Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Class Acts and Ass Hats

As many of you in the book community know, last week the National Book Foundation announced Lauren Myracle's Shine was a National Book Foundation Finalist for Young People's Literature. Minutes later, they retracted the statement, saying they had meant Chime by Franny Billingsley not Shine. For a week, the foundation jerked around with simply including Myracle's novel making the top five list a top six, or "preserving the integrity of the awards."

What they meant by "preserving the integrity of the awards" was not asking the erroneous committee member who announced the wrong name to resign. Instead they asked Lauren Myracle, who wrote a fantastic book, to withdraw her nomination. Seriously? 

The only way I feel this situation could have been correctly solved was to simply add Lauren Myracle's Shine to the list. I'm certain her book deserves to be there along with the other five finalists. Instead, the NBF is punishing Myracle for their huge, humiliating, and obvious mistake.

In a show of unbelievable class, Myracle did withdraw her nomination. It probably felt like she was the oatmeal raisin cookie in the assorted cookies box. It's only in there because it's an established cookie, no one really ever wants to have it because it tastes good. This situation is unbelievably sad, not only for Myracle, but for all authors involved.

Franny Billingsley might feel like she's stolen the nomination from a very good author even though Chime is a spectacular book in its own right. Billingsley's probably even going to get hate mail for this when none of it is her fault. Not to mention the other 4 nominees  Debby Dahl Edwards (My Name is Not Easy), Thanhha Lai (Inside Out and Back Again), Albert Marrin (Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy) and Gary D. Schmidt (Okay For Now) are not getting the recognition they deserve from their nominations because of the drama surrounding the NBF's mistake.

I understand that the NBF was not being malicious when they retracted Myracle's nomination or when they asked her to withdraw. I am able to empathize with the fact that they made a mistake. Still, I believe that the situation could and should have been handled better on the part of the NBF. They could have included her in the list, they could have recognized her book as still having high literary merit, hell, they could have even made up a section for honorable mentions, but they didn't.

The fact remains that Myracle dealt with this situation in the quietest, nicest, classiest way possible and the NBF did not seem to return the favor.

So, I've provided a list of what you can do about NBF's mistake.

-Tweet #IsupportShine on your twitter and give Lauren Myracle some kind words
-Buy 1 or 2 copies of Shine, one for you and one for your nearest library, school, homeless shelter or charity.
-Be nice to Franny Billingsley, read her fantastic book Chime.
-Hold a contest for someone to win Shine.
-Read the other NBF finalists books and tell them how much you like them.
-Always give recognition to good books and nice authors in any way you can.

Now, for a change of subject which will make you just as, or even more angry than you already are.

Usually I try to keep My Summer Girl Books clean of any "filthy language" because I do not know who it will offend and for what reasons. (Frankly, I cuss like a sailor, but I try to clean it up to be polite.) However, this article about AMP Publishing gives me a distinct and powerful urge to let loose every single curse word I have ever learned. (That can add up to a lot over 20 years.) Without a doubt, AMP's situation is a cluster fuck caused by a bitchy asshat of the first degree.

Celina Summers, a former AMP Publishing editor, after a long silence, has decided to come forward about the fall of the company.

Read Celina Summers' post HERE. Warning: This will make you mad to the point of cussing, seeing red and curling your hair. 

I've learned a few things after reading this post.

1.) Editors and publishing staffers are, for the most part, a noble and hard working breed who will always try to do what is right for their company, authors and each other.

2.) Any publishing house, no matter how solid, has the ability to go down the drain due to bad management. (Sadly, yes, even the big named companies could theoretically fail.)

3.) Authors need to carefully research their publishers, review their contracts and make sure to keep up to date with their novel's progress and their royalty statements.

4.) Sometimes, in spite of all the staff's best efforts, a company can be beyond saving if the owners do not want to save it.

5.) Bug someone until you get answers if no one will speak to you.

6.) Unless it comes under new management, DO NOT SIGN WITH ASPEN MOUNTAIN PRESS.

I don't know if any writers read my blog. (I hope so!) If you are, I highly, highly suggest you read that post in order to develop a healthy dose of caution when dealing with publishers. Not all publishers are out to help you. They want your novel, wonderful! Your editor loves it, how glorious! At the end of the day though, everyone needs to understand publishing is a business. Publishers are trying to make as much money off of you as possible. Your editor might be your best friend in the world, you might adore your publishing company, but it is essential to remember this is a business relationship. All the love you have for them is not going to pay your bills, get your novel published or score you a good contract. If you have concerns about your book or your publisher, voice them. 

Also, serious writers, do not forget to check Preditors and Editors for scams! This doesn't feature all of them, but it does report a fair amount of the scams.

Happy Reading,

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