Conversation of the Week: What Power Should Publishers Have Over an Author’s Work?
There are two stories currently making the rounds among literary circles, both asking the question: “What power should publishers have over an author’s work?”
Novelist Polly Courtney recently dropped her publisher, HarperCollins, for marketing her work with “condescending and fluffy” covers aimed at the readers of chick lit (which is defined by Wikipedia as – genre fiction which addresses issues of modern womanhood, often humorously and lightheartedly.)
Courtney says, “I’m not averse to the term chick lit, but I don’t think that’s what my book is. The implication with chick lit is that it’s about a girl wanting to meet the man of her dreams. [My books] are about social issues – this time about a woman in a lads’ mag environment and the impact of media on society, and feminism.”
The Guardian reports that a spokesperson for HarperCollins said, “Avon is right behind Polly Courtney’s timely and important book. Our experience tells us it has a great look and feel and we think Polly will be delighted when she sees it flying off the shelves.”
In a similar story, also from The Guardian, two, young-adult authors were approached by an un-named literary agent who told them to “straighten” a gay character if they wished to be represented.
Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown’s co-written YA novel, Stranger, includes, a gay character with a boyfriend. The two authors were told by the agent to, “make the gay character straight, or else remove his viewpoint and all references to his sexual orientation.” Smith and Brown refused, saying, “making a gay character straight is a line in the sand which I will not cross. That is a moral issue. I work with teenagers, and some of them are gay. They never get to read fantasy novels where people like them are the heroes, and that’s not right.”
Which leads us to our Conversation of the Week – What power should publishers have over an author’s work? Publishers are out to make money, for themselves and for the authors, but should the author have a say in how that money is made?
Join the conversation by tweeting your thoughts or by entering them below.