Posted in Rants

Book Bloggers Are the New Gatekeepers and Prejudice in the name of Diversity

So it’s been a while, but after the disaster that was the release and review tour of Confessions of a Fat Girl I had to take a while to recollect myself and regroup. That said, it’s been a year since I initially released Confessions of a Teenage Rape Survivor and after trying my best to get these books off the ground, it’s just not happening. Now I’m not here to bitch and complain, but the truth is, the publishing industry, even the self-publishing one, is messed up. I’m going to say something and I may get a lot of flack for this, but I don’t have that many followers or interactions on here or on twitter anyway. So here it is.

Book bloggers are the new gate keepers of the publishing world.

You can argue that book bloggers do so much and that they don’t get paid and that they do this in their free time and all that jazz, but that doesn’t take any truth away from what I’ve said. Nor does it mean I hate book bloggers or that I’m going to do something crazy and stalk or troll or bully one through social media. I’m just making a statement. And you can hear me out or you can go be a whistle blower and lead the book blogging community to burning me at the stake. No big deal. I have nothing to lose in this sphere of the internet as it is.

So way back when self-publishing wasn’t a thing, it was the agents and editors who were the gates to getting your book to the world. And they accepted and rejected what they wanted not just based on the market, but based on social prejudices, beliefs, political climate and every other thing that can sway people’s mindset. That left a lot of writers, a lot of good writers, in the never ending slush pile or getting rejection letter after rejection letter because they were different, bold, and went against the grain. But then comes along Amazon and the ability to self-publish digital e-books online. There was no one to tell anyone what was bad, what was good, what was acceptable and the e-book market changed the sphere of publishing forever.

Still, the problem was that how did anyone know what was good or not? Sure you could buy a paid review but how could you trust that. How did you get through all the slush of the 99 cent and free ebooks? Enter the book blogger. People have been writing and reviewing and talking about books for a long time, but e-books and the internet changed all that. Book bloggers were getting writers who were little known or would have never been known on the map. They started word of mouth and began using social media to engage with potential readers and were influential in getting them to buy books. They began to get power. And naturally, big publishing noticed and began to court these bloggers who mostly did what they did because they loved books.

To make a really long and complicated story short, the power began to shift. And while traditional publishing and big publishing still hold a lot of clout, book bloggers have the hearts of the readers and if they want to ruin a book and an author they can use their platform to do it and have done it. I’ve witnessed it on multiple occasions.

Here’s the thing though? With great power comes great responsibility and I have to say, book bloggers have abused it. Not on an individual level, but collectively. There seems to be this collective push for more “diversity.” The problem is that it seems that the book sphere and the book blogging sphere in general have a very limited idea of what diversity is. To them, it’s more non-binary characters, more characters who are in the lgbtq community, more sex, more grit, more edginess. Yet it seems to leave little room for anything else. It seems to me that while those things have made great leaps and bounds in the last year in terms of books (even if they still have a long way to go), I haven’t seen the same leaps and bounds in other areas, like black characters, Latino characters, POC characters in general, single characters, overweight characters, Muslim characters, Jewish characters, no sex, no recreational drugs, no promiscuous sex etc.

In fact, I’m would argue that this push for certain diverse aspects isn’t going against the grain anymore. Sex, edge, lgbtq, non-binary, grit, all that’s now becoming more socially accepted, so much so that it’s now becoming a trend. And while a year or two ago that was brave, I don’t see it as so anymore. What’s brave about it if people are accepting it and that’s what they want now? And if I know anything about publishers, money talks and they’ll give people what they want to read. And now it seems like book bloggers are doing to same thing to one group of writers as big publishing used to do to the writers who found success with self-publishing and getting the word out through book bloggers.

Now am I saying this is what happened to me and what happened to me? Am I saying my book was good and because of prejudices in the book world, it seem like none of the bloggers liked it and as a result it tanked? Shrugs. I don’t know what happened. But I can tell you that some of the criticisms of my book were “there’s no storyline,” “I didn’t like the main character,” “she was a bitch,” “she was insufferable,” “I couldn’t relate to her,” “the main couple didn’t have sex,” “I didn’t agree with the actions of the characters.” I could go on, but I don’t need to. Look, those are valid criticisms. I don’t mind, yet I felt like and still feel like I’m being shot in the foot for doing some of the same things with my characters and my story as books that were lauded and praised for doing the same things by book bloggers.

I feel like if I had been writing about sex on every other page, with everyone doing recreational drugs, where the heroine was skinny and blonde with blue eyes with a hero that was white, with blonde hair and knew his way around the bedroom, Confessions of a Fat Girl wouldn’t have gotten as much criticism as it did. I don’t think I would have heard that someone did like the book because they didn’t agree with the hero not having sex until marriage like there’s something socially wrong with it when these same readers read books with promiscuous sex and say it’s teaching girls and boys to own their sexuality.

Is that true? Shrugs. Maybe. Maybe not. But it sure does seem that way and because of that, I’ve decided that while being a successful writer who can stay home and write books all day and interact with her readers is my dream, the climate of the book world, book bloggers in particular, won’t accept the type of books that I want to write and because of that I can’t find a readership.

So am I done writing? No. I’ll never be done writing. I’m still writing. Do I still want to be a successful writer? Always. Is Hadiyyah’s story still happening? Eventually. Maybe next year. But I’ve certainly realized that I’m going to have to find a way to make my own way to get the world to see it, because I’m certainly done trying to court the rest of the book world into accepting what I write because it’s going against this new trend of edginess and sexiness and darkness. And I want to make clear there’s nothing wrong with those types of book. I read them. They’re in my tbr list, but I feel as though all other things have taken a backlash because of this push for them.

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