Saturday, March 17, 2018

Book Covers and Cyber Bullies

I awoke today to find that another person in the author community has been sent private messages telling them to kill themselves over book covers.

That's right, I know more than one person who has been the victim of this kind of bullying. And the reasons for it are incredibly ridiculous.

First, let me wax philo-something over book covers. I grew up in the 80s and 90s. Yeah, I'm old. But more importantly, I grew up in the hey-day of bodice-ripping romances. Maybe that's why I'm so unconcerned with whether someone's cover looks similar to another's. Back then, that's how books identified their genres.

No joke. You could tell what kind of story you were getting based on what was on the book cover. Spaceship over a planet? Hard sci-fi, likely male MC. Barbarian with a sword and sexy chick kneeling nearby? High fantasy (maybe soft sci-fi), male MC, romantic subplot. Fabio looking guy hovering over woman half-undressed?  ROMANCE! Background has a castle? Historical romance. Background is a ship? Historical romance with pirates! Fabio wears a kilt? Scottish historical romance. Fabio wears boots? Western romance...

Seriously, you could change the shirt and hair color and background just to change the covers of the romances. There were maybe three or four positions that the couple were in, but everything else was virtually identical.

Now people sit there and talk about how a different image was used, the font was changed and THAT'S ALL... and I have no idea what the deal is. It's not the same cover. The hype over unique covers is so weird.

ONE MILLION new books are published each year. That means, since I started actively publishing my books, THREE MILLION books have been published. That's a lot of covers. And many of them are going to look similar. In my opinion, for genres, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

To be clear, I'd love to see more diversity in book covers - but I'm looking more for racial, size, gender (non-sexualized women, please, for the love of whatever deity you hold dear!), ability, etc, etc.

Book covers can only be so original before all the originality either gets used, or becomes nonsensical. Let's get over that particular issue really quickly.

NOTE: the quality of a good book cover seldom has to do with originality. Just because I'm not huge on making totally original covers doesn't mean I don't want GOOD covers. It's a different metric altogether.

Now, for the bullying aspect.

To those who would send such a message, I'm just going to say this really loud and clear:
If you get so hyped up over a book cover mimicking other covers that you are willing to message the creator/author to tell them that their career is over and that they should KILL THEMSELVES over YOUR issue regarding their book cover, they aren't the one with the issues.


A book cover.

To those who have had such messages sent to them, I'm going to say this:
Screenshot those messages. Do NOT mark out the name of the sender. Share it.

Yeah, I get it. The person who sent such a message may have had a point or a reason, or whatever. Yeah, most people might not even care about the message they sent. But some of us in the authoring community are more than willing to restrict access to people who would go there.

In other words, if you want to take your possibly correct stance to the point of telling someone to kill themselves, you may find yourself with a MUCH smaller author/promo network. That is a line, and there WILL be consequences.

I don't care how much you feel righteous about your stance on someone else's work. Don't cross that line.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

It Ain't a Problem for Me

Here it is, another day, another post on what is and is not “real” in the world of writing.

Sometimes it’s the oxford comma. I can take it or leave it, so long as the meaning is clear. Sometimes the meaning is clear because of the ridiculousness of the alternative in context. Silly me, I trust my readers and fellow humans of brain-having to be able to figure that stuff out.

Today, it is “ain’t”. “Is ‘ain’t’ a word?”, a metric ton of posts and memes call out to me. Well, let’s see. It is a series of syllables with a known and discernible meaning, which can and is used widely in a language.

Seems like a word to me.

All my snark aside, the question that is REALLY being asked is, “is ain’t ‘legit’?”. The larger question is, what, as writers, do we “allow” as REAL, TRUE, and LEGITIMATE in our language.
And that’s so elitist.

Let me break this down.

Historically, “ain’t” is an actual word that was used as proper English for quite some time. Po’ peeps picked it up and BOOM! It’s “just” slang and illegitimate, now.

Regionally, “ain’t” tends towards conservative areas with high poverty and low education. Also, some trend towards areas with high non-white demographics.

Linguistically, the English language, like all living (not dead) languages shifts, grows and changes with use. People LIKE to come up with new ways of saying things, adding depth and nuance to their meanings. Because there is a subtle emotional difference between scary and terrifying. This means that there are colloquialisms and regional dialects. “Proper” English tends towards East coast and upper class.

Saying “ain’t” isn’t a word is classist. It’s racist. It discriminates by region, generation, and education.

Plus, writing only in “proper” English comes across as pretentious, pompous and pedantic. See what I just did there. You may have to look this crap up, now. :P

If you are a literary writer, well, everyone has their own thing. I don’t like reading OR writing literary fiction. Unless it’s science journals and other non-fiction. For my fiction, I love genre fiction. Easy reading, yes, but then there is more possibility to engage in emotional metaphors, satirical social commentary, etc. because people don’t really necessarily want to dedicate brain space to grand philosophies AND grandiose language at the same time. Not for entertainment reading.

Plus, it’s hard to convey universal experiences when you write like an East Coast Prep School Silver-spooning Yacht-sailing Trust-funded… person. Just my thoughts.