Dilettantes

So I’ve been cleaning and thinking, two very bad habits of mine, particularly while combined. And what I was thinking, specifically was this: when did the SF/F field become the play ground of Social Justice Warriors? Why and how did they get entry, cache and power as gatekeepers?

Someone in an earlier post blamed Heinlein and Stranger, but he was wrong. Heinlein was doing what he did very well: flowing with the times. Almost everyone with a really long career can and does that. Most people don’t have long careers because they’re creatures of the moment and of one obsession. Hence, for instance, when a great big fad fades, it takes most careers (horror, spy thrillers, for ex.) in that subgenre.

New Wave was already there at least in proto-form when Heinlein wrote Stranger, and hippies already had an interest in science fiction, or at least in science fiction as it pertained to “new consciousness” and creative sexual arrangements. (They were never so much with the colonization of new planets or really interesting civilizations. I spent most of the seventies reading their idea of a colonization novel, in which every person who was interesting or morally upright in the book went mad and died despicable deaths.) (And no, I’m not going to look up the precise chronology, but I know the movement was there before stranger.)

And yep, some of it was an academic movement. Science fiction had acquired enough popularity the professors got interested and decided to redeem it. This meant attempts to make it respectable which in the way that academics interpret the worth of literature involve infusing it with Marxist values. Never mind.

However, even trying to be academic and self important, that movement hadn’t descended to the level of vacuous self-satisfied smugness of the SJWs (who always remind me of a toddler on the potty saying “Mommy, I pooped!)

More importantly though, one must ask why the field was open to this type of invasion and why the destructive people could take over, further weakening the field until it was so weak that what would a few years ago be considered rank amateurs writing and publishing their own stories can have better results than those people in NYC, in lavishly staffed publishing houses.

The answer is: follow the money.

No, seriously. Humans are many things, but one of them is creatures who work for a combination of three things: self-satisfaction, monetary recompense, and social positioning.

Years ago, when I hit a low point in my career and was incredibly burned out, I bought a book on how to combat the burnout. It said the perfect storm of burn out was created by: low remuneration, low status and workload out of one’s control. (The only thing it advised was to change careers, which is something writers don’t do easily or indeed at all. So I threw it away.)

I’ve found over time that their assessment of why people work is true. Also you need a lot of money to compensate for low status, and if you have low income, status will be sought.

Got that?

Now consider that in the golden age of SF – let’s say the 30s to the 50s – authors were paid advances of around 5 to 10 k and that nowadays they are paid advances of around 5 to 10k, or at least that’s the range if you are a midlister. The darlings, of course, can make more, including millions, but that’s rare enough. Most of the fine flowers of SJWdom seem to be making 25 to 50k a book. But then they are expected to write a book no more than once every two years, and often much more. You do the math.

In the thirties, or even in the fifties you could support a family on something between 5 and 20k a year, depending on the size of the family and how lavish your lifestyle.

In the eighties, you might be able to do it on 20k a year (two books for your average midlister) depending on where you lived and how.

In the nineties… well, let me tell you, you probably needed at least 3 of those 10k advance books EVERY YEAR.

After that… Well, there was the year I wrote six books, and I netted way less than that, because some of them had 5k advances, and the others had delayed payment.

I grew up in a village. I smiled a little yesterday when Charlie said that for the woman to “have to work” was shameful even in the early sixties. It was shameful in the village, too, but “work” meant factory work, menial work, or work outside the home 9 to 5.

The truth is, I didn’t know any woman that DIDN’T work, and bring in at least half of the household income. (Mom brought in 90% of it for much of my early childhood.)

It took all of Dan’s finesse and fast talking to convince me it was okay to stay home and write, even when I was making hundreds a year (94 to 98.) The only reason I even considered it was that I had very small kids and I had seen enough daycare raised children not to want that for mine.

I once had an hilarious conversation with mom on the subject of what constituted “suitable work for a lady.” All I really remember was that she thought “buying and selling” was genteel enough but, say, painting walls wasn’t.

Dan and I who knew nothing about the field in recent years assumed (of course) that the superstars were few (they always are in a creative field) but that most people were making a living, at least if they wrote more than a book, wrote well enough to keep being published, etc.

So when I got my first advance for 5K I thought “well, it’s apprentice wages. Once I prove myself.” And indeed, my second book I got 10k. And there it stuck. (Right now, if you count indie, I average 12.5k per book. But with indie I have hope. I’ve heard stories.)

And then… I went to my first convention. All the writers – and most of them were women – fell into two categories: those who had a day job and had no expectation of quitting; and those who were supported by someone else.

I was raised in the village. And also I’m slightly insane. So I tried to write enough to bring in half of what Dan made. (Making what he made was a forlorn hope.) I sort of managed it, though I’ve fallen behind. However, my income is needed and vital (which is why I need to stop getting sick, etc, and get with the program) and so I continued. BUT my job was neither prestigious nor well regarded (well, maybe among you lot 😉 ) nor was I treated like I was making a valuable contribution. All the publishers but Baen treated me as fungible and also as an annoying part of the process of getting THEIR book out. Calls went unanswered. Warnings of the sort of “that cover will give people the wrong impression” went ignored. Even minor things like “do I have a pub date?” was treated as a great imposition. Proposals that had been requested might go unanswered for a year. IN NO OTHER FIELD (except maybe music) ARE SUPPLIERS TREATED THIS WAY.

Yes, I know, midlist, therefore low value. But is it? Midlist used to be the bread and butter of the craft.

Before houses stopped paying enough that writers could consider themselves workers, with a career.

Career means something you do for money; something that builds; something that responds to application and effort; something that allows you intrinsic satisfaction and a degree of respect.

None of these apply to writing.

And so the people it attracts are either people who don’t need the money or those who use writing SF as a way to bolster their real career which is either in academia or in society. I.e. these people can’t get the satisfaction of working for money, so they work to be admired. And the best way to incite the admiration of their circles is to parrot the cause du jour. In the eighties it was feminism, then it was gay rights, and now I’m reliably informed we’re going to trans rights, because it’s a tiny minority and therefore more rarified. I want to drop a marker here and say I totally owned that territory with Ill Met By Moonlight way back in the early oughts.

They can’t work for the money – though given some academic salaries, it’s probably a nice boost – so they work for “attaboys” (or mostly attagirls.)

The incidence of bullsh*t in the field goes up in proportion that writing stops being a real job and starts being a hobby, pursued for either the admiration of the writer’s circle or help in the writer’s real job.

This means pulling ever further (leftward) into “fighting for the underdog” – provided the underdog is one approved of in the goofier parts of the first world, and not, say, women who get their genitals mutilated in the third world.

And there you have it. How the SJWs conquered science fiction and took it down with them. And of course, the fact that they have the Mierdas touch and that everything they touch loses public favor/interest, means that there is less money in SF/F and so less money to pay (always) the writers. Which in turn brings even more dilettanty dilettantes to the table and takes the field further into the carpper.

And so it would have continued, if it weren’t for indie which is giving SF/F a much needed shot in the arm. Of course it means the SJWs will also get more and more shrill in proportion to their lost power.

I predict we’ll reach supersonic whining levels within ten years.

I suggest we kick them while they’re down and make them fight for the awards and prestige they crave. Also, that we point at them and make duck noises.

So, go forth. If you can, sign up for a supporting membership so you can nominate non SJWs for the Hugos. (Think of the poor dears having to wonder if they’ve rigged the process ENOUGH to keep out those low prestige barbarians!)

And if you can’t, keep reading and writing the good stuff.

Keep making money. Money in the field will make it so declasse that it will drive away all the darling dilettantes. Catch them being associated with vile lucre.

Let’s make SF/F popular again. Let’s drive the dilettantes back to their beloved garrets where they can starve in genteel poverty, knowing they’re better than us.

Do it for the children — and the puppies

321 responses to “Dilettantes

  1. John in Philly

    So I can poke a stick in the eye of the Social Justice Warriors and get free stuff for only forty dollars? (Insert short pause while I go to the Sasquan site and register) I’m back! I did it!

    Sarah, thank you for writing.

    John in Philly

  2. Ok, I have a f’rinstance of how writers get screwed…

    I wrote and did art for a major RPG company in the late 90s. They recently sold the property i wrote for to another company, who is ‘reprinting’ (digitally) the old books.

    What do I get? Nada.

    BTW, these digital reprints cost almost as much as the printed books did back in the day… do they seriously think these PDF books are worth $20-$30?

    • And do they seriously think these won’t get pirated?

      There are price points (and tax rates) beyond which piracy and other illegality increases. Why people don’t learn this is the frustrating part.

      • yes, i know, and they are charging almost what they charged for the original printed books, sometimes *more*- with no printing costs, and they are the only ones getting paid for it. I’d even like some of the books that they are ‘reprinting’ but not at those prices.

        • FWIW, You can get used hardcovers of a lot of books, recent and classic, on Amazon. Usually for less than a buck plus $4 shipping. My library is out of control.

      • “There are price points (and tax rates) beyond which piracy and other illegality increases.”

        Which is why the photography studio I work for gave up with the school photos and started offering two digital photo options—the “digital only” one and the “print version” one at a price point that is roughly the cost of two prints. My MiL still doesn’t understand why I buy my kids’ photos that way—I should just “buy a 5×7 and copy it.” SERIOUSLY. She doesn’t get that such behavior is the reason photographers get paid so badly!

        • On that note, people don’t get that if they buy the digital version and get their own prints, they don’t have the same level of quality control. Target isn’t going to reprint your off-color photo when their printer gets wonky.

          • William O. B'Livion

            Yeah, they will.

            BTDT.

            I was trying to figure out a workflow for sending digital pics to the non-digital grandmother, and looked at sending them over the interwebs to her nearest target.

            I printed a photo at 2 different sizes, and they had dramatically different color profiles. Target wasn’t sure *why*, but they were willing to reprint it anyway, and it came out the same (something in their software). Bagged that idea though.

        • I made most of my living a very long time ago as a freelance photographer. A few years back I was riff’d from my 30-year position as a technical writer, and after most of a year of not getting back to work, went back into photography with my own business. Boy, has the market changed.

          It’s not the same, in part because there is so much free (and “free”) material available all over the ‘net. It’s a little annoying to bid on a job, get ready to go on it, and some bright spark on the customer’s side goes “look at all the money we can save by using these pictures I found on the intarwebs”. A good fraction of which is copyrighted material scrubbed of ownership.

      • Their treatment of the folks who produced the original work is also going to increase the pirating rate– especially in a thing like the table-top gaming community.

        Heck, I’m tempted to get the information on who it was and what books and pirate it JUST because that is cruddy. See also, why I can’t stand huff’n’puff.

        • It’s astounding to me that Disney hasn’t caught on yet that their “vault” for animation is a huge inducement to piracy. If a child really wants a particular movie, and it’s not available from the distributor, don’t you think people are going to get it elsewhere? There was a “deal” going around recently that had all the Disney movies for $200. Chinese bootlegs, of course, and of varying quality according to reviews, but so many people looked at the deal unquestioningly because there were movies that they couldn’t get any other way. Disney might want to make their “vault” available so that fewer people are tempted to get illicit copies.

          • I’m sure they’ve gamed it out and figure that the big to-do when they “release from the vault” is worth the cost.

            • The Disney ‘release from the vault’ strategy is over 40 years old, it has worked well for them for decades, and they will continue to use it until it no longer makes them money.
              Disney is (supposedly) also the reason beyond the continually extending copyright terms in US law.

          • And people would be willing to PAY. Heck, I bootlegged most of Leslie Fish’s music that was no longer available; tracked down her publisher at Random Factors and sent them a check back in the 90s.

  3. I’m becoming increasingly convinced that we need to split “Human Wave” and similar off into, to steal from Niven’s “The Return of William Proxmire”, Speculative Fiction, the Literature of the Possible. . .

    • Do we? I remember Harlan Ellison and others of the New Wave throwing fits that they weren’t science fiction writers, they were speculative fiction writers. Is it a good idea to clothe ourselves in the banner of the grey goo people?

    • Nah. We’re SciFi, and we’re going to own it, in all its pulpy glory and big glorious splendor. Besides, if you hit up Random Joe On the Street, If you say “Speculative Fiction” he’s probably going to say “Specula… stock market fiction?”. Say “SciFi” and he’ll say “Oh! Star Wars! Yeah, that was fun.”

      I’m going to leave making separate categories the progressives can invade and ruin to others, and just own the words the world knows again, kicking the SJW’s back to their “more selective” niches.

  4. I don’t know if y’all have noticed, but the local bookstore closed about 20 years ago, and mega chain Border’s went down in flames two years ago. These days there’s ONE place to go to buy a book, and that’s Barnes & Noble in the US, Chapters in Canada.

    Such is Chapter’s power here in the Demented Dominion that CEO Heather Reichman decreed there would be no gun magazines sold in Canada, and she pretty much made it happen. You have to hunt pretty hard to find a news stand copy of Guns & Ammo in Toronto. The only place I know that carries it is the pharmacy in Cayuga, teeny one-cow town beside the Grand River.

    And THAT is why you’re only getting $5k per book. Because they’re barely moving any books. Also tax issues with inventory in the USA, but that’s minor compared with the sales issue.

    It has become unfashionable to read. That’s your bottom line. Everybody is sitting on the train playing Flappy Bird on their phone instead of reading a trashy novel by a mid-list writer.

    Oddly, I think this bodes well for Indie. The big publishers are dinosaurs, they move slowly if at all. E-books are so new, they’re ignoring the whole issue. Good writers can find that sweet spot in the price vs. length vs. subject matter continuum a lot easier and faster without the dinosaur sitting on them.

    This makes things like the Hugo Awards more important. Awards started being the kiss of death for book sales a while ago, because they were invariably awarded to the darkest, vilest, most impenetrable prose ever churned out by a hundred SJW monkeys banging on a hundred word processors.

    We can fix that. We nominate stories that are good SF/ F, that are fun, the Hugos will once again become the acme of quality that they were intended to be.

    That this will be accomplished by leaving my boot print on the asses of SJWs is a nice bonus.

    • I dunno, when I’m sitting in the cleanroom in front of an archaic windows 95 computer without internet waiting for a 5 hour scan to finish, I pretty much need my kindle application/e-books to stay sane. Chess/tetris/whatever else you can get on a phone these days couldn’t possibly hold my interest that long. Also, the screens on phones are too tiny for diagrams, so there goes the idea of getting other useful work done at the same time.

      • William O. B'Livion

        Check Craigslist, you should be able to find a better computer under “Free”.

        • The Other Sean

          I suspect the MadRocketSci’s computer can’t be upgraded because it is dedicated to the scan system mentioned earlier in his sentence. A lot of the computers that control medical, scientific, and manufacturing systems can’t be upgraded because the systems they control hasn’t had updated software created, or is locked to the specific computer that came with the system. Often such system goes for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, and still function well, but are tied to an ancient computer that can’t be replaced, or will void any support contract if replaced, or such.

          • Like an NT 4.0 system sitting in a closet still using IPX/SPX to run some PLC’s.

          • It’s this. It’s attached to a contact profilometer, and of the profilometers available, it is the only one I can even get data off of. This one has a primordial CD burner, those only have 5″ floppies. You can get to it and other archaic computer hardware by suiting up for extended deep sea diving ‘cleaning’ the cleanroom. 😛

            I think the issue is that, back before Windows XP, you used to be able to address any memory on the computer. Thus, you could talk to the hardware just by setting a pointer and dereferencing it. (Boy did it make for fun pointer-walk errors when programming. 😛 ) This made it easy to write drivers for equipment, but none of those mad the transition to the Windows Hardware Application Layer model.

            • RealityObserver

              Yep. NT was, really, the last rock-solid OS that any of the major players ever produced. And you can write drivers without being something approaching programming deity level.

              (And, yes, you could screw it up horribly – but I’m the kind of guy that is much happier with sharp knives, even if it is easier to lop off an appendage or two…)

    • We’re doing fine, thank you. People are reading us on their phone. They’re buying (mostly) from Amazon, but also Kobo and ibooks. And indie bookstores are making a comeback. In the US at least. they’re selling “knowledgeable” and “I actually read and liked this.”

    • Minor Correction, Phantom. In the US you also have a few regional book/media sellers, like Hastings in the central and southern plains. A goodly number of grocery stores and drug stores also sell magazines and “cheap” paperbacks (romance and westerns, thrillers). B&N is the largest surviving national chain, but there are a few more options than in Canada, at least as of this morning.

      • Yes. I’m not sure what their geographic range is, but Joseph Beth Booksellers is near me.I think 2/3 of their SciFi section is Baen.

        • The Other Sean

          Joesph-Beth’s only has 4 stores: Norwood and Cleveland in OH, and Crestview and Lexington in KY.

      • This gets into the problem of distributors. Forty and fifty years ago there were more local selections thanks to distributors, and you could find a general bookstore within an hours ride. Now distributorship has dried up. Where I once could find SF magazines on local racks, I’d have to drive over two hours one way to a book store just on the chance of finding one. Basically, if you’re not into HB best sellers, romance, or books on theology, you can either go online or forget about it.

        From the outside looking in I can speculate as to the demise of the distributors, but a large factor seems to be price, which is, in turn, tied to printing and distribution costs. As prices increased, readership decreased; as readership decreased, product went unsold; as product went unsold, distributorship folded.

        I can say that my reading has substantially increased after getting a Kindle, the main factor being cheap reads. That, and there’s few practical options to pick up works like De Re Militari

    • I could explain why the bookstores died, but no time today. It was the “push” model and the “we hire a sales clerk who was selling shoes last week.” Briefly, what they put on the shelves is what the big houses paid/told them to. No one read the books till they hit the shelf.
      I’m a HARDCORE reader, though these last two years not a two a day (or a month) woman because, sick, but I used to be two a day while working/raising kids. Increasingly, I found I went to the the chains and found NOTHING I could even marginally read. And I read all genres plus non fiction.
      Ten years ago, I found all my favorite midlisters were still on Amazon, just not on the shelves. I think I went to b & n 5 years ago to buy a few diaries to give friends for Christmas.
      Canada will come to the eside too. Be not afraid.

      • I understand what being a hardcore reader is. I am one, too. My dirty little secret is I could not afford my habit – even with all the books I get from the public library – except for all the free books I get through reviewing books. I’d go broke if I had to buy everything I read (although I still buy a lot) and the local bookstore generally does not carry a lot of the books I want to read.

        I think I average getting three review books a week. (and *read* them all). I write about 80 reviews per year. (No I do not review every book I get. Only the best, which includes SF by several of the contributors to this site.)

      • My house is completely full of books. I went so far as to design a bookshelf for paperbacks that makes maximum use of a sheet of plywood, because I made so many bookshelves over the years. I am -mightily- offended by the state of the modern bookstore, particularly the hard science and SF/F sections.

        Lately I drive an hour and a half to Toronto (which has worse traffic than NYC and crazier drivers than anyplace I’ve been in the USA, including Phoenix, Minneapolis, Boston, San Francisco or LA) just so I can go to Bakka Phoenix. Shameless plug, Bakka still lives on as Bakka Phoenix, and its at 84 Harbord St. downtown.

        Problem, I -hate- Amazon. I want to go to a place and pick up an actual book and look at it before I pay money. I want to take it home right then, not wait days or weeks for delivery. I want to chose from a selection made by someone who has a freakin’ clue about the genre, not the complete listing of every book published by every company that gave Amazon a Special Deal.

        I also -hate- e-readers. I’m a mean crusty inflexible old Canadian, I read BOOKS not a freakin’ iPad. I want something to put on my specially designed shelves, not a bucket of bits that’s invisible and contained within a glorified cigaret pack.

        However.

        If I have to go to Amazon and the e-reader to escape these mincing SJW perverts with their personal plumbing fixations and their IDIOTIC story lines, I will do it. If I never have to read another Gael Baudino urban fantasy with gender-bent elves or another Charles Stross atheist rage fit, it will be too soon.

        Here endeth the diatribe.

        • If Detroit is in your ambit, the mighty downtown used book warehouse of King Books is still going strong. (And it’s in a safe neighborhood.)

          • Aye. And there’s another location in Ferndale right off Woodward that’s easier for us suburbanites and right around the corner from ANOTHER, unaffiliated, bookstore.

        • William O. B'Livion

          I love my kindle. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

          I don’t like the Android/iPad nearly as much as the Kindle, but in the last 6 years I’ve lived on three different continents and 3 different states, and our next move (trying for the 4th continent) I’ll be getting rid of the vast majority of my non-hardback books. Basically anything I can find on the kindle will get “wishlisted” and given to a used bookstore.

          It’s the words and the ideas, not the paper and the binding.

          • Yep. I’ve been shedding my books. I have a bad dust allergy, so the less clutter int he house, the better

            • I am doing that too (dust is a problem for me as well). I do have some books that I am keeping. Two small bookcases instead of an entire room of books… The rest are on ereaders.

            • Have you considered barrister bookcases? The glass/plexiglass doors that slide up and over the books keeps off them.

              I like how ebooks take up no extra space, and space for new books is becoming a premium. Now if I could get my wife and kids to prefer ebooks . . .

      • We have a local indie bookstore that stays afloat actually serving up what their customers want. For many hardcover books I order through them, because I want them to stay in business.

        Print books still dominate the overall market and that’s going to continue, fiction is where ebooks are having the biggest impact. The textbook racket is where I would expect the next major push into ebooks.

      • I pretty much quit buying my books at B&N 5 or 6 years ago for the same reason. I could still buy the books I was interested in from Amazon or order online from B&N but on the shelves? Nothing I was interested in. About that time I switched to my ipad for buying books simply because I didn’t have space for more physical books.

    • If anyone is actually going to Sasquan, Spokane has a lovely new & used bookstore a couple of blocks away from the convention center. Auntie’s Bookstore. *happy sigh*

    • They are not playing flappy birds instead of reading; they play because they do not read.
      Now, being able to read, but still being lazy, I assume once my newly minted membership in WSFS arrives with my voting PIN number, and I guess after March 10, is when I actually ‘vote’ for an author. Likewise, can I also assume that some High-Energy-Hun will actually go out/already has nominated decent authors?
      I believe indie publishing is the only thing to save good SF and fantasy. I already have read 54 books on my new Kindle Voyager, not counting my prior purchases on my old Kindle PaperWhite. I got the Voyager mid-November.
      As I understand it, (and please correct if I am wrong) not only do I get a price break on indie books, but the author gets a lot more money than from royalties from the publishing houses. Fifty is probably two or three years worth of paper books for me, not because of the costs, but because I could not find any authors decent to read (Baen excepted). My only complaint with indie authors is that they don’t write fast enough .

      • How do you like the voyager? I like my Fire, but I find the glossy screen actually a deterrent after all week working on computers.

        • The voyager is the best I’ve found for ebooks. I started with the kindle app on a 10″ tablet, and it was easy to read, heavy and usually attached to the power cord.
          The paperwhite suffered somewhat from the resolution. I noticed with the voyager I can easily read one or two font sizes smaller. The page control is easier, it still has a tendency to think that any press is page ahead, but it is easier to back-up or use the menus than the paperwhite or tablet app. I don’t use the foreward/back buttons along the edge, because I mostly read in landscape mode.
          Small, light, battery life of days/weeks instead of hours. And it has a semi-matte screen, still some indication of lights, but not sharp laser beams to the eyes.

    • William O. B'Livion

      Such is Chapter’s power here in the Demented Dominion that CEO Heather Reichman decreed there would be no gun magazines sold in Canada,

      Ah, Irony.

    • I don’t know if y’all have noticed, but the local bookstore closed about 20 years ago, and mega chain Border’s went down in flames two years ago. These days there’s ONE place to go to buy a book, and that’s Barnes & Noble in the US, Chapters in Canada.

      ?

      News to me– we’ve got some local bookstores that are half coffee shop, and while it’s been a year or two there’s a really good Hastings down the road from my mom’s doctor in Wenatchee– tiny coffee shop, tiny movie shop, bunch of books, decent scifi/fantasy section, bunch of impulse buy stuff for geeks and kids, does midnight releases for any group big enough to show up and buy stuff, be it WoW gamers or some other fandom.

      Walmart has a decent book section, and there’s a ton of discount books/Half Price Books (and copy-cats) in the only towns I’ve had time to wander around browsing in.

      Still buy most of my books by Amazon, but that’s because it’s where I have time to browse.

      ************
      You’re right about how a lot of the books both suck and blow– that’s why the used/discount stores do such good business. I’ll get a book for 75% off that I’d never touch otherwise. (all the stuff I got was either history, cooking or fairy tale, but even those can be mangled) Just focused on the wrong spot.

      • The only bookstores I know of in town are the locals, offering mostly used books, and the religious. The big chain bookstore (which was more of a medium-ish chain bookstore) apparently didn’t compete well with the big chain everything stores and Amazon. Pity: I spent a pretty high percentage of my teen earnings there.

    • Everybody is sitting on the train playing Flappy Bird on their phone instead of reading a trashy novel by a mid-list writer.

      Careful of assumptions. I’ve had several different people assume I was playing games when I was actually reading, and I sometimes play simple puzzle games when I want to digest what I read. It’s an alternative to pacing, which tends to annoy people.

  5. the 50s had another factor, namely that your backlist stayed in print forever. So there was a royalties stream.

    • Blame the IRS. And then blame the gargantuan growth of government which makes squeezing every dime out of the chumps (I mean taxpayers. No I don’t) necessary.

  6. I’m afraid it’s not just the hobbyists who’re pushing SFF leftward. It’s the pros who’re the primary pushers. After all, they’re only mouthing the regime’s official ideology, and as we saw in the days of the Soviet Union, it pays to serve the State, and there are punishments for those who dissent.

    A number of writing websites are discussing John Scalzi’s pronouncement about his income, readership, and web traffic. He knows what to kiss and when, and it’s paid off for him.

    As they used to say, it pays to serve the king.

    • Sigh. Yes, but that’s because the push model could make or break you. And I’d be very suspicious of any numbers the regime releases.

    • Too bad he doesn’t write anything worthwhile anymore. Sleep with dogs, get up with fleas.

      • More like a full-blown brain-eating infection than just a minor pest infestation.

        • My problem with Scalzi’s harassment tweet, is that especially after ‘GamerGate’, some of these women need/deserved to be harassed. Not because they are women, but because their positions and claims are ridiculous and lies. Not the name calling and death threat harassment, but these people seem to think making a statement like “You are wrong, there have been lots of women authors is SF” is an actual harassment. Or a statement like; “There aren’t really that many transgendered people out there buying books, certainly they can still be the protagonist, but their character/actions have to relate back to the way non-transgendered people think and act.” (I wanted to say the way normal people think, but I’m sure that is ‘over the top’ harassment.)

          • “I wanted to say the way normal people think, but I’m sure that is ‘over the top’ harassment.”

            You should have said “normal people”, because transgendered people ARE NOT NORMAL. I realize that this is a Awesome Auditorium of Awds here, folks who generally have a contentious relationship with “Normal”, but never should one ACCEPT the notion that being normal (or not) is good OR bad. Stating the truth, i.e. that transgendered people are not normal, is NOT harassment. In fact, I would propose that one thing decent folks should do is refuse to bow to dual standards of language, or soft peddle/obscure simple facts. Huns certainly shouldn’t do so merely to avoid inflaming the hyper-hemorroids of the SJWs.

  7. An informative post, and a strong argument, indeed, to support Sad Puppies.

    The attitude to “belong” is certainly common enough, but I’ve never really understood it. In high school, I had a friend who jumped through all sorts of hoops to be accepted by the “right” people, even though those “right” people were playing him for their own amusement. Why seek the applause of those who hold you and what you hold dear in contempt? And if it’s a purse string issue, at what price does one live a lie? I simply don’t grok it.

    The irony is that the SJW bunch think they’re being courageous by parroting the talking points of the “in crowd.” Not a one of them would do something really shocking and go against the “correct” opinion.

    • “And an even worse example, I think, than the cheapening of the word CHARITY is the new newspaper cheapening of the word COURAGE.

      “Any man living in complete luxury and security who chooses to write a play or a novel which causes a flutter and exchange of compliments in Chelsea and Chiswick and a faint thrill in Streatham and Surbiton, is described as ‘daring,’ though nobody on earth knows what danger it is that he dares. I speak, of course, of terrestrial dangers; or the only sort of dangers he believes in. To be extravagantly flattered by everybody he considers enlightened, and rather feebly rebuked by everybody he considers dated and dead, does not seem so appalling a peril that a man should be stared at as a heroic warrior and militant martyr because he has had the strength to endure it.” — G.K. Chesterton, The Thing

      • Well, it’s daring in one way: it usually doesn’t sell much. 🙂

      • I have, in day-to-day work, found myself in situations where a mistake meant death, Yet that is easier than when I put my job on the line to say “This is wrong.” Which, then, took the most courage?

        • What does that have to do with the writers who will receive plaudits and a midlist position at the very least?

          • With that? Nothing. It has to do with a willingness to buck “the system” when the outcome may be economic rather than physical.

        • Different types of courage: physical vs. moral. Physical courage is not, generally, something that you have to train for in people in your line of work. Moral courage is a whole different animal. How many men will get up and charge a machine gun nest when ordered to? How many men have the moral courage to order others to do so?

          To put it another way, when you put your life on the line, you are only gambling with your life. When you stand up and say, “This is wrong.” Then, then you are putting your honor, your self-respect, your standing in the eyes of your peers, your job, your future, and the welfare of your family on the line.

    • The blunt fact is, of course, that they go in for shocking an imaginary little old lady in Albuquerque who lives in Victorian times.

      • If she’s related to the little old lady I know in Albuquerque who sort of looks as if she lives in Victorian times, boy are they in for a surprise!

      • Especially when it’s about sex, seems that every generation prefers to think their parents, aunts and uncles, and perhaps especially grandparents don’t (or just barely enough to produce offspring, and then it was probably some variety of ‘close your eyes and think of… well, your country…). And older generations did think, more than younger ones, that their sex life was private, no need to let everybody and their cousin and your taxi driver and library staff (okay, maybe the librarians) to know everything too.

        Maybe the ones who are now just growing up will be more private again. I think I’m occasionally observing some signs of somewhat hidden disgust by some representatives when faced with all the stuff their elders think is quite suitable to talk about in public.

  8. Time to go buy some Baen books. I think a Torgersen and a Kratman will make me feel better. A new Hoyt (hint, hint) would be nice.

    • It truly is being finished.

      • *puts bottle of sparkling grape juice in ‘fridge in anticipation*

        • Hope you labeled it. There’s a crowd of ’em in there, it’d be horrible if yours was passed around during the celebration and here you come, all primed for grapes what sparkle only to find — the Brownie from two gates over shaking the dew outta the last bottle.

          Would be sad making.

          • It would be sad making…sad for the Brownie as we discovered whether Brownies make good blunderbuss projectiles!

            • If you put enough Brownies together, do they exhibit Brownian motion?

            • Blunderbuss is the wrong tool.

              A Brit, a German, and an Irishman walk into a bar and each order a beer. When the beers arrive a fly lands in each beer. The Brit pushes his beer away and asks for a new one. The German scowls at the Brit, fishes the fly out, throws it away, and starts drinking. The Irishman pulls out the fly, turns it over and starts shaking it, yelling “Spit it out you wee bastard! Spit it out!”

              • One of my favorite moments in life was realizing that one of the early Christian Fathers really was talking about the popular waterfront taberna game of drowning and reviving flies, as a sign pointing to the Resurrection.

                He must have been a pretty fun teacher.

          • My fridge, not the Lair’s fridge. I know better, after my case of ginger beer “evaporated.” Really? Something vaporized the bottles and contents and yet left the cardboard carton undisturbed and unmarked? Aside from the talon marks on the dividers, I should add. Eagle-sized talon marks, so I know they were not mine.

        • I’m out of sparkling grape juice, but I have a recent vintage late-harvest vignole that will go in the fridge this evening…

  9. “And there you have it. How the SJWs conquered science fiction and took it down with them.”

    Sorry, Sarah, but I do not agree. Not at all. I think SJWs got hold of science fiction by a series of accidents and coincidences.

    We need to remember the context here. The SJWs got their first toe-hold in SF during the 1970s. Whatever we may think now, looking back with hindsight, the 1970s were NOT an especially nice time to be an American. Doubly so if you were an optimistic forward-looking classic-liberal type — the kind of person who has always made up both the primary pool of SF writers and its primary audience. There was the debacle of Vietnam, the death of the space program, the belief that we were indeed poisoning our planet and using up irreplaceable resources at ridiculous rates, the social chaos caused by the civil-rights movement … and to top it all off, the decade ended with the Iran hostage crisis and the election of Ronald Reagan, who seemed — emphasize that, SEEMED — to represent a return to all the bad old ways. (Please don’t bombard me with examples of how these weren’t true. I know many of them weren’t true. I’m talking about perceptions, not realities.)

    Meanwhile, science seemed to be striking down all of SF’s best technology tropes, especially the whole notion of FTL travel. At the same time, the Star Trek phenomenon was credited with helping along a lot of the social change, by having black and female and even alien characters filling important story roles. Under those conditions, writing hard-science SF seemed a dead end, while turning to write socially-aware SF — SF that dealt with human factors like discrimination and the like — offered a chance to make a difference. What a great, glorious dream to follow!

    What they didn’t realize, of course, was that they were diving into a black hole that would eat their prose and their souls in that order. They didn’t know when to stop. They couldn’t tell when their reasoning turned from good to toxic. When people who had previously agreed with the good ideas started fighting the toxic ones, they went slightly bonkers and decided that force-feeding their ideas to the stupid peons (us) would bring change faster. The more they fail to bring about the social change they want, the shriller they get. Presto, today’s SJWs.

    • I think you may be right on that – we seem to be of the same vintage, recalling the same happenings.

      • In addition to that, and I’m too young to have been there, there’s demographics.
        Every single male leftist sort I know who was a young adult in the sixties and seventies, every one of them, was in college getting yet another degree so they wouldn’t get drafted. (They’re all professors now.) Every single male rightist sort I know who was a young adult then was in the military. Now who had the time to write, edit, and submit for publishing? Who had the advantage of simply being there with submissions to break into the field?
        I think this also feeds into the leftism of tenured university professors, now that I’m thinking about the subject. They were the guys who were there, qualified to get the jobs, while the other guys were over there, and when they came back had to get the PhD before they could compete for positions, and ended up competing against the next generation of potential professors. Not such a big deal in sectors without tenure or similar guarantees against getting replaced.
        (Women made the career/children choice in that era, and we all know which side likes career best and which likes children best.)

        And I think I may have just made a case for veterans’ hiring preferences, even though I’m staunchly against any sort of hiring preferences. Drat.

        • There are preferences and preferences. Having preferences based on catering to someone’s idea of “social justice” for the “underprivileged” is a method of failure. Having preferences based on someone’s association with a group known to turn out a far higher-than-average percentage of people with good work ethic simply makes sense.

          • Careful there, next you will be espousing the distinction between a ‘Citizen’ and a ‘Civilian’, and like Heinlein, the SJWs will be calling you Fascist. (However, this would not be considered harassment by Scalzi, because the word is very flexible dependent on who is doing the harassing.)

          • There’s a difference between preferring someone based on their qualifications on their resume and giving preference points to people based on whatever group they belong to. I’ve seen a person hired for a programing job because he was a non-white disabled veteran who had no knowledge of programing while a guy who had a degree and previous work experience programing was passed over because he didn’t have any preference points. That’s a problem.

            • Ah. I should have made it clear that preference points should only be applied to distinguishing between nearly equally qualified applicants.

              A friend of mine had a somewhat similar story, but it was based on the Americans With Disabilities act – a deaf person was hired to be a receptionist. They then had to hire someone ELSE to answer the phone for her. Your government at work (It was an IRS office).

              • When I lost my job, realized I wanted to move back to NYC from Chicago, and was looking for contract work, I lucked out into a contract that lasted *exactly* the remaining length of my lease. It was to modify a website to allow people with disabilities (mostly blindness) order posters for their workplace.

                Mostly it was a harmless waste of time (tweaking the product they were using to turn on alt flags on images and making sure everything had a value set, that sort of thing), but there were places where I was harming normal functionality in order to ensure it worked with disability software enabled.

                The people I was working for were fully aware of how silly this was and didn’t want to waste normal employee time on it. Now that I think back on it, there may also have been a morale component, too. But they were more than willing to take the post office’s money and hire a consultant to make the required changes. And I was more than willing to take their money, research the recommendations and common software, and tweak as needed. Now that I think back on it, the lack of pretense was rather nice.

              • I had an experience about 3 years ago. At the time I was treasurer for a local credit union. We were audited by NCUA (a federal agency) yearly. To give their audit report, they attended a monthly board meeting.
                Our head auditor had an auditor ‘trainee’ with him. The trainee was deaf. He was escorted by two ladies who knew ASL, and during the meeting, they both sit on the other side of the table and signed for him. Your tax dollars at work.

  10. I have been writing books for over a dozen years. I don’t write SF, mainly historical non-fiction.

    My writing income — combining both books and magazine income bounces somewhere around what I would get working a minimum-wage job 30-40 hours per week. I only write weekends and evenings, because I have a day job, so the money I make isn’t bad for a part time job. (I have put two kids through college on my writing income.)

    I could quit the day job and double (or even triple) my income. However, my income from the day job is at least six times what I get from writing. Further, while I am not supply-limited, I suspect I am demand-limited. That is, I can write a lot more than people will pay me to write. Mind, the day job is fun, so it is not like I am being oppressed by keeping it. Writing books is more fun, so if I could make the same living doing that, I would.

    But as Sarah points out, people do not act from purely rational motives. Being a writer confers a surprising amount of prestige. I have rocket-scientist friends (I live near Johnson Space Center) who are far more impressed with the fact I can write than I am. Geeze. These guys are running manned space missions and they are impressed with *me*. Go figure. Plus, writing satisfies the creative bug in me. So I write. And get paid a little, and when I get frustrated my wife reminds me I could be spending as much time golfing, and likely spending as much as I earn writing.

    • Try indie. there is no such thing as writing more than you’d get paid for. No, seriously. Talk to Dorothy and Peter Grant. Or read Dean Wesley Smith.

      • Talk to what now who? *looks around with big eyes*

        Just because we’re doing fairly well at this doesn’t mean we’re really… all that! Does it?

        But yes, I will strongly encourage you, if you have any books out of print right now, get the rights reverted yesterday if not sooner. The publishing contracts have gone from making IP lawyers shudder to outright criminal. And then I can try to put together a list of places to start reading on what to do with your intellectual property instead of leaving it unused and abused.

        • All of my books are still in print, and likely to remain so. Except one textbook a friend and I wrote back in the early 1990s on giving presentations. That would need an extensive rewrite to bring it up to modern standards.

          • There’s a certain small market for how to do stuff without various sorts of technology. You might see if it’d sell as is if making an e-book out of it isn’t too onerous. Probably in the twenty sales a year range, but better than nothing. Call it the curious/eccentric market.

        • I’ve said this in multiple places, multiple times, Trad Publishing is is one the edge of a cliff, and the face is *crumbling.* If you have *any* say in the matter, get your rights back. Harlequin lost the battle to stop depositions in the “failure to pay proper royalties” *class action suit.* When they st that battle, the death knell sounded for Trad publishing. In the hands of a _competent_ lawyer, especially when dealing with _potential fraudulent royalty accounting,” is a license to “go fishing.” A system almost designed to allow fraud, with as Kris Rusch discovered *has never been audited _at any level_,* a blind, bottom 10% lawyer is going to find material to sue over. Trad Publishing is a RICO suit waiting to be filed.
          Once that happens, based on what I’ve seen/heard, “authorial rights” disappear into bankruptcy court, never to be seen again. It’s the “system” that allowed/encouraged SJW’s “taking over.” A small group controls who, what, and *how much* authors get paid. Failure to move publishing out of NYC is the sou8rce of much of the damage. The natural desire to “seem important” drives the problem. They talk to their “closed circle of friends” and no one else. All of the ccof think that NYC is the center of all the world.

    • It’s not quite the same, but when I was cooking burgers and wings in the kitchen at a local nightclub, I had a few professional chefs coming to my window and praising my burgers, so yeah, I kinda know what you mean.

  11. I found a spare turtle. Just gonna leave it here…

  12. I think the biggest reason is that most of the people running the houses today inherited them, they didn’t work for that. I know for one of the big six (which I won’t mention here) the woman who runs it, inherited it. She has of course very liberal views and likes being rich. Unlike her father who founded the business, she forces her views onto the authors and schmoozes with them to make them feel special.

    She however does not PAY them anything more than her father did.
    I think this is pretty much true of almost all of the big six, daughters and wives inherited the businesses (and probably some sons, but I only know of the first two) and they were educated in left wing schools and so they put their own political spin on it. Those trophy wives tend to go very let wing when their wealthy husbands die and suddenly they’re left with millions of dollars and a large company.

    As for making money? The only reason I haven’t quit my day job is that I feel bad for my employer because we’re in a bind right now, but I don’t expect to stay at the day job much longer. I sold 20K copies in the last 4 months of 2014, if I can sell double that in 2015, I don’t need a regular job. Plus I love writing and have always wanted to do it full time, it just wasn’t practicable however until eBooks and indy publishing came of age.

    • Isn’t working the day job so much less stressful when it’s optional? We’re not quite to a level where the indie publishing can support us both comfortably, so I’m trying to juggle the marketing and the Day Job while we pay down debt.

      Congrats on your success, and long live our readers and indie pub!

  13. Were you somehow eavesdropping on the conversation Leo Champion and I had last night in Mountain View? If not it is amazing how synchronicity works.

    Trad pub is a business that is failing badly and flailing around frantically as it goes down for the third time. Indy writers are making a mint, well the good ones are. And by good we’re talking about people who write interesting books and write a bunch of them.

    PS love the “mierdas touch”

    • The response from the major publishers reminds me of the big 3 – ABS, CBS, & NBC – whining that the customers going to other channels created their loss of television dominance.

      …Guys, if you hadn’t gone so far left and so full of mierdas, the consumers wouldn’t have been eagerly jumping to Fox, cable, and netflix.

      Then again, the television companies’ conglomerates own the big pub companies. So a similar lack of vision is hardly unsurprising.

    • Yes, the mierdas touch was a BRILLIANT portmanteau! Brava, Sarah!

  14. “I predict we’ll reach supersonic whining levels within ten years.”
    I think they’ll go ultrasonic before supersonic. Then they’ll go plaid.

    “I suggest we kick them while they’re down…”
    Always, ALWAYS kick them while they’re down. It’ll take them longer to get back up, giving you more time to run away, reload, or grab a bigger stick to beat them with.

  15. I’m not convince that SF HAS gotten less popular. Wait, wait!! STOP LAUGHING!

    I’m convinced that we’re being redefined out of business.

    For reasons far beyond my comprehension, SF sales figures do not include media tie-ins. That’s screwed up like a football bat. Think about it. Is HALO not SF? Star Trek? Star Wars? Seriously? What’s not SF about those? The sales figures.

    Look guys, the sooner we stop excluding people like us just because they’re not enough like us we’ll be better off. Maybe when we stop treating people who enjoy THE MOST POPULAR SEGMENTS OF OUR HOBBY we’ll be able to win a few over. Yes, the leftist message fic is part of the reason we don’t do that. I think it’s a marketing failure as well. Plus you never know. You could end up with a person like me.

    I thought that The Hunger Games and sequels were the work of a rightist author. God, now I’ve been laughed at twice in the same response. Think about it though: Panem is a world where religion has been eradicated, gun control is absolute and all economic activity is controlled by the government. On top of all of that, they shoot the freaking communist at the end. How is that not rightist? (Oops, oh yeah. Evil rich people sponsor the games. Then again, Stalin had five dachas, right?)

    The point is that we can win them over. Am I a marketing guru who can tell you how to bring all those fans in? Well, not exactly. It does occur to me that Baen has recently published Timothy Zahn as part of the new Manticore Ascendant Series and he’s done a TON of work in the Star Wars Expanded Universe at least. Of course, they have him working with David Weber, who co-authors books with John Ringo, Eric Flint, Steve White and Linda Evans. Of course, John Ringo and Eric Flint also work with multiple other authors… And it would be pretty sweet if Baen could work something with Michael Stackpole too.

    You get the idea. As far as what types of stories might interest fans of media tie-ins other than media tie-ins, I dunno. I think it’s worth looking into though. There’s money to be made there, if you we as authors can figure out how.

    • This is one of those “except Baen” things, too: Baen had a publishing track at GenCon. The important thing there wasn’t Baen holding a story award announcement and a publishing track, it was the at GenCon. Exposing at least 56,614 people in the gaming audience to “Hey! More cool stuff just like you like, now in book form! Check out Baen!”

      Brilliant work of Toni’s.

      • They should do that at Origins as well, focusing on military SF.

      • “Except Baen” is something that can be added to just about every sentence about the dying trad pub field.

        Baen probably ought to figure out how to do more general marketing (as in buying banner ads on gaming sites or similar) but it is the one publisher that has a brand (in SF, in all fiction I guess we can add Harlequin to that), the one pub that does experiments (ebooks, webscriptions etc etc) and so on. About the only way that Baen appears to adhere to the trad pub model is in the time it takes to get a book out and to pay its authors, and I believe both of those are driven by the fact that it distributes through S&S and hence is tied to them for that part.

        It would not surprise me if Baen went looking for an alternate distribution channel fairly soon because S&S has to be hurting them. Also by ditching S&S they could publish more titles a month and there’s no doubt in my mind that if they did so they’d get many buyers for the new titles

        • Speaking as someone who vastly prefers treeware, I’m glad that they do have a distributor for that. What alternatives to S&S are you thinking?

          • I’m thinking some variant of PoD

            • I hope that Baen stays with Simon and Schuster. I don’t think PoD would look as professional.

              • POD can’t really do a cost-effective mass market paperback novel; the giant (or not so giant) print runs are needed for those. I think the greatest sticking point is that, by staying with S&S, they appear to have effectively outsourced their distribution logistics. If they ditched S&S, they’d have to have a sales department dedicated to drumming up small orders from indie bookstores and pallets from B&N or Amazon, and shipping them out on time, every time, as well as taking back the returns. (If you’re going to take over the operation, you can’t half-ass it and expect to survive by rolling your inefficiencies back in and coasting on inertia, unlike the huge players.)

                The question then becomes: can their corporate culture handle this? Right now, I think if everything stopped for two weeks in autumn, the authors would all sigh and say “Okay, the entire staff went to DragonCon.” But if they decided to just not accept overseas containers coming in for two weeks, or ship anything… the penalties for that could sink ’em.

                • That’s why they need to stay with S&S. Baen is a small co. they don’t have the resources for distribution logistics.

            • Has the PoD price come down enough for that?

    • The popularity of media tie-ins puzzled me until I read Kris Rusch’s essay on Barbarians in Publishing recently…and then it hit me. Media tie-ins have a built-in immunity to many of the problems with Gray Goo. The book can’t
      -kill off major characters
      -destroy romance lines
      -muck with the general setting/betray core principles/etc. of the original work.
      The reader *can* trust the tie-in to stay true to the source material and give them more of the same. We need to reach out to the media tie-in fans and assure them Human Wave is another port of refuge. If I’m right, there’s a huge audience there.

      • I do believe you’re right! 🙂

      • Well, never say never, seeing as Melissa L. Scott wrote Stargate and Stargate Atlantis tie-ins. (I haven’t ever had the cash to see what they’re like, and I admit to feeling trepidation.) But heck, she’s old-school leftist and lesbian, which doesn’t hardly count to the mean girls of today; and horrors, she actually writes action scenes and interesting stuff.

        (And of course, she’s one of those Eighties female sf writers who I apparently hallucinated, with the weird relationships I also hallucinated. She’s apparently gone indie with some success, despite not existing.)

      • I’m actually not entirely sure if that’s the case. See the books Karen Traviss wrote for Halo. Ugh. Spare me.

    • Zahn is working with Baen now?!

      Be still my silly heart. *glances at book shelf* Ya’ll can poke fun at Star Wars and Halo all you want but uh… just don’t be surprised if I scold you. Seriously, Halo Universe: Forerunner Trilogy is pretty friggin awesome.

      • Yeah. He’s working on the new Manticore Ascendant series with David Weber. And TBH, to say I know crap about HALO would be an insult to a perfectly good source of fertilizer, but I know it’s SF. I just don’t know why it doesn’t count.

        • When I say “doesn’t count” I mean in the sense of being counted for sales.

        • Maybe it has to do with how they organize shelves? I know that the “Star Trek” books were always set away on their own back when I use to go to big book stores– makes sense, since you’re not going by author– while things like the Wheel of Time weren’t. (Stuff like Forgotten Realms was hit or miss– Drizzt books would be by author, less famous ones would be over by the RPG book. OK, sometimes there were at least three, not just one…..)

          • Professor Badness

            The used bookstore I work in has the Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance on a separate. table. It makes it easier for people that like the genre.

      • Warhammer, too; there’s some series that has “Galt” in the name that my husband utterly flips for, that would be a gold mine if the folks who only read those could be pointed at Baen.

        • Gaunt, perhaps? As in Dan Abnett’s Gaunt’s Ghosts? That’s a good one.

          So is Sandy Mitchell’s Ciaiphas Cain series. Indeed, those who aren’t so much in military SF might try it before Ghosts.

    • Well, I’m trying to get some SF novelettes out there. . . will take some time though.

    • As a “Marketing expert” (shows how well I’ve fooled people), most “marketing people are, *at the very best,* incompetent. They’ve been fed academic theories, and no _practical_ experience, so they have no idea how it actually works.

  16. What you need for a healthy publishing industry, is a bunch of normal people who buy and read books. You need regular people who are willing to walk into a store / browse online and buy a book from an unknown writer, just because it sounds cool. Compulsive readers, like myself, are just not enough. (Harry Potter helped with this, reportedly.)

    For this to happen, you need TRUST. Readers need to know that many, if not all, books are actually quality stories, well written, so taking a chance on an unknown author isn’t a big deal.

    Normal people read SF/F to be entertained. Boring, didactic crap bores them. They hate it. It breaks TRUST.

    The more boring, didactic crap on the shelves, the less people are willing to read. Eventually, they realize movies and video games are more rewarding and stop reading altogether.

    The industry should be farming fans, publishing fun and exciting works that draw people into the genre and increase the readership. It’s doing EXACTLY the opposite.

    The consequences of this are left as an exercise for the reader.

    • ” Readers need to know that many, if not all, books are actually quality stories, well written, so taking a chance on an unknown author isn’t a big deal.”

      And pricing your e-book to where it’s as expensive or a little more than the paper copy doesn’t help either.

      I pick up one or two books by unfamiliar authors each month. Almost none of them are from the trads because I’m not going to plunk down 8-10 bucks for some unknown. Fortunately, there’s plenty of indie out there under 4 bucks.

      • For e-books, that is. I don’t buy that much dead tree anymore.

        • The low price entry point for new indie writers in ebooks has led to me discovering lots of new writers to follow. I am a LOT more willing to give someone new a try at the under-$5 price point than I am above that. And if they entertain me and make me feel I got my money’s worth, I pretty much automatically buy their new work as it comes out as long as the price doesn’t creep up TOO far.

          From my POV, if you’ve already got a first work out there and it’s decent, offering it out at free or $0.99 or whatever DOES hook people like me. Getting a first work out on dead tree from the big 5 at $7.99 or $8.99 in pbk or $24.95 in hardcover, not so much.

          • Well, there are expenses. Covers, for instance, probably need at least a good computer program for design. If you buy your own ISBNs, etc.

          • That’s exactly why we’ve priced the first in both Peter’s series at less than a Big Mac – so you can try this strange new author and spend your limited time and attention without feeling like you’re risking a significant chunk of your entertainment budget.

            You’re far from alone, too: I believe that a good chunk of the people on some of the discount promo lists like ebooksoda and Fussy Librarian have signed up just to get a steady stream of random new books passing by for their perusal.

        • The last time I bought a physical book was so I could get it autographed.

          Oh, and a compilation of webcomics not available in eBook. (Order of the Stick.) Other than that, nada. Not for six years, at least.

          • We bought a webcomic compilation because it was so much fun to read through without clicking, and have all 7? years flow by at once. (Digger.) But man, was that sucker heavy! It’s only worth pulling out when I’m sick, miserable, and want to curl up with chicken broth and something that doesn’t resemble a computer screen in any fashion.

            Other than that, we still buy a very few (mostly Baen) authors we love in hardcover.

            • I buy everything I can in hard copy. Look, if the house burns down, the insurance will pay up, I can replace the books.
              But my husband’s a sysadmin. I hear ALL the horror stories. I really don’t trust computers. Like them, yes, but not trust them. There’s no insurance to cover, say, Amazon’s records that I bought e-books getting deleted.

              • Anyone who *does* buy ebooks should archive a personal copy. Even if you buy from Baen: they do lose rights, and not all authors allow them to let customers who’ve already bought copies continue downloading. Then there are all sorts of cloud-based backups which will occur with minimal effort, and storage is cheap to occasionally back things up onto a spare drive (ideally kept at a friend’s house.) Calibre is your friend: just ingest everything into Calibre and set its library as a backup-to-cloud.

                DRM is the problem here, since it locks content to specific devices. You can accept that DRM-locked content is gone if the provider fails to let you keep making copies for fresh hardware, break the DRM (illegal), back up DRM-locked copies and materials needed to break the DRM if the provider goes away (legal afaik until the point where you break the DRM to keep the stuff you bought), or just not purchase DRM-locked content.

                • Whether or not breaking DRM for personal use only is legal (in the U.S.) turns out to be an unresolved legal question. I posess written advice of counsel (from an extremely eminent Intellectual Property lawyer) advising me that it’s perfectly legal so long as the original DRM-polluted source was acquired legitimately and the DRM-free version is never ever used outside my household.* Other, equally-eminent Intellectual Property lawyers disagree.

                  We won’t know the “real truth” until the question is addressed in court and the dust settles after the appeals process completes. Or until the Congress changes the law. Or…

                  *I even paid good money (two bits, in fact!) for this advice. This advice of counsel is probably only useful for establishing lack of nefarious intent in the unlikely event that *I* wind up in court for breaking DRM. And that is really unlikely, given that (a) all my ebooks are either legitimately purchased or were legitimately free to download, and (b) I never share any of them outside my immediate family.

                  As usual, this is not legal advice. Should you need legal advice on which you may rely, pay for your own lawyer!

                • The lack of DRM was a major factor in why all my e-books came from Baen even after the Kindle came out.

            • William O. B'Livion

              …and something that doesn’t resemble a computer screen in any fashion.

              I’m having a bit of trouble with that notion.

            • Digger! Remember Tunnel 17! Boneclaw mother rules!

    • And that cuts to the core issue, doesn’t it? If we, who tend to be voracious readers, don’t trust the traditional publishers and the mega bookstores, why would a casual reader? They read Harry Potter because everyone else did, but when it came time to try something new, they got recommended a bunch of grey goo. And so they never returned, never picked up another book.

      Sites like this, and columns like Book Plug Friday, are starting to fill the gap for hard core readers. But where do I go if I’m not one, I just want something that entertained me like Harry Potter did? And thus did the publishing industry writhe in its misery.

      • Reading is a habit. (Kind of like cocaine.) You WANT people to develop that habit.

        Readers who get out of the habit, may never return.

        • I’ve been out of the habit for years, at least for SF. I’ll still read fantasy, but I find myself reading older stuff. Everything new has been indie or Baen. It’s that trust issue again.

          • Trust. You know what my response to this trust question is? I purchase Baen’s Webscription every month, even if there’s only one book on there I want or don’t already have. EVERY. MONTH. They get my money because even if it’s not a book that I’m interested in, I KNOW that it’ll be a good book.

            • Yep. I’d happily pay in advance and buy a year at a time, but I believe there are legal reasons why Baen doesn’t offer that, something to do with not being able to specify exactly what will be on the list in 12 months I believe

        • I pretty much stopped reading for several years, other than rereading books I had already enjoyed. When I got my Kindle, most of what I was getting was classics.

          It took recommendations from a blogger I respected (Instapundit) to get me to try out newer authors… Ringo and later Hoyt.

      • One thing might be to get into social media sites like Goodreads. I don’t know how popular it is, but it’s a fairly simple way of being public about what you’re reading. (I just checked, and it turns out there is a Goodreads group for the Hoyt crowd. They’ll be reading Thomas Sowell next month!)

      • Well, I figure us hard core readers have a certain duty to plug books we enjoy. I’ve been doing it a little bit on Facebook–putting up links to books I’ve bought and saying why I bought them/liked them. I’ve also been dropping book/author names on forums I’m active in, but a lot of them have a no-link-to-stuff-that-costs policy, so I can’t link. This relies on the trust network, though, so big publishers cannot exploit it for advertising.

    • And that’s why I look for the rocket on the spine. Even if I don’t like a particular Baen book or author (usually due to writing style), I at least know it’ll be a fair attempt at a *fun* book.

  17. Confession: I’m a dillettante, too, since I only turned to full-time writing when I no longer needed an income. Sarah has it right: legacy publishing is now managed and staffed mostly by low-paid people trained in academia, with Lit or MFA degrees, and the programs they went through were staffed and run by 95% progressives. Meanwhile, even when I tried first and had connections back in the late 70s, the funnel to get taken on as a writer and paid well enough to survive was very narrow. The film industry syndrome of cranking out product of lesser quality so long as you control distributin and all your competitors are similarly low-quality has taken hold in publishing. Unless you are a name author, you will be paid little and treated badly by low-paid publishing employees who are also paid little and treated badly. And a consequence of that is that great writers who aren’t stars end up working in academia or at NGOs to get a steady income. Meaning that all but the top of the pyramid now are paid largely by connections to government. Which brings us the phenomenon of the “writer” who sells next to nothing but makes a good living teaching and talking about progressive politics in writing. So we are halfway to East Germany and writer’s councils paying writers to write what the regime wants people to read.

    But only halfway. And conditions are ideal for routing around the decadent gatekeepers; the entire gaming industry escaped them until recently, which is why most young men are now there getting their action fix.

    • Jeb, I purchased Red Queen after you got a plug from Instapundit. Great book! Write more! Like Dorothy said in her post above, just knowing about it was enough for me to risk three bucks. Now, I am patiently waiting for a sequel.

      • Oops — my reply posted at top level. Repeat:

        Donald: Thank you! I saw your review, you’re the kind of reader that makes writing worthwhile. 🙂

        The Instapundit mention did wonders for sales — for two days. Since I gently illustrate some of his favorite topics, I though his readers would like it.

        Currently about 8% done with the next book. If not distracted by Sarah’s blog, I would be on it right now!

      • yes, but Jeb, we need to talk FORMATTING in print. And I mean that. Meant to ping you, but we’ve been getting house ready for sale.

        • Uh-oh. I sense I am about to be taken to the woodshed. It’s too late to fix the first book, but the formatting for the second is months away, so no rush. Get better and settled…

          • If you’re indie-pub, it’s never too late to fix your books. You can always upload a fixed file, and while you can’t fix problems on the books already bought, you can fix them on all the ones that will be bought in the future.

            Which is a terrible, terrible temptation to writers who panic over that one last typo a reader found six months later, but a nice relief to those of us who view it as a new print run, and can “pull up this file and fix these six typos while changing the back matter to reflect the latest book coming out.”

            • I do upload a new edition when I’ve accumulated enough errata, or the error is serious enough. Amy Alkon pointed out a paragraph of outdated science in my first book, so I rushed to check it with academics — not that bad, actually, since the model is still used in teaching even if not the whole truth. But it was embarrassing being caught with stale science, so I rushed the new edition out.

              I’ve started keeping a changes-to-do list with each project file, so when enough are reported, I can crank out an edited version.

          • It’s not too late to fix it. You can go back and redo it. I can talk to you, or Cedar Sanderson can. No woodshed, this indie thing is a learning/sharing experience.

          • Before Sarah takes you to the woodshed… What formatting problem? I didn’t have any problem with it. Now, I’ve read a couple of books with things like big dropped caps and then the first sentence finishes in small caps each chapter kind of thing. It is nice eye-candy, but well written, hard science; I can certainly live with your formatting.
            I especially liked your footnotes, popping up in page. My prior experience was John Derbyshire’s “Prime Obsession”, and being non-fiction, he had lots of footnotes. Pressing one took you to the back of the book, and the kindle forgot where you started. At least the old fashioned paper books, you could use your finger.

            • In paper, Dorothy. It’s formatted like an HTML document and the print is too small for 50 yo eyes.

            • The footnotes were risky (I talked about this with Sarah earlier.) You don’t want the reader to run off exploring because that derails the story. But you also want the kid who is poring over the book to be able to easily find explanations for the science. This is one of the cool new things about ebooks — with the right reader, it can be a hybrid experience linked to the outer web world for supplementary material. But only after the story.

              I’m wondering if the footnote handling varies by reader used. In mine, you see a footnote number but don’t see the footnote unless you click on it. But I no longer use a Kindle per se, just the apps.

  18. Donald: Thank you! I saw your review, you’re the kind of reader that makes writing worthwhile. 🙂

    The Instapundit mention did wonders for sales — for two days. Since I gently illustrate some of his favorite topics, I though his readers would like it.

    Currently about 8% done with the next book. If not distracted by Sarah’s blog, I would be on it right now!

  19. Christopher M. Chupik

    How did they take over the field? Well, until recently it seems, because we allowed them. It’s only the last few years or so that our side has made an effort to fight back and reclaim the entertainment fields from the Left. I used to hear a lot of “Aw, who cares? I don’t see any movies anymore. I don’t read anything anymore.” We let the Left dominate the media and the entertainment industry without a fight. Even I was getting apathetic about our chances to change anything.

    I’m happy to see that changing now. We *can* fight back and we can win. Every time we challenge their domination, we win a victory. They look strong, but they crumble at a single “no”.

  20. Unfortunately, the Left goes way back in SF. People were seriously having fistfights at meetings over whether it was possible to be an SF fan and *not* be a Communist – and this was back in the 1930s! Some of the great works in the canon (The Foundation Trilogy comes immediately to mind) were all about societies run by the “scientific elite”, and no few of the prominent writers of the Golden Age were leftists. You can look it up. The only difference between those folks and the current crop of Glittery Hoo-Has is that the current crop can’t write and has their hatred for the American ideal turned up to 11.

    • Personally, I consider most of Asimov’s works to be highly statist-dystopic. Doesn’t stop me from loving them, mind you – my first sip SF as a 10 year old was the Foundation Trilogy. And the man’s sense of humour…. I *wish* I could be that effortlessly funny and self-deprecating as he was in his mystery stories.

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        They may have had goofy politics, but those politics didn’t turn their work into unreadable crap.

        • we must remember being a communist in the thirties was pardonable, in the west at least. It really did look like it was the way of the future. Being a communist now is only pardonable if you have severe brain damage. 100 million dead is enough.

          • Even Robert Heinlein started out as a Social Credit Democrat in his early days, supporting Upton Sinclair’s campaign for governor of California during the Depression.

            • yes. As I said, what you must remember is how much progress had been made in other fields and how it seemed possible/likely that we could “engineer” government as well.

          • (Waggles hand) Early 1930s. Once the pre-SCW nonsense cranked up (followed by the events recorded in Homage to Catalonia), and the stories finally started coming out of Ukraine, and the purges…not so much.

  21. Heh, Sarah I realize your intent may not have been to scare folks, but thanks for reminding me why I don’t plan on making writing a full time thing.

    At least with yarn and sewing I can gift the things that don’t sell to folks who need it but don’t have budgets for it.

  22. Ok while we’re discussing various things…

    I’m working up some fiction (yay!) and need some alpha readers. Its mil sf- but also fanfic that I’m filing the serial numbers off of. I had three short-ish stories that are rapidly expanding to novella length. Right now I am writing a short story that kind of tests the setting, plus a ‘bible’ to keep the background stuff straight…. wish there was a PM thing built in here…

  23. “If you can, sign up for a supporting membership so you can nominate non SJWs for the Hugos.” Waiting for that magical pin. -sigh- Trying very hard to be patient.

  24. Excellent article. I think you are spot on!

  25. I’m pondering the role of the pulps in the golden age of SF, and genre fictions. Mass market paperbacks are a pretty recent innovation (1940’s, if memory serves), thus if one wanted to get their SF, horror, or Mystery fiction on, one needed to write for the Pulps. And with space being limited, competition was high- your story would be up against Heinlein, Asimov, Lovecraft, Howard, Doc Smith, and others, well, it better be good.
    Another benefit was that the pulp authors of old saw themselves as tradesmen, not artiste. With this, they had the fact of a general audience in mind, and wrote accordingly. Contrast this to the wannabe lit fic of the grey goo artiste, more concerned with impressing the right few.

    • [nitpick warning]: Mass market paperbacks innovated in 1940’s? Depending on how inclusive you make the term, they date from the invention of the dime novel in 1860 by Erastus and Irwin Beadle, at least per the Wikipedia article – which seems to be fairly authoritative.

      • Penny Dreadfuls, I’d peg as the start.

        Check out this definition:
        common late-Victorian derogatory term for cheap juvenile sensation fiction

        Doesn’t that just scream “pulp mass market paperback”? *grin* Zomga, people ENJOY it, gasp, where’s my fainting couch…..

  26. I am getting a little paranoid lately. When my recliner showed up on Wednesday, a raven landed on a pole and watched us until the furniture was in the house. Normally I don’t get that much notice from birds. This same bird gave me a serenade the day before. I am either being spied on or have a new friend.

    • New friend.

      …what?!!

      • Birds and cats always come round to greet me. In this new place it has been the ravens. (There is a cat that spies on the us when we go out walking.

        • This time of year, all we seem to have are ravens, crows, and the odd woodpecker (pileated, around the house here). I kind of liked the ravens commenting on my very rusty construction skills while we were building the addition to the house last fall.

          • Yea – they are musical in a rusty kind of way and do laugh at us. We bring them hours of amusement. In the last week I saw mourning doves, pigeons (always with us), finches, a hummingbird–just by the way it flitted it couldn’t be anything else, some strange birds that I haven’t identified, and ravens.

    • I look at ravens as good omens. But then I’ve also been compared to the Morrigan so YMMV.

      • I had an owl (one of the big ones–name slipped my mind lately) that would call to me at my bedroom window about 3 a.m. in the morning– I do like birds. Scrub Jays are usually the birds who are interested in what I am doing. Ravens… I think they are very interesting birds and pretty smart too.

        • Ravens … I remember them from a year spent in Greenland – huge, black sharp-billed, sharp-eyed birds who lurked everywhere there was a prospect of food. Like on the roof-edge of the dining hall, over the entrance doors. Sometimes the old hands would play a trick on the newly-assigned person, by slipping a couple of hot-dogs into the hood of their parka – this during mild weather when one didn’t have the hood pulled up over the head. The ravens would mob the newbie, going for the hot-dogs. Some of the air traffic controllers would take handfuls of the Lurpak butter individual servings up to the top of the tower and throw them down, just for the fun of watching the ravens swoop down and catch them in mid-air.
          After that year, I could see why the ancient Vikings believed that the ravens were spies for Odin. They were everywhere … and always watching.

          • Yep – there has been a lot of studies on Ravens as well … Apparently they are as smart or smarter than the Macaws… which makes them intellectuals. Plus they are pretty curious.

          • BTW Most people don’t look up so they don’t actually see the birds. My late-hubby trained me to look in all quadrants.

            • How do they know what aircraft are operating in their area? We get a good selection of blimps, (actually saw one of the new Goodyear dirigibles a while back). There’s even a guy in town that restores Bell 47s. If I’m really lucky, I’ll be outside when he test flies.

              • Folks hear noise and then look up. Plus the “air” people are different than the average joe. Animals don’t even come on most people’s radar. Birds and animals can tell us a lot if we listen.

            • It’s been only recently that I’ve been noticing how unobservant people in general tend to be (yeah, sort of a hypocritical observation there. I plead being generally horrible at reading anything in people). I think my noticing comes from reading Stephanie Osborn’s Displaced Detective books.

          • I meant to say that when I was in Japan (they have some big ravens there too), I was attacked by one. I had to go an alternate way to the diner. I was the only person it went after lol. It went after me every time I walked the normal route.

        • Big owl? Like a Great Horned? The females are the bigger of a pair, and sound more baritone than their mates. One of those sounds that make you smile in the night.

          There have been reports around here of Arctic owls, but I haven’t seen one yet.

          • I’ve heard as many as five different owl calls from my porch at my house in the country (but I only ever saw one, and it was flying over my car, so didn’t get much of a look at it). The one I’m moving to, I haven’t heard more than two or three.

          • Yes Steve the Great Horned… and it must have been a female because the bird woke me up a few times out of a deep sleep. 🙂

  27. Sarah, I’m a long-time fan who was originally introduced to your writing through Instapundit links, just to give you an idea of where I sit in the culture wars… This post of yours is catching me at a very relevant point in my life. I’ve spent the last 30+ years in corporate life making a “good living”. Last year though, I was told I had to move to Atlanta (from Denver) to keep my job because our new CEO apparently had never heard of this newfangled “video conferencing” concept. But I had always wanted to be a writer, so I figured I could take the half-year of severance and turn that into a means to launch a writing career.

    Heh, now reading this I see that probably means drastically lowering my standard of living. I am trying not to be discouraged with your discussion of the low pay and long hours staring at me… But too late for that now!

    As far as how the SJWs took control of SF and Fantasy, they did it the same way the took over our schools, our entertainment and our politics. They did it because the rest of us were doing what I’ve been doing for the past 30+ years. Working for a living.

  28. I would love to come down. I looked it up on the web and it’s in Colorado Springs, correct? Thanks for the heads up.

  29. Oh, and hey, I ran for Student Council VP in High School….

  30. RealityObserver

    Been fighting this respiratory carp that’s been running around the nation; at least that’s my excuse for not hammering the “Stranger” balderdash a when it first appeared a few days ago.

    If there is *anything* less compatible with the SJW mindset, it is “Thou Art God.” Any one of them that got beyond the first or second Circle would no longer be an SJW.

    (On the other hand, the Master was quite wrong about one thing – although at the time, it wasn’t quite so incorrect. The leeches would certainly attend Mike’s “services” – and empty the collection baskets. Because they “need” the money.)

    • If The Church of All Worlds were a real organization, yes, the SJWs would not be able to stomach it. However, they have an unlimited capacity for seeing only the parts that they want to see in such things. Thus, the main things they see are that it’s a communal structure where you come in and do pretty much what you please, perform a ritual of sharing water once in a while, then have lots of unrestricted sex with whomever you want.

      They don’t see the self-discipline or personal responsibility aspects, and thus see it only as their vision of Socialist Utopia. And they see “Thou Art God” as a justification of their superiority.

      • RealityObserver

        “…seeing only the parts that they want to see…” Yep.

        Although, to be fair, I cannot say that only SJWs are prone to this. *Real* homophobes, *real* racists, *real* misogynists, etc. do exactly the same thing.

    • someone tried the collection baskets in real life. leeches did indeed always take out

      • RealityObserver

        I’d be interested in a reference for that (not to verify – I completely believe you).

        • Alas, while I heard it from a first-hand participant, I did indeed hear it.

        • Talk to your church, if you pass the basked during services– even when it’s on the end of a stick, there’s still some theft. We had a donation envelope get stolen, which is kind of impressive since the baskets are never more than five feet from anybody. Found out because the cops picked up a guy for drug possession and he had a whole bunch of our parish’s envelopes on him, down in Lakewood’s jurisdiction.

          (Digression, to defend the professionalism of that department. The police did not tell me that he had a whole bunch, but it was pretty obvious both from poor Father’s reaction, and from the way the lady doing the calls had really obviously been doing them for a while. You know that annoyed feeling you get when you’ve explained something a dozen times and have to do it again, even when it was to a dozen different people who couldn’t have heard the prior explanations? That was in her voice, obvious enough that I caught it, although she picked up really quickly that I thought SHE was an identity theft scammer that had gotten a hold of the Parish membership records and picked a department that people would have an emotional sympathy towards, and she told me that they hadn’t opened any of the envelopes that weren’t already opened. Which saved ME from shutting down that checking account and all the related annoyance.)

  31. Pingback: Morning no coffee yet 2015-01-30 – The vicious spiral of bad science-fiction | Mangy Dog

  32. “Thou Art God” seems blasphemous to me. As well as very hubristic. How can you say that you (or Thou) art God? God is not us. We aspire to be like God but we are only human and mortal. God speaks to us and has a covenant with us but we aren’t God.

    • Yes, from a Christian standpoint, that is probably true. The concept in the story, however, was God in a more Pantheistic viewpoint, where all living things are part of the all-encompassing God. Thus the phrase, “Thou art God, and I am God, and all that groks is God”.

    • RealityObserver

      If you are of a predestinationist sect – it is outright *heresy*.

      If you are a believer in free will, though, it is not at all incompatible with a God (or Gods). It is *entirely* your choice to do good or evil; you will eventually answer for it, though.

      Realize, also, that this is a translation from Martian of a concept that is foreign to far too many people. “Complete personal responsibility” is another translation of the same concept (per Jubal Harshaw) – which is why the SJWs would not get very far.

      (Actually – and I am not sure whether it is in the original published version or the later “unexpurgated” version – Mike admits that translating it as “Thou art God” is somewhat of a head fake, to get the masses in, of which a tiny percentage will eventually advance far enough to get the actual concept.)

      • I was responding to it from a Jewish perspective. I was not talking about free will or personal responsibility. I believe in both of these things. I believe in one God. Unless ‘Thou art God’ means something similar to ‘People of God’ I thought it was arrogant to claim that ‘you are God’. However in non-monotheistic or pantheistic theology, you can say that one is is god because god can be all of creation.

    • It was meant to be blasphemous—or at least a clear statement to the effect of “This is not an Abrahamic faith.” IIRC (but it’s been a while since I read Stranger), the Church of All Worlds was not a theistic one.

      • I haven’t finished Stranger. I couldn’t really get into it. I’ve read it one of Kurtz’s books. I guess she borrowed it from Heinlein or a common source. It should have been a clue to me that the character was pagan.

  33. Pingback: A Message from My Publisher Concerning Sad Puppies | John C. Wright's Journal

  34. “… so they work for “attaboys” (or mostly attagirls.)” – and the old office-sign saying that “one aw-shucks cancels ten attaboys” explains the fear and slavishness with which the line is toed by said dilettantes. They should be much pitied for what they have become…