Yesterday was beautiful. We garnered so much support for tolerance and a real culture change in science fiction publishing that it shut down the people trying to stir up hate. My hands hurt a little bit from my piano performance yesterday, so I’m going to try to periscope some of these thoughts more and post less 2,000 word articles on it so I can save my hands for fiction. Also, video gets more love over time than writing. Here’s my thoughts on the win yesterday:
I’m on there, Jon Del Arroz.
is the link. There was a youtube channel but white male old-guard establishment science fiction harassers swore at me on repeat, and then worldcon silenced and censored your humble leading HIspanic voice in Science Fiction for receiving that treatment. Not right. I expect an apology from Worldcon.
Over on VP this morning, Vox wrote this morning about why he doesn’t attend sci-fi conventions. It was a cheeky post with basically the message of “I’d rather have fun doing ANYTHING with normal people than listening to a crowd of nerds talk about stuff like this.” I laughed.
And there’s a good point to that worth exploring. I, as a writer of a web comic, game fiction, shorts and RPG settings for several years before releasing my major award nominated debut novel, used to attend a lot of these on a local level, both as a guest and as an attendee.
When I first-first got into writing, there were a few pretty cool things. I met people, did a couple writer’s workshop things, through those found a critique group which was pretty helpful at the very least at getting me to practice writing regularly. I found more structured, formal writing seminars/workshops like Jody Lynn Nye’s at Dragon*Con to do a lot more for me in developing the craft (if you can sign up and make that any year, I highly recommend if you are a new writer).
However once I got into the business, panels about “how to write” aren’t that useful. I know how to write. Thousands of people read me write, that now? At that point a convention needs to do one or two things for you: 1. be so much fun that it’s better as a use of your time than your pal’s soccer game or 2. sell you books/get you business opportunities. Do they do that?
Most SF cons focus on panels about social justice causes, not science fiction books, and so you get stuck in these repetitive complaining cycles for hours. When I was working with Baycon, I made a concerted effort to pitch fun panels, things that would be different and provide laughs and entertainment, in order to make that place better in that regards– and it works, even though I am so blackballed I’m blocked on every social media (they wouldn’t want to see one of their former guests be a popular writer! how horrific and triggering!), they actually still use some of my suggestions to this day to their credit.
But those fun elements are maybe 10% of the con and usually after hours after a long day of slogging panels on how to write. So for fun factor, there’s a lot of better things to do.
Conclusion: Science Fiction cons are not your best place for fun
On the book selling side, I’ve watched people who are very popular in these communities set up tables, usually in vendor halls that are tiny, don’t have much to offer and have very little con traffic, situated away from the con in a not-so-good place for selling. Like you see online, most of these people are not business oriented, and that ends up not being great for authors much of the time. The other odd part of these conventions is there are very few fans. Most are novice to intermediate writers trying to get noticed by other novice to intermediate writers. As a result, you have people who don’t have a lot of disposable income and aren’t actively looking to spend, but to penny pinch. The price of admission or a table is often more costly than the books you’ll sell at these things.
The contacts you make from these are typically invested in their own stuff, their own friends, and so they don’t help you get loyal followings to buy future books either.
Conclusion: Science Fiction cons don’t help you sell books
There are some exceptions: LIbertyCon in Chattanooga TN is so filled with real, high level professionals that there’s value in terms of craft learning, business contacts and even selling books directly at the convention. The larger cons like Dragon*Con or GenCon offer such a variety of things to do and SO MANY PEOPLE that you’ll be endlessly entertained.
But for the most part, these smaller writer cons don’t do much if anything for the business, mainly because they’re not focused on developing that, which hurts up and coming authors spending their time that way.
There’s a difference with local, regional and large comic-cons compared to these SF writer cons. These are vendor oriented, so if you don’t mind being a salesman and setting up a table and selling, these can be valuable for you as a way to get into the community, meet repeat customers, and form a base. To do so requires a LOT of hours and attending these on repeat so that you reap the benefits, and like anything, don’t think you’ll be gaining a reputation or getting good at selling at these without at least 2-3 years effort. Everything takes time, there’s no instant gratification.
I also enjoyed the Realm Makers Writers Conference — very different than a convention in that it was structured classes on writing and marketing, honing business and craft. This was something a little more like continuing education for professionals, and though those classes were aimed at a target audience slightly behind where I’m at in the field, there’s always something to learn if you keep yourself open to it. The other thing these formal conferences offer is meetings/talks with agents, editors, publishers etc. These are useful because you rarely get to pick the brains of these people in person. This was my first conference like this, but I understand there’s many on regional levels focused toward different genres.
Those type of events seem to be worth more than the generic science fiction con of yore. Those are my experiences and I would steer away from the groups of novice to medium writers running panels on social justice in genre, and steer toward things that are going to develop your business.
In my capacity as an independent journalist, I post a lot about corruption, blackballing, and hatred being spewed by large corporations and media conglomerates, especially ones that attack independent individual artists, workers or their end users for a product. There’s a perception by some (albeit very rare, and mostly among my detractors) that I’m angry or something, this is not the case at all. I’m a Happy Frog, and Happy Frogs are winners. By the way, please check out the Happy Frogs slate of nominees for the Dragon Award and vote, we need everyone’s help to continue this great ride. Support great fiction and independent artists. Here’s the list: http://happyfrogs.org/2017/08/04/dragon-award-finalist-recommendations/
And if you don’t want to go so far as the slate, but want to support me in my fiction writing and journalism efforts, other than buying and reviewing my books, getting this award would be a huge step in my career. I could use your help in voting Star Realms: Rescue Run for Best Military Science Fiction. Sign up here:
(note that ballots are not instantaneous, the Dragon Awards send out ballots in batches twice per week so look for an email from Dragon Con)
With the profit-sustainability accomplished, here’s the good news I promised:
There are a lot of moderates out there and people on the left who are seeing the behavior, and are opposed to it. They are nice people, they are good people, they are often independent creators like myself, and they do good work. I’m not going to make a list and name them in this context, because it brings risk to them, but know they’re out there. There’s more of them every day. I get emails, messages, and now even public declarations of support. And it’s amazing. I cherish and treasure these almost more than the folk on our side who support me, because it takes a BIG risk to do so.
Encourage that, my people. If you see even moderate defense of artists who are struggling with blackballing or an overwhelming amount of industry hate for being who they are, make sure to reward those folk with your dollar, as they’re being brave enough to help us out. It’s so heartening!
Thank you everyone for being here and the tremendous support on the ride thus far. Onward and upward!
It’s been a crazy week, and all of this stuff below I wanted to get to individually, but given the way I’ve been relentlessly attacked by John Scalzi, and then something I haven’t publicized much in that I’ve been defamed in a writers group called The Codex Writers by some pretty big people in the industry actively attempting to cause material harm to my career with slander, I haven’t been able to get to the stuff I’d really like to talk about, which is books. I love books, especially good books. And there’s nothing I love more than promoting worthy things in the field, especially work by friends. I’ve got three for you that I recommend you check out if it tickles your fancy:
- CJ Carella’s new MIlitary SF, Havoc Of War, the Warp Marine Corps Book 5. This is my next series I’m going through via audiobook, and I”m stoked that there’s a new book out. I was joking earlier this week that I call hijinx on the Dragon Awards, because he is a much better Military SF writer than I am, and yet he does not have a nomination. Obviously I appreciate the support, but I do also mean he’s much better at this subgenre than I. Check it out:
- A really cool kickstarter project, Last Cities Of Earth, by Dragon AND Hugo nominated Editor, Jeniffer Brozek. What was her Dragon nomination you ask? Why, the hit Military Science Fiction novel, Star Realms: Rescue Run, which most of you have probably heard of. She’s a phenomenal editor, and puts together anthologies like no one else in the business. The concept of this one is artwork by Jeff Sturgeon, a phenomenal artist, with stories set to individual pieces. Frankly I’m jealous of hte authors who got to set stories to these amazing pieces of art, but not too much so as I have many friends and people I admire in the anthology, and can’t wait to see their work, including: Jody Lynn Nye, Kevin J Anderson, Peter Wacks and Cat Rambo. I backed this: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1899900962/jeff-sturgeons-last-cities-of-earth-the-illustrate
- . First Job, a pulp novella by Lucas Flint. This is an awesome guy i met at libertycon who made a sweet superhero book, a story that’s actually from the sidekick’s perspective instead of the main hero (I wish I would have thought of that, I love the “everyman” concept behind it): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074ML53XM
I never expect to wake up in the morning, head onto the internet, try to make overtures of peace to a crowd and get a passive-aggressive twitter rant directed my way. But by the same token, I’m not going to be unfair to John Scalzi here. I see what went on from his perspective, and I will be as fair as I can after being attacked by an extremely wealthy white guy with a lot of followers in public on the internet.
Yesterday, John Scalzi actually did something brilliant from a master persuasion perspective. I’m talking Scott Adams level mastery, where he used the “high road” technique to turn a situation which has a high potential to end in embarrassment for him, and turn it into a huge win no matter what the outcome.
On his blog, he made the announcement that he’s withdrawing from the Dragon Award nominations. This is his second year, and his second withdrawal, let’s keep in mind for reference, as a lot of people’s memories are short. The reason was stated as follows:
The reason is simple: Some other finalists are trying to use the book and me as a prop, to advance a manufactured “us vs. them” vote-pumping narrative based on ideology or whatever. And I just… can’t. I don’t have the interest and I’m on a deadline, and this bullshit is even more stale and stupid now than it was the several other times it was attempted recently, with regard to genre awards.
I’ve been pretty active with the Dragon Awards and what’s been going on there. I saw a total of one finalist doing this, one which, if it had been ignored as was his original plan, actually wouldn’t have done much in that regard, but this is a nice way of framing the high road to make Mr. Scalzi look very reasonable to an outside observer who barely knows what this is and has a cursory understanding of what the Dragon Awards are.
To back up for a moment, the Dragon Awards are a reaction to a political “us vs. them” movement in science fiction writing. One expressly designed to take political “us vs. them” out of the equation and just have as many fans as possible vote for what they consider best fiction. The reaction was to, actually, John Scalzi and a few of his others, who had and have a monopoly on the Hugo Award, run by a much smaller convention that Dragon*Con, where they would award themselves for their political message fiction year after year, and ignore quality, fun fiction in the field. That crowd kept mocking “make your own award then,” and so, someone did.
This is still master persuasion, because Scalzi’s target audience isn’t the people who are in the know. It’s the people who barely heard of this, clicked to see what’s going on, and are trying to get an impression. While he’s certainly guilty of the “us vs. them” he pretends to scoff at, to a random onlooker, they only understand heated politics, someone taking the high road. It’s beautiful.
I can only speculate at Mr. Scalzi’s true objectives here. It isn’t to stop or shun “us vs. them” politics. Despite a lot of his vocal opponents saying that this is his cowardice in that he was going to lose and didn’t want that egg on his face, I’m not sure that’s the case. It doesn’t ring true, because if he mobilized his fan base to vote, it would be difficult to stop him.
This action can only amplify the “us vs them” politics, however. What it did in reality was signal to other writers that are in his circle that this is the “wrong” award and that they should form a soft-boycott of it (not using the term boycott because their boycotting something as big as Dragon*Con would be a bad look). We’ll see anyone of a certain political persuasion in the field dropping out shortly now, because of a perceived pressure on the internet that they’re in the wrong space, with the wrong audience watching. At the very least, it’ll cause those authors to keep quiet about it, and will at least, in the short term, diminish the award’s prestige.
Which I believe is the intention. Tor Books, Scalzi’s publisher, owns the Nebulas and Hugos. They pump these awards and talk about them constantly, and as a big publisher under the umbrella of mega-corporate MacMillan, that does a lot for public perception. As of this writing, Tor.com, their “online news” portion which is highly respected in the field, wrote zero posts about the Dragon Awards, even though one of their top authors was nominated. That’s what makes this look fishy to anyone who digs into it and gives a red flag to what Mr. Scalzi was saying on his blog ringing false. There is a vested interest by his publisher to make sure this award, one that is open to all fans via popular vote and not easily controllable, does not gain further traction or prestige. Their entire establishment of book narrative is at risk by the Dragon Award’s mere existence.
Naturally, what Mr. Scalzi didn’t take into account, or perhaps didn’t care about, was the fact that multiple smaller authors get hurt by his proclamation. Some on his side of the political aisle who received a nomination out of reader demand now feel foolish, and are linked by the “us vs. them” political crowd, with people they’re not supposed to be associated with. The association game is big with this crowd, because politics transcend all thought, and if you’re associated with the wrong people, that’s about the worst crime you can have in this business. It is a petty, high school, Mean Girls-esque clique for those who are not privy to the inside of this small publishing niche. It’s really that bad.
But all this wouldn’t have mattered. If Mr. Scalzi had left it there, he would have had a beautiful message, and he probably would have succeeded in tarnishing this award, slowing its progress for years, and hurting the independent writers down ballot of whom he doesn’t approve or want to gain any traction in the business.
Instead, he took to twitter, delivering a couple posts that were direct shots at your humble Hispanic independent journalist. He continued that later on in a rant which he framed as “marketing” – but in those tweets, he made very clear signals: we need to shun THEM. The “us vs. them” thing he claimed to want to stop was shown to be a complete farce, and it nullified any good will that any person doing a cursory search would have gotten from his blog post. And now, as I said before, those tensions are amplified, as he’s used his privileged platform to attack independent writers. What it’s going to do as an end result, is make the Dragons much bigger because now a lot of people have a vested interest in making this political, and that was started by Mr. Scalzi’s post.
And that’s where his persuasion tactic breaks down. If he kept to his own narrative, it would have really been a masterful job, but since he apparently couldn’t help but go attack writers who shouldn’t even be garnering his attention from his position, it’s effectively nullified, or perhaps amplified the opposite of his stated or what I consider to be his true objective. We’ll see how this progresses over the next few days but what I expect to see is: 1. Authors getting loud and calling foul on Scalzi 2. Authors downstream of Scalzi feeling pressure to drop out of the Dragons and signaling who’s team they are on themselves 3. Major escalation into politics that pushes these stories into mainstream news.
It’s definitely not a good thing for anyone in the field, and sadly, it started with Mr. Scalzi. Some of us are just here trying to win a Dragon Award and make our way in this very difficult business. Thanks, multimillionaire ivory tower author, for making it harder on us.
(I know a lot of my readers are looking for what happened and how Mr. Scalzi attacked me yesterday – I’ll get to that in a separate post. This needed to be discussed first because it’s very interesting for the genre. Thank you all for being here and for your relentless support. It means the world to me. – Jon)
Vox Day has been quite vocal about his laws of SJWs, starting with his first book, SJWs Always Lie. We saw this immediately after my being removed as a speaker, when folk who were running the convention took to the hate/smear fake news site, File 770, in order to try to destroy an independent artist that they already were trying to keep down. That was me back in February.
Soon, book 2, SJWs Always Double Down will arrive. And not soon enough, as they’re already doin so with me.
This last week has shown that, as we already knew from the stellar sales that I get as a newer independent author, that people crave my science fiction. I’ve been called the leading Hispanic voice in Sci-fi by many, and then received further validation/vindication of the demand for my writing (if all of the positive reviews on Amazon/Goodreads weren’t enough!) when I was nominated for the most prestigious award in Science Fiction, Dragon Award for Best Military Science Fiction.
As I still have many friends and readers who attend Baycon and volunteer there, I naturally posted my elation to their facebook group of 1,000+ sci-fi readers/attendees. I received many likes on the post, and appreciate all the people who attend who do support my career. I wouldn’t be here without my readers, after all.
Here was my post, which I saved before I was removed from the group, and the hateful leadership who blackballed me last year removed my post:
No one can disagree that this post contains nothing to merit blocking from science fiction fandom. It’s a pure celebration of sci-fi fandom!
After only receiving positive response from Baycon members in the group, I was removed and blocked from seeing the group, my wife was removed as a member (not blocked, hwich is how I saw they took down my post as well), and I was blocked from BayCon’s twitter feed.
There are a lot of gatekeepers in the cultural establishment who don’t just ignore me despite my overwhelming popularity in the field, but they actively hate and want me to fail in my career because of who I am, a Hispanic writer with a voice that people want to hear.
The best way you can send a message to these elites is to buy my books of course, and share with your friends, but right now there’s an even bigger message to send: ensure that Star Realms: Rescue Run wins the Dragon Award for Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy. I need your help, as I’m up against the best of the best in the field (and I mean it, I read most of the books on the list– I’m honored to even be among them) but every vote and every push that you make, my readers, changes the culture for the future to create a positive world. If you haven’t registered yet, the link is here.
There’s a few presses that I buy every single book they come out with in order to support them. The first, obviously, is Castalia House. My second in that category is Enclave Publishing. They bring beautiful sci-fi and fantasy to a Christian market, with authors who are good people worth supporting.
So I was thrilled when Realm Award winner Morgan Busse reached out to me for an interview for the publisher’s site. You can read the interview here.
And don’t forget to sign up and vote Star Realms: Rescue Run for best Military Science Fiction for the Dragon Awards! Every vote counts!
In Corporate Discriminitory News:
- Someone tweeted in support of the president, who then RTd it. Twitter immediately went through and suspended the account. Apparently, from the blue check mark stalkers who were all over this in an attempt to spin this nonsense, the person attempted to sell the account in a tweet (it had a lot of followers) and so Twitter nabbed it on the ToS violation once Trump brought it to prominence. This only happens to one side. Twitter is an evil, discriminatory company, as we are aware. Gab.ai is an alternative that my readers would appreciate, committed to free speech.
2. The Marvel Comics editor who generated fthe phony #MakeMineMilkshake outrage to try to pump up Marvel Comics on the PR end, that the media jumped all over to “defend”, apparently hates the property she works on:
It’s no wonder most fans made comments about the diversity hires in the industry causing problems for Marvel. I’ts really reached critical mass. Marvel has to produce good stories agian, but I’ll doubt we’ll see the entertainment news picking this up. They shill for their giant corporate brotherhood.
3. Tor.com as a self professed Science Fiction and Fantasy website doesn’t want to bother with the Dragon Awards. Is this becsause their parent company doesn’t want to promote several independent titles that conflict with their political ideology? It seems like the case as the site never fails to publish the Hugo nominees. Dragon*Con is one of the biggest SF/F cons in the entire world, much bigger than the relatively small WorldCon convention. The bizarre part is that Tor has a pretty prominent nominee in one of their flagship authors, John Scalzi. Gotta break a few eggs to make their SJW omelette, I suppose? I’ve, as usual, reached out to publisher Irene Gallo, but she has not as of this writing commented.