Friday, May 26, 2006

Millenia Black Gains Acceptance

Millenia has returned and announces that her publisher decided to accept her book, The Great Betrayal, with white characters after all. This is a MAJOR happening. She confirms that she got an attorney, so the rumors that were floating around about a month ago are obviously true. She explains somewhat (I think there's likely A LOT more to it) why she had removed the previous Jim Crow publishing post, and makes some pretty powerful statements about her feelings on the ongoing problem with how we black authors are treated in the publishing world.
I'm committed to stopping what I view as an extremely horrid industry practice. I think it's very important for readers to know - and to understand - what's been happening, not only to me, but from what I gather, to so many authors in the publishing industry....
She goes on to say:
To further illustrate the industry's severe racial inequity, take THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES by Sue Monk Kidd. Here's a debut novel (great book BTW) where the majority of the major characters are---yep, you guessed it---black. Yet, as I've observed, this novel was not classified as African-American fiction and segregated accordingly for marketing and distribution purposes. When I walk into a bookstore (any bookstore) I find this book as general fiction---yet, in my view, it would've been far more appropriate to niche BEES as African-American fiction than to have done so with THE GREAT PRETENDER.

But, Sue Monk Kidd is white. Publishing is currently a pro-white industry. So her work of heavy AA racial tensions and content was not restricted to AA media, AA bookstore shelves, AA foreign interest, and venues in general with predominantly AA interests.

See the problem? Boy, I certainly do. I feel it in my bones.

In its current state, before they've even written a single word, all authors are NOT created equal. I have learned this first hand. With a scant few exceptions, authors are being treated according to the color of their skin, even if they don't wish to be identified as black authors. Race appears to determine several key factors: 1) how your work will be handled, 2) who's expected to buy it and, in my case 3) even what you may be allowed to write....In fact, racial marginalization has become such a widely accepted business practice, that industry players seem virtually oblivious, or numbed, to what strikes me as corrosively suppressive and segregating ramifications.
My favorite part is the most powerful:
Was I born with the wrong skin color, or what? Being treated this way can surely make one feel as if they were - as if your skin is a liability. I can't even begin to express what an awful feeling that is. Not being able to go out into the world, buy a fishing rod and fish in the ocean like everyone else. Based on your skin color, someone will come along and impose upon you the type of rod you're expected to have, the pond you're expected to fish in, and the path you're expected to take to get there. It's like they're saying, "Just who do you think you are? You don't get to throw your line into the ocean! Look at your skin. There's the pond over there."
Boy does it ever make me feel like I was born the wrong color. I've felt that way ever since I started school.

I still applaud Millenia for taking this stand. She says it's not over yet, and my sense is, based on what she's said about her first book, The Great Pretender, her publisher's going to have to cough up some punitive compensation. Won't that be interesting? She's published by NAL (a division of Penguin Putnam), though I've noticed she never mentions them by name, which must be at the advice of her attorney. I'm eagerly awaiting the next revelation in this situation. Somehow I think it will be major and relevant to all authors, black and white......whatever happens.

20 Worst Literary Agencies----BEWARE!

If there's anything I hate it's scam artists who prey on unsuspecting, eager authors. And believe me, there are thousands of them out there! I'm doing my part to spread the word about the 20 worst agencies out there according to the SFWA. Mind you, there are MANY more, just be smart. Agents don't charge fees up-front. They get a percentage (no more than 15% for domestic and 20% for foreign rights) of the earnings you receive that derived from the contracts they negotiate for you.

  • The Abacus Group Literary Agency
  • Allred and Allred Literary Agents (refers clients to "book doctor" Victor West of Pacific Literary Services)
  • Barbara Bauer Literary Agency
  • Benedict Associates (also d/b/a B.A. Literary Agency)
  • Sherwood Broome, Inc.
  • Capital Literary Agency (formerly American Literary Agents of Washington, Inc.)
  • Desert Rose Literary Agency
  • Arthur Fleming Associates
  • Finesse Literary Agency (Karen Carr)
  • Brock Gannon Literary Agency
  • Harris Literary Agency
  • The Literary Agency Group, which includes the following:
    -Children's Literary Agency
    -Christian Literary Agency
    -New York Literary Agency
    -Poets Literary Agency
    -The Screenplay Agency
    -Stylus Literary Agency (formerly ST Literary Agency, formerly Sydra-Techniques)
    -Writers Literary & Publishing Services Company (the editing arm of the above-mentioned agencies)
  • Martin-McLean Literary Associates
  • Mocknick Productions Literary Agency, Inc.
  • B.K. Nelson, Inc.
  • The Robins Agency (Cris Robins)
  • Michele Rooney Literary Agency (also d/b/a Creative Literary Agency, Simply Nonfiction, and Michele Glance Rooney Literary Agency)
  • Southeast Literary Agency
  • Mark Sullivan Associates
  • West Coast Literary Associates (also d/b/a California Literary Services)

Friday, May 05, 2006

Kaavya Viswanathan----Here We Go Again!

What's going on in this industry? This is so reminiscent of the Nora Roberts/Janet Daily fiasco when Daily plagiarized Roberts' work!

From the times:

Kaavya Viswanathan, the Harvard sophomore accused of plagiarizing parts of her recently published chick-lit novel, acknowledged yesterday that she had borrowed language from another writer's books, but called the copying ''unintentional and unconscious.''

The Harvard Crimson, alerted by reader e-mails, reported Tuesday on its Web site that "Opal Mehta" contained passages similar to Meg Cabot's 2000 novel, "The Princess Diaries." The New York Times also reported comparable material in Viswanathan's novel and Sophie Kinsella's "Can You Keep a Secret?"

In Cabot's "The Princess Diaries," published by HarperCollins, the following passage appears on page 12: "There isn't a single inch of me that hasn't been pinched, cut, filed, painted, sloughed, blown dry, or moisturized. ... Because I don't look a thing like Mia Thermopolis. Mia Thermopolis never had fingernails. Mia Thermopolis never had blond highlights."

In Viswanathan's book, page 59 reads: "Every inch of me had been cut, filed, steamed, exfoliated, polished, painted, or moisturized. I didn't look a thing like Opal Mehta. Opal Mehta didn't own five pairs of shoes so expensive they could have been traded in for a small sailboat."

Uh..what? Unintentional, huh? Damn...hate it when that happens!!

They also say she was paid a half-a-million dollar advance. For an unknown 17-year-old (at the time) that's a mother load of mullah.

I'm frightened for the direction the publishing industry's headed in. Scared to death.