Book Beat: Not the Booker, Fanfiction, and the ’17 #BlackSpecFic Report

Hello lovely readers! It’s your Bookmarked editor Paige again, here to share all the latest publishing news in another weekly installment of Book Beat. And not a moment too soon; we’re officially in the dog days of summer, and I’m sure you’re looking for some sweet relief from the summer weather’s final brutal heatwaves. So sit back, relax, and embrace all the cool news about your favorite books.

(not sorry for the pun)

Announcing (Not the Man) Booker 2018 Shortlist

Now, here on Book Beat we absolutely love the Man Booker prize; we’ve discussed it about every week for the last few months, in fact, considering we’re in the thick of award season. But of course, we have to give a little nod to The Guardian‘s friendly competitor, Not the Booker prize. First created in 2009 by the publication, the Not the Booker democratizes the voting process for best book of the year by allowing anyone online to cast a vote, instead of only allowing a select group of literary insiders the opportunity as is the Man Booker judging process.

And this week, after over 1,500 votes, the Not the Booker shortlist for the best book of 2018 has been announced based on the top five most voted titles:

Raising Sparks by Ariel Kahn
Dark Pines by Will Dean
Sweet Fruit, Sour Land by Rebecca Ley
The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan
Sealed by Naomi Booth

This list of finalists will move on to the next stage of The Guardian’s voting process, which includes contributors’ reviewing each novel for the voting public’s consideration and the publication then appointing three reviewers as finalist judges. So, if the Man Booker has also been wearing you down lately, why not give the Not the Booker prize a try?

An Ode to Fanfiction

Featured Image for the Guardian's "From Star Trek to Fifty Shades: how fanfiction went mainstream"

Speaking of forgoing traditional (and thereby potentially limiting) avenues in the publishing world, let’s talk fanfiction. This recent article by editor and writer Mikaella Clements details the history and social impact of the fanfic writing since it sprung forth from the creative synergy and homemade zines of Star Trek fans in the 1960s, exploded onto the world wide web around the 1980s, and entered the mainstream during our current cultural zeitgeist.

Of particular interest in this article is Clements’ analysis of the fanfiction/original fiction divide, which she theorizes remains an annoyingly wide chasm because “it’s assumed that if people write fanfiction, it’s because they can’t produce their own. At best, it functions as training wheels, preparing a writer to commit to a real book. When they don’t… they are ridiculed. A real author, the logic goes, having moved on to writing their own books, doesn’t look back.”

But based on her interviews with numerous famous authors who hold a candle for their personal fanfiction of days past, this elitist and often misogynist assumption is far from the truth, and it denies all the wonderful skill acquisition, community-building, and affirming fun that goes into playing with another creator’s well-loved universe. Come to this article for the awesome feature image, but stay for the truly inspirational analysis of fandom’s most fundamental practice.

Coming to a Theater Near You

Since the film adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians is killing it at the box office and the book market — seriously, run to your local theater to watch it as soon as you can — I thought I’d take a second to mention some books coming out with highly anticipated live-action film or television adaptations. A story is a story after all, even when its medium shifts from the pages of a book or e-reader to a much bigger screen.

Amazon has ordered a new series for its Prime streaming service based on The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee, which will be produced in collaboration with Nicole Kidman’s production company Blossom Films. The novel explores the new lives of three Americans who recently moved to Hong Kong.

Hillary Clinton and Steven Spielberg are joining forces to produce Elaine Weiss’ The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote, a historical account of the activists who fought for the ratification of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote in early twentieth century America. This project is currently looking for a writer, and will soon be shopped around to cable and other episodic streaming platforms.

Finally, Pilgrim Media Group has acquired the film, TV and other media rights for The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, with the production company’s first focus being to develop a feature film. This romance novel is about a brilliant female econometrician with Asperger’s syndrome who hires a strikingly handsome male escort to guide her through the mysteries of love and intimacy.

The 2017 BlackSpecFic Report

This week, Fireside Fiction has published its annual BlackSpecFic Report for 2017. Since its creation in 2015, the goal of this report has been to shed light on the rate of Black authors being published in speculative fiction publications. The first two years showed how disturbingly underrepresented Black authors were in the field, with 2015 and 2016 only yielding about 2% and 3% of all new, published content from Black authors respectively.

Reviewing Black publishing rates in 2017, Fireside Fiction’s report found slight improvements. Last year saw a publication rate of about 4.5% for Black authors, with about half of these rates consisting of debuts. The specifically Black speculative publication Fiyah Magazine had an incredibly positive showing last year as well, and definitely helped boost publication rates across the board. At the same time, zero stories by Black authors were published in nine well-known and influential publications, such as Clarkesworld and Flash Fiction Online. Considering the U.S. Black population currently rests at 13%, these overall low numbers are nowhere near justifiable.

Numerous organizations and programs have sprung up over the years to combat the clear systemic problems at play. In response to this latest BlackSpecFic report, Fiyah Magazine has created the Presence of Blackness score (POB Score) which, along with offering assistance to Black authors in navigating the submissions process, also works to measure magazines’ Black representative progress based on other measures not included in the Fireside Fiction report.

Out This Week

Serpentine by Laurell K. Hamilton

Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson

The Third Hotel by Laura van den Berg

Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas

Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas

Happy Thursday!

Paige Allen

Paige Allen

Adult-in-training by day, queer geek of color by night.