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Posts tagged ‘Hatchette’

Full moon craziness?

Yes, yes, I know. Craziness is the common state of affairs for most writers and especially for the publishing industry. But lately it seems that the craziness has expanded to epic proportions — and that’s without going into all the contretemps with SFWA, SJWs et al. Add in the craziness in my life right now — we are on crisis #3 for the morning, none of which are easy fixes — and I am ready for sanity to return, overrated as it might be.

First bit or recent craziness falls under the category of “Things a writer should never, ever do”. It’s not a new story nor is it the worst in the category. But it does point out the permanent nature of the internet and it proves that we should always think about what we just typed before hitting “enter”.

In this case, author Chelsea Cain, a NYT best seller, went on a mini-tirade on Facebook and Twitter. The long and the short of it comes down to this: she’s mad she didn’t make the best sellers list with her latest book. She’s tired of fans asking her to list the order of her books and asking other dumb questions. The FB post was quickly taken down, “at the request” of her publishers in a non-apology apology which, iirc, is also missing from her FB page now. Full admission: I could be wrong on this last part.

You can see screen captures of some of her comments here.

The issue I have with this sort of thing is that it was unnecessary. I can understand why Cain might be upset for not making the best sellers list. But don’t go whining about it in a public forum. Her Facebook and Twitter pages aren’t locked. Anyone can and will see them. Having a public meltdown, even of a minor nature, doesn’t draw new fans to you.

As for being upset when fans ask for the order of books, you just don’t tell them they are wasting your time and that’s what Google is for. You especially don’t tell them that when you have just admitted you spend hours on social media each day. You most especially don’t say that after saying you spend hours on social media each day and that answering a simple question like that would take away from writing time. Wait! Writing time? How about letting it take away from the hours of social media time. Or better yet, why not list your books IN ORDER on your website like most other authors who write series do?

Ms. Cain shot herself in the PR foot and hasn’t done much since then to treat the wound. I hope that, from now on, she remembers that what goes into the interwebs is there forever.

The next bit of insanity comes in a rant by a book buyer against the big evil that is Amazon. Mind you, it is published in that shining beacon — coff coff — The Guardian, so I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about bias. I mean, how can anyone think there is anything but bias in a post that starts out with:

Amazon.com owes me at least $212.82.

Amazon’s strategy to torture Hachette into reducing prices for its books has been to make the publisher suffer by imposing delivery delays on many of its most in-demand titles.

You see, according to the author of the article, Amazon owes a refund for their Prime membership — because, duh, that membership apparently is a guarantee that you can get any book you want anytime. Wish I knew that when I first signed up for Prime. There are a lot of books out there no longer in print or that haven’t been published yet I could demand as a Prime member. — and for the cost of books they chose to buy at a brick and mortar store.

The sense of entitlement that sort of statement makes has me shaking my head. There is nothing in the ToS for Prime membership that guarantees the “right” to pre-purchase a book. Nor is there anything guaranteeing that books bought while a Prime member will be discounted. Heck, what you get with Prime is free second day delivery, the ability to borrow some books and lots of music and video benefits. It has nothing to do with Hatchette or the article writer’s sense of entitlement.

But let’s look further.

“. . . and for customers, Amazon has reversed its promise of instant gratification.”

What? WHAT?!?!?!

Are we so entitled now that we have to have instant gratification and new hardcover books in our mailbox on the day of publication AND at a huge discounted price?

Yep, the author of the article complains because Amazon isn’t offering new Hatchette titles at the usual discount. Let’s not think about the fact they are in the middle of contract negotiations and Amazon very likely doesn’t have the contractual authorization to continue the discounts.

The author goes on to admit he could buy the Kindle version of the books in question, but since at least two of the ones he listed were for book club discussions, that just wouldn’t work. According to him, you simply can’t flip to a particular page of a book if you have the ebook version. So that just won’t work. Funny, I have any number of Kindle books on both my e-ink Kindle and the Fire that allow me to go to a particular page as well as a particular location. Maybe only Hatchette doesn’t allow that function — but that’s Amazon’s fault because it is allllllllll Amazon’s fault, don’cha know.

This time, the financial damage totals $212.82, the bag is stuffed with books – including several I was eager to read but wasn’t even been aware had been published. I also emerged with a Barnes & Noble membership card, for which I had paid a further $25 – and that pretty much guarantees I’ll be spending more time and money there in future, in exchange for more discounts and – given the recent evidence – greater availability of the books I want and need to lay my hands on.

This time being his first visit to a B&N, at least when he actually bought more than one book, in at least six months. So now he wants Amazon to pay him for his membership card to B&N as well AND he thinks he will have a great availability of books. Well, I don’t know about the B&N he went into but my local B&N is woefully short on books, especially books in certain genres and certain non-fiction areas. If I ask for them to be ordered, maybe they will and maybe they won’t. Even if they do, there is no guarantee I will get notice if the book comes in and there is still the delay in getting the book.

But Amazon is evil.

It gets better. In one paragraph, the author whines because in two trips to the bookstore to pick up two paperback books, he’s spent $400. The not-to-subtle implication is that it is Amazon’s fault because he couldn’t get the book instantly from them. In the next paragraph, he says he doesn’t really blame Amazon for his lack of self-control but, you see, he was irked and, well, Amazon’s fault implied once again.

The whole gist of the article is that, because of Amazon’s footprint, it shouldn’t worry about things like contract negotiations and making money. It has a duty to provide whatever we want when we want. Oh, the author tries to not quite say it that bluntly and even makes a pass at trying to appear unbiased by noting that neither Hatchette or Amazon are completely in the right in what’s going on. But that doesn’t happen until four paragraphs from the end of a story that is 30 or so paragraphs long. And, in case anyone doubts the sense of entitlement and twisting of facts to suit a point of view, consider this statement:

You need to give customers the best possible array of products, available instantly.

Especially when 20 million or so Amazon Prime members are paying $99 apiece each year for guaranteed two-day delivery — that’s how much they value that instant gratification.

The complete lack of understanding of economics, product supply and the Prime membership agreement is staggering. There is a failure to take into account that there are two parties involved in making products available — supplier and seller. Amazon is the seller. It has to buy the products or reach some sort of agreement with the supplier so it also makes money. It also has to rely upon the supplier to, duh, supply the product. As for the guaranteed two-day delivery, that is for items IN STOCK.

To the article’s author, get over yourself and realize you aren’t entitled to what you think you are. Amazon is a business and is in it to make money. Hatchette is the one who has turned done several proposals by Amazon to help the authors impacted by the prolonged negotiations. Amazon isn’t an angel but is certainly isn’t the root of all evil as as vocal minority wants us to believe.

Some links and a few thoughts

Sorry, guys, but the brain isn’t working this morning. So instead of a regular post, I’m going to toss out some links and a few thoughts. Each of the links are important, in my opinion, because they represent some of the issues we’re facing as writers. I’m very interested in hearing what you think about the questions they bring up.

First up is an update from The Passive Voice about indie authors quitting their day jobs. The comments are great and show that there are different ways of defining success. But, what impressed me most of all about the comments was the amount of encouragement being given. It’s a refreshing change from some of the shrill condemnation coming from a certain sector of the industry.

This next link is one Sarah sent me last night. The title of the article, “Failure, Writing’s Constant Companion” didn’t do much to make me want to read it. Not after a day of struggling with my own work. But then I did read it and, frankly, the article is true on a number of points. The question really boils down to do we have the strength to continue fighting the small “failures” as well as the large or do we toss in the towel and do something else?

Although you may starve if your books don’t sell, or your agent might yell at you for producing something that three people will read, failure in writing is more of an intimately crushing day-to-day thing. O.K., minute-to-minute. Measured against your ideal of yourself.

Those little “failures” — the failure to meet the daily word count, the failure to finish a book by a self-imposed deadline, the failure to sell so many copies a day as determined by some number we’ve plucked out of the air — are what tend to undermine our confidence as writers. I know they do me. Add in the “real life” pressures and it can become difficult at times. It’s up to us to figure out how to cope and move forward — or to determine if the time has come to chuck the writing and go find a “real” job.

Then there is this post from The Passive Voice where a hybrid author “busts” myths about publishing. I’d seen it earlier but it was the math about the difference in what authors receive for traditionally published work as opposed to indie work. The one thing I’ll take exception to is that there is no provision in the math table (that I saw this morning) to take into account that the publisher pays authors based on net. So the figures shown on the chart will actually be lower. But the point made after the math is still valid:

So, the rule of thumb is that an indie author earns almost five times as much as a traditional author from each ebook sold.

Or, to flip things around, if a tradpub author sells four times as many ebooks as an indie author does, the indie author still makes more money.

Then, in the legal case that never ends, the judge has ordered mediation in an off-shoot of the price fixing case brought by the Department of Justice against Apple et al. In this particular situation, the original defendants in the suit (Apple and five of the then Big Six Publishers) have been told to negotiate with three e-tailers, now no longer in business, “in an attempt to resolve claims that a 2010 conspiracy to fix e-book prices forced the retailers out of business.” The three plaintiffs are “filed by Australian upstart DNAML in September of 2013, and later joined by Lavoho, LLC, a “successor” to the Diesel eBook Store and Abbey House Media, formerly BooksOnBoard,” PW notes more plaintiffs may join the suit before everything is said and done.

What this means is that it is going to be a long time before we quit feeling the fall out from the collusion that happened between Apple and the publishers. The rather tense — yes, I’m being nice here — contract negotiations between Amazon and Hatchette are just the first salvo. What I find interesting is that the same authors who are so up in arms about how evil Amazon is being toward innocent little Hatchette are silent on how the machinations of their publisher and Apple drove other e-tailers out of business. Of course, they are probably trying to find a way to blame it all on Amazon. After all, Amazon is the big evil.

Hmmm, I wonder if Amazon wants t join the Evil League of Evil.

Then there is this four question interview with Hugh Howey. It isn’t difficult to see the side of the Amazon v Hatchette issue the interviewer falls on, especially when she states that she feels Mike Shatzkin “pointed out, rightly I believe” that it is in indie authors’ best interests for traditionally published e-books to remain at a higher price. After all, those poor indies are fighting for a market share and don’t have all the resources behind them that a traditionally published author does.

Howey’s response is both measured and right on the mark, in my opinion:

I blogged about this on my site. If you want to understand this mindset, look at the indie author community, where many authors share ideas and encouragement, participate in box sets, reveal anything that works for them in the hopes it might work for others, and where you’re more likely to see a writer tout someone else’s book rather than their own.

I have spoken with Hachette authors who are frustrated with the price of their e-books. They feel powerless. They can’t speak up for fear of reprisal. When people like Mike act stunned that anyone would fight for these authors who can’t fight for themselves, it tells me a lot about how they see the world. It’s not how I see it. I don’t ever want to see the world like that, even if it’s accurate. Because seeing the world like this is the first step in making it so.

There’s a lot more there. Go take a look.

Finally, I saw this announcement on Publishers Weekly. Basically, Writer’s Digest and BookBaby have teamed up to form a self-publishing imprint. Now, you know me. I’m the suspicious sort. So I went looking to see what I could find on Blue Ash Publishing. Part of it was out of curiosity. Could it have something that might be of assistance to me? But part of it was the cynic coming out — could it really be a self-publishing imprint when they are doing the publishing? That seemed at odds with what self-publishing is.

Well, my suspicions turned out to at least have some basis. For one, Blue Ash is basically a repackager that also does e-book conversion and basic cover design. Oh, you get a couple of “guaranteed” reviews and other “perks”, but you also pay a nice bit of change for it. Their “packages” range in price from $417 to $3,137. Oh, but they will give you, the author, the highest payment out there. They say so right here. Of course, they go on to say that you get 100% of “net” sales from online retailers. It looks like that means they won’t take a cut like other repackagers do, but remember. You’ve already paid out at least $417 for a title you may only be charging a couple of bucks for. I’ll let you figure out the math to determine how many copies you’d have to sell just to break even.

There is one bit on the commission page that worries more than others. Blue Ash promises to pay weekly once you reach a pre-set earnings threshold. What they don’t say is if that means they will pay only on sales through their own storefront on a weekly basis or on projected sales from the other outlets. Since I’m not aware of any online outlet that pays repackagers on weekly basis, this could mean Blue Ash pays on spec. While that’s nice, it could also mean you would be dunned the next week — or month — when someone returns your book. That could quickly become bookkeeping hell. Sorry, but I’ll pass.

Anyway, that’s it for this morning. I promise a real post next week. In the meantime, I am curious to see what you guys think about the links above and what they might mean for indies as a whole.

coverforvfaNow for a bit of self-promotion. Vengeance from Ashes is on countdown on Amazon this week. If you are quick, you can sill grab it for 99 cents. Thanks to everyone who has already grabbed a copy. I really do appreciate it.

First, they took away her command. Then they took away her freedom. But they couldn’t take away her duty and honor. Now they want her back.

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has survived two years in a brutal military prison. Now those who betrayed her are offering the chance for freedom. All she has to do is trust them not to betray her and her people again. If she can do that, and if she can survive the war that looms on the horizon, she can reclaim her life and get the vengeance she’s dreamed of for so long.

But only if she can forget the betrayal and do her duty.

It isn’t nice to get me wound up this early in the morning

*UPDATE: SARAH SPEAKING — There will be two chapters next week.  The problem with Elf Blood is that I REALLY need to go back and fix it before I continue.  Please be patient.  And read Amanda’s excellent post.*

One of the last things I wanted to do this morning was another post on the Amazon/Hatchette ongoing battle. For one thing, I’ve already done several posts on the subject. For another, I have a feeling the negotiations with Hatchette are just the opening salvo in what looks to be a long battle between Amazon and the publishers caught colluding with Apple to price fix. Yes, this opening salvo is going to have a huge impact on how the rest of the negotiations go but it won’t be the end of it all. But a week or two without another Amazon/Hatchette post wasn’t to be.

I really didn’t think too much about it when I opened my email yesterday and found a message from Amazon about the current war of words. Nor was I surprised to see Amazon asking us — KDP authors — to email Hatchette and let the company know what we think about their delaying tactics. And yes, I do believe Hatchette is dragging its feet until it can also renegotiate with Apple, thereby putting it in a stronger position with Amazon (at least in Hatchette’s mind). Amazon even helpfully provided a set of bullet points to consider putting into emails to Hatchette. In short, all Amazon did was take a page out of Hatchette’s book and ask its authors to take a stand.

Oh the cries of foul that suddenly rose from the interwebs. Within half a hour of reading the email, I was seeing accusations of Amazon acting like a stalker in sending the email to the usual AHDers (Amazon Hater Disorder sufferers) about how evil Amazon was to ask its authors to contact poor, innocent Hatchette. There was even one author claiming that Amazon is not and never will be a friend to authors. All of those had me shaking my head and wondering if these folks had ever really read their contracts with their traditional publisher — several of whom are signed with Hatchette — as well as if they actually knew the meaning of the terms “contract”, “negotiation” and “irony”.

What pushed me over the edge was a post by another author who admitted to not having received or read the email but, based on what they were seeing form their author friends, Amazon was once again resorting to dirty pool and must be stopped because, duh, Amazon is evil. Yes, my head exploded at that and I contacted Sarah to see if she was going to deal with the issue today, forgetting this was her day to post a chapter. We talked and she offered me the morning slot here to discuss the email and she will post her chapter after lunch.

I’m not going to quote the email here. If you are in the KDP program, you got a copy of it. Check your junk mail folder if you haven’t seen it yet. What I do want to discuss is how those who are condemning Amazon for asking its customers and authors to take a stand while completely ignoring the fact that Hatchette has been doing that for weeks. (Yes, I’m pointing to a certain former SFWA president as I say this.)

Praise is being heaped on James Patterson and other millionaire authors for standing up for Hatchette and condemning Amazon. The full page ads Patterson and company have taken out in the New York Times are pointed to with great glee and pride. How wonderful is is that these millionaire authors are taking a stand against Amazon. Amazon is evil and must be put in its place.

Bah!

What is the difference between those ads and the emails Amazon sent? Putting aside the obvious — one is a print and digital ad while the other was an email — the basic premise for both is the same. They are attempts to get people to take sides in a contentious contract negotiation. If you think Patterson and company took out the ads and took to Youtube and other social media outlets on their own and without discussing it with their editors, I have some nice real estate in Florida to sell you. Instead of applauding these millionaire authors for taking a stand, ask yourself this: why aren’t we seeing solid mid-listers taking such action? I’ll tell you why. They don’t have the immediate name recognition and impact of a James Patterson. Hatchette would much rather have a “name” out there telling its readers how evil Amazon is than one of their authors who make up the mid list that carries the house when a best seller bombs.

As for the allegation that the email felt like Amazon was stalking authors, OMG, get a life. I bet the author who made that comment doesn’t feel that way when receiving the daily notification about what the gold box deal of the day is. How in the world do you go from a general email sent to members of a community you belong to — in this case, the KDP community — to it being stalking and feeling sleezy? The mind boggles. Not only have these authors drunk the kool-aid but they chose the wrong door and entered the Outer Limits by way of the Twilight Zone and Wonderland.

The accusation being tossed around by other members of the AHD collective that Amazon resorted to dirty pool by sending the letter and asking its authors to take a stand simply leaves me shaking my head. I should be used to the double-standard these folks consistently apply where Amazon is concerned but it still manages to surprise me. It’s okay for Hatchette to ask its authors and readers to contact Amazon and to move to other retailers but it isn’t okay for Amazon to ask its authors and readers to take a stand. Hmm, I guess it makes sense to the AHD collective and fits their foggy view of the world.

Finally, there’s the allegation that Amazon is not and never will be an author’s friend. There is only one answer to that but I can’t say it here. I might shock my fellow MGCers. So I’ll clean it up and say “Bull————-“. Amazon did not kill the indie bookstores. They were already dying as a result of the big box bookstores moving into their communities, stores like Barnes & Noble and Borders. Amazon may have been the final nail, but they already had the dirt being shoveled into their graves by the box stores. Nor did Amazon kill the big box stores. They did it to themselves. They over-expanded. They failed to adapt to the change in market demographics and demands. They were too slow in adopting new tech and to move into the e-book market. They took ordering out of a local and regional manager’s hands and took it national, thereby insuring stores no longer stocked books that were of local interest. They started looking more like a big Five and Dime Store that sold books than bookstores. You walk into one of their stores and you see everything but books until you get into the heart of the store. More and more shelf space is going to toys and puzzles and gee-gaws than books. That is what is killing the big box stores, not just Amazon.

So how has Amazon been an author’s friend? It has made our books available to everyone. It gives us a place to make our backlist available. It has made it easy to get our books into the hands of our readers. All so very bad for us, right? (Yes, I’m rolling my eyes.)

Oh, there’s more ways Amazon is evil and not a friend of authors. It launched the KDP program so small presses and indies can get their e-books into the hands of the general public. That’s bad, right? Oh, wait, no. That’s a good thing, for both the author and the reader. But it’s bad because it took away the gatekeeper. That’s what the AHDers will tell you. Yeah, those gatekeepers, the editors that are looking for books with certain political and social messages in them and not for what is going to sell. After all, the gatekeepers are in charge of educating the reading public. Riiiiight.

Then there’s the way Amazon is not our friend because we can see our sales in pretty much real time and we get paid on a monthly basis. We don’t have to rely upon Bookscan and quarterly statements that often contain more fiction than our books do. But Amazon is bad. I guess that’s because it gives us an alternative and the potential to actually make a living off our writing.

Oh, and that’s another way Amazon will never be our friend. It gives us up to — gasp — 70% of the cover price of our e-books as opposed to the oh-so-general 20 – 25% we might get from a traditional publisher. How dare it give an author that much of the money?

I know Amazon is out to make a buck and that it can change its terms whenever it wants. But so can B&N or Kobo or Smashwords. But we never hear the Amazon haters going off on them, even when they do exactly what they are condemning Amazon for. What I do know for sure is that Amazon was the first to give those of us who don’t fall into the politically correct spectrum for traditional publishing a chance to get our work out there. As a reader, it has given me the sort of stories I want to read again: stories with a plot that doesn’t revolve around how evil mankind is or how evil men are simply because they are men. There are stories of hope and adventure available again. Sure, authors like Larry Correia and our own Sarah have messages in their works but they don’t hammer us over the heads with it. More importantly, with what they write, story is more important than message and that’s the way they want it. But Amazon is bad for giving authors another way, a legitimate way, of getting their work into the hands of the reading public.

I would love to see someone come up with a legitimate and viable competitor to Amazon. For that to happen, they would have to be as much of a visionary as Jeff Bezos has been at Amazon. That isn’t going to come out of traditional publishing unless all the ivory towers suddenly collapse and someone crawls out of the rubble of the mail room to take over. The suits aren’t about to think outside of their very small boxes.

But Amazon is evil.

As far as I’m concerned, Hatchette is the one who has taken the low road in this contract dispute, at least where its authors are concerned. It has turned down at least two proposals from Amazon that would have put money into the hands of the authors. But Amazon is evil.

Gawd, folks, quit drinking the kool-aid, don’t accept either the red or the blue pill and when someone suggests you open a door and there is eerie music playing from behind said door, don’t open it. In other words, quit parroting what you hear from your editors and your fellow traditionally published authors and actually think about what you’re reading and hearing. Apply some critical thinking to it and don’t genuflect at the altar of Hatchette simply because it is in a heated contract negotiation with Amazon. Most of all, remember that most traditional publishers view authors as interchangeable widgets and value your work on a book accordingly.

But Amazon is evil.

NOT!

There are times . . .

When I wonder if I’ve been transported to an alternate universe where common sense and the ability to think and reason for oneself no longer exists. That’s especially true when it comes to what is happening in the publishing industry right now. Or maybe I’m just tired of the attacks on people I respect and care about simply because they dare to speak out against the “company” line. Whatever it is, I’m ready to wake up and find out that those with a clue are in charge (and no, I’m not foolish enough to think that will happen in the political arena. I’m talking publishing here). Unfortunately, it isn’t going to happen any time soon.

For those of you who saw my post over at According to Hoyt yesterday, this is a sort-of follow on. You can check out that post here. Maybe I’m overly cranky because of personal demands that have kept me away from the house too much each day and have left me emotionally drained. Maybe it’s because there are folks out there who are calling all of MGC, as well as others I care about fascists just because we don’t kowtow to the idea that men are evil and glitter is good. Or maybe I’m just tired of authors who ought to know better attacking Amazon, saying it is purposefully hurting them in its “heavy handed” tactics in its negotiations with Hatchette.

So, what is the first piece of insanity to drive me up a wall? This article from Salon is as good of a place to start as any. In it, the author suggests that we ought to nationalize both Amazon and Google because 1) they’re large, 2) they’re ruthless and 3) they touch every aspect of our lives. He’d really like it if we treated these two corporations like public utilities. Oookay, that’s worked sooo well and is why, at least here in Texas, we can now choose what electric company to go with. Sorry, when folks start saying we ought to nationalize a company because it is successful makes me squirm and I look around to see if Wesley Mooch or Dr. Ferris or Jim Taggart are anywhere around. If they are, I am most definitely going out and looking for John Galt.

This comment says so much: “Amazon’s war on publishers like Hachette is another sign of Big Tech arrogance.”

First of all, where is the war? Oh, could it be when the publishers decided they didn’t like Amazon paying them for e-books and then selling said e-books at a loss? Why would the publishers dislike that? They still got paid. That wasn’t good enough. The publishers said the $9.99 price point devalued the e-books. Funny, those same publishers didn’t have any qualms double-dipping against their authors, claiming at one time that a book that had already been edited, copy edited, proofed, etc., had to have it done again when converting to digital format. They convinced authors that it cost them soooo much more to make their e-books available. That’s why royalties couldn’t be any higher. Finally, e-book royalties increased some but are still heavily weighted to the publisher’s benefit. Yet, Amazon is the enemy.

Or maybe the opening salvo of the war came with agency pricing. But wait, Amazon didn’t do that. Apple and five of the big six publishers did. Funny thing, even though the collusian at the heart of that action violated state and federal law and yet the Amazon haters have no problem with it. In fact, they embrace it and attack the Department of Justice for actually doing its job. Because, duh, Amazon is evil.

Perhaps the battle didn’t start until now, with the Hatchette negotiations. Let’s see, Amazon is playing hard ball and hurting authors by taking away the pre-order buttons. Hmm. Okay, I’ll admit that authors are the ultimate victims with that but that isn’t by Amazon’s choice. They aren’t buying the books from the authors. They are buying them from Hatchette. They can do so because they have, or had, a contract with Hatchette that allowed them to dos. But all contracts, if they are legally binding, have an end date. That includes this particular contract. When that contract is no longer in effect, Amazon has no legal right to continue selling Hatchette’s books. Sure, as long as Hatchette doesn’t mind, it can do so but why would it?

The more important question is why would it risk the ire of its customers by allowing pre-orders of books that it might not have the right to sell, or the ability to fulfill the pre-orders for, by the time said books are released? Unfortunately, that sort of logic seems to elude the Amazon haters, just as they see nothing wrong with Hatchette turning down at least two proposals by Amazon to set up funds, to be equally funded by Amazon and Hatchette, to assist authors who are being impacted by the continuing negotiations. I guess that, because Amazon suggested it, it must be evil.

Sigh.

So, instead of looking at what sort of business practices a publisher engages in — and does anyone really believe the sales numbers they report via BookScan? — we must wage war on Amazon. Now, before you go saying that I’m being naive, I know Amazon isn’t angelic. But it also isn’t nearly as bad as its detractors would have us believe. Remember, it isn’t the only online seller to remove buy buttons. But no one is talking about when Barnes & Noble did so. Hmmmm. Also, if we are here to protect the author, why aren’t there cries of outrage because Barnes & Noble and other stores refuse to stock books distributed by Amazon’s imprints? Oh, I know, those authors are turncoats and mustn’t be rewarded for staying in the enemy camp. Funny, am I the only one to see a double standard here?

Then there’s this video being passed around, almost as if it’s gospel. The problem is, it isn’t anything more than a spoof, at best, to demonstrate how poorly Hatchette authors are being treated by Amazon. Frankly, all it did for me was impact my respect for Dick Cavette and not in a positive manner. From the opening comments, and visuals, it is clear this is an attack on Amazon. The only thing they get right in the half of the video I watched before I had to turn it off or toss the laptop across the room is that Amazon isn’t really talking about the contract negotiations. Well, guess what, all you Amazon haters, neither is Hatchette. Why? Because it is a contract negotiation. Those aren’t usually played out in public. Oh, sure, Hatchette “insiders” who are called “people close to the source” and other fun euphemisms tell us what they want us to know — and isn’t it odd that all they tell us is how evil Amazon is and not what they are asking for in return?

Something else we aren’t hearing from Hatchette is the fact that this negotiation has come about for two reasons: it was the first of the publishers to push through an agency model pricing contract with Amazon and that contract was voided as part of the agreement not to go to trial with the Justice Department. So, if Amazon is playing hard ball after their assertions that the agency pricing model as it existed came about through illegal means, can you really blame them? Or do you believe the publishers would take the high road if their roles were reversed?

I’m not a big fan of the Author’s Guild, as anyone familiar with this blog knows. That wasn’t helped when I saw an article where the president of the Guild told Amazon that the Guild would not support Amazon’s offer ” to immediately begin offering the delayed books again and give its share of Hachette digital book  sales to the authors for the duration of the dispute — if the publisher would also forgo its share of the revenue.” However, I do understand part of the Guild’s concerns. As Guild president Roxana Robinson said, the offer would require the authors to take Amazon’s side against their publisher. The text between the lines is that, by agreeing to the offer, the authors face retaliation from Hatchette in the form of no more contracts. For those authors who still believe traditional publishing is the only real way to publish, that would be a death sentence.

My issue with the statement is that there is really no push back against Hatchette. Worse, there is at least some language from Robinson that indicates she wouldn’t be too terribly upset if the government were to step in and do something to make sure Amazon no longer ruled the market. When folks start talking about government intervention into a successful company just because it’s successful, I start wondering just how far that person is willing to go to protect their dying company/industry to the detriment of others.

Finally, Amazon has broken at least some of its silence and has reached out to Hatchette authors. You can see its letter and Joe Konrath’s response here. Note a few things, according to Amazon and — to my knowledge — Hatchette hasn’t denied:

1. Amazon reached out to Hatchette in January about the contract that would soon be expiring and Hatchette didn’t respond.

2. When the contract expired in March, Amazon extended the terms and once again reached out to Hatchette. Once again, Hatchette didn’t respond.

3. It was only when Amazon finally removed the pre-order buttons and stopped keeping large stock of Hatchette titles on hand in April that Hatchette responded and most of that was whining in public to the media and its authors about how mean and evil Amazon is.

I’ll let you read the rest of Konrath’s post but I agree with him on one thing — Hatchette is trying to drag the negotiations out until September when it can try to reimpose agency pricing on Amazon. This has nothing to do with taking care of its authors and everything to do with maximizing Hatchette’s profits. But that’s okay, at least in the eyes of some folks, because everyone but Amazon can make profits and step on the little guy. In this case, the little guy are all the authors who are getting screwed, not by Amazon but by Hatchette because it is Hatchette that continues to refuse to agree to any deal to help recompense their authors while contract negotiations continue.

And folks wonder why I’m tired of most traditional publishing and those who parrot the stance of the Big Five without stopping to consider just what the impact will be if their publishers get what they want.

Now I’m going to find a cup of coffee, breakfast and get to work on everything that has piled up over the last month of emergency followed by obligation followed by emergency.

Edited to add the following:

 There is now a “new player” that is being touted as having struck a blow against Amazon. HarperCollins has now launched its own webstore. You read that right, how many years after Amazon began and B&N started selling online, a major publisher has launched a webstore. Wow, how revolutionary — not. Worse, when you go to the site, you are presented with promises of certain books offering 15% off the title plus free shipping and 20% off the ebook. Sounds good. But when you follow the link to the product page you are presented the title at what looks like full price (Stephanie Evanovich’s book comes in at $26.99) and UPS ground shipping of $7.99 and there is nothing on the buy page about the e-book. Now, maybe if I’d taken time to fill out all my particulars, including payment information, I’d have seen the discount, but sorry, that ain’t gonna happen. Unless I know I’m buying something, a site isn’t getting my address and credit card number.

Scrolling down to see the other dozen or so books featured on the home page I notice something else — there are no prices listed. Not a single one. Yeah, that’s really going to be a winning point in the battle against Amazon.

Maybe if the publishers would get a clue and actually analyze what it is that people like about Amazon, including layout and design, maybe they’d come closer to actually being able to imitate what Amazon is doing.

 

TANSTAAFL

I first came across TANSTAAFL years ago after finding copies of Worlds of If buried in one of my grandmother’s closets. This closet was devoted to storing books, magazines, records and a myriad of other things my uncles and father had left at the house over the years. To the best of my knowledge, these particular magazines had been left by my Uncle John when he’d been home on leave from the Navy. The rest of the brothers and sisters had long since moved out of the house and had their own families.

For those of you who might not be familiar wit TANSTAAFL, it comes from Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. It is the “title” of the third part of the book and stands for “There ain’t so such thing as a free lunch.” Think about that for awhile.

I guess what made this come to mind for me is recent events in the publishing world. There’s the Amazon-Hatchette conflict. Amazon has been pretty quiet about what is involved in their ongoing negotiations with Hatchette. Hatchette has been more quiet, officially at least, that I expected. However, there are “unnamed sources” that are supposedly from those in the know at Hatchette that have talked with the New York Times. And, of course, the Times is reporting what was said as fact. I’ll let you read the post but basically, if the source is to be believed, Amazon wants concessions for putting up a pre-order button, for having a person dedicated to dealing with Hatchette, pricing and discounting of e-books, etc.

Now, as the Times noted, much of what Amazon supposedly wants is exactly what is already in place with retailers such as Barnes & Noble. Of course, that little tidbit is buried deep in the article. It is also something we aren’t hearing about from those Amazon detractors who claim that all the retailer is doing is hurting authors and readers.

Well, folks, TANSTAAFL. As an author, when you sign a contract with a publisher, you are signing over all rights to determine where your book will be sold to that publisher. If they don’t contract with a retailer, too bad. If they get into a contract dispute with a retailer too bad. You may not like it but you gave up that control. What’s more, you gave it up for a very small cut of the money pie, trusting that publisher to protect your rights, market your book and give you a fair accounting of your sales.

I’m not going to condemn anyone for going the traditional route. I freely admit there is one traditional publisher — Baen — I would love to work with some day. However, when you sign a contract with a publisher, you do give up your right to determine where your books are sold and at what price point. You can and, more than likely will, find yourself held hostage during contract negotiations between the publisher and its distributor or retail outlets. That is just one of the costs of doing business the traditional way.

But TANSTAAFL applies to what is going on in publishing in other ways as well. For a very long time, the darlings of traditional publishing have benefited from a push from their publishers than many others never received. They were allowed to believe that they are relevant and cutting edge. They fell into lockstep with the cause du jour as decided by the publishers and took great joy in lording it over the lesser beings in publishing, especially in science fiction/fantasy. We’ve seen them flex their muscles — or try to, at least — in how they’ve pushed political correctness as they describe it. Don’t you dare have a scantily clad female on a cover but no sweat having a mostly naked man. To be relevant, you have to have every color, creed and sexual preference represented in your work. Story has taken a backseat to message.

Except there has been a push back and they don’t know how to react. The sacred cows are being sacrificed right and left. We’ve been told people don’t read science fiction and fantasy and yet there are folks out there indie publishing who have been able to quit their day jobs to write full time. Others have managed to make enough in royalties in just a month or two of sales to be the equivalent of an advance from a traditional publisher. What’s worse that these renegade indie authors actually being successful is that they are doing it by writing stories readers want to read. Stories, not messages. How dare they!

The other side has made an art of attacking those they don’t approve of. They have no problems publicly condemning, possibly even slandering, those who might have unpopular beliefs. If you don’t fit into the right-think slot, you are not worthy of being allowed to write. They’ve done their best to ruin Vox Day who, in my opinion, loves to stir the pot of controversy. When Ender’s Game (the movie) came out, they tried to coordinate a boycott of the movie and even called for people to quit buying anything by Orson Scott Card. Why? Because he doesn’t believe the way they do and has said so publicly. Do I agree with him? No, but I also don’t think that is reason to take away his livelihood. Want more examples? There has been a call for Toni Weisskopf to drop Larry Correia because he is a big, mean, scary, gun-loving, heterosexual man and proud of it. Worse, he won’t learn his place and be quiet about his opinions and apologize to those who attack him.

There are any number of other examples out there. The point is this, those folks who are often identified as social justice warriors or GHHers have been allowed to do as they want and say as they want for so long, they thought they basically had a free lunch to continue to do so. They are now learning that they don’t. When they attack one of our own, we tend to fight back now. Why? Mainly because we’re tired of it. But the underlying reason is because we know, as authors, we have alternatives to legacy publishing now. We don’t have to be afraid of our editors dropping us because we aren’t bowing down to their cause du jour. Then there is the fact that we are starting to realize there are so many readers out there who want the kind of stories we write.

The dance that is happening right now revolves around how the other side is dealing with the revelation that one of their shining beacons they hold up as an example for all has been named as an abuser by her own daughter. They’d managed to “forget”, if not turn a blind eye, to the fact that this beacon (Marion Zimmer Bradley) had been married to a child abuser and had, iirc, tried to defend his actions. But now they are scrambling around trying to figure out how to respond to the allegations against MZB. I’ve seen everything from condemning the actions, if true, but casting doubt on the daughter’s story to saying basically, “okay, she was bad but that doesn’t make her books, or the message in them, bad.” Then there was the comment I saw on social media this morning which was basically trying to find out if it was one of those well-known “secrets”. The subtext being, if it wasn’t, then the person posting could just ignore what happened and say that we can’t condemn the writing because of actions of the author that weren’t known.

My issue with all that is the double-standard involved. If this sort of revelation had been made against a “conservative” writer, the SJWs would be demanding that their books be pulled from the shelves and the author would be condemned. There would be little to no doubting the allegations against her. There would be no separating the actions of the author from her work. Remember, they want to kill the careers of men like Card and Correia simply because they aren’t “politically correct”.

Well, for those who think it is all right to apply that double standard, TANSTAAFL. There will come a time when people are tired of being told what to do, what to think, what to read. And guess what, that time is here. There is more behind the trouble the publishing industry is in than Amazon and much of it lies at the feet of the publishers and those they have anointed as their dahlings. You attack us, we will defend ourselves. More than that, we will continue to write stories readers want to buy. We will continue to explore alternative ways to get our work into the hands of readers, and at prices they can afford and that will pay us royalties much greater than what your legacy publishers are giving you.

And, along that line, here are some of those books:


adjustment2Vengeance from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 1)

First, they took away her command. Then they took away her freedom. But they couldn’t take away her duty and honor. Now they want her back.

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has survived two years in a brutal military prison. Now those who betrayed her are offering the chance for freedom. All she has to do is trust them not to betray her and her people again. If she can do that, and if she can survive the war that looms on the horizon, she can reclaim her life and get the vengeance she’s dreamed of for so long.

But only if she can forget the betrayal and do her duty.


stardogsStardogs

Revolution rises!

The Interstellar Empire of Man was built on the enslavement of the gentle Stardogs, companions and Theta-space transporters of the vanished Denaari Dominion. But the Stardogs that humans found can’t go home to breed, and are slowly dying out.

As the ruthless Empire collapses from its rotten core outward, an Imperial barge is trapped on top of a dying Stardog when an attempted hijacking and assassination go horribly wrong. Trying to save its human cargo, the Stardog flees to the last place anyone expected – the long-lost Denaari motherworld.

Crawling from the crash are the Leaguesmen who control the Stardogs’ pilots by fear and force, and plan to assassinate Princess Shari, the criminal Yak gang, who want to kill everyone and take control of a rare Stardog for their own, and an entourage riddled with plots, poisons, and treason. But Shari and her assassin-bodyguard have plans of their own…

Stranded on the Denaari Motherworld, the castaway survivors will have to cooperate to survive. Some will have to die.

And some, if they make it to the Stardogs breeding ground, will have to learn what it means to love.

witchfindercoverfinalWitchfinder (Magical Empires)

In Avalon, where the world runs on magic, the king of Britannia appoints a witchfinder to rescue unfortunates with magical power from lands where magic is a capital crime. Or he did. But after the royal princess was kidnapped from her cradle twenty years ago, all travel to other universes has been forbidden, and the position of witchfinder abolished. Seraphim Ainsling, Duke of Darkwater, son of the last witchfinder, breaks the edict. He can’t simply let people die for lack of rescue. His stubborn compassion will bring him trouble and disgrace, turmoil and danger — and maybe, just maybe, the greatest reward of all.

 

Trickster ebook cover

Trickster Noir (Pixie for Hire)

After the battle of Tower Baelfire ended, Lom lay dying. Bella was tasked with not only the job she never wanted, but the one she did. Could she keep Lom alive long enough for him to come to the rescue when their kingdom needed them? And what did Raven, mysterious trickster spirit and honorary uncle to Bella, want with them? If the threat was big enough to have the trickster worried, Bella knew she needed to have Lom at her side. Underhill might look like a soap-bubble kingdom, but Bella and Lom knew there was a gritty underside. Why else would fairyland need a dark man willing to carry a big gun and be the Pixie for Hire?

 

 

convent

ConVent (The Vampire Con Series)

A vampire, a werewolf, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. Whoever picked this team to save the world wasn’t thinking of sending the very best. But then, since this particular threat to the universe and everything good is being staged in science fiction conventions, amid people in costume, misfits and creative geniuses, any convetional hero would have stood out. Now Jim, the vampire, and his unlikely sidekicks have to beat the clock to find out who’s sacrificing con goers before all hell breaks loose — literally.

ConVent is proof that Kate Paulk’s brain works in wonderfully mysterious ways. A sarcastic vampire, his werewolf best buddy, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. The “Save the world” department really messed it up this time.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00006]War To The Knife (Laredo War Trilogy Book 1)

Laredo’s defenders were ground down and its people ruthlessly slaughtered when the Bactrians invaded the planet. Overwhelmed, its Army switched to guerrilla warfare and went underground. For three years they’ve fought like demons to resist the occupiers. They’ve bled the enemy, but at fearful cost. The survivors are running out of weapons, supplies, and places to hide.

Then a young officer, Dave Carson, uncovers news that may change everything. An opportunity is coming to smash the foe harder than they’ve ever done before, both on and off the planet. Success may bring the interplanetary community to their aid – but it’ll take everything they’ve got. Win or lose, many of them will die. Failure will mean that Bactria will at last rule unopposed.

That risk won’t stop them. When you’re fighting a war to the knife, in the end you bet on the blade.

murder world kaijuMurder World: Kaiju Dawn

Captain Vincente Huerta and the crew of the Fancy have been hired to retrieve a valuable item from a downed research vessel at the edge of the enemy’s space.
It was going to be an easy payday.
But what Captain Huerta and the men, women and alien under his command didn’t know was that they were being sent to the most dangerous planet in the galaxy.
Something large, ancient and most assuredly evil resides on the planet of Gorgon IV. Something so terrifying that man could barely fathom it with his puny mind. Captain Huerta must use every trick in the book, and possibly write an entirely new one, if he wants to escape Murder World.

baptism by fireBaptism By Fire (Edge of Faith)

When a madman and a giant flaming thing attack James Lawrie’s Marine outpost, the medic and an explosively talented sergeant aren’t supposed to save the day. Life becomes no simpler when Petty Officer Lawrie returns home on leave to find federal agents investigating the disappearance of a young woman from his past. A young woman whose body turns up marked with eerily familiar symbols.

 

fancy freeFancy Free

In the last parts of the Twenty-first century, AI, Artificial Intelligence is commonplace. Highly able computers, and nothing more . . . until some rare and as yet unidentified trigger creates an actual personality.

Artificial Personalities, APs or hals, are illegal. Destroyed upon discovery. Even Beowulf, the AP the government controls, and uses to hunt down emerging hals, isn’t legally recognized, has no right to existence.
So you’d think that when the Special Grid Security Unit started paying extra attention to the area where a certain cooking show operates, Fancy Farmer—the AP who runs the show—would be concerned.

But Fancy has a bigger problem.

She’s been stolen.

Mad Duck Publishing

Yesterday was one of those days when the brain shut down, forcing me to do basically nothing more strenuous than playing Peggle. We all have those days. The causes may vary but the result is the same. You stare at the wall — or the computer screen — and know you should be working but can’t quite seem to make it happen. So, last night with a brain still refusing to work properly, I asked Sarah for suggestions about what I should blog on today. She came up with two possible topics Mad Duck Publishing and Lame Duck Publishing, and then we realized that, in many ways, they are the same thing.

Mad Duck Publishing is that part of the legacy system that screams the loudest and does the most damage as they are dying. They may not recognize that they are dying and they sure don’t realize that the tools for their survival are close at hand. All they know is that things are changing and they are no longer in control. It scares them and infuriates them and, by Gum, they aren’t going to put up with it. So they huff and puff and try to blow the new wave of authors and publishing possibilities out of their world. But, like Sisyphus, they never make it all the way to the top of the hill before the boulder rolls back down and they have to start all over again.

This is what we are seeing with the Hatchette-Amazon situation right now. Hatchette is, if I remember correctly, the first of the major publishers to have to renegotiate their contract with Amazon in the aftermath of the courts striking down the Agency Model for pricing. Before, when the five of the then-Big Six used their “collective” power (along with some help from Apple) to try to force Amazon to accept the Agency Model when it came to e-book pricing, Amazon blinked. The publishers crowed because now they could set the price of their e-books, meaning no one outlet could sell for less than another. They saw this as a win because it meant they could overprice their e-books and they expected the consumer to go along.

Some did. I’ll admit, there are a very few authors I will pay $9.99 for their e-books. But those are very few and far between. My price point is actually closer to $4.99, especially if the book is also out in print. Why? Because I know how much it costs to make an e-book and I know that almost all of that cost is negated if the book is available in print. If you are bringing a book out in print, you have already edited it, formatted it, obtained artwork, cover blurb, book description, etc., etc., etc. In fact, to make that print formatted book into an e-book requires only another two steps or so. Converting from your DOC file to ePub and then putting eyes on the converted file to make sure there are no oddities in the converstion.

Anyway, back to the Mad Duck. When the court threw out the Agency Model pricing clause, finding there had been collusion between the five named publishers (of which Hatchette was one) and Apple, it mandated that new contracts between Amazon and these publishers be negotiated. Hatchette drew the short straw by being the first up. Amazon want to go back to the way it was before the tossed contract — in other words, Amazon wants to be able to set the price for e-books. Hatchette, and the other publishers don’t. Hence, the stand-off between the two entities with authors and readers caught in the middle.

Now, I’ve seen a number of authors moaning and condemning Amazon for not allowing pre-orders of Hatchette books, print or digital. I know these authors are worried. I would be too. After all, Amazon is the largest retailer for books online. The cries about how Amazon has destroyed the brick and mortar bookstores have resumed — it is a false cry because the mom and pop stores were destroyed by the big box stores and they, in turn, slit their own wrists by over-expanding, not adapting to changes in the market and not growing a vigorous online presence soon enough.

Honestly, authors are the ones who will be hurt because the lack of pre-orders from Amazon will hurt their print run numbers and that, in turn, will have an impact on their next contract. However, that isn’t really Amazon’s problem. As someone said in a comment on Cedar’s blog yesterday, Amazon has no obligation to carry books from any publisher. Taking that one step further, why should Amazon accept pre-orders for books it may not be able to supply once the books are published? Imagine the hue and cry from the customers who placed the pre-orders only to learn weeks or months down the road that they aren’t going to get the book after all.

But Hatchette doesn’t care about that. They don’t really care about their authors or their customers. What they want is control. Like mad ducks who will run menacingly at the folks who come to the pond to feed them, Hatchette and its legacy publishing pals are doing that with regard to Amazon and readers in general. Worse, they are doing so with regard to their authors. When Amazon offered to set up a fund to help the authors being impacted by this contract dispute, Hatchette did not jump onto the bandwagon. Funny, they haven’t really addressed the why nor have the authors condemning Amazon broached the topic either. Why? Because it would make Hatchette look like the mad duck and it would paint Amazon in a positive light.

The mad ducks of publishing say they need to charge more for e-books because that will make more money for everyone involved. Well, that’s not exactly true. If you raise prices to a point where you have lost a good chunk of your audience, you are losing money. Sometimes it really is better to sell more for less because that will bring in more customers and more customers means more money. As much as I dislike Walmart, that is a lesson Sam Walton brought to retail.

But, instead of taking care of its customers and authors, Hatchette is going around quacking as loudly as it can about how mean Amazon is by not stocking its books. Notice that the other publishers are being pretty quiet right now about what’s happening. They have taken on the Lame Duck Publishing role. Or perhaps the Necropheliac Duck Publishing role. They are sitting back and waiting to see what happens. Why? Because whatever happens with the Hatchette negotiation is more than likely to be what they will have to settle for. So, while they may be saying a lot behind closed doors, they aren’t saying a whole lot in public.

While all this is going on, indie authors are sitting back and shaking our heads. We don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Me, I think I’m doing a bit of both. I’m crying for the authors who are stuck in the middle and who know they are being shafted by their publisher but who have contracts to fulfill. I’m hoping that, once those contracts are fulfilled, they look long and hard at what all their options are, starting with refusing to sign any contract that limits their ability to bring out their backlists or to go indie on work they don’t think fits the publisher. I’m shaking my head and bemusement because it isn’t hard, looking at the Top 100 lists on Amazon, or elsewhere, to see what the optimal price points are and, believe me, $9.99 isn’t it.

Then another part of me is laughing. In the two months that Vengeance from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 1) has been out, I have earned what many publishers would have given me as an advance for the first book in a new science fiction series by someone they would see as an unknown. After the first couple of days, it hit the Top 100 in three different Science Fiction categories and has stayed there. When I check what else is listed in those categories, I see titles priced mainly in the $2.99 to $4.99 range. Yes, there are some traditionally published books but there are also a large percentage of indie and small press published books. Pricing is one big reason for this but so is the fact that the indie and small press published books are books people want to read and not the message science fiction that is coming out of the Big Five right now (Baen is not included in this).

What I’m also seeing is that people are starting to turn a deaf ear to the continual quacking from the Mad Ducks in publishing. They are tired of hearing about how evil Amazon is, especially when Amazon does make it easier to find those books we want to read, books the publishers aren’t giving us. They are tired of seeing millionaire authors whinging about how mean Amazon is because it is killing bookstores. Where were these millionaire authors when the big box stores came in and put the small bookstores out of business? Most of all, we are tired of all the quacking about how an e-book isn’t a book. Sorry, it is. It is just a different medium for the same product.

So, for all those Mad Ducks out there, quick quacking and hurting yourselves and the industry. If you don’s start listening to what your customers and authors say and want, you will soon move from Mad Duck Publishing to Necropheliac Publishing, worshiping at the base of a dead business model while the innovators and adopters step around and over you.

World turned upside down

There are times when I wonder if the world turned upside down while I was asleep. You know the times I’m talking about. You go to bed one night and when you wake up, it seems like common sense has flown out the window. But it’s more than that. It also seems as if all too many of our fellow humans have lost the ability to look at all sides of an issue and make up their own minds.  That’s what I’ve felt about the publishing industry for the last few weeks. Well, to be honest, it seems as though there are more and more days and weeks when that happens over the last few years. But since the Hugo slate came out, those days are beginning to far outweigh the days when “normal” ruled.

No, I’m not going to rehash the Hugo debate. Others have done it better than I could. Nor am I going to into the Amazon-Hatchette contract negotiations. Dave did a great job of covering it yesterday.

I guess I’m in a place right now where I’m somewhere between absolutely furious about what is happening to this industry — and especially a genre — I love and heartsick. This past year has seen something new in publishing — the conservatives and libertarians are starting to push back against the liberals. Part of this stems from the increasing importance of indie publishing and small press publishing as the Big Five loose more and more of their control over the industry. Authors are starting to realize that they no longer have to fall into lockstep with whatever the cause du jour is for the editors in their ivory tower New York offices.

If you don’t think this is true, just go to Amazon or iTunes or BN.com and see how many more science fiction books are now available for download. Then see how well those books are selling. Talk to authors who are making a good living from writing and self-publishing their science fiction, authors who hadn’t been able to break into publishing under the legacy model. I’m confident you will find most of them write stories that don’t denigrate mankind, don’t make humanity the enemy that needs to be wiped out to save Mother Earth. Instead, they write stories with a plot and with characters we can identify with. Stories we want to read.

But this renewal of the genre is being denied — long and loud — by some in our industry. What makes this sad is that they are the ones who ought to be thrilled to know there is a broadening market for science fiction and fantasy. But they aren’t. They are terrified of it because indie authors aren’t being constrained by the cause du jour. So they go on the attack. But they don’t attack the indie authors — mainly because, as much as we scare them we are also still beneath their notice. Instead they attack authors like Larry Corriea who is traditionally published — now.  Larry is also a champion of other authors and of gamers and of guns. Oh, and he’s male and proudly married and the father of his own clan.

In other words, he’s a scary man who must be evil. So they must silence him.

Sigh. Authors wanting to silence other authors.

The latest attack on Larry came from Damien Walter of the Guardian. This isn’t the first time he’s tried to shame and humiliate Larry for being wrong-think. It is clear dear Damien isn’t really bright. Either that or he likes being publicly flogged, not only by Larry, who does wonderful fisks of the Guardian articles, but also by Larry’s friends and fans. Because I don’t want to give Damien any more page hits than he already has — and because Larry quotes the entirety of the latest article — here are links to the two part fisking Larry has done:

Fisking the Guardian’s Village Idiot: Part 1

Fisking the Guardian’s Village Idiot: Part 2

Then there is this excellent — and most entertaining — piece by John C. Wright, The Evil League of Evil is Given Pious Advice.

I thank Larry and John for what they’ve said in their blogs and on Facebook. I may not always agree with what they say, but that isn’t the point. The point is no voice should be silenced and most certainly not by artificial social rules determined by a few vocal social justice warriors. There is a place for everyone in the industry. Don’t like what someone writes? Don’t buy it. That’s what readers have been doing for years. But, just as publishers didn’t trust readers to determine what they wanted to read, the SJWs don’t either. Whether it is a need to be relevant or the need to control, I don’t know and I don’t care.

What I would really like is for the SJWs to sit back and actually take a few moments to read what they’ve been saying in social media. Read it and think about it and then tell me how what they are calling for isn’t basically censorship — and don’t give me a lecture here that only governments can censor. When you have people actively calling for publishers to drop authors because those authors aren’t following right-think, when those same people force others out of their jobs because they didn’t follow-right think, that’s pretty darned close to censorship. Frankly, if I say much more, I’ll go into a political rant.

I’m tired of being told how to think by the SJWs. Funny, no one else in the industry is telling me what sort of plots or characters I should be writing. No one else is condemning me — or any other author — if there aren’t enough main characters of whatever ilk in my work. Maybe instead of trying to convince the rest of us about how wrong we are, they ought to be focusing on their craft and not on their political agenda.

Oops, there I go, slipping into another rant.

Or maybe I’m just tired.

(I’ll be back later today to answer any comments but it will be later this afternoon or evening, after the final round of oral surgery. Whee – not.)

In the meantime, here’s a bit of self-promotion:

Vengeance From Ashes (new)Vengeance from Ashes (Honor and Duty) (written under the pen name Sam Schall) is the first in the Honor and Duty series.

Here’s the blurb:

First, they took away her command. Then they took away her freedom. But they couldn’t take away her duty and honor. Now they want her back.

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has survived two years in a brutal military prison. Now those who betrayed her are offering the chance for freedom. All she has to do is trust them not to betray her and her people again. If she can do that, and if she can survive the war that looms on the horizon, she can reclaim her life and get the vengeance she’s dreamed of for so long.

But only if she can forget the betrayal and do her duty.