ljc (taraljc) wrote,

Thoughts on the state of YA

sarahtales has awesome thinky thoughts on the desperate need of more diverse YA fiction.

The bits that make me happiest are these reading lists compiled by tanuki_green:

YA sci-fi and fantasy books with major LGBTQ characters

YA sci-fi and fantasy with characters of colour: authors from A-L and from M-Z

Because it gives me an awesome place to start. Because I do read MASSES of YA, and since I read mainly from, erm... the local Target, as well as recs from friends, I don't always get a particularly broad spectrum of writing. And I am always looking for more awesome books to read. Always.

Speaking up about wanting more diversity in the form of more awesome ladiez, more awesome characters of colour, more LGBTQ protagonists and supporting casts, and differently-abled protagonists and support cast is AWESOME. We should always do that. We should do MORE of that. We should keep on doing that, because that's how things change.

But one of the ways we can stand up and be counted (particularly when we are invisible) and convince the publishing industry that there is a market for such things is to support the authors and books that are already out there in addition to asking for more, and better.

Too often, fans only speak up to say negative things. But by buying these books--for ourselves, for our friends and families, for our libraries--and writing to specifically thank the publishers for publishing them helps encourage them to keep on making those decisions in the future. We can be positive in our efforts to change the world for this generation and all that follows in addition to demanding diversity in our entertainment that better reflects the world. It's not an either-or. And while you can do one without the other, if you are able, why not try to do both? Especially since you might find some awesome books to read along the way?

No, 1% of the entire YA market featuring characters other than cis-gendered heterosexual protagonists is not enough. But while working to increase that percentage, we can also encourage the publishers to KEEP ON publishing them when they do publish them. Because feedback can and does help. Especially if the sales aren't, say, as massive as those of YA novels with straight white characters, and the publisher might not "take a chance" (and it pains me to even write that, but that's how most marketing departments see it and I'm not gonna gloss that over) publishing YA fiction with more diverse casts of characters the next time.

These days, a book doesn't just rise or fall on its own merits. A LOT of it depends on marketing departments, support from the publisher, support from the buyers at Target, Barnes & Noble, Scholastic, libraries, etc. If those organisations get letters saying "Yay! More please!" it can't hurt--and might help in the long run.
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