I had this little idea on Twitter today. I have lots of little ideas on Twitter. And I have no doubt that this idea has been had before, because it’s that kind of idea. But it’s also the kind of idea worth repeating.
It started like this. I made a comment along the lines of, “Okay, Publishing. I get it. You want me to be a dude. That’s the message you’ve been sending me.” Why would I say something like this? Oh, for a MYRIAD of reasons. I got reasons out the wazoo.
I also know the grass is always greener, etc., and lots of guy writers are thinking, ‘Things are not so great for us, you know.’ This is because things are usually easy or constantly fantastic for most writers. Most of you reading this like books, but lots of people don’t read much. Sometimes, trying to sell a book is about as easy as trying to sell a dead snake. So the casual reader goes by the package, the overall PRESENTATION of the thing. What’s the cover like? Where is it in the store? Is this book supposed to be for me? What’s a book? Do I eat it?
We could (and have) discussed many issues in this male/female book issue, but today, let’s just think about covers. And let’s have a CONTEST! It’s called COVERFLIP. It works like this.
1. Take a well-known book. (It’s up to you to define well-known.)
2. Imagine that book was written by an author of the OPPOSITE GENDER. Or a genderqueer author. Imagine all the things you think of when you think GIRL book or BOY book or GENDERLESS book (do they EXIST?). And I’m not saying that these categorizations are RIGHT—but make no mistake, they’re there.
I’ll put up one of my own covers as an example (because it doesn’t feel right to use someone else’s, in case they want no part of this discussion).* This is The Key to the Golden Firebird. It’s about three sisters who are dealing with the sudden death of their father. May, the middle sister, is trying to hold her family together and learn how to drive. This is the cover.
Now, as a mental exercise, imagine I’m Maurice Johnson. The book has the same exact topic. Does the cover look like this?
You get the point, I think.
3. Now, COVERFLIP! Make the new cover and put it online. Tweet or Tumbl it with the tag #coverflip.
4. I’ll be looking at them all, along with Huffington Post Books. They will put up a GALLERY of the best ones, and I’ll pick one winner to get a PRIZE PACK of signed books by me, along with whatever else I find in my house and shove in the envelope.
DEADLINE: TOMORROW, TUESDAY, MAY 7th, NOON E.S.T.
Remember to POST with #coverflip. That’s how we’ll find it.
* CRITICAL NOTE: 98% of authors don’t make or choose their covers. (Self-publishing, I know you do. I mean published with publishers.)
Meg Wolitzer is flawless. Her conversation with Jami last night was hilarious, inspiring, and infuriating in all the right ways. (“Tell me again how you totally care about women’s stories cause you read Joan Didion….”)
Also discussed: collaborating with musicians, women running through fields of wheat, Bookscan numbers, talent, Long Island, the first 80 pages, Anthony Weiner.
What I’m saying is, buy The Interestings. And go see this amazing writer anytime and anywhere she speaks.
Got a Girl Crush On: Katelyn Campbell, a West Virginia high school senior who’s standing up to bullying and slut shaming from her principal. When Katelyn spoke out against abstinence-only education at her school, her principal threatened to call the college she’ll be attending to tell them she has “bad character.”
Despite being threatened, Campbell is not backing down. She hopes that filing this injunction [with the ACLU] will protect her freedom of speech to continue advocating for comprehensive sexual health resources for West Virginia’s youth. “West Virginia has the ninth highest pregnancy rate in the U.S.,” Campbell told the Gazette. “I should be able to be informed in my school what birth control is and how I can get it. With the policy at GW, under [principal] George Aulenbacher, information about birth control and sex education has been suppressed. Our nurse wasn’t allowed to talk about where you can get birth control for free in the city of Charleston.”
Read more about Campbell here.
And then that college tweeted about how proud they were to have her! Fuck yeah Katelyn and Wellesley!
Riverhead Books has the honor of publishing incredible fiction by talented female writers from around the world. Head over to our Instagram and leave a comment for a chance to win a collection of novels by Helen Oyeyemi, Meg Wolitzer, Emma Straub, Danielle Evans, Dina Nayeri, Danzy Senna and Catherine Chung.
After seeing book lists like this and promotions like this, it is doing my soul good to Riverhead celebrating some of the AMAZING writers they publish who aren’t straight white dudes over 70. Enter this contest, follow Riverhead, and/or run-don’t-walk to your favorite bookstore and check these authors out!
I would also like to note that there have been lots of young women at the readings, and that pleases me. I am happy to talk to you, smart, cool young women. I want to be your friend.
Oh, one last thing! I’ve had a few men lately tell me I’m aggressive.
Fuck yeah I am.
FUCK YEAH I AM.
This has been your sexism, feminism and literature update.
Some days I think that nagging Jami Attenberg to join Tumblr is the greatest thing I ever did.
On this episode of the podcast: Publishing is a predominately female staffed business. As that business becomes a digital-first platform, it is running into the world of tech, a historically male centric world. What happens from here and why women still don’t feel confident talking tech are just two of the questions that host Emily Schultz asks Ami Greko in this episode. Ami Greko started out working in traditional publishing here in New York. She was an early supporter of Joyland and now she’s working at Kobo, one of the largest e-reader and e-book retailers in the world.
Ami and Emily discuss what happens when coders and content makers meet, how women can find their tech confidence, AWP versus SXSW, the gender politics of panel discussions, female nerdery, dealing with close talkers, and, of course, Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.
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Tune in for our April episode, where Ben Greenman talks about his new novel, The Slippage.
Ami Greko is straight-up brilliant. If she will rant about gender in book-tech, I will listen to it at top volume while I make soup.
thanks to everyone for the kind birthday wishes! if you are feeling gifty I’m bowling for abortion access next month and you can support me here and I will appreciate it so much!
Today in things I never thought I’d say: I just donated to John Darnielle’s Abortion Access Bowl-a-thon. You should too!
The advertisement for The Feminine Mystique that W. W. Norton placed in the New York Times Book Review in June 1963. At the time, The Feminine Mystique was in its seventh printing just four months after publication. Over the decades, Friedan’s book has sold over three million copies and been published in 20 different languages.
As we at Norton celebrate our own 90th anniversary this year (Independent Publishers Since 1923), we’re proud to publish the 50th Anniversary edition of The Feminine Mystique.
Let’s say it one more time for Jane Roe.