Badthink; Wrongfun

In which Dave discovers that a vocal and entirely too influential minority of publishing are out to ruin his sales.

I don’t know what’s going on in the world anymore. I went away for most of a month. Mrs. Dave and I went to find winter in Colorado, and I ended up wearing short sleeves for most of our visit. There were Superstars (though I wonder whether that refers to those of us in the audience, or the well-selling folks up front) and then there was several hundred miles of road through gorgeous country, and a few dozen awesome people in a few too-short weeks.

Then I come home to find I’m now the wrong kind of fan, having the wrong kind of fun, writing the wrong kind of stories in the wrong way, and reading the wrong kinds and shapes and colors of authors.

Wait a sec. *reads that again*

Nope, same as when I left in January. The same people are freaking out over the same nothings. Larry’s still the bulwark of the Read and Write Fun Stories movement (a.k.a. the Evil League of Evil) and I still haven’t heard back on my junior membership application. (Though I’m nearly certain Wee Dave snuck one in ahead of me AND got it approved, given his recent behavior.) Her BBEvilness continues to skewer the pomposities of the Myrmidons for Cultural Domination (I’m terrified of their ill-fitting spandex and pink, pleather thongs whips. Absolutely horrified. Wait, which one was it, again?) as they stick their head above that selfsame bulwark. I just hope she doesn’t end up berserkrgang, as I have zero interest in cleaning up the mess. Brad continues to represent Sad Puppies to the world in his intelligent gentlemanly manner, and his enemies continue to heap filth and degradation on their own souls as they attempt to heap the same on his head.

In other news, it’s Lent (I hope you all celebrated Shrove Tuesday in the appropriate manner, and collected many beads) and I’ve given up social media. Being raised Presbyterian, I’m almost certainly doing it for the wrong reasons, but I’m hoping to improve my productivity in the time management and words written arenae, thereby increasing my ability to earn income via my chosen field. I’m certain St. Adam Smith would approve. A corollary is that I won’t be on the usual spaces to read the usual updates from the usual suspects. I’m highly susceptible to chat invitations and email, however. Be warned.

The bit of steaming … stuff that’s proving singularly irritating at the moment, is the tempest over the reading – or not, in this case – of specific stripes of author. A darling of the SJW set recently challenged all the readers everywhere to stop reading a specific kind of author. For a year. Now, this challenge wasn’t aimed at those adhering to a specific ideology, or those who write in one or another specific genre.

Nope: the author of the piece (which I’m not linking, as I have zero interest in driving further traffic, and I’m nearly certain everybody is already familiar with the basics. Instead, I’ll link to Larry’s masterful fisking of same.) challenges her readers – and by extension, all of us – to stop reading “white, straight, cis, male authors” for a year. (Now, as someone who can check all those boxes, I resent this. Refusing to read my writing – and pay this author – on the basis of accidents of birth is the rankest form of discrimination, and it’s wrong.)

One stated purpose of the challenge is to expand horizons, and that’s all well and good, but how are you expanding your reading horizons when you arbitrarily remove a subset of writing simply because the authors share a set of superficial characteristics? That would seem to me to be a narrowing of your horizons. Perhaps I’m wrong, though.

Implicit in this racist, sexist, misandrist challenge is the assertion that non-white, non-straight, non-male authors are getting little to no exposure. The line I particularly relish is, “if the majority of books being held up and pronounced Good and Worthy are by white, straight, cis men, it’s easy to slip into thinking that most good and worthy books are by authors that fit that description.” Except that’s just it: the vast majority of books pushed in media as Good and Worthy aren’t by people who are heterosexual, white male writers.

Beyond that, the notion that the only way for non-cis/straight/white male authors to gain readership is for people to chose their work preferentially over other writers (besides doing those same other writers (seriously, need a simple label for “everybody besides the one group Princess T hates enough to call for discrimination against.” seriously) a major disservice in giving them a hand-out instead of a hand up) is simply untrue. Those writers-who-don’t-resemble-me have exactly the same opportunity I do. Write a work, get it edited, put together a cover, and put it up on Amazon. Set up print-on-demand for those who want a hardcopy.

Publishing is at its most democratic ever. Literally anybody can publish today. You can write your opus on a Google document at a public library (the Bradbury method of Fahrenheit 451 fame, updated for the 21st century, and likely a good deal cheaper), find an editor online, find an artist via Deviant Art, pay them both through PayPal, have them upload the finished products to your DropBox, and upload your finished book to Amazon, Smashwords, iBooks, and Nook, all without even owning a computer! The bar for entry to the market is so low as to be nonexistent (a different argument for another post, that).

Now, regarding push, pull and exposure (to hearken back to Kate’s post yesterday), again: I don’t care what you look like or who you want to do what with those are going to be subject to the usual array of market forces. And really, that’s what the aforementioned Myrmidons hate. They hate that certain authors who happen to be white, straight, manly males (some of whom aren’t any of those things) continue to earn comfortable livings writing science fiction, and all without their permission or approval. They hate that there are people having fun in unapproved ways, reading unapproved stories by unapproved writers, and generally going on about their unapproved lives, all the while ignoring the shrill screeches from certain quarters.

And somehow, in order to appease their wrath, we as readers are to ignore an entire segment of the market (and an opaque segment, at that. Between pen names and the lack of author photos, it’s impossible to know just what an author looks like, let alone who or what they prefer to sleep with) simply because of an arbitrary set of accidents? I don’t have time or energy for limiting my pool of potential reads, and judging by previous comments from you, gentle readers, neither do you.

Note: I’ll have some new cis, white, straight, kilted, bearded writer’s writin’ for y’all in the near future. Stay tuned for specifics to come.

60 Comments

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60 responses to “Badthink; Wrongfun

  1. Martin L. Shoemaker

    And once again, the bastards have reported Mad Genius Club as a malware site. Admins, WebRootSecurity has you on a block list.

  2. Reality Observer

    Bearded? Darn it, did I promise to boycott the Morlocks – or was it the Eloi?

  3. “They hate that certain authors who happen to be white, straight, manly males (some of whom aren’t any of those things) continue to earn comfortable livings writing science fiction, and all without their permission or approval. They hate that there are people having fun in unapproved ways, reading unapproved stories by unapproved writers, and generally going on about their unapproved lives, all the while ignoring the shrill screeches from certain quarters.”

    That reminds me of H. L. Mencken’s time-honored description of Puritanism: “The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy”. It’s ironic, isn’t it, that those who would unhesitatingly reject Puritanism as racist, sexist, homophobic and a bunch of other nasties, now exhibit even worse Puritanism themselves?

    Personally, I don’t give a tuppenny damn about SJW’s or their cause(s). I’m my own man, formed and shaped by many elements to be the person I am today. For better or worse, that’s who I am: and my friends, and those whose opinions I take seriously, recognize that, and are willing to accept me as I am. None of them try to tell me that I have to conform to their standards before they’ll accept me. If they did, I wouldn’t hang around them much longer. The SJW’s haven’t yet caught on that their shrill, increasingly malign histrionics are actually driving away the very people they’re so desperate to convert. In the process they’re creating their own enemies and condemning themselves to increasing irrelevance.

    How can I say that? Simple. I don’t regard myself as any great shakes as an author, but even as a relatively new indie (I’ve been in the market less than two years), I’m willing to bet I’m making more money from my books than almost all the SJW authors. (Not compared to a Scalzi or his ilk, of course, but there aren’t many of them. I’m speaking about the broad mass of books and authors in that field.) I’m making a comfortable living from my books because I’m writing stuff that people enjoy and are willing to pay for with their own hard-earned dollars. That’s satisfying to them, gratifying to me, and overall a win for everyone concerned. How many SJW’s can say the same?

    Let the market decide who’s relevant and who’s not. Relevance, in this case, is measured in dollars and expressed in cash-register chimes. SJW authors are increasingly like those arty-farty museums that can’t survive on entrance fees because they’ve lost touch with what people want to see. Instead they rely on funding from charities and ‘public’ money (extorted from taxpayers without their consent in the name of ‘culture’). When your views are so out of touch that you’ll starve if they’re all you have to peddle, you’re in deep trouble.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Comparing the Puritans to the SJW is insulting … to the Puritans. [Wink]

    • Yes, indeedy. I also find it telling how many of them don’t write to support themselves, but do it for love of the art or some other, similar, privileged reason. I’m blessed to have a spouse who recognizes that I’m ruined for other work, and good at what I do, and supports me in that. It’s curious to me that people who don’t depend on their writing for financial support are so willing to prevent others from doing so. “Don’t read X class of authors, as they’re all icky,” comes across a lot like “boycott them so they can’t afford to keep writing and publishing all that disturbing, offensive badthink,” to me. As I said, I resent it.

      That said, I’m jazzed with your success. Climbing Larry’s author rankings is one of the reasons I keep writing. Another, of course, is the thought of winning all those sweet awards: Washington, Jackson, Grant, Franklin . . .

  4. Pat Patterson

    Don’t pay any attention to the zombies. You write, and I’ll read (and review).

    • If you run low at all on reading material, I know OldNFO (he comments around here and ATH sometimes, as well as being a friend in real life) has his second book in KU: “The Grey Man: Payback”.

      • Pat Patterson

        Okay, I’ve got it. Fellow NRA member J L Curtis!
        I’ve reviewed my 50th today, a short story by Sarah, “Heart’s Fire.” Appropriate for the symbolic 50th, since she was the one who brought me to MGC in the first pace. It was a big day for reviews; I did three: one each by Christopher Nuttall, Laura Montgomery, and Sarah Hoyt. I also sneaked in a novella by Tom Kratmann, but I’m not gonna review it because it’s too dark (BOLO in misery).
        I DO hope I’m not being presumptuous in touting my reviewing service on a writers’ blog, but keep those books and short stories coming!

        • Hey, no, not presumptuous at all. Writers often operate in an information vacuum: they write the book, put it out, and then practically end up reading pigeon entrails to figure out why it succeeded or failed. Indie has made it a lot better with the ability to control cover, blurb, and know you own what’s on the market…. and more importantly, to see the sales within a year of them being made to see if it’s working.

          Getting friendly feedback from an honest reader is valuable, because there’s no guessing at all on why it worked for you. For readers who have less than 35 reviews, you are also giving them a valuable gift, as many book promo sites have thresholds of “must have x many reviews with aggregate rating of y before applying.”

          The first hundred sales, and first 20 reviews, are always the hardest to get. After that, life gets better. Thank you, and I hope you’re enjoying this, too!

          • Pat Patterson

            Hey, maybe I’ll even go to Libertycon and bring some of my big boy toys for the range trip!
            I don’t know if Rule 34 applies to Amazon Reviewer Rank, and I don’t even know how the algorithm works to do the ranking. I just looked, and one of the first reviews I did after signing up for KU was for Amanda’s “Nocturnal Origins,” for which I wrote a tongue in cheek review entitled “A blisteringly erotic LGBT allegory,” and my rank was 14, 360, 604. I’ve watched it climb, until recently I broke 100,000, then stutter-stepped back up above 100K, then dropped into the low 90K and as of my last review, of Sarah’s “Heart’s Fire,” I’m at 87,796. Here’s the wack thing: at the low numbers, there’s this cut-throat competition with people gaming the system to rank higher.
            WHY?
            As far as I can tell, there is absolutely no benefit incurred by being a reviewer.
            Maybe they get a hat…

          • Laura M

            What she said.

      • Read it, THOROUGHLY enjoyed it, reviews posted on my blog and on Amazon.

  5. And for anybody who hasn’t read Kilted Dave yet, here’s a link to one of his books! Fun filled danger, excitement, and shooting monsters with really big guns!

    http://www.amazon.com/Baptism-Fire-Faith-David-Pascoe-ebook/dp/B00ES2QKE6/

    • Thanks for the plug, Dorothy! (Dave is a shameful self-promoter, and consequently doesn’t do much of it.) That cover is going to get a touch up in the near future, and hopefully signal a bit more Rural Fantasy. The sequel is half-written, and suffering mostly from Writer Became a Daddy Syndrome. Soon, though, my darlings. Soon . . .

      • “Writer Became a Daddy Syndrome”.

        You see! There IS sex in science fiction!

        😀

        • And not just of the “insert Tentacle A into Orifice B” variety. Nope, we’re talking for genuine reproductive purposes here. In the past tense. And ye shouldst beware of which wise ye crack, lest we saddle ye with the Spawnling.

        • Uncle Lar

          As any daddy knows it’s more of the nature sex becomes a fantasy and sleep vanishes from the Earth.

      • Uncle Lar

        Bought it, read it, thoroughly enjoyed it.
        You spin a good tale. I look forward to the sequel.
        That said, it would have profited from a final independent edit. There were several grammar, spelling, and continuity glitches that a nit picker such as myself tends to notice.

        • Thank you! Well, huh. It did have a final independent edit. Not sure who dropped what ball on that, though it’s ultimately my responsibility. The things you never think about when you get into a business. I’ll have to make Mrs. Dave go over it (and the next one) with a fine-tooth comb.

  6. I wonder if they’d read Matian Tee because she ticks the ‘Asian, Female, not in the US’ boxes. She seems to be doing pretty darned well and is prolific.

    Not in SFF though. But she is an example of the tickboxes they want so much to be checked.

    http://www.mariantee.com/my-road-to-publication.html

    • I’d be surprised if she mattered to them. Genres outside scifi and fantasy don’t seem to qualify. Either that, or they get a pass. It’s all disturbingly opaque most of the time.

      • Yep, inconsistent too. I mean, they seem to imagine that writers from overseas will be obsessively aware of the current SJW rages… The quote below illustrates that its likely not the case and what may be perceived as racism in the US won’t be remotely racist to a non-American.

        “Flip” is a great example. It’s supposedly a rude, racist term for Filipinos in the US. Some Filipinos may take it that way, certainly – but some will cheerfully appropriate it as an affectionate nickname. I definitely understand the latter – Filipinos are often irreverent, flippant, and love to joke and tease for fun and not malice. We’re fond of puns and wordplay and it illustrates, I think, the love Filipinos have for language. Great example: Flipside Publishing Services, Inc. – Filipinos often refer to Pinoys living in the US as being over ‘States-side’.

        • Javahead

          And, until you pointed out the pun, I wouldn’t have even noticed. Even though I’m aware of the nickname.

          I guess I’m a little obtuse, a little old-fashioned, or both: I’d have guessed the name was a play on the B side of a vinyl record.

  7. Right. Like we could even hold WeeDave for more than a few seconds before Sarah would swoop down and pluck him from our grasp, making off with him like a Roc stealing treasure.

    • You just need to snag him while she’s on a panel.

    • *has now a mental image of Sarah as a fluffy feathered dragon happily babysitting and crooning over the current clutch of baby Hunlings*

      …what?

      • That’s … not inappropriate. Seriously. Half the reason I’m circumspect with my language as regards the insanity coming from the Myrmidons for Cultural Domination is that should some idiot be so foolish as to threaten Wee Dave, I’m concerned Her BBEvilness will start breathing fire. The other part is that I live in occupied territory, and have zero interest in giving the PTB reason to check in on me.

      • Javahead

        Given the recent revisions in thinking about dinosaurs (Feathered T-Rex! I prefer to think of them resembling a giant blue-and-gold macaw, with their roar a bass version of a macaw’s shriek) a fluffy feathered dragon doesn’t seem too out of line.

        Though I don’t know if Sarah self-images as a dragon, fluffy feathered OR scaled.

        Me, I self-image as a bobcat – a medium sized predator, rather solitary, and as fond of good meals and drowsing in the sun as as any other cat.

  8. The more I read her the more I like.

    When Drawn was first released, I received a few emails and reviews that said I was being a racist because my characters used the word “Japs”. Apparently, in the US this was a racist term – something similar to “nigga” I suppose. This is NEWS to me because I live in the Philippines and we Filipinos love to abbreviate. We even call ourselves “Pinoy” rather than Filipino. I’m Filipino-Chinese and I don’t mind being called “Chinoy”, “Intsik” “Tsek-wa”. It is what it is. When I learned about this term, I made the decision NOT to edit the book. I believe that the best way to defeat bullies and racists is to take away the negativity from their actions. I hope that with my books, “Jap” becomes a cool term. That way, in the future if a real-life racist uses “Jap”, it wouldn’t amount to anything because we’ve destroyed the negative power behind it. So screw you, racists!

    Also, this:
    http://www.mariantee.com/for-writers/filipino-authors-dont-need-to-compete-with-international-superstars

    • I think I like this lady (who would probably not object to being called such).

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      I could say more offensive things using the name out full, Japanese, than I would ever use Jap for.

      In my experience, we don’t hate the Japanese much, especially not anywhere near WWII levels, which were mostly earned. Yes, Jap is mainly used historically, but I think the difference between Jap and Japanese is more casual/formal than racism. I grew up hearing stories of Japanese atrocity from a man who had been friends with Japanese internees. (He’d also known a guy who’d been in, IIRC, the Philippines, been captured, and was naturally bowlegged.)

      Before the war, nylon was invented and put competitive pressure on, among others, Japanese silk growers. At one point, according to the Japanese government, it was an acronym for Now You Lousy Old Nipponese. Guess how I use it?

      • And so we learn that the evil minions of the Imperial Japanese government use to make up insults against themselves, just like SJWs. It must be a fascist feel-sorry-for-myself thing.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          It could simply be a tool. Convincing one’s followers that the rest of the world wants them to die in a fire seems like it could make them capable of anything.

          Imperial Japan was doing psychological prep work for the thirties and forties at least since Meiji.

          Sure there was racial animus towards Japanese in America before the war. The bulk of America’s desire and willingness to wipe out the Japanese came from intercultural communication with the IJA and IJN in the Pacific.

  9. Pingback: You don’t have to be mad to work here . . . | D.E. Pascoe

  10. Uncle Lar

    It does beg the question: how does she know who she’s reading?
    It’s been a long standing tradition in SF&F to keep an entire stable of pen names, and tailor them to individual markets. Were we as evil as claimed we could have quite a bit of fun with this.
    Dave could put a picture of himself in his skirt on every cover and airbrush himself a bit of tan. Personally, I’ve always thought it would be way cool to be a black lesbian. Might just be worth cranking out a few potboilers myself under that disguise.
    Never forget that old and crusty truism, on the internet no one knows you’re a dog.

    • To really pull that off, I’d have to shave, though, and I did enough of that when it was a matter of regulations. I have, on the other hand, thought fondly of borrowing the likeness of various friends and family for the purpose of creating as many noms de plume for as many variations on the theme as I have the time and interest. The limiting factor is time, really. Perhaps that great and glorious day when I Make It As A Real Author and don’t have to work anymore.

      • Nonono. You are merely what in benighted times would have been termed a “bearded lady” or woman of hirisuteness! Get all huffy and say things like “beardshaming” if anyone doubts your female bonafides 😀

  11. lonejanitor

    I read one to three books a day. Even assuming I knew who they were, I doubt I could find enough ‘asexual writers’ to fill an entire year. This woman has no sense of proportion. Or, um, sense.

  12. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

    Who really gives a damn? Seriously. I read what I want to, and write what I want to. I’ve never cared about the book du jour, and never will.

    The big advantage of today’s fiction market is I can almost always find something worth reading, something that wasn’t always possible in the seventies. And for writers, you can almost always find interested readers, something that has only been possible in the last ten years or so.

    I know my taste isn’t for everyone, and quite frankly I don’t give a damn. We’re living in the Golden Age of books. Let’s enjoy it, and watch those who can’t adapt enjoy Evolution in Action.

    Wayne