George Saunders delivered a little publicized convocation at Syracuse University this year. His main advice to the class of 2013 — be kind. “And so, a prediction, and my heartfelt wish for you: as you get older, your self will diminish and you will grow in love. YOU will gradually be replaced by LOVE,” he said.
The Ripped Bodice (the only bookstore in the United States dedicated solely to romance books) released a report looking at the state of diversity in 2016 romance novels. Last year there were only 7.8 published romance novels by writers of color for every 100 books from 20 major romance publishing companies. “Of particular concern is the suggestion, as revealed by the study, that publishers are not reflecting their readership base with any kind of parity. According to Pew Research, black women with college degrees are more likely to read a book than any other group. Since romance readers are approximately 84 percent female, this suggests there is a large swath of the population who don’t see themselves represented in authors or protagonists.” Entertainment Weekly highlights some major takeaways from the survey, read the rest of the appalling stats and then go support romance writers of color.
We are now over a week into Amazon’s boycott of the indie press e-books distributed under the Independent Publishers Group. IPG is taking a stand against Amazon’s hardline negotiations during the retail giant’s annual contract review, and 5000 titles are no longer available through the Kindle store. Last week Jim Hanas, author of the digitally and independently published Why They Cried, spoke out against Amazon to champion other e-readers and e-book retailers. The renegotiations are taking place across the industry, though, as Melville House’s Dennis Johnson puts it, “major industry figures at the big houses in New York — facing similar cutthroat demands from Amazon for their own annual contracts — remain silent… This isn’t over yet.”
Last week, I directed you to a piece in The Atlantic by John Yorke on the substance of stories. His argument: that all stories have one thing in common–their plot. Now, Lincoln Michel at Electric Literature suggests that rather it is all story structure models that have one thing in common–and that thing is bullshit.