Saturday, July 04, 2015

Quality Latino spec fiction should overwhelm the ILBA

2015 already seems to be the breakout year for Latino speculative literature crashing the white ceiling of the establishment press. I just received news from Victor Milán about his the launch party for his sci-fi novel, The Dinosaur Lords, published by Tor Books, a major publisher.

Official Worldwide Launch Party for The Dinosaur Lords
Sun Jul 12 at Jean Cocteau Cinema
Monday, Aug. 3 @ 7:00pm
Jean Cocteau Cinema, Santa Fe, NM

Three days ago in Brooklyn, Daniel José Older hosted the book-release party for his YA urban fantasy, The Shadowshaper, which was picked up by Scholastic Press, a major kids/YA publishing house.

And last month, Latino, Will Alexander came out with Nomad, the sequel to the kid's sci-fi novel, Ambassador, both published by Simon and Schuster, one of the biggest publishing houses.

Also last month, there's Gabino Iglesias' fantasy-horror, Hungry Darkness, from Severed Press, voted Horror Publisher of The Year 2014.
[A note from Gabino Iglesias about his book: "Any idea who would review something in Spanglish that's not coming from Junot?" If you have suggestions, contact him.]

The plethora--the word fits the dynamic--of Latino speculative books, stories and related art being published and recognized [John Picacio just won the Locus Award for Best Artist, 2015], overwhelmed me a couple of months ago. In many, many cases, these and other Latino authors are out there in front of USican readers:
David Bowles, in Strange Horizons; and Carmen Machado in Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, a prestigious literary publication. There's probably others I fail to mention. Pardón.  

In 2014 my debut novel The Closet of Discarded Dreams received honorable mention in the fantasy/sci-fi category with the International Latino Book Awards (ILBA). So far, it's the highlight of my book's life, and one I obviously relish.

That year, Map of the Sky from publisher Atria Books took first place. I haven't read it and can't speak to its literary worth compared to mine, but Atria was/is an established publishing house. The other nominees were from smaller ones or were self-published.

This year, of the International Latino Book Award nominations for Best Fantasy/Sci-Fi Novel, none were published by major publishers, or even, mid-sized. Qué pasa? Was last year the prequel to Latinos breaking into the big publishers? [If it matters, I don't know if all the authors are Latino.]

The 2016 ILBA qualifying books will have to have carry a publication date of either 2014, 2015 or 2016 and be published prior to the awards deadline of Jan. 29, 2016. That seems strange, to me, but it offers the possibility of Latino authors who published in that time period to still win this award.

Then there's the entry fee: "By October 1, 2015, the fee is $65 per entry. If entered after October 1, 2015, the fee is $90 per entry." Plus you must submit 5 copies of your book.

I may never again be a finalist for the ILBA for saying this feels like a brown, publishing ceiling Latino authors have to face. It's not chingos of money. And 5 copies might only cost $75, for instance.

But for those Latino authors who are not in a financially privileged position, those costs might preclude their entering, their literary abilities being recognized, and diversity in USican books being promoted.

The plethora of vibrant, Latino literature blossoming in this country's speculative field should not be dammed up by commercial limitations. And what I say about this category likely applies to other genres. I wish someone could clarify why the ILBA moves in this direction.

Es todo, hoy,
RudyG, former honorable mention with the ILBA, and maybe never again, as Chicano speculative fiction author Rudy Ch. Garcia

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