Review (Novellum): The Invisible Orientation

Ian Wood of Novellum has posted an entirely negative review of The Invisible Orientation. In part, it reads as follows:

I am completely open to the possibility that this is an orientation rather than a condition. The problem for me was that this author comprehensively failed to make her case. I started in on this book hoping to learn something about his topic and I finished it (well, finished half of it before I gave up on it!) precisely as uninformed at the end as I had been at the beginning – or perhaps more accurately, no more informed than I was before I read it, and worse, no more convinced.

One problem with it was that is was one of the driest tomes I have ever laid eyes on. It was like reading a scientific paper, but without any science in it, leaving only stilted semi-scientific language, but with no vigorously beating heart of solid science underlying it. There were quotations, and references, and definitions galore, but nothing from scientific research. Almost worse than that for a book of this nature, it had absolutely no personal accounts whatsoever, not even that of the author! Not in the portion I read anyway. I think I would have learned a lot more, and empathized a lot more if I could have heard from people who experience this phenomenon/condition/orientation, and been able to read their input.

Though I don’t think it’s dignified or professional to argue with reviews, I do think it’s irresponsible for folks like this to claim “the book has absolutely no [x] whatsoever” while admitting to having read only parts of it. Especially since the book opens with personal content; the introduction is the only explicitly autobiographical section, though. I didn’t want the book to seem like a personal account; there are plenty of those on the Internet on asexuality blogs, so I only included a little bit of autobiographical info for context. The aforementioned “quotations” are also all other people’s personal content through box-quote anecdotes, which many other readers said they found really relatable and humanizing.

This fellow also mocked some data tables’ failure to total 100% of people surveyed, so it looks like he didn’t quite grasp what they were measuring. The tables were labeled to indicate that survey participants were allowed to pick more than one answer, which of course means numbers aren’t being represented as mutually exclusive parts of the whole. He asserts that this is confusing and contradictory, but I haven’t run across any other reviewers who were confused and said so. Hopefully that wasn’t the impression other readers got.

For the record, I don’t mind negative reviews at all. If someone doesn’t like a book or finds it too boring to read all of, that just means I didn’t satisfy that person’s taste; I know not everyone will find my tone engaging. And I know some people will complain that it’s not what they wanted (for example, some people’s reviews have said they wanted more personal content, while others said they wanted it to be more academic). But I do find it disappointing when someone misrepresents my book as failing to contain information it does contain, suggests that its numbers not adding up makes its message laughable or questionable, or throws out various “zinger” questions that they present as unanswered/unanswerable (“If a person is asexual, why are they identifying with any sexually-oriented group? The author doesn’t tackle this”), even though they are explicitly addressed (perhaps in the parts that the reviewer readily admits to not reading).

Folks who wonder if this reviewer is right about my total lack of scientific support are welcome to read any of the slightly more than two dozen scientific and academic papers I quoted (with footnotes) and listed in the bibliography. It is admittedly not a “scientific” or “academic” book; those exist already, while a layperson’s guide did not.

For anyone who mistook my book as universally beloved, you should know that this fellow and a small but not insignificant group of one-star reviewers do exist. 🙂

Please read the full review on Novellum.

Speaking at the 2015 North American Asexuality Conference

I attended the 2015 North American Asexuality Conference in Toronto this year and gave a workshop called “Handling Detractors.”

detractorsMy workshop was very low-key; I just passed out index cards, got people to write down a comment that had been said to them about their asexual-spectrum or aromantic-spectrum identity, and collected them in an envelope, then pulled them out one by one to talk about them with the attendees. I had a pretty big audience and everyone was very responsive; I was only talking maybe half the time. I enjoyed hearing everyone’s perspectives and trying to give some advice on how to handle these comments. It went very well.

Besides my workshop, I had a table for my book.

booksignI collected names to give away two hardcovers and two audio copies of the book. Quite a few people already owned the book and had brought it with them, and they got me to sign it. It was pretty amazing.

Besides those two things, I went to several other workshops: Explaining Asexuality to Non-Aces, Ace-Friendly LGBTQ Organizations, Asexuality and Social Media, and Asexuality and Feminism. Plus I got to make some new friends, hang out at restaurants, collect some great items from other aces, and have some wonderful conversations. Asexual Outreach did a great thing here and I hope they continue to get the message out there.

2015 North American Asexuality Conference

I’m in Toronto! Here I am for the second year of hosting a session at the North American Asexuality Conference.

conferenceAsexual Outreach is hosting this conference and so far everything’s been pretty great–I made it to Canada with a minimum of frustration and confusion and tomorrow I’ll be doing a nice workshop on handling detractors. I think I’m not going to be recording it because of the nature of the material we’ll be covering–just a low-key discussion about what kinds of objections we all face and what we should say in response.

And I even got a cheap place to stay by renting one of the empty dorms at the college! Here I am celebrating that I didn’t get lost going out for food.

100_6504I’d also like to do a raffle to win a copy of my book but we’ll see what happens.

Video: Critique of Romance Tropes

Here’s something a little different from my usual: I’m offering a video about romance tropes in fiction and how they can sometimes send damaging messages to people about what real-life romance is and what place it should occupy in our lives. Informed primarily from an aromantic perspective–meaning that I’m a person who rarely sees herself in fictional narratives and is affected more negatively by certain messages about romance the way it is currently handled in fiction.

The big takeaway from this video is that we need more important friendships in our fiction! And fewer assumptions about the inevitability of romance and the heteronormative assumption!

 

Next Generation Indie Book Award Winner

Well, it looks like I’ve won a fourth award. The book is really cleaning up!

I’m the category winner in the LGBT Category of the Next Generation Indie Book Awards. You can see the announcement on their page.

indiestickerMy category:

LGBT (LESBIAN/GAY/BISEXUAL/TRANSGENDER)

WINNER ($100 PRIZE):

  • The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality, by Julie Sondra Decker

FINALISTS:

  • A Boy Like Me, by Jennie Wood
  • A Song For Lost Angels: How Daddy and Papa Fought to Save Their Family, by Kevin Fisher-Paulson
  • Days of Love, by Elisa Rolle
  • Secrets in Small Towns, by Iza Moreau
  • The Guestbook at Asilomar, by RJ Stastny

I’ll be at the awards ceremony in New York. Hooray!

IPPY Award Silver Medal Winner

It’s official: The Invisible Orientation has won the Silver Medal in the 2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards, in the National category of Sexuality/Relationships.

  • GOLD: Loves Me…Not: How to Survive (and Thrive!) in the Face of Unrequited Love, by Samara O’Shea (February Books)
  • SILVER: The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality, by Julie Sondra Decker (Carrel Books)
  • BRONZE: The Mystery of the Undercover Clitoris: Orgasmic Fingertip Touching Every Woman Craves, by Dr. Sadie Allison (Tickle Kitty Press)

This makes my third book award! Very exciting. I am planning to be in New York for the awards ceremony, though it might be difficult because it’s happening on the day I’m flying into New York for the trip I already planned (for attendance at the Lammys). Wow!