Some interesting news broke last week which I didn’t have time to post up to the blog: Barnes & Noble killed their article and review publishing division, in which a lot of “aspiring” establishment publishing authors and their cohorts wrote articles promoting their friends in hopes of getting exposure and “noticed” by being on a big brand like B&N.
The site was filled with political agenda, with the focus on propping up the old guard (makes sense as it’s B&N, and they don’t support indies to any real degree because we detract from their business), a mini Tor dot com. These slashes come soon after kotaku and deadspin and others were doing the same as the business models for these sites have been failing with more and more people turning to independent journalism done by people like me who don’t have to filter ourselves for corporate sponsors — people want authenticity and truth, which is nothing new.
But what got revealed behind the curtain came from a Tor author who couldn’t make the cut and was subsequently cancelled by them, Spencer Ellsworth.
As a full disclosure, Spencer attacked me in 2017 labeling me a troll when I came out with my market study showing the market preferred women and minorities to anything published by white males, to the point where you have at least 4 to 1 better odds just by your DNA of being published, story content be damned. I do not know if Spencer is a good writer or not as I do not know him, nor had I said anything rude to him before he attacked me, much like usual with aspiring authors who are sucking up to the establishment in this realm.
However, his tale is a harrowing one for people trying to go the route he is:
In the wake of the B&N SFF blog thing, the story of Why I Gave Up & Just Started Posting to Medium.
You may have noticed I used to write for various geek sites–Bleeding Cool, Tor, and once I think at B&N SFF blog.
— Spencer Ellsworth wrote THE GREAT FAERIE STRIKE (@Spencimus) November 17, 2019
The thread starts here. And it’s about how Bleeding Cool, Tor, B&N didn’t even pay at all for the work done. The exposure these sites gives is almost nothing, and he wasted his time trying to get in with these companies as they offered almost zero help to his career.
It’s true about almost all corporate media. They’re there to take advantage of aspiring authors who are willing to do the dirt for free, churning over content makers over and over because they don’t care what the quality of the content is, they believe it’s all interchangeable. These companies will NEVER help you grow or foster you into becoming the author you want.
Ellsworth even found that with Tor, they do no marketing for him. He put out his book trilogy (which looks pretty decent and I would have been happy to help promote) it flailed in the wind and he gained nothing other than a MacMillan viewing him as a washed up author who can’t sell — he’ll not likely get a good traditional publishing contract again, if there is such a thing as a good traditional publishing contract.
This isn’t a dunk on Ellsworth, however. As I said, his books looked pretty decent, I don’t think it has anything to do with his competence as a writer. This is par for the course with establishment publishing — you put in the work, they reap the rewards, you’re damn lucky if they pay you at all. Even if they promise it, they won’t.
If I were Spencer, I’d be suing the hell out of these sites.
He actually took a brave stand against these companies, which will further put him in “no publish” land, as he’ll sadly find. It’s an insular business, and a catty one. If you speak out at all, you might as well go all the way. And it’s no business for white males — even worse now than it was in 2017.
Don’t play their games. Don’t write for these companies for free. Don’t give them content. You have the power as a writer. Exposure doesn’t mean a thing.
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