Self-Destructive Writerly Sins

Don’t be this Book

I’ve written before about the self-destructive urges writers get. Plagiarism needs to be near the top of the list.  Penning sexist rants about your greatness to an agent is another. And, of course, there’s always the venerable Internet meltdown.

Now we have another example of something authors really shouldn’t do to boost their career: Try to game the NY Times Bestseller list.

Last week, Handbook For Mortals by Lani Sarem, knocked Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give off the No. 1 spot of the Times‘ YA bestseller list.  Now this may happen occasionally with a debut novel, but usually that means the fans have heard some advance buzz about the book.  This one, nada.  Another red flag? Brand new publisher.  Final red flag?  To quote Phil Stamper on Twitter:

This is what I’m referencing. A book that’s out of stock on Amazon and is not currently in any physical B&N in the tri-state area.

Suspicious to say the least.  Then you have the weird fact that the author is listed as playing the lead in an “in development” movie of the book. WTF?  It gets better:

It turns out the author worked as a band manager before she decided to write YA books. One of the bands she managed? Blues Traveler. Yep.

The band tweeted about the author on its official Twitter account: “yes, this is weird but not surprising…We fired her for these kind of stunts. Her sense of denial is staggering!”

So apparently this scam involved a lot of strategic bulk buys of a book that barely existed in order to promote a movie. And, unsurprisingly, when real people finally got their hands on a copy, the writing was really, really bad.

Also, unsurprisingly, the NYT pulled it from its list.

Probably Lani Sarem though having a “NYT Bestseller” attached to her film project would generate some financing. Maybe it would have. But she went about it in such a stupid, sleazy way she probably killed her own project with this spectacular and well-deserved failure.

Not The Greatest Path to a Book Deal…

So, less than a month before the election, a group called “Pantsuit Nation” appeared on Facebook. It was a Mecca for Hillary supporters, who were invited to join the “private” group en masse until, by the time the Washington Post was printing glowing reviews of the pro-Clinton site, it had nearly two million members. The Post contrasted its uplifting message with Trump supporters more acerbic and “in your face” social media presence. The coverage did not hurt the numbers either, as the site continued to grow after Clinton’s loss becoming something of a “safe-space” for online feminists to sit shiva and tell their stories.

Well, apparently this was all a scam.

The group’s founder, Libby Chamberlain, made a surprise announcement that “Pantsuit Nation,” after less than two months of existence, is going to become a book. This has come as a bit of a shock to the online membership. Who aren’t happy about it.

As mentioned on the Huffington Post:

And now, of course, there is a book deal, announced with no transparency as to where the profits from the book are going, whether the contributors whose posts Chamberlain is presumably selecting for this book will get paid, and without any consideration for breach of privacy laws were someone’s intellectual property and personal experience suddenly able to sit on your coffee table. Pantsuit Nation reportedly is working to become a 501(c)(3) and 501 (c)(4) charity, which raises more questions about profit allocation and distribution. Chamberlain is the only person credited on the book pre-order page, which also is troubling given that the book supposedly has no content, theme, or profit sharing structure and is already available for $17.99 on Barnes and Noble’s website.

As a writer and user of social media myself, I find this very disturbing, and very sketchy. It has all the earmarks of a scam, up to and including the accelerated timeline. It almost looks as if the site was founded with the intent to scrape free content for publication.


Yes, I’m a little pissed, how can you tell?

Fuck this shit!

Up to now I’ve been pretty quiet about this, but you all have finally pissed me off. I’m seeing all sorts of grandstanding, self-congratulatory, “I’m so fucking proud of fandom,” nonsense all over the place. This is some sort of high-water mark for the genre. Schadenfreude for everyone! Crush the puppies! See them driven before us, and hear the lamentations of their women! Yay us! We won!

If you’re part of that cheering squad, fuck you.

This is what you’re cheering: A bunch of guys came to the game trying to get people to win. A bunch of other guys came to make people lose. The latter was victorious. So you’re all cheering, “Yay! People lost!”

Applauding “no award” means nothing but your own profound joy that everyone in the category lost. It means you are celebrating their defeat.

It means you celebrate the fact that a pair of women editors who’ve done fantastic work in the genre for decades, who managed to pull in record setting numbers of votes, were successfully blocked from getting an award because mumblemumble-hate-mumblemumble-misogyny-mumble. It means you are okay that, given the traditional meaning of “no award,” fandom pretty much up and said to Sheila E. Gilbert and Toni Weisskopf that, “no, really, we don’t think you should have this Hugo, and furthermore, we really think you aren’t worthy to be on this ballot.”

That is what you’re cheering.

So fuck you.

If you start saying “collateral damage,” Fuck you.

If you start saying “but the puppies…” Fuck you.

If you start saying “if they distanced themselves from…” Fuck you with a rusty chainsaw.

All of the above is an attempt to deflect responsibility. Fandom decided that voting “no award” across the board was a reasonable response to the Puppies, and that’s what they did. The people who did so, the people who encouraged them to do so, and the people cheering the results, are all taking a massive steaming sour-burrito dump on the careers of two women who’ve probably done more for the genre than the whole lot of knee-jerk puppy kickers put together.

So, yeah, if you’re blabbing on Facebook about how proud you are about all this, I’m pretty much losing my respect for you.

The end of free speech

It’s done.

When the creative class itself packs their bags and calls it quits, it’s over.  This is where we end.  Any tyrant now knows that they can suppress any artistic expression they don’t like just by making some threats.
The temptation is to retaliate.  Make fun of North Korea and Kim Jong Bad Hair Day.  Punish them by making them the butt of the joke.  But it doesn’t fix the problem.  You see, they’re already a joke.  They’ve been one for years. Satire clogs the Internet as we speak, and will continue to do so.  But that’s just pretending the fight’s still happening when we’ve already lost.  It doesn’t matter how many memes you post to Facebook.  Hollywood, the heart of American cultural dominance in the world, has caved to a tin-pot dictator of a country that has to kidnap filmmakers just to have a film industry.  A cartoon from College Humor isn’t going to make up for that.  A biting Jon Stewart critique isn’t going to make up for that.  Hell, George Clooney can’t get a petition signed condemning the hacking and intimidation of Sony.  George-effing-Clooney.

Worse, the movie industry as a whole has just let everyone know that if you want a film banned in the US, just make a threat.  They’re all almost inviting a bomb at a multiplex now. Good work all.

Now Sony has a perfect right to do what it did.  So does AMC, Regal, et al.  So does Paramount for pulling Team America as a last minute replacement for the Interview.  But this cannot continue if we don’t want our popular culture to be at the mercy of any regime that can afford a hacker and a bomb.

So how do you give Hollywood a spine? Stay home this Christmas.  Don’t pay to see the movies they deign to show us this week.  Make it cost them to cave into these threats.  Rent a movie, watch Netflix, and send an e-mail to your local Regal, AMC, Cinemark letting them know why they aren’t getting your money.  Let Sony Pictures and Paramount know why you aren’t paying to see their other moves.  Boycott the whole pantywaist lot of them until they grow a set and tell Kim Jon Un to sodomize himself, or they go bankrupt, divest, and are replaced by studios and theater chains with corporate cultures that will.

Bad Examples: Publisher Edition

Say you’re a publisher.  Say you’ve been profitable in the past but have been sliding into financial difficulties.  Let’s even say that you’ve had a few past issues with lawsuits over breach-of-contract.  Then, let’s just posit that some blogger does some research and finds all sorts of shenanigans:

  • There is a set of authors who have not received royalty payments in over six months. EC has blamed this repeatedly on a new accounting system installed in December of 2013.
  • CEO Marks admits that “already submitted finished books” will be paid but that “payment may be delayed.”
  • The author portal has been shut down where a select few authors could check their royalties.
  • Authors request for return of their rights have been rejected and some are told that their books will be published with or without their approval.
  • The total sum of unpaid royalties, editor fees, cover artist fees is in the several thousands, perhaps approaching six figures.

So you need to put this behind you, right? You need to make good your commitments to your authors and possibly do the obligatory mea culpa for damage control, right?



What am I thinking? No, what you really do is file a lawsuit against a blogger.

You file a lawsuit.  Against a blogger.

Really, Ellora’s Cave? Really? What kind of legal advice are you idiots getting? I’m sorry, you think schoolyard bully tactics are somehow going to protect your collapsing business model? WTF you think will happen in discovery, when the defendant gets to see your books to demonstrate the truth or falsity of the claims in their blog post? WTF you think will happen when you get a well-deserved reputation for being litigious bullies who also happen to screw their authors? Has your legal team dropped the habit of pissing off Judges?

My prediction: Bankruptcy before this ever makes it to court.

Unexpected attention. . .

A year ago I blogged about Mr. Patrick Roscoe an asshat of epic proportions whose claim to fame is sending the following to a literary agent:

Colleen Lindsay:

Thank you for making it clear, through your response to my query, that you are unquipped (sic) to represent fiction writers who are working at the very highest level today.

Best of luck with your list of minor writers, third-rate writers, irrelevant writers, non-writers.

You lose, silly woman.

Patrick Roscoe

I pointed, I laughed, I moved on with my life. Imagine my surprise when today, in my spam filter, I find a comment from someone coming to defend Mr. Roscoe’s honor from such ill deserved mocking engage in an attempt at their own mockery at the expense of myself. Turns out, someone put my Roscoe post up on Reddit and it started a tiny little flame war with Mr. Roscoe’s champion. I’m sort of flattered.

Why I filter my comments. . .

I had really nice comment today on my latest blog post:

“With your ability, certainly you have learned praises before but I just want to involve to the many who have thanked you for what you’ve attained. Your work are one of a kind and show great insight. Thanks for your contributions!”

I almost approved it, since I rarely get spam on new posts. Then I look a little closer and note the slightly broken English. Then I note that while the comment might reflect the post I made on Book Chick City, it didn’t actually mention the post, or writing, or anything else concrete. It could be about anything. Then I look at the URL the poster used: a link trolling site.

Akismet Y U No catch this spam?

Ezra Klein, Constitutional Asshat

This video of Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein has been making the rounds.  Apparently, the Constitution is a little too hard for him to understand because it’s so (gasp) old.

Ok, I know that’s not exactly what he was trying to say.  Mr. Wonk here was just arguing that the founding document of this country is open to some measure of judicial interpretation.  Though, it almost appears here that he’s dismissing the use of any legal framework that’s open to such interpretation.  How can any system function with such ambiguity?

I think he’s actually chafing against the constraints of any legal framework at all.  The following quote I think gives a truly frightening view into the mind of Mr. Wonky Wonk Wonk (h/t):

The problem with the Nazis was that they were genocidal white supremacists with an appetite for continental hegemony. To invoke them in order to tar, by association, privatization, or “appeasement,” or socialist policies, or other policies that were not related to their murderous crimes is a noxious debate tactic that should be widely and rapidly condemned

Yeah, that was a clarification he added to a post praising the economic miracle of Nazi Keynesianism, as if their economic policy could be decoupled from their totalitarianism.  If you think that, I have this neat little book for you, and it’s a quick read.  In Mr. Wonkster’s little Fascist brain, if the Nazis just eased up on the death camps and the foreign invasions, they would have been a perfectly fine regime.   It’s like he learned his political philosophy from bad Star Trek episodes.

Needless to say, if if that’s the only thing you find objectionable about the Nazis, you may just have some problem getting the concept of a constitutionally limited government with strictly enumerated powers.

Internets Whap Editor With Clue Stick

There is not much more I can say about the Cook’s Source Magazine scandal that hasn’t been already said.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about (and if so, what Internet have you been surfing?) we have the author of an article about  medieval tarts (SCAdians take note) who had her article lifted wholesale and printed in a magazine without her permission.  The editor, Judith Griggs, of Cook’s Source Magazine not only admitted to the theft, but actually said the following words that may live in Internet history alongside “the internet is a series of tubes:”

Yes Monica, I have been doing this for 3 decades, having been an editor at The Voice, Housitonic Home and Connecticut Woman Magazine. I do know about copyright laws. It was “my bad” indeed, and, as the magazine is put together in long sessions, tired eyes and minds somethings forget to do these things. But honestly Monica, the web is considered “public domain” and you should be happy we just didn’t “lift” your whole article and put someone else’s name on it!

Editor fail.  Copyright fail.  Ethics fail.  And, public relations fail.  (Just note the comments on their Facebook page.)  You see, when you decide to be an asshat to a blogger, especially in such an interestingly twisted and completely asinine fashion, they tend to blog about it.  And, when your statements have reached such an epic level of complete  cluelessness about the nature of the medium itself, it becomes entertaining for other people to blog about it.  So the relatively unknown person you’ve stolen from blogs about it and gets a linkback from the relatively known Nick Mamatas.  The latter, being relatively known, inspires even more relatively known bloggers to mock the stupid whose name is  Judith GriggsScalzi takes a swing with the cluebat and makes a palpable hit in front of his 30K of daily eyeballs.  (What’s the circulation of that magazine again?  Just wondering.)  And the Smart Bitches of equally vast viewage take multiple swipes and offers a present of Google.  Then, at last, the meme goes nuclear when it crosses the radar of Instpundit.

So, Judith Griggs, you are now an internet meme.  I wonder if permanently associating yourself with this kind of asshattery in the minds of a few hundred thousand people was worth the few hundred bucks you saved by not actually buying the rights to your articles.

Ways Not To Promote Your Book, Presidential Edition

In the annals of book promotion, this has got to be up there with the all time bad ideas.

A paperback book was hurled towards President Obama seconds after he completed a Democratic rally in Philadelphia on Sunday, but aides say the incident in no way affected the event.
The US Secret Service found and interviewed the man who threw the book onstage. He was deemed to be an “overexhuberant” supporter who wanted the President to have a copy of a book he had written, according the Special Agent Edwin Donovan of the Secret Service in Washington. “He was deemed not to be a threat and was not arrested,” Donovan told ABC News.