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Publishing

On how I will be voting on the Hugo ballot this year

For the first time since 2007, Dara and I will be going to Worldcon. We’ve come out of the mire of the financial hits leveled at us by several consecutive years of medical crap, and moreover, the convention’s taking place in our home state. We can drive to it. Even better, I and several other authors in NIWA are banding together to run a table there. We’ve got books. We’re gonna sell ’em.

The thing that makes me sad and tired and wary, though, is what’s happened with the Hugo ballot this year.

As y’all may remember, since Dara and I semi-regularly post about this, there’s a broad ultra-right-wing conservative clique within SFdom. They’ve been up in arms lately because the wrong things have been winning Hugos. And by “wrong things”, I mean “things created by women, people of color, and queers”. They’ve pushed back against this with an organized rush to get things they consider acceptable onto the voting ballot.

And the particularly vile part of this: they’ve reached out to GamerGate to pull them in on these shenanigans. All in the name of getting additional recruits for their declared war on “social justice warriors”.

(About that phrase, by the way: I’m now ranking “social justice warrior” right alongside “political correctness” on the list of phrases that set my teeth on edge. I’ve said before that if the first words out of your mouth on any issue are “political correctness”, then you are part of the problem. Likewise, I here and now state for the record that if you are the sort of person to dismiss progressives and liberals as “social justice warriors”, you are going to have to work very, very hard to get me to respect and take seriously anything you have to say. Do not bank on your success in that regard.

Besides, me? Totally a social justice healer. But I digress.)

Dara has written up a comprehensive post on the matter, and what attendees of Worldcon can do about this to cut this and future Hugo shenanigans off at the pass, in the name of trying to keep the award from becoming entirely meaningless. Her recommendation: vote “No Award” on any category overloaded with the nominees from the voting bloc in question.

I will be following Dara’s recommendations, because it is deeply disheartening to me to see SFdom becoming, more and more, a microcosm of the same “us-vs-them”, toxic tribalism that has infected US culture in general. If you’re going to Worldcon too and therefore have the ability to vote on the Hugos, I encourage you to consider doing the same.

Publishing

Regarding Clean Reader

Every Damn Day

Every Damn Day

Spotted on Dear Author’s news post for today: the latest tempest-in-a-thimble publishing brouhaha, this time pertaining to an app called Clean Reader. The purpose of this app is apparently to provide an adjustable profanity filter on ebooks.

Dear Author points off to Digital Reader’s post on the matter, and Digital Reader in turn has links off to assorted authors’ commentary, notably Chuck Wendig’s, which I link to because his rant IS a thing of glory.

As for me, thinking about this, I’m rather of two minds about it. On the one hand, with my reader hat on, I’m firmly in the camp that if I buy an ebook, that book should be bloody well mine, and I should be able to do what I like with it. Whether that be keep backup copies in my personal library, put it on the device of my choice, or hack into the thing to fix typos that irritate the hell out of me. Or, if I’m so inclined, edit out profanity.

(Not that I would edit out the profanity–because if you’ve followed me here for more than five minutes, you know I will swear with impunity in my posts. Likewise, if it’s appropriate to their states of mind at any given point in a story, my characters will also swear. Given my comfort with that, I’m hardly going to edit profanity out of a book I’m reading, much less one that I’m writing.)

Given this, I have a hard time mustering any damns for any readers who might decide, “well hey Anna, I like your book and all, but that one bit where Kendis says ‘fuck’? That bothers me so I’m going to take it out.” If I got paid for the book, and as long as that reader only does that to their local copy on their own device or computer, fabulous.

But. With my author hat on, I have to say, I totally see where Wendig and other authors are coming from on this. From what I’m seeing reading up on the matter, it sounds like that at least at one point, there were signs that the ebookstore associated with this site might have been selling profanity-filtered copies of ebooks? (I use the ? there because on the various posts I’ve read, whether or not that actually happened or is still going on is unclear to me.) I do have a problem with somebody trying to sell a profanity-filtered copy of my book. Because as Mr. Wendig says, if you’re trying to get a cut of sales off of my book, and you’re getting in there and altering the language and you are neither my publisher nor my editor, that warrants a big fat fuck you, no.

Moreover, it appears that this profanity filter functionality is weaksauce, regardless–replacing words it deems offensive with words it thinks are acceptable substitutes, often with pathetic results. This, I feel, is even worse than just bleeping out “offensive” words on TV, or the old practice of replacing said words in prose with lines instead (e.g., “G– d—“, or “b—–“, or what have you).

People swear. It’s part of life, and it’s certainly part of language. In fact, well-crafted profanity is its own art form, in English as well as in Quebecois French. To this day, I still giggle over SB Candy’s “HOLY FUCKING SHITDAMNNING CRAPMONKEYS IN A FUCKBARREL”, preserved here for posterity. Partly because part of me is twelve years old and has just got to giggle over yelling “CRAPMONKEYS!” But also because there’s unmitigated glory in that one shining sentence.

People also have sex. And authors write about it. And look–if there are words you don’t like, for whatever reason, it’s your right and privilege to avoid consuming content that contains those words. But maybe, just maybe, you might want to doublecheck your reading choices before you find yourself compelled to edit what you find offensive out of other people’s work.

Publishing

Bad news about Barnes and Noble

Dammit, B&N, are you people trying to shoot yourselves in the feet? Because it sure looks like you’re hunting for bigger and bigger guns to do just that.

Spotted on Dear Author today: news that Barnes and Noble secretly partnered with Author Solutions to sell print on demand and other services to self-pub authors.

Why is this a problem? Because Author Solutions, as detailed here by David Gaughran and here on The Digital Reader, Author Solutions has a terrible reputation in the writing community. And they are in fact being sued for their practices of upselling useless marketing crap to authors who sign on with them.

What particularly pisses me off about this is Gaughran’s description of how all Nook Press users are at risk of having their data handed to Author Solutions.

I was already cranky at B&N for taking down the Download buttons off their portal on the web site for Nook users to get to their libraries. But as a Nook Press author, I am deeply disturbed by this news, enough that I will seriously be considering removing Faerie Blood and Bone Walker from Nook Press, deleting my account there, and using Smashwords to deploy to B&N in the future.

Fellow indie authors, I urge you to get up to speed on this development, and to stay far away from B&N’s Author Services, and from Author Solutions in general.

Publishing

This week in Authors Behaving Badly

The Internet blew up over the weekend with the news that the Guardian had run a piece by author Kathleen Hale–in which Hale describes actually stalking a reviewer who’d given her a less-than-positive review on Goodreads. The *thunk* sound you may have heard was the sound of the Internet’s collective jaw hitting the floor.

I first saw this come up at the Bitchery over here, and shortly thereafter saw posts go up at Dear Author and on Jim Hines’ blog as well. All three posts and most of the comments in them are in accord that Ms. Hale went so far over the line that she left the line in another state entirely behind her.

Me, I’m going to take this opportunity to reiterate my personal policy re: reviews of my work. I don’t read them. I’m on Goodreads, but I make a specific point of avoiding reading any of the reviews on Faerie Blood, Valor, or Vengeance. All I’ll look at is the aggregate rating on those books, since I have them on a my-books shelf. Likewise, I do not rate my own books either. If a standalone review on a blog somewhere comes across my radar, I’ll go look at it–but I will not engage with that review unless it’s clear that I can do so without making the reviewer or commenters uncomfortable. I strongly feel that it’s important to let people be able to discuss your book without you looking over their shoulders.

Y’all have probably noticed that I’ve backed off heavily in writing up reviews of books, too. Part of this has been because I simply haven’t had as much time, what with writing my own stuff. But part of it has also been the increasing trend I’ve seen of authors reacting badly to reviews–even to three-star reviews. I see a surprising amount of unhappiness about three-star reviews, in fact. And I’ve seen more and more reports of authors dogpiling on reviewers, which for my money, just isn’t right.

For the record, if you’ve reviewed anything I’ve written, I’m happy you did so. Even if it’s three stars. Hell, even if it’s one star. I promise not to take it personally.

And if I do, I will never, repeat, NEVER engage you about it. DO NOT ENGAGE is the golden rule here. I just wish Ms. Hale had followed it when she was reminded.

ETA: I have seen a bunch of people in comment threads asking what the Guardian was possibly thinking by running Ms. Hale’s piece. Dara has suggested to me that they may be looking at it in conjunction with the ongoing GamerGate debacle. Given all the stalking and harassment involved with that, I could buy that as a possible way that the Guardian might be looking at this.

Publishing

Jane Litte and Dear Author Defense Fund now active

As has been announced today at Dear Author as well as Smart Bitches Trashy Books, Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches is now administering a defense fund to support Jane Litte and Dear Author in the Ellora’s Cave v. Dear Author case.

So if you have any interest in this case and would like to help support Jane and Dear Author, there’s now a way to do it. Check any of the links for Sarah’s announcement on the matter, and what their expectations are as to how to handle the money. There’s a bit of data as well as to what Jane herself is doing to pay her attorney–who, being a pretty high-profile lawyer, is not cheap, even though he’s discounting his hourly rate for this case.

I’ve donated, and will continue to keep an eye on this case myself. More news as I have it.

Boosting the Signal, Publishing

Ellora’s Cave v. Dear Author update! Also, Boosting the Signal!

It seems that the Ellora’s Cave v. Dear Author lawsuit has started getting traction on other major Internet sites as well as mainstream media. Jezebel has picked up the story here, and Liberty Voice has a post up here. And as I reported yesterday, the L.A. Times picked up the story too.

Meanwhile, for those of you who may have missed it on either Dear Author or the Smart Bitches site, Jane has put out a call for authors, cover artists, or editors who are willing to testify in the case. (People associated with EC, obviously.) Relatedly, Courtney Milan has an offer up to help people who may be afraid to testify and break anonymity. (Another reason why Courtney Milan is awesome, and I’m happy to be a reader of her work.)

So things do appear to have proceeded past the filing stage, and the romance genre’s presence on the Net continues to be heavily focused upon this. More as I hear about it.

Meanwhile, I do have one EC author who’s pinged me to take me up on the offer of a Boosting the Signal post. While Boosting the Signal is still technically on hiatus, I WILL be running her piece–as well as a piece this Friday from fellow Carina author Sheryl Nantus, AND a piece from long-time online-and-local author pal Chrysoula Tzavelas. Be on the lookout for these to come. I’ll be having some pieces forthcoming from Dragonwell Press as well.

Publishing

Updates on the Ellora’s Cave vs. Dear Author lawsuit

For those of you who may have missed the news as it exploded over the weekend, Jane Litte and the Dear Author site are being sued by Ellora’s Cave. As you might expect, there was a great deal of brouhaha over this, not only on Dear Author, but also over on Smart Bitches.

However, there are new developments as of this morning. Jane reports on Dear Author’s Monday news post that she’s now retained the services of Marc Randazza, a story also picked up by The Digital Reader.

It’s very worth noting that a bunch of Jane’s commenters were urging her to go talk to PopeHat, and that the guy she’s now hired is spoken VERY highly of on that site, calling him a First Amendment badass. This is promising news indeed.

Meanwhile, I’m seeing the #notchilled hashtag springing up on Twitter, and several of the authors I follow are speaking out passionately on it.

Like Courtney Milan, about whom I’ve posted before as one of the small but growing set of romance novelists whose work I REALLY like. Courtney’s letting Ellora’s Cave have it with both barrels on her own blog as well as on Twitter:

Fellow Carina author Ella Drake ALSO has words to say about this–because SHE’S had some experience as an EC author, too:

And with Ella in mind, I’ll make an open offer to any Ellora’s Cave authors whose sales are impacted by EC’s implosion and by readers backing out of buying their work: if any of you have non-EC titles you’d like to encourage people to buy instead, come talk to me and I’ll run a piece for you on Boosting the Signal.

ETA: Couple more links as people continue to post about this:

The Book Pushers have proclaimed that, moving forward, they won’t be reviewing Ellora’s Cave releases and invite EC authors to submit non-EC titles for review instead

Novelist and blogger Barry Eisler is deeply unamused at EC’s behavior, along with the rest of the Internet

Jenny Trout has choice, pungent words for some individuals who’re pleased that DA is getting sued

Bad Menagerie posts about how they’re exactly the small-time bloggers that many are suspecting EC is trying to intimidate

Wendy the Super Librarian breaks out her Little Miss Crabby Pants persona, and goes into detail as to why EC’s behavior is a problem for everyone

Book blogging site KBGBabbles expresses its concerns

Deirdre Saoirse Moen has an EC Author Exodus Support thread

And OH YES: the LA Times has picked up the story

More to come as I find it.