Friday, July 04, 2014

Fisking Chuck Wendig

Chuck seems to be having some problems understanding several things that are easily understandable. So, being a helpful guy, I'll take a few minutes to explain things to them.

Chuck: Hugh Howey has a petition out for… well, I don’t know exactly what it’s for, except I think it’s like, an anti-boycott for Amazon? A love-fest for Amazon? I’m not sure.

Joe: It's a counter to the negative press the media is giving Amazon for its negotiations with Hachette. Big name authors are using the media to spread misinformation about the situation, and whine in public about how unfair Amazon is being.

The letter explains, in detail, what the negotiation is really about, and how Amazon isn't the bad guy in this situation. Amazon has given readers and writers more choice and opportunity than ever before, all while keeping prices low and offering much better royalties.

That isn't a love-fest. It's the truth.

Chuck: "Below, you will see the names of writers who thank you for your support. This is only a bare fraction of the people you have touched. Happy Independence Day.
Signed, your authors."

At this point, I’m left to wonder if Independence Day is the new April Fool’s.

Joe: Ha ha! You conflated two holidays to be funny! Outrageous!

I'm left to wonder if you actually read the letter, because the 4000 people who have signed it, and left thousands of testimonials, seemed to understand it just fine.

Chuck: I don’t know exactly why Mega-Company Amazon needs a… petition of support? I like Amazon well enough, and as my publisher they’ve been aces. I don’t boycott them — but I also try to diversify my buying habits in the same way I try to diversify my reading and writing and publishing habits. But I also recognize that Amazon has received a lot of criticism for the way it does business (as have many big publishers, to be clear), and further, puts out an e-book environment where you do not really own your e-books.

Joe: That last sentence was lazy and I don't know who it is directed toward. Authors? You keep your rights when you publish on KDP, so you do own them. If you're referring to readers owning ebooks, that's the nature of digital downloads. You don't own your iTunes purchases either. Every software download includes a license agreement. What's your point? You're bringing this up why exactly? Non-sequitor divergences make it tough to tease out your intent.

Chuck: I’ve also read some contracts from Amazon that are bad or worse than some of the contracts you get from big publishers.

Joe: The Amazon legal department on their publishing side is indeed becoming onerous to deal with. But I've yet to see an Amazon contract as bad or worse as any of the big publishers, and I'm pretty sure I've seen more of both than you have. 

But please, share these contract terms with us. Back up your claim with some data.

Chuck: This isn’t meant to suggest that Amazon is an Evil Monster (I note the laziness of that too-easy thinking here, in an earlier post one month ago today). It’s just meant to suggest –

Well, we don’t need a fucking petition to support them.

Joe: Our fucking petition negated much of the potential negative effect that Preston's carefully orchestrated press release would have otherwise had. Several media outlets have picked ours up, giving balanced time to an issue that has been extremely one-sided.

Chuck: They’re not an underdog.

They’re not your savior.

Joe: No, Chuck, they aren't. But they are the company that innovated the online bookstore everyone wants to shop at by keeping prices low and offering great customer service. They invented the Kindle. With KDP, they've allowed thousands of authors to make money they otherwise wouldn't have been able to. And they've given authors a choice, when before it was sign with a NY Publishing Cartel or don't get read.

That's information readers and writers need to hear, when the Internet and airwaves are full of Colbert, Patterson, Turow, Preston, et al spouting nonsense about Amazon bullying authors.

Chuck: This petition reads like they’re beatific saints descending from crepuscular rays to upend cornucopias of food atop the heads of the homeless. If I didn’t know who wrote it, I’d legit think it was straight-up satire.

Joe: Ok, I get it. You're being satirical right now.

I think. Perhaps you just aren't good enough a writer to get your point across.

Chuck: I respect Hugh’s interest in supporting the environment that clearly supports him. But this is deeply, weirdly, head-scratchingly absurd. This is, what, a boycott against the boycott? A love letter to a company? I don’t even know. At this point I’m having trouble reading it as anything other than a missive from Bizarro-World.

Joe: Preston's silly letter (the one you should be fisking) called for people to email Jeff Bezos and tell him to stop harming authors and customers. Our letter goes into detail explaining that Amazon isn't harming authors or customers.

I can explain it a few more times if it still hasn't sunk in. And I have a feeling I'll have to.

Chuck: Some quick thoughts on bits from the petition:

“Petition by: Your Writers.”

No. I don’t support petitions like this. You shouldn’t support a petition like this even as a self-published author. I will scream this in your ear as long as I can: diversify diversify diversify. Amazon is not your mother. It’s not your god. It’s a company. Does good things. Does bad things. *shakes head so hard blood comes out of ears*

Joe: Can you shake your head a bit harder? The image of you bleeding aurally amuses me.

Diversification has absolutely nothing to do with the Amazon vs. Hachette debate. Writing for multiple publishers or etailers still makes you an Amazon writer if you publish on Amazon.

If this is how you fisk, I truly look forward to you fisking me. Please.

Chuck: “To Thank Our Readers”

Thanking readers is nowhere to be found in this petition.

Joe: How can you reply to a letter you obviously didn't read?

To wit: "Dear Readers,

Much is being said these days about changes in the book world, but not nearly enough is being said about the most important people in our industry. 

You. The readers. Without you there wouldn’t be a book industry.

We owe you so much, and we are forever in your debt. Thank you for reading late into the night. Thank you for reading to your children. Thank you for missing that subway stop, for your word of mouth, your reviews, and your fan emails. 

Thank you for seeking our books in so many ways—through brick and mortar stores, online, and in libraries. 

Thank you for enjoying these stories in all their forms—as digital books, paper books, and audiobooks. "

That's how the letter starts. Perhaps you missed it due to the dizziness brought on by your ear-related hypovolemic shock.

Chuck: It is a petition thanking Amazon.

Not even individual people at Amazon.

Just… Amazon. Like, the entity.

Joe: Can you point out where we thank Amazon? Hint: We don't. At all.

But don't let the facts get in the way of your delusions.

Chuck: “By what is being reported in the media, it may seem like Amazon is restricting what readers can access. It may seem that they are marginalizing authors.”

They are. This is literally true. You might believe that this is a good move in the long run — and you could make an argument that supports Amazon in this, just as you could make one in reverse. But this is literally actually true, not like, spin by the Giant Publishing Machine.

Joe: Good job supporting that statement with logic and facts. Because, in fact, our letter (the one you're blogging about but apparently didn't read) explains why Amazon is not restricting what readers can access, nor is it marginalizing authors.

On Amazon, readers can access of all Hachette's books currently available. Indies don't have pre-order buttons. That's a perk Amazon removed from Hachette because Amazon may not be offering Hachette books in the future if negotiations fail. Amazon should allow pre-orders it can't fulfill? How is that customer-centric?

And certainly you're aware, Chuck, since you seem to be so well-informed, Amazon also offered to monetarily compensate Hachette authors. Hachette demurred. Who is the one marginalizing authors? 

Perhaps the publisher who can't come to terms with the largest bookstore on the planet?

But I can see how all of that logic and data withers in the face of your unsubstantiated opinion that  "This is literally true".

It is literally not true. I just showed you why. You should try it when fisking. That's sorta the whole point of fisking.

Chuck: “All the complaints about Amazon should be directed at Hachette.”

All of them? Including complaints about warehouse conditions? Hey, last week they fucked up an order of Transformers and sent it to — well, honestly, I dunno, but now I know who to send my complaints to. HEY HACHETTE: AMAZON’S PRIME SHIPPING DOESN’T ALWAYS WORK LIKE THEY SAY IT DOES. ASSHOLES.

Joe: Ha! Ha! You took a line meant to be read in context, and then misrepresented it to try to be funny!

Perhaps you should try harder. On both the fisking, and the funny.

In a letter about an Amazon/Hachette dispute, the complaints about Amazon should be directed at Hachette. We could have been clearer on that, but I'm not sure it would have helped you understand any better.

Chuck: More seriously, some arguments have noted that Hachette has maybe earned this spanking from Amazon. Certainly some publishers have helped feed the beast that is Amazon and have done poorly by their authors. I agree with that. This is not really the way to achieve parity and to improve things, by my mileage.

Joe: So bringing attention to unfair business practices like shitty royalties and Hachette wanting to raise ebook prices in order to inform readers and writers when previously they've only been hearing the misinformation the media is regurgitating—that's not the way to achieve parity and improve things?

What, praytell, does your mileage show you is the path to improvement? Maybe you should have blogged about that. Or blogged about something you actually know. Or not blogged at all.

Chuck: “High e-book prices are not good for readers, and they aren’t good for writers.”

I agree. But isn’t this how the market works? They charge too much and… people don’t buy it, so they’re forced to be competitive? Hasn’t that already happened? Perhaps I’m being naive here.

Joe: Naïve. Or purposely obtuse.

You know the price fixing, colluding Big Five paid millions in damages, right? Restitution to readers who paid too much. Apparently, some people do pay too much.

You know the price fixing was to stifle competition, so all the major houses could keep prices high, right? That's not how the market works, which is why the DOJ stepped in.

Chuck: “Amazon pays writers nearly six times what publishers pay us.”

Yes, and I am all for publishers paying authors more. But it’s also worth considering that Amazon is literally not your publisher. (I mean, they’re mine, but as Skyscape.) Amazon does very little for you except act as a receptacle for your book. Which might be genius. Which might be dogshit. They literally don’t care. It’s a socket and into it you can shove diamonds, candy, cat feces, bezoars, babies, whatever.

Joe: Can you post a pic of yourself shoving cat feces into a socket? Bonus points if your ears are bleeding in the same pic.

No, Amazon is not your publisher, because the writer keeps their rights. If Hachette offered me a contract where they would distribute my paper books and I kept the rights, I'd still be with them.

Chuck: The reason they don’t take a lot of that coin is because… they don’t do anything for you. Like edit. Market. Distribute physical copies. So on, so forth. Some authors want that, some don’t.

Joe: Agreed, KDP does nothing for authors. I mean, other than giving us the ability to sell our work to millions of Kindle and Kindle app owners on one the most popular online store in history.

Oh, and the ability to advertise, like the beta program I'm in.

Oh, and they distribute my physical copies through Createspace.

But you're right. They don't edit. Editing is easily worth the 52.5% royalties that publishers take. Forever. So good point, Chuck.

Chuck: The trick isn’t going ALL-IN with Amazon, the trick is demanding better from all publishers, all companies.

Joe: Like you've done in this blog post, where you demanded…

Um.

Hmmm.

Well, you pretty much didn't demand anything from publishers or companies. You just said we shouldn't go all-in with Amazon. Which isn't something we put in the letter, so I have no idea why you're bringing it up. But at least you're finally trying to say something, I suppose.

Chuck: The trick is to support authors, not corporations. People over corporate entities. (This feels particularly tone deaf considering the CORPORATIONS HAVE OPINIONS shift with Hobby Lobby. Petitions in sympathy of companies is cuckoo banana sundae.)

Joe: And you're supporting authors in the blog post by…

Uh.

Hmmmm.

As for the point of our petition, it spoke for itself, and I've also explained it to you here. But let's do it one more time! Bigshot authors and the media are painting Amazon as the bad guy. Our letter showed Amazon isn't the bad guy. If that's a cuckoo banana sundae (ha! The chuckles never stop with you!) then sign me up for one with extra chocolate syrup.

Chuck: “Hachette is looking out for their own interests, not the interests of writers or readers.”

And Amazon is not Mother Theresa tending to lepers.

Like, I can’t –

I don’t even?

What is happening?

Joe: Okay. I'll explain it again. You really seem confused as to our intent, but I'm a patient guy.

Hachette is whining in public, looking for sympathy. The media is reporting this. Many authors are pointing fingers at Amazon, saying they are bad.

This is all incorrect. That doesn't make Amazon Mother Theresa. But it makes them the one to back in this dispute. Right now, Amazon does a lot for readers and writers. I know you didn't bother to read our letter, but I urge you to take two hours (it'll take that long) to read the thousands of testimonials from people who signed the letter.

Amazon has improved the lives of lots of people, readers and writers. The media is making them look like bullies. We're showing Amazon isn't bullying anyone. And at this moment in time, Amazon's interests do indeed coincide with the interests of readers and writers. Hachette's do not. They want to raise prices, and their negotiating tactics are hurting their own authors.

Chuck: Listen.

Here’s how you thank Amazon:

Buy shit from them.

Here’s how you thank authors:

Buy their books.

Here’s how you don’t thank Amazon:

Buy elsewhere.

Here’s how authors thank readers:

Just, like, thank them. Thank them in person. Over email. Over the social media frequency. Offer deals when you can. Help get your books in their hands. Be awesome to them. Don’t write weird petitions to them that aren’t really to them at all.

Joe: Thanks for your advice, Chuck. It might be easy for you to thank both of your readers in person (zing! Look at me, I'm funny too!) but Hugh and I wrote this letter to explain to readers the Amazon/Hachette situation while simultaneously thanking them for their support. We also wrote it to inform writers who don't understand what the squabble is about. If you like, I can send a tattoo artist over to your house to ink this backwards on your face. Then maybe you'll be able to understand it, too.

Chuck: You don’t aim your high-five for readers at Amazon.

Joe: I'd suggest you don't fisk a letter you haven't read, and don't opine when you're ill-informed. It makes it ridiculously easy to refute you, and then you look silly.

Somehow I doubt you'll take my well-meaning advice.

Chuck: Vote with your dollar. But please, seriously, don’t sign any weird petitions like this.

Joe: Well, you have 57 comments on your blog. We have 4000.

I think more people are listening to us.

Chuck: Howey’s deservedly a bookworld superstar, so I suspect he’ll get all the signatures he needs — though for what effect, I have no idea, as this petition feels like a hollow stroke-job that accomplishes absolutely nothing except blowing a blush of hot, fragrant breath toward Amazon and away from authors and readers. This feels like shilling — uncomfortable, in-the-bag, straight-up-shilling.

Joe: And your blog feels like lackluster masturbation where your love for your own voice has overpowered any common sense and ability to debate coherently, and says absolutely nothing worthwhile in a meandering, unimpressive way.

But we're each entitled to our opinions.

Chuck: My message to Hugh would be: I prefer it when you advocate for authors, not for companies. Hugh has been increasingly “all-in” with Amazon — and this is counter to how many authors have been successful with author-publishing. It doesn’t feel instructive. It feels deliberately cozy with the other side of Big Publishing. (And anybody who thinks Amazon isn’t just its own version of Big Publishing has lost their mind.)

Joe: "But it’s also worth considering that Amazon is literally not your publisher. Amazon does very little for you except act as a receptacle for your book." – Chuck Wendig, a few paragraphs earlier

So which is it, Chuck? Is Amazon not a publisher, or is it its own version of Big Publishing?

Also, allow me to explain once again what our letter was about, because it isn't Hugh advocating for Amazon. It's Hugh and I explaining what's happening with Amazon/Hachette.

Amazon is being hated on in the media. If they were worthy of that hate, I'd blog about it. (When I blog I actually make points—you should try it). In this case, Amazon isn't worthy of the hate, but many people don't know that. Now they do (well, many of them do, while you don't. But maybe I'll explain it one more time before I'm done fisking you.)

Chuck: Like I said before: I’m happy with my experiences with Amazon. I agree they have changed the face of publishing, in many ways for the awesome, in some ways for the whoa what the fuck. They have been a wonderful publisher for my work. But — c’mon. C’mon.

C’MON.

Okay, this petition really is satire, right?

Yes? Maybe?

Joe: Yes, Chuck. It was all satire. You finally figured it out.

Oh… shit. I think my ears are bleeding.

Chuck: [note: it's been made clear this isn't Howey's petition so much as one he co-authored and is presently championing -- but it is reportedly the work of several self-published authors. I respectfully suggest that as a group they might want to get an editor, as this thing reads like it's about 3000 words too long.]

Joe: Our letter was 2400 words and said something.

Your blog was 1500 words and said exactly jack shit.

But it amused me, and will no doubt amuse my readers. And I have more than two. J

82 comments:

Joe Konrath said...

Chuck and I cross posted, and he just blogged, in a slightly more thoughtful way, about how he didn't like our letter.

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/07/03/theoretical-author-publisher-coalition-response-to-amazon-protest/

I left a comment that is currently in moderation. We'll see if you posts it:

Hugh and I drafted the letter, Eisler had a pass, some other authors took a look before it went live.

Your response is certainly brief, Chuck, but it isn’t substantive. The Preston letter, and the media, have been making false accusations and painting Amazon as the bad guy. Amazon is not the bad guy in this instance. But just stating that opinion is meaningless, unless we explain the situation in detail, and explain what Hachette and Amazon are actually trying to accomplish.

Originally we wanted to keep it under 500 words. But, as the saying goes, we didn’t have enough time to make it shorter. We wanted to release it as a quick response to Preston’s letter (which he’d reportedly been working on for weeks) so we did what we could in the few hours we had. That way, when the media covered his letter, we would hopefully get it to cover ours as well. And that’s what seems to be happening.

Making it a petition wasn’t just to acquire signatures. It was to allow testimonials. Some of them are quite poignant.

But here’s the thing: we did something. You didn’t. You simply complained you didn’t like what we did.

I just fisked your last post. It was fun. :)

Nirmala said...

Man, some of this fisking is like shooting fish in a barrel. Are there any intelligent commentators making reasonable arguments out there that you can debate this stuff with?

If I find one, I will be sure to let you know.

Joe Konrath said...

Are there any intelligent commentators making reasonable arguments out there that you can debate this stuff with?

I read one of Chuck's short story collections and liked it.

His blog... not so much. Having opinions is fine, and interspersing them with vulgarity is entertaining, but there needs to be substance. Or else, like I said, it's just masturbation.

Unknown said...

Just call it what it is...A REBUTTAL. Then some of these folks might get it...or not. Sometimes it's more fun if "not". :-D

Nirmala said...

Masturbation can be a lot of fun, but I find it best to do it in private :)

Adam Lawson said...

I, ah... yeah, either he's naive or he's being deliberately short sighted.

I had to stop reading when he was acting like he couldn't understand words strung together in a short sentence.

Marilyn Storie said...

I still haven't gotten over my disappointment that authors like King and Grisham would get behind Hachette. Good god, don't these guys have enough money yet?

To me, it's ultimately a freedom of speech issue: Which would you prefer? A limited number of people reading relatively expensive books pre-approved for them to read or millions of people freed to read whatever they damned well please, thanks inexpensive e-books and print-on-demand books.

Happy July 4th (from a Canuck)

Alex said...

To be fair, you're both kind of annoying.

Joe Konrath said...

To be fair, you're both kind of annoying.

Yeah, but I'm annoying and still manage to make coherent points.

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps you just aren't good enough a writer to get your point across."

Sadly, when you resort to insults, it undermines any point you were trying to make.

Joe Konrath said...

Sadly, when you resort to insults, it undermines any point you were trying to make.

I know. :(

But it made me smile when I wrote it.

Also, I try to fisk using the tone of the original poster. Chuck isn't exactly subtle when he's displeased with something, and he's a big boy who can handle a little ballbusting.

I'm not above being a petty dick if I think it's warranted. But I admit to the immaturity.

Anonymous said...

Joe: Can you post a pic of yourself shoving cat feces into a socket? Bonus points if your ears are bleeding in the same pic.

Thanks for my first belly laugh in a long time!

Sue

Katie said...

I'm starting to think you fisk people just because you like the sound of your own voice... Or the click-clack of your keyboard.

You fisk anyone who doesn't agree with you, while these people are just expressing opinions. You absolutely aren't required to agree with their opinions, but what's the point?

You bring up that Chuck doesn't have a point, but really, I couldn't see any point in this "fisking" other than to insult him for having an opinion that didn't mesh with yours.

Anonymous said...

This is all a bit confusing, but is this true?

"Last week, The Future Book‘s Philip Jones revealed that Amazon was seeking a “dramatic shift” in the terms of its contract with Hachette. Specifically, Amazon wanted to 'shift its agency commission from 30% to 50%.'"

Does Amazon really want to take a 20% bigger bite of each sale?

Indiana Jim said...

THIS. SO MUCH THIS. And this goes for every other post of his I've ever read.

"Joe: And your blog feels like lackluster masturbation where your love for your own voice has overpowered any common sense and ability to debate coherently, and says absolutely nothing worthwhile in a meandering, unimpressive way."

I literally cannot say that better!

Indiana Jim said...

He does it because his audience loves the way he provides equal time to truth over misinformation. It's his schtick. Maybe you're not his audience.

Anonymous said...

"You bring up that Chuck doesn't have a point, but really, I couldn't see any point in this "fisking" other than to insult him for having an opinion that didn't mesh with yours."

Heh. It did seem a bit mean-spirited. Maybe Joe is on another all-beer, no-health diet again.

Lauren said...

Oh, Joe, I love people who can debate well and know how to string coherent sentences together. I signed the petition.

I suspect from their posts these other guys don't understand the law of supply and demand and basic economics.

Joe Konrath said...

I couldn't see any point in this "fisking" other than to insult him for having an opinion that didn't mesh with yours.

Didn't I mention what the point was about eight times?

Chuck felt our petition was all about Amazon ass kissing. He was wrong. It was about a lot more than that. He claimed it was ineffective, unnecessary, but offered nothing constructive or helpful.

I'm fine with people having different opinions. But Chuck's opinions were about something I wrote, and his conclusions were nonsense.

If you believe his opinion had merit, you're welcome to comment where it did. But I'll bet you won't be able to defend much, if anything, of what he said.

Joe Konrath said...

Does Amazon really want to take a 20% bigger bite of each sale?

I'm curious if that's true. But if it is, guess what? The wholesale model that existed prior to the agency model was publishers selling ebooks to Amazon for 50% of the hardcover price.

Paperback books are regularly sold to retailers by publishers at 50% off. Why shouldn't ebooks?

Joe Konrath said...

Heh. It did seem a bit mean-spirited. Maybe Joe is on another all-beer, no-health diet again.

I lost five pounds in bone mass!

Anonymous said...

It seemed like his post (Chuck's) started with the idea that if something is a corporation and large, then nothing else needs to be said. He went on to write his opinion in internet talk... false confidence, hyperbole, condescension et al (to be fair, Joe, you do too :)

The issue I had with his piece is he leaves no room for someone to champion accuracy. His complaints in his latest post are that it is a petition (which apparently is inherently wrong), it's too long (stated 3 different ways) and we're talking about a corporation by god.

He quickly condescends and belittles by making the rather narrow minded point that agreeing with a corporation's business practices amounts to personifying it and then stroking its ego. I thought it was actually just clearing the air with what's happening in the dispute since there were only a handful out of dozens upon dozens of pieces written that even hinted at what is actually happening.

Overall, he's made his point clear. He doesn't like to read a lot and can't stand petitions that detail all the issues and explain the stances (just get to the point already so I can blindly take a side!! jeez). He also will never defend a corporation, on principle I suppose. Seems like quite the principled fellow.

Talin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Talin said...

Wendig: Hugh has been increasingly “all-in” with Amazon — and this is counter to how many authors have been successful with author-publishing.

Me: Umm, that's why Hugh Howey is in the June Kobo news letter I received from Kobo Thursday? He flew to their Toronto head office and filmed a podcast with them....

Anonymous said...

I've been following your blog for a long time, Joe. A long, long time. Years.

I've also been following Chuck's blog for the past year or so.

Honestly, seeing you rip his post, sentence by sentence, made me really sad. I love Chuck. And I respected you. I thought you were an awesome guy.

And now, I don't really respect you much. For argument's sake, let's say your opinion is gospel, your points well made, your facts 100% accurate. Did you have to be a dick about it? Did you have to stoop so low?

There is a way to get your point across without being an insufferable skintag about it.

The silver lining is that you've surely sent a buttload of traffic to terribleminds.com. Hopefully a few people will pull up a chair and stay a while, because Chuck is awesome.

You could learn a lot from Chuck in that department.

Roger Lawrence said...

Leaving aside all the personal feelings for a moment, Amazon is simply a tool. Everyone who uses it is, or should make themselves aware of it's little foibles. However it's just one of many outlets. No one has to use it. I do, but then I also use a lot of other sites to sell my novels.

Lizzie said...

I was happy to see you take on Wendig. Far too many writers follow that guy when he's not actually all that great a spokesperson for writers. I don't think he cares all that much or anything, but he needed to be fisked.

Lizzie said...

Anonymous 3:26 AM

Yeah, he sent some traffic to terribleminds, but if they're halfway rational, they'll realize that Chuck's blog doesn't have that much to offer writers. I've been sent to terribleminds by others writers repeatedly over the years. These people are usually people are afraid of self-publishing who think Chuck is brilliant. He's not. At best, he's amusing.

Suzanne Cowles said...

I respect anyone who is willing to voice their opinion publicly, that's the freedom of speech thing in action. I always "get" Joe's sarcasm and laugh. And the beauty of it is that's his intention. But laced under the humor is a truth.

People like to ban together, hold hands and sway like elephants.

I'm just wondering (as an indie author) what is going to happen in the future when B&N closes? Where will the Big 5 hock their wares? My guess is Amazon, and indie authors may get squeezed out.

Mr. Patterson, if there is no longer a physical shelf for your sacred book to rest, what will you do? I would be careful how much I poke the bear, if I were you.

They said the Titanic was unsinkable too.


Valerie Douglas said...

I'll admit, it makes me uncomfortable to see two people (three or four, sort of, if we include Hugh Howey and the other writers) that I respect in this kind of a wrangle. But it just goes to show ya that there's a lot of ways to look at this. You both have great points.
I signed the petition, and posted it in my writers group to sign, because I wanted to make the point that Amazon wasn't the sole bad guy here. As it happens, I have diversified across the e-reader, print and audio worlds.
We do want all vendors and publishers to pay authors equitably, and to keep the price of e-books affordable for readers.

Anonymous said...

Okay so Wendig is primarily good for amusement reading; generally speaking his blog isn't the place to go if you want any kind of publishing advice (traditional or otherwise). He's just gifted with teh funnies.

Hence, this "exchange" wins the internet for me today - what Chuck said was funny, and what Joe said was funny on top of the funny cake:

Chuck: “Amazon pays writers nearly six times what publishers pay us.”... It’s a socket and into it you can shove diamonds, candy, cat feces, bezoars, babies, whatever.

Joe: Can you post a pic of yourself shoving cat feces into a socket? Bonus points if your ears are bleeding in the same pic.

Joe Konrath said...

Honestly, seeing you rip his post, sentence by sentence, made me really sad. I love Chuck.

Reread what you just wrote.

If can can rip someone's post, sentence by sentence, they deserve to be ripped.

If I ever wrote something as stupid and indefensible as Wendig did, I hope he, or Barry Eisler, or Mike Shatzkin, or Hugh Howey, or David Gaughran, held me up for ridicule. Because I'd deserve it.

I remember liking Chuck until he wrote this nonsense.

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2011/10/05/the-publishing-cart-before-the-storytelling-horse/

Read the comments.

After that, I ignored him as someone with nothing to offer. Then he decided to opinie on Hugh's petition (which Chuck also didn't know was mine because he didn't do half a second of research).

Hugh may be the best spokesman, and the most generous guy, in publishing. And what Wendig said about our petition was nonsense, which was why I was able to refute it, line by line.

BTW, I was right back then, and I'm right now. And as for stooping low--I held back. I have much more to give. If Chuck wants to respond, I'l happily take the gloves off. He's far too easy to fisk.

Aimless Writer said...

Great post, Joe.
Personally, I'd like to thank Amazon for giving me the opportunity to publish. And you, Joe, for inspiring me to just go for it.
All this negativity directed toward Amazon makes me wonder what they're afraid of.

Jason Brant said...

Chuck: The reason they don’t take a lot of that coin is because… they don’t do anything for you. Like edit. Market. Distribute physical copies.

Chuck is correct. Amazon doesn't do anything for me. As long as you don't count inventing the Kindle, building the ebook market, creating the best book distribution system ever, running ACX and Createspace, etc, etc.

Oh, and they most certainly do market my books. They constantly email readers about my work. Nothing has moved my books better than when Amazon has given them a push.

But yes, Chuck, other than, you know, doing a shit ton for me, they don't do anything because they don't edit my stuff. Shame on them.

Joshua James said...

what Hugh has written in the comments on Chuck's latest, allegedly more thoughtful post... is moving and... it's simply moving.

Chuck's response made me angry, to be honest.

I never liked, "eh, it's too long" response. Respond to the points in the argument. Or if it truly is too long, don't freaking read it.

But what Hugh wrote, wow.

Joe Konrath said...

Hugh's a hero. He's selfless and fights for what's right.

Chuck doesn't. He's an entertainer without a lot to say. Who has Wendig influenced, and how?

I'm not saying all writing bloggers need to help writers. But when you're taking potshots at the ones that do, you've gotten on my radar.

And being on my radar isn't pleasant.

Nirmala said...

I also was touched by Hugh's responses. I have appreciated all that he has done, but now I realize I did not even know the half of it.

I also posted this on Chuck's blog:
"I am curious to hear how exactly you think they could go about reducing their 2400 word petition by 3000 words, as you suggest in your posts. I love the idea of a piece of writing with “minus” 600 words. It could be a great way to reduce the information overload caused by the internet."

Anonymous said...

I usually find chuckie blog mildly entertaining for his creative swearing but he is a bit of a fuckstick.

Judith said...

A few times I've been amused by Wendig. But, it's become increasingly apparent that when the chips are down, when something really important is at stake - he'll wave his bluntness, profanity and colorful Strawmen ("I don't attack everything that comes down the pike because...I'm not a chronomancer possessing INFINITE TIME" - all caps in the original) and make a lot of noise trying to disguise the fact that he's a tool, a conventional wisdom guy if there ever was one.

His tone is supposed to signal that he's a real rebel and a no-bullshit guy. It's all tone.

(ironic aside: his initials also stand for conventional wisdom.)

Joe is often harsh and sarcastic, which does sometimes detract from the argument, imo. Joe actually MAKES an argument(s) and supplies facts.

You can wrestle with Joe's points as opposed to "I don't feel particularly cozy toward the battle of two giant robots..." WTF? Who cares how CW feels? But, he is all about feeling and characterization, always to the detriment of someone else.

It's bizarre -- and telling -- that after all the discussion he prefers the Preston letter because it's shorter - under 500 words - and it contains a call to action. Neither of these criteria have anything to do with whether the letters/petitions are factual, are accurate. So, that's CW for you.

P.S. Who made 500 words the gold standard? If he doesn't want to take the time to read it, fine. Leave it alone. Don't try to pretend you're criticizing it or engaging with it on any level.

I think CW wants to be the big dog that the other little dogs look up to. Turns out, there are some other big dogs out there. Maybe a few of them are bigger and have caught the scent better! Maybe he's not big at all!! Turn up volume of bark to disguise toothless bite.

Anonymous said...

A person who resorts to using profanity and an unnecessary amount of sarcasm in a blog post obviously is trying to detract from the fact that he has nothing useful to say. Chuck said NOTHING important. It was more of a rant than a substantial post and to me, a huge waste of time. It is obvious that he never read 99 percent of the letter and he seems like a little kid trying to get attention from his parents any way he can.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Chuck doesn't. He's an entertainer without a lot to say. Who has Wendig influenced, and how?

Some people complain about your tone on this blog, Joe, but I come here regularly and enjoy it, and I honestly can't get past a paragraph of any blog post Wendig has ever written and am not sure what the attraction is. Entertainer? I guess. He seems popular enough. But not my cup of tea.

But I did jump over to the comments to see his sarcastic dismissal of you and Hugh. The whole "you seem to want me to believe you so I will" response was particularly grating and not particularly attractive.

I stopped reading then.

Veronica - Eloheim said...

I'm sitting here with tears running down my cheeks reading Hugh's comments.

I read those after shaking my head at Joe's patience with trying to make sense of the post he was fisking. I think I would have given up.

I love the Joe / Hugh combination.

I'm so grateful that they are out there advocating for ME even though we haven't ever met.

Veronica - Eloheim said...

Maybe I shouldn't type while crying.

To be more clear.

Joe, I think I would have given up trying to make sense of that post and I'm impressed that you stuck with it until the end.

Thank you for doing what you do.

P. S. Power said...

One of the greatest "gifts" of the internet age is the very common delusion that our words here mean something. That, as individuals and groups, we can have real impact on the world by doing nothing more than typing away for hours at a time.

We have good evidence that petitions do very little in the modern world. On any side. We also have good evidence that opinion has weight only when backed with money.

That's why boycotts were invented.

The reason they don't work in the modern age is that most people that claim to be honoring them don't follow through with their dollars.

So, if you want to really support Amazon, and really influence things, don't just sign a petition, go and do something with your hard earned cash that makes a difference. Buy Indie, and make a point of letting people know in the reviews that you do and that they should too.

Suggest to friends, family and loved ones that they back up their thoughts and beliefs and tell others too.

Yes, then the largest group wins, but trust me, they will in the end anyway.

*The point of all of this? Buy Indie. Get books like mine and the other great authors here, make sure their good and tell people about it.

:)

**I bet you all thought I was just being a curmudgeon, didn't you? Well, in part, but the rest of me see this as hopeful. We can see something that James Paterson et-all cannot.

By promoting Indies vigorously, and those that make it possible for them to put out good, and even better than the big named Legacy style works, we can eventually change the world in a small but real way.

A petition isn't enough. Back it up by purchasing books like mine and the other indie authors here.
That's were you become really powerful.

Judith said...

"A petition isn't enough." Your point is well-taken and, okay, today I will purchase an indie book. I would only reply that, as Joe & Hugh pointed out, the tsunami of PR has been anti-Amazon, as in inaccurate, frothing at the mouth derangement. A petition is doing something when it gives accurate information which some (few) people will use to make a judgment.

Anonymous said...

I tried reading Wendig's blog a few times but found his material worthless. But the worst part is how funny he obviously thinks he is. He isn't. Even when he tries to disguise his lack of insight with super-creative curse words. I'm kind of disappointed you wasted your time on him, but at least you exposed his blog as, well, like Wendig would say, a "fuck-tastic crap-sicle."

evilphilip said...

Wendig has tied himself to Angry Robot, a UK publisher best known for terrible covers and low ($10k) advances.

He is all-in with a publisher with extremely limited distribution. You may never see one of his books on the shelf here in the USA (I never have) and that makes it difficult or impossible for him to earn out his advances.

The books he wrote for Angry Robot are now tied up with them... forever.

You can see where that would make him more than a little bitter at Amazon (where he gets no more shelf space than any other author) and indie publishing in general.

He is someone who was writing books about being a writer... before he ever wrote his first novel.

Those who can't do... teach.

Judith said...

Interesting background info, Evil Philip.

"You can see where that would make him more than a little bitter at Amazon..." Actually, it makes me see, again, how much more healthy Konrath's attitude is - figure out what's not working, try something else, find something that works. You can spend your life embittered or you can choose to admit a mistake. I mean, after all, it's just a mistake. We all make them.

Anonymous said...

Chuck Wendig's responses to Hugh Howey are supremely assholic. And I used to like this guy, too. I don't even care what he says about Amazon or his dislike of the petition. All of that is personal opinion, but man, those responses to Hugh...

Joe Konrath said...

Chuck Wendig's responses to Hugh Howey are supremely assholic.

I don't have a problem with assholes. But the assholes need to engage on the points to back up their sarcasm.

When you can't make a point, can't prove a point, can't back up a point, can't counter a point, and you're still a dick, you've lost me.

Of course, there are also guys like Hugh who make great points and never act like assholes or dicks. Eisler can be acerbic, but he's measured and often much more polite than his detractors.

Me? I'm a dick. But I prove my damn points.

Joe Konrath said...

He is someone who was writing books about being a writer... before he ever wrote his first novel.

Ouch.

I always wanted to take a shot at teaching writing. But I didn't get a gig doing that until I'd actually sold something. It would have been disingenuous otherwise.

But maybe I'm just envious because I don't have a contract with Angry Robot.

Zing! See? I'm a dick.

Anonymous said...

That you spent your holiday ranting about another person's opinion says a lot about your mental state.

I miss the old Joe. Not the new Joe who has become the Glenn Beck of the publishing industry.

Veronica - Eloheim said...

Hugh said: Some of the good things that have happened for thousands of authors are completely because of my being an agitating prick to CEOs of corporations who were offering me a lot of merchandising power, and I told them to screw off and make changes that affected authors.

I'm trying to imagine what that would look like. Hugh always seems so nice. What does it look like when a nice guy goes all agitating prick?

Kyra Halland said...

I used to like Chuck Wendig. I still love his writing advice; even after 25 years of writing, I find it fresh, helpful, and inspiring. But when he started blogging more about publishing, I had to unsubscribe. Yeah, he says he also self-publishes - he says it in that way like people say, "Some of my best friends are [insert target group of your choice]." He got the brass ring with a trad publisher (Angry Robot, the bestest publisher in the whole WORLD!!!!!11!!!1! - who just dropped two of their imprints, leaving authors and series in the lurch) and he thinks that everyone can do the same thing and should want to do the same thing, and he refuses to understand that they might have perfectly good reasons for not doing and wanting it.

I signed Joe and Hugh's letter. I was proud to sign it, and share the link. I'm proud to be an indie author - I'm proud that I got up the courage (thanks to Joe and Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch and The Passive Voice) to follow my dream and put my books out there without waiting around for someone else's permission or validation.

I love Joe's blog (except for when he rags on religion, but I just choose to ignore that part) and I'm glad he's willing to speak up to the stupid and self-serving and tell it like it is.

Joe Konrath said...

I miss the old Joe. Not the new Joe who has become the Glenn Beck of the publishing industry.

Yeah, me and Glenn Beck. Two peas in a pod.

I miss people who have the balls to sign their names when they disagree with me. I respect people who do.

Anonymous cowards who snipe me? Not so much.

But it sure felt good to post that, didn't it? You sure showed me.

Michele said...

Isn't the right to self-publish and make a name and living for yourself the epitome of the American dream?

I am not an author. However, I am a reader and readers are who all authors, no matter where they come from, are supposed to reach out to.

The publishing houses and authors who are already rich enough to not have anything to complain about are alienating the very people they're supposed to be reaching out to.

So I proudly signed Hugh and Joe's petition and will continue giving my money to those indie authors who deserve it. Without self-publishing and Amazon, I never would have come across some of my favorite authors and no matter what, I will support them.

Josef Black said...

This argument is kind of like arguing who is better, a pimp (Hachette) or a Brothel (Amazon).

One is using coercion and abuse and taking the majority of its prostitutes cut, the other takes a lesser cut for offering free parking and a bar but throws you out on the street if you wear the wrong colour lingerie.

The difference is the brothel lets you leave any time you want (unless you were sex trafficked into select) and ply your trade elsewhere. It even lets you hand out business cards to your clients and take the brothels clients with you. The pimp mostly threatens to slash your throat and dump you in a canal if you try and leave. The brothel is challenging the pimp with relatively self working conditions and a lower house fee, the pimps response is to send round the thugs, intimidate the clients and smash a few windows.

What we should really be doing is getting our own apartments in upscale districts, or hanging about by the 99c docks hoping we don't get murdered by a 1 star drive by, but if you're going to prostitute your literary talents, a psychotic irrational anglo-saxon pimp with muscle is probably not the best place to start, unless you are a 60 client a day novel factory and your pimps favourite bitch.

I'll stick with the brothel, at least they empty the bins and do the laundry, even if i have to still wash my own sheets and do my own hair and nails.

Anonymous said...

That you spent your holiday ranting about another person's opinion says a lot about your mental state.

I miss the old Joe. Not the new Joe who has become the Glenn Beck of the publishing industry.


Glenn Beck is void of facts or misrepresents them. Other than that he appears disingenuous, and preys on people's fears and ignorance. I see no correlation with this blog.

As far as telling someone that their actions say a lot about what they're thinking... yes, I would hope so.

Jim Self said...

Wait, wait, there's a point that's still confusing me:

Chuck: "that accomplishes absolutely nothing except blowing a blush of hot, fragrant breath toward Amazon and away from authors and readers."

Me: What exactly is a "blush" of breath? Is that one of those things where literary types throw in a word that doesn't match to make the sentence sound super culturally well-endowed? Or is he still on the subject of self-pleasure, and that's what he's doing here with self-indulgent writing? Explanations would be appreciated. :D

From what I remember, Chuck started his blog anonymously so that he could rant about publishing using whatever kind of language he wanted without facing any blowback. Seems like it hasn't evolved much beyond that.

Anonymous said...

"Those who can't do... teach."

Oh snap!

Rob Gregory Browne said...

I think I'm in love with Michele.

Anonymous said...

Much like the authors in the Preston petition, Chuck Wendig is no doubt blaming the wrong party (Amazon) for his own lackluster ebook sales.

He's also the guy who once blogged that *he* should be allowed to self-publish because he's already been vetted by a "real" publisher, whereas most indies are only harming his sales with their "Tsunami of Crap." His suggestion? Unvetted indies should "police" each other and discourage each other from releasing "crap."

No self-serving agenda there, right?

Maybe Wendig should take a harder look at how smart his deal with Angry Robot was. Or maybe he already has and it's making him insecure and defensive.

Because Amazon review counts are a pretty good proxy for overall Amazon sales, once you get past the first publisher-solicited ones (Roughly one review per 100-150 sales seems to be the norm.) And based on Wendig's review counts (as well as the current 50K-100K rankings of his books) it's pretty clear he isn't selling real well on Amazon. Even despite being featured in a February Daily Deal.

In fact, his best-selling Miriam Black books have managed to accumulate fewer Amazon reviews in two years than *my* similar-genre self-published ones have in less than seven months. Despite being priced roughly the same.

Guess his traditional publisher's vaunted "marketing" ain't having much of an impact in the largest bookstore in the world.

Bitter, much?

Jennifer Oberth said...

The petition isn't pro-Amazon, Amazon adoration or fawning over Amazon, as Wendig has claimed. The petition stated what was going on with the Amazon/Hachette dispute. If some people took it as pro-Amazon, maybe it's because Amazon looks pretty good compared to what Hachette is doing, or even Amazon looks good in general, with what it's currently doing. The fact that some people see it as pro-Amazon says a lot about what their subconscious minds are telling them.

Indiana Jim said...

I went over and read the post of October 2011. Your first post was imminently gracious and respectful, and you want to talk about smug? Chuck was smug! Ack indeed! It's like those people that blame you for doing something while they themselves do the same thing. What's that called? Oh yeah, hypocricy!

Dude just WON'T engage! He's so passive-aggressive it makes me think his beard is compensation for something. Everything he says is some dismissive one-liner while you're sitting there with reason and common sense and all he can say is crap like, "Next time, you might wanna hire an editor for all future petitions and fiskings."

Who's the dick again?

Indiana Jim said...

If you will permit me a religious analogy?

Jesus said, "They will know you are my disciples by your love for one another." And everybody's like "can't we all just get along?" And people are insinuating you're a bully, and a dick to people, and that's just dumb. This blog has an aggressive rhetorical style, but it's not like you're indiscriminately hurling insults.

Thing is, this is BUSINESS, not RELIGION. I'm not looking to become someone's disciple. I don't care how much "love" you have for me. I don't care how much agents say they want to "nurture" me and "cultivate" my career.

If Dean Wesley Smith taught me one thing--and you as well, Joe--it's this: THE MATH DOESN'T WORK! It doesn't work for agents, it doesn't work for legacy publishers, it flat doesn't work. Someone has to show me numbers. Show me, from a numbers standpoint, how traditional publishing stacks up against self-publishing in this new day and age.

What I don't get, is that the people using MATH for their argument are being decried by the ones who seem to display a religious attachment to traditional publishers. And rather than counter the math--which they can't--they attack and criticize and decry the opposing argument. Then they accuse YOU of being a dick!

WHHHYYYYYYYYYYYYY?????!!!!!!!

The end.

Anonymous said...

Joe said: "I'm curious if that's true. But if it is, guess what? The wholesale model that existed prior to the agency model was publishers selling ebooks to Amazon for 50% of the hardcover price.

Paperback books are regularly sold to retailers by publishers at 50% off. Why shouldn't ebooks?"

No reason they shouldn't, but there's a big difference between 50% of $7.99 and 50% of $3.99, which I suspect is what Hatchette and other publishers fear.

If Amazon discounts ebooks it effectively lowers the average price of ebooks and makes it harder to sell them at a higher price.

Now, as a consumer I am all for cheaper prices. If I were a publisher I'd be very afraid of that kind of trend. So if Amazon was saying we want a bigger bite of each sale AND are going to continue to discount your titles and use that bigger bite to allow us to make steeper discounts, I'd be worried.

I would also think that anyone taking the long view would be worried about setting up a new overlord, so to speak. "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss."

There may be 100 places to sell ebooks on the internet but if Amazon is the place where you make 90% of your sales, there really is only one place to sell. And the corporation that controls that one place holds all the cards. That's the fear, even if Amazon has been a benevolent overlord so far.

Cathy Keaton said...

Chuck really has that whole ironic hipster thing down, doesn't he? What a clever cad he is. -_-

Alan Spade said...
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Alan Spade said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alan Spade said...

Methinks Josef Blake should post his comment about a pimp (Hachette) or a Brothel (Amazon) on Chuck's blog.

There's no way Chuck Wendig could refute his comment as too apologetic for Amazon. :)

(By the way, he would probably ignore it. He refused to engage with Joe's comments.)

evilphilip said...

One of the big sticking points with the Amazon/Hachette dispute is that Amazon wants the right to use print-on-demand when the publisher can't supply books fast enough.

I'm sure they are remembering what happened when word leaked out that JK Rowling had a book out under a pen name.

They burned through every copy they had on hand in a few hours.

If Amazon gets their way, eBooks will stay at $9.99 and when they run out of a physical book they can just print more and ship them the same day. Sticking to their whole "Prime" free 2-Day shipping thing.

Hachette correctly sees that once Amazon starts printing books for them, that they really don't have much of a place any more in the overall scheme of things. Hachette becomes only the people who find & edit books. Amazon does everything else.

The writing is on the wall with that arrangement. It's really no wonder that Hachette doesn't want to go along with it.

evilphilip said...

"Chuck really has that whole ironic hipster thing down, doesn't he? What a clever cad he is. -_-"

He is someone who thinks that he is smart and funny and clever and really he is none of those things. He's some guy who blogs and writes books that don't sell.

If he wasn't good at sucking up to much more successful authors, we wouldn't even know his name.

Anonymous said...

I'm usually not a fan of Scalzi, but in this case, his aphorism "The failure mode of clever is Asshole"
fits Wendig very well...

w.adam mandelbaum said...

Wendig? Is that an Algonquin name that perhaps was shortened at Ellis Island?

Liz Borino said...

Joe, is this true? "If Amazon gets their way, eBooks will stay at $9.99 and when they run out of a physical book they can just print more and ship them the same day. Sticking to their whole "Prime" free 2-Day shipping thing."

Joe Konrath said...

Joe, is this true?

I haven't seen the source of it, and haven't heard anything through the grapevine.

Woelf2.0 said...

"So I proudly signed Hugh and Joe's petition and will continue giving my money to those indie authors who deserve it. Without self-publishing and Amazon, I never would have come across some of my favorite authors and no matter what, I will support them."

And we thank you from the bottom of our glorious little hearts. You are awesome.

evilphilip said...

It's true.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jun/25/new-amazon-terms-book-industry-report-concessions

Dan DeWitt said...

Early on in the comments here, someone chided Joe for bring a dick to Chuck Wendig.

Read that sentence again.

Dan DeWitt said...

"... being a dick ..."

As far as I know, Joe brought no dicks to Chuck.

Drew Boatman said...

Wendig is nothing but a clown. He blathers all over the internets and then Joe engages him, holds him accountable for his nonsensical babbling, and Wendig runs off with his tail between his legs. Hilarious.

Andante said...

@ w. adam mandelbaum: A "Wendigo" burn! How appropriate.