writing rengeek magpie mind

October 2014

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writing rengeek magpie mind

One marvelously clever thing that was suggested at the "Why is SF so White?" panel, as a means of encouraging more non-white writers into the industry, was a mentoring program. (Liz Scheier, from the audience, also mentioned that she doesn't see nearly enough submissions with non-white protagonists or main characters, and would love to see more.)

The idea being that would-be writers of color could be paired with volunteer authors who would help mentor them.

I am not the person to administrate this. I know this about myself. But I thought it was a good enough idea to be worth sailing out into the zeitgeist.

Comments

I'm not talking about the content of fiction, of what a writer might choose to use in the work.

I'm talking about doing anything in the genre just based on skin color (or last name or whatever an editor uses to identify the faceless writer when receiving a manuscript, because we all know manuscripts don't come with photographs. At least none of the ms. I ever looked at had photos).

I am talking about pulling out of the submission pile a manuscript with a name like "Kwan Se Yoo" or "Indra Patel" and then being disappointed because the story isn't one filled with cultural relevance. To me, it's the same as any writer shoehorning in a multi-cultural list of characters just to politically correct.

Whether or not the perception is that the genre door is closed to SFF would-be non-white writers doesn't really have anything to do with the writers themselves. Like the perception that GvG doesn't like women writers, the perception that SFF is only an "old white boys club" isn't necessarily true. I mean, how many "old white boys" are acquiring short and long fiction these days? Some, but Bantam, Warner, Eos, Ace, DAW, Del Rey, and Roc are all run by women. Tor and Baen have men and women on staff.

So, is it the fault of the publishers that more non-white writers aren't published? I can't say, but as an acquiring editor, I can only say that 1) very few hard SF manuscripts submitted were written by women, which is why editors always say they're looking for female hard sf writers, 2) it's pretty darn hard to tell a person's skin color based solely on their name. As an acquiring editor, I was looking at content and saleability, those two things not being mutually exclusive.

And you can't necessarily correlate Korean gamers and American book/story reading audience as part of the same. There is some overlap, but there's a small overlap for gamers-->readers in general. Not every fantasy novel published and distro'd in North America reaches a non-NA audience; and Korean SFF writers may not be translated into English for the American/Canadian audience. Heck, even Canadian writers' books might not easily available to the American audience and we're all on the same continent. So, to me, it's not the same.