Managing a Controversial Page

Guest post by Patricia Budd

When I first opened my Facebook page Hadrian’s Lover, it was designed to help me promote my third, and soon to be released, novel of the same name. When I submitted the manuscript to the self-publishing company I had produced my first two novels through, I was surprised when they rejected this manuscript. I found this very odd for two reasons:

  1. I pay them to help with the publication process (I did not ask them to be my publisher).
  2. With every novel I have publish through their company I invest a minimum of ten thousand American dollars.

Even still, the content of my book was clearly too controversial for this particular vanity press.

               At first I doubted the quality of my written word but I quickly reminded myself of the four professional endorsements I had acquired and the kind words my first professional editor had to say. And then there were the praises that came from employees of the company that rejected the manuscript. Two individuals that had read parts of the book said it was of the highest quality and encouraged me to find another means of getting Hadrian’s Lover published. Finally, I pointed out to myself that the editing team had stopped reading on page 48 leaving over two hundred pages of the manuscript unread.

               So, why then, did my long-standing self-publishing company reject Hadrian’s Lover? The editorial team said it was due to sensitive sexual content with individuals under the age of 18. I do not apologize for this, nor do I feel my writing is offensive as a result of this content. Hadrian’s Lover is a book about sexual awakenings and sexual discrimination. It deals with the very real topic of how our youth suffer when their sexual experimentations do not meet society’s accepted standards. I will never ignore this issue, not when stats have shown LGBT youth are more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual counterparts.[1]

               So, knowing that it will be hard to get information about my novel out to the public I decided to be as proactive as possible and begin promoting the book through Facebook. I had no idea what I was getting into and how this page would take on a life of its own beyond promotional efforts. I did know that the page was going to serve two purposes:

  1. get the word out about my book
  2. create an online gay straight alliance

It is the second component of this page that has really taken off and caused quite a stir of excitement in me. This truly has become the main focus of the page and the main reason I go on Facebook at least three times a day now, just to make sure I have up-to-date content for my followers. People have thanked me for providing this site, I’ve offered advice on more than one occasion and I was even able to help a young Tunisian man find gay connections in his country. Thanks to Erasing 76 Crimes[2] I was able to share with him the Tunisia Gays Official Facebook page. Prior to this he had told me he was alone. He did not know any other gay men and he was afraid to look for friends being homosexuality is illegal in Tunisia. I walked away from this experience seeing my page in a whole new light. What Hadrian’s Lover has to offer as a gay straight alliance is far more critical than that of a promotional vehicle for my novel.

               Since beginning the page I have also experienced a lot of backlash from the bigoted world. This has been quite the emotional ride for me. I haven’t been through this sort of hate and abuse since I was in high school. There is so much hatred out there against the LGBT community it is both sad and frightening. Since opening Hadrian’s Lover I have been called a “faggot” a “twat” and a “perv”. I’ve been told told I should be castrated, boycotted and to stop “promoting population control through all female world”. Needless to say, it has been quite the ride.

               I learned a very important lesson from the woman who said she was going to boycott my novel and tell all the women she knew to do so as well. As volatile as her response was, I understand how I set myself up for such an explosive reaction. My original post clearly upset her. “So, I’m reading The Perks of Being a Wall Flower by Stephen Chbosky and I’ve read about a 15 yr old boy masturbating and a 15 yr old boy forcing a 15 yr old girl to give him head. It is an amazing book and vindicates the sexual imagery in my book!” I realize now that I was writing under the assumption that only my followers read my posts and that they know about the troubles I have experienced in the publishing process of my novel, and are familiar with Chbosky’s novel. As an English teacher, one who constantly reminds her students never to assume background knowledge on the part of their audience, I can’t believe I made such a fallacious error. And, yet, being human, I did. As a result I found myself mired in a debate while trying to prove that I do not countenance rape. One thing is for sure, from now on, whenever I make a post I will be very clear about what exactly I am referring to!

               Regardless of the backlash suffered, too many positive experiences have occurred on this page. I am not about to allow a few bigoted haters stop me from running Hadrian’s Lover. I am simply going to be more conscientious about my posts and not let people who get offended offend me!






Posted on June 30, 2013, in Blogging Authors, Publicity & Writing, Writing & Publishing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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