2015/08/25

I'm Boycotting Tor Books

I've had misgivings about Peter Grant's boycott of Tor Books. To be sure, I was sympathetic toward the targets of Tor Art Director Irene Gallo's libel against thousands of SF fans and at least three of her own publishing house's writers. But I abstained from boycotting Tor because of the innocent authors who might be hurt.

Even Associate Editor Moshe Feder's defense of Gallo's unprofessional conduct didn't exhaust my patience.

Then, this past weekend--Hugo Awards weekend--my brilliant and gentle editor L. Jagi Lamplighter extended an offer of peace to Tor Science Fiction Manager Patrick Nielsen Hayden, only to have him swat the olive branch aside while shouting obscenities at her before storming off.

Picture that. The most powerful editor at the world's leading science fiction publisher verbally assaulted one of his own authors when she tried to bury the hatchet between him and another of his authors.

This sad spectacle is one of the most brazen examples of the contempt for authors that's rampant among the Big 5 publishers. Mr. Hayden clearly labors under a sense of unearned entitlement which has him convinced that his company can take 85% of the proceeds from its author's works, all of their rights to those works, all creative control over the design and marketing of those works, and force those writers whose fleecing at Tor's hands denies a living wage to suffer his verbal abuse.

No. This doesn't stand.

This is gross abuse of power fueled by raw demonic pride. Cheating the worker out of his wages is one of the sins that cries out to heaven for vengeance. Cursing those exploited workers is the moral equivalent of running around in a thunderstorm carrying an aluminum pole.

So my apologies to other Tor authors who are doubtless also getting screwed. This is grave intrinsic evil. Anyone who can do something to stop it but doesn't is cooperating with it.

Until Tor Books, a subsidiary of Pan Macmillan applies the following remedies:

  • Officially reprimand Irene Gallo, Moshe Feder, and Patrick Nielsen Hayden
  • Issue a public apology to L. Jagi Lamplighter, John C. Wright, Mike Flynn, Kevin J. Anderson, and all of the readers whom the three Tor associates above insulted
  • Raise authors' ebook royalty rates to a more just and equitable 50%
  • Relax or remove draconian non-compete and right of first refusal clauses from their contracts
I will not buy any book published by Tor. I will encourage every regular book buyer I know--including a number of librarians--to cease buying from Tor.

I am a professional author, albeit an admittedly obscure and insignificant one. Nevertheless, I will neither submit any manuscript of mine for consideration by Tor; nor will I accept any publishing contract with them, unless and until the above conditions are met.


Despite my relative insignificance, a number of aspiring authors do approach me for help and advice with their writing careers. I will actively discourage every writer I speak to from ever submitting to or accepting a contract with Tor Books until the above conditions are met.

I admit that these last two warnings sound hollow. After all, no writer is giving up much by refusing to do business with Tor. In fact, writers stand to gain 5.6x higher royalties and full creative control by skipping the submission game altogether and going indie.

That's something I encourage current Tor authors to think about when their editors don't return their calls, when marketing denies them bookstore co-op, or when they're blamed for the failure of a book the publisher accepted; then failed to promote.

A final word to Mr. Hayden: if firsthand reports are to be believed, your outburst was occasioned by a pang of conscience over a matter of faith. This is a hopeful sign, since indifference; not hatred, signals love's total absence. In fact, love--for my editor, her husband, and you--is what motivated me to write this. As one sinner to another; this sinner being a Catholic theologian, I urge you to conduct a thorough examination of conscience and seek out a priest for sacramental confession.

I wouldn't ask you to do anything I'm not willing to do myself.

2 comments:

  1. It'll be tough giving up my Brandon Sanderson books, but Que Sera, Sera. This recent debacle was the tipping point for me.

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  2. My sentiments exactly. Welcome aboard.

    ReplyDelete