Tuesday, July 03, 2012

The Advocate, part two

(Note: This is a continuation of last week's role of the advocate in fiction writing.)


The word has a noble sound. When you advocate for someone or something, there’s an implication that you’re helping out someone who can’t help themselves. For years, writers depended on others for their own advocacy. We looked to agents, to editors, to businesspeople, all of whom worked to sell our books for us. We couldn't do it ourselves, we didn't have the knowledge, so we entrusted all that to others who toiled on our behalf.

But, if you’ve been paying attention to the publishing world lately, you know these times, they are a changin’ (with apologies to BobDylan). With the fall of the economy and the publishing houses laying people off, many of our advocates are now out of a job. More and more of the promotional duties have become the author’s job. We must publicize our own books if we want to make a sale (or two, or three).

The rise of self-publishing pushes us even further into self-advocacy as well. If we don’t fight for our books, who will?

All of which leads me to the genre in-fighting that’s been going on lately. As a writer of romance, I’m used to being sidelined by big publishers and literary authors alike. We’re considered “throwaway” authors because the books we write are often consumed by the reader then tossed aside and never picked up again.

And of course, within the romance genre there are divisions as well. My first Romantic Times Convention back in March of 2004 was my first. It was held in New York City and I remember how excited I was to be part of the huge book fair at the end, only to find out all the erotic romance authors were assigned a very small room with little space for readers to maneuver between and among the fifty or so authors squeezed in like the proverbial sardines.

The father comes home and yells at the wife, the wife scolds the kids, the kids kick the dog. I felt like the dog.

Over the years, that’s changed. RT now puts all romance genres together in one, huge room. We’ve been accepted by several organizations and many review sites. And then the media gets hold of a book like 50 Shades of Gray and we start all over again. “Mommy porn,” they’re calling it. Books read in secret as if the readers are ashamed of being seen reading something not “literary.”


Advocates. We must always advocate for our own work, our own genre. No one is going to do it for you. Don’t expect the big publishers to stand up for you, although several smaller presses will at least get you a turn at bat. You must write the blog posts, comment on Facebook and Twitter and in face-to-face conversations. When people are excited to find out you're an author, don't then hang your head when you admit your genre of choice. Raise your chin and let the world know you're proud of what you create!

Write your stories as they come from your art and from your skill. Don’t apologize for them. Ever. You are a writer. Be proud.

Play safe,

Drop a tip in the jar on your way out. I'm proud of what I write!

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