Yesterday I ran into a very powerful blue-checkmark literary agent who represents a rather big NYT bestselling author on Twitter. He was going off on sensitivity readers and while describing exactly how it is censorship, claimed it’s not censorship at all. It was a bit of a crazy thread, all about shaming authors into not writing anything about other cultures, and oddly it was retweeted by Cat Rambo, the president of a writer’s association.
He went on to worry about the “kinds of people” in publishing. I guess some “kinds of people” should be shut down immediately. So much for diversity and inclusiveness:
Of course he goes further, to call a bunch of names at American patriots. Gee, who could have predicted that:
I guess he doesn’t want half the country to buy any book he represents.
It’s an interesting example of how the publishing industry doesn’t actually represent writers anymore. Many are after their own interests trying to sniff out money or some niche for themselves for fame and what they think is relevancy, which is evident with the two people I listed above. If you’re not out there to advocate for authors and authors rights to create whatever content they deem is good for their story, and for good stories and cultures, how can you say you’re a literary agent? How can you claim to advocate for Science Fiction Writers of America when you hate American writers? It’s really staggering how these people came into positions of power and their impact on the culture which has gone on to shut down anyone with any sort of different take on content.
It’s created a mainstream book market where every book looks the same. I talk to YA book reviewers, avid readers, who every day complain about how they can’t find anything new, about how it’s all a rehash and retread of the same thing, about how they just want a good book. When Sensitivity Readers have dictated all the content, and then it’s further vetted by people like this literary agent, what you end up with is watered-down nonsense instead of art. When a writer can’t write what they want, the industry fails.
With some good timing, a Tor dot com writer, Judith Tarr, wrote about what’s going on in the industry that’s very apt here:
A pretty damning criticism of the industry by an industry veteran who’s on the VERY inside track of the establishment in publishing. She’s right. Authors can’t make a living off of big publishing. Big publishing is clearly out for their own agendas, and doesn’t give support to the very people who create content. I can tell you horror stories about dozens of authors who received contracts after being represented by agents like the one above, who told them to revise their manuscript to “fit market” (distill it and water it down) and had them toil for three years on a single book, take 25% when it finally lands, they get a $5,000 advance, and then the publishing company doesn’t market the book and it never earns out, and they’re left to flail. The publishing industry is a total disaster.
But what Judith doesn’t get at is the solution. Indie and self-publishing is the solution. Yes you have to act as your own marketing platform — but you have to do that anyway! These people aren’t there to help you, they’re just there to make you water down your art and get a quick paycheck off of you. Agents just act as slush readers for publishers, as Judith says in a different tweet. Now where I disagree is publishers aren’t getting top quality content because they’re distilling and destroying it with the Agent edits, with the way their editors edit, and with the sensitivity reader racket — where they hire people specifically for identity politics as a “protection” racket from criticism. It’s absurd.
And readers are rebelling. They’re reading far more indies than ever in genre fiction. It’s because we don’t water it down. We produce the best content better and faster than Big Publishing ever could — and no one tells us what we can and can’t write. It means we write to our passions, what we want, and our books come across more authentic and fun because WE love them more.
Unfortunately, where Judith should be fighting by my side in this cause based on her tweets above, she’s blocked me and keeps trying to impress people like Brooks Sherman. Why? I have no idea. Until these authors get out of these self-defeating cycles, they’re going to be stuck.
Me? I’m busy winning. Like I did with the bully censor Brooks:
The book I linked is MAGA 2020. It’s short stories about a future where Trump’s created a Utopia. Cuz winning. Mine is particularly fun and funny. It also features an intro by Milo Yiannopoulous and releases on November 8th. You can pre-order it here.