2017/02/09

A Tale of Two Sci-fis

If the dirty little secret that trad publishing plays gatekeeper to make or break authors' careers based on politics, a recent spree of blackballings blew the doors off of that skeleton-filled closet. Consider if you will, the story of one Jon Del Arroz:
I had grown up in this community as an avid reader and convention attendee. I used to be what you would call one of those “nice guy conservatives.” I would keep silent about my politics to the best of my ability, while smiling and allowing others to rant and rave to their hearts’ content. My first foray into irritation over this occurred when Baycon, a local convention in the San Francisco Bay Area, ran a talk on how to convince friends out of believing in Creationism. I wrote to the programming director of the convention, citing my concern over how anti-Christian that sounded, and how this didn’t seem relevant to Science Fiction at all. They dismissed my concerns and told me to attend anyway.
Fast forward several years later, after I’d invested time and effort speaking on panels, entertaining convention attendees and being a good friend to everyone. Whispers about the evil Sad Puppies stealing Hugo awards circled the halls. Although I’d voted with the Sad Puppies, I stayed quiet. I’d spoken personally to several prominent members of the Sad and Rabid Puppies movements by this point and learned they were nice, professional people and not the monsters they had been made out to be by the SJWs.
Trump won. I made a few posts as to how I was happy with the outcome of the election, complete with donning my red hat. What happened next? I received a nasty letter from my editor’s assistant about how intolerant and inflexible I was, telling me that I was not likely to be invited to be published again. SJWs weren’t just attacking someone I knew on the periphery. They’d come for me. I decided the best course of action would be to take a stand and be positive, say how proud I was of our country, of Trump and his team. My friends from the SF/F world quickly evaporated. I’d been blocked on social media, ignored by people with whom I thought I’d developed deep relationships. I’d spent hours critiquing other writers’ novels and improving their craft, yet they would not even share a link to my work, let alone make a purchase, to support me. SJWs had, and have, no loyalty.
I still couldn't bring myself to fully speak out in these situations, fearing the loss of more long time friends. Vox emailed me with: “Learn to go public. One reason they get away with it is because everyone they do it to tries to keep it quiet. You shouldn't.” These words haunted me, but I still clung to the past, hoping desperately that I could retain at least some of the relationships I had from my years of hard work and supporting other writers.
Inauguration time. The angry posts calling me and mine Nazis had not died down. The angry responses continued as well. My own cousin, with whom I grew up and played Risk ‘til the wee hours of the morning, disowned me over my Trump support. He told me he was ashamed to call me family, and that I was never his friend. Matters became worse in the Science Fiction world. Prominent authors stepped up their game of name-calling. I wear their condemnations as badges of honor and will use them as blurbs on future books. I’d finally had enough when I found that my home convention, where I’d been a guest for years had blackballed me from speaking.
Sincere condolences, Jon. I know what a devastating shock it is when people who claimed to be looking out for your career; authorities thought to be just and impartial, stab you in the back.

Happily, Jon's story doesn't end there. [Excerpted from earlier]:
This began my transition from “nice guy conservative” to “I am proud to be who I am.” I corresponded with prominent authors privately about what had transpired. Many of the Sad and Rabid Puppies told me I was not alone. They hardly knew me, yet helped me promote my book. I learned a valuable lesson on the meaning of true friendship and loyalty. If someone doesn’t share any core values with you, they will leave you in the dust. It’s only a matter of time.
I’m done. It’s too much. There’s no logic. There’s no rationality. There’s no love. There’s no friendship. SJWs want to shut me down and destroy my career, and they want to find you and do the same to you, if they haven’t already. I’ve taken the leap of going public. I’m not scared to say who I am, who I like, who I voted for. They’re not going to shut me up because I have the platform of the internet. Vox was right. Every single time they shut you down, go public with it as I just did.
I’ve gotten a few hateful comments, but nothing worse than they’ve already called me. The people who were on the fringes of hating me, but warned me that I needed to play ball, were going to hate me anyway. I’m not losing anything. These people were not going to buy my products. They’re not going to support you either. But it’s not that bad. There is tremendous upside to going public, however.
I’ve had congratulations from friends. My blog has been reposted by dozens of prominent authors from Castalia House and others. Dragon Award Winner Nick Cole shared my story, and that by itself sold me more books in an hour than attending conventions for years ever did for me. There’s a lot of us. We’re not alone and we’re no longer afraid.
My Comment: the SJWs in trad publishing don't want to publish fun, exciting stories. They don't even want to make a fast buck. They want to push an ideology on the whole culture by dictating what you and I can and can't read.

For decades, the legacy publishing cabal's paper distribution monopoly gave the New York gatekeepers total authority over who got into the industry and who got left out in the cold. Blessedly, Amazon came along with a wrecking ball named Kindle Direct Publishing and tore down the tradpub wall.

Jon and countless other authors are now discovering that the SF SJWs can't suppress their work anymore. Thanks to the KDP-assisted rise of indie and nontraditional publishers like Castalia House, the only one who decides whether your work gets published is YOU.

In fact, I'll go ahead and predict that cutting ties with the ossified industry that hates him will garner Jon net gains in sales and popularity. That's because the Big Five publishers actually hate sci-fi and have been slowly killing the genre for years.

Author Earnings 2016 sales by genre and publisher type
Sci-fi used to be the biggest genre in the world. Behold the damage wreaked by the Big Five!
The Big Five are purple. Indie is blue. Note that science fiction is the Big Five's worst-selling genre, but SF remains competitive in the self-publishing scene. Based on my own recent experience and that of several nontrad authors I've spoken to, indie and small press sci-fi is GROWING.

As is indie overall, as the Big Five's share of the market shrinks.

No more gatekeepers
Amazon killed the gatekeepers. Forever.

There have been worries voiced in some quarters that the Sad/Rabid Puppies, Pulp Revolution, and Superversive movements might go tyrannical. They'll become, it's argued, the gatekeepers they despise--unless we police authors and critics to keep their motives pure.

Reread Jon's story. Who tried to keep him from talking out of school? Who stepped up to support him when he got blacklisted?

SP/RP, the PulpRev, and SSF were started by folks dedicated to pushing back against SJW's stranglehold on science fiction. Conversely, SJWs infiltrated the genre for the express purpose of putting a stranglehold on science fiction.

My people want authors to write the kinds of stories they want to write and for readers to read the kinds of stories they want to read. You don't get from there to gatekeeping without a total inversion of motives. And even that's purely academic, because we couldn't stop anyone from getting published, even if we wanted to.

Why not? Because the old publishing industry only ever had the power to make or break careers because they controlled paper distribution channels. If you wanted your story printed on dead trees and stocked on bookstore shelves, New York was the only way to go. The Big Five's paper distribution monopoly was the gate.

Ebooks--especially on Kindle--drove a digital stake through that monopolistic vampire's heart. From here onward, no one can keep an author from getting his work out there and reaching an audience.

"But some members of SP/RP, PulpRev, SSF, etc. have big platforms!" I hear you object. "What if they turn those big guns on some poor author's work?"

Good question. Here's the two-part answer:

1) Learn how marketing works. If you cultivate antifragility like Jon advises, getting shade from a movement bigwig will boost your profile and sales. If Larry, Vox, or Jeffro came out and called one of my books crap, I guarantee you that I'd get a sales bump.

2) Nobody can stop you from publishing. That includes blogs. Build your own platform and shoot back.

P.S. If you've got time to police critics and authors on the internet, you've got time to write your own book. We want more authors; not less. Get to it!

And while you're at it, get Jon's book:

Star Realms - Jon Del Arroz


I'm also doing my part to recover sci-fi's former glory. You can help at the link below.

Brian Niemeier - The Soul Cycle

@BrianNiemeier

8 comments:

  1. >My Comment: the SJWs in trad publishing don't want to publish fun, exciting stories.

    The thing is these companies would be much better served by hiring greedy people just after making a quick buck, then they are by their current choice of employees. Such is life inside a dying empire I suppose.

    It's like a horror movie where the audience keeps yelling common sense advice at the screen as the hapless victim wanders off alone in the forest.
    >The audiobook market is huge and growing! Why are you neglecting it?
    >Covers with a blank black ground and a single badly drawn image on the front is boring and people prefer paintings instead!
    >People don't want to pay the same price for a digital download that they would for a hardcover!
    >Don't cut the pay/advances of midlist authors to fund the advance of that new untested author who just happens to be all the rage right now!

    In the meantime the "get paid" philosophy seems to working just fine for indies.

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    1. All excellent points.

      Someone on Twitter today said that he thought it was ironic that companies out to make a profit produce better art than those driven by ideology. As you've shown, not only is it not ironic, it makes perfect sense.

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    2. Exactly. Someone creating for money is going to be more reliable than someone creating for ideology, because at the end of the day, the profit driven artist needs to get paid, and we will produce a product that gets him paid.

      A good pulp example I like to use is Lester Dent. Usually cited as being a hack, and for having literally formulaic writing. And Dent didn't really have any illusions about it, he purportedly said his goal was "churning out reams and reams of sellable crap". And yet, look at what he produced. He kept himself and his family fed during the height of the great depression with his writing. By the Larry formula, Lester Dent got paid. Not only that Doc Savage is credited as (one of the) inspirations of Batman and Superman, the super hero genre in general, as well as one of the authors that helped advance the mystery genre.

      Other examples include hard working artists on deviant art slaving away to create commissions, compared to the CIA funded modern art pap that supposed 'real artists' churn out. Part of the reason "Get paid" is so important.

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  2. I like the get paid idea. Art shouldn't just be for artists, any more than law enforcement should be for police, or healthcare for doctors.

    Perform your god damned social function!

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  3. Literary-focused Big 5 don't promote themselves as profit-centered. Doesn't appeal to the primarily non-profit hugging, prole-hating, Marxist reader (and SJW author) community. This is a big part of their "FAIL".

    The Entertainment Industry isn't going to let you into a theater with the top-grossing movie for free, let you read the newest hot romance best-seller for free, play the best new first-person shooter for free. All of this is profit focused, and everyone pretty much manages a "Win" in this scenario.

    When the Big 5 stopped foot-stomping that "yes, we are here to make a profit, damn it", that's when you knew that this portion of the Entertainment Industry was on its way to the historical dumpster.

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    1. You nailed it. Now Hollywood is rapidly forgetting this lesson.

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