Today’s Rambling comes courtesy of msagara’s recent rant. Msagara is a published author (who makes no secret of the fact that she writes as Michelle Sagara, Michelle West, and sometimes – though much less often – Michelle Sagara West) whose livejournal I came across recently, and for which I immediately developed an affection. I have to admit – I haven’t read any of her books yet – but rest assured that I shall soon troop to the bookstore and buy a few, one of which I have actually picked up a few times and just not purchased yet. (Whew…it seems that I like to digress almost as much as she admits to doing!)
At any rate, in addition to being a published author, Michelle also works in a bookstore. She recently suffered through this experience:
An author I don’t know came into the store to pick up copies of a magazine that their first professional sale was published in. This is a high point in a person’s professional life, and one should be justifiably proud and pleased about this. But. The author then looked at me and asked me to point them to one of the Harlequin Luna “things”. I reasonably asked, “Which one?”
Full disclosure: I’ve sold three novels to Luna. This will become immediately relevant.
The author in question then said, “Just point me to any one of them.” I then pointed out, in that growing state of something that can be called “inflexible” that there were, in fact, a number of published titles of varying different sub-genres, some contemporary, some set in another world, and as in any line, of varying quality. The author thought about this for a moment, and then said, “Well, give me something in the middle, then, so I can get a feel for what they’re looking for.”
“In the middle?”
Well, the author reasoned, it’s not like they’re actually any good, so one could pick up what they needed to make their own submission based on reading any one of them. After all, it’s Harlequin. The author had no plans to submit their best material, because, after all, Harlequin wouldn’t buy their best work, so that would be waste of time.
Ohmigod! What an incredibly asinine–and stupid–assumption to make about something that the author had never even read, and about a book imprint that he or she obviously had no firsthand knowledge of. I must admit that I am currently finishing up a book of my own that I plan to submit to Luna. I may be a bit biased by that fact, as well as the fact that I do occasionally indulge in the “guilty pleasure” of reading romance. *cue shocked gasp* My main point in bringing that up is the fact that I have done extensive research regarding Luna’s requirements, its list of authors, and have also read the first book in the line. I also post on Luna’s webboard, where I interact with other Luna readers as well as writers. Most importantly, I have actually read one of the Luna books–Mercedes Lackey’s kickoff book, the Fairy Godmother. I plan to read more soon, pocketbook allowing.
It seems fairly logical to me that one would read the particular books in a line _before_ one decides to write for that line–or at least, books that are known to be very similar to the line if it’s a relatively new one, like Luna. At the least, it might be a good idea to hold off on insulting said line until one has actually, oh, I don’t know, _sampled_ it so one has some experience on which to base one’s opinions. Then again, I tend to be the sort who actually likes to make _informed_ decisions. As opposed to those out there who would believe the sky was yellow with green polka dots if FoxNews reported that this were so. (I know, not-so-subtle-dig. I’ll try to feel guilty later.) It’s one thing to dislike an entire genre because of preconceived notions based on limited experience (hey, I still think that’s kinda silly but at least one wouldn’t be talking _entirely_ out of one’s ass in doing so) – but to blast a new book imprint just because it is linked with Harlequin without actually reading it? Beyond illogical, in my view.
But there I go being logical again. It _does_ happen on occasion!
Not to mention that I completely share Michelle’s opinion that all genres of writing serve their purpose. Usually the main purpose of most of them is to, first and foremost, entertain. Notice that purpose is not to entertain all of the people all of the time (to paraphrase an old saying), but rather to entertain some of the people all of the time, and sometimes even to entertain all of the people some of the time. There are certain books that break the barriers of their individual genres and _are_ embraced by people who would normally avoid that genre like the plague. They are relatively rare, of course.
There are plenty of people who only read romance novels. They may want a good bit of escapist fun in order to escape the drudgery of daily life. They may want to read something that they _know_ will have a happy ending since we live in a world that so often does not. They may want to read a love story in order to take their mind away from how lonely they are. Hell, they may just want to enjoy a fun read that includes a few sex scenes. The reasons for reading romance – or other genres that may be popularly acclaimed as “fluff” – are legion. This doesn’t necessarily make the people who read them stupid, uneducated, ill informed, or, to paraphrase again, blonde housewives bored with their lives killing the hours till kids and hubby arrive to rescue them from their mindless bon-bon filled existences. It just makes them…well, people. People enjoy being entertained. And just about every book out there seeks to entertain various audiences, in some form or another. And thank God for that!
Let me first say that Michelle acted far more professionally than I would have been able to if faced with the same situation. For all that I am a usually mellow and fairly nice individual, having someone come in and outright insult one of my publishing houses would probably have caused me to open my big mouth before I thought about it. Then again, I think a writer who is so unwise as to insult an entire book line in public pretty much deserves a thorough dressdown. After all, the publishing industry’s reach is long, and little ears are everywhere! I mean, what are the odds that someone would walk into a bookstore and insult the Luna imprint to a successful author who has just sold three books to them? Small world we live in!
Well, I don’t know that this was quite as coherent or in-depth a Rambling as I intended it to be, but that’s what happens when you post in bits and pieces from work! Now I’m off to get some more work done before I go home and write write write. That’s right – I am going home to finish up my hopefully Luna-bound “fluff” book that can’t possibly be any good since it is intended for sale to an imprint published by *gasp* Harlequin. Oh, the Luna-nity!