From February 1692 until May 1693 twenty people were executed out of jealousy which bread divisiveness where families turned against family and parents shunned their daughters, all because they assumed that the rumors were true. We aren’t in Salem, and the Salem Witch Trials are known for being a ridiculous time in our history, a time when the lowest of the low decided they didn’t like someone and therefore that someone had to pay.
Our genre receives attacks from the outside all the time. People go on to Amazon and Goodreads to rate our books low because it’s between two men or two women. They get angry when we show that gay couples can and do make happy families. These people then go onto Facebook and report author’s content. They try to get blogs banned and refuse service because of the content of our books. It’s from the outside and we expect it. We expect the hatred because of ignorance. At times readers pick up our books by mistake and they are blown away in a good way, finding out that love is love. They become lovers of the genre and supporters of marriage equality. It’s so lovely when that happens and we all celebrate, or we should all celebrate.
But sometimes the attack comes from inside the genre, and it is beyond disturbing. Yes, there are a broad range of authors who write in this genre, from the sweet people who would never hurt anyone to the disgusting who think it’s funny to bully men who may show their feminine side as well as their masculine side. That is the obvious bully and I’m totally disgusted by them. But another bully exists in the genre, one that sets up rules that authors must follow or risk being confronted and shamed in public. Some who are openly against bullying have decided to set themselves against certain authors and bring them down because they aren’t card carrying members of the “we are special because we say so” club. I’m not a card-carrying member either. I love seeing other authors get ahead. I love seeing them make it big. I don’t want anyone to fail, except for the bully who thinks it’s cute to make others feel less and physically shame them because they don’t think they are “man” enough.
This genre is small. We have a very tiny piece of the reading public’s pie. Many readers don’t buy our books because they have no clue we even exist. Our publishers can go to conference after conference, but the problem with that is that many readers only dream of going to conferences and will never make it because they spend their hard earned cash buying books. I love those readers and I wish I could meet them, I also love introducing them to my writer friends and encouraging them to buy books that other authors write. Why would I do that? It’s not to kiss up, or to “play the game” but because I truly want the reader to enjoy their reading time.
Some authors sell more than I do, and others sell less. I don’t know why one books is popular and another isn’t, but in reading The Naked Truth About Self Publishing I’ve seen that the pool of readers is huge, almost infinite from my point of view, and there is no reason to conduct a Salem Witch Trial against one of our own. Just because someone sells bigger and has found a way to reach a larger audience doesn’t mean it’s okay to attack them. It wasn’t okay in 1692 and it’s not okay today. Readers find out about the backstabbing and are devastated. They are crushed when one of their Heroes spouts hate towards one of their other Heroes.
I don’t play the game because I don’t understand it. Part of it might be just because I really don’t recognize people when I see them or it might be because I’m just too dumb to play. I love my author friends. I want to see them hit it big on rankings. I would love to see more readers find our genre. I would love to have our books accepted in big bookstores and proudly displayed in front racks of libraries and not just in the token LGBT month. I would love to see gay books in Wal-Mart and in airports. We have a long way to go before we are acceptance and are no longer ostracized because of content. Just this week I heard a reviewer talk about how they can’t tell their family and friends what they review because they’d be hurt if the knowledge was spread. It’s time to support each other and not tear other people down. The made up rules that shove people into the Burn Book and make it okay to chastise them because they don’t wear pink on Wednesday’s harms the genre. So maybe it’s not pink on Wednesday’s, but maybe it’s interacting with their audience to the point that the audience gives back by 1% to 2% of the readers giving them reviews. Forcing authors to play by “The Rules” only keeps the genre small. Maybe going back to the time when there were only 1000 to 2000 readers of our books would make some feel better. It would make it easier to control what authors do.
When I first jointed this genre I was subjected to bullying by certain authors telling their readers not to read my books, and that type of behavior is disgusting. I’ll never fit in a box that some want to shove me in. It’s bullying plain and simple. I wish the authors who have an issue with others authors who get big reviews would have come directly to the author and spoken to them, asking questions instead of allowing READERS, yes readers, to hear what they had planned. Those readers were devastated. And that is a huge shame and a disservice to the readers. Because the love of readers is what we do this for and hurting the readers makes me sad.