Fiction publishing is a relationship industry. Whether you are published, where, and how your book gets publicity is largely driven by who you know and how much they’re willing to do for you, and it’s only getting more unequal. As a marginalized person, I think about this a lot. Socioeconomic status is an intersection of a number of factors– disability status, race, gender, education, etc.– but I want to talk today about specifically social capital. I’ll talk about what it is, how it fits into publishing, why it is vital to build it, and why the Internet’s not really a good place to do it. In Part 2, I’ll talk about potential strategies for marginalized creators to build it in the service of their careers.
Coming up with story concepts isn’t difficult for me. It’s not hard to sit down and rattle off 15 concepts really quick, just a sentence. A concept will usually suggest a genre to me. Genres have conventions and obligatory scenes, so the bones of the story are there in less than ten seconds, easily.
Here’s where it gets hard: I’ve read so many stories I know exactly how that story is supposed to go. So does everyone else. So why write it?
For me, the answer is anger. Something about how I’m supposed to write that story not only doesn’t match my lived experience, it is such unbelievable bullshit that I’m willing to hammer out a 90,000-word subtweet.
Right now, I’m mad at the protagonist. Protagonists are bullshit.