This is not addressed to anyone in particular, though it is triggered by a comment or two — not necessarily negative ones, if you’re wondering, mostly just perplexing ones — that I’ve seen or heard in places, about me and mine. And me being the kind of girl who points at the giant stinking elephant in the room and says, Dear gods, what is that thing? — well, I felt the need to explain:
1. My editor did not know I was black when she bought my novel. She found out the first time we met in person — after she’d bought my book, when we had dinner in order to start getting to know each other and discuss the editing/marketing. I’m not actually sure she knew I was female until we spoke on the phone (to make plans for dinner), given that I use initials. She probably did, because my agent doesn’t try to use gender-neutral pronouns or anything, but I don’t know for certain because I never asked — I don’t care.
2. I also learned for the first time that she was a woman of color when we met for dinner. I certainly didn’t know she was (at the time*) the only editor of color in SF/Fdom — hell, I hadn’t realized there were any.
3. I do recall thinking, “Whassat, Greek?” when my agent told me my new editor’s name was Devi Pillai. That was about as much thought as I gave it, beyond WOO HOO WOO HOO WOO HOO and a bit of OMGWTFBBQ I’M GONNA BE PUBLISHED. (She’s not Greek.)
4. My agent submitted the book to something like six different editors, none of whom I’d met before. (I have met some of them since.) I don’t think any of them knew I was black. All the editors my agent submitted the book to were her choice — though we did discuss them — and I don’t know why she picked them. I don’t honestly care. I trust her judgment on stuff like this; that’s why she’s my agent.
5. I have, if you’re wondering, asked my agent not to share information about my race unless a potential publisher asks — not because I’m trying to hide it, but because I don’t want my race used to pigeonhole me (you may recall that I don’t like that). This doesn’t happen much in SFF as compared to other genres, but I just didn’t want to go there. It’s pretty much irrelevant now, but back when I was unpublished and not very public, it was helpful to me to know who asked, and who didn’t. (And also if you’re wondering, nobody’s asked thus far.)
6. Orbit did not buy my books after, or as a result of, RaceFail. Anybody who can count and read a calendar should be able to figure this out, but to make it clear — RaceFail was in early 2009. The Inheritance Trilogy sold in early 2008. Stuff in publishing takes a looooong time. If there is any publishing-related fallout from RaceFail that we can see and parse as such, it won’t start to appear until this year at the earliest, most likely next year or the year after. The changes I’ve seen thus far are more intrinsic and subtle.
Just in case anybody was wondering.
* The other that I know of is DongWon Song, also at Orbit, but he was hired after I contracted with them.