Publishing, Pigeon-holes & Race

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The grass really is greener over here.This discussion has been going on (off and on) for months around the blogosphere. Usually in reference to black authors being marginalized--their market share severely hampered because of advertising targeted to a small portion of the book buying market and/or segregated shelving in the stores.

Anywho, I just ran across a series of well presented/thought out, non-inflammatory posts over on the Buzz, Balls & Hype blog. The posts are from several bloggers of 'non-wasp' backgrounds regarding their experiences with being marginalized (or feeling the threat of it) in one way or the other because of their 'what-you-see-is-all-you-know-about-me' race.

Guest blogger, T.J Meyers started the ball rolling with her take on the situation for AA writers. (In many, many ways, she could have been writing about me.) Then Tess Gerritsen--an Asian-American Author--weighed in. Finally, Leora Skolkin Smith tells how her initial elation that the words 'Israel' and 'Palestine' were going to be added to her book title became something she now rues.
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raine said...

Excellent blog posts, Jaye--thanks for pointing them out.
As you said--I could've written that first one myself, and have had this discussion with several friends.
And Gerritsen's post was positively scary.
Things to think about, for EVERYONE in the business, hopefully.

McVane said...

Interesting discussions. Thanks for that. I once overheard a conversation about a similar topic in a tube a couple of weeks ago, between two young men. One complained about Borders for bringing the concept [of having a Black Fiction section in a bookshop] to this country [UK], alienating him from his reader friends.
I was so sure he was wrong because I thought British bookshops had those sections, too, long before Borders' arrival.
Later when I recalled this conversation, a friend confirmed that the young man was right; that Borders was the first of its kind in this country to have a Black Fiction section, which apparently caused a trend for other bookshop chains, e.g. Dillon's and Waterstone's. I admit I'm still dubious, but it was an interesting relevation, though.

Anyhow, this issue affects disabled and deaf writers, artists, scriptwriters and filmmakers as well. It's so interesting to see many comments in those discussions about being marginalised are almost exactly same as what disabled and deaf people say about their experiences. In some cases, word for word. It's so damn eerie.

Sela Carsen said...

Nothing to add to the conversation, really. But I'm reading with interest. I didn't even know Tess Gerritson was Asian. Don't care, either. She's a good writer. That's all I care about.

Jordan Summers said...

I think these are good examples of the hidden mind fields that exist in publishing...and the rest of the world. It's sad that these people had to go through all that, but I'm in no way surprised.

Jaye said...

Raine, I've also had this conversation with friends. Speaking of Tess's experience, I've gotten a somewhat related reaction--non-vitriolic, but from a few well-meaning friends/fellow writers who *assume* I'm writing AA fiction and are eager to tell me about the latest AA imprint/call for submission, etc. This is only notable because it's always *specifically* AA related. *gg* And when I tell them I write from multicultural cast characters, (whoever strikes my fancy, and in whatever combination) they seem a bit at a loss for words. *gg* Interesting phenomenom, that. ;-)

Jaye said...

Mailli, funny you should mention the similarity with handicapped/disabled. I was thinking that sometimes Gay/Lesbian writer also get pigeoned holed like this, too--shunted into a small grouped section of the bookstore. It just sucks as selling model.

Jaye said...

Sela, I didn't know Tess was Asian till I stumbled across her blog. Not that I cared a flip. I don't care about the nationality, political affliation, weight, etc of any other. I just care about the story I'm paying good money for.

Jordan, like you, I'm also not surprised. But definitely disheartened. :-/ I guess every writer has some sort of cross to bear: the historical romance writer is told the market's dying and she should try her hand at rom/supense, or the romantica writer is told she needs more sex scenes, etc. It's a tough gig, this game.

Thank guys, for sharing your thoughts on this. :-)

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