As I started to type a new post about reviews and how authors should look at them like cheese, but with what’s going on in the m/m community, I just couldn’t make light-hearted post.
I am probably going to get a lot of people who hate me after this-both authors and readers, but I just think someone has to speak out.
The GLBTQ community is lucky enough that straight readers are finally finding value and beauty in the world of all queer identified relationships. GLBTQ books are being included in the category of “romance”. The community is no longer being de-sexed in literature and it’s becoming that way in TV and FILM as well (cable TV excluded). GLTBQ sex is just as sexy as straight sex and more readers are finding this out. The great thing about this is that older generations and younger are learning that being gay isn’t about just sex, it’s about who you love, who you feel an attraction to. But there’s a dark side to this.
I’m using m/m examples because the f/f voice has been so smothered it hasn’t had a chance to really be scrutinized and taken advantage of
The gay romance publishers have been popping up all over to take advantage of the small availability of this market. Whose fault is this? This is mostly the traditional publishers’ fault imo. They should have been accepting gay romance a long time ago. Period. In their stead, amateur publishing companies have taken over the m/m market and they’re scooping up stories and authors and throwing books at the public with little or no care for what’s inside. And authors don’t even realize it. Because they get to put “published” next to their name.
We all know one of the publishers I’m talking about and if not you can ready my comments here. To the authors who are angry at my post, I’m sorry. To the readers who love authors there, I’m sorry. I love authors there too. I’ve spent tons of money over there.
Among the good books I’ve bought at DSP: Shying Away. Others may vary their pleasure with this book, but so far it is among one of my favorites in m/m in general. But I LIKE slow moving books that explore families, friendships and settings. YMMV. IIRC it was also well-edited.
Not-so-much the other fifty or so titles I’ve bought from there.
Is this the problem with poor writing/authors? No, I don’t think so. I think it comes from good authors who haven’t been led down the right path. Hey, authors, do your edits come back looking like this, even after you’ve self-edited five-ten times?
The above picture is after I’ve self-edited at least ten times. It’s just a small fraction of a 5k chapter edit. This is what editors do. And this doesn’t include the notes he gave me and the long email he included with just that one chapter. He did even more changes the second edit. Ladies and gentlemen, this is what copy editors do. The crop your story, they change the wording, they edit it to make it more readable. And when you get it back, you edit it again. Most publishing houses have several editors as well as a proofreader. And that’s the problem with the m/m market. Our great authors aren’t getting a fair shake. And the readers, they want something good, something edited, something beautifully written, but because the publishing houses aren’t doing their job, they aren’t getting what they paid for.
Listen, you as an author deserve better than this. You deserve more. Take a look at Riptide Publishing. You may not like their titles, you may not be interested in the type of books they sell, but their content is edited and their stories are put out there as best as they can be. This goes for Samhain and Carina press too.
The latest book I bought from DSP was a nightmare. I won’t review it anywhere, because my own personal standards won’t allow me to negatively review another author in this genre now that I’ve published. But also because I think the story had promise. I think it could have been good if it had just been edited. Long, in depth descriptions of houses, cars, food, clothing – they just don’t belong in a book. Really. And any good editor should have told this author that. Another reader is reading the same book, and I felt better knowing they had the same problems as me. I had to look up some of the descriptions because I had no idea what they were, and then I fucked off on the internet for two hours and never went back to the book.
Just a little of what I learned from my editing process/editor:
-The difference between using “who” and “that”.
-Leave something to reader imagination. They don’t need to know the exact shade and color of each piece of clothing unless it’s germane to the story. Flowers is enough. I don’t want to be looking up the type of flowers, cooking methods and names of specialty creams and dishes!
-Show not tell! Most important thing I learned. And not always show and not always tell. Editors must catch these types of things and explain how showing and telling affect certain paragraphs.
-Too much show can leave a reader exhausted.
-How to better pace one paragraph to the next.
-Filter words: I saw, I heard, I felt, I thought, I seemed, I realized, I watched. You can use these, sure, but each time you do, know that it distances the reader from the actual emotions.
-Using dialogue tags incorrectly or overusing different words other than “said”. Okay, replied, quipped etc in moderation, this is good. Otherwise, just said. You also can’t “smile” a sentence. I don’t always agree with the “you can’t growl a sentence.” But you physically can’t laugh or smile a sentence. I dare you try and not look silly or, in the case of laughing, to be understood.
Lastly, any mistakes in editing in my book are mine and mine alone. My editor gave back his final edits and I edited two or three times after that. Please do not hold any problems in formatting against him either. That was also all me. (unless you want to blame my husband, feel free).
My apologies to anyone I offended. Please believe me when I say this wasn’t an easy post to write. I want GLBTQ fiction and romance to be better. We authors deserve it. And readers most definitely deserve it. I think Aleksander Voinov said a lot of what I said in the thread but more succinctly. (which isn’t hard because everything I say is probably oversaid =D LOL)
(And in case anyone wanted to know, if you decide to link to this or talk about it, I prefer the pronoun he or hir or him. But I maintain that pronouns do not define me, so I won’t jump down your throat =D)