Weathering the bizarre post-RT shitstorm

At 6:15 yesterday morning, I boarded an airport shuttle with my friend Ursula. I was tired. Worn out from the RT Booklover’s Convention and lots of walking in NOLA. I was surprised and pleased to see my local friend Nan on the shuttle. As I sat down, she said, “How was your RT?”

I said, “It was Ursula.”

Now, see, I had the following thought in my tired head, I should introduce Nan to Ursula. I’m not sure if they know each other. That’s polite. It’s good to be polite pre-dawn, otherwise we become barbarians. Wait. Nan asked me a question. I should answer that first. I’ll say, “It was fine, thanks. By the way, do you know Ursula?” But the brain got short-circuited and I mixed my messages because I was thinking one thing while trying to address something else. So I said, “It was Ursula.”

Common, forgivable mistake, right?

There’s a shitstorm going on now in the wake of the Romantic Times Booklover’s Convention.* As an attendee and as someone who was at the Giant Book Fair on Saturday, I’m very confused about this storm.

Facts:

  1. The Book Fair had two rooms. One for authors published by publishing houses and one for indie (self-pub) authors. The indie author room was called “The Indie Author Room.” I think our room was called the “Published Author” room, or something more descriptive and less offensive. Ursula even mentioned how diplomatic it was.**
  2. The books were sold with two different business plans. Publishers give bookstores a returns program, so if they don’t sell books, they can return them. Indie authors can’t offer the same perk. So RT purchased their pub house books from distributors and told indie authors they could sell on consignment. I wasn’t in the indie author room, so I don’t know too many details about this, but it’s broken down here in this post by Courney Milan.
  3. The fact no one is talking about- RT gave away several identifying badge ribbons. I received one that said “Published Author.” Another one I saw several people wearing was “Aspiring Author.” People weren’t forced to wear these. Aspiring wasn’t a derogatory term. Aspiring also didn’t mean indie.

My theory: A harried volunteer – RT is a HUGE convention, and the volunteers often seemed frustrated or confused – saw someone’s “Aspiring Author” ribbon, got that phrase stuck in their head, and instead of directing someone to the “indie author room” instead said, “aspiring author” room.

This is just a theory. But I was there, and I never once heard about this “aspiring author” room although the indie room was mentioned many times over the loudspeaker. Still, word has gotten out, and the rumor mill is going strong (fueled in part by Hugh Howey) about how horrible RT is for treating indie self-pub authors as “aspiring.” Civil rights terms are coming up in boggling misappropriation, even.

SHOULD the pub authors and the indie authors have been placed together? Probably. We certainly weren’t separated based on popularity or books sold; I would bet cash money that a lot of the indie authors sold more books than I did. They had their fans, their books were in demand.

COULD the authors have been placed together? Frankly, with the very confusing setup and the nightmare lines that were already there, I think mixing the two groups would have made everything so much worse.

So the real question here is, was there a way to keep both authors in the same room? Honestly, no, our room was full to “Oh god I hope there isn’t a fire” with 200 authors and more fans. Could the group have been separated by A-L authors in one room and M-Z in the other? That might make sense. But there’s still the problem of the consignment vs bookstore-provided books. The “let the cashier figure it out” isn’t an option, trust me when I say these lines were hellishly long. It took hours for some people to get through.

(Course I did wonder why they just didn’t have it like an SF convention with one big dealer room open the whole con instead of four intense hours, where the author drops by the booth when she can, but that’s another story.)

There is something to talk about here, but focusing on a slip of one volunteer’s tongue and stirring a shitstorm of WE ARE NOT RESPECTED11!!11!!!! is not the way to do it. I’m not saying this is a tone argument, I’m saying this is misinformation that is getting a hell of a lot more attention than the truth is. It’s heavily distracting from the real issue of “is there a way to mix the two groups in an efficient way that’s good to the authors AND the poor fans already so patient to wait in hell-lines?”

*Tiny, shameful aside – is anyone else glad it’s not SFF that’s the genre-of-shitstorm-focus this week?

**Ursula and I are both hybrid publishers.

 

The Afterlife Series gets a shine

I’ve hired a copyeditor to go over The Afterlife Series again, to shine it up real pretty-like, and I’ve made other changes as well.

I had totally forgotten (shame, shame) that part of the Kickstarter rewards had been Tuckerizations for some supporters. These names are now included in the books.

The end of War hosts a sneak peek of book 6 in the series: STONES. (previously it had a sneak peek of Playing for Keeps.)

As I prepare for the release of STONES, and of the Storium* world that will be built around The Afterlife Series, I’ve decided to change the Creative Commons license on the existing books. I’ve tried for nearly eight years to get this work on book shelves (meaning published by a trad. publisher). With STONES and the Storium world, I think I will be done. I’ve changed the license to BY-NC-SA, meaning you can create all you like in the world, fanfic, art, whatever, provided you

  1. Include my name on every file (BY- attribution)
  2. Do not sell what you create (NC- non commercial)
  3. And share the file with the same license as I have. (SA- share alike)

Lastly, in trying to upload the new files to Smashwords, I encountered a problem. My files had been grandfathered in when Smashwords made their changes to their cover guidelines, but apparently uploading new content (note, I didn’t change anything about the cover art) raises a red flag, and now my books are non-published on Smashwords until I get new cover versions from my designer, who’s a very busy dude. If you’re a Smashwords customer and want the new versions, all I can ask for is your patience.

I’m uploading to Amazon right now.

*Holy crap Storium crossed $100,000 in pledges recently!

I’m small, but still sorry

Regarding the Hugos and the mess behind certain folks gaming the system, my stance was pretty much John Scalzi’s stance, that we can just read the works and vote as we see fit. Lately there have been several rebuttals to it, and they contain very good points.

His response was classy, as the guy tends to be. I am much smaller, and pretty sure I didn’t get blogged about (at least, no one emailed me) but I’m freely admitting my misstep here, just in case someone reads me but does not read Scalzi. All two of you.

Scalzi’s post today, listing the rebuttals here.

I wanted to quote one longtime ISBW supporter, Arachne Jericho, with this bit that really spoke to me (slur trigger warnings):

What struck me about statements like [that we can just read the works and vote as we see fit] is that they are made from a very privileged position: the position of someone who knows they will not be harmed by reading the works in question.

Why should words hurt? Because words are powerful; because words create the world we live in; because words have been used in the past to disenfranchise, discriminate, disempower. Here are just a few of those words: Slut. Nigger. Chink. Gypsy. Tranny. They have horrible power over those to whom they apply—and, conversely, little to no power over those who are outside of their definitions.

If single words can hurt, then ideas, which are expressed in multiple words, indeed, are expressed through essay and story, exactly what is being judged on the ballot—ideas can be downright harmful to a person even if they aren’t true. “Blacks commit crime and are thugs.” “Homosexuals are pedophiles.” “Asians are the enemy among us.” “Transwomen are crazy men.” “Autistics never lead fulfilling lives.” Again, terrible power over those to whom they apply, little to none over those outside of it all.

(Rape trigger warning)
I apologize for not thinking of this, because I have had this reaction: I can’t read some of the classic works of SFF (Thomas the Unbeliever, Stars My Destination, etc) because the protagonist is a rapist. Boom, book over for me. Protag could die in a fire, don’t care. No sympathy anymore, it’s gone. I blogged about this a while back and got considerable shit from some men – even a comment about “why do women get so upset about reading about rape instead of, say, murder?” which just fucking boggled my mind to the point where I didn’t even answer, because I figured anything I said would just be more “bitches be whining” to his sexist ears.

(One answer, in case you don’t know — and there are many more than one — is that you can be pretty sure your readers haven’t been murdered, but statistics say that some – probably many – of your readers have been raped.)

So I didn’t take the same heat Scalzi did, actually no heat at all, but I read the rebuttals and wanted to apologize anyway, because I said something super dumb. And I’m sorry.

Again, from Arachne Jericho:

This ballot is here, and it’s not going away; this much is true. But the marginalized don’t have to read those works. Both the marginalized and those who aren’t can all choose to not read those works.

It’s the great opt-out; when the world turns its back on you and ignores you, even when you manage to get on the ballot of one of the most prestigious—or at least, one of the most infamous—awards in the field….

I gotta say, that’s gonna leave a mark.

ISBW #320 – Just a little bit of depression // Adam Christopher Interview

Depression sucks. Many people talk about it.

But paying it forward is nice, as PJ Schnyder is doing at RT Booklover’s Convention.

The Hugo slate was announced. There are many things to be happy and annoyed about. But the core issue is, read the works, vote as you see fit.

PrintAnd we talk to Adam Christopher, author of the Burning Dark* and long-time listener of the show!

You know, at some point you’d think I would get jealous of people who started writing seriously after starting to listen to me, and then their career took off like gangbusters and outpaced me something terrible, but I still am just absolutely giddy to hear success stories from listeners.

And don’t forget, the Storium Kickstarter is still going strong, and you can always support the podcast via Patreon!

*Affiliate link