Join us as Edmond Manning goes Outside the Margins.
You hear folks talk online about the gay romance community…but is there really a community?
Yes, I think so.
I’ve seen some intense rallying. When TJ Klune and Eric Arvin needed miracle assistance, the community rushed to their financial aid and provide big heaps of love and moral support. When an author is unjustly maligned on goodreads and posts a ‘this hurts’ message on Facebook, two dozen other authors race to their aid, offering suggestions, insights, or even just responding with ‘Don’t listen to that jagweed.’ I’ve witnessed first-hand the amazing relationships between author and readers. It’s very obviously the essential spine to this community. So, yes, we are a community. We prove that over and over.
But we’re an odd community.
We’re constantly in competition with each other.
Yes, I want all my author friends’ books to sell wildly. I want them to hit the tops of the amazon charts, whatever their category. But I want to get there, too. If our books come out at roughly the same time, I might get jealous of the attention they receive and vice versa. And who doesn’t want to secretly be considered the brightest light in our Christmas-Tree-Community of awesome, sparkling, colored lights? While we sometimes like to say, “there’s room for everyone here…” what if there is not? What if a reader has to choose between whom to buy – you or one of your beloved writer pals? Who would you want them to choose?
This strange dichotomy in our community is never more apparent than during the frenzied registration for GRL, the big Gay Romance Literature conference. Two years ago, the organizers decided to limit the registration spots to a certain number of Featured Authors and a smaller number of Supporting Authors. Since then, when registration begins, there’s a mad scramble for the limited spots. If you don’t register and get a spot within the first 3-4 minutes, you won’t attend. Sorry.
On Facebook, fifteen minutes before the registration goes live, we all worry about each other: did you log in? Are you ready? Are you ready to click the link? Good…. And good luck. I hope you get a spot…
And once the link allegedly goes live, we go bat-shit crazy, refreshing, refreshing, clicking, refreshing, refreshing, clicking, CLICKING, swearing, elbows shoving each other as we all try to get one of the precious, limited spots.
We are immensely supportive of each other ten minutes before and after the feeding frenzy. But when the chum is dropped into the water and the blood reaches our nostrils, watch out. You’re in sharkland kid, and if I can get a spot while you’re vying for the same one, I will chomp it down.
I hate this system.
But in two years, I haven’t worked out a better plan. It’s much easier to bitch about how the unfair registration than to develop a more equitable plan, a better way to achieve the right balance of readers/new authors/authors who people know and love. It’s easy to complain and it’s harder to organize a system that works. So, I must take off my hat to the organizers who shrugged and said, “We have to do something about registration…and not everyone’s gonna like it.” It takes a certain kind of courage to stand before the verbal firing squad of bitchy authors. And those decision-makers aren’t high-paid executives watching the frenzy from their executive suites…no, they are authors in this community, just like us.
I guess sometimes you have to take an unpopular stand to preserve and grow a community.
This year, I did not achieve a Featured Author spot. I got on the waiting list.
And after getting on the waiting list, I followed a link and clicked on a Supporting Author spot. I got in! I didn’t get in through the door meant for me, but by muscling some noob out of the way—pushing her (or him) down in the grass while I got what I wanted—a golden pass to this year’s 2015 GRL conference in San Diego.
But here’s the problem.
That spot wasn’t intended for me. Never was. It was meant for a Supporting Author—someone who has published less than three books. Supporting Authors don’t even get an equal number of spots – they get roughly 1/3 the number offered to Featured Authors.
But it’s mine. I won it, through my mighty skills of refreshing constantly and clicking faster than others. I snatched it away from someone who also needs it.
I had to get it. I love the GRL conference.
I remember how much my first GRL conference meant to me. I attended in fear. Fear of sitting alone, fear of being left out, fear of wandering the hallways and not having any friends. The actual experience of the conference blew me away. So much love! So much faith in our community! I was embraced, embraced, as if I were truly important and essential to the fabric, a tapestry constantly rewoven with new readers and new writers. I mattered. I was welcome.
Some of the big names in our field came up and hugged me. Two of them said, “I read your book,” and I thought I would pass out. I admit, attending also meant a lot for my sales, too. People who read King Perry would introduce me to their friends and say, “This is Edmond. He wrote this weird fun book. You should read it.”
During the past three GRL events, I have created new friendships, cemented online friendships, and laughed my ass off with lovely strangers. A new friend from the west coast brought me a cake – perfectly cared for and deliciously intact despite traveling across the country. Two book bloggers and I shared a lovely evening in “The Cave” at the last GRL, talking books, characters, and what happens next to my narrator, Vin Vanbly…I loved it. I remember a heartfelt conversation with a woman who nervously confessed to me, “I gave your book two stars on goodreads.” Cock Talk, book signings with my new pal, Brandon Witt, the Huggstibles Fan club, and way too many more memories to mention, all of them filling me with a loving sense of inclusion I have always longed for.
For all these reasons, I have to relinquish my Supporting Author spot and take my chances on the Featured Author wait list.
If we are a community, we have to support each other. The experienced writers welcomed me when I was the new guy. They made me feel essential. Isn’t it my turn to do the same? And it’s not like I’m being a martyr here, folks. I’m ensuring a Supporting Author gets a spot that was always intended for her/him.
I wanna go.
And maybe I will. I’m on the Featured Author wait list. I could still get a spot as someone else drops off.
But I don’t want to attend like this…not trampling over someone else to get there. Trampling over someone who needs this loving experience as badly as I did my first year as an author.
Whoever gets my Supporting Author spot, I hope you have a great time.
And welcome. This is an amazing community.
~ Edmond Manning
About Edmond Manning
Edmond Manning is the author of King Perry, King Mai, The Butterfly King andFilthy Acquisitions. He spends a great deal of time standing in front of the fridge with the door open, wondering why it’s not stocked with more luncheon meats and cheese.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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