I’d just say to aspiring journalists or writers—who I meet a lot of—do it now. Don’t wait for permission to make something that’s interesting or amusing to you. Just do it now. Don’t wait. Find a story idea, start making it, give yourself a deadline, show it to people who’ll give you notes to make it better. Don’t wait till you’re older, or in some better job than you have now. Don’t wait for anything. Don’t wait till some magical story idea drops into your lap. That’s not where ideas come from. Go looking for an idea and it’ll show up. Begin now. Be a fucking soldier about it and be tough.
Sitting on my porch, finishing up my responses to the BrittanaCon author questions. Loving it!
But remember, there are two ways to dehumanize someone: by dismissing them, and by idolizing them.
Weighing in on the Amazon-Hachette Debate
In a column on writing advice, I tend to try to avoid certain topics. I don’t talk a great deal about the latest marketing tricks, for example, because I know that most of them will be out of date in a week or two. This is a post that will be out of date soon.
I’ve had a number of readers ask about the Amazon-Hachette debate. As you may know, they’re involved in a massive lawsuit. Amazon insists on setting low prices for e-books. Hachette is suing for the right to set its own (higher) prices. At stake, quite frankly, is control of the publishing market.
Now, if you’ve been reading about the controversy, you’ll see that Hugh Howie and many other Indie authors are favoring Amazon. Among authors, a few are championing Hachette. You should know that I’m a Hachette author (in the UK), but that the bulk of my income last year came from e-book sales.
So, what is this all about? Amazon has sent out press releases thanking us readers for reading, and reminding us that they are our good friends, and that they are championing low prices for e-books. On the other hand, Hachette has been “over-charging” for years, and insists on gouging the customers with inflated prices. So what is the truth?
The truth is that the two companies don’t do the same thing at all. It’s comparing apples with rocks.
Hachette is a book publisher. They hire editors to hunt down good manuscripts, then pay the authors in advance for those manuscripts. They then design, print, market, and ship the books. Many of those books don’t sell, so the publisher then has to either take the books back, or destroy them. At the end of the accounting cycle, they have to make an accounting and figure out whether they’ve made any money.
Now, a book publisher typically doesn’t make a lot of money. The high cost of printing, shipping, and marketing a book doesn’t really bring a high return. If you study the profit-and-loss statements of major publishers, you’ll know that as far as businesses go, this isn’t one that makes a lot of money.
Amazon.com is not a publisher in the same sense as Hachette. They’re a bookstore. They don’t edit the e-books that they put up online. They don’t have anyone select them, looking for quality or readability. No one designs or approves the covers. No author is paid in advance.
There’s lots of lesbian lit out there: Canon classics from the pre-Rubyfruit Jungle era
The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall. 1928. The mother of all lesbian classics. The story of Stephen Gordon and her “sexual inversion.” So ground-breaking that, due to its lesbian subject matter, it was banned upon its initial publication. I haven’t read it; it’s supposed to be a downer, but some people like it; a period piece for sure.
We Too Are Drifting by Gale Wilhelm. 1935. Subtitled “The Story of a Lesbian,” shocking in its time. FWIW, the blurb on the period cover says “Better than The Well of Loneliness." I read this a long time ago and vaguely remember being disappointed, but again, it’s a classic and YMMV.
The Friendly Young Ladies by Mary Renault. 1944. A witty romantic comedy of the bohemian set in 1930s England, reportedly written as a response to The Well of Loneliness and therefore may be best appreciated in that context. I haven’t read it; it’s supposed to be good.
The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith (aka Claire Morgan). 1952. Ahead of its time, this novel tells the story of a love affair between two women in the 1950s. This book was a powerfully formative one for me, and I have revisited it multiple times over the years. Recommended.
Desert of the Heart by Jane Rule. 1964. Later made into the movie Desert Hearts, about a love affair between two women in the late ’50s. Not action-packed, but thoughtful, well written, and a landmark in its time. Other lesbian-themed books by this author include This Is Not For You and After The Fire.
Patience and Sarah by Isabel Miller. 1972. A major classic. In this historical novel set in 1830s New England, two women defy their families and their community to make a life for themselves. I remember liking this one a lot.
May Sarton (1912-1995). A lesbian writer, perhaps better known for her poetry and journals, she published several fiction titles as well (not all lesbian-themed). I tried reading her once or twice and Did Not Like; however, lots of people swear by her, so there she is.
Q:ARE YOU WRITING ANOTHER BOOK? I must know about it!
Currently working on two different projects. I’ll share more about them next month.
Q:Okay it's story time, because I have one that is TOO GOOD NOT TO TELL ANYONE. So today, I came out to my friend as bisexual. She then told me that she is also bisexual AND that a mutual friend of ours (they're close friends, we're more of casual friends) that I had a crush on for a while is at least a little bit into ladies and gave me her number. WHAT IS LIFE.
Haha that’s awesome.