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View Full Version : Do controversial themes and subjects make publishing a novel more difficult?


Homer
07-06-2006, 07:48 AM
I read in an agent's profile that he doesn't handle books with subject matter such as September 11, plots to destroy America, serial killers, children in peril, rape, suicide, and depression. Is this common? Assuming a well-crafted, heart stopping novel, and that the novel doesn't advocate anti-social behavior (such as racism) as one of its themes, but depicts charged or controversial subject matter such as those listed above that this agent would refuse to handle, does such subject matter make the novel more difficult to publish? What about exreme violence? An atheistic point of view? It occurred to me that taken literally this agent's limitations would mean that he couldn't represent the Narnia books, Huckleberry Finn, practically anything by Dostoyevsky, a number of Shakespeare's plays, Lord of the Rings, John LeCarre's novels, not to mention some modern classics such as Blood Meridian and Beloved. He would have had to take a pass on John Updike's latest book. Does charged, or controversial subject matter make a book more or less saleable, all other things being equal? What do you think? It seems to me that publishing most emphatically should not be that way. On the contrary.

TwentyFour
07-06-2006, 07:59 AM
Pretty much if it is for shock value, he will not take it on. I'm sure the next "A Time To Kill" or "To Kill a Mockingbird" would be welcomed.

Alan Yee
07-06-2006, 09:49 AM
Hmmmm... my story/novel isn't intended to be a shock value thing.

The controversial part (which in my mind isn't really controversial, but more closed-mindedness on the part of some people) is the homosexuality and bisexuality of the characters (humans, half-demons, and full demons) in the story. It's also a rather dark, intense story, I might add. Although I know there are PLENTY of books with gay, bi, lesbian, and trans characters, there's still some conservative Christians who try to get books banned for their gay or bisexual characters. It would be kind of boring if all characters in literature were all straight, wouldn't it?

Alan Yee
07-06-2006, 09:53 AM
I think mine might be more difficult to sell to some certain publishers, but I've seen other books with similar theme and tone to mine that have been published before with major publishers.

This is why, once I've finished the book, I'll need an agent who knows which imprints are more likely to publish books of its nature.

jackie106
07-06-2006, 10:01 AM
I wouldn't jump to any conclusions about the entire publishing industry based on one agent's taste. There are plenty of recent books that deal with rape, serials killers, violence, Sept. 11, and plots to destroy America. Heck, Philip Roth's second-most-recent book is called "The Plot Against America."

Jackie

expatbrat
07-06-2006, 10:02 AM
Is this just one agent? Is this just one person prefering not to deal with work that goes against his own beliefs?

KTC
07-06-2006, 02:54 PM
I ran into an agent once who suggested the same thing to me. 'I won't even look at a story with child abuse in it'. (This wasn't in regards to my work...we were just having a conversation.) She named 4 or 5 themes that she just wouldn't tolerate. I argued that she could be passing up the next big novel. She said she didn't care...she had the right to choose not to represent authors with these themes. In the end, she's absolutely right. I ended up applauding her for her choices. I said, "I would not have thought agents had moral standards!" She laughed. The point is, if I am even trying to make one, agents have to be looked at individually. What one agent does does not represent all agents. Some may just want to take on a great book...some may want to stay away from certain themes for personal or moral reasons. It's their perogative.

More importantly...the writing has to be good. If you find an agent whose only priority is to sell great writing, the theme will be secondary.

illiterwrite
07-06-2006, 02:59 PM
Agents have to love the work they represent -- enough to champion a book, try to sell it, read it over and over again, invest a lot of time and energy -- so doesn't it make sense that they'd refuse themes that don't appeal to them or turn them right off?

Inkdaub
07-06-2006, 03:36 PM
It's all relative. I'm sure this agent would be fine with a book that had Updike's name on it. I have to think it can only help if agents state ahead of time what they don't want from new or 'unproven' writers. I would love it if, when I am ready to seek an agent, I had a bit of information on what they want and dont want. Saves on postage if nothing else.

MadScientistMatt
07-06-2006, 04:38 PM
There's quite a few publishers who will take on stories with gay characters. Lots of mainstream stories have some characters who are gay. That doesn't sound all that controversial these days, although you might not have a good chance at getting it placed with Zondervan. :D

Gillhoughly
07-06-2006, 05:59 PM
Themes to sell vary with the agent. One's poison is another's sale.

Ditto for publishers. I know of one editor who threw a book across the room and stated something about committing bodily harm on the writer, then the same book sold to another house a week later. (But it did badly.)

9/11 is a theme that I won't touch as a writer, and I rather think there are publishing houses that aren't ready for it.

I phoned my editor that day to see if she was all right. She wasn't. The towers were visible from her window and half her co-workers were in her office watching and crying.

I phoned my agent--who'd been in a panic trying to locate her missing husband and child. They turned up, thankfully, but that day left serious scars on everyone. Some months later I went to a signing for one of my fav writers. NYC is HIS town, and he refused to talk about 9/11. The look on his face--no way was anyone going to ignore him on that.

No thanks, I'm sticking to escapist fiction submissions.

The big selling books during the London Blitz were Agatha Christie mysteries. They helped people spending the night in a tube station to forget the bombs falling above and who would be dead by morning. Can't blame 'em for that.

Gay themes? Hey, go for it. I've a number of gay characters in my stuff. Didn't plan it that way, they just turned up in my head and got woven into the plot. Straight, gay, demon or Martian, a good character is a good character is a good character.

citymouse
07-06-2006, 06:13 PM
There's quite a few publishers who will take on stories with gay characters. Lots of mainstream stories have some characters who are gay. That doesn't sound all that controversial these days, although you might not have a good chance at getting it placed with Zondervan. :D

MSM, I wasn't going to respond to this thread until I read your comment. My situation is rather odd. In my Jan Phillips series, Jan is gay and he's also a practicing Catholic. The controversy here lies in getting a gay readership to read about a character who clearly loves his faith (not to be confused with the churchmen). Believe me it ain't easy. Agents and publishers with an eye to profits know well that most (stress most) gay fiction is devoid of references to faith (of any stripe).
This is, I believe, a reaction to how religions generally (stress generally) treat the GLBT community. My novels are not an attempt to turn that around, merely acknowledge gay characters need not be recovering Christians or Muslims, etc to be believable.
Saying that, selling a character who's Catholic underpinning is basic to who he is, and how he deals with his world is no easy thing.
Oh, before I shoot myself in the foot here I should say that these stories are not preachy in any way, however, the reader has no doubt where Jan is coming from.

One more thing, I don't want to start another thread here on churches versus gays. That's been done to death and I suspect it will get another round of discussion soon. But I for one would like a break.

James D. Macdonald
07-06-2006, 06:14 PM
...does such subject matter make the novel more difficult to publish?

What makes it difficult is that everyone and his dog, it seemed, was writing a 9/11 story. Usually badly.

No book is perfect for every agent; no book is perfect for every publisher. (Harlequin just isn't going to publish a Mickey Spillane novel, no matter how well it might sell.) This reflects the fact that no book is perfect for every reader.

drevil915
07-06-2006, 06:51 PM
I'd think that publishers/agents would want controversial books to publish. It makes money. I mean look at the Da Vinci Code and all those goons who wanted it banned.

Simon Woodhouse
07-06-2006, 11:30 PM
The publisher I'm with is a devout Christian, but I didn't realise this until I'd submitted my whole MS. I was sure she'd object to a couple of scenes, especially where one character poses as a prostitute and has sex for money. The publisher made quite a few suggestions regarding scenes she thought could be improved, but didn't mention the prostitute one at all, which really surprised me. The scene wasn't gratuitous, and I did show how it affected the character involved, so perhaps that's why she didn't object?

I think you can include most anything in your writing, and get it published, as long as it's handled well.

maestrowork
07-07-2006, 12:15 AM
That's only one agent. Agents are like publishers in a sense that they only like to represent things they enjoy/love/can do a good job marketing. Every agent has his or her own preferences. If I were an agent, I probably wouldn't want to represent a novel about 9/11 or something overtly religious. It doesn't mean those books won't sell; it simply means the writer should look for a good match with an agent who loves that stuff, and the agent would pair the ms. with a publisher who publishes that stuff.

blackbird
07-07-2006, 01:39 AM
If it's a good story and well written, someone, eventually, will probably be willing to champion it, but you just have to hang in there and persevere until you find that special agent or editor.

Controversial subjects are not impossible to sell, but as you've already seen, certainly VERY VERY difficult. However, what is considered controversial is a constant flux and has much to do with the political climate of the times. Thirty or forty years ago, a novel about a gay relationship would have been controversial. Today, it would be considered far more controversial to have a main character who is openly homophobic
than a novel about two likeable characters of the same sex who love each other (although such a novel would probably still be controversial in the Bible belt, but these are the same people protesting Brokeback Mountain and The Da Vinci Code).

As for stories about September 11, terrorrism, and so forth, I can speak from some experience as a reader for a major literary magazine and the horrors of the slush pile. It is not so much that agents and editors are totally opposed to those themes, but the simple fact that in the past few years there has been an absolute deluge of such stories, and unfortunately, 99% of those are dreck or worse. Agents and editors will say they don't want stories on these themes because they wish to discourage wading through tons of mediocre dreck about Middle Eastern terrorists and the Good American Hero who saves the day. I would be willing to bet there isn't an agent worth his/her gold anywhere out there who wouldn't love to see a brilliant story about the events of 9/11, but it would have to be a diamond bright enough to blind and completely unlike anything on the subject they've seen before, and most agents are smart enough to know the odds of such aren't very likely

I wouldn't go so far as to say most agents and editors are only looking for positive, feel-good, non-controversial subject matter, but the bottom line is, where there is controversy there is always risk. And where there is risk there is a potential for backlash and loss of profit, and the reality is that the dollar IS the bottom line. But don't give up if you believe in your story.
You might have to fight a little harder for it, but if you have the faith, it's worth it.

Alan Yee
07-07-2006, 03:24 AM
Although my main character (male) is bisexual, and hooks up with a gay man, I don't think it should be classified as gay fiction. It's a dark fantasy/horror story about demons and the humans in their lives, and what happens between a lustful demon father and his half-demon son (main character). The gay and bisexual relationships among several of the characters are just secondary to the main storyline.

Gillhoughly
07-07-2006, 03:30 AM
Harlequin just isn't going to publish a Mickey Spillane novel, no matter how well it might sell.

I would like to bear your children.

That or send you the cleaning bill for my soda spritzed keyboard.

Either one works for me.

zeprosnepsid
07-07-2006, 03:51 AM
I was actually under the impression that books sell better with controversial themes. A lot of the biggest books (money-wise and prize-wise) in the past 10-20 years have had rape, incest, satanism and whatnot.

Good writing helps tho...

HConn
07-07-2006, 06:20 AM
There will always be people who don't want to read the sort of thing you write, and some of them will work in publishing. It only matters if no one wants to read your book.

Jamesaritchie
07-07-2006, 06:50 AM
It would be kind of boring if all characters in literature were all straight, wouldn't it?

Depends on who is doing the reading. Doesn't bore me at all. I'd say 99.9% of all the books I've read had only straight characters, or those portrayed as straight. I've never read a story with a gay protagonist, and doubt seriously I ever will. At most a gay character will be a very small bit player in a few of the books I read, and probably won't be onstage for more than a page.

We each tend to read what we like, what we most relate to in our personal life. I have zero interest in reading about gay characters, bi characters, or lesbian characters, and haven't found the lack of them in the vast majority of books I read to be boring in the least. I prefer it. I sure won't read any book that has even semi-semi-graphic sex scenes with gay characters.

I also don't like to read books that are pro-racism in any way, and I avoid books like "Fight Club."

Many agents and editors avoid some themes because of personal taste, but most avoid a given theme because they've seen how the reading public reacts to such themes. Both matter, but the latter matters to everyone in publishing. How the public as a whole receives a particular theme means everything.

And sometimes it's because a theme has been overdone. A few years back, child abuse was done to death, most of it was not well-received by the reading public, and now it's very tough to even get child abuse themes read. I have a short story that's been rejected at least a dozen times, and in every case but one the editor said he or she simply could not buy the story because of the child abuse theme. Readers would not like it. Well, readers not liking it is always the best reason to reject something.

Jamesaritchie
07-07-2006, 06:51 AM
I was actually under the impression that books sell better with controversial themes. A lot of the biggest books (money-wise and prize-wise) in the past 10-20 years have had rape, incest, satanism and whatnot.

Good writing helps tho...


Depends on the theme, and on how the theme is presented. It often isn't the theme that stops a book from getting the attention of an agent or editor, but how the theme is presented, and what the book has to say about the theme.

zeprosnepsid
07-08-2006, 12:41 AM
Depends on the theme, and on how the theme is presented. It often isn't the theme that stops a book from getting the attention of an agent or editor, but how the theme is presented, and what the book has to say about the theme.

It seems you've gotten in this funny habit of elaborating on my brevity =)

Jamesaritchie
07-08-2006, 01:07 AM
It seems you've gotten in this funny habit of elaborating on my brevity =)

In other words, I'm long-winded. Guilty as charged.

gabbleandhiss
07-09-2006, 02:37 AM
Although I know there are PLENTY of books with gay, bi, lesbian, and trans characters, there's still some conservative Christians who try to get books banned for their gay or bisexual characters.

Wow. Talk about closed-mindedness. You have PLENTY of it.

Alan Yee
07-09-2006, 03:26 AM
Why? There's lots of books with gay characters. Mine has gay and bi characters. What's so closed-minded about that? There still are people who try to ban books for silly reasons.

I also have plenty of straight characters in other stories. I acknowledge that some people only want to read to about straight characters, and I'm fine with that. I don't see what the big problem is.

citymouse
07-09-2006, 03:43 AM
The gay and bisexual relationships among several of the characters are just secondary to the main storyline.

Many writers use gay characters in “mainstream” stories to supply backgrounds or devices that strengthen the main characters. Conversely, in gay stories, straight characters are treated in the same way and so highlight the gay character’s role in the plot.
In my stories however, I treat both gay and straight characters with equal importance and sympathy and so balance the relationship one to the other. I do that with their financial status as well. My characters do not develop or act in a vacuum. Gay or straight, villain or hero the characters have their own dimension, life and purpose for being. Some are obscenely rich while others come from humble or even dire straits. Some are handsome, androgynous or ugly, while others are young, aging or old. Some have love and sex; others long for it. I chose to make my main character wealthy because without an extreme financial underpinning rivaling the national debt he couldn’t hope to pull off some of the things he gets into.

Alan Yee
07-09-2006, 03:47 AM
Many writers use gay characters in “mainstream” stories to supply backgrounds or devices that strengthen the main characters. Conversely, in gay stories, straight characters are treated in the same way and so highlight the gay character’s role in the plot.


In mine, which is sort of a dark fantasy, the gay relationships strengthen the main characters while everything goes on. There aren't too many, but there a few, straight characters in my story.

Sassenach
07-09-2006, 03:47 AM
It's the satanic lesbian novels that are the tough sell these days.

Alan Yee
07-09-2006, 03:49 AM
Fortunately, my characters are not Satanic.

A.C.
07-09-2006, 04:41 AM
Wow. Talk about closed-mindedness. You have PLENTY of it.

Could you explain why his comment would be closed-minded?

The only closed-mindedness I see is from the people trying to ban such books (or any books for that matter!).

----

Anyway, back to the topic! I know how you feel. The novel I'm writing now has a main character who is gay. As I'm writing it I'm wondering if there are enough agents out there who are willing to read such novels. And I’d hate to have my novel labeled “gay lit” just because the main character is gay...after all, his orientation is not the theme of the book. Sometimes it seems so much easier to work on a novel that has secondary gay characters (which seems more acceptable to most people).

I also have an idea for a novel dealing with child sexual abuse and how it affects the child once it grows up. I'm saddened to hear that novels with such an important theme aren’t deemed "readable."

and depression.

Is this agent for real?

What serious novel DOESN'T deal with depression? It’s a part of life!

-A.C.

citymouse
07-09-2006, 05:02 AM
AC our minds jump as one. In my first novel Bought and Paid For I have two main characters. The first (Tim) is seduced at age 15 and then pimped out by his seducer. Later as a man he becomes involved with an 18yo (Jan). The brutal loss of innocence and subsequent years of prostitution colors Tim's relationship with Jan to the point of abuse. These themes are a reality in many situations whether they be straight or gay. In the end Jan comes to terms with this but not after severe upheaval.

The basic theme that runs in all of my stories is that of choices. My characters make good choices for bad reasons and bad choices for good reasons. Sometimes they even make good choices for good reasons (balance you know) In the end, each person deals with his/her choices. Saying that, the books are not dark. In the end good wins out over bad, but not before everyone gets a good scare!

Alan Yee
07-09-2006, 05:11 AM
Anyway, back to the topic! I know how you feel. The novel I'm writing now has a main character who is gay. As I'm writing it I'm wondering if there are enough agents out there who are willing to read such novels. And I’d hate to have my novel labeled “gay lit” just because the main character is gay...after all, his orientation is not the theme of the book. Sometimes it seems so much easier to work on a novel that has secondary gay characters (which seems more acceptable to most people).


That's what I'm wondering. If there's enough agents who will represent a book if the main character is gay. It would be so much easier if the gay characters in my story/novel were only secondary, but alas, they are not.

Vimala Lioness
07-09-2006, 05:05 PM
My first novel was about the lives of 5 gay women.
There was no murder, no money, no treasure, no conspiracy, no real plot. Just these 5 women and their lives. Plenty happens but everything is derived from their sexuality.

For at least 4 of them the term
'I can't even think straight' would be apt.
OK, so nobody took up this novel, but in my work, lesbian characters are not accidental but central.

I'm a Brit so not overburdened by ultra conservative, bible belt fanaticism at home. A lot of my writing has been done in Malaysia and it is my ambition to be banned there, which is easily done. It is a nanny state, desperate that the population know nothing but narrowly defined educational subjects and baby raising.

I think it is best that agents chose the genres they wish to promote, since we will want them to promote our work wholeheartedly.

I congratulate you on this website. It is the first truly intelligent chat forum I've visited.

Regards to you all

Vimala

maestrowork
07-09-2006, 06:05 PM
AC our minds jump as one. In my first novel Bought and Paid For I have two main characters. The first (Tim) is seduced at age 15 and then pimped out by his seducer. Later as a man he becomes involved with an 18yo (Jan). The brutal loss of innocence and subsequent years of prostitution colors Tim's relationship with Jan to the point of abuse. These themes are a reality in many situations whether they be straight or gay. In the end Jan comes to terms with this but not after severe upheaval.


Unfortunately, an agent or a publisher is going to have to categorize this as gay fiction because: a) your protagonist(s) are gay and b) he has gay relationships and c) the story is about consequences of these relationships. It doesn't matter if your themes are universal -- most gay fiction has universal themes, too. Heck most novel -- gay, straight, alien, about animals -- have universal themes. If it's sci-fi, it's sci-fi. If it's gay, it's gay.

The reason why agents and publishers need to identify and categorize your work is that they know how to sell it, how to market it, and how to shelf it. Which slot to fill. Calling it "mainstream/contemporary" is not good enough because the category is too broad; there will be people who pick it up not knowing it has gay characters and gay relationships and they would, if not offended, feel "lied to" by the publisher. That's not to say it can't be done -- many books with gay characters did pass in the market as "mainstream/literary/whatever" without the mention of its gay content. But it's human nature to categorize things -- eventually, someone will call your book "gay" and you a "gay author."

Take my novel for an example. My protagonist is half-Asian and part of the story happens in Asia and some of the characters are Asians, but there are also many non-Asian characters, settings, plot, etc. Even though my publisher didn't label it Asian-American literature, eventually I found that book-sellers or reviewers want to call it that anyway -- it's all about target audience and who may or may not buy the book. Calling it Asian-American literature wouldn't deter anyone who's not Asian from buying the book; however, they would know what they're going to read, and it will attract people who are into Asian-American "stuff."

My novel also has minor gay characters in it, as well as disabled people, racial minorities, children, women, etc. but my book is not characterized as gay fiction, disabled people's fiction, women's fiction, etc.

But in your case, chances are you book will be categorized as gay fiction. Now, the question is, why would you think it's bad? In fact, I think that would be good because it would bring focus to your book and your audience. Help you focus on marketing... if you are afraid that non-gay people are going to avoid you book a) think again and b) maybe you shouldn't have written it that way to begin with if that is really your concern.

Now, if your book fits into one of the bigger umbrella genres which doesn't really mind gay content (say, fantasy, sci-fi, etc.) then all is good. However, you bet your aZZ if it's a romance, it will be filed immediately under "gay romance," no questions asked.


Back to the original question -- I don't think gay fiction is controversial at all, unless you're trying to sell it to a homophobic community. There is a gay market out there, and it seems like if you do indeed write a story about gay people and their relationships (again, universal themes don't matter in their categorization), it will make it easier for you to find the right agent/publisher. Look for those who represent or publish gay fiction.

Would I deliberately look for a gay fiction. Not likely. But would I be offended if I pick up a book with a central gay character and relationship? Nope. However, I would expect the author and the publisher be up front about it and let the readers decide for themselves.

In truth, I really don't think there's a topic too controversial to find a home. 9/11? There are books out there and there are books coming out about 9/11. Christian conspiracies? A dime a dozen. Child abuse? There they are. Rape, murder, police brutality, soldier's atrocities, etc. etc. They are out there. Someone must be publishing them. The trick is to find out who are publishing books like yours, and find the right match for your book. You wouldn't send your techno-thriller ms. to an agent representing romance authors, would you?

Jamesaritchie
07-09-2006, 07:08 PM
Could you explain why his comment would be closed-minded?

The only closed-mindedness I see is from the people trying to ban such books (or any books for that matter!).

----

Anyway, back to the topic! I know how you feel. The novel I'm writing now has a main character who is gay. As I'm writing it I'm wondering if there are enough agents out there who are willing to read such novels. And I’d hate to have my novel labeled “gay lit” just because the main character is gay...after all, his orientation is not the theme of the book. Sometimes it seems so much easier to work on a novel that has secondary gay characters (which seems more acceptable to most people).

I also have an idea for a novel dealing with child sexual abuse and how it affects the child once it grows up. I'm saddened to hear that novels with such an important theme aren’t deemed "readable."



Is this agent for real?

What serious novel DOESN'T deal with depression? It’s a part of life!

-A.C.

Well, I don't know anyone who is trying to ban books. Or anyone who can. And saying such things about Christians is every bit as close-minded as Christians themselves wanting to ban books. Pray someone does make a serious attempt to have your book banned. It can't happen. There hasn't been a book banned in this country for more than fifty years. And that ban didn't work. But having someone attempt a ban is wonderful for sales.

If there's anyone out there who can't find a few books they wouldn't want their kids to read, or that they wish hadn't been written, they need to get out more. It's all about whose ox is being gored at the moment.

The simple truth is that in publishng any novel you write is going to be labelled. That's just how it works. It really isn't a matter of a book being "readable," it's a matter of how many want to read it, and a matter of letting readers know roughly what kind of book it is so they can either find or avoid it easier.

And many serious novels do not deal with depression. So depression is part of life. Big deal. That does not make it something people want to read about. Most people read for entertainment, and depression is not usually entertaining. Neither is child abuse. Despression is not what makes a novel serious. Neither is child abuse.

There isn't a thing in the world wrong with having novels labelled and categorized. I may hate it as a writer, but I love it as a reader. And there's nothing at all wrong with not wanting to read fiction with gay protagonists and gay characters, whether the reason for not wanting to do so it moral grounds, religious grounds, inability to relate to the characters, or as one friend I have puts it, the "yuck" factor.

Nor is there anything wrong with not wanting to read a novel because it has Christian characters and a Christian theme, such as the "Left Behind" novels Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins write. There's nothing at all wrong with not shopping for your next novel at the nearest Christian bookstores, and nothing at all wrong with avoiding the gay/lesbian section of your regular bookstore.

People read what they like, and have a right to know whether a book fits into the scheme of what they do and don't like. You can't make people want to read a novel, and thank God for it. You can't say people should want to read a novel, or it's just prejudice or bias or anything else.
It's all about want to. It's all about what people find enjoyable or not enjoyable.

Publishing is all about marketing, and marketing is all about who likes this, who hates that, how many are in each group, and then labelling a book so that each group can find what it wants, or reject what it doesn't want, with a minimum of fuss.

I have zero desire to read a novel with a gay protagonist, and I prefer as few gay secondary characters as possible. And I want to know this about a book before I buy it, and preferably before I waste time picking it up and reading through it. I also have zero desire to read fantasy novels with elves, dragons, sorcerers, etc. I'm glad these are labelled, as well.

And the simple truth is that when a publisher doesn't want a given type of book, it has nothing to do with being closed-minded, nothing to do with Christians or atheists, nothing to do with bans, nothing to do with prejudice. It's purely because that publisher does not believe enough readers will want to buy that book.

As for this agent, good for her. At least she isn't in it strictly for the money. I find this refreshing. But most agents have types of books they won't handle, and themes they won't handle, just as most publishers have genres they won't handle.

It cuts the other way, too. I know a couple of agents who handle gay/lesbian fiction, even though they hate it, because they're afraid tey'll be labelled if they refuse such books.

Jenan Mac
07-09-2006, 08:02 PM
Why? There's lots of books with gay characters. Mine has gay and bi characters. What's so closed-minded about that? There still are people who try to ban books for silly reasons.

I'm not sure there are good reasons to ban a book. The act of banning, itself, is negative-- though personally, I think it holds more gravity than "silly" implies.

Jenan Mac
07-09-2006, 08:05 PM
It's the satanic lesbian novels that are the tough sell these days.

Sheesh. NOW you tell me.

Jenan Mac
07-09-2006, 08:07 PM
That's what I'm wondering. If there's enough agents who will represent a book if the main character is gay. It would be so much easier if the gay characters in my story/novel were only secondary, but alas, they are not.

There's a boatload of 'em. Elizabeth Wales, Russell Galen, Goldin Lit... just to name a couple off the top of my head.

Pup
07-09-2006, 08:12 PM
Well, I don't know anyone who is trying to ban books. Or anyone who can. And saying such things about Christians is every bit as close-minded as Christians themselves wanting to ban books.

I'd say the following articles support Alan Yee's statement: "there's still some conservative Christians who try to get books banned for their gay or bisexual characters."

http://www.signorile.com/articles/nyp142.html
From that article: "Actually, three were over 550 books banned or removed from school districts or libraries in the United States in 2004 by religious zealots, according to Judith Krug of the American Library Association... The majority of the books today that are challenged by school districts and libraries, Krug says, are those that deal with sexual orientation."

http://www.alternet.org/rights/26133/ an article on "Banning Gay Books."

I don't see how it's close-minded to state easily verified facts.

Jenan Mac
07-09-2006, 08:13 PM
Well, I don't know anyone who is trying to ban books. Or anyone who can. And saying such things about Christians is every bit as close-minded as Christians themselves wanting to ban books. Pray someone does make a serious attempt to have your book banned. It can't happen. There hasn't been a book banned in this country for more than fifty years. And that ban didn't work. But having someone attempt a ban is wonderful for sales.

James, define "ban". Because I suspect you mean "ban" on a national level. Locally, books get banned all the time-- from school systems, local libraries, all kinds of taxpayer-supported places.

Jamesaritchie
07-09-2006, 08:26 PM
James, define "ban". Because I suspect you mean "ban" on a national level. Locally, books get banned all the time-- from school systems, local libraries, all kinds of taxpayer-supported places.

"Ban" is an awfully strong word. There is no such thing as a school library wherein many books are not stocked for the exact same reason why some people want some books removed. School library boards reject books each and every month because they don't believe those books are appropriate for the kids. This is a good thing.

There is no difference between the library board deciding not to stock a book in the first place, which they do dozens of times a month, and having parents wanting a book removed.

If you want to call this "banning" a book, you can, but in fairness, you also have to call not having a book there because the library board chose not to buy a copy in the first place "banning" that book.

This is as it should be. If a book is banned, no one can go buy that book. That book is not allowed to be published or sold.

There never has been, and never will be, a place that stocks or sells books that does not make judgement calls on which books to stock and which not to, be it a taxpayer supported institution, or your local Barnes & Nobel or Wal-Mart, both of which have refused to stock certain books.

When people think anyplace has made a bad judgement call, they have every right to say so, and to try to get that call changed. This is not book banning.

The rightto publish has never meant the right to have a bookstore, library, or Wal-Mart stock your book.

Jamesaritchie
07-09-2006, 08:29 PM
I'd say the following articles support Alan Yee's statement: "there's still some conservative Christians who try to get books banned for their gay or bisexual characters."

http://www.signorile.com/articles/nyp142.html
From that article: "Actually, three were over 550 books banned or removed from school districts or libraries in the United States in 2004 by religious zealots, according to Judith Krug of the American Library Association... The majority of the books today that are challenged by school districts and libraries, Krug says, are those that deal with sexual orientation."

http://www.alternet.org/rights/26133/ an article on "Banning Gay Books."

I don't see how it's close-minded to state easily verified facts.

No, there are Christian groups that try to have such books removed from school libraries. This has nothing at all to do with banning a book. It's nonsense. Just because a parent does not want a book in a school library, for whatever reason, in no way means that book has been banned.

There are all sorts of books all sorts of parents don't want in school libraries, including the Bible. Most parents wouldn't like Playboy in a school library, either. But neither the Bible nor Playboy have been banned in any sense of the word.

This is not book banning in any sense of the word. It makes light of book banning, and it's foolishness. Another case of whose ox is being gored. It's a bad and foolish parent who doesn't try to keep books they think shouldn't be in a school library out of that library, whether that book is the Bible, Playboy, or gay/lesbian.

But doing so has nothing at all to do with banning a book, whatever that book is. Unless, of course, the complainer is a Christian. If it's the Bible, the person is just trying to protect teh separation of church and state. If it's Playboy, it's just a concerned parent.

When you call trying to keep a book out of a school library book banning, you've made light of what book banning is, and you make yourself a hypocrite if there's any book or any magazine in the world you wouldn't try to have removed from your school's library. And if you have kids, I sure hope there's some book or magazine you wouldn't want there.

maestrowork
07-09-2006, 08:53 PM
I'd say the following articles support Alan Yee's statement: "there's still some conservative Christians who try to get books banned for their gay or bisexual characters."

So what? Some people try to ban Harry Potter, too. There has always been and will always be people like that who wants to ban books.

It's really simple. If you don't want to read it, don't read it.

I don't write gore. I don't read gore. But I sure as hell am not going to tell someone not to write and sell/buy them. To each his own.

glutton
07-09-2006, 09:11 PM
I'm not sure how controversial my book is, but I think it might be in terms of violence towards women- well, a woman. It's a fantasy adventure, in which the female protagonist is constantly taking extreme punishment in combat that would EASILY kill any normal person. But she isn't portrayed as a helpless victim or anything, her gimmick's that she's nearly indestructable, and she always keeps fighting no matter how badly she's hurt, and usually wins. She's epically tough. But I can see how some people might have problems with this...

A.C.
07-09-2006, 11:18 PM
This is not book banning in any sense of the word. It makes light of book banning, and it's foolishness. Another case of whose ox is being gored. It's a bad and foolish parent who doesn't try to keep books they think shouldn't be in a school library out of that library, whether that book is the Bible, Playboy, or gay/lesbian.

I can see how you wouldn't think of it as banning, since you group the bible, Playboy, and any book with a gay character in the same category.

Here's a good link: http://community.livejournal.com/as_if_authors/

-A.C.

Alan Yee
07-09-2006, 11:52 PM
For the record, I am a Christian also, so I don't see how I'm closed-minded about the behavior of some other Christians. I menat that I've heard of some (not all) Christians who want to ban books that contain homosexualiy. I didn't actually mean a national ban, I meant people who try to keep such books out of local public libraries. People have tried to do the same thing with Harry Potter. All I was saying is that if they don't want to read it, they don't have to read it, and they shouldn't stop anyone else from reading it.

Now, if your book fits into one of the bigger umbrella genres which doesn't really mind gay content (say, fantasy, sci-fi, etc.) then all is good.

Yeah, I think mine would fit under dark fantasy. I've seen plenty of gay content in SF/F/H stories and novels, so it seems to be more tolerated there than elsewhere.

stupidmansuit
07-10-2006, 09:37 AM
Pretty much if it is for shock value, he will not take it on. I'm sure the next "A Time To Kill" or "To Kill a Mockingbird" would be welcomed.

I wouldn't be so sure about that.

maestrowork
07-10-2006, 12:43 PM
Yeah, I think mine would fit under dark fantasy. I've seen plenty of gay content in SF/F/H stories and novels, so it seems to be more tolerated there than elsewhere.

I think "tolerate" is not a right word. I think "limited market" might be a better word for it. I mean, tolerated by whom? Agents? Publishers? There are plenty of agents and publishers for gay fiction, and plenty of readers. To say gay fiction is not "tolerated" seems a little self-loathing there.

HConn
07-10-2006, 04:43 PM
Man, I would love to have one of my books banned somewhere.

Alan Yee
07-10-2006, 11:22 PM
I'm aware that there are plenty of agents, publishers, and readers for gay fiction. I was just commenting that the SF/F/H genres, where mine fits under, are generally more open to gay content.