Quick Takes on Two Things of Passing Literary Interest
As they have been of interest to folks:
The YAGay Thing: Which is, briefly, two authors shopping a YA novel were offered a deal by and agent if they swapped the sexuality of a character from gay to straight; they refused and wrote about it here. My particular take on it is that the authors did the right thing by saying “thanks, no,” and that in general there should be gay characters in YA because a) surprise, there are gay folks everywhere and b) in my opinion as a father, there’s not a damn thing wrong with my child encountering gay folks in her literature, because see point a).
As a writer I include gay/bi characters in my books and stories because, again, see a), and at no point have I gotten any push back about it either from my agent or from my editors, or from any of my publishers. I got the tiniest bit of push back from some readers about “An Election,” whose main character was gay and same-sex married, but my opinion about that was, they’ll just have to live with it.
But then again, I haven’t written any YA, other than Zoe’s Tale (which, from a publishing and marketing point of view is something of a special case). I’m pretty sure if I was writing YA, that I wouldn’t have a problem with adding a gay character into the mix if I thought the story needed it; I’m also pretty sure that if I got push back at any point about it, I’d tell them they’d just have to live with it, too. But I also recognize I have some weight to throw around at this point.
The Amazon Rental Thing: Amazon is apparently floating the idea of a Netflix-like book rental scheme for its Amazon Prime customers, in which (the article suggests, as a rumor) those Prime customers might be able to rent a certain number of older book titles per month.
I know nothing about this other than this very sketchy report, but as an author I’m not especially in love with the idea in principle. One, as a practical matter, readers interested in renting books (including, increasingly, e-books) can do it through their local libraries, and I would much rather have such a “rental” scheme go through that channel than through Amazon. Two, as an author, I’m not sure how cutting the legs off my backlist titles at the behest of a retailer (of all people) benefits me in the long run; Amazon would have to make a very solid argument that authors would not be financially hurt by the scheme, and I doubt they could make it.
Three, even if Amazon convinced publishers to do this, which seems doubtful, I am skeptical that publishers typically own the rights for such a rental endeavor in any event, which puts the ball back into the author’s court. In which case see point two. I suspect even the authors high on the idea of cheap e-books would take pause at the idea of free rentals, without a very clear and immediately profitable mechanism for getting authors paid.
My suspicion is that this was tossed out there by Amazon as a trial balloon, to see what the immediate reaction would be. My reaction: Yeah, thanks, but no. I see how it’s good for Amazon, and for its Prime customers (of which, I note, I am one). I don’t at all see how it’s good for me, my publishers, or the publishing industry.