Success, real and imaginary

“You shift sixteen tons of number one words,

And what do you get?”

Yeah well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

alexa2

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

Alexa1

Only ChinaMike ™ didn’t expect everyone to notice this

alexa3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is possible.

51 Comments

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51 responses to “Success, real and imaginary

  1. paladin3001

    I have to thank all the contributors for this site. It’s been very informative and supportive to all us struggling people. One of these days, I will actually put most of this advice to good use. 🙂

  2. Your description of the dating club preferring willowy blondes was nicely ironic.

    To extend the metaphor slightly. The SF publishing town reminds me of the town where my father lives – Frinton-on-Sea. Until relatively recently (~10 years?) Frinton was notorious amongst a certain set for being the only town in the region without a pub. This being because the original founders and their various successors wanted to keep the town upper middle-class and not cater to the riff-raff.

    If one was the proprietor of one of the handful of licensed restaurants or hotels this was wonderful as you had no competition and could pick your preferred clientele. What it didn’t do was satisfy the rest of the population/visitors. Eventually an election happened and enough modernizers got on the local council planning/licensing boards so that new applications for pubs and winebars could be accepted.

    Cue much wailing and gnashing of teeth by the incumbents

    However as it happens many of the incumbents have survived just fine because the new entrants serve a generally different market that wasn’t being served at all. Of course as the customers of the original places gradually become too old to go and frequent these establishments they will, undoubtedly gradually, wither away (but their proprietors may also retire too). The new establishments and their customers won’t really notice the demise of the older ones.

    • On the other hand, those beer drinking rowdies mature, get promotions, start feeling almost-rich and they’ll start shifting to the better hotels and restaurants . . . and popping down to their old favorite bar for a beer or two.

      This upward shift is unlikely to happen in publishing. Oh, once you can afford it you start buying instead of borrowing from the library. And then you start buying hardbacks. But it’s all your old favorites, tarted up, not a switch to SWJ authors.

      I wonder if we might not see the opposite . . . a slow migration of serious young liberals into fun books they can unwind with after a long day at work. Once they have jobs to unwind from. Actual careers, and a perspective of their own lives to look back on.

      Hard to say. The entrenched TruFans I see at Cons are mostly older and in worse health then me. So maybe the push leftward will just die of old age.

    • The big difference between the licensed restaurants in Frinton-on-Sea and traditional publishing, is that (I assume) all the major restaurants did not operate as a cartel, pricing the same and selling the same product. There are also presumably pubs and bottle shops somewhere close (in the UK everything is close.) They didn’t have the degree of lock on alcohol sales that traditional publishing had on book sales. In restaurant terms the traditional publishers were all selling snozzcumbers in white sauce only, and charging 100 Pounds for a bottle of cheap plonk. They may survive, the kind of customers who still patronize them aging with them, but either their volume or their margins won’t.

    • I want everyone to have the opportunity to get what they want. You are a special snowflake that approves of fiction that does not dare to challenge your worldview? Great! Feel free to buy that. Lots of it available, much choice, even if it’s mostly the same. There’s comfort in the same.

      I, personally, do not want that stuff. I do not want my son and daughter to be limited to only that stuff. If they do end up liking that stuff I will assume I failed somewhere as a parent. However, I would still support their right to read and enjoy that kind of stuff. What I currently want is in short supply in bookstores. And that which is ostensibly for me, marketed towards people like me, is often badly disguised books of the sort I do not want to read.

      Thus, what I want is books that I want to read, and books that they want to read, and books that guy wants to read, and books the surfer down the street wants to read. Something for everyone.

      Some books would be more popular than others, naturally, but this current narrow focus hurts everyone. It hurts the publishers because it has narrowed their ideology and restricted who they choose to employ (as writers or editors), thus lowering the odds of ever being able to market books to a disparate audience. It hurts bookstores because they no longer serve a browser who may pick up something new (if there’s nothing there for them, why would they even go in the store?), and furthermore hurts by pulling back on their significant other’s browsing habit (you spend five minutes in a store full of content that is explicitly hostile to you and you will want to leave and urge your partner in browse to cut the browse short). It hurts fellow readers by containing their enthusiasm instead of expanding it (many seem to stay in lockstep in their sub-genres and refuse to read outside of that in worry they might be upset by what they read there. More variety across the sub-genre often lead me to cross out and try other sub-genres but that might just be me). Worst of all this business model has hurt bookstores and as they’ve been hurt they’ve cut back on books. Less stock. Less browsing. Less fun. Lesser experience.

      The only ones who seem to benefit are the ideologues who want others to only read what they feel those others should be allowed to read. You know, scum buckets.

      A few examples: I was sitting at a table with a recently purchased book by Orson Scott Card and as people do someone looked over and checked it out. Sniffed loudly, and opened her mouth to (I believe) ‘Educate’ me on the Evils of the Scott Card but I think she saw the look in my eyes and decided to go educate some one else. A friend of mine worked at a bookstore and told me of this one guy they hired out of University who would ‘recommend’ certain kinds of books and disparage others based on perception (Baen? You read Baen? Le Sigh). He laughed about it but I just stared at him open mouthed. He assured me the kid would never try that with someone like me but the fact the kid felt safe enough to try that with anyone shocked me. Imagine having your reading choices (and by extension your intellect) looked down upon by a twenty year old kid in a bookstore. Would you go back? Would you be reluctant to try other book stores? Would you be more sensitive to the content of the books themselves and more aware when it insults you? Some would and some wouldn’t. But not all would. That’s one employee at one bookstore, not a trend. However, it seems like what publishing houses are doing by only providing the ‘approved’ pap.

      Publishers seem to have decided to go with customer deterrents rather than customer welcome mats and I don’t understand why. It makes no sense from a short term or long term business strategy. Unless they really are ideologues and that’s more important to them than money.

      Hah! I just realized; I’m almost begging them to take my money and they’re saying no. And they’re a business. Sort of. Or at least they were.

      Steve

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        I’m lucky that I’ve managed to avoid getting lectured for the kind of books I love. In fact, on the train not too long ago, I shared a great moment with another passenger when we showed each other the David Weber books we were reading.

        If anybody tries to shame me for my literary tastes, I’ll give them a disdainful snort.

    • This is why every year, I drive past Frinton-on-Sea and visit Walton-on-the-Naze instead. Although I did have Nice Fish and Chips once at Frinton. The analogy works well. Frinton even has gatekeepers in the form of the Frinton Gates which block the only road into the town. Anyone residing outside the gates is… well, the equivalent of someone who enjoys reading MGC. The old wooden gates were finally done away with in 2009, which is roughly when the gates fell away for indie publishers. Indeed, much publishing wisdom can be gleaned by careful observation of these Essex coastal resorts 🙂

      • If you happen to drive past in the 2nd week or August tell me and we’ll meet. In a pub (in Walton perhaps, though the Lock and Barrel in Frinton is actually quite nice….)

        I thought about adding the gate keeper thing but very few others would get it. Much as they would fail to get the “Harwich for the continent, Frinto for the in…” joke

  3. Never saw what the willowy blondes got out of this – except SugarDaddies to pay for their upkeep. I envy them, the real natural willowy blondes. Must be nice to go through life that way. I don’t envy the ones who have to work hard their whole life to LOOK like a natural willowy blonde – the dieting, the dyeing, the constant battle against Mother Nature – only to lose anyway.

    I’ve made my peace with it, since I can’t compete, but I prefer spending my energy on all the tasks that surround the writing. Very satisfying, holding one of your books in your hands.

  4. I had a lot of fun with Sad Puppies. I’ll be the first to admit that the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the Left at this entirely innocent campaign was endlessly entertaining. Imagine it: three or four blog posts a year by a slightly famous writer, started and promoted as a -joke-, and they go full-court press.

    The very best part though is their outrage that we actually dared to participate by the rules. We bought memberships, we voted, and they went crazy.

    Ripping the covers off the Left is always fun. They pretend to be accommodating, tolerant, and inclusive, but really they are harpies. Nice face, shame about her legs.

    I must add though, that the continuing effort by ChinaMike to gin up web traffic on his b(l)og is less than amusing. Our current political climate is entering a potentially dangerous phase. Jihad van attacks are being met with white nutter van attacks, if the business in London yesterday is any indication. In the USA Kathy Griffin holds up the president’s severed head, NYC Shakespeare in the Park assassinates the president (and gets shut down twice now by irate but so-far peaceful conservative demonstrators), and a Republican baseball practice turns into an attempted mass assassination by a Leftist.

    So really, what’s the difference between the likes of Kathy Griffin, ChinaMike and Cameltoe Flappyjaw, and the likes of the baseball assassin, Bernie-bot
    James T. Hodgkinson? The difference is one of degree, not kind.

    ChinaMike is like the “moderate” jihadist. The hate-preacher imam with the hook, as it were. He only publicizes the names and locations of favored targets, he doesn’t pull the trigger himself. Trigger-pulling is for the useful idiots he feeds with red meat every day.

    But if you gentlemen feel I have wronged you with this comparison, pray tell me why you are both still reporting -constantly- on a campaign that ended last year? There is no Sad Puppies this year. We left you alone, as you made abundantly clear we were not welcome. Why are you still yammering?

    I will not hold my breath waiting for a straight answer.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Since this post has mostly already gone there, and Larry’s effectively has a comment size limit, I have some more off topic.

      Hodgkinson was from a jurisdiction with the gun laws and the corrupt indifference to public pressure have had a free hand to disarm him. They did not. Either Democrats have no real interest in disarming threats to Republicans, or no curation of that sort can ever be effective.

      Republicans would be fools to trust Democrats to oversee such.

      As someone sympathetic to moderate Republicans, who rejects the extremes both of the 1860s Radical Republicans, and of the Establishment Republicans willing to nominate Democrats like Trump and Willkie, I would not give Republicans the power to oversee such either.

      As much as the Democratic Party is wretched refuse, it is a counterweight to the Republican party. It is not good for one party to have unrivaled power. Giving the Republicans a free hand to disarm Democrats is too great an advantage. There are Democrats who do not pose a danger to themselves and others. Those Democrats should be free to possess arms.

      • Illinois is also on the verge of bankruptcy. That’s gonna be a real SHTFstorm when it hits. It may already be starting.

        Oh how thou art fallen, land of the original Republican president!

        • Due to the lack of state budget, aren’t Powerball and MegaMillions bailing on Illinois? That ought to indicate something.

          • Yep. Moody’s had also downgraded their bonds to only two grades above junk status, and the contractors for their road construction projects have been ordered to mothball everything non critical by the first week of July.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          To be charitable to the Illinois combine, there are Republican majority states with budget issues.

          • Agreed. The Federal government is basically insolvent and most States, both red and blue, are one major economic crisis from a major pension crisis. Case in point, Dallas.

  5. The reason the surviving Puppies are still an issue this year is “Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex.” People who’re fine with a wine bar down the street still take issue with a strip club.

    • Lame. Excuse.

      This is a beautiful example of what I’m talking about. Sad Puppies never had anything to do with that, everyone knows it, and yet you boys consistently and relentlessly -pretend- they are the same. Why do you lie like that?

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      Not our Hugos, not our Puppies.

      • I guess any target is good enough, eh? If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck, its a Rabid Rassscist! Open fire!!!11!

      • But…But…Larry Correia brought in Vox Day! Something something slates something something Torgersen is a racist something something Kate Paulk is EVIL something something.

        • Yeah. That.

          But it all looks like Kathy Griffin today, doesn’t it? Holding up a severed head, and then acting like the baseball thing has nothing to do with her.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            But Hodgkinson really may have had nothing to do with Griffin. If he was a drugged up sixties counter culture loser waiting for an excuse, the escalations of Barack Buchanan and Hillary Breckinridge may have been sufficient. Given the larger Neo-Confederate movement, if he was waiting for an excuse he had one.

            As an aside, O Leftist Shills! Your forbears would’ve escalated to Sumpter cognates back in April. I’m not sure whether to thank you for forbearance, or condemn your unserious fecklessness.

    • Oh bullshit, Hullender. You’re not even up to Comical Ali standard. That’s the equivalent of saying: ‘someone insulted me in Mandarin so now we must kill the Vietnamese, because all oriental people are the same (and the Chinese scare us, and help our bud ChinaMike).” Besides you ought to be grateful. It’s got to be more entertaining and more widely read than the average Chavez nomination – which has now become the marker ‘avoid, and advise others to avoid, at all costs’.

  6. MGC was the place that walked me through setting up on Amazon, and taught me a lot about business. Here and KKR’s site.

    • glad to have been a part of helping. Here’s to more successes!

    • Yup, MGC has always been a source of useful information. Whenever I’ve checked some of the SJW blogs, I’ve seen disdain and misinformation about indies. Like one “notable writer” who was complaining about trad publishing but basically dismissed indies because the average indie book sells under 250 copies in its lifetime.
      Which is true but is the kind of half-truth designed to discourage would-be indies. Half-truth because that figure includes all the unreadable crap that disappears without a trace deep inside Amazon’s data banks. It’s akin to adding the total number of writers whose books never make it past the slush pile among trad publishers.

  7. I need some more books to review. Anybody?
    If you aren’t previous clientele (so to speak), I can do anything on KU or on Baen. I’m afraid of horror and rapey baby-killer stuff.

    I don’t mind begging, in fact I’ve done that twice recently in Sarah’s Diner; but I lost the couple of recommendations I got the first time (I think; I may have already read and reviewed them), and only had two takers with the most recent begging. If you like, besides Amazon, I can also submit the reviews to Tightbeam.
    And my contact information is papa pat patterson at gmail dot com, and I can point you to reviews if you aren’t familiar with my work.
    And right now, I’m reading Celia Hayes’ “The Golden Road” and JL Curtis / OldNFO “The Grey Man: Partner.”

  8. Best. Freer. Column. Ever!

  9. Thanks to all of you that post in here, it DOES help us newbies… 🙂 And yes, Pat is one helluva reviewer! 😀

  10. Christopher M. Chupik

    I guess mentioning Glyer is a good way *not* to get linked by Vile. How quickly things have changed.

  11. General remark: Your collective suggestions here on replacing said with having the character do something works and has helped me with my writing.