2017 is probably my best year in my life. I’m doing great professionally, it keeps getting better on that level, it’s also going great financially, I’ve taken steps to ensure my faith in God and His plan are rock-solid more than ever before, the family’s doing great, the economy’s doing great, I’ve read and written more awesome books than I’ve seen in my life, Taylor Swift came out with possibly the best album of all time, my Patreon is doing better than I expected… I could go on for a long time.
We’ve seen over the weekend as well that the people who tried to step in my path and tell me I’m not allowed, the people who hold me down, just seem to keep losing. And they do so in their own arenas where I’m SUPPOSED to be shut out.
Every time I’m attacked hard, I don’t just blast out and fire back. You don’t see a lot of the behind the scenes. But most anyone will tell you (even my enemies who really have no means to attack me) that I’m generally a nice person. I try to like everyone 100%, and my first assumption when someone does something wrong is that they made a mistake in the heat of the moment.
What I do first, every time, is I reach out.
When BayCon’s invites went out at the beginning of the year, and friend after friend told me about their return invites (whether they were a part of the field or not), I reached out and tried to see if there was a way to repair the programming director’s obvious anti-conservative bias before speaking out on it. I let weeks go by, I talked to several people. It didn’t make sense on the very year of my debut with a professional novel in a popular game property, edited by one of the most respectable folk in the business, Jennifer Brozek (hugo nominated, served on SFWA’s board, edited an anthology for Baen), that I’d be so shunned. When I reached out, they sent back their link to their website with a template “some folk just don’t get invited!”. At that point, I knew it was time to speak out on the anti-conservative bias I’d seen at the convention. And I was fairly nice about it, focusing on policy of the con before they went into full attack mode to try to besmirch my character. Result: it sold me a lot more books and put me on the map.
When NYT Bestseller Scalzi went off on twitter rants about me, I did the same. Emailing to see if I could repair. He gave me one of my favorite blurbs to date in response saying I’m “tiresome and insulting” and that my attempt was “disingenuous.” It was nothing of the sort. But… his continued feud with me only served to sell me a lot more books. I see from his blog he’s struggling to write even 500 words a day, where my output is typically 3-4x that.
When Cat Rambo decided to out of the blue attack me on the File 770 website, I was probably most shocked. I’d never interacted with her at all (though I did share an anthology with her! A nice reminder that we were both respected in these same circles before people like Cat decided I was evil by association.). While Scalzi didn’t like me because I’m friends with his nemesis Vox Day, she really didn’t have a reason to call my writing “egregious stupidity.” And as the president of an organization “The Science Fiction Writers Of America” — she shouldn’t be doing that to new authors coming up in the field. It’s literally her job to protect people like me. That’s the whole stated point of the organization. There’s so many awful details of how far she pressed, and because of that, I definitely am not going to let up. But after numerous attempts to reach out in friendship, she really went off the rails on me, and now some of her very troubling opinions have been exposed. Meanwhile, several people are nominating my novella for her organization’s awards, and I’m selling more books.
There’s many more situations like this .Chuck Wendig’s bizarre name calling of me, Spencer Ellsworth’s tirade after trying to defend anti-male discrimination in publishing, Beth Cato’s betrayal after I used my influence to get her nominated for a major prestigious award. All of these instances resulted in no good coming to them, but helped in pushing my career further.
The saddest part is the former “friends” who cut ties at some of the threats or perceived threats from these other writers. They’re trying so hard to impress these folk who honestly have less influence and sway with readers than I do, and it’s very short-sighted. I’ve been extremely patient in not publicly naming many of these people so far, but I’ve seen, and I’ll remember.
Where they all screwed up, is that I’m a competent writer who works hard. I’m a competent businessman who markets hard. I don’t take my ball and go home and I’m not deterred from speaking the truth by some threats or someone’s bully pulpit.
And now I’ve got a platform. It’s one a lot of people read on a daily basis. It’s only going to grow bigger in 2018. I’m a well-respected journalist, I’m a multiple-award nominated author with an avid readership. I’m winning. Readers and audiences like winners. Yet not one of these people has come forward and said “you know what, Jon, I shouldn’t have attacked you, let’s be friends.”
It’ll take awhile, but it’s going to happen, and no matter how big this platform grows, I’ll do the right thing and forgive when they make the effort. It’s the Christian thing to do. I’ve talked to Mike Glyer of File 770 about this, who I communicate with regularly believe it or not. Though he’s definitely still got the tribal streaks to him, we’re more or less friends at this point. It’s because when you talk earnestly, the nonsense can go away. He still hasn’t apologized as the person who’s largely responsible for getting all these people attacking me in the first place under false pretenses with his false article, but it will come. Once that happens, the veil on the rest of this will fall off and these folk will start treating me with respect again, like they did before this year.
When I talk to Mike about it, I talk about it in terms of Scott Adams’ persuasion model, which I firmly subscribe to and utilize quite regularly. It’s part of why I’m able to come up in the field so fast. The model follows that my career will go like this:
- JDA is Literally Vox Day!
- Jon is a liar. He’s bad. My friends don’t like him. (strict upgrade in perception from literally Vox Day! Though these folk should probably try being nice to Vox too…)
- I don’t like Jon’s politics, but you know, I saw one of his short stories it’s actually pretty good. I don’t really want to promote him though.
- Actually if you look at it, Jon’s been picked on a lot and came through it and he’s pretty nice. He also doesn’t really talk about policies so I don’t know why I thought I had so much disagreement with him.
- Okay, Jon’s a really great writer and makes a really great friend.
We’re starting to see point 3 in the field now pretty regularly. People are reading, and they’re talking. And it’s all positive. Look at all of my reviews for For Steam And Country and Gravity of the Game. Not one verified purchase went in and said anything remotely negative in that high number of reviews for a rookie author. while Gravity has a couple fake reviews (which came when Ben Lindbergh’s fans attacked me over my sports journalism at the Federalist), they can’t say anything bad about the quality of my product. I estimate it’ll take to the end of 2019 to get to point 5, though point 4 will happen sometime after Worldcon 2018.
I know these folk read this. And they’re rolling their eyes, seething right now. But stop that. Man up and you know what — don’t just email blast, call me. I’ll talk to you in earnest and that usually solves everything. I have one of the best promotional platforms on the internet already, and you’ll want to get on the bandwagon before I’m overwhelmed with folk who want to promotion (who I’m happy to help — but I’m already inundated with requests to read and push manuscripts! I’m trying my best to get through when I have time, for those who have requested). I’ll remember my real friends and the people who were man enough to apologize for the wrongs done to me for merely being a voice saying “don’t blackball people!”. I’ll also remember those who weren’t.
I’m a nice guy and very friendly. Don’t be shy! #JDAYourFriend.
If you haven’t checked out For Steam And Country, this is the book driving my success. Everyone loves it, and it’d make a great last minute Christmas gift!