March 06, 2021, 01:45:36 AM

Author Topic: Move over game of thrones and lotr  (Read 1437 times)

Offline Peat

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Re: Move over game of thrones and lotr
« Reply #15 on: December 03, 2020, 12:54:24 PM »
Leaving obvious sexism in industry aside, is racism really an equally big of an issue? There was an article about Sanderson in papers recently where he mentions how he got depressed with failures to get published and pushed through it before landing a deal.

Even in SPFBO I recall Mark making posts on how women authors are getting featured more prominently in later rounds, but I don't recall anything on authors of color.

Note: I'm not denying racism, but just saying I don't recall much on that aspect.

This post might be talking out of its arse as I'm not deep in the industry, and I am white and male, but -

I think being a non-white person from the Anglosphere carries more difficulties than being a woman in publishing.

Being a woman gets some knocks for sure - see the stuff about getting funneled towards YA, or authors being creepy pervs at cons, or the various outbursts of maladjusted nerds on the intarwebz, or I guess the Arwen thing here - but women have been a part of the fantasy industry for a long time, a lot of the publishing industry are women, a decent amount of the big name authors are women, there's a lot of iconic female characters and even just straight up female orientated books (although there's been change there recently). If you're a white woman in fantasy then you know your path to success (even if you might not like your most obvious path to success), you will meet a lot of people just like you, you will have a lot of people rooting for you.

If you're not white... well, I am at a complete loss as to how you're treated at cons. I do know there is a funneling towards "Own Voices" (although I'd note a decent amount of East Asian authors have made their bones away from that), I do know you can get it in the neck from your own community for "not being authentic enough" as well as whatever racism you receive... but a lot of the experience, I just don't know about. What I do know though is that PoC are a trailblazing generation in terms of fantasy authorship (which is not to say those ahead of them weren't trailblazers too, but a few individuals here and there still leave plenty of trail to blaze), there's not many non-white people in the publishing industry, and everyone's worried about your economic viability. Still.

Part of me suspects that in some ways women wade through more shit because nobody wants to be labelled racist but you can still get away with a bunch of shit against women, plus the whole sexual factor. But I think the ways that shit mounts up has nothing on the history of systematic racial bias that's left the Fantasy industry rather unprepared for the fact that non-white people are interested.

I'd also add that the Arwen thing, while understanding the emotions involved, is something a determined and selective female reader need never experience again. Go read Le Guin, go read Hobb (particularly as Lindholm), reader Pratchett's Witches trilogy, read Pierce, read Lackey, read Cherryh, read Mists of Avalon if you can get past who Bradley was, and so on. But if you're not white, and you read fantasy wondering where the people like you are, until about 2010 there was pretty much nothing but tumbleweed. And I think that's the bigger deal.
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Re: Move over game of thrones and lotr
« Reply #16 on: December 03, 2020, 02:49:53 PM »
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Leaving obvious sexism in industry aside, is racism really an equally big of an issue? There was an article about Sanderson in papers recently where he mentions how he got depressed with failures to get published and pushed through it before landing a deal.

We come to this place every once in a while. The publishing industry if not female dominated is close to. Certainly the people you want on your team as a fantasy writer are largely female from editors to agents. The big resellers are also largely staffed with Women. If racism is an issue I would suggest it is less of an issue than it has ever been in the UK, I can't really speak for anywhere else. There are competitions and prizes exclusively for women and for BAME and a surprising number for immigrants to the UK.

The truth is it is damn hard to get published. From memory, it is less than 1 in 200 manuscripts get picked up in the Fantasy and Science Fiction categories.

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Even in SPFBO I recall Mark making posts on how women authors are getting featured more prominently in later rounds, but I don't recall anything on authors of color.

Marks data has a lot of tolerance in it because about 15% of entries supply (usually) 2 initials and a surname, but the split is more men from memory. From the data he collects I am not sure anyone's ethnicity could be determined. I think that the book must be in English is a barrier to some authors outside the English-speaking world. Oh, and I don't know currently but a couple of years back a majority of the judges/readers were women.

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Note: I'm not denying racism, but just saying I don't recall much on that aspect.


I think if you make everything about race you will find racism. This is why I have great dislike for Woke and its anti-racist stance. Where leading a good life and doing no harm makes you a racist because you don't virtue signal your allegiance and through some twisted logic makes it OK for pasty white kids dressed in black to scream racist abuse at black police officers. I would much rather it was about the writing than the person doing it.

Offline Neveesandeh

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Re: Move over game of thrones and lotr
« Reply #17 on: December 03, 2020, 09:11:49 PM »
I have to say that pretty much every novel I have ever read was edited by a woman. I don't know if this is a common thing, but it's definitely something I have noticed.

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Re: Move over game of thrones and lotr
« Reply #18 on: December 03, 2020, 10:27:42 PM »
I've heard NK Jemisin talk about her early career and race obstructions. Specifically, she wrote the Dreamblood duo first, but was straight up told "we don't know who the audience is for this" because there was a (US) publishing-industry assumption that black folk didn't read fantasy, and white folk didn't want Egyptian-esque fantasy. Obviously both of those things are utterly wrong, but that's why that duology didn't get published until after she broke out with the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

I don't think it can be stressed enough how far SFF fandom has come in the last twenty/thirty years in terms of being welcoming of more diverse readers, authors and stories.

There's still, I think, a bit of bias in terms of "readership" - i.e. who the book is pitched at. I've heard various authors writing in non-white-western mileaus getting editor feedback that the setting "isn't enough" of the exotic thing, because it doesn't have the markers that a white-Western audience expects. (e.g. Never mind the heavy themes of "ancestor honouring" and duty, and the inclusion of Chinese-folklore ghosts, you don't specifically mention chopsticks and therefore it's not vividly Chinese.)  And Peat's raised the matter of "authenticity" that can really be a pain for minority authors writing their own experience. It's all still a minefield. But I think we're doing a bit better.

I have to say that pretty much every novel I have ever read was edited by a woman. I don't know if this is a common thing, but it's definitely something I have noticed.

Yes, this is definitely a thing. A lot of the working editors in speculative fiction are female. But I get the idea that most of the publishing executives / buying editors are still male. Yes, every long-form editor on the Hugo ballot this year was female. But at least two of them were laid off this year, and another had resigned/switched houses. Women are definitely doing the work. I don't know if they are controlling the money/power and making the decisions.

Offline Peat

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Re: Move over game of thrones and lotr
« Reply #19 on: December 04, 2020, 01:07:55 AM »
I've heard NK Jemisin talk about her early career and race obstructions. Specifically, she wrote the Dreamblood duo first, but was straight up told "we don't know who the audience is for this" because there was a (US) publishing-industry assumption that black folk didn't read fantasy, and white folk didn't want Egyptian-esque fantasy. Obviously both of those things are utterly wrong, but that's why that duology didn't get published until after she broke out with the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

Oh! Now that explains a lot about how unpolished that book felt compared to her rep.

I'd also suggest that maybe the publishing industry assumptions weren't *that* wrong about where the market was for Dreamblood, given that The Killing Moon has far less ratings than any of Jemisin's other series starters (The Broken Kingdom has nearly twice as many ratings and twice as many editions). Given how much less read than her other books it is, maybe it wouldn't have succeeded as her first book, and maybe she wouldn't have got a second series.

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There's still, I think, a bit of bias in terms of "readership" - i.e. who the book is pitched at. I've heard various authors writing in non-white-western mileaus getting editor feedback that the setting "isn't enough" of the exotic thing, because it doesn't have the markers that a white-Western audience expects. (e.g. Never mind the heavy themes of "ancestor honouring" and duty, and the inclusion of Chinese-folklore ghosts, you don't specifically mention chopsticks and therefore it's not vividly Chinese.)

Well that's just bewildering and enraging... but then I hear about people going "So what historical event does X book" correspond to, and again, I'm not a 100% sure the editors are in the wrong about what the wider public want. Or at least, not consistently. I'm sure some of what they're saying are big mistakes... and in some cases, if they weren't saying it, books would flop as of today.
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Re: Move over game of thrones and lotr
« Reply #20 on: December 05, 2020, 07:33:54 AM »
At the end of the day a professional makes a decision about whether they can make any money from a manuscript. This is rarely based on quality of writing or content, theme or prose but on what an editor let loose can do. Lets face it mediocre vampire and werewolf soft porn outsells most SFF ten to one.