julieandrews: (manga)
I posted a mini-rant on Facebook about the whole #womeningenre thing. I'm not going to rehash it here.

Strange Horizons posted a gender count of sf/f reviews in review publications. It should be noted that Ladybusiness also did a count of sf/f reviews on blogs.

io9 reported on it with "Handy Charts Reveal Why You've Never Heard of Most Female SF Authors". It's probably getting more links because of the catchy title and increased readership of io9 versus Strange Horizons. It also shares better on Facebook.

Leaving aside whether or not I have heard of "most female SF authors". Well, maybe not leaving it aside. I don't read the reviews in any of these publications, so that's not how I'd hear about them anyhow!

Now leaving it aside, as you probably won't be too surprised to note, the comments are full of people (I'll leave it at 'people') asking for recommendations for female sf/f authors to read. And then other people suggesting some.

Really?! Really?! You need to ask a [expletive deleted] question like that?!

Ways to find good female sf/f authors without asking in the comments on an io9 post:

1. Google 'female sf/f authors' or 'women science fiction authors' or some similar search. Voila!
2. Look at your favorite awards list. Note the female-sounding names. Have at it.
3. Browse the shelves of your local library or bookstore for female-sounding names or people who look like women in their author photo or for female pronouns in the author bios.
4. Ask on Facebook. Your friends know your tastes more than random io9 readers do.
5. Look at your Amazon or Goodreads or LibraryThing recommendations for, again, female-sounding names.
6. Read everything on the Tiptree Award lists. Even if it's by male authors. It'll do you good.
7. Look at the books on your own shelves, real or virtual, for female authors. Have you read them yet? Did you like a particular author? Read the rest of her stuff!
8. Look at the past guests of honor of WisCon. Not all are female. Not all are authors. But a lot of them are both!
9. Look at the freaking #womeningenre tag on Twitter, for cripe's sake.
10. Because 10 makes a nice round number. The next geek you run into -- it might be your wife, your son, your bff, a coworker, whatever -- ask them, "who are some of your favorite female sf/f authors?"

Message ends...
julieandrews: (Default)
I just read this piece, one author's view on how illegal downloads of books may be hurting her career and her ability to get more work out there.

And I got to thinking. And since it's a snowday, I might as well think out loud.

Numbers below are rough estimates, and I may be completely deluding myself in one direction or another.

Library books -- I borrow, on average, about 5 library books a week. This includes at least 2 ILLs a month. Working in a library is very bad for my self-control! Note, I do not read 5 books a week. I read a little over 3 books a week total. Some of these books go back, eventually, unread, or barely skimmed, or begun and abandoned. -- The author has gotten paid for these books, albeit they would have gotten more if I'd bought my own copy. However, in 90% of the cases, if they weren't available through the library, I wouldn't have had enough interest in them to buy them.

Library e-books -- I borrow, on average, hrm, 1-2 ebooks a week. I only get 2 weeks to read them, as I can't play the renew/don't return game with them. They expire in 2 weeks if you don't return them before that. Because I can only have 3 checked out at a time, and 5 holds, these tend to be books I want to read. I tend to make more of an effort to read them. But I still do not read all of them. Maybe 2/3rds? -- The author has been paid for these books (or their publisher is screwing them!). If they weren't available as library ebooks, I would have borrowed them as regular library books. I probably would not have bought any of them. I may or may not have cracked the DRM on some of them. These hypothetical books would have been ones I already owned physical copies of and had already read. So, hypothetically, the author had already been paid twice by me and my (very hypothetical) tax dollars.

In both of the above cases, I'm contributing to stats. If the book is circulating well, another copy will be bought. In the case of physical books, if they wear out or get damaged, a replacement copy will be bought.

Used or remaindered books -- I buy.. a lot of these, in fits and spurts. I just bought maybe half a dozen from Amazon and most should arrive today, all in separate packages, snow-willing. Included in here is bookcloseouts or overstock.com or half.com or Amazon marketplace or is it bookdepository.uk, something like that. Also included are library booksales, the Used Book Superstore down the street, stores that happen to have random used manga, etc, etc. I do not end up reading like 95% of them. But they where cheap, dangit! -- The author is not getting paid for these. The ones that are out of print, the author wouldn't get paid for in any case, unless and until they were reprinted. I'm a little hard-pressed to say how this helps the author in a direct or closely indirect financial way. Though it might make them feel better to know people are still buying their books and if supply exceeds demand, the used book price will go up, another ego-boo. But.. still.

New books bought! -- Yes, I do buy books and I buy them new! I have not yet bought an e-book, so these are only print books. Do I average maybe 2 a month of these? If I'm at a con, such as Wiscon in particular, I might buy 10-15 of them, until I start to realize I need to lug all this home in my luggage. I will buy from small publishers directly. I will buy from independent bookstores (A Room of One's Own in particular). I will buy from Amazon, especially when it comes to pre-ordering books. I will buy from Borders or Barnes and Noble if I have a gift card or a good coupon. How many of these books do I read? Theoretically these are books I really want. Yet I have no deadline for reading them. So the library books weigh heavily on my mind, as well as books I'm due to review on Triple Take. I think it'd be pushing it to say I read a third of these. Though I always intend to read them all eventually! -- The author has been paid. And if they're new releases, they've been given stats at the very best time to get them.

ARCs received -- I get very few review copies. Yet I have gotten some from Netgalley and LibraryThing. I struggle with the obligation to review them. I would've reviewed them anyway, since I try to review everything I read, but now it's a review I have to write, or that I strongly should write. And that makes me not do it. Sigh. I also don't read all of them. When it's a DRM PDF with BAD FORMATTING, then I'm not going to bother. If you're going to take the trouble to put them on Netgalley, make them readable, please. --- I don't believe authors get paid for these in any way, but ARCs are part of the accepted system. They go to reviewers and bookbuyers and help get the word out. They lead to sales. If it was a book I was going to buy anyway, I'll still buy it when it comes out, to have a nicer copy.

Ebooks legally downloaded free -- I think it's great when the first book in a series is provided free and easily online. I think it's great what Cory Doctorow's trying to do. It's a model that's working for him. I have downloaded ebooks from both of these scenarios. I have also downloaded public domain works, but nobody expects to be getting checks there. -- Authors aren't directly getting paid. But they've agreed to this and they or their publisher/agent believe it will lead to more sales. And I tend to agree.

Ebooks illegally downloaded -- Apart from the hypothetical DRM cracking, I have not done this. I have poked around and tried to find sites to do it on, but not found one with the content I wanted. -- If I were to do this, the author would not get paid.. except for the initial book the scan or crack was taken from. Would I have bought the book anyway though? Probably not. Or I might read it and really like it and buy a copy after the fact. Would this has come from the pool of books I borrow from the library? Probably, yes. These would be books I'd be taking a punt on. A no obligation, no fee punt. I might like it, I might not, I'm not obliged to read it.

So, taking all of the above.. for the authors, in decreasing order of bestitude, it's best if I:

1. Buy new, especially right when it comes out, especially in hard cover.
2. Borrow from the library. In print or ebook format.
3. Get ARCs or legally download for free, because it's legal and it gets the word out and leads indirectly to more sales.
4. Buy used/remaindered books.
5. Illegally download books for free.

And I kind of have a hard time seeing why 5 is vastly worse than 4. 4 could be lending support to libraries (booksales) and small bookstores, which are both good for authors in a wide-lens view. And somehow it's legal and not stepping on copyright. Somehow. Not that authors have actually signed something to say they agree to have their used books sold.

With 5, you're doing something people generally accept as illegal, against copyright. And most authors haven't agreed to it, though some tacitly approve.

I guess my point in all of this is that people, at least me!, get their books from various sources and for various reasons. And that just because I might have gotten the book through methods 5, 4, 3, or 2, doesn't mean I'm stealing a sale away from the author, because I would not have bought my own, new copy.

And that all the methods, even 5, contribute indirectly to help the author, even financially. No matter how I've gotten ahold of a book, if I read it, I will likely review it. I'll at least list it on my list of read books. If I liked it, and it's part of a series, I'll read more in the series. If I liked it, I'll try some of the author's other books. If I liked it, I might buy my own copy. If I liked it, I might buy a copy for someone else. If I liked it, I might recommend it to someone else. If I liked it a lot, I might check out your author blog and start keeping up with what you're doing and thinking currently.

So what I'm saying is that yes, we should all be buying as many new books as we believe we can afford and have room for. And when we can't, we should be borrowing from the library or trying to get our hands on review copies (not an option for most people!). But that we shouldn't blow the illegally downloaded books all out of proportion. Some people download them because they can. Some like having a big virtual library. They're hoarders. They're not actually reading your stuff. They would not have bought your book. And those that do read this illegal copy of your book may then go on to do all or some of the things I listed in the above paragraph.

But I do agree in general with the essay I linked to above. As readers, we should all be aware of where the money goes. How our actions impact the creators of the works we love. If you want to read more awesome stuff, they need to get paid! And if you can't afford to pay them, do everything you can to make sure SOMEONE is -- your library, the friend you convinced to buy a copy, the 10 people reading your review you convinced, et. al.

Tangential thought.. that J. K. Rowling, Stephen King, other mega-bestselling authors, and ABC construction Richard Castle, are leading people to think that most authors are well-off, if not rich, and so you're not really hurting anyone. It's like stealing from Walmart or an insurance company, right? They'll hardly feel it. Fight the rich author stereotype!

Thanks for reading.

If you'd like to support ME as an author, then please consider contributing to Clarion. I'm trying to pay it backwards. And you'll be supporting future awesome sf/f writers.

P.P.S. (I left out books borrowed from friends. I only read one of those a year maybe, though I'll be doing it for a TT review shortly. There's also BookCrossing, but I've never captured a book from there. And oh, Christmas and birthday presents. And.. well, other methods, in which the author got paid at some point, but not by me.)
julieandrews: (Default)
I ran across a listing for a book by a "Tobias S. Buckell" and my immediate reaction was "It's Bucknell, people, jeesh." But.. wait.. maybe I'm not right? I could've sworn. I would've put money on it, that it was Tobias Bucknell.

Why do I think it's Bucknell? Google isn't helping me find another Bucknell I may be confusing him with. And it actually turns up a few Tobias Bucknell hits, which just seem to be typos of Buckell.

What's going on here?
julieandrews: (Default)
First up: io9 has Women Who Pretended to be Men to Publish SciFi Books. A few names I'd never heard of, but it's more than a list of names, there's reasons and quotes given. I found it interesting, but I still find it difficult to draw any conclusion. Is it conforming and reinforcing stereotypes to take a male or gender neutral name? Or is it proving the stereotypes wrong? And ultimately, is it aiding or hurting your present career, and/or your future notoriety? And should it depend on the type of science fiction you're writing?

Second up: In a Google blog search for 'gender science fiction', this came up. It's not a lengthy or in-depth post, but I wanted to argue against it. So it's Choosing Baby Gender is Not Science Fiction Anymore. (Can anyone give me examples of when it was science fiction, btw?)

There are many things wrong with this. And the most important is that it will lead to a dislocation of the natural balance between genders. 70% of families would like their first child to be a girl (see article above). What would all these girls do when they grow up and face with the shortage of boys to date, marry and have kids with?

70% of which families, we're not told. The article referenced is Choose a baby, not its sex. That article doesn't say either, but as it's an Australian newspaper, we can perhaps assume they mean Australian families. Which certainly isn't a large percentage of the world population. And it's still lacking too much vital information. Like, is this 70% of people trying IVF who want a girl? They might have legitimate, IVF specific reasons for wanting a girl. I believe (hey, if they didn't quote a source, I don't have to dig one up), that girl embryos, fetuses, and young babies have a better chance of survival than boy ones. So it'd be logical for people with infertility problems to go for the better odds of a girl.

The 70% aside, that's just for their first child. I'm betting nearly 100% of those 70% would want a boy for their second child. Granted you'd still end up skewed towards girls, but so what? We're already skewed towards girls in most societies. All the good men are taken or gay? Well, yea, because there aren't enough straight ones to go around.

And, again I say, so what? So those girls will grow up realizing that there aren't enough boys to go around, and they'll have internalized quite early on that finding a straight boy and marrying him and having kids with him isn't the only path to happiness. How horrible would that be? The ones with bi tendencies can find themselves a nice girl. The ones who want kids can have them on their own (and pick whichever gender they want) or even pair up with a friend to raise kids together, manless. And well, quite frankly the others can seek out men from a) the communities, religious and otherwise, who went mostly for boy babies, b) the communities, again religious and otherwise, who were against picking a gender in the first place, c) the communities, socioeconomic in this case, who couldn't afford to pick baby gender, and d) the next generation, where the gender choice rebounded and swung the other way.

Because society is not a homogenous entity. And humans grow and change and adapt. Would society be different if a large percentage of it chose the sex of their children? Undoubtably. But would it be horrible? Not likely.

For the sake of maintaining the balance between men and women, we should not allow selection of baby gender.

We don't have a balance now, not if you mean 50/50. Will it upset the status quo? Sure. But so would eliminating gun violence and a gender disparate military and all the other ways that young men get killed at rates faster than young women. Are people advocating against doing that?
julieandrews: (Quill)
Here's some things I've read and been meaning to post about, and some things I ran across and have been meaning to read. So writing up this post was the perfect excuse to get around to reading them.

First up, we have a Clarion classmate of mine, [livejournal.com profile] keyan_bowes, interviewing a Clarion instructor of ours, Cory Doctorow. The interview is over here on IROSF. You need to register, but registration is still free. And IROSF has tons of good stuff in the archives, so you'll probably be back even after you've finished reading the interview.

Then over at The Fix, which I'd never heard of before, someone I also have never heard of before, Marshall Payne, interviewed another of my Clarion instructors, Gregory Frost. So head on over to An Interview with Gregory Frost. Strange title, right?

Taking a break from interviews, here's a short article on Transgender Themes in Science Fiction written by Cheryl Morgan. If you don't like spoilers, as I don't, I recommend just skimming for titles you may not have read yet. Alas, I couldn't find Supervillainz in any libraries in the state. Tragedy.

Carol Berg guestblogs and talks about creating characters for fantasy worlds. (I think Flesh and Spirit has the most awesome cover ever, btw.) And when you're done with that, read Lynn Flewelling's guestblog entry on promotion. [livejournal.com profile] varkat also has other people guestblogging, so you can check out the whole week.

And hopefully when you're done reading all of those, you'll forget all about the fact that I haven't posted much on here lately. :)


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