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I just had a conversation with one of my authors, who suggested that I run her book through "Sensitivity Editing."  She suggested Salt and Sage Books who specializes in:

 

LGBT issues, specific to Lesbian and Bi-sexual matters

Demisexuality

LGBTQIA intersectionality with mental health (depression, anxiety, bi-polar, manic cycles)

Mental health

LGBT intersectionality with religion (Mormonism, atheism, paganism, druidry)

Mormonism / Ex-Mormonism

Horses/Equestrian (Western riding, hunt seat, dressage, medieval riding, trick riding, vaulting, training, mares & foals/breeding, shoeing/farrier, endurance, mounted joust, equine armor, horse breeds and horse types, equine psychology and behavior, mounted fighting, mounted archery)

Falconry

Archery

Tea (history, brewing, holistic uses)

Western United States geography and survival

 

and:

 

Mexican American

Japanese American

Irish American

Mixed-race/multiethnic

Pansexual

Anxiety

Panic disorder

Emotional/psychological abuse

PTSD, particularly C-PTSD

 

and;

 

Muslim

Arab

Egyptian

Arab Diaspora

Post-Colonial People/Themes

 

and a bunch more areas that she declared she had to engage in because she had dark skinned people in her fantasy, and she was worried that someone would go nuts on her on Twitter account.  I've dealt with many forms of discrimination and said no to them all, and I don't think her book remotely crosses the line.  I said no to her sensitivity evaluation, too.  But she was adamant that I run it through or she might not publish it.  I said fine, because I really think it is a good book.  But she says just one criticism on Twitter could ruin her reputation.

 

Publishing used to be a lot easier, but how sensitive should a writer be to social media is my question.  The books that I have published are written so they never mention the color of the people.  Sometimes they mention their religion, but they just mention it. 

 

I'm beginning to wonder about the publishing climate, too. 

 

So should a writer consider social media or not? 

Edited by suspensewriter
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5 minutes ago, suspensewriter said:

But she says just one criticism on Twitter could ruin her reputation.

 

areyouserious.gif.27a7445d4a9a9dcc2468d960e99c3680.gif

 

That's one very, very fragile reputation she must have. It's probably best that she seriously reconsider being a published author, because criticism is inevitable.   

 

 

 

 

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27 minutes ago, suspensewriter said:

and a bunch more areas that she declared she had to engage in because she had dark skinned people in her fantasy, and she was worried that someone would go nuts on her on Twitter account.

WOW, okay..

 

I'm a bit concerned that she's more focused on her reputation than on her writing helping people...I mean, I've thought about if a particular topic I'd wanted to write on would upset a lot of people, especially Christians who don't believe in this, but never to that extreme...

 

30 minutes ago, suspensewriter said:

So should a writer consider social media or not? 

I think it depends. Personally, I'd suggest making a website and advertising with the website; but if someone wants to do social media, then go for it. They just need to know the risks to both sides before deciding with just one (or both).

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1 hour ago, Accord64 said:

That's one very, very fragile reputation she must have.


I don't think we should be too quick to discount what she's saying here. I've seen 'the internet fall on their head' before, and it can ruin high profile celebrities. Typically, this occurs when someone has been exceptionally flip or cruel on Twitter, and the Twitter mobs convene and ruin their reputations. The obvious solution here is to watch what you say on Twitter. 

(Disney fired James Gunn for his early edgy Twitter posts, and only rehired him after celebrity after celebrity came forward to vouch for his character. It was a situation he shouldn't have been in to begin with. My Twitter feed is pared down to only writing-related posts for just this reason.)

But the larger point remains–even authors who watch their language on Twitter can fall afoul of the mob mentality for almost any reason. I've seen sensitivity editors requested for YA authors who are especially active on Twitter, where their readership is also active on Twitter.

I, for one, will not cater to this mindset. It's like asking for censorship (or worse, paying for it).

The question remains - what should you tell your authors? I'd tell them to be careful with their posts but to have confidence in their work. We live in an era of Cancel Culture Twitter mobs. Anybody can cry foul for any reason. At some point in time, we have to trust that our work will stand on its own merit.

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I don't know this person, but she sounds like she'll be extremely difficult to work with, over time. You know your business far better than I could ever manage, but if I were in your shoes, I'd suggest that she run the book herself through whatever service she wants before handing it over to you.

 

You can only lose on this. She obviously has a long list of requirements, and the best you can do is that she forgets about your contribution there, because you did everything right. But if you get anything wrong, even if it amounts to not reading her mind correctly, you end up as the bad guy.

 

I think you know me well enough to know that I try to avoid going negative, but seriously, her warning that she "might not publish" could just be the best possible outcome...

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@suspensewriter, I don't know if I have any advice, but I understand why she's scared. Nowadays, an author doesn't even have to Tweet anything to get canceled. Amelie Wen Zhao pulled publication of her book Blood Heir after accusations were raised that she portrayed slavery in an insensitive way. Reading it from an American slavery perspective, arguments were made that she was being insensitive to African Americans. She responded that she was writing specifically from a modern human trafficking context (a huge problem in China, where she is from), so she made a story where people are trafficked more for abilities than their race. This didn't seem to matter.

 

Her book was eventually published after some rewrites, but I'm sure the experience was horrible for her.

 

The Twitter mob is something authors have to be aware of. That said, not every author has to deal with it. It's one of the reasons I left Twitter and plan to publish in Christian spheres. It's mostly secular YA that the mob is attached to.

 

No one is perfect. I wouldn't be surprised if Amelie Wen Zhao could have changed the wording here and there to make it read better. But that's not the point. She didn't intend to be racist, but was treated as if she HAD intended to. There's a giant difference, and the mob constantly refuses to see it. 

Edited by PenName
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5 minutes ago, Johne said:

I don't think we should be too quick to discount what she's saying here. I've seen 'the internet fall on their head' before, and it can ruin high profile celebrities.

 

Wasn't trying to discount, just trying to make the same point you did (but less effectively). I'm not on Twitter, but I do understand that people who are have varying degrees of reputations. Some of these can be pretty fragile, depending on prior tweets. It's possible that this author has tweeted about issues that her writing could inflame.

 

9 minutes ago, Johne said:

The question remains - what should you tell your authors? I'd tell them to be careful with their posts but to have confidence in their work.

 

Amen.

 

36 minutes ago, suspensewriter said:

She's afraid it will steamroll, and then the cancel "mob" will get after her.

 

My advice would be to ask her exactly why she feels this way. Has she tweeted about things that will cause others to treat her work more harshly? I think this is very important, because besides protecting the author, you need to be protected as the publisher. If she has a bad history on Twitter, that's a big risk for you to take on.

 

That's why a lot of HR departments get social media background checks on their applicants.

 

 

  

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It's possible we may be missing the most important point, here. Anyone even faintly acquainted with the current news cycles will see that there's something of a New Inquisition, slowly growing today. It's pretty clear that we must be cautious to speak carefully, not only according to current standards, but according to whatever new standards will be made up over the next decade or so.  So we're responsible that what we say today will not someday offend someone in the future. C'est la vie...

 

It's okay that we have to safeguard our own reputations. We're called to treat others in love, and even if we can't please the mob, we can make greater effort to please Our Lord. I'm okay with that.

 

But what we seem to have here is someone who wants to push a lot of her own personal responsibilities onto someone else. That's not okay.

 

SW is trying to build a business that can provide vital support to many writers, and I heartily applaud that. What he has described is someone who is trying to give him a long list of additional responsibilities: enough to even leave him slightly confused as to what she even fully wants. If SW agrees to this, the possible legal consequences alone boggle my mind.

 

She may be doing the right thing to be paranoid. She may also be creating an Emergency Scapegoat. I see a forest of red flags, and I'd back slowly away...

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2 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

I just had a conversation with one of my authors, who suggested that I run her book through "Sensitivity Editing." 

Umm... that is a very weird conversation. All books will end up offending someone. It's inevitable. To be honest, if I were you, I'd be having second thoughts about working with this author. She seems like she leans pretty hard toward the left.

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22 minutes ago, Wes B said:

SW is trying to build a business that can provide vital support to many writers, and I heartily applaud that. What he has described is someone who is trying to give him a long list of additional responsibilities: enough to even leave him slightly confused as to what she even fully wants. If SW agrees to this, the possible legal consequences alone boggle my mind.

 

Yes, that's really true, Wes.  I'm inclined to agree with you.

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It seems to be that in the last decade or more PC had become so out of whack no one could be honest and say something without malice and yet it be taken out of context. I wonder if this call towards tolerance and sensitivity will only grow and get worse to the point where society won't accept anything negative being said about anyone or anything at all. I wonder how long it will be before the concept of being a sinner is seen as discrimination. 

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You can run it though all of the "sensitivity editing," you want.  If they want to cancel you, they'll cancel you.  They don't need an excuse - they'll just make something up.

 

But I don't know why this is a surprise to anyone.  Look at the wish lists of these publishing houses and agents, and you'll see all of those items in the original post cited in one form or another.

 

I find it ironic that J. K. Rowling decided to play the game of being hip and sensitive to the Alphabet Crowd by making Dumbledore gay after-the-fact.  But when she refused to go full Woke, they came for her scalp.  What happened was that the Woke Mob wanted her to bend the knee, and the people who rolled their eyes over her semi-Woke stances sorta sat back, and amused themselves by watching the Mob distribute torches and pitchforks.

 

Once they get you on your knees, that's where you will stay.

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21 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

She's afraid it will steamroll, and then the cancel "mob" will get after her.

The CC SJW will inevitably. They cancel even what they agreed with before. It can't be helped, since they keep trying for personal ethics vs. historic culture, but they have nothing to hang their personal ethics on. (The homosexual community from the 1970s through the 1980s, would not accept "queers." They also did not accept "transgenders" until the last decade. Now they're considering "Man-boy-love." aka Pedophiles. That's how quickly things change.)

 

It happened to Rowling, who is pro-LBTGQ, by the CC'ers. I can think of two ways to avoid it:

1. Do not publish.

2. Do not give any personal opinions or personal information of any type online.

 

But to think it can be avoided in the writing? Mark Twain was progressive for his time, and look what happened to Huckleberry Finn. If the CC'ers don't cancel today, they will 10-20 years from now.

 

AND, can you imagine me not giving personal opinion? 🥴

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20 minutes ago, Spaulding said:

The homosexual community from the 1970s through the 1980s, would not accept "queers."

I'm confused.  I thought this was the same thing??

 

21 minutes ago, Spaulding said:

Mark Twain was progressive for his time, and look what happened to Huckleberry Finn.

Wait, wait, wait!  Did The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn get canceled?  I've actually been wondering about that recently, because that's a book I'm currently in the middle of reading!

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5 minutes ago, Shamrock said:

I agree with everyone else. - walk away from this SW.  There will be others I am sure who will be easier and more engaging to work with..


If I may, I don't think this author is toxic, I think the things she's hearing are toxic. I'd offer to work with her using your normal and time-tested toolset and show her that a great story is a great story and Cancel Culture be damned. (I'm using this phrase deliberately.) 

I think you have an opportunity to push back here. I'd do so with grace and authority and see if that's enough.

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(Sorry, not good at quoting on here.)

Quote

I'm confused.  I thought this was the same thing??

They use the phrase "queer" to describe the flamboyant ones. And, even then it was for campaigning purposes. They wanted to be accepted as "normal." Their structured culture is about as open minded as 1939 German culture was. (I hurt for the mindset that would degrade themselves so much without even being allowed to explore another Way.)

 

 

Quote

Wait, wait, wait!  Did The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn get canceled?  I've actually been wondering about that recently, because that's a book I'm currently in the middle of reading!

It was taken off the bookshelves, changed, and published again. The change was taking out <the unedited version of the n-word>. (I don't know what the new word is.)

Edited by Johne
Moderator edited the n-word.
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1 minute ago, Spaulding said:

It was taken off the bookshelves, changed, and published again. The change was taking out the word...


<This is a tangent> I'm opposed to censorship. Twain wrote his book in his time using the language and social mores of the day. If the term he used is offensive to modern ears, that's a good thing. I'd rather people learned the history than censor the text to match modern sensibilities. And with all of that said, the book is important and worth reading. 
</tangent>

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32 minutes ago, Spaulding said:

(Sorry, not good at quoting on here.)

They use the phrase "queer" to describe the flamboyant ones. And, even then it was for campaigning purposes. They wanted to be accepted as "normal." Their structured culture is about as open minded as 1939 German culture was. (I hurt for the mindset that would degrade themselves so much without even being allowed to explore another Way.)

 

 

It was taken off the bookshelves, changed, and published again. The change was taking out the word "nigger." (I don't know what the new word is.)

I think I understand now.  Thanks for taking the time to explain!

 

Ah, that's about what I figured.  That's just a cryin' shame that people nowadays have to go around tampering with highly respected, classic literature.

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1 hour ago, Johne said:


<This is a tangent> I'm opposed to censorship. Twain wrote his book in his time using the language and social mores of the day. If the term he used is offensive to modern ears, that's a good thing. I'd rather people learned the history than censor the text to match modern sensibilities. And with all of that said, the book is important and worth reading. 
</tangent>

Amen. The beauty of that book is that Jim had something many in our country still didn't believe he had even in the second half of the 19th century -- humanity. Not an animal. Not property. A man! And that truly matter in Missouri, the state forced into a compromise that helped launch the Civil War.

 

(Also, that book holds a personal record for me. The only novel I've read eight times. 😊)

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