Don’t Mess With An Author’s Source of Income

It will never cease to amaze me how individuals will attack someone all in the name of getting noticed and applauded equality.

It’s award season and as usual, someone had dragged up the Sad Puppies thing once more and tried to use it to make themselves relevant. I normally ignore this sort of stuff because the Sad Puppy thing was, like, sooooo 2015. Those who viewed the Hugo Awards as a literary elitist award which should be won only by those properly approved by the GateKeepers(TM) have full control over everything about the Hugos now (including renaming the Campbell Award to some stupid new name; I forget and don’t care). They literally changed the voting rules to ensure people they don’t like will never get nominated again. Bravo to them, I say. Long-term, incestuous inbreeding of GoodThink and Cancel Culture has never produced anything bad. Trust me… I’m a historian and a writer.

The Dragon Awards are what most authors want now, since it’s a popularity contest without the GateKeepers(TM) running things and typically means the books nominated have sold a lot of copies. Past Dragon Award winners include Larry Correia, Brandon Sanderson, Timothy Zahn, David Weber, Harry Turtledove, S.M. Stirling, Cory Doctorow, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, and Jim Butcher. All HUGE names in the industry, and all of whom have sold enough books to (at least) sleep on beds made of solid gold. We’ll give 2020 Dragon Awards a pass because it’s hard to have a popularity contest at a convention which didn’t happen.

“What brought all this up?” you’re probably asking yourself right now. Well, as usual, someone did something really, really feckin’ stupid. Naturally, it was brought to my attention by some of my fans (the whole… 3 of them?) and I checked it out. I discovered that someone who shares my first name decided it would be a splendid idea to attack my publisher, Baen Books.

Disclaimer/pro tip: don’t fuck with a writer’s source of income. We don’t like it and will react poorly.

I’m not going to post a link to the screed the individual wrote (in the name of “investigative journalism”) nor will I link to his Patreon page where the article (barf) is located. I will, instead, break down why he chose this moment to try and do a takedown of the Baen’s Bar forum, which is a relic from the 90’s and continues to exist to this day.

Point 1 — As I mentioned above, it’s award season. Said individual has posted on Twatter that he has fiction works eligible for his coveted phallic statue Hugo Award. Now, he’s practically a nobody with almost zero fan base (like me!), so how does he get noticed? Why, by attacking the big, scary publisher who doesn’t censor their authors or their speech. So brave, much braver.

Point 2 — The cancellation of Gina Carano. I’ve covered briefly (ha!) why the cancellation of Gina Carano was a bad thing. I didn’t expect it to backfire so spectacularly on Lucasfilms or Disney, but I’ll cheer on that dumpster fire all the same. Gina is clearly a believer of the freedom of speech, and thus her being punished for it really gets our attacker’s cockles in a vice. With this in mind, the same tactics employed against Ms. Carano are being deployed at my publisher, Baen Books. Gotta love people who scream “Fascist!” towards defenders of liberty while extoling the virtues of censorship and fascistic policies.

Point 3 — It’s “popular” for people to attack others without fear of recourse or repercussions. Now, for those of us not with our heads firmly up our backsides, we know Baen Books is a publisher with a lot of resources who publishes a lot of varied individuals, from die-hard communists like Eric Flint to Tom Kratman, who might be described as being right of Atilla the Hun on the political spectrum. Jim Baen never cared what your politics were, as long as you could tell a good story. The writer of said article (“investigative journalism” my left buttock) created an account, went onto the Bar, and decided to find the best statements he could in order to use it to bolster his claim that the Bar is a hotbed for far-right extremism. Never mind the fact that the Bar hosts like five groups dedicated to Eric Flint or his collected universes (it might be six now, I don’t know). Our intrepid (so brave, much brave) journalist needed meat for his article (he probably went into Kratman’s forum… even I think those guys are nuts).

Interesting note, though. The writer of the article didn’t mention Michael Z. Williamson at all. I’m kind of shocked, actually. I used to think Kratman and Williamson were deliberately trying to outdo one another. Makes me wonder if the writer of the article went directly to Kratman’s forum because that’s where he was told to go. You know, like someone with a grudge against Kratman decided the best way to deplatform him was to attack his source of income? Weird, right?

As of this morning, Baen’s Bar is down. For how long, nobody can say. With the advent of social media, it was kind of a dying place anyway. Which is sad, really. It was, for the longest time, the best place for fans to interact with their favorite authors. Eric Flint used to post daily on there, and regularly interacted with his fans in a controlled environment (the Moderators actually enforced the “no hitting” rule). It was how I was introduced to Baen Books way back when I was still in college and discovered the 1632 series. Baen Books made me believe that history was cool. I mean, I knew it was interesting, but cool? History nerds never considered themselves to be the cool kids at the party.

Anyway, I’m digressing. This sad excuse for a reporter used Patreon to launch a libelous attack on a New York publisher (and called a woman a man due to a serious lack of research… how does anybody not know Toni Weisskopf is a woman?), which violates Patreon’s Terms of Service. If Patreon truly believed in their ToS and don’t want to get added to the probable lawsuit, they would take down the guy’s Patreon page immediately.

As I’ve said before — don’t go after an author’s source of income. We react poorly to such things.

**edit #1 — 10:24AM: This apparently is a full-on, coordinated attack on Baen Books in an effort to get them erased in the same manner as Parler. Someone out there has a hate-on for Baen. Well, more than the norm. I’ll share more details as I get them.

**edit #2 — 11:15AM: The Bar at Baen Books website is back up, albeit with limited posting.

**edit #3 — 12:41PM: Larry Correia delves into it a little more over at his website.

**edit #4 — 6:27PM: Toni Weisskopf released an official statement earlier today.

To Whom It May Concern:

What is it we do at Baen Books? We publish books at the heart of science fiction and fantasy.

Science fiction has traditionally been a unique kind of intellectual pleasure, a process of glorious intercommunication and inspiration, with ideas flowing from scientist and engineer to writer and artist, to reader and viewer, back and forth, in a delightful mélange of shared thoughts, wild speculation, cautionary tales, reality checks, and the sheer fun of playing with boundaries and ideas. It is not for everyone. But those who enjoy it, take great pleasure in the dialogue.

When the modern form of SF began, with Hugo Gernsback and the other pulp magazines of the early 20th century, the publishers fostered that interaction through letter columns in the magazines and by encouraging science fiction readers to organize in clubs and meet in conventions. Baen Books continued that tradition with Baen’s Bar, a kind of virtual convention and on-line conversation that has been around in some form for over 20 years.

The moderators are volunteers. The readers, editors, and writers post and interact on the Bar at their own desire. Some conversations have been gone over so many times, they’ve been retired as simply too boring to contemplate again. Sometimes the rhetoric can get heated. We do not endorse the publication of unlawful speech. We have received no complaints about the content of the Bar from its users.

That said, it has come to our attention that allegations about the Bar have been made elsewhere. We take these allegations seriously, and consequently have put the Bar on hiatus while we investigate. But we will not commit censorship of lawful speech.

It is not Baen Books’ policy to police the opinions of its readers, its authors, its artists, its editors, or indeed anyone else. This applies to posts at the Bar, or on social media, on their own websites, or indeed anywhere else. On the Bar, the publisher does not select what is allowed to be posted, and does not hijack an individual’s messages for their own purposes. Similarly, the posts do not represent the publisher’s opinion, except in a deep belief that free speech is worthy in and of itself.

Most sincerely,
Toni Weisskopf

**edit #5 — 8:42AM (2/17/21): I wanted to add an additional plot point to this. I found out last night that Toni Weisskopf is to be the Editor Guest of Honor at this year’s DisCon III (aka Worldcon) in Washington, D.C. Apparently this has somebody’s knickers in a twist. Also, the author of said article attacking Baen’s Bar is a longtime member of the File 770 website, which has come after authors they don’t like in the past (read: anybody with a conservative bent (in their eyes) and dares to stand up for themselves). It stands reason to believe that this attack originated within some faction which loosely associates with the File 770 group.

**edit #6 — 8:18AM (2/18/21): Eric Flint has skin in the game, and lets his opinion be known. Someone else (not Eric!) suggested I’m hiding behind Flint somehow. Clickbaiters gonna clickbait, I guess.

You want to support Baen Books (and me), go buy the two anthologies I’ll be featured in this summer.

19 thoughts on “Don’t Mess With An Author’s Source of Income

  1. hmm, someone going after Baen? I don’t think that’s gonna end well. It’s one of the very few publishers that has fans, not just fans of the authors. I’m thinking some weaponized autism might be coming their way.

    And between Kratman, Mad Mike, and Ringo you’ve got three authors who’s fans skew fairly hard to the opposite end of the political spectrum than the crybully, and who don’t seem averse to acquiring targets all on their own.

    • It’s almost like some mysterious persons out there want an overblown reaction which could be construed as a call for violence to use as a club to deplatform a publisher. Weird, right?

      • Thanks for the post. Well done.

        I believe that the person in question does not know of how big a sleeping dragon(s), has been poked and prodded to be awakened.

        And I am at least fan #5.😉😉

  2. in Kratman’s case at least they can’t take away his pension and writing is a side for him, but otherwise spot on

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  4. I am a huge fan of Baen Books and most of its authors because as a publisher they can sell directly to me without Amazon putting their own spin on each book. I don’t agree with some writers politics but still read their books for perspective.

      • I had read a number of books in the 1632 series before I even knew anything of Eric’s politics. I had friended him on FB but had to cut him after a while because he didn’t post anything there that I cared to read. I still don’t care about his politics. I care that he tells a great story and created a compelling world that has fascinating characters that I want to see how they survive. I also learned a bunch about a period of history that is totally glossed over in most survey courses and in High School. The world spanning nature of his work also ties together some aspects of the historical timelines that I never really thought about (like Cardinal Richelieu and Galileo being contemporaries as well as Cromwell, etc.).

        I have no problem reading, watching, etc. stories by people that disagree with politically if the story is good. Alas, too many on the other side seem to not think that is allowable.

        There is an old saying that if the facts are on yours side you pound the facts. If the law is on your sound you pound the facts. If nothing is on your side you pound the table. Lately the left seems to be pounding the table a lot.

  5. Outstanding Take on it Jason. I have the feeling that this is NOT going to go the way the Dipstick wanted it to, even WITH the Pimple tossing his stick into the Pot and stirring like Mad….

    • Oh, he’ll get his accolades and applauds from those who he wants it from, and they’ll bravely nominate him for a Hugo Award next year. Meanwhile, Vile770 will probably get nominated about their four hundredth bajillion Hugo Award as well for bravely and courageously covering said event…

  6. Just FYI and because I’d hate for others of the same name to get mistaken for the actual person in question, it is important to refer to him by his complete job title from now on.

    Jason Sanford, Manager of Communications and Content for the Ohio News Media Association.

    Purely to prevent errors in identification.

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