Picture books aren’t a thing I really pay attention to. Part of it is because I don’t write them, and another is because the Kiddo doesn’t really read picture books anymore. I’m selfish that way.
But earlier today I saw a retweet and a convo about one of the indie book award lists, and the dudeness of it, so I took a mosey on over to Colby Sharp’s blog post.
For the most part I agree with his post, and I wish I did see more discussion around this part of the list, which is dominated by dudes. BUT, the reality is that the rest of the list, in particular the young adult list, is fantastically diverse, more so than what we’ve seen in past years. So, yay! Change, however slowly, is good.
But, what stuck with me after reading Colby’s post wasn’t that there needs to be more discussion about problematic awards lists, but this phrase here:
And my response is: duh. Of course people are afraid to speak out against indies. A great indie presence can make or break a midlist author’s career. You don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot.
More importantly, and something I think we can all understand: people gotta eat. Just because someone doesn’t speak out that doesn’t mean they don’t care. I’ve said this at length when people tell me that they admire my bravery at speaking up online. I’m not brave, I’ve just got nothing to lose.
Seriously. I am an author who is out of contract, who has a great day job, who has come to terms with never ever being a superstar. I don’t worry about burning bridges. I walk across them with a lit match and a can of gasoline and wait to see what happens.
But I am not everyone, and I don’t expect others to have the same flagrant disregard for publishing power structures as I do. My outspoken attitude may cost me one day, it’s something I’ve made peace with, because I probably wouldn't want to work with those folks, anyway. But that is a decision every author on the internet has to make on their own.
It’s bad form to trivialize the fear others have about speaking out or to decide that they aren’t dedicated enough to Sparkle Motion just because they aren’t waving their pitchfork at every sexist/racist/homophobic comment that exists. There is a lot of racism and sexism and homophobia in the world, and by extension, in publishing. And twisting ourselves into knots over every single trespass is exhausting. So, instead of criticizing the lack of attention, chip in and get the discussion started.
But don’t shame folks for not paying attention, especially those same folks who are already doing a lot of the very hard work of talking about all the -isms in publishing. Because, sometimes, we just have other shit to do/need to make sure we get to eat. Silence isn’t always a lack of concern. I know that’s hard to remember, and it’s something I sometimes neglect, but part of social justice is not just trying to get others to do better, but trying to do better ourselves.
Funny how that’s the part we always seem to forget.