If one is trying to keep folk happy, or get on with someone – or a group, the last thing you should say is: “I told you so.” Trust me on this, I’ve been married a long time. If you want to stay that way, avoid saying: “I told you so.”
ESPECIALLY if you told them so.
Which brings me onto my topic for this post.
We told them so. No, I don’t think I told Rob Sawyer specifically. I certainly don’t have anything against the guy or disagree that much with what he says in this (he’s wrong on a few things, of course). But he was definitely part of the group of largely left wing Trad authors, when I, and many others were saying: you’re putting Descartes before the hearse.
You didn’t think, and therefore, you aren’t.
Economics comes first. Which means readers have to love the books and buy them, and authors have to make a living as a result.
Without it you end up really newspeak ‘diverse’ – and broke.
‘Diverse’ is the current meaningless buzzword. ‘Diverse’ isn’t 100 people of identical everything from social background to politics, but different pigmentation, for example. That’s a bowl of M&M. Diverse has to encompass actual diversity of thought, background, beliefs, social strata, and political views. The latter can mean there is something for anyone in the reading demographic. The other: really ‘diverse’ with decreasing numbers of readers.
‘Get woke: go broke’.
Those of us with common sense have said this years. I said this to SFWA. I said it to my region rep, and to the then Chairman, before I gave it up, seeing no value in what appeared to be a pointless school-kid level political game full of incestuous little cliques and futile bickering, complete with its own mean girls (not all of whom are female, but all of whom are mean girls) table in the cafeteria. Thanks, but no thanks. If real life showed me anything it’s that those ‘important children’ never amounted to much outside that world, and it’s a big world. Back then SFWA was already largely a club for people who enjoyed those games and harking back to that high school behavior and social games – many of whom often haven’t written in decades and didn’t (like me) rely on the income.
Again, thanks but no thanks, not even for the sekrit decoder ring.
I was amused by the fuss about self-published authors.
“If only. The crisis that led Lawrence to resign was precipitated by an unprecedented loosening of SFWA’s membership credentials, undertaken by fiat by the board, allowing huge numbers of self-published authors to join. Hustlers by nature, some of them immediately organized a successful block-nominating slate to get self-published authors onto the Nebula ballot, hijacking the Academy Award of the science-fiction and fantasy fields.”
Get with the real world, Robert. Already: Self-published authors SELL more than half the books, and earn more than half the income. They are as ‘diverse’ (in the real sense, not the M&M sense) as an open system driven by economics can be – and likely demographically representative of their readers. If there is a future for our industry and for our genre, they’re it. And they’re no more ‘hustlers’ than the cliques who did precisely the same thing with the nominations for the Nebs or the Hugos, for many years.
As I see it: The objection wasn’t really to the behavior – that is demonstrably the norm. It’s to upstarts daring to do what their ‘betters’ did (and doing it better).
The bizarre thing is they might even have had a chance of restoring the Nebula award to something of some value – had an author with real popularity and large sales driven by that popularity won.
You see: that’s the core problem. I read a snippet of a discussion between two of the usual puppy-kickers – both failures as authors, despite the push they’ve had not only from Traditional Publishing, but also the literary establishment. They were bemoaning the fact that ordinary writers like me – and less ordinary writers like Orson Scott Card and Larry Correia, still had ‘writing contracts’ and that our publishers hadn’t just let us go. We weren’t ‘diverse’, like M&M’s. We had WrongFun and did not kowtow. We were just evil, and should go.
Their view – and it would seem, by the context, Rob Sawyer’s too — is that popularity and being widely read is something that happens BY CONFERRAL by publishers and the literary establishment (or the litter-ratty as I call them) — despite their own failure as conferred dahlings.
When Trad publishing was the only game in town… twenty years back — that sort of worked, sort of, even if to the detriment of economics and the genre.
Now… The idea that this is bass ackwards in the modern world, hasn’t got to them.
The successful and popular writer… confers value and legitimacy on his publisher, any awards he gets, and the genre as whole. If you’re already successful, and Trad published, being ‘let go’ (as Sawyer incidentally points out: “publishers locking in a 3:1 split of e-book royalties—three dollars for them to every one for the writer.”) means nothing more than a substantial increase in the share of sales an author takes home. He is floating the publisher’s boat: not the publisher floating his.
As a simple example: Baen turned down TOM. (the pictures are links. I get commission on sales made as a result).
So I brought it out myself. It’s not – in my opinion — nearly as good a book as CHANGELING’S ISLAND.
But… it’s earned quite a bit more money than the latter. And I am neither famous, nor have a large following.
On the other hand if the publisher (or award) confers their favor on the right shade of M&M and it’s some mediocre to boring piece of drekk which has very little popular appeal, it doesn’t magically acquire popular appeal. All that happens is that sinks the publisher’s revenue and ability to publish, or sinks the award’s value.
We live in changing world. If you don’t follow the economics rules, you will suffer the consequences.
I hope I don’t have to tell you ‘I told you so.’