talking about the conversation around publishing.

                Who is conversing?

          • Will,

            indie still has a long way to go to making inroads with regard to the general cultural conversation of literature. Reviews and discussion and coverage across media, in places like morning talk shows or NPR or wherever.

            They complain about lack of diversity – but when you write a novel with diversity – such as a character living with a chronic illness (and NOT committing suicide – fancy that!) – it is hard to find traction. I wouldn’t have a clue how to get on NPR, nor probably a chance of making it past THEIR gatekeepers.

            The only thing that seems to get the establishment’s attention is an indie selling lots and lots of copies, their solution to which is to offer said indie lots of money, take him (The Martian) out of the indie slums, and republish at a much higher price.

            The prize sought by indies should not be a traditional contract, not after reading everything Kris Rusch has to say on them, but simply to be what they already are, successful indies. Correct that: maybe it IS better to land a traditional contract, get the star treatment, but have a very good lawyer. I dunno. The temptation has not reached me.

      • What comments like this neglect is that the original blog post is stuffed full of deep seated racism.

        There is no “reverse racism.” There is only racism. There is no “social justice.” There is only justice. There is no “systemic oppression.” There is only oppression. There is no ” white privilege.” There is only privilege.

        People should be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin (or the plumbing in their pants).

        • “People should be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin (or the plumbing in their pants).”

          Ah, but then they’d have to stop pretending the problem is caused by someone else and look for solutions in themselves. It’s always easier to blame others than to fix/change yourself.

        • You’re right that there’s privilege. That privilege can come from being male, or white, or straight, or myriad other things.

          I think there’s something to be said for privilege within the context of the very situation we’re discussing, even; corporate authors have access to the cultural conversation I mentioned. Many media outlets are, simply, closed to submissions from “self-published” authors. In away, corporate authors have some privilege within this system.

          I didn’t really see deep-seated racism in the original post, but then again, like I mention below, my impression is that the poster has some experience with Apartheid, so my guess is he experienced deep-seated racism in a way many of us never will.

          • Privilege can also come from being female, black, or trans. In fact, the entire point of “intersectionality” is to create a hierarchy of victimhood to establish who among the Social Justice Left deserves more privileges than the others.

            Certain characteristics remain dominant in this publishing industry. The first one is, it seems, to be very white centred. It is very difficult for a black person to penetrate into. The promoted content seems to be centred on the idea of targeting and accommodating the white market.

            There’s your racism. There is no “white market” or “black market.” There is only the market.

            • Darn it, Joe, I really thought you were making progress.

              Intersectionality is intended to explore the ways different aspects of identity affect experience.

              The market?

              http://www.theverge.com/2016/8/4/12374306/science-fiction-diversity-numbers-fireside-report

              Yeah. Race problem.

              • Darn it, Joe, I really thought you were making progress.

                SNORT.

                Sorry to disappoint you, Will, but I don’t give a damn for the ideology of “progress.” In fact, by telling me that I’m not “making progress,” you’ve pretty much confirmed that I’m exactly on track with my argument.

                As for that article you linked? Yet another example of the racist, regressive Left. The underlying implication is that until there is an equal number of white authors published as there are black authors—a 50/50 split—diversity will never be achieved.

                But hold on: what if more than 50% of the genre’s readership isn’t black? What if it’s 80% white and only 20% black? Shouldn’t we adjust for proportionality? Because if the readership is 80/20, then to get to 50/50 black vs. white authorship, we would have to disadvantage whites.

                But the truth is, this is all a huge red herring. Racism isn’t the issue here, and it’s not what the article is trying to push back against. Instead, it’s trying to push equality of outcome, and dressing it up under the banner of Tolerance and Diversity so that anyone who opposes it can be denounced as a racist.

                You don’t end racism by enforcing equality of outcome. You end it by fostering equality of opportunity, which is the very thing that the Social Justice Left is trying so hard to destroy.

                • The underlying implication is that until there is an equal number of white authors published as there are black authors—a 50/50 split—diversity will never be achieved.

                  No, Joe, that’s never been the intention. It’s a false narrative propagated by the Right (akin to the idea of quotas, which would also be Not The Point). It doesn’t surprise me you buy into it. You don’t have the experience to realize otherwise.

                  The goal isn’t a number, and it’s certainly not a 50/50 split of anything (never mind that a 50/50 split of any characteristic wouldn’t reflect the composition of society at large — which is also Not The Point).

                  The goal is simplyl better representation and inclusion.

                  That means some years, we might see that more women are published and discussed than men. Some years we might see more people of color discussed than white people. Etc.

                  Rather than the current situation things like VIDA reveal.

                  I know, I know. VIDA is likely another example of the racist, regressive Left. Like the Verge.

                  But nobody’s trying to enforce equality of outcome. Equality of opportunity is exactly what’s being discussed. Like the fact that there are people excluded from the cultural conversation. Their books never even get the opportunity. I know this is difficult for someone with privilege to understand, though.

                • That’s even worse, Will. If the political goal is not clearly defined, then it can never be achieved. By design, that means that we will ALWAYS have a “race problem” no matter what the numbers look like.

                  This isn’t at all surprising, though, because truth doesn’t matter to these people, only the narrative.

                • Equality of opportunity is exactly what’s being discussed. Like the fact that there are people excluded from the cultural conversation.

                  We now have equality of opportunity. Anyone can click the KDP Upload button.

                  In the past, books could only be published if they met the standards of the publishers. That system has been broken. The largest fiction venue in the world opens its doors to everyone, and it pays zero attention to the characteristics of the author. Author uploads determine the relative percentages of various groups.

                  And conversation? People talk to whomever they like, about whatever they like. They are free to choose. Nothing impedes them. We all do this everyday. We are unlimited in what we can converse about.

                  If someone wants to be included in some conversation, then start talking. See if anyone cares about you. But there is zero reason for anyone to accept some third party agenda describing what they should talk about.

                  One group may want to limit their discussion to books published by major publishers. Another may limit it to independently published groups. Another may limit their discussion to black fenale authors. Other conversations can revolve around Social Justice Warriors. Opportuity for conversation abounds.

                  The people in the conversation decide what they will discuss. Nobody else has any standing, particularly authors who want attention.

              • Intersectionality is intended to explore the ways different aspects of identity affect experience.

                Let’s break this down a bit.

                “Intended to explore” is, at best, a meaningless buzzword phrase. If you really want to explore an idea, fine, go ahead, no one’s stopping you—but that’s not what you really want to do. By “explore,” what you really want to do is lecture or preach.

                “Aspects of identity” mean characteristics, physical and otherwise, that can be used to put people into boxes and judge them by the labels on those boxes, rather than the things that make them individuals. It’s a fundamentally illiberal way of looking at the world, grouping people by race, gender, class, and other collectivist markers.

                “Affect experience” is really just a euphamism for all the ways that you can claim to be a victim. Not you as an individual, of course—we already established with “aspects of identity” that we’re not interested in the individual experience at all—but how you as a collective have been victimized.

                And because that victimization is “systemic” or “internalized” (two other favorite buzzwords of the Left), it’s not at all about specific examples that we can all agree are deplorable, but about your subjective feelings. So long as you feel like you’ve been victimized, you can always still claim to be a victim.

                Facts don’t care about your feelings, dude. For that reason, it doesn’t matter how “identity affects experience.” What matters is the facts, and that’s why intersectionality is complete and utter horseshit.

                • Ouch.
                  Do you perchance have a political talk translation dictionary up your sleeve? There’s a market for such a thing… 🙂

                  Your post reminds me of a chapter in Poul Anderson’s THERE WILL BE TIME where the young time travelling protagonist returns home with a similar dictionary slyly skewering both sides in the 60’s culture war. Even back then it was clear that buying into either camp’s orthodoxy was a losing proposition.

                  It became even clearer as the story progressed to the deeper future as the protagonist tried to fight known history to create a third road. A very different time travel novel.

                • It’s a fundamentally illiberal way of looking at the world, grouping people by race, gender, class, and other collectivist markers.

                  Yes. I recall Will was convinced once that only a white guy can think the things I said when I was mocking talk about privilege. It’s interesting, Will, that you think accidents of birth obligates people to think certain thoughts. I sincerely give you credit for not claiming that I am “inauthentic,” a common refuge taken by other people who utter those buzzwords whenever they’re confronted with flesh and blood and not their imaginations. Maybe there’s hope for you.

                  Poul Anderson’s THERE WILL BE TIME

                  I’ve been getting Anderson’s books whenever BookBub announces a sale. I’ll look out for that one; it does sound as if it’s off the beaten path.

                • It is.
                  It is about a human sub-species of natural time travelers. It is also about tribalism of all sorts. And of course, early 70’s Anderson writing. Right around when he did TAU ZERO. I liked it; I regularly reread it.

                  Hmm, it’s actually time for another pass. 🙂

          • Plenty of us experience deep-seated racism without having to experience the Apartheid. In the US, it’s gentler strain, but no less insidious.

            Every time special awards are set up based on the color of your skin rather than the content of what you’ve written. Same goes for writing scholarships.

            Every time people put forth the idea that requirements should be lowered, but only for certain people because of the color of their skin.

            Every time people are chosen to speak or participate in writing events based on the diversity of the color of their skin, the shape of their eyes and nose, rather than the diversity of their life experiences that can help enrich the panel, etc.

            Every time we’re patted on the head and clucked over when we have different opinions and views, because we’ve quite obviously internalized racism against ourselves or we wouldn’t hold those opinions.

            Every time things are set up so those with a higher melanin content receive perks simply because of the color of their skin.

            For every con that has safe spaces designated for people based on the color of their skin. I was gobsmacked when I found out there are cons where people are basically bringing back the Jim Crow laws.

            I’m neither male nor white, and I have to say that I’ve pretty much lost patience with people that are too busy complaining and holding out their hands to roll up their sleeves and get to work. Guess what? We all have set backs and limitations, and life isn’t fair. But if you want something bad enough, you go out and get it done. Even if you have to work harder. Even if you have to go against the unfairness that is inherent to life. If people aren’t publishing you, there are a myriad or reasons why that may be the case. It’s lazy thinking to automatically assume it’s because of the color of the skin of the person penning the words. You can use your time and energy to rail against the system or focus on building that dream you’ve got burning in your chest.

            I’m also pretty much out of patience with people that champion these causes. I’m sure you don’t mean to be condescending. I’m sure you don’t mean to be insulting. But lowering the standards and requirements for people that are everything but white is basically saying that people that aren’t white are smart enough or good enough to engage on the same level as everyone else. So therefore, we must dumb things down so they can participate. This is a lie. I’m also out of patience with people assuring me, kindly, that I’m not smart enough to come to my own opinions and conclusions because: racism.

            Yes, racism exists. But that doesn’t mean that every failure, every hard thing must have racism at its root. You go looking for racism, and that’s what you’re going to find–whether or not there is any actual racism to be found.

    • +10

      Change comes about through focusing all your energy on building the new, not bemoaning the status quo or whinging about the past.

  2. Everything you say makes perfect sense but I wonder about the fiction market in South Africa. I used to tutor African writing students and they told me that they didn’t write fiction, only nonfiction. They were opposed to fiction in theory. So it might be a cultural preference and not due to race.

  3. “It is not fair that the artists of the pen and paper get dictated to.”

    Funny, Mozart was told what was wanted for what he was (or wasn’t) paid, you either write what they want to buy or it won’t be bought.

    This guy/gal should go indie and see if readers agree with them (or if the readers actually agree with the publishers in that the offering isn’t worth buying.)

  4. Thankfully, Amazon could care less what color your skin is, can distribute your e-books to anyone in S. Africa with an internet connection and has no abusive or overreaching clauses in their agreements.

    Of course, you’ll likely never had hardbacks stacked chest high at the front of a brick and mortar store. Though, practically no one gets that when you consider how many people are published overall.

  5. The OP was pretty poorly written, IMO.

    • I don’t think English was the OP’s first language, which makes me willing to forgive some of the grammar and syntax issues given the cogent thought underlying.

  6. I did some quick Googling. There isn’t an Amazon.co.za, but customers in South Africa can use either Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com. Kindle Direct accepts uploads from South Africa and can render payment to South African bank accounts. iBooks and Kobo both have South African storefronts. GooglePlay allows South African uploads but has no way to pay them, so they’re out. CreateSpace and IngramSpark both service South Africa.

    It seems eminently possible for South African fiction writers to self-publish and reach an international audience. Reaching the domestic audience might be more difficult with relatively low penetration of ereaders and limited shelf space for the already inefficient practice of putting a book on a shelf and hoping it appeals to someone passing by.

    My personal opinion is that effort put into advocating for systematic change is better but into changing the system by building roads around the gates than trying to pry the gates open. Let the gatekeepers rot. Make them irrelevant. Make it obvious they no longer control access to the market.

  7. If the publishing house holds certain views which are against the presented views by the artist, then they are at liberty to scribble their own book because in essence, by altering and editing the views, they are robbing the writer of their original concept.

    If the artists of pen and paper hold certain views that are against the views of the publisher, then the artists are at liberty to scramble for the money to support their own ideas because in essence, by demanding support from the publisher, they are demanding someone else pay money to promote ides they disagree with.

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