I have… so many Thoughts™ about this post from Foz Meadows. Not directly related to her experiences but by golly if general shape isn’t familiar, and… well.
I never really talk about this publicly, because the Code Of Silence surrounding the publishing industry really is desperately heavy and thick, but there were basically two Incidents that caused me to abandon my never-particularly-successful writing “career”.
The first I’ve alluded to previously, and was essentially that the third Wyrdverse book got canned because the publisher wanted substantial re-writes to re-frame the story from what it was—basically focusing on a broken interpersonal relationship between a sexual abuse survivor, a lesbian filmmaker, a young trans boy, and girl-version!Lain—into… a mainstream m/m romance that would appeal to the publisher’s perception of the m/m market as being middle-class straight white cis women.1
The second was being told, by multiple different publishers, that Elias of Dragon of Rosemont High was unsympathetic because—and I am absolutely not making this up—he’s bullied. The fact that he’s black and the character who’s bullying him is white? And that that dynamic is repeatedly pointed out by Elias himself, even though technically the motivation for the bullying is eventually revealed to have a different rationale?2 I’m su-uu-uu-ure has nothing to do with it.
And I bring this up not because I think my experiences are anything as bad as what Meadows went through—mine were just frustrating and disappointing, not actively traumatic—but I guess just… to have this out there. The degrees and details vary, but I’ve heard the same story over and over since, always whispered quietly in the back of the barcon. Because the publishing industry runs entirely on the hopes and dreams of people who know, deeply and completely, that they are worth nothing and can be replaced at any time.3 And no-one wants to be That Author, and every pressure—from your agents, your publishers—is to be Positive At All Times At All Costs. So nothing gets said, and nothing gets done, and the cycle repeats.
Same shit, different day.
- See also: arguing with the publisher over the sex scene in Stormbringer. They wanted it rewritten with Lain in his male human form, again to appeal to some supposed “mainstream” m/m audience. [↩]
- And actually an even more different one, if I ever actually wrote more books in that series… [↩]
- If you’ve ever wondered why so many people who “make it” in publishing seem to be assholes? Ta-daa! [↩]