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5th Friday

Oops. It’s the fifth Friday of the month and that means all the Mad Ones are sleeping in. Well, not all of us since I happen to be up to write this. But it means there’s no regularly scheduled post. What to do? What to do?

Let’s see. There are a couple of stories over at The Passive Voice that caught my eye this morning. The first has to do with Amazon — again. It seems there are reports of Amazon stripping rankings from some “romance” titles. While I haven’t seen much about this, at least not when compared with some of the uproar a few weeks ago over reviews disappearing, there’s enough talk about it to have me suggesting anyone who has published a romance title that might fall into erotica or the “harder” romances check your titles. So far, it appears to be limited in scope but Amazon hasn’t said much, if anything, about it yet and that is always worrisome.

In a post from Hypable, there is a possible explanation offered. It is possible this action has been Amazon’s knee-jerk response to the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA). As the Electronic Frontier Foundation said, FOSTA could “force online platforms to police their users’ speech more forcefully than ever before.” That is a chilling prospect and one we need to not only keep an eye on but fight against.

 

If you read Hypable’s article, you’ll see a series of tweets from romance author CD Reiss. While I share her concerns, I do want to point out something to everyone. Many of the online sales platforms such as Amazon have long had as part of the terms of service verbiage about non-consensual sexual content. Many of them say the inclusion of such material in your work, be it a book or art or something else, is a violation of the TOS and can be cause for removal of the title or cancellation of the account. The reason for this is that these companies have to deal with so many national and international laws. So this might be another reason, no less troubling that the FOSTA implications, for what Amazon has been doing.

My advice? Check your keywords and change them if you need to. Also, keep an eye on what Romance Writers of America is doing about this situation. There is no professional writers’ organization, in my opinion, that is better at protecting its members’ rights than RWA. Since they are aware of the situation, they will act if they feel there is a problem. Keep an eye on their social media accounts and their website for further information.

The second interesting piece from TPV tracks back to Publishers Weekly and, ultimately, to Microsoft. It seems Microsoft has been quietly rolling out its e-bookstore. This is an older story, almost a year old, but it is a good reminder that there are other options out there for authors. It is also a reminder that, no matter how big the parent company, an idea might sound good on paper but not be a splash in reality. While I’m not one to tell folks to limit their horizons when it comes to releasing their books, I have concerns about the Microsoft store. It begins with the fact that, at least according to this article, only those using Windows 10 can use the store. Then there’s the fact they only get their titles from  Ingram’s CoreSource digital asset management distribution platform.  It is something to check out if you are looking for another platform to release through. However, I have to wonder just how vibrant the platform is a year after its initial release, especially since I have seen almost nothing about it during that time.

So that’s it from me this morning. What interesting or odd news from the world of publishing have you see of late?

39 Comments
  1. 23skidoo.

    March 30, 2018
    • Er, you do realize that translated into slightly more modern terms, you’ve said “scram”?

      March 30, 2018
      • Well, yes – but it is more “getting out while the getting is good.”

        I think we should check the guy’s pockets.

        March 31, 2018
        • Actually, the origin of the idiom is quite colorful. 🙂

          March 31, 2018
  2. Christopher M. Chupik #

    I’ve heard a rumor some science-fiction award nominees are being announced this weekend, but I don’t know how accurate that is.

    March 30, 2018
    • Zsuzsa #

      Would this be the Pretentious Asterisk-hole Awards?

      March 30, 2018
      • Christopher M. Chupik #

        That’s the one.

        March 30, 2018
    • As the last several years have established, it’s nothing of any import. Not even the imported ones.

      March 30, 2018
  3. Other than the potentially problematic new Microsoft Terms of Service rolling out on May one, not a whole lot. What raises my eyebrows, other than the whole “we have the right to censor your speech if we don’t like it” idea is that they seem to have the right to go through files you have on their cloud-storage and cancel your service if they don’t like what they find. Not just for fiction writers, but what about someone like, oh, Moira Greyland, or someone doing research on the Armenian Genocide, or the Balkan War in the 1990s and who stores data and documents there? SESTA and FOSTA are turning into massive electronic worm-cans.

    Here’s one of many, many stories about the MS mess. https://professional-troublemaker.com/2018/03/25/microsoft-bans-offensive-language-from-skype/

    March 30, 2018
    • BobtheRegisterredFool #

      It is almost like they were written by a bunch of politicians who are too old to have picked up from osmosis that system is an extremely vague term given the technologies involved.

      Sex trafficking is tied to human trafficking is tied to illegal immigration. So obviously political speech about illegal immigration, one way or the other, is enabling sexual trafficking.

      If they have not passed yet, talk to your representatives. If they have passed, find a lawyer to write model lawsuits* invoking the laws to sue members of the federal legislature for not fixing the immigration mess. Then talk to your representatives.

      *I think you would need more than one to cover both contingencies. IANAL.

      March 30, 2018
    • Luke #

      Seeing as “abusing copyright law for fun and profit” has been a central part of Microsoft’s business plan from the very beginning…

      I can’t see anything in the grab that surprises me, except the sheer shamelessness if it all.

      Needless to say, I’m very happy that I finally made the jump to Linux on my “business” computer a couple of months back. (But I really need to spend a day or two converting and transporting files.)

      March 30, 2018
    • And this is why client/user-side encryption is a Good Thing if it can managed in a sane way (which too often it is not).

      March 30, 2018
    • Draven #

      yeah, i am willing to bet this will be found to be unlawful prior restraint, now.

      March 30, 2018
      • snelson134 #

        No, it won’t, for the same reason YouTube and Google and etc. can get away with their nonsense: there’s a little fig leaf called “private business” on it.

        April 1, 2018
  4. I wasn’t sleeping in! I was at the gym, wishing I was sleeping in.

    March 30, 2018
    • Christopher M. Chupik #

      I have this day off work, so I slept in.

      It was glorious.

      March 30, 2018
      • Sniffle. I would have liked to have slept in. Unfortunately, the cats had a different plan in mind.

        March 30, 2018
    • Suuuure. That’s why you didn’t reply until noon. Riiiiight. Snicker.

      March 30, 2018
      • Dorothy Grant #

        Hey, I work swings. My concept of morning may be a little offset from yours. 😛 *thbbbbbt*

        (Sent while at work)

        March 30, 2018
  5. I retired. I am plotting the next bit of a novel, which opens with a space battle

    March 30, 2018
  6. I slept in like a gigantic vegetable. ~:D

    However, last night I saw something that is a lot more momentous than the coverage it was given:

    http://phantomsoapbox.blogspot.ca/2018/03/trump-epa-to-scrap-fuel-mileage.html

    Like the title says, the EPA in the US is going to quietly scrap the ever-increasing fuel mileage requirements on automakers. That is a huge deal.

    You may actually be able to buy a station wagon in five years.

    March 30, 2018
  7. Uncle Lar #

    For some time now sites that host anything bordering on erotica have insisted on a disclaimer that all characters engaging in any sort of sexual activity must be 18 or older since legally speaking a minor is considered to be incapable of granting consent. I wonder what the effect will wind up being on all those historical bodice rippers so common to the romance sub genre?

    March 30, 2018
    • They will all be hosted on Pr0nzHub. Several former YouTube channels devoted to firearms made that move last week or so.

      The lower life forms that own Pr0nzHub will reap the benefits of SJWs and other @$$h@ts playing politics with freedom of speech. This is not a great result, but it’ll do for now.

      “The Internet treats censorship as damage, and routs around it.”

      Another quote, that may prove more useful in the future than it is right now, is always worth bearing in mind:

      “Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes, traveling down the highway at 60 mph.”

      Substitute motorcycle with a box of thumb drives for modern use. ~:D

      March 30, 2018
  8. Also, I’ve been writing. George Burns as he was in “Oh God” shuffles into a hotel bar in Honduras and meets Kwan Yin, Thor, and a nine-tailed kitsune. Hilarity ensues.

    I’m all about the cultural appropriation. ~:D

    March 30, 2018
  9. Pronzhub? Perhaps I am happier not knowing.

    March 30, 2018
    • Deliberately misspelled to escape spam filters. And yes, you are much happier not knowing.

      Upside, they will post -anything- and they really don’t care who doesn’t like it.

      Downside, your legit video or book ends up sitting next to all that -anything-.

      March 30, 2018
  10. Stanley Miller #

    If you need a video host and want to avoid P-rnHub type content you might look at these two.

    https://www.bitchute.com/policy/guidelines

    http://www.dailymotion.com/legal/keypoints

    March 30, 2018
    • Robin Munn #

      I knew of DailyMotion but hadn’t seen BitChute yet. Their terms of service look like they’re quite aware of Twitter-mob mentality and won’t put up with it: “Harassment may include … [c]oordinated group attacks with the aim to shame, silence or otherwise shut down other users.” Time will tell whether they apply that with an SJW mentality or not, but the fact that they list “Mob Rule” as something they oppose is a good sign.

      March 30, 2018
    • Robin Munn #

      Having looked through DailyMotion, I see they “do not tolerate videos or comments that … otherwise constitutes [sic] hateful speech towards people or communities on the basis of ethnicity, gender, age, religion, disability or sexual orientation.” So they’re far more likely to be SJW-converged. I’d recomment BitChute over DailyMotion for that reason,

      March 30, 2018
  11. Going off topic, but I just spotted this headline and had to share.

    NASA Invests in Shapeshifters, Biobots, Other Visionary Technology.

    Okay, who clued NASA in?

    March 30, 2018
  12. Zsuzsa #

    Speaking of interesting headline at the Passive Voice, I was rather amused by this one:

    http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2018/03/you-can-now-get-a-phd-in-creativity/

    I’m curious what the other folks around here think. Is this:

    (a) A brilliant idea whose time has come

    (b) The dumbest idea you’ve ever heard

    (c) Okay, maybe not the dumbest, because the bar is high, but it’s pretty dumb

    (d) Straddling the fine line between stupid and clever

    (e) Dumb from the perspective of some one thinking of getting said degree, but an absolutely brilliant idea for a school looking for another way to get $48,800/student/semester.

    March 30, 2018
    • Sandman29 #

      I vote for (e). But it’s probably not as worthless as a ‘women’s studies’ program…

      March 30, 2018
      • I second this opinion. A fool and his/her/zir/its parents’ money…

        March 30, 2018
        • Dorothy Grant #

          Worse, a fool and Someone Else’s Money, in the form of taxpayer subsidies of student loans & Pell Grants…

          March 30, 2018
      • I’ve studied women, but flunked the final.

        March 30, 2018
    • BobtheRegisterredFool #

      I think creativity is something worth studying, and I’m skeptical of the mainstream of some of the disciplines that could be applied to it, but this doesn’t impress me much either.

      That literature study? Is how you tune your creativity to the field. I think my natural talents make me among the candidates most likely for such an approach to actually work on. Raw untutored creativity does not produce working solutions. Meta piled on meta bores me. I do not think this would be valuable to me, and am more skeptical about most other people.

      That said, I’m trained in a conservative field, and that may mislead me as to how very important it is to keep some of the preconceptions of your field. (How much do you mind your accountant being hemmed in by foundational principles of accounting?) Plus I’m pretty skeptical of a lot of futurism. “industries we’re not even talking about right now”? I’m not sure those are probable enough to be worth implementing this proposal.

      I do think that traditional academia may be as ripe for creative destruction as traditional publishing seems to be. I even have some vague ideas about how. (I don’t have a solution to how student labor lets academia undercut the other research suppliers.) I don’t think the creativity Ph.D. will be the new normal.

      March 30, 2018
  13. I spent all Friday and Saturday at Indiana Comic Con. Tomorrow we’re hoping for a strong finish, because the less we have to pack up and haul out, the happier I’ll be, especially after the five-hour load-in nightmare on Thursday.

    I’ve managed to write a little each day, but it’s been just a few scribbled lines. Now I need to run up to the storage unit and retrieve backstock to fill the gaps for tomorrow.

    March 31, 2018
    • Dorothy Grant #

      Yay for selling enough you need a backstock run! May you end with only one of every item left! (Never happened to me, but I always had hope!)

      April 1, 2018

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