Saturday, September 27, 2008

Think Early and Think Often

1. Do editors ever google an author, then decide not to work with them based on political beliefs?
What? I doubt it. I haven't.

...Well, I suppose that depends on what you think of as a political belief. If I found out an author was running a rabidly racist or sexist or otherwise deeply offensive website, blog, or organization of some type, then yes, I suppose I would feel that person was not suitable for public life. You'd have to write something beyond brilliant to make me consider stepping into the PR nightmare that could become.
2. Are editors and writers/illustrators overwhelmingly of one party?
I have met quite a few democrats in the industry. But I don't mind what party people align themselves with. The nice thing about book people is that they're thinking people, and as long as you're thinking, you get to vote however you want. The people who drive me crazy are the ones who vote "from their gut".
(I wondered after CWIM blog posted seeking people to join "Writers and Illustrators for Obama." What if I'm not FOR Obama? What if I'm for McCain/Palin, but only because Palin looks like a good shot for a Palin/Jindal ticket in 2012 and because the rest of America just wasn't as excited about Fred Thompson as I was?
Is there a place in children's publishing for National Review junkies, or are we better off just smiling politely, nodding, and acting like we agree when everyone around us assumes that any educated right-thinking human being could ONLY vote Democrat? (or am I extrapolating too much from having lived in university towns most of my adult life?)
Thinking people like to talk civilly and intelligently about issues, and as long as you're ready to do that, you're in the club.


Anonymous said...

As a midwesterner who went to school in Texas and lives now in NYC, I'm frequently astonished by what's taken for granted here as 'the belief of all right-thinking people." I don't always disagree with what they're saying, but I am always a little bit aware that they haven't been in many rooms with people who don't share their beliefs.

Just for the record, I had the same experience in Texas... just with a different set of attitudes.

Are people in publishing - mostly young, mostly eastern, almost all college-educated - disproportionately liberal? Of course they are: the demographics there speak for themselves.

I also don't think it matters very much. The mechanics of a story's telling or the style of the illustration are not particularly apposite to political belief. And that's what the business is about.

I agree with EA, though, that tone does matter: no one wants to have to deal with prickly ideologues, from the left or the right. I don't think people Google for reasons to reject writers when - as regular readers of this blog know - there are so many other reasons to reject them.

Are you likely to be in the minority in a roomful of New York publishing people? Yes, frankly-- you are. But as members of minorities have long known (and I have my share of experience here as well), how you handle that situation is the important part.

It is, after all, possible both to smile politely and to disagree.

Jolie said...

@working illustrator: I'll give you young--or at least increasingly younger--and college-educated for the publishing industry, but not necessarily eastern. From what I hear, the regional variety in NYC publishing is remarkable. It's New York City: people flock from all over for a chance to succeed there.

I live in South Carolina, and in some places (especially rural areas) you'll find that conservative club mindset where you're expected to be conservative and Republican, or at least to keep your mouth shut if you're not. But then there are niches (especially in cities and around universities) where everyone talks freely of their left-leaning beliefs as if no one around them will disagree. In those niches, conservatives have to prove their intelligence to be "in the club," preferably by explaining why on earth they'd want to be conservative in the first place.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Awesome. So the writing world is more like where I went to college

(people of vastly different ideas could sit down for coffee, have a great conversation, listen respectfully to each other, and leave a few hours later with interesting things to think about)

then "the real world." ("How could you think that?!?!? Are you stupid, or just evil? If you watch this one documentary,. I KNOW you'll believe as I do...")

People who think politics is about ideas are SO much easier to talk with! =)

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Unknown said...


Jussi Koiranen said...

Thinking is great... I just started getting to know this blog, but after this post I was wondering how much work is put into the background of a writer, when the book is going to be published.

Paloma said...

Here's to people who think!

Kopy Pig said...

The trouble with thinking is working out what you are good at thinking at, but I suppose getting published helps to tell you if your thoughts are popular somewhere.

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