I won’t lie. I have started and restarted this post too many times to count. It’s also really long. Approaching 1000 words really long.
Ever since kidlit started imploding this weekend with the reveal of names of sexual harassers, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do. Not say, do. Because this is not the time for idle talk or speculation. It’s a time for action, and I’ve been sitting by for too long.
If you don’t know what I’m referring to, then I’ll give you a moment to come up to speed. Start with Anne Ursu’s well-researched article, and then read the older SLJ article, and more importantly, the comments. I can wait.
Go on now. Click over. The articles should open in separate windows.
Everyone know what I’m talking about now? Good.
Like I said before, I’ve been trying to figure out what I can personally do.
Here are my thoughts:
A lot of this stuff happens at conferences, book festivals, conventions, and other large scale gatherings where people in power meet with those seeking entrance into the industry. Also, harassers can be anyone, from someone in power like an agent to a fellow conference attendee whose continuing close presence makes someone uncomfortable. Most of the events I attend have some sort of harassment policy in place, and I’ve requested that the ones that don’t have them, get them. That being said, a policy can be cold comfort in the moment. So, in the moment, come find me. Here is a list of every event I have booked for 2018. Some I’m easier to find at than others, but a DM tweet will always reach me.
Texas Library Association Annual Conference (part of the IPG booth): April 3-6
American Library Association Annual Conference (part of the IPG booth): June 22-24
Chesapeake Writing Workshop (DC) (faculty): July 28
Leaky Con (booth): August 9-12
Writing Workshop of San Francisco (faculty): August 25
Boston Writing Workshop (faculty): September 29Come find me at one of these events, and I will help you get what you need. If you just need someone to vent at, I can do that. If you want help reporting, I can do that too. If you simply need a safe space away from your harasser, I’ll see that you get that—even if that means you hang out in the critique room with me where your harasser can’t reach you until we can take more concrete measures.One of the biggest concerns that people have in reporting is that making waves will have repercussions. And those concerns are founded in reality. So, come to me. I will believe you and not think you are attention seeking or the other things people sometimes think. And at the writing conferences, at least, I hold a small degree of power. I’m an acquiring editor, so the agents don’t want to burn me as a bridge. However, I don’t work with most (or pretty much any) of them (most of my authors are unagented), so I’m not beholden to them for access to their clients. My income is not derived from working the conference circuit, so it’s not as though I fear alienating the organizers. I can be your advocate if you need one, or a sympathetic ear if you don’t.
- Other Spaces
This one is a bit harder since I won’t be physically present and usually don’t know the organizers. However, anyone is always welcome to contact me, and I’ll do what I can, again even if that’s be a sympathetic ear.
- Periodic Blind Queries
Finally, one of the tweets I read around both the harassment/ALA media awards/“rockstar status” authors in kidlit floated the idea of blind submissions. I’ve long realized that the way I do submissions can lead to a very un-diverse author pool, and it is something I have worried over. However, I was stuck in the box of unsolicited and solicited submissions and not thinking creatively beyond that. I don’t have the man-power to do constant unsolicited submissions, so I had been limiting CBAY to solicited. The tweet broadened my thinking though. I was intrigued by the idea, and it’s something I’m going to start doing with CBAY. It took me a bit, but I figured out how. This post is already too long, but if you go to the CBAY submission page, you’ll see how it’s going to be done. The long and the short is that submissions will only be accepted during a specific period, the queries submitted through a form, and manuscript requests publicly announced and submitted the same way. Names and contact information (beyond an email) won’t be requested until after the manuscripts have been read. (And then it will be requested from everyone asked to submit so that everyone can be contacted with thoughts one way or another.) I’m going to try to make this process as transparent as possible while respecting the authors’ privacy.
These are the concrete things I’m going to do now, but I’m open to more ideas. What are you doing, or what more should I do? I would love to open a dialog on this in the comments below.