Is being PC going to win you customers?

“Augustus,” announced Cecilia, putting up her chin, “Will be remembered long after you have sunk into oblivion!”
“By his creditors? I don’t doubt it.”

I’m re-reading THE GRAND SOPHY (Georgette Heyer) at the moment and thought this quote appropriate for aspiring authors. Augustus Fawnhope is the ‘beautiful poet’ whose verses don’t ‘take’, despite the prodigious amount his doting mama spent on getting them published.

Now as I have no interest in ‘dodging duns’ for the rest of my life, it is somewhat more important to me that my writing does ‘take’ than that anyone should remember me after I have sunk into oblivion, or worm-food.

We’re living in ‘interesting times’ for authors. Lots of opportunities, and a fair number of disasters. Some of the ones coming down the track at Random Penguin  involving some fairly large name editors if the Scuttlebutt is correct. That should be ‘interesting’ for their authors. Trad cuts will substantively affect authors, and of course the grace-and-favor clients of the same. As the grace-and-favor camp-followers have – in order to show their loyalty – made themselves as popular as the guy frying bacon next to the Vegan conference with everyone else, it should be really interesting for them. Some of the authors will no doubt move to Indy – there is nowhere else for them to go. Some may well flourish. Many – out from the ‘doting mama’ – will discover that to ‘take’ you have to appeal to a lot of people outside of mama.

That means you have to start doing hard things – like looking at what is or isn’t popular. What you can sell. What you have to sell to survive or thrive.
That’s potentially very little of the population. Let’s just take the US, and assume you want to make serious money but could accept to make say $35K PA without too many creditors or duns…

Call it 350 million people in the US. Let’s assume you will write one book a year – most of us could do that – and that you’ll turn a clear $3.50 profit (once again a reasonable assumption). That’s 10 K copies or more or less 1 copy per year to for every 32 000 people.

Easy, right?

It should be. The US is a big country, and yes you could find 10K of even the most obscure grouping scattered among them.

The problem is you have to look quite hard. And then knock out the part that doesn’t read or reads very little, or not fiction. And then the part that doesn’t read your language (translation costs) And you have to take the fact that only a few read sf/fantasy (somewhere between 2-5% IIRC). So let’s say you take guestimates at all those (and they’re just guesses, guys, informed guesses, but this is just is just illustration.) at 5% sf/fantasy, 50% reading fiction (a very high guess) and 80% reading English. Now we’re down to 1:640 people has to buy your book. Still not ridiculously hard.

Of course you still have to tell them it exists – which is harder.

You can see where it starts to get pretty serious now. The more people you exclude, the harder it gets, the more you include, the easier. The less competition you have, once again the easier. Look at the demographic data. You’re not trying to please mama-the-publisher and their tastes. You’re trying to please as under-served a market as possible, as well as write what you want to (because yes, you can write what you HAVE to. It just tends to lose some savor).

Let’s say you count out male readers, 1:320 and ones who don’t enjoy most of trad Pub’s very PC ideology (where approval runs at 28%)… yes, well. 1:90. It is interesting – looking back at several surveys that seems to have, at least, for now passed its peak. In 2010,   34% said PC balance was right (11%) or insufficient (23%), by 2014 it dropped to 28% – with balance right (16%) and ‘insufficient’ (12% )  . I’d hazard a bet that’s moved further since then, and the balance between ‘more needed’ and ‘enough’ has turned on its head. Needless to say Trad. Pub and its clients still continue to push for ‘more’. This will not end well. It’s a shrinking market they have 100% of!
Not all of those will read your flavor of sf, and while most people will buy a number of books a year… there are several hundred trad authors who may find their editor-mama just left them high and dry –as well as those readers still buying from Trad publishing.

It’s certainly not impossible. If you start to subdivide it even smaller, it does become harder and harder. If you want the $100K PA Kameron Hurley thought sufficienr to pay her adequately and choose a small section of the market to appeal to… do the sums again. Good luck.

It’s at times like this I am very glad of the cover quote on RATS BATS AND VATS from Booklist.

“Space Opera grows fur and wings in this jape by two accomplished writers… Politically correct? C’mon! Great fun? Ah yes.”

(the picture is a link)

I guess I was ahead of the curve. I have to wonder just how many Puppy Kickers ever read a book of mine – or any of the authors they kick?


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106 responses to “Is being PC going to win you customers?

  1. Draven

    just like the tv networks think going more and more pc is a magic cure…. and they wonder why NCIS (which can be slightly un-PC) is the most popular show on TV.

    • Freddie_mac

      Or alternatively, being rabidly anti-PC to the few remaining unprotected groups (i.e., ABC’s “The Real O’Neils”), and wondering why the money, ratings & adulation aren’t flowing in. Entertainment can be funny without denigrating people or their beliefs; if someone took a few minutes (and left their anti-religion agenda home), it wouldn’t be that hard to make a funny and respectful series about an Irish Catholic family.

      • That would probably require talking to actual Irish Catholics to get all the in jokes and then where would they be? *removes tongue from cheek*

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Television writers don’t talk to real people (ie non-television industry people) about anything. 😦

          • More’s the pity. And they wonder why people are turning to ametures on youtube. 😛

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              A few years back, somebody had this “bright idea” to have a situation comedy based around the Pilgrims settlers.

              Of course, the writers confused the Pilgrims with the Puritans but even got the Puritans wrong.

              The comedy “never found its audience” and failed. [Very Very Big Evil Grin]

              Note, there have been attempts to do a situation comedy based on the family of a fictional President of the US (including the President himself as comical character). Every attempt has failed.

              • The issue with Sit Coms is they have to be TRUE to be funny. You have to look at them and go “oh good grief… I KNOW someone like that.” or “I could see that happening.” And with a disconnect with reality you can’t get that connection with reality to inflate them to comic proportions.

                • adventuresfantastic

                  This. Some years ago (a decade +) there was a sitcom entitled “Hidden Hills” or something close to it. It was the funniest thing I’d seen in years. Half the time I was saying “that’s my life” while looking for the camera hidden in my house because I recognized so many situations as having happened to me. The other half of the time, I was praying that what I saw on the screen wouldn’t become my life because I could see it happening.

                  It was replaced midseason by a sitcom about young single professionals that was anything but funny.

                • Or have some element of truth. Despite it being decades old, early Jack Benny radio shows still work. Why? Because “everyone knows someone like that.” Yes, some signs of age can’t be helped, but overall… we all know people enough like the characters of the cast that it’s “real enough.”

                  Some regional humor fails to translate regions for this. My example is that some of the stuff of ‘Da Yoopers’ is (perhaps too) familiar – to me, and my family. To someone in, say, western Oregon it’s apt to fall flat. If looks could melt, my mother would have melted the radio when she first heard ‘Rusty Chevrolet’. A glare (“…brighter than the sun. Duck! And cover!”) and the all-but-growled comment, “I drove that car.” The d*mn was implied, but everyone knew it was really there.

                  • Rusty Chevrolet does well elsewhere. And I cracked up the first time I heard Second Week of Deer Camp.

                    • richardmcenroe

                      As Kurt Busch’s girlfriend taught him, what happens in deer camp stays in deer camp…

                    • the lead in bit to Rusty sounds like many of my relatives. The lady who does Da Couch Dat Burps sounds exactly like my Aunt Flo.
                      Though Aunt Flo wouldn’t say “Life is like Bridge. If you haven’t got a good partner, you better have a good hand”

                      Countin down to Yooper living again .. . . .

              • Bob

                I liked That’s my Bush and Lil Bush.

          • Draven

            Sure they do, but more often than not the people they are talking to are in Los Angeles or New York.

            • Draven

              I should be more specific. WEST Los Angeles, and parts of the San Fernando Valley.

              • A good few decades ago, I read an article in the TV Guide – back when TV Guide sometimes published genuinely interesting articles and essays to do with television — I read an article which attempted to explain the mindset of the average LA-based scriptwriter. The author of the article postulated that these writers were generally happy and fulfilled in their jobs, they lived in comfortable circumstances (their paychecks were regular and generous), the weather was nice, the police force was efficient and courteous (wow – that article must have been from the 1970s at least!) and they generally couldn’t help being of a certain and rather insular mind-set.

                All goes to show, eh?

        • There are indeed the in-jokes. When talking to a Roman Catholic friend about Protestant denominational “rules,” I said “Thou shalt not sit on thy neighbor’s pew,” and he thought I was serious.

          BTW, for church humor, I like Church of the Covered Dish.

          • “Thou shalt not sit on thy neighbor’s pew,”

            There are some Anglican churches like that. Makes it tricky as a visitor because you don’t know which pews are not “reserved”

            • adventuresfantastic

              I’m sure the Anglicans have nothing on the Baptists when it comes to “my seat” or “my pew”.

        • Where? Probably having had a few drinks and not giving a toss about writing 😉

      • They write what they know. Not being religious, they do not know religious humor. They run down religion because that is all they know about it. In all serious, the MSM knows more about Muslims than Christians, and what they know about Muslims isn’t much.

        • One of the few things I recall from listening, long ago now, to he who has made a big assterisk of himself, was that (paraphrased) “Hollywood script writers know how to write scripts. That’s all they know. They don’t know dectives, police, western, mystery, science fiction, or anything else of a subject of a show. Just how to write a script. And that’s why the shows supposedly all about different things all seem the same.”

          Huh. And SJW-ists only know SJW-isms, and the books all read just the same. Ticky (box) tacky.

          • Indeed, Orvan. But their audience likes the same, and so do they. It’s just the rest of us it fails to bind with.

          • Alan

            a common problem. Teachers are much the same: they know about classroom control, etc., but very often don’t know much about their subjects beyond what’s in the teacher’s guide.
            All communication-oriented careers need to be fertilized with a variety of life experience.

        • “MSM knows more about Muslims than Christians, and what they know about Muslims isn’t much.” – a gem, Kevin 🙂

      • I saw the advertisements for that and thought it was rather sad. I mean, in this day and age, you’re going to shock people with divorce and being gay? They honestly seemed to think they were kicking over the sacred cows… that weren’t there. They’d be more iconoclastic if they’d made the series about a genuinely devout family, where the son might struggle with being gay and perhaps decides to be celibate out of the his religious conviction or the parents stay together out of genuine faith and devotion to the family. Note I’m not pushing this. well, maybe the second. Having been in the political closet for years, I don’t wish closets on anyone, but seriously, it would be FAR MORE “shocking” and revolutionary to use THOSE tropes.

        • John. R. Ellis

          Yeah, The real Catholic families I know are -so- much funnier and smarter than “jokes” about such cutting edge topics as pornographic pop-up ads being A Thing That Exists.

        • *dry* They’d be horrified at the couples interviewed some years back in the Philippines: Lesbians and gays who felt their faith was more important than their orientation, got married, had at least one child. And one couple had a very gay guy. (Think very, very effeminate, blazingly fabulous gay. Who’s also prettier than the butch wife.)

          • GIGGLE. The most butch girl in my class was the first of us to get married. You could have knocked us with a feather when she had to get married for reason of having twins on the way. And this was after she had been suspended the year before for being CAUGHT at Lesbian sex. (It was all over. It was an all girls school and very demanding. Most people had no life outside school, so the mechanics of prison actuated. [and no, I was never tempted. I jonesed on the guys int he school across the street] but to be caught at it you had to be doing it a hell of a lot and not care.)
            She looked, basically, like a boy, and was into all the sports.
            Then I met her husband who was petite and amazingly pretty. And I thought “oh.”
            To my knowledge, they’re still married 35 years later. And have six kids.

        • Mary

          Well, duh. All the fun of being radical and none of the downside.

          “And an even worse example, I think, than the cheapening of the word CHARITY is the new newspaper cheapening of the word COURAGE.

          “Any man living in complete luxury and security who chooses to write a play or a novel which causes a flutter and exchange of compliments in Chelsea and Chiswick and a faint thrill in Streatham and Surbiton, is described as “daring,” though nobody on earth knows what danger it is that he dares. I speak, of course, of terrestrial dangers; or the only sort of dangers he believes in. To be extravagantly flattered by everybody he considers enlightened, and rather feebly rebuked by everybody he considers dated and dead, does not seem so appalling a peril that a man should be stared at as a heroic warrior and militant martyr because he has had the strength to endure it.”

          ― G.K. Chesterton

    • I seldom watch network TV because it just isn’t worth the time. This past weekend I watched a detective show that had . . . issues. A judge would have tossed whatever came out of those interrogation scenes.

      • Sara the Red

        Yeah, I cringe at most detective shows for that very reason…and I don’t know THAT much about police/law procedure! If the rest of the writing is entertaining/well done enough, I’ll let it slide (like with The Mentalist…or at least chunks of the Mentalist), and at least sometimes they’ll lampshade it (they did do so once in the Mentalist, but never actually changed anything, alas).

        • Mark

          And they know even less about technology. I once saw a CSI episode where they read the bar-code off of a plane ticket. By blowing up the image from a surveillance camera. At night. From a low def camera. In the pocket of someone a hundred yards away.

  2. I have a question about how the industry works, how many books a year can one editor process? In the Random Penguin link above they mention that 4 editors are being laid off, any idea what the total number of less book per year will be the result?

    • Freddie_mac

      how many books a year can one editor process?
      Depends on the “type” of editor. My company has acquisitions editors — their job is simply to go out and find new content. Production editors actually shepherd the work through the production process, working directly with copy editors (the person who’s reading the book) and vendors. Many of the “editors” in trad pub aren’t actually reading the book at all; that defaults to the publishing assistant (maybe) and copy editor (definitely).

      any idea what the total number of less book per year will be the result?
      I don’t work in genre or fiction publishing (scientific publishing is a whole ‘nother animal), but I’m speculating that each “editor” is expected to meet certain annual revenue targets, and they work backwards to fill out those numbers. For example, Editor A is expected to produce $X for the upcoming fiscal year. Editor looks at the pipeline and guesstimates how much of that content will fill the revenue target (say 60%), and then Editor shops around to various agents. When they’re looking at proposals from agents, they’re thinking in terms of numbers … I’ve got a hole of ~%40 for my annual target, we tend to sell Y units of this type of book, so adding this to my list would decrease my deficit by X%.

      Remember that books are contracted well in advance of their publication date; any fall out from the Random Penguin changes may not have a noticeable impact in the marketplace for 6-12 months. These layoffs might not necessarily mean fewer books; it may mean that each remaining editor’s fiscal targets have increased ($X becomes $X+Y).

      • Uncle Lar

        For some time now we’ve seen how senior editors in trad pub have delegated more of the scut work to either junior assistants or primarily onto the backs of the writers themselves. Excepting a few star properties authors now are expected to do much of their own promotion, and on their own dime as well. As for copy edit, I’ve seen supposedly camera ready manuscripts that got at best a lick and a promise, ie the text was rife with typos, grammar and syntax mistakes, and countless cases of homonym usage. True copy edit which requires skill and knowledge has been replaced by a junior assistant doing little more than babysitting MS Word’s grammar and spell checker.
        As real professional editing gets spread ever thinner we are seeing trad pub releases that increasingly are guilty of the gross errors that indie has been accused of. As the value of trad pub services continues to deteriorate the rationale for staying with a house over going indie continues to weaken.

        • This is why I started questioning the value of traditional publication.

        • Alan

          Sounds like a great business case for more and more small e-pub houses – can do pretty much everything a large publisher will do, at potentially much lower overhead, which creates margin that can be used competitively to attract established authors, do more publicity, etc.
          Large-pub’s advantage in filling bookstore shelves is of declining importance.

    • gbp4 – Freddie_mac did a good job of answering. Let me add a few things. A fairly small proportion of an editor at a publishing house’s time is taken up with your actual editing. (meetings, budgets, correspondence, attending various events etc. etc). Having done my best to line edit and structural edit I would say to do a thorough job, thoughtful, systematic and very worth having would take longer than they’re generally allowing now – 2 weeks of concentrated work (given normal 8 hour days, and 5 day weeks) would have me really happy I had given a normal length, not badly written book a thorough grind and polish (and yes. I am obsessive. Some people might say that’s way too long.) I’d guess at 20 books a year being a reasonable load. This is purely a guess.

  3. Since I started writing at a mil-blog, and have continued as a contributor to a relatively conservative one which is more history and economics-based, I’ve never made a particular secret of my own political leanings, such as they are … but they tend to not come up in my books, other than being sympathetic towards those characters who own or run a business. And I don’t go out of the way to kick the liberal-inclined in the teeth since … hey, they might read one of my books and find something interesting and educational about American history in it.

    But now and again, I wonder how profitable it would be to have a massive sh*t-storm kicked off, with liberal-lovvies coming unglued and a huge new audience checking out my books just to see what the screaming is all about …

    And then my daughter talks me out of it.

    • This is what pen names and pseudonyms are for. *grin* Write it, and see if it takes off! Then write some more of it, if it does. It would mean starting all over without the ready audience you have, but you nevah know…

    • Gosh darnit, now I want to read it if only to raise steam from being known to be reading/have read it.

      • The original milblog has gone through a number of iterations – but now it is The Daily Brief – and the one that I contribute to now and again is Chicagoboyz, although I am not a boyz and have never been to Chicago.
        Enjoy the steam – both of these sites have tons of posts archived.

        • Chrismouse

          I think I actually found Sarah Hoyt’s blog through Chicagoboyz. I googled Larry Correia after reading his first book. Then I found everyone else through those two. Except Williamson, Flint, and Ringo, whom I’d read before and then met up with at WindyCon a few years back.

    • Well -It has worked for some people!

  4. adventuresfantastic


  5. adventuresfantastic

    c4c, this time checking the new comments via email box
    *goes in search of more coffee*

  6. I wonder how many “Puppy Kickers” can read? 😦

  7. There is growing “shadow market” that I have uncovered for fiction that includes homosexual characters that is not typical victim-centric LGBTW fiction. Genuine diversity in fiction–stories that are fun and just happen to include a broad range of characters–seems to appeal to a wide demographic that is tired of seeing “people like themselves” only as pawns of The Narrative.

  8. Christopher M. Chupik

    Depends what you consider “success”. If getting promoted at and getting cover blurbs from Scalzi and Jemisin are your idea of success, I suppose PC would be the way to go. For the rest of us, not so much.

    • Chris – the point is that that can actively work against your commercial success. Yes you will sell to the PC faction, who I would guess are probably down to 25% by now, and following a downward trend. That may well be quite sufficient for your needs. Of course the obvious corollary doesn’t occur to Scalzi or Jemisin – or the Hugo Award winners for that matter. There will be readers to whom Scalzi, Jemison, or Hugo mean nothing before they read the book. They will however reference them against the book – if they loved it, they will possibly seek out Scalzi, Jemison or Hugo award winners. If they hated it, they will avoid those.

  9. Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
    I think that the trad publishers need to see this:

    We are seeing the slow death of trad publishing, death by insularity and stupidity.

  10. Alfred Genesson

    OT: Caitlin Kiernann has started a Patreon page. To write her next novel, which she’ll THEN deliver to her agent and try to get a better book deal from a finished work. ONLY the $100/mo. for a minimum of 8 months level even grants supporters a copy of the book. Oh, you’ll get to see some excerpts, but no book unless you either buy it separately, or pay $800. Of course, she refuses to acknowledge she might do better ditching the agent, hiring an editor, and self publishing. She even has a reader funded monthly, and is still determined to go the tradpub route. My guess is, her books don’t earn out the advances, so she’s fearful of actual sales figures.

  11. I just noticed how much “going PC” and “going postal” resemble each other. Do you think that’s just a coincidence?

  12. Guillaume Jay

    R,b and V is One of the funniest sf book i ever read, maybe the funniest. I read it as a baen Free ebook iirc 10+ years ago, and it put you and eric flint on my list of watched authors.
    I have no memories that it was unpc.
    On the other hand, i’m french, and a leftist, so quite a sjw by nature.
    (To speak frankly, SP has shown me a
    side of you which i’m not very comfortable with…)
    (Sorry for spelling, cell typing in a second language is hard)

  13. hyrosen

    “I have to wonder just how many Puppy Kickers ever read a book of mine – or any of the authors they kick?”

    If you believe that 25% of science-fiction readers want more of what you call PC, and you behave in a way that will alienate that part of the audience, you are reducing your sales prospects by that much. If your antithetical beliefs are that important to you, I suppose that’s fine, and you can hope to attract segments of the audience with beliefs similar to yours, but other authors might not want to dismiss so many prospective customers out of hand. Meanwhile, I don’t see why you should be surprised or dismayed or annoyed that you have succeeded in repelling the people whom you set out to repel.

    The reason not to read books by puppies and their supporters is that once you have come to question the wisdom and judgement of an author, it’s difficult to read their works uncolored by the knowledge of their deficiencies, and it becomes much less fun to do so, in the same way that it now feels awkward to watch Bill Cosby’s comedies. And since there is no shortage of works by other authors who are not so off-putting, why not choose them?

    • Hyrosen – let’s run this past me slowly, because I’m from Tasmania.
      We can run this under two assumptions. The first is that all readers are equal in their tolerance or intolerance. In this model we assume that those who want more (11% not 25%) or think the level is about right (which, added together want more, last year got you 28%. Taking the trend displayed I extrapolated that that 25% this year.) are as tolerant or intolerant as the remaining 75%. If they’re equally tolerant then it makes no difference to my income – I would sell to 100% of the audience. If they are equally intolerant – those want more or feel the present levels are right will only read literature that reflects that… and likewise those who feel it excessive will not read overtly PC books — from a commercial point of view favoring 75% over the 25% would seem at least to be business sense to me. The opposite – and then whining that you’re not making a living does seem remarkably stupid. I’m only stupid, not remarkably so.

      If we take the second possible assumption – that is that two groups of people are NOT equally tolerant… let’s run that through logic. If the 75% are intolerant won’t read PC books and the 25% will read non-PC books – economically it makes sense to please the 75%. If – as you seem to imply – the 25% want more and just right are intolerant of anything that doesn’t comply with their desires, and the other 75% are tolerant then indeed I would be losing customers. I would also be obliging the intolerant at the expense of tolerant majority. Would you find that morally acceptable? Unfortunately mere neutrality, and allowing a book to be judged on its merits is not acceptable to the 25%. One must loudly signal its PC virtue. Trust me on this. I know a good few authors who are still trying merely keep a low profile, not identify with any camp. The 75% will buy them. The 25% not.

      I’m neither surprised nor dismayed nor annoyed by the puppy kickers that I ‘have succeeded in repelling’. What I am surprised, dismayed and annoyed about is that I was unaware of the Puppy-Kickers time-traveling skills. I’ve had books out since 1999. The Puppy-Kickers and their ilk didn’t read me LONG LONG before Sad Puppies. They don’t now. So I’ve lost… nothing. On the other hand it does seem I’ve gained readership over the last two years – despite Puppy kickers calling me a bad writer, a sexist, a racist, a homophobe, even a Neo-Nazi… on the basis of what? They haven’t read my books, have no instances of their accusations to point to. (Damian Walter even tried to crowd source such mud on Larry Correia. And failed). In other words, you’ve listened to liars who have their interests – financial and social – in denigrating the pups… and believed them. Back where I come from we’ve got a word for people who discriminate against individuals on the basis of the group they come from. For example Fred is a Gypsy. All Gypsies are thieves according to the fairly dodgy bunch of criminals with proven records who told you, therefore you accuse Fred of being a thief, despite no criminal record, and in fact an outstanding history of community service. What does that make Fred? What does that make you – besides a bigot and bearer of false witness against an innocent man?

      If you’re not just a stupid camp-following bigot, then actually read what you are going to accuse of bad writing or racism. Or don’t accuse -and ask the hard question of those who sling mud: where is the evidence?

      I’ve stated my position on PC at length in various places, but as you haven’t read it let me restate. It is a largely worthless to actively damaging exercise changing names and inserting tokens, denigrating individuals who should be judged fairly on their merits or lack of as humans buy treating individuals as widgets. Humans ARE individuals, and can be heroes, or villains by their own efforts. Changing the name of some group is futile, unless you change the understanding and perception of that group and get others to perceive that they are individuals and human and to be judged as that (unlike bigots who say ‘oh they are puppies, we hate them all and they are all XYZ’).

      I write characters which I do my best to write as realistic and identifiable with as possible, put them in situations in which they behave as the character dictates. Not the color of their skin or orientation or PC count-the-token-paint-the-story-by-numbers requires. By what they are, which is human. Or occasionally alien. Or cyber-uplifted Elephant Shrew. Sometimes skin color or orientation can be factors. Sometimes they are not. I try to set those who many readers consider ‘other’ in my story and show that they are potentially individuals and should be judged as that. That people should think for themselves. No wonder I am anathema to the Puppy Kicker leadership. If people thought for themselves, they might see that the beneficiaries of a corrupt system might well want it to continue ;-/

      • hyrosen

        I find books that seem interesting to me, and I read them. Sometimes I can detect the author’s politics through the prose, and if it bothers me enough, I won’t read that author any more. Sometimes the author writes separately about politics, and if that bothers me enough, I won’t read that author again either. Card and Wright, for obvious reasons. Dan Simmons for Flashback.

        What I see from puppies are complaints that books have won undeserved accolades simply for being PC, and when I’ve read those books I don’t find that to be true at all. The Hugo novel winners for the last couple of decades were all fine books on their merits. So when authors support the notion that these novels have won through conspiracy, and then support attempts to win Hugos by slate voting, and also deride political ideas that I’m fond of, I decide that their beliefs are such that they are unlikely to produce fiction that I will like, and that even if they do, their beliefs are such that I prefer not to patronize their work.

        • Hyrosen I will be writing about some of your miss-perception of the Puppy campaign next week. I hope you will join us then, as I have work to do now. Suffice to say at this point you fall into two of the Puppy-kickers favorites errors. Firstly ‘What I like is good for everyone’ — a sentiment amply disproved by the crashing sales figures of sf, and staff-losses I wrote about in this post. SF/Fantasy is in trouble. It needs popular support for it to survive – ESPECIALLY the kind you like, which will become a tiny irrelevant niche without more readers for the genre as a whole. Secondly, Unlike the Puppy-Kickers who tolerate no political views but their own, the pups have gone to some length to nominate authors who did NOT hold a unitary political viewpoint. They’ve said, over and over that they do not wish ANY political point of view excluded. They’ve demonstrated this. On the other hand the Puppy-Kickers demand that anyone who doesn’t hold their precise, narrow, doctrinaire views be excluded. This will turn around and bite them. Any left wing person capable of independent thought would be calling for more political inclusivity — because by the way the worm is turning, otherwise they will reap precisely what they sowed, but tenfold. But that poorly serves the short term and very much vested interests of those who have gamed this system for their benefit for years. Do the maths. I have.

          • hyrosen

            “What I like is good for everyone”
            I like what I like; what else can be done? But this “fallacy” makes sense only to those who think that the Hugo winners are somehow all the same. Is _The City & the City_ the same as _Among Others_ (both of which I enjoyed)? Is _The Graveyard Book_ the same as _Blackout_?

            “Tolerate no poltical views but their own”
            “Gamed the system for years”

            The common factor among puppies is conspiracy mongering. The simpler explanation is that your political views are a minority among people who nominate and vote for Hugos, and to the extent they are made aware of those views either because they show through the work or because of separate writing, and if they are sufficiently repugnant, the majority rejects them.

            The notion of attracting more like-minded people to vote for the Hugos is fine. But the puppies went about it by declaring a culture war, name-calling, and nominating slates, with a person nominated four times who writes screeds decrying same-sex marriage. Unsurprisingly, this had the effect of attracting even more people to the other side.

            As for inclusiveness, that equates to tokenism only for bad writers. The point of inclusiveness is that we have walking all around us people who are different than we are, that we often fail to see because it’s natural to think that everyone is like us. A good writer will see them, include them, and communicate their experiences to the reader.

            • Yeah…let me explain this to you simply: The people you like don’t extend their oh-so-vaunted “inclusiveness” to me and mine.
              By which I mean the following:
              1. Conservatives
              2. Non-leftist Christians
              3. Men
              4. Gun-rights supporters
              5. People who believe in enforcing the law.
              6. Southerners
              7. Pro-lifers
              8. The celibate
              9. Non-self loathing Americans
              10. People who think your chromosomes determine your sex
              11. Anyone else who does not buy into the cultural zeitgeist.

              Your honeyed words ring hollow in my ears.

              • hyrosen

                Inclusion does not mean approval. Stephen King has a character matching many of these characteristics in _Under the Dome_ who is the novel’s (cartoonishly) despicable villain. (Also, I’m tempted to joke that this list of characteristics entirely explains #8.)

                There is hardly a shortage of male characters in Hugo-winning novels. As far as the other list items, just for one example the society in _Ancillary Justice_ is casually and unironically religious, the protagonist is at all times armed and occasionally acts as an agent of law enforcement, and is celibate.

                I sympathize with your failure to find heroes in award-winning novels who match your self-image; it’s difficult to mold a bitter revanchist into a character readers will want to see triumph. I suppose you can fall back to Tom Clancy novels or _The Iron Dream_.

                “Honeyed words”
                Just to be clear, the Hugo awards are a popularity contest among those SF fans motivated to nominate and vote. You preferences for character and style impose no obligation on anyone else. You are welcome to influence other like-minded people to vote your way. You are not entitled to have the attempt be unopposed, and you should not be surprised that how you behave will matter in how much opposition you face.

                • Now, see, there’s your problem. By your definition, there was frequent inclusion of all sorts of characters in the days of yore. By that standard, Farnham’s Freehold is inclusive of black people. But, I forgot. The rules you apply to your foes don’t apply to your friends.

                  And, by the way, smug twits are also a hard character type to make into a sympathetic hero. Which explains a lot.

                  “You are not entitled to have the attempt be unopposed, and you should not be surprised that how you behave will matter in how much opposition you face.”

                  I presume you have mentioned this to the Puppy-kickers, yeah? But, then again, the last sentence of my first paragraph applies here as well.

                  • hyrosen

                    Comment removed. Poster banned from further comments this week.

                    • Hyrosen, your comment has been removed. You were warned.

                    • Draven

                      well, according to their own theories, no one needs more than average….

                    • Just out of curiosity, how obnoxious was his reply, anyway?

                    • @60Guilders

                      It wasn’t obnoxious at all. I don’t know why Dave removed it, other than that Hyrosen mentioned that Hillary Clinton might win the election.

                    • Bonnie McDaniel – I oversee and try to respond to all relevant comments on my posts. Hyrosen was finally banned for this week because I had politely asked him to wait to next week – “Hyrosen I will be writing about some of your miss-perception of the Puppy campaign next week. I hope you will join us then, as I have work to do now.” He simply ignored this and went on spewing nonsense about SP and the audience who buy and what they buy – which does does need my attention. I am not American, who you decide to elect as president is your business, not mine. I’d have tossed him off if he’d praised Trump, Sanders, or Jeb Bush. I do ask that people not turn this into a soapbox for their favorite politician (whoever that is) but actually talk about writing and selling writing

              • Interesting argument here. OK go back to just before the Puppy campaign and look at some nominees for the Campbell Award for best new writers. Oh look! There we have a Mr Larry Correia who is at least part of 1,2,3,4,5,9,10, & 11.

                • Annnnd that’s your only example. Further, you have not addressed the question of protagonist.
                  Your side has also been vigorously targeting him ever since he tried to win a Hugo.

                • Draven

                  who let camelstrapon back in?

                  • Draven – Have you ever seen/heard Monty Python and the Holy Grail? The scene where an exasperated King Arthur finally yells ‘bloody peasant’ and takes after the boring asshole peasant? The peasant is delightedly yelling ‘Help, help, I’m being repressed. Come and see the vi’lence inherent in the system.’ – which is what he’s been trying to achieve by relentlessly goading Arthur. Camestros is that peasant. He wants you to abuse him, call him names based on his pretentious moniker. Then he can go and delightedly tell his little friends how abusive the Sad Pups are. Please don’t oblige him in his silly little game.

                • That’s 1 of your comments. You have 4 left. Be wise for a change. And try to absorb what I just said to your fellow leftist:

                  “Hyrosen – why the hell is it that every self proclaimed ‘leftist’ – barring Guillaume, the one exception in my experience, has ZERO respect or value for the damned workers, who are trying to earn a living? I have made this clear, over and over again. I am a working writer. Writing novels is how I earn a living. I give of my time on this blog principally for the sake my fellow workers – other writers, once a week.”

                  • Good morning Dave. I’m mindful of your workload so rest assured that I wont take it amiss if you don’t reply to my comments.

                    • I am still obliged to monitor them. You know that, and you’re thus abusing it and not commenting on Tuesday (Australia time) for no other reason that I can see. You’re intelligent enough to work that out, and I believe you have. And that is 3.

            • Hyrosen – why the hell is it that every self proclaimed ‘leftist’ – barring Guillaume, the one exception in my experience, has ZERO respect or value for the damned workers, who are trying to earn a living? I have made this clear, over and over again. I am a working writer. Writing novels is how I earn a living. I give of my time on this blog principally for the sake my fellow workers – other writers, once a week. I try to limit answers the next day. You are neither a writer nor a customer. I still answered you at length although your bizarre non-logic that pleasing 25% at the expense of 75% makes no sense. I asked you politely to defer further chatter to next week. Hyrosen’s left wing reply to that: fuck the workers, I’m important.

              Here are some real figures and about the trouble our industry is in. Kameron Hurley is a Hugo award winning darling of your ‘side’ – look at the advances (which no, she probably won’t earn out). Work it out. The darling of your side can’t earn enough to live on. The truth is popular fiction carries and subsidizes ‘prestige’ and ‘message’ and ‘literary’ fiction – your favorites. Very little of it carries itself. I don’t expect you to read popular fiction or like it, or, judging by your grasp of maths, work out that its social commentary is often not just pre-digested pap, but is subtle, nuanced and requires thought. I do expect you to realize that if you want your kind of book – then 60Guilders choice books MUST exist and flourish in the same stable. He doesn’t need your choice. You desperately need his. The 25% PC of the market will not survive without the 75%. The 75% may well survive without the 25%. Try to let this color your thought and behavior.

              As for ‘conspiracy’: Try not to be more of a mathematically challenged idiot than you have to be. I have run the stats on both the irregularities, and total improbability of your wishful thinking. If you believe that, go out and buy a lottery ticket. If you’re right… you’ll be a multimillionaire. That’s about how much chance there is of the demographics of the English speaking readers US not being reflected in any long term analysis of nomination data of a fan award, without major extraneous factors. Yes. It’s that improbable. Conspiracy theory my ass. You have willful blindness because you don’t want to see. This was pointed out to Puppy-Kicker establishment years before Sad Puppies. They did nothing, made the same waffle noises and side dodges you are when you have foolish arguments demolished – because it favored their friends. Then when Larry Correia actually did something they all pissed moaned and screamed racist sexist homophobe at him… which he is none of, and had hissy fits because he campaigned and brought his fans in (which they’d been silent about Scalzi doing)… and did nothing to fix the demographics. So the next year they got Vox Day. Try to learn. Either YOU fix the demographic issue, or get out the way while others do.

              And don’t post again until next week. I have work to do and will delete them.

              • Guillaume Jay

                (since you’re naming me, and I think you have my email, so please use it if you want clarifications)

              • hyrosen

                I’m not a customer now, but I’m pretty sure I read RB&V, at least one of the Karres sequels, and at least one of the Lackey collaborations. (Not that I thini this means you owe me anything.) Once upon a time Baen books were something of an auto-buy for me, except for the milSF (e.g., Drake).

                I also didn’t see your demand that I stop posting until this week until I had already made the couple of posts you deleted. I’m not sorry, exactly, since I didn’t do anything wrong, but I would have refrained from posting if I had seen it in time.

                I am strictly a reader. My only connection to the industry is as a lifetime subscriber to Locus. From my point of view as a reader, I don’t see any problems. I still have stacks of conventionally published SF books to read, and there are still many more such appearing every year than I could possibly get to. (I average one book a week, maybe a little more.) Paranormal romance and urban fantasy are way more popular now than in the old days, but I enjoy reading them too, so not a problem for me.

                As I said, I have liked most of the Hugo-winning novels of this century. I didn’t find them to be similar to each other, or “literary” (except for China Mieville, who is amazing and can do whatever he wants), or “PC”. I don’t find it surprising or unusual that those books won Hugos. The SF I read is from my local B&N chain, which I would have thought is the definition of “popular literature” in a field. All the Hugo winners and nominees are sold there. From the contents of those shelves, it doesn’t seem to me that Baen, for example, is subsidizing the other books.

                I can’t even follow the argument – it is bad for the field that these books win awards, because these books don’t sell well, so we should give the award to books that sell well because the awards will make the books that don’t win sell well? Neil Gaiman has won 4 Hugos, you would likely consider him “PC” (the Sandman comic had a recurring trans woman character), and has enormous sales. Where does he fall in the conspiracy?

                Speaking of popular, is there anything more “popular culture” than a network TV show about superheroes? In a recent episode of Legends of Tomorrow, the time travelling heroes visit small-town America in the 50s, and while the old white guy is rhapsodizing about the good old days, his teammates remark on how it wasn’t so great if you were black, or a woman, or not straight (all of whom are represented on the show). Yet the “PC” doesn’t seem to have driven away viewers; the show was just renewed for a second season.

                When I look at the puppies, all I see are people bitter at losing the culture war who connived to get unearned awards and were stopped by people who weren’t going to let that happen.

                • Draven

                  Dave, don’t delete this one. I’m sure someone will compose an appropriate response soon.

                • Hyrosen I suppose technically this is Monday – here in Australia. I actually meant next week’s post. Be logical. I’ve got that – and the replies to it — to deal with. Why do I want to go back to last week? Please do post any further comments on this one.

                  I’m mildly amused that you consider Jim Butcher as an ‘unearned award’. But by all means I encourage you to nominate and canvas for candidates you think better. In the interests of seeing you can get that book a week you want: they will need to be books which our friend 60guilders would vote for – as he is more-or-less representative of the un-served part of the market, and would rehabilitate the Hugo awards to those not in your narrow little band. Good luck, I look forward to seeing your efforts. I wouldn’t waste your time on Locus as a guide – it suffers the same problem HuffPo. When you don’t pay you get people doing it for ideology.

                  I don’t assume that you think I owe you something, although you do display a considerable sense of entitlement. I do have readers who think the fact that I got 64 cents (yes, that was my share) as meaning they own me for life, but as you’re a reader in the smallest – and least commercially relevant sector, according to Russell Galen (who shares your politics and values) and not a writer, or even a reader of my books in future — why is your opinion of any value to me or any other writer? We’re trying to make a living. So far your advice is the status quo is great! Which is why sf/fantasy booksales are down yet again, and those authors following your advice are not able to pay rent or eat.

                  You also seem to have missed something I’ve said over and over – a small niche audience is quite adequate to support authors or indeed movies, as long as they reach that niche. It isn’t enough to support the industry. If the industry falls (and it is) so does the niche.

                  I have explained and talked about these matters in my next post. Please transfer your attentions to there, if you must.

  14. YES! If Putnam/Dutton can “refine” their output to just one book a year, everyone will HAVE to buy it! Instant guaranteed bestseller!