Save Some Trouble

Day 30: Kerplunk! Hachette vs Amazon continues apace. With luminaries such as CE Murphy, Harry Connolly, Scott Turow, James Patterson, and Charlie Stross weighing in, I feel rather as if there’s not much left for me to say. I do want to note a few ancillary things, though.

If my opinions on Amazon enrage you, and you express that rage by threatening not to buy my books, it merely puzzles me slightly. (I’m going to quote from a Twitter thread I posted last night here.) If you don’t like my politics, my feminism, my comment policy, or my opinions on Amazon, my books will probably just upset you more. Your threat to “not read” me just makes me think, well, this person’s saving themselves some grief and ulcer medication, so…good luck? And that’s about it. It doesn’t hurt my feelings or upset me, nor does it change my mind about anything. If you want to change my mind or make me feel bad, first you have to earn my respect. Threats are not a good way to do so.

I also wanted to note something curious I’ve seen in the comments here. Several commenters seem to have landed not understanding that I am also self-pubbed, and that Hachette is not my only publisher. They’re not even my only trad publisher. I have multiple books out with trad presses as well as multiple small presses and my own self-pub LLC. Choosing to lecture me in an ill-tempered and incoherent manner on the publishing industry and book distribution when you do not have a commensurate level of experience stands little to no chance of impressing me, especially if such lecture is full of fuzzy, also-incoherent talking points from people who likewise do not possess much experience. It’s normal to have opinions on things one doesn’t know much about–believe me, I have plenty myself–but trolling on such things is bad form indeed.

Another curious thing I noted was a flood of traffic from a site run by a (quite popular, I suppose?) demagogue of self-publishing whose stock-in-trade seems to be such trolling. While I welcome the new readers–come in, have a drink, tell me about yourselves!–I most emphatically do not welcome trolling (concern or otherwise), rhetorical bad form (strawmen, canards, misrepresentation), personal insults or mansplaining. Consider this a gentle warning, mostly because I don’t have time to engage with such nonsense. I do, however, often screencap and save such things, even if I don’t keep them in the mod queue.

Now, many new commenters behaved themselves, and I welcomed (and still do welcome) their comments. There were a few bad apples, however, who wore out said welcome and are now banned after clear warnings. Banning does not have to be permanent–a good place to start with getting un-banned is an apology, should you have a burning desire to keep playing in this particular internet sandbox.

I am also a little amazed and puzzled by the attitude that I am somehow a huge tentacled Goliath picking on the plucky David of Amazon.

Quite a few of those leaping to defend poor, helpless Amazon against mighty incredible me focused on the same talking points and rhetorical strategies. It is frankly incredible–the most bizarre thing was the familiar pattern of typos. I don’t think it’s a coordinated effort, but I do think there is an echo chamber or five, some run by people who profit financially or (more prosaically) emotionally by feeding an air of publishing grievance, where there is a certain lingua franca that includes said typos and also includes the perception that somehow Amazon is an underdog altruistically doing battle on behalf of geniuses the gatekeepers of trad publishing have snubbed. If that’s your cuppa tea, fine, but don’t expect me to concur or give much shrift to the notion.

The mod queue remains a bit tighter than usual, for all the above reasons and others. If you find yourself about to grab comment threads from previous (closed) posts or about to tell me how if I just self-published (more than I already have, I guess?) I would see Amazon as the underdog, or about to tell me just how much my criticism of Amazon or my comment policy means you’ll never read my books now, please take a deep breath and find another subject.

Thank you.

photo by: Dusty J

22 Replies to “Save Some Trouble”

  1. Yes, I followed a link (because I’ve been following the Amazon/Hachette thing closely) and found myself on the post of that demagogue in which he sicced his followers on you. That’s kind of his M.O. from the little I’ve seen of his blog. So sorry you had to have the troll infestation. Not anything a hardworking writer needs.

    If these folks would work as hard at writing and getting better at it as they work at this kind of crap, perhaps they wouldn’t have the time or need to resent successful writers as much as they do.

  2. WOW! What a rich, full, informative entry! All I can say is that I have missed a lot by not following the comments.. I admit to being addicted to your squirrel stories, but I’ve also read all of your books, greatly enjoying same. I truly hope that your “critics” are merely seeking attention, and are not serious about attempting to abridge your rights of expression. I’m a man who just happens to be comfortable in my skin, and I’ve never felt threatened by anything you’ve written. I find you to be articulate, intelligent, humourous, and informative. Thank you for sharing your talents and your life!

  3. As is typical of your posts on such subjects, this one is reasonable and articulate. At the same time, it feels defensive—which I find odd because you are defending yourself against people who aren’t worth defending against. Trolls are best ignored, because even negative attention is still attention, and that is all they’re after, really. (Okay, laughing at them might be all right, too.)

  4. Wait! You mean that I should understand the issue before I jump in with an opinion and defend it regardless of fact?

    Well, heck. If that’s the case, the interwebs iz brokened.

  5. I am somehow a huge tentacled Goliath

    I rush to build an altar to start worshipping you at… well, an altar specifically for this incarnation, not to be confused with my Lili Shelf O Books..

  6. Don’t Trolls live under bridges, where they acquire growths of lichens, mosses, and tiny moving beasties? No wonder they’re so grumpy!!

  7. I will eventually be a published writer, and what goes on business-wise in publishing is important stuff to learn. I’ve learned a lot reading through Kris Rusch’s blog. When I saw stuff about Hachette-Amazon popping up on Publishers Weekly and various other places, what I figured was going on, based on some of Kris’ general comments on similar dust ups, was, “Oh, look. Hachette & Amazon must be negotiating contracts. What fun for them. And now it’s time for them to do the “PR get writers, readers, & consumers on OUR side to put pressure on the OTHER side” shuffle.

    If this is what I suspect it is, it’s all about who can get the best terms for their business. That’s all it is, just a negotiation. I’m not going to waste my time as a reader/consumer getting all indignant about somebody else’s negotiations. My presumed outrage, one way or the other, really isn’t going to have any bearing on these negotiations. It’ll be over when it’s over, and that will happen when terms everybody can live with get hammered out, and/or one side or the other finds the most effective tool with which to damage the other side & somebody caves.

    There’s nothing new here. This is what happens in business, from time immemorial. The companies involved are less concerned with the collateral damage their business partners take (ie, content providers like writers, or consumers who are testy about difficulty obtaining specific items, but will get something else to tide them over …) and are more concerned with their own bottom lines and how to maximize those bottom lines. In an ideal world, Hachette & Amazon will find reasonably mutually agreeable terms & things will go back to normal. Neither is a “good guy” or a “bad guy”. They are just businesses using whatever tools & resources they happen to have to improve their bottom line.

    I have sympathy for writers and consumers who end up on the unfortunate side of the collateral damage, but I’m certainly not going to get wound up about one company over the other.

  8. Lili, This may come off as dismissive, and if so, please feel free to delete my comment. It was not my intent to be dismissive. It’s just that so many folks get so worked up over things that they don’t understand fully. I *know* I don’t understand this fully, because it’s very complex. So I tend to stand back and take the neutral stance. In retrospect, I probably would have done better just not commenting. 🙂 I enjoyed your blog tremendously, and if this has ended up being offensive, I apologize, and will totally understand if you make it go away.

  9. You know, I thought a level of detente had been achieved until you referred to Passive Guy as “a demagogue of self-publishing whose stock-in-trade seems to be […] trolling.”

    Passive Guy is an extraordinarily accomplished attorney who’s represented authors and other content producers to licensees for years. He’s seen firsthand how many publishers treat their authors like sheep to be shorn (at best) or tissues to be used and discarded (at worst.) If his site hasn’t got much good to say about publishers, that is because there is not much good to be said about them. Again, I am happy that you feel that your editor at your publisher treats you well. But your experience is less and less the norm.

    And, for the record, people who go around nodding smugly at assertions that people who self-publish do so because they weren’t good enough to get in at a traditional publisher one moment, and stridently declaim their self-publishing cred the next, have little or no room to be calling anybody nasty names.

  10. I was not referring to the Passive Voice, though his misrepresentation of one of my points was noted in comments. Thanks for your concern, though. We’re done.

  11. Your opinion did not enrage me. In fact I have decided to not purchase any more of your books in digital form. From now on I will only read you on pages I can turn. My book shelves will make a much better home for one of my favorite writers than any Kindle every could. Reading your work has made me a better writer but reading your blog has enlightened me. Thank you.

  12. Next time I’ll try proofeading rather than embarrassing myself. I believe in rewriting my books until they sing but, sorry, my email usually goes out warts and all…

  13. Saw on KGW news today about Stephen Colbert waging ware against Amazon! He publishes with Hachette also. He has connected his web site to Powell’s and has challenged to out sell Amazon. Powell’s is already seeing increased traffic and sales. Woo Hoo for the local guy and to all writers and readers for standing against the corporate greed.

  14. No worries! It was only a single “h,” and since it seemed to bother you I added it. You should see some of my emails, they’re horridly messy.

    Also, thank you for your support. I am very glad you’ve liked some of my books. I appreciate it!

  15. I’m just a simple reader, not involved in publishing at all…but did I see on the PV site that it is supported in part by Amazon? Am I missing something? Why do his words carry any legitimacy at all regarding the dispute? The hand that feeds you and all…

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