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Publishing News Roundup Series: Can Authors Create Books About a Culture that is Not Their Own?

by Maureen Crisp •  February 10, 2020  •   Follow

Published in News  •  One comment

There is a call for diverse books, but does that call for any author?

There has been a lot of controversy regarding authors creating books about cultures that they are not a part of. There are supporters on both sides of the argument, and publishers are struggling to keep an even center on the matter. It begs the question, just because publishers want diverse books, does that invite people not of the culture to the table?


The Grapes Of Wrath

Pic: Henry Fonda
Another week in publishing… another meltdown in publishing. Hopefully this is not a sign of a new normal for 2020.
So what is it this time? 
The novel American Dirt got rave reviews pre-publication. The book was compared to a modern Grapes Of Wrath and so it has come to pass that wrath has been visited upon the author for writing a story of Latin immigration – without being Latin.
The furore has been public and vitriolic. The author has disappeared. The publisher has tried to calm the waters, not sure if he just poured petrol on the fire with this press release.
Publishers Weekly is reporting the cancellation of the book tour in favour of Town Hall style meetings about the book. Is all publicity really good? (Can’t help thinking this would be the classic author nightmare.) 
Jami Gold has a great post on What Do the Calls For Diversity Mean For Our Writing
Meanwhile in other publishing threats, The White House is trying to pull a book because of revealed national secrets that may be in it. Anybody who is close to National government has to have their manuscripts approved for release. Apparently this one was… weeks ago…
Also in a banning frame of mind is Digital Book World. They have banned Macmillan from attending the Digital Book World conference because of the way they are treating libraries. Is this a publicity stunt, a highlighting of the Macmillan/ Library issue or the building of barricades for the revolution…
This week Lee and Low published their annual baseline survey on diversity in publishing. Is the publishing world hiring a more representative band of people?
Writer Beware has a new collection of scams hitting the newbies and its Pay To Play or in this case pay to get profiles on magazines… sadly Publishers Weekly may also be in this camp.
Jane Friedman has updated her guide to Writers Conferences so if you are thinking about attending one this year – take a look.
I came across two great posts on plotting this week. An oldie but a goodie from Chuck Wendig and Story Arcs from Write Practice.

In The Craft Section,

Story Structure – Heroes Journey– Karen Woodward- Bookmark
15 keys to writing dialogue – Ruth Harris – Bookmark 
7 rules to cliffhangers- Anne R Allen- Bookmark
How to write a mystery novel– Huge collection of links- Bookmark

In The Marketing Section,

Unique content ideas for February– Penny Sansevieri- Bookmark
Nates big list of promotion websites– Nate Hoffelder- Bookmark lots!!
Jacketed case printing – Ingram Spark’s new shiny 2020 goodie!!

To Finish,

As I come across interesting publishing links during the week I pass them on to people who are working at the coalface of any issue currently of concern. Our NZ Society of Authors is having a battle over what copyright means with government advisors. This week Joanna Penn had an interview with Rebecca Giblin on the importance of contracts and what to watch out for in publishing clauses. The interview is well worth a listen for the breaking news that an AI has been granted copyright. 
2020 is going to be an interesting year.

About Maureen Crisp

Maureen Crisp has been writing her weekly publishing roundups for over seven years. She is a traditionally published children's author as well as indie-published. She lives in New Zealand and is heading the team organising the 4th National Conference of Children's Writers and Illustrators. She is currently trying her hand at writing a children’s book series if she can drag herself away from forever tweaking her Mars novel or obsessing over space.