But… you’re just a blogger.

Foreword Literary, Inc has three bloggers turned agent. Book Blogger is how we choose to identify on social media, and therefore that is how people perceive us.

On the day we launched Foreword publicly Ann Kingman asked who was going to do the first story on book blogger agents and is that a viable way for bloggers to get into the industry. My immediate response was hell yes! For others it is a black mark on a record, an immediate outcry of assuming began.

They’d like to see a study in five years, if no one’s making any money bloggers as agents must suck, how do you know they are smart enough to do the job…

You don’t. But you also don’t know that the MFA student that just got a job as a new agent is legit either.

Newsflash, no new agent makes money. Not a sustainable income amount of money. You treat it like a startup, in a few years you earn out.

The three bloggers at Foreword have put an amazing amount of time into learning the business. I myself interned for four years. The first rule of lit agency interning (you sign an NDA) is not to talk about interning. I didn’t take the first agent job offered to me. I wanted to understand way more than I did.

Because being an advocate for an author is a big fucking deal. They need you for way more than to just sell your book. Almost anyone with discriminating taste can make a sale somewhere.

But can they negotiate, read contract language, have a mentor they can go to for help? Do they understand option clause and advance money vs. royalties and escalators? Can they love their author and that book like their own child?

Being a blogger is not the end all of my life. I’m a mom, a wife, a writer, and I’ve help various positions in professional fields. I have a resume, I have skills, and none of those skills have anything to do with me being an upstart blogger.

Blogging prepared me for so much in this industry and this job:
-Knowing imprints and houses.
-Knowing editors of imprints and houses.
-A strong understanding of the market in the fields I would go on to represent.
-A connection to bloggers who will help me promote my books if I love them.
-Complete understanding of a marketing plan.

I don’t think that blogging alone can prepare you for being an agent. I don’t think every blogger is a right fit. But I’m not going to judge someone based on their blog when I have no idea what they do outside of their blog and their in professional life. And I am a firm believer that a certain kind of savvy blogger gets an informal education in publishing whether they mean to or not.

I can’t answer whether I’m a good agent. That’s up to my clients and their works. What I know is that I try my damnedest to be, and that I understand the importance of what I am doing and spend 12 hours a day or more doing it.

When I took my position at Larsen Pomada they sat me down and explained I probably wouldn’t sell a book my first year, and that is totally acceptable and ok.

My one year anniversary is coming up. I made 9 deals for a total of 21 books. I have books coming out in April, June, July, and November of this year.

I’m damn proud of my record and I’m proud that blogging gave me an edge with the knowledge it brought. So I’m hoping we can lay to rest the judging of people based solely on their online presence. And that’s something I’ll have to work on personally as well. It makes you a giant ass.

Anyway, I’ve always been on team book blogger world domination.

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Censorship: My take

cen·sor·ship
–noun
1. the act or practice of censoring.
2. the office or power of a censor.
3. the time during which a censor holds office.
4. the inhibiting and distorting activity of the Freudian censor.

Censorship has lots of different definitions. To me it boils down to something pretty simple. The act of censoring materials, beliefs or media is a tyrant activity. To actively seek to destroy, remove or eradicate anything just because it doesn’t bode well with you and your beliefs is a selfish and cowardly way to handle things that you do not agree with.

I don’t like a lot of things. White chocolate for instance. I hate that stuff, and it’s not really chocolate anyway. Do I start a campaign to rid America or the world of this dastardly imposer? Absolutely not. Some people actually eat that garbage and enjoy it.

Now you may say what does chocolate have to do with books, books that have sex, drugs, and (gasp) gay protagonists? Nothing. However taking these materials out of libraries, out of the hands of people who are in no way connected to your life or beliefs weighs at the same ridiculousness as a proposed ban on white chocolate to me.

To take books such as, Twilight, Wintergirls, Crank, and Luv Ya Bunches out of the hands of teens because you don’t think any teen should read them is ridiculous. Are you the parent or guardian of every teen on the planet? Absolutely not.

Just because you do not agree with materials doesn’t inherently make the materials wrong. It makes it wrong to you and your family, not mine. You see I have a plan, my plan involves my children being able to read any material that they want. I want it ready and available for them anywhere they look. I want this because I trust my children.

I talk to them. We discuss things, we are a team. I trust them to make the right decisions, to be humanitarians, to tell me things that they read that made them think or that they need clarification on. I will encourage them to read outside of their comfort zones, to push the limits of their beliefs and have an open mind to any culture.

Through learning only are we free. If you want to live in a box that you have created for yourself that only includes x and y that is fine. Leave me and mine out of it.

What do you think reader? Do you have a plan for censorship in home?

I would like to thank Amy, Danielle, Gail, Susan, & Tasha for weighing in. Their pieces were fantastic. Go read them already.

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Censorship Week: Tasha from Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Books

Welcome to Bookalicious and Censorship week. We all know I am a huge advocate for censoring in your own home and leaving others to do what they wish in their own. Instead of giving you post after post of my own opinion, I wanted to bring in some other awesome bloggers to give us their take on censorship and what it means to them personally and their thoughts on what it means to us as a society. Humans through the ages have always banned, censored, rallied against, and protested anything that fell beyond their comfort zones. Whether that zone is in place due to religion, upbringing, or personal morals I have never understood the need to force others to your mentality. As bloggers we have the platform to be anti-censorship. To be a flagship of open content and doing and saying on our own blogs what we see fit. We must outwardly oppose censorship of any piece of literature, even if we are censoring it in our own homes. What if we are the next to be censored? Freedom of journalistic integrity and blogging taken away. What then?

Here is what Tasha from Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Books has to say:

Read No Evil

A few weeks ago, Farley’s Bookshop Blog had a post titled “Most People Don’t Want to Read,” an essay by William Hastings. Hastings posited that people don’t want their ideas and world views to be challenged, so they either don’t read or read pablum that they know will reinforce their world view.

As a reader, especially someone who reads what Hastings would undoubtedly label “summer reading,” I found his thesis offensive. Who is he to decide what will and won’t challenge people’s world views, to decide what’s worth reading? Just the act of reading fiction is a submission of one’s viewpoint to that of someone else, at least for a time, and thus is an acknowledgement that experiences outside of one’s ken are valuable–even if they do in the end wind up reinforcing a personal viewpoint.

However, I do think the post is pertinent when talking about censorship.

As various anecdotes prove, the most virulent supporters of censoring books wouldn’t read the books they want to censor if they were last pieces of writing on the planet. They don’t want their world view challenged. They don’t want the books to tempt them or their friends and family. These people are obviously fringe elements, however, and rarely have a lasting impact.

The issue with most societies is there are things that the vast majority of people would object to off-hand without ever considering it. Sometimes these things make sense, like child prostitution or incest. But whether they make sense or not isn’t the point–the point is, if confronted with a taboo, most people don’t want to confront it, consider it, or read about it. It’s wrong, period.

But that’s where the role of genre comes in. Genre provides a structure to reinforce our favorite societal myths–romance and Westerns being two particularly appropriate examples. They are comforting reads of the sort which Hastings would undoubtedly deride. But subversive elements swish through the waters of that comforting, reinforcing framework. People of different classes and races mixing together, changing of genre roles, incest, and question of what is bad and what is good are all things that can be found in genre novels. No, they may not confront issues outright–but then if they did who would read them, or who would publish them?

So in a way, Hastings is right–people don’t want to read things that challenge them too much. Even the most liberal of human beings has a line; people should have lines. But the books he dismisses as an utter waste of brainpower are not. More people listen to a whisper than a shout, and a book someone enjoys is more likely to make an impact on them. In the end, Hastings’ manifesto is its own sort of censorship, reserving books for an educated intelligentsia who can afford to criticize many things from their ivory towers and ignore the fact that they have their own taboos.

But books aren’t just for smart people, or rich people. Books are for everyone.

So read–just read. And don’t let anyone ever tell you what you should and shouldn’t be reading.

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Censorship Week: Susan from Waste Paper Prose

Welcome to Bookalicious and Censorship week. We all know I am a huge advocate for censoring in your own home and leaving others to do what they wish in their own. Instead of giving you post after post of my own opinion, I wanted to bring in some other awesome bloggers to give us their take on censorship and what it means to them personally and their thoughts on what it means to us as a society. Humans through the ages have always banned, censored, rallied against, and protested anything that fell beyond their comfort zones. Whether that zone is in place due to religion, upbringing, or personal morals I have never understood the need to force others to your mentality. As bloggers we have the platform to be anti-censorship. To be a flagship of open content and doing and saying on our own blogs what we see fit. We must outwardly oppose censorship of any piece of literature, even if we are censoring it in our own homes. What if we are the next to be censored? Freedom of journalistic integrity and blogging taken away. What then?

What Susan from Waste Paper Prose has to say:

I’m a first amendment kind of girl. I’m an express-yourself-and-don’t-give-a-damn-what-other-people-think kind of girl. And admittedly, I’m the kind of girl who doesn’t hold back when I’ve got something to say, even when it could get me in trouble.

Opinions matter. They generate debate and spawn ideas. They shake up the status quo, force people to take a deeper look at issues, and hold the potential for solution and innovation. The problem is that sometimes people aren’t terribly keen on hearing the opinions of others.

Therein lies the root of censorship.

It’s a phenomenon that has always fascinated me. Whenever anything forces people to look at something they don’t want to see or consider a point of view that’s not their own then eradication always seems to be the answer. Eliminate the offending material. Wipe it off the face of the Earth. Sweep it under the rug. Forget about it. And most importantly, never consider the possibility that you could learn something.

Trouble is that the quest to do away whatever it is usually creates more buzz. I know my ears perk up when I hear about any instance of censorship. They have since I was a teenager. If it was off limits then I had to see what the big deal was.

That’s how I found Forever by Judy Blume. It was in the top ten on the American Library Association’s list of most challenged books for a decade solid, from 1990-2000, because it contained suggestive language and depictions of teenage sexuality and sexual intercourse. Learning it had been challenged sealed the deal for me. I had to read it. When I did, I wasn’t the least bit shocked or offended. Why? Because it felt real.

In retrospect, the moment I finished that book might have been the same one in which I came to understand that just because something is challenged, censored or banned doesn’t mean that it’s inherently bad. In most cases, it just means that the book, or whatever the item in question may be, pushed boundaries and that someone, somewhere was offended by it.

By no means am I advocating for every controversial book in existence nor am I saying that everyone will value these books or find insight in their pages. What I am saying is censorship isn’t an absolute. It’s the product of opinions. It’s someone saying “you shouldn’t read this because I don’t approve of it”.

Ultimately, you have to make up your own mind.

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Censorship Week: There’s a Book

Welcome to Bookalicious and Censorship week. We all know I am a huge advocate for censoring in your own home and leaving others to do what they wish in their own. Instead of giving you post after post of my own opinion, I wanted to bring in some other awesome bloggers to give us their take on censorship and what it means to them personally and their thoughts on what it means to us as a society. Humans through the ages have always banned, censored, rallied against, and protested anything that fell beyond their comfort zones. Whether that zone is in place due to religion, upbringing, or personal morals I have never understood the need to force others to your mentality. As bloggers we have the platform to be anti-censorship. To be a flagship of open content and doing and saying on our own blogs what we see fit. We must outwardly oppose censorship of any piece of literature, even if we are censoring it in our own homes. What if we are the next to be censored? Freedom of journalistic integrity and blogging taken away. What then?

Here is what Danielle from There’s a Book has to say.

Censorship and My Children
With the recent activity in the world of book banning and censorship, as well as a recent review I wrote, I haven’t been able to get away from this topic. So, I’m actually quite happy Pam has given me the opportunity to chat a bit about this often touchy subject.
About three months ago I read and reviewed the book Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James (You can read my review here: http://www.theresabook.com/2010/06/book-review-beautiful-malice-by-rebecca-james/). A profound book, covering topics like friendship, underage drinking and drug use, teen pregnancy, gang rape and murder, and much, much more. As an adult I found the book to be beautifully written and one I’d highly recommend to many of my friends. But upon completing the book I questioned it’s appropriateness for the young adult audience, being that it was placed in that genre. I sought out the opinions of others, friends and strangers alike, and came to no certain conclusion with one exception. Censorship, or in this case screening, is something best kept within the walls of your own home.
The books we read have a personal impact on us, individual and unique to each reader. Whether we are age ten or sixty, our reading preferences can vary from comedy to horror the way one person enjoys chocolate versus licorice. Just because I’m a chocolate person doesn’t give me the right to deny my husband his favorite black licorice treat. Nor could I deny another the privilege of their favorite author or the potential of a new book series. And even more deeply, how could I deny a person, no matter their age, the comfort and/or escape they so often long for?
Now, my children, on the other hand fall into a different category. I’m responsible for them. I care for them and hopefully teach them the things they need to know to be happy and successful in their lives. Yes, we are a religious family, in fact we happen to be Mormon. And yes, it does influence the way I live my life, how could it not? But I don’t feel my religious views give me license to inflict my beliefs on others and deny them the opportunity of making discoveries of their own. Some will argue with me on that, but that’s my opinion. If you have questions about my beliefs, feel free to ask, but I’m not going to impose them on you when you aren’t honestly seeking them out.
So how does that apply to my feelings on censorship. My beliefs as well as many of the life experiences I’ve had affect the choices I make; including what I read, the things I choose to take into my body and yes, how I parent my children (not yours). I have no more right to tell you, or someone I’ve never even met before what they (or their children) can or cannot read. By so doing it would conflict with the very core of my beliefs which center around the ability to have freedom in your choices.
Chances are, my daughter and son will not be reading Beautiful Malice until I feel they are mature enough to handle the subject matter. I grew up in a home where things like sex, drinking, doing drugs and similar topics were discussed openly and frequently. I’m hoping to carry on that tradition with my children and by so doing give them the opportunity to discuss these difficult subjects when they encounter them, whether it be in “real” life or in a book/movie. Unfortunately, not every child has the same home environment I hope to raise my children in and often books can be a huge source of strength and comfort to those seeking answers.
As someone who promotes literacy and education, how could I possibly deny a child these stories? If a parent struggles with a difficult subject and the appropriateness of it in their child, then they need to talk with their child about it and not the superintendent of the local school district. Sorry, they may “care”, but where were they when your child was learning to walk? You’ve always been there for your child, be there for them with their choices in media. Truly, if they know how you feel and have an honest relationship with you, the choice will be easy for them.

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