How I Recommend Getting Access to Ace Fiction

In the past half-year or so, I ended up reading and reviewing a lot of ace fiction. Obviously, I had to gain access to it, and unsurprising, I now have Thoughts About How to Access Ace Fiction.

Generally, I recommend two methods of gaining access to ace fiction:

1) Borrowing ace fiction from libraries
2) Buying ace fiction

A method which I strongly discourage is piracy. It denies writers and publishers the income they have earned (libraries at least make some payment towards writers/publishers). First of all, it’s unfair. Second of all, writers/publishers not getting paid = less incentive to write/publish ace fiction.

A method which I neither encourage nor discourage is seeking review copies. Some writers and/or publishers are willing to formally or informally offer free copies in exchange for reviews. Since I have never tried to use this method, I cannot offer much advice.

Anyway, to my recommended methods…

Borrowing Ace Fiction from the Library

I have always lived in a place which has some kind of public library, and where I could get a library card. Thus, I do not have personal experience of living in a place without a public library, and cannot say anything useful to people in that situation.

If you are lucky, your local library already has a decent selection of ace fiction and all you have to do is borrow it like you would any other book.

However, at least in the year 2017, the odds are that you local library does not have a decent selection of ace fiction. This requires more effort on your part – specifically, requesting that your library adds more ace fiction to their shelves.

My local library’s website has a page called ‘Suggest a Title’ where I can ask them to add new titles. I fill out information such as title, author, publisher, and year of publication. They also give a little box where I can offer additional information. I always put the ISBN in this box to make it easier for the librarians to find the book, and they I put in a short blurb about why the library ought to add this book to their shelves. My blurbs typically are something like this:

I am asexual, and when I was growing up, I did not read any novels with characters who were explicitly asexual like I am. I want people like me to be able to read novels with characters like us, and right now, the library does not have a great selection of books with asexual characters. This book has an asexual character, and furthermore, it’s well-written, and that’s why it belongs on the library’s shelves.

(Feel free to copy and paste that as a template, though I recommend customizing the message for each request)

My success with getting my local library to get new ace fiction is about 50% – which means that my local library has substantially improved its selection of ace fiction since I started these requests (because the selection was not good to start with).

I cannot speak from all libraries, but my local library is willing to buy books from small publishers, and I once even got the library to buy a self-published book (it wasn’t ace fiction, but it still proved that the library is willing to add self-published books to the collection).

Of course, whether a library will acquire ace fiction partially depends on local factors. For example, an underfunded library is less likely to acquire new books. Likewise, a library which, say, primarily stocks books in Chinese may be reluctant to acquire books in English or other European languages (and most of the ace fiction I know about is only available in English and/or other European languages).

Even if you decide to buy a book rather than borrow it from the library, I recommend suggesting titles to you local library anyway to help other readers access ace fiction.

Now for my other recommended method…

Buying Ace Fiction

If you are in a financial secure position, I highly recommend buying your ace fiction. It supports the writers and publishers most directly. Plus, you never have to return your copy to the library. Or, more importantly, you can get access even if it’s not available at your local library.

Most of the ace fiction I’ve read in the past year I’ve bought myself. I admit that, when it was available at the library, I generally chose to borrow it, but I still feel I’ve done my part to financially support ace fiction, and borrowing from the library helps me stretch my money for buying more ace fiction. I also think that, even if one is financially secure, but new to ace fiction and uncertain, that it’s fine to choose the library over direct purchase if that makes it easier to give ace fiction a chance.

But how to go about buying ace fiction?

First of all, for various reasons, I refuse to buy anything from Amazon unless it is something I really want and find extremely difficult to buy elsewhere. Ace fiction does not fall in this category, because I have ways of getting ace fiction without Amazon. Also, I ONLY buy eBooks which are available without DRM. There are a couple of ace fiction titles which I was interested in but are sold exclusively sold through Amazon and with DRM, therefore I did not buy them. I even contacted one of the writers, and she promised that she would soon make it available for purchase through a store other than Amazon, and over a year later it’s … still only available through Amazon with DRM. Therefore, I have neither bought nor read it.

Right now, I’m not going to persuade you to avoid Amazon in generally, but I am going to make the case that it is bad to buy ace fiction from Amazon unless it’s the only store selling it. Why? To quote the Riptide Publishing FAQ

Both our authors and ourselves get to keep a much larger share of the purchase price when you buy directly from us (or any other publisher site), which makes it easier for your favorite authors to spend more time writing new books. Third-party vendors such as Amazon may keep as much as sixty-five percent of your sale price, leaving as little as thirty-five cents on the dollar for the publisher and author to share.

That’s right, Amazon sometimes take a 65% cut of the sales price, leaving only 35% for both the writer and the publisher to split. So why to publishers still sell through Amazon? Because so many buyers will only buy through Amazon, thus they will lose out on sales if they refuse to work with Amazon. And it is precisely because Amazon has such market power that they are able to abuse small publishers this way (yes, I think Amazon taking a 65% cut of the sales price is abusive). I think there are other reasons to avoid Amazon, but I think this reason alone is pretty compelling.

As far as I know, other book retailers do not take such huge cuts, but they still take some kind of cut. I know that with small publishers in general, writers get paid the highest royalties for sales done directly through the publisher, and that publishers make more money per book from direct sales than from sales through third parties. Therefore, PLEASE buy direct from small publishers so that money goes towards the writers, editors, etc. rather than to Amazon.

To further sweeten the pot, small publishers frequently run sales to encourage readers to buy direct rather than buy through Amazon. Sometimes the discounts are as much as 40% (and more rarely, even more than 40%). Even with these discounts, the writer/publisher still makes more money than if you bought through Amazon. You save money, they make more money than if the sale had gone through Amazon, it’s a win/win. If you want to save money, it may be worthwhile to wait a while for a sale to occur (Cyber Monday tends to be a great time to get discounts, but there are often sales at other times of the year, such as holidays).

Self-published books are a little different since they rarely have a dedicated website for direct sales. When possible, I buy self-published fiction directly through Smashwords since they tend to give writers a better cut than other sellers. If it’s not available through Smashwords, I buy through the Kobo Store (which I find irritating, but given a choice between Kobo and Amazon, I will always choose Kobo). And if it’s only available through Kobo with DRM (which has happened to me once), then I refuse to buy (though I was eventually able to borrow a print copy of that book from the library, so I read it anyway).

But what if it’s legally available for free?

Well then, that makes things simpler (and much cheaper), and I don’t think you need much advice. Generally, fanfic and webcomics are free, and occasionally, prose ace fiction is also legally available for free.

Resources for Finding Ace Fiction

You could look at my book reviews, but maybe you don’t like my reviews or want to learn about ace fiction I haven’t reviewed.

A great resource is the Ace Reads tagpacker, as well as the Ace Reads tumblr with its reviews (obviously, I sometimes disagree with Agent Aletha, but I have great respect for her as a reviewer, and when we have reviewed the same work I recommend reading both of our reviews, especially if we disagree).

I also greatly appreciate the the ace fiction reviews at Just Love (though I do not always agree).

There are also the Aro and Asexual SF fiction database, these lightning reviews of ace webcomics, the Demisexuality in Fiction database, and this database of ace fanfic.

Two publishers, Less than Three Press and Riptide Publishing, also have good filters for asexual fiction: The Less than Three Press Asexual Filter and the Riptide Publishing Asexual Spectrum filter.

May you all find ace fiction that you like!

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18 thoughts on “How I Recommend Getting Access to Ace Fiction

  1. Currently my greatest ace fiction desire is to find ace characters who are also trans/nonbinary. As of now I know of exactly one character who fits that description, and although I get excited when a new book goes up on Riptide or Less Than Three Press that has both those tags, thus far it has always turned out to be “Character A is ace and Character B is trans.” Still holding out hope for my…I guess extremely niche representation? I’ve tried the tagpacker a few times, but I’ll have to take a look at those other review blogs.

    • I presume the character you are referring to is Blake, from Assassins: Nemesis? Because that’s the only ace+nb I know about.

      And you definitely have a point about how Riptide/LT3 have a ton of stories (and there’s also Every Heart a Doorway) with an ace character AND a trans/nb character, but I only know of that one example of a character who is both.

      For what it’s worth, I did submit a short story to LT3’s most recent anthology which has a character who is both ace and genderfluid (though they are not trans since their assigned gender at birth matches their gender identity at birth, and they are binary-gendered in the sense that they shift between binary genders).

      • Oh, I was actually referring to a binary trans character from Mr. March Names the Stars (from LT3)–I hadn’t quite parse the description of Assassins: Nemesis to figure out who held what identities. I’ll have to check that one out! I’m interested in both binary trans and nonbinary characters who are also ace, especially if they are actually human. I’ve found one or two instances of alien characters in short stories and webcomics who are both gender neutral/nonbinary and asexual, but to me that kind of representation just rings hollow. Is the anthology you’re referring to out yet?

      • I have a copy of “Mr. March Names the Stars” but I have not read it yet. I haven’t read Assassins: Nemesis, but I know that Blake is intersex, genderfluid, and greysexual (Blake also makes a brief appearance in Assassins: Discord, which I have read, but Blake’s gender and orientation are not mentioned in that book).

        I still do not know whether or not the story has been accepted to the anthology or not, so maybe my story won’t be there. Alas, the genderfluid character in my story is a fox spirit rather than a human, so maybe it would read hollow to you too.

      • I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you! That sounds like I might like it better than alien representation, since the main problem I have with the latter is the tendency to make both gender and orientation attributable to biology.

      • I found out yesterday that they did not accept the story. Oh well.

        However, thanks to your prompt, I finally got around to reading “Mr. March Names the Stars” and enjoyed it. I think it’s one of the better ace stories from LT3.

      • Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. 😦 Glad you enjoyed the book, though! I checked their site again yesterday and it looks like they have several more ace titles due to be released in the next few months, so there’s more to look forward to, as well.

    • I can name at least 10 trans/NB aces in fiction! I can give you a list; do you like only books, or do you like shorter stories/webcomics too?

      • longer fiction:
        Chameleon Moon & The Lifeline Signal by RoAnna Sylver: NB aces
        Iwunen Interstellar Investigations by Bogi Takács: two NB demiace

        short fiction:
        And If the Body Were Not the Soul by A.C. Wise: NB ace
        How to Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps by A. Merc Rustad: NB aroace
        (I have a story with a genderless aroace but I don’t think it really fits? “Kin, Painted” for completion sake anyway)

        webcomics:
        Nwain by Terrana Cliff: NB greyro demiace
        Rock and Riot by Chelsey Furedi: ace trans woman, three NB acespecs (also has several cis aces)
        Dumbing of Age by David Willis: ace trans woman (this is for completion sake; I don’t think her asexuality’s come up in the comic yet, and she’s a satellite character in an ensemble cast)

        It’s an interesting thing for me because in the past I tended to pair an aroace character with a NB character, like there was some kind of mental block preventing me from thinking too deeply about an aroace who was NB… and then I worked out I was agender and suddenly it was like oh, ohhhh, OH MY GOD FUCKING DUH in my brain and now the majority of my WIP aros and aces are NB lol.

      • Thanks for the list.

        I’ve read Chameleon Moon (2nd edition) but not The Lifeline Signal. Is it ever revealed on-page that those NB characters are ace, or is it revealed that Regan is NB? I don’t know what embodiedinlanguage thinks about this, but these days I only count a characters as ace if there are at least strong hints in the story itself that the character is ace. Thus, for me, Regan is the only character in Chameleon Moon who counts as ace.

      • I am not able to read novels, I do not know what is on any of the pages.

        I find that stance pretty discomforting, though. It might not be *representation*, but they still *count*. My ID isn’t stripped away just because I’m not out and loud in certain areas of my life; I don’t think a character’s should be stripped away because Allo Until Proven Otherwise. :/

      • By ‘count’ I mean ‘counts towards what I am looking for in ace fiction’ not any other sense (for that matter, if a character is not proven to be allo, I won’t necessarily assume they are allo either, their orientation is simply unknown to me). I’m not saying they aren’t ace, merely that it’s not what I look for.

  2. Many libraries hereabouts ( that is, in Germany) also have e-books by now, as have some in the US, so asking the library to buy those might also be worthwhile.

  3. Reblogged this on Der Torheit Herberge and commented:
    Wie komme ich an Fiktion mit a_sexuellen Figuren? Sara K. hat ein paar Antworten auf Englisch – inklusive warum mensch Amazon umgehen sollte. Ein Vorschlag für ein Anschreiben an Büchereien ist auch dabei.
    Und Eigenwerbung: Mein neuestes Erzeugnis (genannt Albenzauber) kann ebenfalls für die Onleihe der deutschen öffentlichen Bibliotheken erworben werden.

  4. Pingback: Linkspam: May 19th, 2017 | The Asexual Agenda

  5. Pingback: Ace Tropes: Cis-ace & Trans-allo Duo | The Asexual Agenda

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