Community ~ Edmond Manning: Outside the Margins

Join us as Edmond Manning goes Outside the Margins.

Edmond Manning OTMCommunity

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’m sad.

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.

Farewell Giveaway
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,

Brandilyn
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53 thoughts on “Community ~ Edmond Manning: Outside the Margins

  1. Geez Edmond, now you’re making me cry – if I could give up my slot and know you’d get it, I would – Hell I’d rather see you then me, and I really like seeing me, so I can only image how many others feel the same. That was an amazingly generous thing you did, but I’m not surprised given who you. (Can I start an on-line petition to name you King Edmond?)

    I really hope you get off the wait list, I’ll miss seeing you if you don’t.

    • Andrew, meeting you this last year was another highlight. You were so kind to me! And I’m bummed right now…but encouraged by the idea that people on the waiting list do end up getting spots! So this might be a temporary thing…but damn it, thank you for all your big love toward me. I’ll hug you soon enough again.

        • “Andrew must go” ? Um that sounds too much like – Off with his head for my comfort level. 😉 And if you bring that Bam Bam club around me, I’m gonna run for the hills. Just sayin.

          • Uh oh… the rumble in the… sun?? *snort*

            Also, one more reason I hope Edmond gets a spot from the waiting list.

          • I’m afraid the Bam Bam club (and big caveman eyebrows) come with me this year. That’s how I travel.

  2. This will be my third GRL. I’m a reader. I see the feeding frenzy and stay above the fray. I love seeing the author list though, to see if my favorites are going to attend because regardless of the ISSUES with the location, the convenience, the walking, the expensive gift shops, etc., it’s the one thing I really look forward to every year. Because of you guys. I love the chance to meet and talk and sometimes even to be friends with some amazing, accepting, inclusive people. Authors. Reviewers. Readers. It’s a celebration of our love for reading this genre. I absolutely could not care less if an author comes as a featured author, supporting author or reader. I just want to see your face. Oh, and put a butterfly on your badge again this year because your special. Whether you come as an author or reader, come. You’re important to a lot of people. You matter to us.

    • Lynn, it’s such a fun party and some of the reason why is exactly what you did to me last year. You popped up in front of me and said, “Hi. I love you.” And you were so kind, so heartfelt, and I immediately felt all your big love. That’s why it’s worth the heartache of sign-up, for the potential to meet you and people like you.

  3. Edmond, last year I missed out too. I went on the waiting list too. I got in, which was how you and I ended up doing a reading together! There’s always hope if you wanna wait it out, hun x

  4. Edmond, you are a wonderful human being and a great role model for the new folks in this community. I am sad for you but love that you are helping support another. You Rock!!!!

    • I think ‘wonderful human being’ might be stretching it…but I won’t dismiss the awesome sentiment and big love you’re sending my way, because, wow, why would I? YOU rock, lady. It’s you!

  5. If I needed proof that you are an exceptional human being, I would have found it above. I didn’t need it. The man who wrote the Lost and Founds books couldn’t be anyone less than the man who gave up his Supporting Author spot because he felt it wouldn’t be fair on a starting author.

    You are a shining example in a remarkable and very welcoming community and I’m both proud and humbled to consider you my friend.

    • You’re very kind, Helena. It’s great fun being friends with you, too. Though I think I might be getting too much credit – I’m returning something that was never mine to take in the first place. I don’t want to be overly praised for that…but your well-wishes make me happy. I am happy to be thought so well of by a lovely person!

  6. I have self selected not to attend GRL this year and most likely for the next 3 years. Not because it’s GRL, but I have a limited amount of time to spend with my family and they come first. GRL is nice, but it’s not where I want to be at this time. One day I may try to attend again, but there are so many authors who want to attend. I have other options and am focusing on other projects. Like I said, maybe in 3 to 4 years I’ll be at GRL again, maybe not. If you go, enjoy, and yes, the drama and competition need to stop. Why? Our reading audience is a pittance compared to the general reading audience. The competition amongst ourselves is wasted energy when we could use it to build our audience. Why can’t people enjoy books about gay men? They read about vampires, ghosts, witches, why not gay men. Segregating ourselves, apologizing for having gay characters, and other wise hiding from the general audience needs to stop. Many readers don’t know we even exist because we’re too afraid to step out and go to mainstream conferences. Yes, I’ve been told I can’t sign at local events because what I write is considered offensive, but it doesn’t stop me from pushing because eventually we’ll be on an even playing field with het books.

    • Sara, I am soooooooooo with you. I see some of the stuff in our field BETTER WRITTEN than crap out there and think about the shrinking pool of readers in the world. How come there are never any Booker awards or finalists for folks who aren’t New York publisher copy cats? Pretty soon the greater pool of readers will say, “Hey, we wanna read something GOOD regardless of whether it’s straight or not…” and then what a party we will have!

    • I’m completely and utterly blushing. I don’t think this praise is entirely warranted. I feel like a shop lifter who has returned something that didn’t belong to him. I’m not sure the shop lifter should get this much praise! LOL.

  7. Wonderfully said. I love this community and how supportive everyone is and I hate that GRL registration turns into a feeding frenzy but there aren’t any perfect solutions and the organizers work hard to put on a great conference. I also didn’t get a spot this year. If I don’t get off the waitlist, I’ll be going in a general registration spot. I wouldn’t want to miss seeing friends and being part of the energy of GRL. Have you considered that option?

    • Thank you, Silvia! I will consider that option. The registration process is messy, but I hate to say it…necessary. We can’t go to a conference with 4,000 people and still have that family quality! It’s tough.

  8. I’m on the noob waiting list and think you deserve my place more than I do. I’ve written one novella that’s published, and will have authored two published by October. Even though that puts me squarely in the supporting category, when push comes to shove, I’m not sure I’ll have the courage to show up and mingle. So I’d rather leave it to you who clearly loves the conference and has the courage to get out there and get deserved hugs. Don’t be shy about taking my place! (Although it’s really not my place, is it? lol) Have fun and renew your batteries by being loved. Next year will be my year to be more aggressive. Hugs, Pat

    • Pat the secret to being more aggressive for registration is this: CLICK HARDER! CLICK HARDER! REFRESH! CLICK HARDER! REFRESH! Ahem…that concludes the lesson. I think you should show up this year and start exercising that muscle of getting courageous! Most people I know attending GRL are hardcore introverts who find the conference intoxicating, overwhelming, and vivacious. Go and make yourself known! And congrats on the big publishing in October!

    • phenshaw, you’re exactly the reason Edmond gave up his supporting spot. I hope you get a spot and decide to go! As much as it would suck donkey honkey to not have Edmond there (not gona happen, nope lol), it’s just as awesome for someone new to have the experience. You deserve the fun and support, too. 😀

  9. Jesus. I’m sitting here bawling. Thanks. Thanks a lot. ;o)

    I’m going to say what everyone’s thinking. There needs to be some sort of rule where you don’t even need to apply because… well, just because we all love you that much. Because even though I’ve never been, even *I* know it wouldn’t be GRL without Edmond. But that becomes a problem then, doesn’t it, because if we do that for you, then what about X – we love her a whole bunch too. And Y – he just wrote the book that broke through to mainstream. And what about Z – Z’s had a hard year and we’d all love to do something special for Z. So, yeah, the stupid ‘best internet connection’ wins system seems to be the ‘most fair’ system, unfortunately.

    I watched this all play out of Facebook, where I love to give you crap and make people think I don’t really like you. I watched you try to get in that day. I saw your disappointment when you didn’t and I felt a little like when I watched the Cavs lose that last playoff game with LeBron…how is that even possible?? I watched you grudgingly take the Supporting Author spot and I could totally feel how uncomfortable you were about it.

    Now, as an about-to-be newbie author, my heart just breaks to see someone like you give up a spot for someone like me, knowing that EVERYONE at GRL would rather meet/greet someone like you than someone like me. But that’s why. It’s not because of your books (sorry – we adore them – but that’s not why you’re so popular). It’s because we all love YOU and want to meet YOU. We want to hug YOU because you’re this incredibly wonderful, funny, snarky, thoughtful, lovable human being that an entire community of introverts actually WANTS to be around. Just try to wrap your head around that for a second…

    I believe in karma. I believe a Cleveland team will win something someday. I believe that somehow, someway, you will get a spot at GRL. And if not, like we say in northeast Ohio, there’s always next year.

    • I’m sorry…were you using SPORTS TEAMS with me? Who is this LeBron? Hahaha…as you might guess, I greatly enjoy giving you shit as well. Jaycee, the only reason people aren’t clamoring to meet you is because they haven’t met you yet. Then, clamoring will begin. You’re pretty amazing and what an honor it would be if a Supporting Author like you got my spot. This group of GRL crazies are exactly your people. Your attending would be like the Messiah of crazy internet people attending. I mean that in the best possible way.

      And thank you, THANK YOU, for the big love. I feel it, friendie. I do.

    • omg Jaycee, are you a native of the Land of Cleves, too?? (yes, that’s the most important part of this reply lol) I sooooooooooo feel the same, I have eternal hope for some kind of championship…. some day… some how…..

      Don’t even git me started on LeBron lol :p

      • Yes – to be more precise, I’m from “The 330” as my homie LeBron would say. I live about 15 minutes from his house and see his car at St. V (his old high school) all the time when I drive to work.

        • Sometimes, I like to think of LeBron’s many contributions and how he runs in the game winning touchdown, past the penalty box, through the three point line, and into the net before the goalie can stop him. He is truly impressive with his ability to reach that net, which is why we all admire him.

  10. Edmond, this post is a perfect example of your kindness and generosity of spirit. I feel incredibly privileged to call you my friend, and I hope we get the opportunity to see one another again in October. Big hugs to you. <3

  11. Aww, Edmond. I loved meeting you in Atlanta. I was unable to attend last years and had to make a choice between events this year and I had already agreed to go to RainbowCon. I really hope you get in San Diego, it is a beautiful city and everyone who has been would LOVE to see you go!

    Tj

  12. I’ve gone to GRL the past 2 years as a general attendee rather than an author*, and I’ve had a fabulous time. I’ve been able to participate in events and even distribute swag through the generosity of others who did have author spots. I can’t go in 2015, but I’d certainly recommend that authors consider going under general registration if they don’t snag author spots.

    (*I technically don’t qualify for a featured spot, and while I could go as supporting, I feel the same way you do about it, Edmond.)

    • Thanks, Shae. I think there are many of us who do feel that way. I was talking on Facebook to Angel Martinez who had a Supporting Author spot last year and opted to give it up for the same reason. She had the same feelings about making sure someone who deserved it go it.

  13. hugssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss <<<< just practicing for October. I mean, surriusly, as if there weren't already a bazillion reasons to share those hugs, you go and add one more to the list.
    *smh* what're we gona do with you, Edmond?

    (heh)

    • Ummmmm….maybe buy me a new car? That’s something we could do with me. Or, I guess, gimmie one of those big hugggggsssssssssssssssssssssssssssss.

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