We All Float Down Here, Georgie…
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Cedar had an interesting post yesterday over at the Mad Genius Club (I actually missed the original post because I’ve been buried by basketball and finishing a book) and after reading it, I got to thinking (run! hide the women and children! he had two brain cells crash into one another on accident!) about professionalism in the publishing industry and how technology has changed the way it works.
I’ve been watching author interaction with fans now for over 7 years, mainly because I wanted to learn how to interact with my fans (all twelve of you… hey guys!) and what not to do. Then it dawned on me that I probably shouldn’t air my grievances against a publisher out in public (this is…. wise, one would think). This should be common sense but then you throw in the whole Internet thing and suddenly common sense takes a backseat to raging on a keyboard at the world.
Too often these days people forget about decorum because they are protected by the anonymity of online interactions. The web can protect folks from repercussions of their words online and gives people a false sense of courage. It’s easy to slam someone when hiding behind a firewall. It’s far more difficult to do it in person, to their face. There’s always the off-chance that calling someone a foul name to their face will get you kicked in the nuts.
One of the things I fall into the trap of is reading about when people are piling on an individual about some stupid thing they said or did online and nodding along, saying “Yep, they deserve what they’re getting right now.” It’s not really fair because, more often than not, what was posted was probably in the heat of the moment and the person wasn’t thinking clearly through their rage. I’ve been there, done that, copyrighted the hell out of it, so I understand completely.
So when Cedar talked about professionalism, I was kinda taken aback by the tone of some of the commentators on the private forum who had saved the epic rage-quit letter in question.
I felt that too many people wanted to revel in glee at the misfortune of the person in question (seriously, go read Cedar’s piece. It’s pretty good) and focus on the negativity, instead of feeling sorry for the author who felt that a rage-letter to her publisher was the way to go. I’ve seen many careers in the past go down in flames because of letters like that. Nowadays? Not so much, because most authors understand that everything they do online stays online. Publishers also understand this, though to a lesser extent. Authors talk to one another, as do publishers. It’s very easy to find oneself under a blacklist when you bad mouth a publisher (alternatively, piling on another seems to benefit others, but that still doesn’t make it right).
While I haven’t always been pleased with some of my past publishers and how they treated me, I kept my grievances mostly private. I’ve warned a few authors away who I felt may have been harmed in their business dealings with those publishers, but overall I simply let it be. It doesn’t help me one bit to attack someone who I don’t like or have worked with in the past.
Now, I know I’m not perfect. Sometimes when I get all worked up and pissed off I will go on a warpath (the Empress Theresa incident is a good example), but I do try to avoid this. In private, at home? With my cats staring at me like I’m insane? Oh yeah. They know how I feel. But everyone else? Nope. That stays between me and the cats (who were probably ignoring me anyways, so I’m good there).
What do you think? Should authors publicly call out publishers and other authors who they dislike or feel as if they’ve been wronged by?
I’m going to tell you a little story about a good man who has been slandered and libeled by one individual who is hiding behind the anonymity of the Internets. That good man? Tim “Uncle Timmy” Bolgeo.
You see, a pathetic troll whose name I’m not going to bother typing (because it’s a nickname that the individual hides behind because they’re afraid of owning up to their actions) has, after taking random snippets of conversations and tacky jokes that Uncle Timmy publishes on something called “The Revenge”, managed to get Uncle Timmy uninvited from Archon this year. Archon, apparently, is “listening to the fans” (the one who has slandered and committed libel, but we won’t get into that at the moment) and decided that it was in their best interest to not have Uncle Timmy as their Fan Guest of Honor this year.
Let’s ignore, for the moment, the forty years that Uncle Timmy has dedicated to fandom in the South and Midwest. Let’s forget that he started and ran Libertycon for 25 years, which is one of the more popular “small cons” around. Let’s ignore the fact that the man is extremely smart and is an engineer who has a sterling reputation (except when he’s playing spades. He’s a jerk when he plays spades). Heck, let’s even ignore the fact that Uncle Timmy is an old, fat white dude who started a scholarship for a fan and friend (a black man) after he died tragically while trying to help someone.
Oh, wait. No. Not only no, but hell no. All these facts are pertinent to the lie being spread that Uncle Timmy is one big old Southern racist redneck who hates science.
The thing is, Uncle Timmy refuses to be PC. And that, apparently, is a huge thought crime. His jokes in The Revenge hold no punches, and the jokes he relays (a lot of them are mailed in or suggested) are not always tactful. But the thing is, in The Revenge, nobody is safe. Uptight white businessman? White teen with purple hair? Blonde businesswoman? Doesn’t matter, all are fair game. As it should be, quite frankly. Because the jokes wouldn’t be so funny if he focused on one particular subject (trust me, the old fat white redneck jokes get old after the 80th one).
So… yeah. Is Uncle Timmy a racist who hates science? God, I hope not. Otherwise, he’s a brilliant actor who should’ve been winning Oscars for years.
The reason I am coming to his defense so vociferously (ah hell, biracial man with a vocabulary is rolling up his sleeves) is that back when I was first starting out on the convention scene, not a single con wanted this no-name biracial guy who wrote a book as a guest. Not a one. Cons who pride themselves for their “diversity” told me to kindly “piss off”. Cons that I lived less than five minutes to wanted nothing to do with a local author. Cons who are always claiming to want to showcase new and upcoming authors wouldn’t touch me with a ten foot pole.
Then I got this email from Uncle Timmy and his daughter, Brandi Spraker, completely out of the blue. They’d heard about me through Travis S. “Doc” Taylor and wondered if I would be up to being a guest at Libertycon. I was thrilled. I was also confused, because after asking around, I’d heard that only “Baen authors” wanted anything to do with Libertycon. Which didn’t bother me much, because I enjoy almost all of the authors in Baen’s stable. Eric Flint, Charles Gannon, David Weber… all of them I’ve read, and all of them I enjoy. So I accepted and flew across the country to be a guest. And you know what?
I’ve never felt so welcomed at a convention as I was at that Libertycon. That’s even taking into account that the fans got me so trashed that I don’t really remember any of the panels (except the one that I yelled at John Ringo because of… something about aliens, humanity and sex? I forget). I promised I would return the following year, and I did (which resulted in a trip to the ER that is rather embarrassing). Of all the cons I’ve been to, Libertycon has, quite possibly, the best memories associated with it. And it made other cons easier for me, since the fans who go to Libertycon oftentimes attend other regional cons as well. They, in turn, have gotten me into other cons. And all this was possible thanks to Uncle Timmy.
What the Archon convention committee decides is, in the end, up to them. But before they listen to one lying individual who seems to have a vendetta, perhaps they should ask around and see just who Uncle Timmy really is. They may be surprised to find that Uncle Timmy is a well-respected and well-liked person who has helped thousands, if not tens of thousands, of authors and fans over the years.
But fortunately for me, due to their decision, they’ve helped me cull the list of potential conventions I will be attending in the future.