Covering the Myths

I’ve written about this many times here at Mad Genius Club, but it’s a topic that gets asked about over and over. And it’s an important topic. The book cover is the first thing your readers see, and no matter how often they might insist that they don’t judge a book by it’s cover, they are judging silently in their heads.

Your cover sends subliminal messages, even when it’s the size of a postage stamp, and little things like font choice, age of model (hat tip to Dorothy Grant for pointing this out to me recently), and contrasting areas on the cover art can make a huge difference.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had an author say… No, let me back up a little. Let’s talk about myths and mistakes.

Myth #1: The scene on the cover should be pulled straight from the pages of the book.

No, the cover should contain the distilled essence of the book in one powerful wallop. You know that cliché about a picture being worth a thousand words? yep, that one’s truth. Furthermore, if you choose one climactic, thrilling scene, you risk spoilering a whole story right there before they even start reading. I have to admit to having fallen for that one recently while working with a client. Both of us were very excited about the mental image his final scene provoked… but it would have meant the book was revealed on the cover. So that had to be set aside.

Myth #2: The cover art should be like no one has ever seen before.

Again, no. Just like most stories contain comforting tropes that allow authors to take shortcuts and pack a story into a hundred thousand words or so, avoiding explaining every last little assumption (unless it matters to the plot, you really don’t need to explain the innermost workings of your fundyminion drive and hyperquespace). Just like you can use some handwavium in the writing, you can use it on the cover, too. Genre covers change fashions like hemlines, and you’ll want to keep up with whether miniskirts are in this year, or ankle-length hoops instead. That being said, there’s a fine balance between following the herd, and finding a way to stand out (and standing out in a good way, not pink flamingo in a zebra herd, but pink zebra in the herd kind of way). If, say, you’re writing a romance the trope is heaving bosoms (male or female. Don’t ask me why male bosoms are a thing on book covers, because they are all shaved and oiled and frankly I prefer my men built like teddy bears in the chest hair department but you’ll never see that on a cover because evidently I’m weird or something). If you’re writing science fiction, it’s space ships or mechanized men in roboto suits.

Myth #3: The more detail the better! Gorgeous art you have to stare at until you’ve seen all the amazing points is the best!

No, no, no… so much nope. While this may have been true on print books (and I will admit to having picked up a few books just to stare at the art, but see above about hairy chests) it is certainly not true for the modern book marketplace, which is about 90% ebook. Ebook covers are usually viewed in thumbnail, maybe on a PC at about a tenth of the size they would be in print. On a phone? less than a postage stamp size. Now, when I’m building a cover, I format it to the size it would be on a trade paperback (6×9″, 300 dpi), but that’s file and image quality, not the size it’s going to be judged at. Ebook covers are all about contrast and one (usually one, there can be exceptions, but I’d say never more than three) focal element. Also, you need room for your title and author name, which brings me to my final myth…

Myth #4: I should be humble and make my name discreet on the cover.

Honey, this is no time to hide your light under a bushel. At BARE (bear… heh) minimum, you should be able to read your name when you’re looking at the cover shrunk down to a thumbnail. When I was first starting out fumbling my way through making covers, I took Dean Wesley Smith’s workshop on cover design, and that’s one of the major points he makes (I highly recommend that workshop if he’s teaching it, BTW). Make the author’s name bigger. Bigger than that. Put the name up in lights – you might not be a celebrity yet, but the readers don’t know that. Make it loud and proud and legible.

Mistake #1: Font Choice

I have seen so many bad fonts on covers. heck, I’ve *used* bad fonts on covers, although admittedly with Pixie Noir I was at least doing it on purpose modelling after the old pulp noir covers. Rule of thumb is to never use a font for a title that you would use in the book for the body of text. Fonts can subtly signal so much, take the time to look for one that says what you want it to say. And if you’re not a font geek, use the categories at dafont.com or 1001 Fonts to help you sort. But then, look at the title in thumbnail. Is it still readable? Is it readable quickly? Ask a friend (or two or three) to look at it. Can they read it? Ornate fonts can look terrific – if they are ten feet tall on a billboard. They shouldn’t be on a book cover. Readers are not going to sit there and puzzle it out. Now, you do have the benefit of a book description right next to the cover most times – but not always. Design the cover to be able to stand on it’s own two feet.

Mistake #2: Too much text

You do need more than just your title and author name. Not a lot more, though. The bare minimum would be (located near title) a series identifier: e.g. Book One of the Souldark Saga. Located near the author name, if you have other work, would be ‘author of Firstbook’

Where I have seen covers run off the deep end and into trouble is with subtitles, book blurbs (clue: they don’t go on the front cover on ANY book version), and pull quotes. Pull quote, singular, is about all I want to see on a cover that is well-laid out and here’s were we break the thumbnail rule: it should NOT be readable in thumbnail. What you’re looking for is the overall appearance of a modern print novel cover, and most (but not all) have pull quotes which are too small to read in thumbnail, but you can see there is text there. And if you have a print edition, it will be readable there. Really, this is a part you can skip, a lot of people do these days. I like it. I don’t use them on shorter works than a novel, though. It’s too much, and that’s not a story that will be appearing in print, unless it’s an anthology and then you do want a pull quote, probably from the foreword you talked someone into writing for you. Now that we’ve wandered far into the weeds, let’s find our way out again…

Mistake #3: Not being a Professional 

Ok, this one isn’t necessarily a mistake. It’s more a life choice when it comes to presenting your writing. If you want to be merely an amateur with your writing, go right ahead and use that painting your five year-old made for you on the cover. But if you want to create a powerful marketing tool that evokes an emotional reaction from a potential reader, draws them in to read the blurb (and then to read the whole book) then you need to have a professional looking cover. You can do it yourself, you can buy one, you can commission one – costs range from free, to a couple of hundred dollars, to thousands. No matter which path you choose, consider your return on investment, and realize that a properly packaged product sells far better than one which is presented shoddily wrapped. Consumer products brand design is wrongly predicated on the notion that shoppers make rational, informed decisions. In truth, most are purely instinctive and reactive. Eye-tracking studies show that consumers read on average only seven words in an entire shopping trip, buying instinctively by color, shape and familiarity of location. Best sellers succeed by appealing to the reptilian brain, which decides before logic has a chance.

I’d get into branding, but I think that this post is already long enough. So, I’ll check in on the comments, and I’m happy to critique those who are brave enough to present their cover concepts here and want help with them. Commentors, remember, be gentle! This may be their first time…

 

 

 

 

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Filed under CEDAR SANDERSON, cover design

Open Crazy Month

Work threw a monkey wrench into my plans for today’s post, plus my research into the benefits of forming an LLC as a writer is incomplete, which leads me to…

This has been a crazy month. How are you holding up?

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But where do you get your ideas?

Every writer gets this one: people wanting to know where those ideas come from. It’s led to snarky rejoinders about the idea of the month club (said to be operating from assorted odd locations around the world but never actually sighted in the wild), weary responses along the lines of “How do you keep them out?” and a whole lot of confusion.

For me, it’s not a direct line. I’ll have a thought related to something else, then I’ll read something else which will set off a different chain of thoughts which hook up to the first one, and so on over a period of months or years. Eventually something that works for a book emerges.

Of course this is the kind of subconscious-heavy process that makes people nervous. We don’t know what’s going on in there so how can we rely on it to deliver when we need it?

Which is why I trawl weird news sites and check out conspiracy theories every now and then.

You do need to be careful with these. They can suck you in and chew through what passes for sanity in record time. But for story fodder? Priceless.

Seriously.

How many conspiracy theories are there about alien abductions being hushed up? I grew up hearing them. They collided with a stray thought along the lines of “Wouldn’t it be awesome if an alien abduction accidentally got a bunch of trained knights instead of an average joe and the knights went on to form an interplanetary empire?” There may have been some interesting fan fiction mixed up in there as well. And maybe a little Humanity Fuck Yeah.

The con vampire books had a similarly mixed start. I’ve read vampire fiction for years and I know all the tropes, even the (ugh) sparkly ones. The stray thought that the SF con scene was perfect for vampires because there’s one damn near every weekend most of the year and as long as they can manage not to go killing dinner, nobody’s going to bad an eyelid at pale, avoids sunlight, and has bad teeth. That kind of mixed up with my sense of humor and led to Jim Hickey and his werewolf best buddy. Everything else in those books is a combination of “it seemed like fun”, “it wanted to be there”, “Make me a reformed succubus” and the like.

Hell, even Impaler started life with the combination of being fascinated by Vlad’s life and wondering what the world would be like if he hadn’t been murdered just as he’d reclaimed his throne. I made a few attempts at writing his story over the years, none of them going more than a few handwritten pages, then I tried writing him first person just to see if that would work better.

That’s what I mean by the subconscious process. Any kind of odd tidbit can set off a chain of thought that leads you to a working story. I usually have several bubbling around, although lately they haven’t been able to push past the damn narcolepsy that well (she says as she sleep-types – I’m still recovering from the medication interruption, alas). They’re still there, just not screaming at me to bloody write them. Although I could do without the infinitely spawning Harry Potter alternate universes. Those are just irritating.

So go and read all the weird shit, try to stay out of the black holes of conspiracy mania, and ask the magic question “What would happen if it were true?”, then you too shall never be without ideas again. Just don’t come crying to me when your mind won’t shut up and it’s too weird and scarring for words. I’ve been there. I have no sympathy.

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What is long enough?

Thanks to Sarah for filling in for me yesterday. Family always takes precedence over blogging and my son is home on leave.

This morning, as I was talking with Kilted Dave about what to blog about, I came across a post from an author wondering if they should change how they write. No, they weren’t talking about their writing process but more the length of what they sell. They were noticing how some authors are releasing titles every month or so but that those titles are shorter works. So they were wondering if they needed to move away from novel-length work to shorter work in order to sell more.

My first response, after beating my head against the proverbial wall, was shake my head. Yes, it hurt to pound it against the wall and I needed to clear the cobwebs. But also because you can’t judge what is right for your work by what other authors are doing. You have to look at each individual work and decide what length best serves the story.

Oops, there I went and did it. I said the icky word: story.

Let’s face it, story is what we need to be worried about. Have we written enough, well enough to not only give the reader an enjoyable and engaging story or plot but also characters they can identify with and cheer for or against? If we haven’t, it doesn’t matter how long or short the piece is. Without that development, it won’t sell for long and you certainly won’t garner the sort of reviews that help other readers decide to buy your work.

There is something else to consider when you are looking at how long a story should be and that is the way you write. Not everyone is a natural long fiction writer and not everyone finds writing short fiction easy. I can take almost as long to write a 12,000 word piece as I do a 100k word novel. Why? I’m not really sure. Well, in one way I am. You can’t go into as much detail, have as many scenes and sub-plots in a 12k word piece as you do in something longer. So you have to pare it down to the essentials — plot, character, message (if you have one).

Now, Amanda, you can release a novel in serial form.

Yes, you can. But what about the reader who accidentally misses one installment? Or what happens when your reader realizes that those $0.99 installments or episodes are suddenly costing them as much — or more — than a traditionally published e-book? I quit doing episodic fiction as a reader when I realized that the novel when and if it ever finished was going to cost me much more than I am willing to pay for an e-book.

I also realized that a number of authors releasing their work as “episodes” really didn’t get the idea behind serials. They hadn’t spent time reading the serials from magazines like If and Analog back in the Golden Age of SF. They hadn’t watched serialized shows like Flash Gordon and others (no, I’m not THAT old but they used to play them late at night on the weekends). There is an ebb and flow to a good serial that most of those trying to do them now simply don’t get.

The basic lesson is you have to give the reader a reason to come back and pay you more money to keep reading your work. Going hand-in-hand with that, for me at least, you have to prove you are going to finish the serial. I do NOT want to spend $0.99 or more per episode only to have the author decide in the middle of the thing that it isn’t worth finishing. Then there is the problem of making sure your reader remembers to go grab the new episode when it comes out. Unless you have figured out a way to make a subscription to the serial work, you run the very real risk of losing readers simply because they don’t remember to go back each month to grab the new title.

So I will repeat the rule we’ve all been told who knows how many times. A book or story is as long as it needs to be. Quit putting artificial word count limits on yourself without taking the plot of your book into consideration. Anyone who has been around short story writers knows the agony they go through after writing a story and then having to cut words to meet a word count requirement for one publication or another. There are times when they have to say the market they initially wrote the story for won’t work because they can’t cut it any more than they already have.

Also, don’t go into a project with the mindset that you think you only have so many words in you for it — ie, you don’t think you can write more than x-number of words — and then limit yourself to that number. I have known writers who, before they have put the first word down on paper have said they really don’t think they have more than 40k words in them for a certain project. What always happens is they either wind up not giving the reader the description the reader needs to truly enjoy the book or they rush the ending — something that is very noticeable. If you have spent 38k words building up to the climax of the story and then you have the final showdown and the cigarette moment in 2k words, you have probably just done your reader a disservice.

In other words, don’t worry about what other people are doing. Yes, there will always be writers out there who write faster than you do. They may write long fiction or short fiction. It really doesn’t matter. All that does is putting out the best work you can.

And now, for the mandatory author promotion. Nocturnal Rebellion will be released in the very near future. To help ramp up for its release, I have lowered the price of Nocturnal Origins, the first book in the series to $0.99.

Some things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.

Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.

Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.

Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.

I have also started working on the “Special Edition” version of Vengeance from Ashes. I’m really excited about this project. These special editions will include new material and it has been fun planning them and, once Rebellion is out, I’ll be working on them in the evenings after the days are spent writing the next book in the series. Well, not really writing as it has been drafted already but taking a very rough draft and making it publishable. Then it will be on to the next project, whatever it might be.

 

 

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About Those Lost Puppies

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So what happened to Sad Puppies this year?

In a form or another, we’ve been getting this question for months.  I thought I had explained back when I announced I was “leading” it, though I’ll confess by now I expected to have done something more about it.

So, what happened?

Apparently what always happens when I’m supposed to lead: my health goes feral.

At least, thank heavens, this year, it’s not that I know cancer or even the fact I have a small brain tumor (it’s a meningioma, in the membrane that covers the brain, so no, it’s not really affecting me, except for my vision, by pressure, because it’s on top of the vision center.  Fortunately all it does is give me a slight double vision, and I trained for that for much of my undergrad.)  It’s “just” autoimmune.  but I’ve had two long and rather horrible autoimmune bouts, which means things slipped.

On top of which WORK has gone feral.  I need to finish at least five more novels this year (I intended to be at four by now) and that’s for traditional, not counting my indie career.  I’ve also picked up a three-times-a-week columnist gig, and there are other potential jobs in the horizon.  (Man, this ruined career sure is a lot of work.)

If we’d planned to do something different this year, I’d have passed it on to Amanda early.  But since what we’re planning has no defined deadline, as soon as we get it up (eh) in the next couple of months, we’ll be fine.  And we want to make sure we do it right.

So, originally, we’d planned to do nothing, and let Sad Puppies ride into the sunset with Kate’s campaign, which did everything the left claimed to want and yet was still subjected to the same complaints as ever.

But the problem with a decentralized, almost leaderless campaign is that it’s prone to be high jacked, and we realized late last year that if someone didn’t announce then someone who was wholly (really) in the rabid camp was going to take it, and make it sound like the campaigns were always one.

Oh, I know.  With Sad Puppies completely silent, the Puppy Kickers have been enthusiastically blaming us for the Rabid decisions.  Pfui. They’re like a back law firm: Obfuscate, Lie and Project.

But there was no point lending color to this by having a self-proclaimed Sad Puppy leader who’d always been on the periphery, who’s barely competent to carry his own hat in a high wind, and who thinks the whole point is to back the Rabid selections. Yeah.  No.  So I announced.

By the time I announced, I knew we’d be “late” for the Hugos.  Which was fine with me.  VERY fine.

Look, guys, I don’t believe in asking people to do things I won’t do.  Last year I didn’t pay the fee to vote, so I was done after the nomination.  Why?

Because the years before we told people to buy supporting memberships and vote.  We told them that our aesthetics were as valid as the neo-Marxist aesthetics the conventional side of the field sticks to.  Ludic enjoyment of fiction is, arguably, a better way to determine what will survive and be important than the markers of “class” and an excellent education used now.  (Yeah I know.  It’s supposedly all about the downtrodden.  Only it’s not really. It’s about showing off the Neo-Marxist aesthetics taught in the best colleges.  A fad, a passing one, and arguably a stupid one.   I don’t have time to explain the difference of aesthetics here, and hey, I did it last week at another site, so: How Do We Evaluate Art in the Kingdom of the Blind Marxist? And to the idiots who’ll come in and say that’s not Marxist critical theory.  Bah.  Before they climbed up their own ass and slapped the cool-hot (what makes a philosophy hotter than 100 million stinking corpses, after all) Marxist moniker on their involuted crap, they were already evaluating literature according to the Marxist parameters of “making a difference” and “fighting injustice” and “criticizing society.” Which has its roots in the left and in social markers for an excellent education.  It’s like medieval scholars showing off their Catholic Orthodoxy, or well… Or Shakespeare writing a lot of propaganda plays about the Tudors, which even Shakespeare couldn’t turn into anyhting but dross.  Which tells you the long term value of this trend.)

Anyway, we told people if we didn’t participate in the process, we had no reason to protest.  So people did.  We did too.

And the establishment called us names, made unfounded claims of cheating, took our money, threw themselves a really big party and insulted our nominees to boot.

After the Assterisk performance, I planted my feet like a Spanish mule and stuck fast to “I’m not giving you one red cent.  You’ll get no more from me.”

Being there, I couldn’t ask people to throw good money after bad.

Our intention was always to just create a page, in which those who register can post reading recommendations, not just of recent years, but of anything that struck their fancy.  There will be a place where you can say when the book was published and if it’s eligible for an award — and not just a science fiction award — and a link to the award page for people to follow, if so minded.  Yeah, we’ll include the Hugo, but probably with a note saying the award is in the process of self-destructing.

Thing is, I meant to have this up before nominations for the Dragon Award opened.  But on top of the comedy of errors above, our website provider either crashed or was hacked, so while trying to survive auto-immune and meeting more deliveries than UPS, I’ve been trying to get it up and running again.  (My author site is down also.)

So, that’s where we are.  We’ll put it up sometime in the next couple of months, and then Amanda and I will run it, and then Amanda will take over  Or Amanda, Kate and I will continue shepherding it.

When we said this before and pointed out that PARTICULARLY indie books need some place to mention them, we were linked to/lectured by someone one the rabid side, because apparently they already have a site, so we don’t need one of our own.

Tips hat to the right.  Thank you kindly.  But you guys are aware your aesthetics and goals aren’t ours, right?

You just turned Marxist aesthetics on their head, and are judging books by being anti-Marxist and how much they don’t support the neo Marxist idea of justice.  That’s cool and all.  To each his own.  And since, so far, your crazy isn’t being taught in schools, it’s slightly less annoying than the Marxist crazy.

It is still annoying, though, because you’re still judging literary value by whether it fits your (at least as crazy-cakes’ as the Marxists) narrative and your precepts.

Look, the Tudors won, okay?  And yet the Shakespeare plays supporting them, all but Richard III which is good for other reasons, are the worst dogs in his repertoire.

The Sad Puppies stand for literature people ENJOY reading, even if their beliefs are not those of the author.  Also, writing that is not pushing any belief, beyond the natural leaking that happens when an author writes something and puts part of him in the story.

We fully support your right to have the recommendation sites for those who read your catechism and who will enthusiastically love and adore Piers Plowman.  It’s who you are, it’s what you do, and why shouldn’t you have a site for those who think like you?

It’s not however who we are and what we do, nor does it fit our aesthetics.  (Yes, this has all been an aesthetic dispute, even if some sides think it’s politics.)

Your recommendations no more invalidate the need for a site of our own than do the recommendation sites from the left, going into exquisite detail about how “other” the author of some unreadable tome is, and how they have just the right amount of vaginitude and melanin.

So, yeah, there will be a Sad Puppies recommendation site — glowers in the vague direction of servers — soon, and then we’ll refine it and improve it through the years to become a place to find enjoyable reads.  And if people want to use it to find recommendations for awards?  I’ve seen worse hobbies.  One of my ancestors used to put “things” in bottles of alcohol.  Weird plants, snakes, that sort of thing. Voting on awards, at least, does not ruin good alcohol.

And that’s where the Sad Puppies are.  They didn’t run away.  They’re just sleeping in the mud room.  Sooner or later they’ll wake and play.  Until then, you can sit and watch the circus and the monkeys, neither of which belong to us.

Which is a lovely thing, as we all on this site have “ruined” careers to work at, which seem to involve a lot of work and, thank heavens, regular pay checks.

I’ll announce the site here, when it’s up.

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We haven’t forgotten

There will be a post later. Check back later this morning. Sorry for the delay.

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Success, real and imaginary

“You shift sixteen tons of number one words,

And what do you get?”

Yeah well.

Mostly just older. I’ve largely managed to stay out of debt, possibly because most banks throw up their hands in horror and run away screaming when confronted with the realities of a writer’s income. No really… I’ve seen whole banks galumphing down the streets on fat little legs to escape an importuning writer.

Tch. You don’t believe me? I’m shocked. Go and try it sometime.

In reality this is a pretty good thing, because logically banks didn’t get rich by giving away money, and, while there have been times when a loan might have been very tempting, at least part of my personal success comes down to not giving them the lion’s share of my income, over time. This of course is why authors going Indy benefit – although they lose whatever push and brick-and-mortar exposure a traditional publisher could give. That varies from a great deal, to trivial, and one size does not fit all. Generally only headliners get much support these days, although occasionally a publisher may push a new dahling hard – with mixed success. Once push was all it took. Those days are largely past.

Still, the honest truth is most authors have an erratic and unreliable income, and according to various surveys… it’s pretty rotten. Those who don’t do too badly are either exceptionally lucky, well-connected, or are talented AND work hard. I can’t buy into the idea that we should go back to the time when authors either had money of their own or support (a patron). That excludes so many writers: as readers we’d lose so much. Even in an environment where some authors can make a living (and a few can get rich) the dilettantes and products of patrons (and patreons) will exist. The reality is they put some downward pressure on the earnings of the working-for-a-living writer. We can live with that – but I don’t think we can live with writing becoming only their preserve.

It therefore makes sense to celebrate those successes – otherwise why would battlers even try? (Yes, I know. Because we’re battlers. We can no more not try than we can give up flatulence. Still, encouragement is good.) It also – to me anyway, makes sense that writers should support writers. After all, reading feeds reading, which feeds writing – at least if the readers are enjoying the books and eager to find more. The more variety, surely the more likely it is that any reader will find their form of pleasure. It was the fundamental reason we started MGC. There were many things we wished we’d known and had support with – and we had a common ‘enemy’ – getting published, getting paid, reaching readers. I’ve put thousands of hours in MGC, which has a relatively small audience, as is natural as it is really a writers’ site. I’d do it for one person, so the size of that audience is not that relevant to me. It’s been personally rewarding for me to see some of our followers making a great success out there. It’s kind of cool to think we had a small part in that, even if most of it comes down their talent and work.

Now, of course there are quite a lot of people who barely manage to think from A to B let alone A to C (and beyond). Somewhat to my shock some of these are writers – which must make plotting and characters… difficult. To no one’s surprise Traditional Publishing and most of its associates and hangers-on often seem to have trouble getting as A to B, let alone further. This results in their trying hard to reduce the competition, instead trying harder to compete.

Think of it as a club for the express purpose of meeting potential marriageable partners back in yesteryear, when this sort of thing was common, with drinks to make the place money. Time passes and the well-meaning club founders pass on. The new club owner – who did almost none of the real building up, and has no interest in the purpose of the club — has a penchant for pale willowy blondes with boyish crops and a taste for jazz and martinis. Ergo, he gradually becomes more restrictive about who is allowed into his club. And if you didn’t fit, you’d better diet, dye and cut your hair, and pretend to like gin and jazz. He’ll tell you it’s club tradition although it is provably not.

Those who like buxom curvaceous brunettes who like country music and beer… are in for a disappointment. But the owner discourages that sort of man, and expressing that opinion will get you ignored or tossed out. Maybe this works to a degree if this is the only place in town – the price of the drinks certainly went up, but as a result… the town is slowly shrinking and dying.

However, if a cheerful beerhall down the street opens up, and a pleasant wine bar on the next block — both of which are happy with clientele of any sort… well, that’s going to make for more and happier marriages, more babies, and a bigger town. The only people pissed are the club owner and pale willowy blondes and the waiters and bouncers at the club – even though the whole town was dying, it was their town.

That’s, increasingly, been the story sf-fantasy’s establishment. The club, which regards competition as anathema and to be destroyed, is furious, from the owner to the bouncers, and the real blondes. They’re doing their level best to get the wine bar and beer hall closed down. It’d kill the town, but it was their town.

We saw this a few years ago with… call it the club’s annual beauty pageant – AKA the Hugo Awards when some Brunettes and redheads dared enter. One of the waiters –who had grown very plump on tips and powerful in influence about who got to meet who, and didn’t want to lose his regular tips… set himself up to stop it – in his own words. ‘by facilitating the growth of a new community of people who wanted to talk about these issues — most of them opposing the vandalism of an institution they had spent years building up.’

In other words chumming up a hate mob of something bizarre, rather like a gay supporter of Sharia law, a left-wing mob of ‘conservatives’ resisting change. The ‘new’ and ‘most’ is a lie. They were all old blondes and waiters. Any new people who didn’t fit with his ‘most’ were censored. He also pretended to be neutral, another lie which he lost track of and exposed in this quote. Anyway, he and his little friends succeeded in keeping the nasty riff-raff out of their little club by closing the doors, trashing the pageant and putting new rules in place to maintain the status quo in their club. They attacked the non-blondes and people who weren’t club staff, and did their level best to destroy the reputations and livelihoods of authors who were daring to say it ain’t all Blondes.

The beerhall and wine-bar weren’t much affected, despite their efforts. But the club was all theirs.

Fast forward a few years, and the club is still there with Mike Glyer puttering around its decaying and increasingly seedy interior, declining membership, with the handful of long-in-tooth blondes, badmouthing those not in the club and trying to chum up interest in a pogrom to get rid of the beerhall and the wine-bar and their noxious non-blondes. He gets into an altercation with… shall we say one of the brunette authors (which is funnier than the rest of this as a description.) Anyway, Larry, who knows him well by now, cuts to the chase and tells him to F… off, a commendable and understandable sentiment. Mike, henceforth known as ChinaMike ™ announces with fury and quivering lip, that he is much more important and influential than Larry as his blog has many more followers.

He produces the following Alexa ranking to prove it. Oh my. The club is really booming…

alexa2

He’s in 15 315 position and that wicked Larry is at 509  265. That’ll teach him his place.

Alexa1

Only ChinaMike ™ didn’t expect everyone to notice this

alexa3

92.1% of his Alexa traffic comes from China. It’s either bought traffic or spam-bots. Oddly other sf sites don’t have much a Chinese component. I gather bought traffic is cheap, and ignorant people don’t realize how obvious it is… It’s that or the ‘club 770’ is a great place to get spam and malware. Choose to believe whichever you please. Both are unattractive

In actual followers, real ones, ChinaMike ™ doesn’t rank much above this trivial authors help site, and well below some of the contributors personal sites. He’s so far below Larry – at a US ranking of 108 972 compared to his US ranking of 337 508 as to be near irrelevant.

Having been roundly mocked ChinaMike™ is now saying Alexa isn’t a good indicator of popularity. Still no mention of his 92.1% Chinese army. I gather he edited to hide the Chinese part of the original Alexa shot – how typical of ChinaMike ™ integrity and honesty. Yes, you know you can get sf news you can ‘trust’ there!

The club will continue to limp along for a few years, perhaps even posting in Mandarin.  It’ll probably tighten its rules and continue to tell us how important it is, doing its level best to exclude those it doesn’t like and damage those that don’t fit its mold.

But it isn’t the only place in town. It’s increasingly unimportant. The wine-bar also has gin even if the beer hall doesn’t. Both occasionally have a jazz trio. They welcome everyone, even willowy blondes. But there’s no job for ChinaMike ™.

The MGC crew will still be trying to help writers, not excluding the new, or demanding they dye their hair and go on a starvation diet. We believe authors should have as good a chance as readers will allow, to make a good living, regardless. That’s my personal vandalism of the institution ChinaMike ™ spent so long building up.

Let’s celebrate the success and happiness of some of the authors outside that mess, despite it, the people who are making a go out of writing through their hard work and talent.

It is possible.

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