Are book publishing experts wrong?
This blog was originally published online here: https://booksauthorsandpublishing411.com/2018/08/24/half-the-child-a-demographic-of-one-by-william-j-mcgee/
My new novel HALF THE CHILD is all about love and devotion and family and relationships. But you are going to hate it.
I have been told—repeatedly, vociferously, unequivocally—that men neither buy nor read books. As for women, they neither buy nor read books that feature a male narrator, even one like mine who is a loving, caring father making extreme sacrifices for the child he adores. And young adults, well, they have their own marketing silo. So when you take away men, women, and young adults, you’ve sort of knocked the hell out of a potential audience for an adult literary novel.
HALF THE CHILD is a tale of custody and abduction, and details a young father’s desperate fight to prevent soulless courts from driving him out of his beloved son’s life, while he also struggles to keep his high-stress job as an air traffic controller at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. You may like it. You may not. But those who are expressing admiration for the book so far represent every possible demographic.
At one point in the novel our narrator Michael is accused—falsely, it should be stressed—of having a temper issue and is forced to attend an anger management session with truly angry men, where it is woefully and comically apparent he doesn’t belong. And he sums it up thusly: “One more venue in which I don’t quite fit. I’ve never felt so alone. It’s as though I’m a demographic of one.”
I feel strongly that we need more diversity in book publishing, so we can hear more voices, representing more points of view, telling stories that haven’t been told. New voices are now being heard, in print and elsewhere, and I loudly celebrate it. And just as television, radio, and film are being remade by new channels and new independent artists, so too is this necessary in book publishing. None of us can be categorized in the way some literary agents and book editors think we can be.
So please don’t tell me what books I am likely to read, and please don’t tell me who exactly will or will not read my book. I’m not the summation of what I buy, where I travel, or how I vote. As Walt Whitman asserted:
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
I suspect you contradict yourself too. In fact, each of us is our own demographic of one. And like Whitman, each of us sings a Song of Myself. Let our voices be heard.