Yesterday it was announced in Publisher’s Marketplace that my debut young adult fantasy novel, OF FIRE AND STARS, sold to Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins in a two-book deal. Not even horse gifs can communicate my excitement about this, nor can they express enough gratitude to those who helped me along the way. My amazing agent, my devoted and ruthless critique partners, my incredible friends, and the teachers and mentors I had over the years are truly the ones who made this possible.
In OF FIRE AND STARS, a princess with a forbidden magical gift falls in love with the rogueish, horse-training sister of the prince she’s supposed to marry.
It is a challenging world for those of us who write books with LGBTQ protagonists, but not an impossible one. My first hope is that this deal means my book will fall into the hands of the teenagers who need it most. My second and equal hope is that it will encourage anyone whose voice gets pushed to the edges, marginalized, and routinely stomped on to keep writing. Sometimes it’s hard to believe in ourselves and our stories, but they matter—maybe to someone we haven’t even met who will read them one day.
In the next week or so I’ll be doing a fun giveaway of several books to celebrate the deal, so come on in and make yourselves comfortable!
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| TAGS:agent, books, critique partners, LGBTQ
In light of the US government shutdown, it’s a good time to talk about votes that count. This shutdown points to a truth about living in a capitalist world: your dollar is often the most powerful vote you have—apparently sometimes even more powerful than the government. I’m pretty confident that with enough money behind it, presidential candidates could be forced to wear rubber unicorn masks during debates. Even my apolitical TV-averse butt would be on the couch for that…but I digress.
In the land of books, some readers bemoan their underrepresentation in fiction, or in the genre they want to read. Personally, I’ve always hungered for more fantasy books with queer female leads, particularly those in which the sexuality of the lead character is a non-issue. I can only name a handful of those books, and I’ve made a point of seeking them out for years. Unfortunately, even when they do get published, they often don’t sell well. Malinda Lo has some interesting statistics gathered about diversity in the YA bestsellers of 2012.
So how do we as readers change that? The answer is simple: buy books, and make sure that they aren’t all by or about straight white people. Until the dollars are where our mouths are, there’s still only going to be one slot for a LGBTQ book on a publisher’s roster in any given season. Ultimately, voting with your dollar will help any author whose work you love. The best way to make sure that author keeps writing what you love to read is to ensure they’re getting paid to do it. Now, I understand that not everyone has the capital to indulge the kind of sick hardback book hoarding that I indulge in. That’s okay! You’re less powerless than you think. Ebooks are less expensive, and better yet, libraries are FREE.
Ways you can keep authors employed and support a more diverse literary world:
- Seek out diversity and buy those books. Diversity in YA is an excellent source for reading inspiration! You can even go one step further and make sure to buy books at your local independent bookstore. If you don’t have a good local indie in town, shop online at Powell’s. Their shipping rates are very reasonable and they often do free shipping deals.
- Check out books from your local library, and if you love them, recommend them to friends, review them on Goodreads, or share them on social media. In many cases, authors with “less marketable” (aka, more diverse) books don’t get as much money put into their publicity campaigns. It’s on us as readers to spread the word.
- Don’t pirate books. Every time you illegally download an author’s book, you directly damage their ability to eat and pay rent. Your local library exists to fulfill your need for free reads.
- Don’t sell or purchase ARCs (advance reader copies). They are usually riddled with errors that get fixed before the final print run anyway. Authors are not paid royalties on ARCs.
Now go forth and make change!