August 25th, 2009

shiny&chocolate

Womens issues

I have been totally staying away from the discussions on homebirths. Not because I don't have opinions - this is *me*! But because I'm still deeply sore and hurt over the discussion of rape that happened on my blog. There were some truly hurtful things said and I still feel bruised from the whole discussion. And not ready to get involved in more.

I did just check in on the bit over at angriest's blog which pharaoh_katt was upset about (saw her real time reactions on twitter) relating to essentially - would you rather be sexually abused or have a dead baby? Which is a highly offensive question. And I'm glad that I wasn't involved because you get sucked into these ridiculous, highly emotionally What ifs without taking a step back to question them. Like, when is that a choice? Seriously? But it certainly highlights an issue that harks back to the discussion that happened on my blog - that rape and sexual abuse are not actually considered to be serious, upsetting violations that are unforgiveable. And until we as a society seriously consider it that way, the kind of thread that flippantly throws about that language, will continue to occur.

What I do think noteworthy is mentioning that truly upsetting, repugnant and frightening experiences for people are not "passive, ideas" or "abstract intellectual debate" that is for entertainment. Please be aware that your abstract intellectual debate may be someone else's worst living nightmare that has fucked them over for life. And like, perhaps proceed with sensitivity, empathy and caution.


ETA: I should add that this post does not only refer to what happened in the above thread and is rather the result of several different discussions I have been in or read where someone has gotten shocked by the reaction of someone else in a supposed "intellectual discussion".

Willow

Female Appreciation

Just saw this tweeted by kathrynlinge

Full link here

Twenty-five years after the first queen of hip-hop was stiffed on her royalty checks, Dr. Roxanne Shante boasts an Ivy League Ph.D. - financed by a forgotten clause in her first record deal.

"This is a story that needs to be told," Shante said. "I'm an example that you can be a teenage mom, come from the projects, and be raised by a single parent, and you can still come out of it a doctor."

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Shante earned her doctorate in 2001, and launched an unconventional therapy practice focusing on urban African-Americans - a group traditionally reluctant to seek mental health help.

"People put such a taboo on therapy, they feel it means they're going crazy," she explained. "No, it doesn't. It just means you need someone else to talk to."

Shante often incorporates hip-hop music into her sessions, encouraging her clients to unleash their inner MC and shout out exactly what's on their mind.

"They can't really let loose and enjoy life," she said. "So I just let them unlock those doors."

Shante, 38, is also active in the community. She offers $5,000 college scholarships each semester to female rappers through the nonprofit Hip Hop Association.

She also dispenses advice to young women in the music business via a MySpace page.

"I call it a warning service, so their dreams don't turn into nightmares," she said.


Now that's what I call AWESOME!

Willow

On publishing, sales and me

As I was composing this post in my head, which was going to be on Twelfth Planet Press sales, I remembered where this all started. So what was going to be a simple post ended up being this convoluted one.

The ex broke up with me 6 months after we first got together in 2002. And I thought I Was Going to Die. Oh it was dramatic and horrible. And for a month I did all the horrible, embarrassing, wrong things to do in that situation. Awful. And then after that month, I got angry. I got good and angry that he could make me feel that way, and I decided screw him, I could do anything that I wanted to. Anything. And I set out to get that for myself. I set myself a month to finish writing the paper I had been working on for my thesis. I decided I wanted to move to Melbourne and I applied for a bunch of publishing jobs there. By the end of the month, I had finished the paper (it went on to be published in record time in the top US journal for my subject matter), I landed myself three interviews at one academic journal and I had the ex back interested in me cause suddenly I was interesting again (this was a pattern with us, I guess).

I ended up going to Melbourne for a month to look around and see if I wanted to move there, even though it looked like the ex and I might hook back up again. And whilst I was there, I had that set of interviews at that journal. I remember it being such a lovely day. Their offices were out in Collingwood and I went early and had a coffee in one of the funky coffee shops in their street and then wandered down to their office. It was all wood flooring and funky lime green and I was excited. I ended up meeting with the Managing Editor, the PR person and someone else (I don't think he was very informative nor spoke much when he was invited in).

But the other two meetings I guess were a turning point for me, at least subconsciously. The Managing Editor told me straight up that I didn't have the qualifications for the job but I made an impression on them because I was the only applicant who addressed each of the selection criteria. That sucked. Then she went on to talk about being an editor and what it was like and that being a scientific journal editor was not very glamorous at all cause you spent all your time checking for internal consistencies of terms, and grammar and spelling and not at all at looking at all the new science that came across your desk. That was a bit disappointing but actually didn't make me want the job any less.

The PR woman took me into her office for our meeting and told me a lot of stuff about the business. A lot of which made no sense until the last year or so. But she told me that really the only way into editing was to work your way up the ranks, and that most people started as a sales rep doing door to door sales and so on.

That advice, if not where it came from, is something I've always remembered. Mostly because it didn't appeal to me - I don't actually think I'm all that good at sales. And the idea that the way into publishing was through sales was kinda terrifying to me - that maybe I would never be able to do it, since I'm not that good at sales.

This afternoon I was thinking how I've hand sold most of the sales at Twelfth Planet Press. And how there is something really cool about selling face to face or at least via email. A lot of internet sales are just the click on the paypal button and you don't interact with the buyers but a trip to the post office or the mail box is part of my day every single day. And most days I am posting TPP books off to someone who bought them. And so there's this ever present element of book sales in my life. This personalisation too of the process because the mail is addressed to someone. But some people do send emails relating to their book orders and you end up chatting a bit back and forth. And that makes the whole thing feel so much more personal. And I really like that aspect of hand selling.

You always hope there will be readers for the projects you do - otherwise, why do them? And when a book finally comes back from the printer, the books get posted out to the TPP prepurchased sales - savvy supporters of TPP who already know they want the book - and my Mum usually buys the first copy out of the box. Her best friend is usually not far behind. Nor A_ at work after that. Then usually authors' mums or other family, which is nice. Gets the sales spreadsheet rolling, and that's comforting. And then you think "right, gotta another x hundred left, will this be something people who don't know any of us want to read?"

Horn has been an interesting book to sell. Sales have come from far and wide - from all over this country and from as far away as Finland! From names I know and lots and lots of names I don't. Lots of people have said nice things about the writer. Lots of people have been utterly mysterious about where they heard about us. And some sales I can only guess at where they came from. But thinking about it, that PR manager was right, of course. The real way to understand the business *is* from the sales - you learn a lot being down in the trenches. You learn which review outlets or advertising avenues were worthwhile and which were not. You learn who are repeat buyers to your press and who are new. You learn what people want - because they tell you. And they tell you want they don't want to read. And if you listen, maybe that's in part the key. I've learned a lot either way from hand selling and I'm glad in the end that I had no choice but to do it.

But in thinking this whole thought process through I realised something else - publishing isn't actually a new idea to me - I was wanting to make that move all the way back in 2002. I came back to work on my thesis again but I took a paying job as an editor of a small uni newsletter, started writing freelance nonfiction and eventually ended up starting ASif! and then TPP. Interesting. I hadn't been remembering it that way.