Sorry, but I really don’t care

I’ve tried to avoid controversy on this blog the last couple of weeks. There have been a couple of reasons for this but it basically boils down to the fact that real life has had more than enough stress in it that I didn’t need it boiling over here. But that went straight out the window just now when I saw an author state — and I’m paraphrasing slightly — that she doesn’t believe anyone who says they judge a book only on its contents and not on the race or gender or whatever of the author. I’d like to say my blood boiled but it didn’t. That is exactly the sort of rhetoric this person has a reputation for spewing, when they aren’t damning someone because they are white and male and “privileged”.

I hate to tell the author this but most readers don’t know what an author looks like, much less what their sexual orientation or political beliefs might be. All they are interested in is the story. Don’t believe me? Go out and ask your friends if they know what most mid-list writers look like. Do they know what their racial background is? Do they know if the author is gay or straight or bi or whatever? Do they really care? (I leave off the best sellers because they get their photos on their dust jackets and are pushed through TV commercials, etc. But even then, most readers won’t know what they look like without someone prompting them.)

Now, ask them what they think is most important when it comes to a book. I’ll lay you dollars to doughnuts that it is the story and not who the author is, what they look like or who they go to bed with. Readers want to be entertained. That is something a number of authors have forgotten. They have bought into their own rhetoric and have lost sight of the fact that the reader is the customer. These writers would much rather try to force their way of thinking onto the reader, whether the reader likes it or not.

Let’s look at this from a different perspective. Go to your Facebook feed. How many people complaining about “white privilege” or “male privilege” or whatever when it comes to publishing — whether traditional or indie — are readers? Be honest. Aren’t most of them writers?

Now, look again, how many of them are also complaining about how there need to be more “diverse” characters in fiction and how writers should look to make sure they meet this diversity requirement before they worry about anything else?

Again, I have a feeling most of those will be authors and not readers.

Readers want to be entertained. They don’t want to be preached to. They don’t, as a general rule, know who the publisher is if something comes out from a traditional press. They don’t know much, if anything, about the author unless that author is someone local or is a best seller.

So get over yourself, Facebook Author. Just because you have a chip on your shoulder doesn’t mean everyone else does — or that they ought to have the same chip that you do.

The real problem is that publishing, especially traditional publishing is pretty incestuous. There are a few exceptions. What we have seen going on in SFWA the last few years is a perfect example. A group of authors have decided that it is time to impose their idea of what is right and wrong on the entire group. They have done their best to ruin the careers of other writers because they didn’t fit the mold of diverse and socially relevant thinking. Some of them made no secret of the fact that they thought publishers should no longer publish these authors because they were “old white men” who had the temerity to talk about how attractive a female editor happened to be in a swimsuit. Oh the shame, the shame for admiring a woman and commenting on it.

But that is another post for another day.

The truth of the matter is that these authors have started believing that what their fellow authors say in their echo chambers happens to be exactly what the reading public is saying. They have drunk the kool-ade and believe their own propaganda. Fortunately, they are wrong.

Sure, there are some folks out there who don’t want to read about gay sex or bondage or interracial anything. But they, too, are the minority. Most readers are willing to look past that as long as the story is entertaining and the “objectionable” part is integral to the plot. Write a story that holds their attention, write characters they can care about and I assure you, they won’t give a flying flip about anything else.

So get over yourself and write — unless you think the only way you can get attention is to continue to whine?

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