A lot of people commented on the blog post by our chair, Simon Savidge, that he wrote for The Bookseller the other day called ‘Proud To Publish’. There were an interesting set of responses to the post and indeed to The Green Carnation Prize itself. One of the comments was that people didn’t believe the publishing world and sexuality had any issue with each other, well not true. Here is the actual email conversation between our lovely Green Carnation team and the publisher, the name of the author and publisher have been removed for legal reasons.
Green Carnation Team: **** mentioned The Green Carnation Prize and ****** possibly submitting some books, do you have any LGBT authors books out this year in hardback or paperback?
GCT: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender.
P: Ok. Is it specifically with regards to the content of the books or does it include the preferences of the authors too?
GCT: It’s specifically a prize for LGBT authors.
P: Well ***** ******** is a Lesbian, but to be honest, I don’t think she’d like to get an award for being one.
GCP: It’s not about the sexuality per say, what it’s about is celebrating gay writing. People would say we don’t need a book prize just for women, but I think The Orange Prize has proven that’s really not the case.
P: Yes, but there is nothing particularly indicative of her sexual orientation in the actual book. That is what I meant when I asked you whether the award was about the content of the books as opposed to the orientation of the author. In terms of content, I don’t recall any books dealing with LGBT issues – so that rules the books out and I honestly do not think that ***** wants to be singled out for her sexual orientation, so I think I’ll pass on this one.
There is so much that’s not right, and this was with a Head of Publicity, with the conversation starting with ‘LGBT?’ Apart from the fact it’s rather blunt and rude, there is the fact that in this day and age, someone who is promoting books to all markets doesn’t know what LGBT stands for. It also shows that publishers aren’t getting the point of celebrating their LGBT authors, something which in terms of marketing is a unique selling point.
There is also the fact that the publisher didn’t even ask the author whether they wanted to be put forward for the award, the publisher had already decided.
That says quite a lot. We wonder how often and with how many publishers this is happening and what we can do about it… Any thoughts or suggestions?