About this time two years ago, I contacted Charles Flowers, then the executive director of the Lambda Literary Foundation, and offered to put together a monthly column of LGBTQ writing and publishing news for the foundation’s website. My idea was to create an online bulletin board for the LGBT writing and publishing community, a place where we could track what others were doing, promote our work, and avail ourselves of the many resources out there that publish, support, and honor LGBT writing.
For those of you who don’t know about the LLF, it’s the largest nonprofit that specifically supports LGBTQ writers and publishers, among many other fine organizations that work in this area. The LLF is responsible for the annual Lambda Literary Awards, offers retreats and workshops, author readings, reviews LGBTQ books, posts interviews with LGBTQ authors, and is a general resource for LGBTQ writers, editors, publicists, and publishers. If you haven’t already, you might check out its revamped and widely expanded site at http://www.lambdaliterary.org/.
The column I suggested, Book Buzz, went online two years ago this January 1. The guidelines were pretty simple: We need brief items of only a few lines of LGBTQ writing and publishing news such as awards, rave reviews, new video trailers, writing or teaching fellowships, film deals, notable reissues, plays to be produced, national writing festivals or conferences, print or online interviews with authors, literary magazine news, and so on. Book Buzz does not run book release announcements or local author events, such as readings, but almost anything else goes. Complete information is needed each time an item is submitted: the author’s full name, book title, publisher, when published, the angle of the item in a line or two (such as an award), the LGBT connection (is the author out, is the protagonist gay, etc.), and web links (not embedded) to as many elements in the item as possible (author’s site, publisher, group, publication, review, etc., as appropriate). Basically, one hundred words or so should do it.
We started with about fifteen items and are now running more than forty each month. That’s wonderful – but also presents a problem. Many contributors aren’t adhering to the guidelines and some don’t even bother to read the column before submitting. I get many items that ramble on, paragraph after paragraph, yet still lack essential information, have embedded links that don’t transfer to my copy, are months old, and so on. Some authors assume I’ll remember them or their book from previous columns and don’t bother to include their last name or book title. Shaping up these items has become so time-consuming that in the coming year I’ll have to reject them and hope the contributor will take the time to revise and resubmit according to the guidelines. I don’t expect items to be perfect – my job is to edit, after all – but they need to be close to the guidelines.
Ultimately, I hope that Book Buzz includes many more of you, giving you a chance to reach more readers and fellow writers. But as more items come in, we’ll need to work together to streamline the process each month. You can help by studying the column to see what works and follow the guidelines I’ve outlined above. Here’s the Book Buzz link: http://www.lambdaliterary.org/features/news/12/02/book-buzz-24/.
Meanwhile, thanks to all the Book Buzzers who have been sending in items and making the column what it is (Bold Strokes Books has been terrific in that regard), and may everyone have health, peace, and good writing and reading in the coming year.
John Morgan Wilson is a veteran journalist and fiction writer, perhaps best known for his Benjamin Justice series, which has won three Lambda Literary Awards for best gay men’s mystery and an Edgar Allan Poe Award (AKA “the Edgar”) from Mystery Writers of America for best first novel. Bold Stroke Books has reissued John’s early novels, including Simple Justice, his 1997 Edgar winner. John’s short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Blithe House Quarterly, and various anthologies.