It’s Not All About Pub Date

From Publishers Weekly:

I have come to realize that some books arrive into the world like fireworks. They shout from the skies, “Here I am!” But some books take time. They land softly, gently singing, “Here I am.” These voices may be quiet, but they still are strong and steady. Books by disabled and chronically ill authors who may be struggling with serious medical issues at the time of their book releases may fall into this second category. In an industry eager to include more diverse writers, including disabled writers, it is important to give these books space to land and to grow. For this to happen, we must create a writing community in which disabled writers can safely voice their needs, struggles, and victories without fear of judgment or shame—a community in which their books have room to grow even if they have quieter releases.

Chronically ill writers face many challenges beyond physical pain. They struggle to be believed not only by strangers, but by their own doctors, family, and friends. They may face blame for their illnesses and may fear that publishing professionals will view them as too much trouble to work with. They often are forced to tackle their most difficult times alone, either shut out by their world or too fearful to open up about the reality of their situations. They may at times feel completely silenced.

. . . .

It wasn’t until three months after the release of my book that I would be diagnosed with a rare but serious adrenal disease and that life-saving treatment could be started. That day in August, though, I did not celebrate Serendipity. I sent out an obligatory tweet announcing the release, and then I went to sleep.

The people I thought loved me most were not supportive. I felt no love, no sense of pride. I believed I was a disappointment to my publisher, to my agent, to my readers, and that none of them could ever understand, because at the time I didn’t even understand what was happening to me. All I knew was that I was sick, but I worried that, if I opened up to anyone about what was happening, my sickness would be seen as too burdensome for the fast-paced publishing world. I felt like a failure as an author and as a person. Worst of all, I felt like my voice didn’t matter.

I know now that my voice does matter. For chronically ill writers, our voices are ones of steady strength, of vulnerability, perseverance, and agency. Our voices set us free, and, when we write, we strive to set our readers free, too, because we know what it is to be cornered into silence. We know what it is to fight for a voice. If we as an industry are to be champions of diverse books, we must give breathing room for books that land more quietly. We never know what a writer is going through at the time of a release. Stories are about what it means to be human. Let writers be human, too, and let the voices of chronically ill and disabled writers be heard—even if it takes a little longer for their books to take off.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

3 thoughts on “It’s Not All About Pub Date”

  1. (Comment now moved to the post it is about. Sigh…)

    Trad-pub could do so much more for these writers – but it would require them (the publisher) to actually do some of the work themselves. Not likely; the chronically ill and disabled are a passé victim group.

    Now, as an indie, they won’t get any more help or consideration from Amazon, Ingram, etc. – but they do have some lower-impact options for marketing. I do wonder whether any of the various support groups (there is at least one for just about every chronic illness and/or disability existing, I believe) have come up with programs to help the writers among them?

  2. I confess. I really don’t know beans about the authors of most fiction I read. I don’t care.

    Do I read multiple books by the same author? Sure, but I still don’t know beams about him. If I do learn anything about them it comes from the general news.

  3. Wow. “Books by disabled and chronically ill authors who may be struggling with serious medical issues at the time of their book releases may fall into this second category.”

    I am so used to not even being granted existence that this blew my mind.

    And then I saw that the writer of the article is disabled, which explained it. Posting an article about diversity usually allows the posting entity to get the good feelings associated with ’empathy’ without actually having to DO something.

    “For chronically ill writers, our voices are ones of steady strength, of vulnerability, perseverance, and agency. Our voices set us free, and, when we write, we strive to set our readers free, too, because we know what it is to be cornered into silence.”

    Yes. And no. We’re slower, but some of us wish to be judged ONLY by the standards of how well we write, and that is a hard second part for many to grant us.

    This article has the feel of ‘Traditional publishers should let books by disabled writers stay on the shelves a little longer’ before they are junked.

    I think the author is trying to stay in the wrong community, the one where she will never have what she wants.

    Having all the time in the world is the description of the independent writer.

    Though it would be nice to find, even there, a little more support.

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