Book publishing. And everything else.

Sexism in the book industry

In the course of my career in the book industry, I have:

  1. Been asked if the reason I was having trouble negotiating a deal was because “you’re a woman and she’s a woman.”
  2. Had a vicious rumor spread, after a conference in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, that I had taken off my top in exchange for some beads – I literally had to approach every person this man had talked to and ask for help in stopping the spread. One of the people to whom he lied, a founder of a startup that ProQuest acquired, is now the boss of my boss. To this day I don’t know if he knows the truth.
  3. Been told I need to “work harder to break in” to cliques of men who are tightly bonded and want nothing to do with me.
  4. Been told I am “arrogant”. Tried to square #3 with #4. Failed.
  5. Been paid less than male co-workers of equal rank.
  6. Taken only 3 weeks of maternity leave when my youngest was born because I didn’t want to compromise my job (and I was on email the whole time). Still got laid off.
  7. Had a director of sales feel me up publicly in front of the rest of the company (and no one said anything).
  8. Had that same director tell me he wanted to get me into a tent (?!).
  9. Had HR ignore all my documentation about these things.
  10. Been called “defensive” by a male colleague too impatient to listen to the structural reasons why his big idea won’t work.
  11. Been called “emotional” by a male colleague when I presented evidence about why a toxic business deal was going to actually shut out the very market we wanted to recruit.
  12. Been asked to pose in a swimsuit.

This is only what I can remember. Oh, and there was that time I was asked to hold onto some gun parts, but that had nothing to do with gender. I was just conveniently located in a bookstore.

Stop Hitting Yourself!

Ta-Nehisi Coates has been killing it over at The Atlantic. It’s a public debate with New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait, but Chait’s voice is receding in the face of the truths that Coates is telling.

I won’t summarize, because the pieces should  be read in full. Coates is a beautiful and powerful writer. I am left with an image of the wealthy white libertarian, boot planted firmly on the neck of the poverty-stricken black fast food worker or Walmart stocker, yelling that his misery is his own damn fault and to get up off the ground and make something of himself. And not moving from that position (or silencing the yelling) for approximately 500 years.

It saddens me that a movie like 12 Years a Slave had to come out of England – because in the US we cannot bring ourselves to talk about it. It saddens me that there are still statues to people like John C. Calhoun, the father of “You’re not the boss of me” politics that masquerade not just racism but the lie of white supremacy. It saddens me that after centuries of slavery, killing, redlining, homelessness, and mass incarceration, that anyone is equivocating on the rear view perspective that this country was founded on the vision of white supremacy.

It was not a question of “oh, black people and their civil rights just didn’t occur to anyone at the time.” Each and every step of this brutality has been intentional. Perhaps not planned, but definitely intentional.

It’s not a coincidence.


ETA: This piece, by Tressie McMillan Cottom, is a pretty great analysis of what’s going on.

Today’s the Day!

The Place Where I Come From is FREE on Amazon Kindle today! If you like small-town fiction, go snap it up!

This means that the book is temporarily unavailable at BN and Kobo, but if you require an EPUB version, let me know and I’ll make sure you get one.


I’m experimenting with different marketing approaches. First, of course, is Amazon KDP Select. I’m going to do a free day on Monday, August 26. This means the book is “on vacation” from BN Nook and Kobo. It’ll be back on sale there in November. In the meantime, if anybody needs an EPUB or PDF version, let me know in the comments.

We’ll see how effective this is.

It’s Friday

So I give you a bunny in repose:



In which…

I post on SelfPublishedAuthor.com about my own self-publishing experience.

Where Is Summer?

It’s been a cool and rainy summer this year. I got the tomatoes in a little bit late, but not enough to warrant growth retardation. But that’s what we have – it is August 19, and this is the sum of my harvest (out of 12 plants) to date:


3 Cherry Tomatoes


Three cherry tomatoes.

Up at Barnes & Noble

So, for all EPUB fans, we’re now live at Barnes & Noble here.

I celebrate by folding laundry.

Another Thought About ISBNs (and Amazon)

Even back in the 1970s, when the ISBN was invented, bookselling happened person-to-person. People had to walk into stores and find books, and chances are a bookseller helped them.

The ISBN was invented to handle issues that arose from the installation of mainframe computers – in warehouses, bookstores, and publishing offices. These communications were pretty simplistic. “Is this book available?” “Yes.” “I would like to order 20.”

By 1998, when development on ONIX started, communications had gotten more complex because computers were interacting over networks, and the book information was ultimately being viewed (and used) by the consumer. ISBNs were critical then, even though Amazon did not require them, because of the rapid changes in the market – an ISO standard gave publishers a number on which to hang ONIX data, and they could be reasonably assured that because it was attached to a standard, that data would be accepted anywhere.

15 years later, communications amongst computers and networks have not gotten any simpler. They are more reliant on identifiers and metadata than ever before. In 1998, we had 900,000 books to communicate about. In 2013, we have 28 or 32 million (depending on how you count them, and I’m only supposed to use the 28 million number publicly) that we know of, and many more that we don’t know of. And when was the last time you walked into a bookstore and a bookseller helped you? (When was the last time you walked into a bookstore?)

Dozens of millions of books, over many many networks, are ultimately viewed by more consumers than ever before. And yet there is a vocal group arguing that standardization of information (and the ISBN in particular) is antiquated. “Print-related.”

The ISBN was invented because of digitization. To argue its demise due to ebooks is short-sighted. The media environment – books, newspapers, movies, television, radio and the music industry – is volatile right now. Companies are merging, and strange, inexplicable acquisitions are being made.

A movement away from standards – particularly standards that were created to deal with digitization – may be bucking the system. But the system isn’t always going to look like it does now. Standards at least give some continuity in a shifting market.

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