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Posts tagged ‘Larry Correia’

Guest Post: Origins Disgrace

This is a guest post by George Phillies, an author, gamer, and, well, you’ll see… You can find more about George’s work here, and he is the president of N3F, where you can subscribe for free fanzines that are delightfully focused only on the fantasy, fun, and frolics of fandom, leaving out the politics. You can also sign up there for a paid membership, which will support “The N3F began in April 1941, when all types of imaginative literature – including science fiction – were called fantasy. We’re one of the oldest science fiction and fantasy fan clubs still operating. In all the time since then, the N3F has undergone almost every combination of success and failure imaginable. At different times our membership has been in the hundreds, and other times under 10. It has produced some of Fandom’s most memorable fanzines and some of the worst crudzines. Its ranks hold professional writers as well as neofans (if you have to ask what a neofan is, you are one).” George didn’t ask me to include this bit, but I am, because given what we’re seeing with Origins and other cons recently, having somewhere you can hang out without first having to show how ‘woke’ you are is refreshing, and I for one am happy knowing that not every fan group out there is like the one that is in charge of Origins.  Read more

It is time to fight back

Almost a month to the day when it was announced John Ringo would NOT be a Guest of Honor at ConCarolinas, Origins Gaming Fair decided it wanted to play too. First it announced Larry Correia would be its literary guest of honor. Then, very shortly after that, the invitation was revoked. All signs indicate the decision was made by one man, John Ward. It didn’t take long for the tidal wave of reaction to set in and, since then, Origins has done everything wrong in how it has handled the situation.

In fact, we very well may be watching the slow suicide of a con that decided to follow the saying, “Get woke, go broke.” Read more

Topic Round-up

Wow, the New Year has gotten off with a bang — or, perhaps more accurately, the sound of air slowly leaking out of a balloon. Traditional publishing basically shuts down during the holidays. So there isn’t much coming out of the ivory towers to discuss. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on. Just the opposite, in fact.

The first to come up over the holidays and, in many ways, the most concerning was the announced closure of All Romance eBooks and its related sites. I’m sure most of you have heard about it by now. So I’m not going to spend much time on it. The basics are ARe, one of the distribution platforms for romance and erotica ebooks, announced it could not continue operating after posting losses during the year. So, giving its authors, small presses and readers less than a week’s notice, it said it would be shutting down the site. Oh, and those folks to whom it owed royalties? Well, if they agreed to something ridiculous like 10 cents to the dollar and promised not to sue, they’d get paid. Otherwise, good luck trying to get anything out of them.

For more information about this situation, I recommend several posts. Start with this post from The Passive Voice. Be sure to read the comments and then click through to the original post from BlogCritics. On New Year’s Day, PG posted two more times about the ARe situation. The first, also from Blog Critics, discusses some court documents that are very revealing about what had been going on behind the scenes at ARe. These documents show just how little authors and publishers know about the distribution platforms some of us rely upon to get our books into the hands of our readers. The second is a link to a post from Kris Rusch. I cannot say how important it is to read both the PG comments but to click through to Kris’ original post. Please, even if you don’t read the first two, read this last one.

The ARe situation is bad for everyone involved. Authors are being stolen from. There is no other word for it. The owners of ARe did not give their clients — authors and readers alike — warning there was a problem. That meant authors, who relied upon ARe to do as they contracted, could not make an informed decision about whether to continue the relationship or not. For readers, it pointed out the danger of trusting online distribution sites to remain up and running and to continue giving you access to the books you bought. This is why so many of us have long preached that you need to download and save to multiple back-up sources/media any e-book you buy. It is another reason why so many of us hate DRM that tries to prevent you from doing just that. So, the lesson for the moment is to download, back up and make your own decision about whether you will try to break DRM or not. I won’t say whether you should or should not because it is against the law in some countries and it does violate the terms of service for a number of sites.

And I would never, ever tell you to do anything to violate the TOS or the law. [required disclaimer]

The next topic I had considered for today came up New Year’s Eve. I’ll admit, when I saw the site where the piece was published, I knew it probably cried for some serious snarkage. After all, HuffPo isn’t known for being a staunch supporter of indie and small presses. I was right. After all, when the headline of the piece is Self Publishing: An Insult to the Written Word, you know exactly how the article is going to slant.

Fortunately for all of us, the king of snark, Larry Corriea, tackled the task before I could. Since there is no way I could out-snark Larry, I wills imply direct you to his post. Read it, enjoy it and know that he is completely on the mark with everything he has to say.

Next up, we have yet another call to have a year of publishing nothing but women. Yep, you read that right. Kamila Shamshie has called for 2018 to be the year of publishing only women. Now, I know what you’re going to say. Look at the source of the article. It’s the Guardian. I know. I know. Another bastion of, well, drivel. However, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen such calls, or something similar. Have you forgotten the calls for readers to give up on reading books by men — or non-people of color or other so-called marginalized groups — for a year?

One of the best responses I’ve seen to the Shamshie article comes from Dacry Conroy. These three paragraphs completely dismantle Shamshie’s argument:

Yes! I thought. We do need to take example from the suffragettes, we do need to stop being so polite and seize our own power, raise our voices and… That’s when she lost me. Because what Shamsie suggested we raise our voices to say to the publishing industry was, essentially, “Please let us in. You’re being unfair. Just for one year without any boys in the way and see if the readers like us. It doesn’t have to be right away, 2018 is fine, but give us a go? Please?”

I don’t see the spirit of the independent presses of the 70s and 80s in that. What I see is a spirit of dependence on an industry that infantilizes writers, making them grateful for any morsel of approval and attention, convincing them that a publishing house is the only way to ‘real’ publication. This seems to be particularly so of literary writers (a group to which I do not pretend to belong) who appear to have been convinced that even though they are the keepers of the “artistic flame,” they would not have an audience at all without the festivals, the reviewers and the awards the publishing houses so carefully close to all but their own.

Surely the lesson from the independent presses of the 70s isn’t to plead for someone else to start a press and offer better opportunities, it’s to stand up, use the technology available and become our own publishers. Many of us are already doing that.

Be sure to check out the rest of Conroy’s response at the link above.

Finally, someone stirred the waters and more and more posts have been appearing on social media about the evils of self-publishing. We need gatekeepers. We need editors. We need to serve our time as journeymen learning our craft the old way. Traditional publishing is the only way to do that. We’re flooding the market and writing books that shouldn’t be written.

You get the drift.

I’ve been hearing this sort of thing since I first stuck a toe into the indie waters more than six years ago. I’ll freely admit there is some dreck out there. Hell, there’s a lot of dreck out there. But it isn’t all coming from indie authors. Remember, there is the traditionally published science fiction (erotica) where the male lead’s genitals are so dangerous they have to be chained. (Kate, quit laughing so hard. You’ll hurt something.) Then there is the traditionally published paranormal romance where the vampire groom marries his human bride in a church, drinks faux blood champagne and then, like a scene out of the first Christopher Reeve Superman movie, flies off into the sunset with her in his arms. Sorry, vampires don’t sparkle, they don’t do sunlight unless they are really, really old and usually evil or insane. They certainly don’t go flying off into the sunset ala Superman and Lois Lane.

Every argument against indie books can be answered easily. We need gatekeepers. Guess what? The gatekeepers are the readers. They tell us if we are doing something right or wrong. They tell us if they want to buy what we’ve written or not.

We need editors. There are a ton of editors out there we can hire or barter services with.

We need professional looking covers. Easy peasy. We can hire or barter for services. And, btw, have you seen some of the traditional covers recently, especially for romance books? Can you say “stock photos”?

We need someone to format and convert our books. Pardon me while I laugh hysterically. Formatting is simply setting up a template and writing in it. Conversion is nothing when you look at what we used to have to do. I remember having to hand code a novel into html. Now? You can upload your Word file or a mobi or epub file. No problem. And print? That’s a bit more tricky but I can prep a print file in a matter of an hour or two now — the trouble is finding the time to sit down and do it because I would rather be writing.

And that, you see, is the real issue indie authors face. We would rather be writing. So some of us — myself included — tend to slack off when it comes to getting print and audio books out there. It is a matter of disciplining ourselves to do it — and that is my one resolution for the New Year. The other real impediment we have as indies is getting our books into bookstores. However, is that something we really need to worry about? Despite what the “studies” show, how many young people (age 30 and under) really go to a bookstore and buy a print book for themselves? How many bookstores do we have? In my town, none. The closest bookstore is about 8 miles away and is located in a very busy shopping area with lousy parking and even worse access. In fact, if you don’t know it’s there, you would never get off the highway or the main city street to pull into the shopping area to find it — and it is a Barnes & Noble.

As for the complaint that we are saturating the market, possibly. However, indie publishing has proven traditional publishing was not meeting reader demand — either in the number of new books being offered each month or in subject matter. How long have we listened to the old saw that science fiction is dead? Yet more and more indie sf writers are starting to make enough from their writing to consider quitting their day jobs.

What do you think? Are indies an anathema to good writing and reading?

Credibility…

It’s probably the only thing that con men, politicians, lawyers (ok, most pols are lawyers, go figure) and sf authors have in common.

To be successful at any of these, you have to be credible. Writers (at least when they’re writing) have it easier than most of the others, because you can go back and edit those little mistakes, and make your characters just that much more plausible. It’s a convenience most con men, politicians, lawyers and other liars have to envy us for. Heh. They have to envy us for something. It’s usually not money.

The big problem – as most successful writers know — is that credibility is fragile. Break it once and the reader starts looking for more. The pleasantly gullible reader is gone, and with him, so often is the enjoyment of the story. The reader trusted you. That’s why you don’t make mistakes. That’s why you check your facts. That’s why you work on your characters, so they would do what you claim they do.

The reader trusts you. Fail once…

Now he doesn’t.

Getting it back is a bitch. You’ll be lucky if you ever succeed, and if you do, it’s hard work. In this way life is no different to art. The only way except for the reader totally rejecting the book, the author, now and in future is long, hard involves passing enough of the trust tests for the reader to continue. Even so: you can never ever go back to the naïve trust.

In the normal course of events, you’d start with an apology (this is tricky in writing a novel). A real apology – as Eric Flint put it here.
“Retract the statement publicly and issue a simple and straightforward apology. ”
and in the comment here

Eric Flint says:
June 8, 2015 at 9:31 PM

I agree, Dave. A real apology means “I’m sorry I said that.” Not “Gee, I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings.” [Left unsaid: “But I didn’t do anything wrong, you thin-skinned jerk.”]

It doesn’t have to be long and it doesn’t have to involve any self-flagellation. You don’t have to explain why you said what you’re now apologizing for. But you do have to apologize for it and you do have to retract it.

It’s not really that hard. Any person who’s married has learned how to do it — or they’re not going to be married for very long.

Not an Irene Gallo ‘I’m sorry you’re offended’ – which is adding insult to injury, or Mary Robinette Kowal apology ‘I accept that you could be so dumb as not fall in line with my totally implausible interpretation of Chicom as an ethnic slur.’ A real apology: “I’m sorry. I was wrong. I withdraw that.”

As Eric said, every married person learns to say that, or doesn’t stay married. I am a great believer in real equality. I don’t think women like Irene or Mary have any excuse to be less capable than anyone else – not if they believe in equality.

Let’s set out a few definition here just so we’re all sure we’re talking about the same thing.

A slate: a list. Nothing more, nothing less. Locus sets one out every year. It’s like a gun. In itself utterly harmless. The number of items on it- whether one, five, or twenty makes no difference. What matters is what is done with it.

Ballot stuffing: a form of electoral fraud where some person entitled to one vote makes multiple votes. Logically the fingerprint of this can be identical vote numbers for all their favored candidates. They could be clever and vary them slightly, but low variance would indicate the possibility.

Bloc voting (also sometimes spelled block voting, which is quite appropriate under the circumstances. The clearest example of bloc voting in the Hugo awards was with intent to block) – where a group of people votes the same way, not on the basis individuals taking a decision, but because they belong to a group or clique, whom they allow to take decisions on their behalf, and then vote in accordance with that decision, not as individuals. The ‘fingerprint’ of bloc voting is seen as issues or candidates getting close to the same number of votes – what would be called ‘low variance’. So for example if candidates a, b, and c in three categories – all candidates endorsed by one group or individual, got 2546, 2501 and 2550… while other candidates got between 80 and 1500 votes , you could safely say there was a bloc vote. If candidates endorsed by one group got between 80 and 1500… (high variance) you may be absolutely certain they did NOT vote as a bloc, but on the basis of individual decisions and individual conscience.

Inclusive: means all groups are included. The signature of inclusiveness is that that barring some impeccable reason (such as the absence of men in a mothers group, or paraplegics in a running group) the group has roughly the same demographics as the population they’re drawn from. So for example the running group, or reading group would have about the same percentage of black people as there are in the pool from which they can draw, and likewise with less tangible things like religion or politics. A group of American readers with 13% black members, 50% women members… and they’re all Buddhists or neo-Nazis is not inclusive.

Back to lying and credibility. The Sad Puppies, actually the Puppies in general, were accused of 1)Nominating a slate for the Hugo awards. In clearer terms, they were accused by multiple Puppy Kickers, many of whom were multiple prior nominees, and all of whom are very much part of the closed and un-inclusive clique, of bloc voting for the slate put up by the Sad and Rabid Puppies. Brad Torgersen –and others, repeatedly said it was a recommended list, not a dictate. Here are the numbers. Look for yourself. Brad is completely vindicated. Those who made this accusation were attacking an innocent man, and supporters of puppies who acted with integrity. An integrity not displayed by the bloc vote for ‘no award’ and those who proposed and went along with it.

I think that calls for an apology (the method of doing it properly is given above, as it is apparent you Puppy Kickers haven’t understood it.)

Ballot stuffing: Once again there are multiple accusations of the puppies doing this. In the strictest definition this didn’t happen, and there is no fingerprint of the same. As the Hugos require individuals to pay to vote, it could be interpreted as someone paying for others to vote was ballot stuffing. This did happen: Puppy Kicker Mary Robinette Kowal did so, by a mechanism that cannot be described as free of bias to an outside observer. You can reach your own conclusions as to how independent those bought votes were, but once again, the only people who did it, were the puppy kickers.

I think that calls for an apology (the method of doing it properly is given above, as it is apparent you Puppy Kickers haven’t understood it,)

We have been called racist, sexist, homophobic, misogynistic, fascist, even neo-Nazi, AS A GROUP. When called on these ridiculous slanders – for which there is a huge amount of evidence AGAINST which the puppy kickers could not squirm out of, they retreated into ‘guilt by association’. We note that the puppy kickers are as a group just as ‘guilty’ by association with pedophiles, cheats, ballot-stuffers, bloc voting organizers, bullies who have intimidated and threatened the livelihood of anyone who failed to co-operate. Much of what we’ve been subjected to, in method, is precisely what the Puppy Kickers thought vile when one of their own, the blogger ‘requires hate’, applied it to them. We haven’t conducted whisper campaigns to exclude (mysteriously all vote ‘no award’) to shame (several authors gave up their nominations under this) to deny places at cons or in publications. They have.

There are many individuals who deserve an apology from various Puppy Kickers for this. They acted as individuals, which is visible in the voting record.

I could go on for a long, long time. The clique and those who camp-followed did everything from cheat to bully and lie. And make the new SP4 leadership into Mormon men.

The truth was not in them. Not once. They lied. And then they lied again, and accused us of that. Just as Larry Correia put it here (you should read the whole thing):
I said the Hugos no longer represented all of Fandom, instead they only represents tiny, insular, politically motivated cliques taking turns giving their friends awards. If you wanted to be considered, you needed to belong to, or suck up to those voting cliques. I was called a liar.
I said that most of the voters cared far more about the author’s identity and politics than they did the quality of the work, and in fact, the quality of the work would be completely ignored if the creator had the wrong politics. I was called a liar.
I said that if somebody with the wrong politics got a nomination, they would be actively campaigned against, slandered, and attacked, not for the quality of their work, but because of politics. I was called a liar.

The Puppy Kickers proved they project well. And this year again proved every single point Larry made, in spades. Steam shovels even.

I see you all shrug. The puppies knew this. We’ve proved it, but that changes nothing. The Puppy Kickers are still dancing in glee, spitting abuse, and celebrating giving the Hugos a cat’s ar…asterisk –a calculated insult to all those voters who nominated as individuals, according to conscience. An insult to many good folk who were nominated and caught up in their pettiness

They won’t apologize. They were wrong, but it takes integrity and decency to admit that, and as we have seen, they have none. They have their insular little shrinking world of Traditionally published sf, and they’ll destroy it rather than lose control.

Well. Yes. The inner circle. The Nielsen-Haydens, the Tor staff, their loyalists, File 770’s little clique, David Gerrold, John Scalzi – the usual suspect nominees of the ‘inner circle clique would indeed.

But SF is bigger than that. Even WorldCon is bigger than that. And even not all of the CHORF’s are incapable of working things out. A few brighter people are plainly looking at the math… and some like this fellow are beginning to understand that they’ve entered Vox Day’s 4th generation war.

Science Fiction resembled in many ways Syria, (or South Africa, or Malaysia or… But Syria is closest). Let’s call it Syfia. One small group, with some powerful allies outside sf, ruled a vast country. From their position of power they dispensed largess – for which they expected obedience, and spreading their influence and ideas. Divergence from this was punished brutally – ask John Norman. Progress of an individual without their support was orders of magnitude harder than with it. Ask Sarah Hoyt. They owned almost all the power, and all the wealth, and only they could reward or punish. Not surprisingly there were people with issues with them, people who would have liked some change, and people who just wanted them destroyed. And then their monopoly on power was compromised. Other folk started making money without them, and being able to reward… and indeed punish.

One of them, quite a moderate fellow, who loved Syfia, but felt some changes were called for, dared question the ruling clique. The clique did as they always had, and attempted to put him down. They failed, despite atrocities committed in the effort. And the result was the rebellion spread. The atrocities didn’t (as in the past) frighten people. A few yes, ran and kowtowed hastily. But most of them just got mad. And the people who didn’t just want change, but to destroy the whole show got involved. The ruling clique didn’t differentiate – actually it saved its worst behavior for the softer target, the moderates. This actually pushed the moderates towards the extremists. To stop the moderates and extremists capturing five beloved villages, the clique set fire to them, burning lots of people who weren’t either moderate or extremist, not hurting the actual attackers at all, but denying them the prize.

Then someone worked out… the combined insurgents were not – at present – numerous enough to take all the villages. But they were numerous enough to make the rulers destroy them just in case they did.

They Clique ruling Syfia face de facto a long counter-insurgency war. A war with lots of damage, and possibly no overall winners. A war which will eventually result in various fiefdoms, and the Clique still absolute in their villages in the mountains of literary sf – infertile and unwelcoming, where their people starve. It is possible to win a counter-insurgent war. But it is hard, long and requires, essentially, winning over the hearts and minds –and pockets, of the ‘moderates’. The end point, survival for Syfia, and at least the people of the Clique if not its leadership means not only the quite mild changes suggested by the moderate fellow at first, but a lot more (look at any state that survived an insurgency. Basically, it cost them ALL plus a lot more than original issues. And all the leadership who caused the issues. They survive, but vastly, vastly changed.)

The Clique need desperately to make peace with the moderates. To give them what they asked for. To accommodate even extremists to slake their fury.

The trouble is… the Clique’s leaders know it’s their heads and their control that’s at stake. They value that far more than Syfia. And on the other hand… the moderates have no reason to trust the Clique. Why should we?

After their previous actions they have little or no credibility. The extremists might be extremists, but they’ve not attacked or betrayed the moderates. Only the Clique has done that.

Who do you think the Sad Puppies should trust?

And when TNH says they’ve never excluded us… who should we believe? Her or our experience, or lying eyes?

If you’re a puppy supporter, or a neutral – remember which side has lied continuously. Don’t believe them, insist they show you. The numbers don’t lie. When they can show that awards, publications, and cons are really, by numbers of people from demographically proportionate religious and political points of view, then they can claim ‘inclusivity’. Until then, like everything else, they lie.

If you’re a Puppy Kicker or a Neutral who loves Syfia – you need credibility. You need us. WE DO NOT NEED YOU. We’re no longer prepared to be _told_ anything. Every time you tell us… it’s a lie, to the point that we may as well be the villains you accuse us of being, because you’re going to lie about it anyway.

So if you want to survive, to change your ways, to include us… Show us. And the price you’re going to pay grows the longer you wait.

Humble Beginnings

I wanted to write this post for a couple of reasons. One, to counter the claim I saw recently that crowdfunding is necessary to create a debut novel, because you need money to write.  Note that the claim here is not: I need money for editing, formatting, or a cover. No, it was, I need money in order to finish writing my first novel. The second reason was to acknowledge a big influence on my publishing career, and to praise a man who has too much undeserved scorn heaped on him these days.

First of all, when I started writing Vulcan’s Kittens, which is my first published novel (I had about half of The Eternity Symbiote written prior to it, although it would be published later), I wasn’t trying to make money. As a matter of fact, I was pretty sure I’d never sell VK to, well, anyone. I wrote it because my daughter asked me to. So the idea of asking for money while I was doing it never crossed my mind. I had no idea if it was any good. I hadn’t heard of Indie Publishing, and knew that vanity publishing was not for me. While I was writing VK, I was a single mother of four, working two and sometimes three jobs, receiving no support from their father.  And it wasn’t published until after I had gone back to college full time on top of that.

The idea of crowdfunding so that I could sit at home and write in my comfy chair, or possibly go and do research in some coffeeshop with my laptop on my knee never even crossed my little brain. My office mates watched me carry a notebook or my decrepit laptop into the lunchroom, eat in five minutes, and write like mad for 45 minutes until it was time to get back to my desk. They thought I was a little crazy, but were fascinated with the idea of writing a novel. Then I’d go home, take care of my kids, and when they went to bed, I’d write for another hour before falling into bed myself. I worked weekends and wrote around the erratic schedule then. In due time – and the bulk of Vulcan’s Kittens was written during NaNoWriMo – I had a manuscript.

Now, the concept that was pitched to me last week was that in the tech industry, you release a product, and then the beta users come back with bug reports, you fix them, and so on until you have a final result. This, the aspiring author insisted, was how it should be. People who wanted to read your book should give you some money, tell you where they saw problems, and you would work on those while offering another section of the book for some more money…

This is not, I assure anyone who had a doubt, how publishing works. Don’t try it. Readers do not want to pay for the privilege of being your editor.

As for me, the story continues. With no help from any crowds, I now had a rough manuscript. I had a writing group that mentored me through short stories prior to this, and I was slowly reconnecting with them (and this blog). I had no money. The stage is set: enter, Larry Correia.

Larry Correia and Cedar Sanderson

When I say big influence, I’m not just talking metaphorically.

I don’t think I’ve told this part of my story here on the blog before. I’d discovered Larry through Baen, when they bought the rights to his previously self-published Monster Hunter International, and published it with a typically Baen all-action-all-the-time cover, and I probably bought it in Webscriptions (no money does not equal no book budget. I don’t smoke, barely drink, and most important: don’t have cable. That I could have a few new books a month through the then low price of $15 was a boon to a struggling single mum). In July of 2012, I learned that Larry would actually be in my state, and I decided that I had to go see him. There were a few problems with this plan. One, he didn’t know me from Adam (or Eve, since I’m undeniably female). Two, no money. Three, and worst of all, no car. He’d be an hour’s drive from me… I pitched the plan to a friend and mutual SFF reader, who’d never even heard of Larry Correia. He was kind enough to make it an expedition.

And this is where I first learned the true nature of Larry Correia.

You see, this wasn’t a formal signing. There just aren’t that many SFF fans in NH. So Larry’s plan was to swing by the Toadstool Bookstore in Milford, NH, sign whatever they had in stock, and go off to bigger and better events. And here this Baen Barfly – my only tie to him, I’d never talked to him before, as I try not to pester my favorite authors – was sending him a message asking when he’d be there, please, so she could meet him? He obligingly gave me a firm time, which he hadn’t planned on, and we headed south.

When I walked into the bookstore, the only person in the shop was the guy behind the counter. I approached him and asked when the signing with Larry Correia would be. He looked up from his work and said ‘oh, hey, he told me you were coming. He’s gone to lunch at the Chinese place next door, said you should come join him.’

And that is how I wound up spending an hour picking a bestselling author’s brain about selling a manuscript, self-publishing, and baby pictures (ok, that’s not really about writing, but I was delighted to get a peek at Epic Baby). And you know what? For a couple of years now, I’ve seen the casual accusations about Larry thrown around. Misogynist? Seriously? He sat there with me, never even blinked at my rampant femaleness, and gave me solid business advice, peer-to-peer. I’ve met Larry socially and professionally several times since them, and he’s always hail-fellow-well-met, with never a blink at my womanhood. It simply doesn’t matter to the man. He was more concerned with helping me get better, and be professional (the gist of our initial conversation was: treat it like a business) than he ever was with assuming I was a lesser being for my gender. It simply doesn’t matter to him. He’s always treated me and the other women who I know are mutual friends with us as: I’m his equal in capacity when it comes to writing, I might not have the experience he does, but that doesn’t mean I can’t learn.

Baen Publisher and Authors

Toni Weisskopf, Larry Correia, and Mike Kupari at LTUE

It enrages me to see him treated like a woman-hater. I’ve seen him with his wife, and he’s a devoted husband, tender to her as a man should be. I’ve seen him with women like myself who have a professional relationship with him, and he’s serious when necessary, witty, and always respectful. I’ve watched him with his publisher, who is a woman, and their relationship is a blast to watch. She jokes with him, he teases her, but there is still a deep mutual respect there, one that makes his working relationship an ideal for those of us who work in this industry. I hear all the stories about editors and authors. I see the authors tossed away like used tissues. But there is a higher standard that can be had, and Toni Weisskopf exemplifies that.

His relationship with peers? Look up the Monster Hunter Nation and a phenomenon called a ‘book bomb’. I can unreservedly say that the man gives wholeheartedly. He knows this isn’t a zero-sum game, we authors aren’t competing against one another, we’re mutually feeding a hungry and growing pool of readers. When Larry knows a friend or even acquaintance needs a boost, he pitches their book. He’s not afraid to help other authors. I can’t say how much a help it is, as I’ve never been bombed, but I can say that I’ve bought several books because Larry said “this is good, and this person needs a hand.” Now, that’s how to work crowd-funding. But it takes a big pool of trust and respect, which have to be earned.

Did I become an Indie publisher  because of Larry Correia? No. But he was a huge influence as I tried to figure out if I was going to become a writer, a real professional writer. For that, I’d like to thank him profusely, and to ask:

When’s the next book out? because I can afford more books now, and I want to buy it! 

The Fading Stigmata of Self-Publishing

Gerry Martin pointed this article by Liz Long out to me, thanks, Gerry.

The publishing system isn’t broken by any means, but the stigma behind “traditional” and “indie” publishing has really gotten my goat lately.

I’m independently published, or self-published. What does that mean? It means I do not have an agent or traditional publisher backing me. It means that I’m in control of my stories, my edits, my covers, my marketing, and everything else that goes along with it. It means that I bust my ass working towards a dream.

Does it make me better than traditional authors? Nope. We all work hard to earn our keep; they just have a little extra help.

Does it make me worse than traditional authors? Still no. I’m not just chucking up the first draft and waiting for rave reviews to come in.

Things are changing and it’s time for folks to get on board before they’re left behind. I work in magazines, but it’s no secret that the indie waves are crashing down and changing the book publishing landscape. You know the stories – how Amanda Hocking self-published and rocked the publishing world to its knees when she became a bestseller without the help of the Big Six. How hundreds of authors are hitting NY Times and USA Today bestseller lists thanks to their fans and friends, to the straight up hustle it takes to earn such a title.

Self-published authors are not desperate losers (nor were they ever, but I like to think we’re more marketable now). Those of us in it to win it are not hoping to publish one book and get rich quick. I’m not quitting my job in the hopes of writing the “Next Great Novel” (because that plan doesn’t work for me).

I don’t need to be a traditionally published author to understand what goes into my books. I put on my pants like everyone else, going through the correct steps just like traditional authors do with their work: I have an editor to check my spelling and grammar, brilliant cover designers to catch readers’ attention, and a marketing team behind me so that I’m not in it alone and completely overwhelmed.

Read the whole thing here.

I think it is a slowly receding stigma – healing stigmata, if you want. When asked, I tell people I’m independently published. I own my publishing imprint, and because I have the background, I run it like a business. I do my level best to deliver a professional product to the consumer, just as if I weren’t the artist creating it in the first place. To that end, I’ve gathered a crew of people who help me with the bits I can’t manage on my own, like editing. And it’s not easy, it’s a ton of work. But I don’t expect to wind up on bestselling lists (other than on Amazon, where they count, being generated by real sales rather than projections).

As for the slowly fading, a movie comes out in a couple of months, created from a book that was originally self-published. I read The Martian back then, before it was bought by a ‘real publisher’ and optioned to be a movie. It was good. It’s still good. The only difference is who is handling it, and the level of publicity… and that’s making a wave through readers. If a self-published book can be good, then maybe others will be, too?

It’s not going to be overnight. But already, I’m seeing the readers care less about who handles the book and more about the story inside the book.

Brad Torgersen, commenting on the article, talked about his path into publishing,

It may be another generation before the unconscious “wall” totally collapses. Too many of us were born in the age when “self” and “vanity” were synonymous.

Kevin J. Anderson said it best: publishing has now been made *easy* but SUCCESS is still as hard as it’s ever been.

Speaking from my military experience, I think it’s inevitable human nature that people begin to check each other out according to what kinds of rites of passage each of us has endured. For the vast bulk of publishing history, “making it” with an editor was a celebrated rite of passage. You knew you were “for real” when you’d cut muster with an established magazine or novel house.

Certainly the three most joyous events in my entire publishing career to date have been (in order):

1 – winning Writers of the Future.

2 – getting my first sale to Analog magazine.

3 – getting a first novel sale with Baen Books.

I am a middle aged duffer. I come from the “old” world. I think the new world is exciting (and a relief) because now there is an amazing additional option that is available to everybody, and people are making money at it. But I also think it’s not perfect either. Especially when Amazon dominates so much of the marketing and delivery mechanism. If Amazon were to fold, or get draconian with its practices, indie publishing would be in a bad place.

 

Cedar brings up a GREAT point: indie publishing forces the writer to actually *be* “in the business” as it were. A lot of us from the “old world” of publishing (I guess I am technically a “cusper” because I broke in right when indie was exploding?) are absolutely shit businesspeople. You can’t be a shit businessperson and manage your indie career. You just can’t. You might luck into a phenomenon, such as 50 Shades. But that’s a one-in-a-million lightning strike. The working indie writer MUST be his/her own accountant, tax specialist, marketer, art department, etc.

I respect the HELL out of the successful indie writers I know, for this reason above all others. They are doing so much more than just writing books!

I ran into this perception with the first business I ran – and I was pitched into that one headfirst with no option but to learn how, or drown – and that is that artists can’t be businesspeople. Which is BS, and lazy. It’s a matter of learning, and even if you aren’t an Indie Publisher, you still have to learn how to be businesslike, or you will be taken advantage of. How many of us know writers who blithely signed over rights to a publisher than then ripped them off for that book, and possibly others? Brad’s been fortunate – or wise, and I know where I incline with that – in that he’s working with honorable publishers.

As for the fading stigmata, it’s going to take time. It’s going to take a raft full of authors willing to put in the time and effort to prove over and over that we can deliver professional products the public will enjoy reading, and that we can do this consistently. Right now, we’re getting our toes in the door by being able to deliver those products for less than the Big Five do. That won’t last forever – someone over there is going to get a clue and realize they have to choose between obscene profits on ebooks and keeping any bit of market share. Readers choosing between the $9.99 ebook and the $3.99 ebook will buy two or three of the latter before the former. If they really really want the expensive one, they will wait for a sale, or go to their library.

And like any scar, there may be lingering marks for a long time to come. Something makes me suspect that they may come to be a badge of honor, on the other hand. We’re working hard to make a go of it, and when you work hard, you get banged up. As much of a cliche as it is, something you have to work for is worth more than something that’s handed to you. I’ve seen that over and over.

In the meantime, the advice I offer everyone who asks about Indie?

  • Write. Write more. You will survive on quantity, not quality alone. Perfection is the enemy of good enough.
  • Go into it with your eyes open. It’s a sh*t-ton of work, and still, you’re going to trip over things you weren’t prepared to do when you started out.
  • Be patient. This is going to take time, and writing, and more writing – not all of it fiction.
  • If you opt out, read the contract. Have an IP Lawyer look at the contract. Even then, know that small publishers have the unfortunate problem that they will go belly-up on a surfeit of dreams and lack of capital.
  • Study the success stories. Larry Correia, who self-published his first book. Kevin Anderson, who writes like a machine AND runs a good-sized publishing house. Hugh Howey, the self-published man of mystery (just kidding. But he’s pretty nifty to watch work). There are others, but that’s a start.

 

 

Life, the Universe, and Everything

This is Cedar, reporting in from Provo, Utah, where I am attending the rather scholarly LTUE. Seriously now, I have been told that had I know beforehand, I could have gotten some sort of college credit/points for attending this. Ah well… as a student, I’ve been madly trying to cram homework in around the crevices of really informative panels and meeting folks, making new friends and hugging old ones. As a result, I’m mildly delirious and very tired. And I still have a day to go, then a travel day home. I miss my First Reader, but maybe next year…

I’m not even going to try to do a full report tonight. The last two days have been brain-stuffing with tons of notes in some panels, and the wryly enigmatic (and solitary, it’s literally the only thing I wrote in the whole panel) note from one: “Scratch-‘N-Sniff Children’s History Books.” Don’t know how well those would sell, but hey, it’s roll on the floor funny if you think it through. Pirates! Medieval Castles! Hey kids, smell the ages… man, they reeked, didn’t they?

I had one class where I sat and sketched. But that was ok, as it was on Drawing Perspective. During the Fight Scene panel with Larry Correia (and Jared Barnek, SA Butler, Maxwell A Drake, and Michaelbent Collings) there was an actual attack… by a wasp, which the panelist targeted managed to fend off with a wave of his program book. I was reminded that George Vaillant’s wonderful book Adaptations to Life and the DSM would both be good resources for writing mental illness and motivations during the Writing and Mental Heath panel with Howard Tayler and David Powers King.

The Romance: More than Sex panel was very informative, except for no microphone and one panelist I could not hear from the back of the crowded room. But it wasn’t a wasted hour, if for no other reason than hanging with my favorite Romance author and kibbitzing with him, and watching a lightbulb go on for him was truly delightful. I even went so far as to heckle a bit on the Reading the Tea Leaves: Future of Technology panel. I couldn’t help it, but at least I made Toni Weisskopf laugh. We seem to share a certain cynical outlook and love for freedom. As she said “Not convenience, sex and guns [will drive technology]. We care about protecting ourselves, and boinking, and seeing the next day.”

The Culture of Immortality panel with Howard Tayler cracking irreverent jokes was a treat, and a hearty laugh. Afterward, dinner at the food truck brought to the con by Joe, a fellow SFF fan, was a real treat. The Grill Sergeant makes great burgers. And to round out my evening, I attended the Military Strategy panel and listened to the very soft-voiced Mike Kupari point out that depending on the government, the military might not have a strategy overall, but that whatever else, communications were the key.

And now I’m writing to all of you. Enjoy the pictures, and I will do a full AAR on my blog, probably Monday. Because tired, and one more day of mental pleasure still in store for me. Then my brain will be full.

LTUE 33

Keith and Karen Evens of the Grantville Gazette.

Food Truck

The Grill Sergeant Food truck at LTUE: good food.

LTUE Photos

Tracy Hickman, Paul Genesse, Virginia Baker, and Howard Tayler

Toad, the dapper man about the con.

Toad, the dapper man about the con.

LTUE Photos

Toni Weisskopf, Larry Correia, and Mike Kupari

LTUE 33

Toni Weisskopf, Stephen Miller, Roger White, and Robert Defendi