Science Fiction

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Do we really need more Diversity in books?-Guest post by Rachel Halpern

Published December 4, 2013 by G.L.

Today we have a lovely guest post by the founder of a new online magazine in the works by the name of Inscription magazine. The project spoke to my sister and I on such a deep level. Here is this young woman in our generation who finds representation in all forms important in books and that’s exactly what Guinevere and I are trying to promote! It’s always great to find like minded people and when we discovered her Indiegogo campaign to launch her magazine, which would be offering free diverse stories to teens in our 2 favorite genres, Science Fiction and Fantasy; We just had to help her spread the word about her Project!And now to our Guest post…….

Do we really need more Diversity in Books? By Rachel Halpern

haircut styled

The goal of Inscription Magazine is to publish short stories for teens, with diverse characters, diverse authors, and diverse sci-fi and fantasy worlds.

I’ve talked more about the vision I had for Inscription on the diversityinya Tumblr, here. And you can read more about Inscription, and the fundraising we’re doing for it, on the Indiegogo campaign page, here.

I wanted to address here what I think is often the first question I get when people see Inscription Magazine, or blogs like this one – do we really need more diversity?

The answer is a resounding yes. In the 250 top-grossing films, 83.6% of the lead characters are straight white men, even though they make up only 31.3% of the population (x). And it’s not because diversity doesn’t sell! A recent study found that television viewers are actually more likely to watch shows with racially diverse writers and racially diverse casts (x). It’s just that our society is built to privilege some voices and some stories over others.

Does that matter? So what if representation isn’t equal? Can’t people just identify with the people they see on television regardless of race?

I’m sure that happens to some extent, but of course it’s not as good as having someone who looks like you on TV, or in the stories you’re reading. Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in outer space, said seeing Nichelle Nichols play Uhura in Star Trek was a key inspiration for her, and she wasn’t alone; even Martin Luther King, Jr., pressured Nichols to stay on the show because of the difference it was making to television viewers (x). Representation really does matter.

Maybe it’s better in children’s and young adult books, though! Everyone knows Hollywood has its problems, but surely teens are being exposed to more diverse literature!

Unfortunately not. Study after study (after study) has shown that diversity is lacking in both the authors of and the characters in YA novels.

Publishers like Tu Books; anthologies like Diverse Energies; and the incredible work of authors, bloggers, and publishers everywhere are making some changes, but it’s slow going. I wanted to help speed up the process, to give more young adult readers a chance to see themselves in diverse science fiction and fantasy stories.

That’s what Inscription Magazine is all about. Telling great stories that can appeal to everyone. Telling stories that give young adults great role models. And telling stories that tell teens they can become anyone and anything they want to be.

And beyond that, we hope it will become a community. Even the most inspirational stories can lose their power if they sit in a vacuum. We want to have forums and discussion threads where young adult readers can talk about the stories we publish, the books they’re reading, and everything else happening in their lives. It’s easy to feel alone when the media you consume doesn’t reflect you; we want to help young readers find a place where they can be themselves.

If that’s something you want to help us accomplish, you can check out our Indiegogo campaign here. Every dollar and every post can help us work toward our stretch goals and provide our readers with more content and more opportunities to build a sustainable community. Take a look and consider donating or spreading the word!

Inscription Magazine’s Indiegogo Campaign

Inscription Magazine on Facebook

Inscription Magazine on Twitter

Inscription Magazine on Tumblr

Rachel on Twitter

Rachel’s Tumblr Page

Proper Online Etiquette when seeking reviews for your book

Published May 2, 2013 by G.L.

I thought that I might write a post about this particular subject because I believe that it’s important for independent authors like ourselves to know how to properly approach someone about reviewing your book.

You would think it would be common sense, however lately we’ve noticed that since we began taking reviews on our other blog,  Fighting for Multiculturalism to YA, Fantasy and Science Fiction Novels , authors particularly Indie authors haven’t exactly approached us with the best of manners :/ Trust me, we get it! You want readers. You NEED reviewers! And maybe, just maybe you’re a little frustrated that in your mind your book is your greatest accomplishment,so it bugs you that people aren’t exactly lining up to want to read and review it.

But just a few wise words, you get more flies with honey than than with vinegar. And what I mean by that is when you approach bloggers with requests to read your book, PLEASE, PLEASE, do not just come out and say “You need to review my book because it’s the next Harry PotterBloggers(Including ourselves) will not respond well to this.

First off never compare YOUR work to that of a well established published author. The main reason being that if your book is not indeed the next Harry Potter, the reviewer that has taken pity on you and took the time out of HER or HIS busy schedule, may just mention that in their review. You may think that your book is really good, and it may just be but never compare your book to a popular writers book. You’ll just end up embarrassing yourself and appear arrogant to potential readers. Be the next YOU!That’s all you can set out to be.

Second, I’m not sure if I even have to say this because it goes without saying but, READ THE BLOGGER‘S REVIEW POLICY. You would be surprised how many offers some bloggers get from aspiring authors that did not read their review policy. Not only does that show that you can’t read but it shows that you don’t have the professionalism to be a writer and certainly don’t have the proper skills to represent yourself. Do yourself a favor and go over the blogger’s entire site. Why waste both of your times by submitting a request to a blogger that doesn’t read your genre.

A very important piece of advice is don’t be pushy and be patient. Don’t continuously badger the reviewer on how far they’ve gotten in the book.You may think that you’re being courteous but you may actually be annoying the reviewer. Lots of  reviewers need at least 6-8 weeks to review your book and that’s more than generous. A good amount of reviewers are backed up for months and a quick review is just not possible.

If you need a review sooner than later, you may have to contact the reviewer way before you need it reviewed. For example on a blog tour. Let the reviewer know of any deadlines you have and perhaps they’ll work with you. Many are nice, but there are some that are cut throat. So it’s really important to be respectful and polite.

Have a thick skin. Not everyone is going to like your book. Many may even leave you a less than flattering review. Do not and I repeat, DO NOT retaliate with insults, in fact don’t even respond in any way to a bad review. When publishing a book, you’re probably going to get a LOT of bad reviews. But if your book is well written, well edited and professionally packaged, you many see more promising reviews than bad ones. Trust that you have the overall formula to what makes a great book and I promise, reviewers will enjoy reading your book and leaving you a good review!

A really great way to reach out to bloggers is really simple. Join their blog’s email list or subscribe to their RSS feed and actually get a feel of what kind of people they are and what types of books that they like.Comment on their posts, find things in common with them, let them know that they are important to your book’s( along with a lot other people’s books)success.

I know you’re going, “Ugh!But that takes so much work.Why can’t they just read it and review it.Isn’t that part of their job description?I’m giving them something to do!”In reality, no it isn’t part of their job description. Most bloggers review books just because they like to. And once you get the ball rolling, lots of requests from authors come in. So actually a reviewer is doing you a service by taking the time out of their schedule to read YOUR book. Indie authors need reviews and people to give us those reviews, So unfortunately we need them more than they need us.

So next time you approach a book blogger to review your book, remember these 3 things

1.It’s nice to seek out potential fans but you may need to become a “fan” of them first.

2.Try to make friends with bloggers before your book is actually done, the likelihood of your book being read by a “friend” is much higher than a random solicitor.

3.Always, ALWAYS learn the names of the people you request to review your book. You wouldn’t believe how many people won’t even bother looking through a blogger’s website just to learn something as simple as their names. I don’t know about you but I like when authors take the time out to do this. It shows that they really want their book to be successful.

For any aspiring authors reading this, I wish you good luck with your writing!

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