Full moon craziness?

Yes, yes, I know. Craziness is the common state of affairs for most writers and especially for the publishing industry. But lately it seems that the craziness has expanded to epic proportions — and that’s without going into all the contretemps with SFWA, SJWs et al. Add in the craziness in my life right now — we are on crisis #3 for the morning, none of which are easy fixes — and I am ready for sanity to return, overrated as it might be.

First bit or recent craziness falls under the category of “Things a writer should never, ever do”. It’s not a new story nor is it the worst in the category. But it does point out the permanent nature of the internet and it proves that we should always think about what we just typed before hitting “enter”.

In this case, author Chelsea Cain, a NYT best seller, went on a mini-tirade on Facebook and Twitter. The long and the short of it comes down to this: she’s mad she didn’t make the best sellers list with her latest book. She’s tired of fans asking her to list the order of her books and asking other dumb questions. The FB post was quickly taken down, “at the request” of her publishers in a non-apology apology which, iirc, is also missing from her FB page now. Full admission: I could be wrong on this last part.

You can see screen captures of some of her comments here.

The issue I have with this sort of thing is that it was unnecessary. I can understand why Cain might be upset for not making the best sellers list. But don’t go whining about it in a public forum. Her Facebook and Twitter pages aren’t locked. Anyone can and will see them. Having a public meltdown, even of a minor nature, doesn’t draw new fans to you.

As for being upset when fans ask for the order of books, you just don’t tell them they are wasting your time and that’s what Google is for. You especially don’t tell them that when you have just admitted you spend hours on social media each day. You most especially don’t say that after saying you spend hours on social media each day and that answering a simple question like that would take away from writing time. Wait! Writing time? How about letting it take away from the hours of social media time. Or better yet, why not list your books IN ORDER on your website like most other authors who write series do?

Ms. Cain shot herself in the PR foot and hasn’t done much since then to treat the wound. I hope that, from now on, she remembers that what goes into the interwebs is there forever.

The next bit of insanity comes in a rant by a book buyer against the big evil that is Amazon. Mind you, it is published in that shining beacon — coff coff — The Guardian, so I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about bias. I mean, how can anyone think there is anything but bias in a post that starts out with:

Amazon.com owes me at least $212.82.

Amazon’s strategy to torture Hachette into reducing prices for its books has been to make the publisher suffer by imposing delivery delays on many of its most in-demand titles.

You see, according to the author of the article, Amazon owes a refund for their Prime membership — because, duh, that membership apparently is a guarantee that you can get any book you want anytime. Wish I knew that when I first signed up for Prime. There are a lot of books out there no longer in print or that haven’t been published yet I could demand as a Prime member. — and for the cost of books they chose to buy at a brick and mortar store.

The sense of entitlement that sort of statement makes has me shaking my head. There is nothing in the ToS for Prime membership that guarantees the “right” to pre-purchase a book. Nor is there anything guaranteeing that books bought while a Prime member will be discounted. Heck, what you get with Prime is free second day delivery, the ability to borrow some books and lots of music and video benefits. It has nothing to do with Hatchette or the article writer’s sense of entitlement.

But let’s look further.

“. . . and for customers, Amazon has reversed its promise of instant gratification.”

What? WHAT?!?!?!

Are we so entitled now that we have to have instant gratification and new hardcover books in our mailbox on the day of publication AND at a huge discounted price?

Yep, the author of the article complains because Amazon isn’t offering new Hatchette titles at the usual discount. Let’s not think about the fact they are in the middle of contract negotiations and Amazon very likely doesn’t have the contractual authorization to continue the discounts.

The author goes on to admit he could buy the Kindle version of the books in question, but since at least two of the ones he listed were for book club discussions, that just wouldn’t work. According to him, you simply can’t flip to a particular page of a book if you have the ebook version. So that just won’t work. Funny, I have any number of Kindle books on both my e-ink Kindle and the Fire that allow me to go to a particular page as well as a particular location. Maybe only Hatchette doesn’t allow that function — but that’s Amazon’s fault because it is allllllllll Amazon’s fault, don’cha know.

This time, the financial damage totals $212.82, the bag is stuffed with books – including several I was eager to read but wasn’t even been aware had been published. I also emerged with a Barnes & Noble membership card, for which I had paid a further $25 – and that pretty much guarantees I’ll be spending more time and money there in future, in exchange for more discounts and – given the recent evidence – greater availability of the books I want and need to lay my hands on.

This time being his first visit to a B&N, at least when he actually bought more than one book, in at least six months. So now he wants Amazon to pay him for his membership card to B&N as well AND he thinks he will have a great availability of books. Well, I don’t know about the B&N he went into but my local B&N is woefully short on books, especially books in certain genres and certain non-fiction areas. If I ask for them to be ordered, maybe they will and maybe they won’t. Even if they do, there is no guarantee I will get notice if the book comes in and there is still the delay in getting the book.

But Amazon is evil.

It gets better. In one paragraph, the author whines because in two trips to the bookstore to pick up two paperback books, he’s spent $400. The not-to-subtle implication is that it is Amazon’s fault because he couldn’t get the book instantly from them. In the next paragraph, he says he doesn’t really blame Amazon for his lack of self-control but, you see, he was irked and, well, Amazon’s fault implied once again.

The whole gist of the article is that, because of Amazon’s footprint, it shouldn’t worry about things like contract negotiations and making money. It has a duty to provide whatever we want when we want. Oh, the author tries to not quite say it that bluntly and even makes a pass at trying to appear unbiased by noting that neither Hatchette or Amazon are completely in the right in what’s going on. But that doesn’t happen until four paragraphs from the end of a story that is 30 or so paragraphs long. And, in case anyone doubts the sense of entitlement and twisting of facts to suit a point of view, consider this statement:

You need to give customers the best possible array of products, available instantly.

Especially when 20 million or so Amazon Prime members are paying $99 apiece each year for guaranteed two-day delivery — that’s how much they value that instant gratification.

The complete lack of understanding of economics, product supply and the Prime membership agreement is staggering. There is a failure to take into account that there are two parties involved in making products available — supplier and seller. Amazon is the seller. It has to buy the products or reach some sort of agreement with the supplier so it also makes money. It also has to rely upon the supplier to, duh, supply the product. As for the guaranteed two-day delivery, that is for items IN STOCK.

To the article’s author, get over yourself and realize you aren’t entitled to what you think you are. Amazon is a business and is in it to make money. Hatchette is the one who has turned done several proposals by Amazon to help the authors impacted by the prolonged negotiations. Amazon isn’t an angel but is certainly isn’t the root of all evil as as vocal minority wants us to believe.

57 thoughts on “Full moon craziness?

  1. “Or better yet, why not list your books IN ORDER on your website like most other authors who write series do?”

    Yeah, I’m scratching my head over this one. That’s what FAQ pages are for, right? Just keep a text file open with something like “Hi, (fill in name)! You can find that (and much more) here: http://foo.bar.com.”

    Two seconds at most.

    It doesn’t make sense, especially when you consider that someone who asks about the reading order is probably thinking about buying all of your books. Even at BPH rates of return, that’s gotta work out to a pretty good hourly rate. 🙂

    1. I know. It really does seem like a simple answer to the “problem”. But not only doesn’t she apparently have a list of her books in the order they are released/should be read, she probably lost sales because of her response. I just don’t get alienating your readers.

      1. She doesn’t have … a …

        Uh, buh, wuh?

        Staggering idiocy. What kind of author doesn’t make a “this is the proper reading order” list the third, nay the second time he/she gets asked the same question?

        The kind who feels him/herself “above” his/her readers, it seems.

    2. Plus Amazon lets you specify “Series Name” and “number in series” when you publish a book. And I personally put that information on the cover of my books.

    3. Now, THIS is something that I actually have a beef with Amazon about. Not that I think it rises to the level of a serious complaint, but it’s an irritant nonetheless. It would not take a major effort to include original Copyright dates in their data, as well as a field which indicates series affiliation, which could then be used to provide such information. When you are working through these series with high numbers of volumes, it can be downright irritating not to have that information where you are doing your searching.

      1. Dangit, how did I miss Misha’s comment before I added mine??? I looked further down to see if anyone had mentioned that. Grr…

        I guess I’m blind, though, because I’ve never seen that information on any of the series I have looked at.

  2. I have a modest proposal that I offer to Amazon free of charge.
    Refund that pathetic whiner his Prime membership fee immediately then block him from ever ordering anything through Amazon again. Problem resolved, his money returned, and you’ve prevented him from ever experiencing the least smidgen of frustration from dealings with Amazon ever again. Then make this resolution of the problem very public.

    1. Very nice solution but he wouldn’t be happy. Remember, he wants Amazon to refund the cost of the trip to the bookstore as well as his B&N discount membership. I guess he’s being nice by not asking for a refund for the money he spent on his second trip to the bookstore. So magnanimous of him, isn’t it? [sarcasm off]

      1. Never said a word about happy. Screw that. And yes he would never ever be satisfied or content with whatever was done for him. Such are the folks I absolutely refuse to dine with. They will ruin any meal with their constant complaining, sending of food back to the kitchen, abusing the waitstaff. Seems to be a ritual with a certain type, they get some sick satisfaction out of it apparently.
        What I was after was to make the whiner be gone, yet serve as an example to any other such to be very careful what they wish for.

        1. Oh, I knew that’s what you meant. I was just pointing out the idiocy of his demands. I, like you, know folks — and do my best to avoid having to deal with them — who are never satisfied. Maybe we can send them all to an island where no one can be voted off.

  3. talk about whining over first world problems. The first lady kinda sorta let her feelings of entitlement get out and run around.
    That second fool is in need of a brain wipe and a start-over

    1. But they’re special, JP. They’re entitled and it is all Amazon’s fault.

      And yes, you’re right. Except I think they all need a hard restart.

          1. nah, that just gives you the same software issues. They need a full reformatting or hard reset to get rid of all the faulty combinations of settings they acquired … depends (~_^)
            Some need a really hard reset …. clue x 4 style

  4. This particular full moon has lasted for a year and a half, with no signs of ending anytime soon.

  5. Dear Moon,

    We have packed up all your crazy and are returning them. We do not expect a refund, simply ask you to refrain from a repeat performance or we may have to ask you to pay for our blood pressure meds and doctors’ appointments.

    The Sane (relatively speaking) Writers of the Universe

    1. *snicker*

      Yes, the established literary world is a bit overstocked with crazy, it seems. Or was it always stocked with crazy and because of Teh Internet we get to find out about it all?

      It would be great to be a very popular writer (says she who is only mildly popular in local circles) but so harried by fans to the point of being openly rude to them?

    2. Hehehehehehe.

      Hey, maybe we can do a Ransom or Red Chief thing. The moon can either stop the craziness from happening or we will ship all the GHHers and SJWs to it and it can deal with them for awhile. Come to think of it, I like that idea.

      1. I wonder if we could convince them (the SJW types) that the Moon is their chance at that perfect society thing without the rest of us… I wonder what such a society would look like in 100 years… dead or how would it have changed and how would it interact with the other more normally progressing socities? *ponders* dang it *stuffs the plot bunny in a cage and shoves the cage in a queue*

        1. Nah. We’d never get them up there unless we took the time and resources to build all the “necessary” conveniences for them. Then they probably wouldn’t want to live there because the Moon had then been tainted by the non-right thinking sorts. Maybe we could get them to go if we sent them a timeshare sort of notice and told them they’d get something free if they would just sit through a “short presentation”. What do you think?

        2. How about a Marching Morons solution?

          Create a PR campaign to convince them that their utopia is being built for them on the Moon, launch them, then forget the landing part. Or at least the landing engines (boom!).

    1. Sometimes I wonder. Then I look around and see Larry, Sarah, Monkey and others and know there is. They just need to speak a bit louder so they can be heard over the whines of the entitled.

  6. First thing…I hope the crazy in your personal world has been whacked down to manageable levels.

    Second…when the narcissistic attitudes and manners of the GHH hit the general public, the general public still has enough sense to recoil. This might be an optimistic interpretation of the event, but I’ve gotta look for some silver lining of sanity on the thunderclouds of crazy.

    Third…I didn’t realize that an Amazon Prime membership entitled me to everything I want, immediately. D*mn. Gotta get me one of those.

    1. Thanks, it looks like it might be settling down. (Looks over shoulder to make sure I wasn’t overheard.)

      As for the general public recoiling, it does — when it takes enough time to consider what is happening. It’s up to the rest of us to make sure they know the propaganda being spewed in their direction is just that — propaganda.

      Re: the Prime membership, I have already drafted my order and cc’d it to Mr. Bezos so I get the next mainstream Honor Harrington book, MHI book and all of Sarah’s and Monkey’s books that have yet to be written delivered to my Kindle by day after tomorrow.

      1. I know it’s of questionable legality, but once all those books arrive could you possibly see your way clear to please send copies to each of their authors. It would save them ever so much trouble in the long run.

      2. *$#*

        That reminds me of an Analog story from earlier this year where a precog ran a site that had ‘leaked’ copies of books – the twist was that some were still being written. (don’t have it on hand, otherwise I’d give the title)

        Now I wonder if that author had a glimpse into the future themselves. Hmmmm.

        1. And your memory reminds me of another story where this guy, who was a musician, kept getting sued for copyright infringement, because he would put out essentially identical pieces of work as other artists. He kept changing genres, going out further and further into the fringe of the craft, and instead of being able to get away from the problem, it just got worse. They finally decided he was tapping into the Universal Consciousness, or some such, and he was plucking out the ideas other people were working on.

          1. And that reminds me of what I think was an Asimov story. A science fiction author kept getting rejected because the magazines he was trying to sell to had just bought a very similar story from another author.

            He eventually figured out that he and the other author were on the same consciousness stream, or something. The other author just went to the typewriter and typed the first thing that came to his head, while the MC laboriously wrote his out longhand, and then typed it up.

            He solved the problem by laboriously writing out and then typing up a famous Science fiction story, and then waited for the other guy to be drummed out because of plagiarism.

          2. There was also a story were an author always had stories of his “copied” by another author with the second author turning them into their publisher first so it looked like the first was trying to steal from the second.

            The first author knew how the second author wrote.

            While he took his time to get everything right, the second author “rushed” though the writing.

            The first author decided that the second one was accidentally tapping into his mind when he was working on a story thus because of the differences in their writing style, the second author finished “their” story first.

            Now their publisher wasn’t that much of a reader but had a talent for picking good stories.

            So the first author deliberately wrote out an older story (IIRC Turn of the Screw) knowing that the second author would “pick it up” and their publisher would publish it not realizes what the second author was turning in.

            Of course, the first author never turned in the copy of the older story and the second author got in trouble for passing off the older story as his own.

            Thus the first author was now able to write new stories without the second author (who was no longer writing) “stealing” his stories. [Evil Grin]

  7. Can anyone tell me if The Guardian has any financial ties to Hachette, or any of the other companies due to renegotiate their contracts with Amazon?

    1. Well, Hatchette is owned by Lagardère…which is apparently Paramount France or something, there’s four major divisions and they seem to own a little of everything.

      1. Per wiki, The Guardian is owned by a company wholly owned by a trust, so I’ve no idea where to look, assuming they’ve any obligation to publicly report their assets.

        The officers listed for both groups on wiki don’t seem to have any obvious interesting overlaps.

  8. I’m going to go against the grain and defend Chelsea Cain because I think what might be happening is that she’s completely burned out on being required to do all the marketing on her books. Sure, she probably shouldn’t take that out on social media but what it sounds like is that she’s internalized that her career depends on her doing *everything*. Maybe because I just recently talked to Cherie Priest (GoH at our con a few weeks ago) about the Book Tour From Hell and how meals weren’t figured into her schedule… nor sleep… and her description of her state of mind… and Never Again even if it meant her career dying with the heat death of the sun. And it sounded an awful lot like where I was physically and mentally after evacuating the PI with an infant. In any case, I read Cain’s quoted posts from that context. Again, she shouldn’t have put it out in public. But on the other hand, she’s clearly functioning with the understanding that *this is what she needs to do* and that she’s got no options and that her whole life, career, and existence depends on ALL of it and then not making the NYT Best Seller list…

    …I’d be on the bathroom floor in a puddle.

    So you know, if Chelsea Cain sees this… here’s a hug, honey. Now just say NO. Just like we here tell Sarah that if she’s burning out, what we want are the books not her personal never-ending attention. Your fans want more books. Hire a service to update your web site with a usable book reading chronology. Limit your social media to an hour or less a day or set an update schedule for Sunday and Wednesday only. Tell your publisher to shove it and stay home with your sick kid.

    1. I read it as a vent. And people should be allowed to vent.

      Though they should be careful about venting in public. And a bit more gracious in apologizing and deleting things.

    2. You may be right but there are enough examples out there of what not to do — and how to handle the situation gracefully that she should have thought. I don’t know and can’t know what was in her mind but I do know she shot herself in the foot as far as a lot of fans were concerned.

  9. Guardian author berates Amazon for trying “to torture Hachette into lowering prices for its books,” then complains about having “to pay full price” for books on Amazon.

    My mind, it boggles…

    1. LOL. No sense of WTF there at all, is there? And folks wonder why we find so much snark worthy stuff at the Guardian. Hehehehehehe.

  10. So… since Amazon doesn’t sell meth, if I go to score some and I get shot in a deal gone bad, I can sue? I mean, if Amazon shipped me meth directly to my door I wouldn’t have been in that neighborhood to begin with.

  11. How about letting it take away from the hours of social media time. Or better yet, why not list your books IN ORDER on your website like most other authors who write series do?

    Or, if there’s a bunch of characters, have the “what order to read” them in, a “who is the main character” list, a “when the character was introduced” list, or for heaven’s sake make a fan wiki!

    1. Oh, that’s just Clamps. He hates all of us for some reason. I think he is the only one who has been blocked here. So he has to go elsewhere to spread his vile.

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