Don’t use own voices writers as trophies

I’m going to take this opportunity to hope a nerurodiverse person’s voice actually gets heard for once.

I am a person with psychosis. That means, legally (in fact, as a matter of course), I can be locked up for committing no crime at all, but only because I might-at some point-commit a crime. I’ve been harassed by police, kicked out of businesses and public buildings for acting “weird”. My partner-also neurodiverse- was almost shot for having a completely nonviolent psychotic episode. My voice is not often heard. And I don’t appreciate that it’s being suppressed now.

So yeah. It was bad timing to bring this up now, because I don’t want to at all take away from the celebration (by AUTHORS and READERS) that an awesome Own Voices book got published. But my point is valid. Publishers shouldn’t be patting themselves on the back. And I have a right to say it.

Don’t tell me that I don’t have a right to my opinion, and that if I’m expressing that opinion I’m “talking over” someone else.

Don’t tell me that I don’t have a right to my frustration about continued bias in the gatekeepers of publishing. Nor am I “bitter” or “whining”. That’s a really privileged point of view. I’m standing up for myself, and for other marginalized voices. This argument sounds like a lot of the bullshit Trumpists spout about protesters and marginalized voices.

So yeah. Misinterpret me all that you want, and then don’t listen when I explain, apologize, etc. Threaten an Own Voices writer’s career for expressing her opinion. But realize that you’re bullying and suppressing a marginalized voice. That’s not discourse. It’s not promoting diversity or acceptance. You are, in fact, a HUGE part of the problem.

I’m taking out the reference to the book in question because people thought I was trying to say it shouldn’t be celebrated.

I apologize greatly for hurting people’s feelings. I didn’t mean to say people shouldn’t be celebrating today. I should have left this post for another day, because my points are still valid.

If anyone is still actually reading this instead of just responding to online comments, then I’ll be glad for all this wank, if maybe just one or two people  see the validity in my points. My point was never to say Own Voices writing shouldn’t be celebrated—in fact, I’ve said the opposite, a million times. Own Voices books are something special beyond just being”great” books.

But anyone who thinks I’m bitter about the publishing industry, I’m not. I’m speaking truth as I see it, and as a lot of people see it. Just because one great Own Voices book gets published doesn’t mean that there isn’t a problem in the industry. A lot of people have approached me and told me stories very similar to mine about their experience with publishing “gatekeepers”.

A lot of us think the publishing industry has a long way to go, and that the PUBLISHING INDUSTRY shouldn’t be throwing itself a big ol’ party quite yet.

Don’t pat yourselves on the back for publishing a great book. That’s what you supposedly exist to do.

For every Own Voices book that gets published, there’s hundreds of other Own Voices books that don’t. Sure, some of those books probably need some work. After all, none of us were born knowing how to write, no matter how interesting our points of view are. But a lot of those own voices books are really good, and still fall through the cracks.

I’m glad that a lot of agents and editors are putting out calls for Own Voices books. This is a good start. But don’t pat yourselves on the back yet. I’m an Own Voices writer, too, and I—along with a lot of others—can see just how far the publishing community has to go.

Agents and editors read hundreds of queries a day, and untold numbers of submissions. They are the first ones to say that, if something doesn’t grab their attention right off, if they don’t love it, then they aren’t the right agent for that book. This is s big problem when we’re talking about Own Voices books. Most agents and editors are white, neurotypical, straight, cis, etc., and come from the sort of background that allows them to major in English. (I’m generalizing here, and I apologize. But the numbers back me up.) So is it any big surprise that they find it harder to identify with different points of view?

When you read something that’s so far outside of your cultural center, it’s probably going to make you uncomfortable, or even defensive (I may not have neurotypical privilege, but I have white privilege, so believe me, I know what that defensiveness feels like. We need to fight it and just listen). These points of view might be jarring to us, or even seem unrealistic. Agents, when reading Own Voices submissions, probably won’t even take time to quantify why they’re having the reaction they do. They’ll just toss the manuscript aside as “not for them”. The Own Voices submissions that the agents do like might be relatable for them in some oblique way. The writing might have been toned down on purpose by the author to be more accessible for other audiences (yes, this happens. I’ve done it, and I’m not the only one). Or, they might just be written a million times better than a book the agent would usually sign by someone with a similar viewpoint as them.

Before anyone starts calling me a snowflake and telling me I’m just bitter because I don’t write well enough to get published, and/or that I want “special treatment” for Own Voices writers…check yourselves. For one, I am published (that’s one of the reason I’m writing this: I’m standing up for a lot of other Own Voices writers who aren’t yet published, and either aren’t comfortable standing up to the publishing community for fear of getting blacklisted, or don’t yet have enough confidence in their skill to be sure of the bias in publishing). For another, none of us want “special treatment”. We’re trying to get the same quality of treatment that those more advantaged than us have. We’re trying to get people to listen, because it’s so easy to drown out our voices as “unrelatable” or “unlikable”.

I do, however, want agents and editors to consider giving Own Voices submissions more than the once-over a “regular” submission would get. Ask yourselves why you’re not relating to the writing. Is the character voice too different? Do you feel disoriented by their way of life or outlook? Does the tone seem too dark for you? Does the plot take turns that are atypical, perhaps because the character interacts with their environment in a way that you’re not expecting? Are you uncomfortable with how the main character views people who are more advantaged than them? Worse yet, do you already have a book on your list with an x-type of character, so you think there’s no room for one more? These are all reasons that I, and a lot of other Own Voices writers, have been given for why our books were rejected. Perhaps you might want to give those books another chance, to see if perhaps you’re missing out on a great book because of a bias you weren’t perhaps aware of.

Yes, we know publishing is a difficult business. We, as Own Voices writers, know this as much—perhaps better—than anyone. And we’ll keep trying. We’ll work so hard at our craft that one day we’ll be good enough to be successful, even if that means we have to write a million times better than a non-Own Voices writer. But, meanwhile, stop congratulating yourselves for publishing Own Voices books, and instead just congratulate the author for writing a great book, and yourselves for doing your job—just like you would with any manuscript. Because Own Voices writers aren’t “trophies” for you to display on your list to prove you’re open-minded. We’re not here to fill a quota, and we’re not here to parrot your own worldview back at you and make you feel good. We’re here to tell our stories, and we’ll keep doing that, whether you like it or not.

FLAME by Ayden K. Morgen -RELEASE BLITZ and GIVEAWAY!

I’m very excited to announce that the long awaited (and much anticipated!) third book of the Amazon Bestselling RAGNAROK PROPHESIES series has finally arrived! Join Arionna Jacobs and Dace Matthews as they race to stop the apocalypse in this intense and emotional series by A.K. Morgen.


Read on below for all the details, including a giveaway!



SUMMARY



Who do you trust when betrayal threatens to destroy everything you hold dear?

When Arionna Jacobs fled town in a desperate bid to save Dace Matthews, she never expected the chaos she would leave in her wake. Now her closest friend is dead, and another is missing, forcing Ari to return to face the devastating consequences of her actions and the broken boy she left behind.

Her problems are only just beginning.

Even as her bond with Dace grows stronger, Arionna finds herself weakening when Freki’s cage shatters. Fighting the wolf for control is tearing her apart piece by piece. And at every turn, she finds that those she’s put her faith in aren’t who they seem, bringing her face to face with Sköll and Hati. As the depth of their betrayal is revealed, Freki spirals out of control, and Arionna must face her greatest fear: losing herself to the fierce wolf within.

The world balances on the edge of a blade, and one wrong move will destroy it all.

With few allies she can trust and little choice left, Arionna must decide between the lives of her friends and her own future with the alpha she loves. Will she be able to stand firm for the sake of the world, or will she falter in the face of defeat? 



BOOK LINKS:


AMAZON | GOODREADS | BARNES AND NOBLE 




EXCERPT

“Arionna, dammit, wake up.”

Unseen hands gripped my upper arms, shaking me. A familiar voice called my name over and over. Furious howls ripped through the air.

None of those sounds made sense to me.

I felt different, like I’d been taken apart and put back together in the wrong order. Everything hurt. My body ached, muscles locked tight in protest. My head throbbed. Each painful pulse rattled against my skull, sending ripples down my neck and into my back.

I groaned and rolled onto my side.

The hands shaking me relaxed.

I fought to open my eyes, then blinked, confused. Worn brown carpet scratched against the side of my face. The bottom edge of a pale blue bed-sham fluttered inches from me. Dust bunnies and small pieces of plastic were strewn beneath the sagging bed. A table and two chairs were grouped on the other side. A crack ran up the leg of one chair, splitting the wood.

None of the room looked familiar.

Where am I?

The voice calling my name stopped mid-shout and sighed.

Oh, thank god, he said.

For what? I wondered, marveling that the words came from inside my mind, but didn’t belong to me. How was that possible?

I couldn’t place the soft, silky tones either, but they made my stomach flip and my heart flutter. I knew the speaker. At least I thought I did. Before I could ask him who he was or how he spoke in my head, someone blew out a sharp breath. This time, the sound didn’t come from inside.

“Finally,” that second voice said.

Nope. Definitely not coming from my mind.

I rolled my eyes toward the relieved sound, and then frowned at the guy leaning over me. Long, dark hair hung in his face. His eyes were black, and full of concern. His features were sharp, severe, but handsome.

This time I was certain; I knew this guy.

“Ronan,” I said. His name was Ronan LaCrosse, and mine was… Arionna. Yes, Arionna Jacobs. Memory began to slowly trickle back in. We were at a motel in Illinois, looking for someone. And the howls were coming from Fuki, the little wolf we’d brought with us, though I couldn’t see him.

Where was he?

I tried to figure out why I was on the floor, but came up with a big blank.

“What happened?” I asked, looking up at Ronan.

He held out a hand for me, then pulled me into a sitting position.

The room tilted before straightening again. I clutched my head in my hands, groaning. When the initial wave of nausea passed, I tilted my head up slowly so I could see Ronan. “Did I hit my head?” I asked, trying to blink away the dark spots floating in my peripheral.

“You don’t remember?” He narrowed his eyes, tilting his head to the side like a raven assessing me.

I scooted back against the edge of the bed, frowning.

What was I supposed to remember?

GIVEAWAY



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A.K. Morgen is the Amazon Bestselling author of the Ragnarök
Prophesies series. She lives in the heart of Arkansas with her childhood
sweetheart/husband of thirteen years, and their six furry minions. When not
writing, she spends her time hiking, reading, volunteering, causing mischief,
and building a Spork army. Ayden graduated summa
cum laude
with her Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and
Forensic Psychology in 2009 before going on to complete her graduate degree in
CJ and Law. She currently puts her education to use in the social services and
CJ field. 

Ayden also writes New Adult and contemporary romance under the penname Ayden K.
Morgen.

You can find her on 
Twitter, Facebook, or via her website at http://akmorgen.com.