Malinda Lo has been doing a fantastic series for YA Pride this month. As part of that, I am featured today as a guest blogger! Head on over to Malinda’s blog to read about how her book Ash inspired me, and why it’s important to write what you crave as a reader.
| TAGS:reading, writing
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!
Speak up:2 comments
| TAGS:diversity, LGBTQ, reading, YA
Last Saturday morning I popped out of bed with the energy of a squirrel on crack to spend a fun-filled day at the Austin Teen Book Festival. It’s awesome to live in a city that has such a big YA book event, even if the heat tries to obliterate my will to live every summer.
- I bought my first gay boy book, Openly Straight, and was reminded how important it is to support LGBTQ authors of all stripes. Bill Konigsberg was a delight on his panel and fun to talk to at the signing table.
- One of my friends listed off many of the famous YA authors with whom she has peed in public restrooms.
- Lauren Myracle tenderly touched the battered cover of my copy of Kissing Kate and marveled that I had the version with the original cover. Kissing Kate was her first published book. She signed it, “To Audrey, who was there from the very beginning.”
- On the Tales of Tomorrow panel, Malinda Lo put hoverboards and other material things aside and said that equality was her dream for the future—equality for people of color and LGBTQ people. EQUALITY. Can we get a slow-clap?
- Rae Carson gave me a look of skepticism when I requested profanity in my book personalization. It quickly morphed into delight when she realized I was serious.
- I made a total mouth-breathing assclam of myself in front of a well-known agent. He has now insisted I query him, and I look forward to his rejection.
For those of you out there who are avid readers of YA, I encourage you to find local book events to attend. Hearing what authors have to say about their books and about the publication process is always interesting, and the panels usually end up being hilarious. YA authors have a great sense of humor and are a wonderfully supportive and fun community.