Endgames, Tinkerbell and Happily Ever After

In the wake of a recent mild uptick in people being angry at me for existing, a question in email, which I am paraphrasing for brevity:

What do you think these people are hoping for with these posts? What’s their endgame, and how do they think it will affect you?

Well, in the case of the angry member of old-line fandom, I don’t think there was any expectation for anything to happen except her venting to other members of old-line fandom, which she did, and good for her. I hope she feels better and can move on to healthier uses of her time. That’s all that needs be said about that.

In the case of the alt-right dingleberry actively hoping for the collapse of traditional publishing (or at least Tor Books), which will presumably take me down with it: I think the plan there was reassuring the other dingleberries with whom he corresponds on social media that, yes, indeed, one day my virtue-signaling self will get mine, along with all of traditional publishing (or at least Tor Books), and what a glorious day that will be for them. As this particular alt-right dingleberry self-publishes on Amazon, there’s also the implication that upon the smoking ruins of traditional publishing (or at least Tor Books), and the dessicated bones of all the SJWs that toiled there, will come a new age where these alt-right dingleberries and their work will finally take their rightful place at the top of the science fictional heap, while I and my sort, I don’t know, maybe suck quarters out of vending machines to survive.

And, I guess, sure, maaaaaybe? But probably not? This shouldn’t be a spoiler to anyone here, but the fact is that Tor is fine, and I’m fine, and even if Tor disappeared tomorrow and I couldn’t find someone else to publish my print work — either of which is, uhhhhhh, unlikely — I’d still be publishing and getting paid for novels well into the 2020s because I have a deal with Audible that mirrors my Tor deal. Audible, you might know, is owned by Amazon. I suppose there’s some irony in the fact my career would be seamlessly continued by the same company where this alt-right dingleberry peddles his own wares, and which he views as the future of publishing; I imagine it’s frustrating to fantasize about the destruction of someone’s career, only to discover he’s already set up shop on the street you thought you had claimed, and his business there is booming. But of course that’s his problem and not mine.

(Mind you, I’m pretty sure this alt-right dingleberry doesn’t actually care about whether traditional publishing collapses or not — he just wants authors he doesn’t like not to have careers, and is working backwards from that proposition to a scenario that will allow such a thing to happen. If all of traditional publishing implodes, these three authors I dislike will be out of work! Bwa ha ha hah ha! This is like thinking the solution for the squirrels that come down from the trees to steal birdseed from your backyard feeder is setting fire to the forest behind your house. Seems like the long way around, and there’s a lot of collateral damage, possibly to your own house.)

I don’t think there’s an “endgame” to this, because there’s nothing these dudes can do to change anything; the game isn’t about change, it’s about identity through self-delusion. This alt-right dingleberry and the other dingleberries like him are employing a Tinkerbell strategy with regard to me and other writers they don’t like — they think if they just clap hard enough, the thing they want will happen, which in this case is me and a few other people they dislike not having careers. This Tinkerbell strategy is immune to facts and reality, which is nice for them, and in my particular case mostly harmless. It’s fine if they want to believe I’m failing and my career is a sham that will come tumbling down any second now. They can claim my sales are fake all they like. The royalties are real enough.

Also, you know. Here’s the thing. Even if this alt-right dingleberry could wave a magic wand and stop my career in its tracks tomorrow — no more sales, no more books — it’s kind of too late, now, isn’t it? I’ll still have had a nice 15-year run in science fiction and fantasy, where I sold a lot of books, won a few awards, worked on a couple of things in TV, and met lots of awesome people I will be friends with all the rest of my life. You know the part of the story that goes “and they lived happily ever after”? I’m already there. If more happens: Great! If not, it was a good run and a hell of a good time.

Of course, this alt-right dingleberry can’t wave a magic wand. So I will continue to do what I do, and other writers he doesn’t like will continue to do what they do, and the publishers he doesn’t like will continue to exist, and the publishing model he professes is doomed will continue to do its thing. And I imagine he and other dingleberries will keep clapping as hard as they can, hoping against hope that their pissy, petty little wishes will come true, somehow.

Well, keep at it, dingleberries. I’ll be writing books while you clap your hands sore. That’s my endgame, and my happily ever after.

59 Comments on “Endgames, Tinkerbell and Happily Ever After”

  1. I should note that aside from The Tinkerbell Strategy, the other aspect here is that these dudes are community-building by creating an “other,” in this case SJWs, etc, represented by me and a few others, partly to sell their own work to each other and also because, you know, I think it’s lonely being an alt-right dingleberry and knowing in your heart that you’re cutting the legs out from under your career by being so.

  2. Also…haven’t you on multiple occasions said that y’all could live off of Krissy’s salary and that was intentional since writing at times can be a fickle career? I could’ve sworn I read that somewhere.

  3. Nick:

    Yes, although with caveats, namely that we would have to change how we live substantially at this point (much less travel, for example). With that said, we’re at a point where the house is paid off and we have zero debt and substantial savings. So working within Krissy’s salary is doable.

  4. They give me something to write about on a lazy Saturday afternoon when I’ve taken a break from writing the current novel.

  5. Look! Scalzi can’t afford socks!
    All feet on deck!
    Alt-Eight Dingleberry Pie, anyone?
    Anyway, please go on existing and living happily ever after for as long as possible!

  6. I am listening again to Ghost Brigade and loving it all over again.
    Can’t wait for the third installment of The Collapsing Empire.
    I can’t imagine writing out all those names nohamapeetin. Thanks for all you do.

  7. If publishing ends I see you as the grumpy owner of a bar that has sci-fi trivia on Tuesday where the correct answer to every question is John Scalzi and on Thursdays there’s karaoke, but you are the only one able to sing any depeche mode songs. Marty will have a reserved bar stool and laugh at all your jokes.

  8. I’ve worked in publishing for a quarter century, and if I had a dollar for every time I’ve had a conversation with someone on the internet that goes like this—

    Them: Whyyyy is publishing so haaard?
    Me: *explains the system*
    T: That’s STUPID
    M: It’s had 150 years of field testing.
    T: But digital will be A REVOLUTION
    M: So were paperbacks.
    T: I have zero publishing experience, but I know they’re wrong! I’m going to start my own publishing company and break the paradigm!
    M: Have fun!

    —I could, if not retire, at least buy a very nice dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant.

  9. Never quite understood the mindset of people who can’t feel good unless someone else is made to feel bad in the process. Wonder what pisses them off more – that you are successful or that you don’t care if they are or not.

  10. I love it when the alt-right freeze peach warriors slip up and accidentally reveal that the only freedom of speech they care about is their own.

  11. You’re a success, they’re not, boiled down it’s as simple as that.
    It’s not for nothing, that envy is counted as one of the cardinal sins.
    Keep it up buddy, every success you post here; whether professional or personal; is just another whiplash to their twisted egos.

  12. This is like thinking the solution for the squirrels that come down from the trees to steal birdseed from your backyard feeder is setting fire to the forest behind your house.

    Their strategy seems to consist of talking about burning down the forest while waiting for it to spontaneously combust. Which it will do real soon. Really. Never mind all that green. Any second now – flames and screaming. You’ll see.

    They don’t have any matches. They don’t even have any talk of matches.

  13. It’s very strange. I’ve just enjoyed a day watching tennis at Wimbledon, where, for those unfamiliar with the Championship, players skid across the grass, are flummoxed by the speed with which the ball moves off the grass, and wear white because it’s an inviolable part of the rules and to hell with the sportswear manufacturers.

    All other major tournaments are played on clay or hard courts, as are the vast majority of the courts in the pro tournaments around the world.

    The dingleberries hailing the death of traditional publishing would, no doubt, expect the Wimbledon tournament to be on its last legs; instead, it remains the tournament of tournaments. Admittedly, paying out £38,000,000 in prize money helps, but it wouldn’t have the money to do so without it being the tournament of tournaments.

    Wimbledon remains primes inter pares because it’s been doing it for a very long time and it has got very good at it. So have the major publishing companies. I suspect that the dingleberries are simply trying to rationalise the fact that they are not doing nearly as well as you are…

  14. I poked my head in on the ARD, even though he’s not been someone I’ve given a half-neuron of thought to for some time. He’s got a very strange combination of INSISTING HOW MUCH HE’S WINNING wile, at the same time, seems to be very angry about how life in general is for him and the world around him.

  15. @IdiotAmerican64000 “Other than they are annoying, why even worry about these schmucks?”

    I find it incredible valuable to see how John handles these schmucks, and learn a lot from him. I imagine others do, too. So I value posts like this one.

    Also I suspect that, unfortunately, the kind of obsessed schmucks John is dealing with don’t go away if ignored. Psychologists talk about how you can extinguish a behavior by simply not responding to it, but I haven’t seen that work on the Internet. (In part because the behavior is yielding a response from others, if not the target itself.)

  16. I understand the jealousy and general “it just isn’t fair and what about my feelings” angst. I can even kinda see focusing on a successful, well-known person as the subject of their grievance-writing. But what always baffles me is the sheer effort some people will go through to make certain their subject and others _know_ how they feel. It’s almost as if they believe, deep down, that they can win the argument and then all their dreams will be magically fulfilled.

  17. The most enjoyable part of this, well, ANOTHER enjoyable part of reading this essay was imagining the cracking noises issuing from certain molars on every blessed repetition of “dingleberry”.

    Ooooo, there’s another! Pardon us while we cackle.

  18. Just keep makin’ the doughnuts. (Actually that’s my advice to myself as much as to writers who are actually successful and now find themselves the target of stupid trolls.)

  19. “They can claim my sales are fake all they like. The royalties are real enough.”

    It’s not the giant check from Soros? BTW, I’m still waiting on mine for those marches, etc.

  20. I’ve not looked at the original piece, but does it concentrate just on Tor? Because other s-f publishing firms exist – eg, Baen! – and if it doesn’t consider them then it’s just another anti-Scalzi piece, and whatever the argument is, it’s to that extent undermined.

    They probably also miss a key service that publishers do for their *readers* which is that of a pre-sifting of books that are worth reading. If I read a book from Tor, Baen, Penguin or whoever, I know that it has been regarded as publishable according to their criteria, and that they’ve been prepared to put money into publishing it. That is work which the publisher has done, and for which I am in effect willing to pay (through the cost of the book). There’s no such service with self-publishing! Amazon reviews can be gamed and, although there are various book review sites (eg, Goodreads), these mean more work for the reader.

    Long may traditional publishing thrive!

  21. “these dudes are community-building”
    Got it. They bond over the two minutes’ (hours?) hate per day.

  22. I thought a dingleberry was a piece of sheep shit hanging off the wool around a sheep’s arse… which seems entirely appropriate somehow.

  23. In the end they’re upset because Scalzi is writing stuff that clearly a lot of people like and want to read, and he’s not. He’s really mad at the world for not agreeing with him, inventing a conspiracy where it’s the publishing companies and the SYSTEM that’s keepin’ him down, man, is easier on his brain than admitting that his ideas and writing are fringe and not liked.

  24. “This Tinkerbell strategy is immune to facts and reality, which is nice for them, and in my particular case mostly harmless.”

    Why “mostly”? It’s hard to imagine they could hurt your sales or your reputation, except among themselves, which is a given.

  25. Now you’ve got me imagining a variation on Richard Curtis’s new film ‘Yesterday’, in which a right-wing wazzock somehow manages to create an alternative reality where you never existed, but then discovers that only thing he can contribute to this new world, is to re-write your books from memory.

  26. This is all very well and good, but is there a plan to feed the all important cat overlords when you’re sucking coins from vending machines to survive?

  27. Poor Teddy Spaghetti, so desperately trying to kick start a media empire including books, comic books, movies, and his own TV channel. He simply can’t keep his eye focused. In the end his empire will have about as much effect as his puppies had, no more than a nuisance.

  28. Heh.

    it’s about identity through self-delusion

    A phrase that well-describes the popularity of some politicians – in the UK, US, and Canada. “I reject reality! What I want must be true!”

    (Probably for some politicians everywhere, actually.)

  29. I really do not understand how you are branded SJW? Don’t see it in your writing, don’t see it on Whatever. You seem to stand for everything that a moral person would. I read a LOT of guys on both sides and can not for the life of me figure out why this whole SJW nonsense doesn’t go away. I do wish you would just ignore all of it (except trying to skew awards) and write more books. And maybe just one more Old Man’s War book??

  30. David Moody:

    I assure you that this nonsense has no impact on the number of books I write and if it went away tomorrow a) I’d be glad, b) I’d write no faster than I do.

    Granny Roberta:

    I suspect the cats would start feeding me their catches. They leave them for me already.


    Abundance of caution.

  31. It seems to me that, at least in the case of Ms. O’Brien, there is a great deal of “uphill-both-ways-ism” in her jeremiad. That is, in her mind, true fandom consists of writing fanzines and attending cons, because that what it looked like in the old days of fandom. Bjo Trimble and the like connecting through mailing lists, and getting together with other fans, writing new fiction just to the story alive, man! Like many things made far easier by the internet, fandom has become simply a matter of typing in a URL and, behold, the world at your fingertips. No need to travel to some distant city (great for those who can afford it); you can connect with fellow fans right from your living room. Because previous generations had it harder, had to work more for their fandom, it was somehow truer. I think that’s a load of crap. If the internet had been ubiquitous in the ’60s or ’70s, fandom would have looked much like it does today: folks discussing their niche favorites mostly online. Sci-Fi and other genres would likely have been more diverse back then, as well. I think FIAGH is far healthier and more balanced than FIAWOL.

  32. Speaking of Audible.

    I know it doesn’t really affect our host’s career but I found it… interesting that a few months after The dispatcher was a free offering on Audible Originals (and was the bestselling title that month), this month’s free-to-subscribers Originals include a YA SF by Larry C (the founder of the Puppies) and read by Adam B (the biggest “celebrity” booster of G*m*rg*t*).

    It just doesn’t seem like a coincidence. Seems like that must’ve taken some political maneuvering. (Also, heads up if you’re a subscriber or know one, and might click on a free cool-sounding adventure YA without recognizing the author’s name.)

  33. Miriam Libicki:

    It’s not a coincidence but neither is it sinister. I believe that like me Correia’s audiobook deal is with Audible, so it makes sense for Audible to use its free-to-listen program to promote one of his Originals, with an eye toward building interest in the rest of their Correia backlist. Adam Baldwin has narrated several of Correia’s audiobooks, and as I understand it the two of them are friends; it’s not that different than my relationship with Wil Wheaton.

    I don’t think Audible particularly cares about the Correia’s politics, or mine, or about the Puppy nonsense that is now half a decade old. It does want to promote its authors, however. So, no, it’s not coincidence that Correia’s work is getting the same treatment mine did, because he’s in similar situation, vis-a-vis his audiobook publisher, Audible. But I personally doubt it has much to do with anything relating to his politics or mine, nor is it a response to Audible promoting me first.

  34. I recently self-published an e-book (urban fantasy/action-adventure) through Amazon. I have no illusions. If it sells to more than my family and a few friends, I’ll be happy. Traditional publishing isn’t going away, and I wouldn’t want it to. I hope to join it someday.

  35. [Deleted because, oh, Jon Bromfield. You could not be more tiresomely predictable if you tried. You’re like a bingo card of panicked overcompensation. Also, inasmuch as you only ever appear here to be tiresome, you’re in moderation from here on out. Now, run along, child – JS]

  36. I would also point out that if the anti-Scalzi crowd did indeed clap hard enough to end his writing career, it won’t change the fact that his works are in a lot of public and college libraries and would be considered “core collection” titles that won’t get weeded out any time soon (most college libraries rarely weed down anyway unless the condition of the book is terrible). Anyone searching Worldcat to find a copy of Redshirts to ILL can easily do so for the next 100 years.

  37. Sorry for the double-post, John.
    @Hillary Rettig,
    I have to wonder about the “concern” that inheres in remarks on the rhetorical exigence for these sorts of posts. It’s been my experience that the prescription of starvation for trolls is more about preserving the sanity of the trolled or, in some cases, preserving the quality of a given conversation.
    I don’t know that I would finger-wag at the bullied (ineffectual as said bullying may be) for responding (Keep in mind that this is on the assumption that we are discussing who I think we are discussing), in a way that gently, and humorously, keeps a hand on the head of the pitiable little creature throwing punches at their hips and upper thighs.
    In general, the “WAAAAAAAAAA, I have to share the world with non-Christian people and differently abled people and brown people and trans people and gay people and teh womans and watch those who recognize them as people deserving of human rights and protections succeed; waaaa!my dreck is languishing in the rancid bowels of a rancid bowel because sjws!” movement would be hilarious if it weren’t so dangerous.

  38. It never ceases to amaze me how some people seem to have infinite time for being hostile on the internet. There are so many, much more interesting, things on the internet. Like that video of a cat ‘playing golf.’ I never go looking for the original BS (much as I never watch The Bachelor) but I always enjoy reading the JS Takedown when these idiots start up again (much as I enjoy reading the Bachelor recaps on Smart Bitches Trashy Books).

  39. As Charles, a poster in a 2013 thread entitled, “ Overthinking, Poorly and at Length,” writes, “He’s a pissed off failed writer who is lashing out at the symbols of Science Fiction.”
    The more things change…

  40. Good evening John,
    To be honest, I am only here because I found an article about your shiny new yard machine.

    Then amazed, 107 responses from all angles.
    Then, a cat (kitten?) which normally wouldn’t catch me, but this one does.
    Then, a vivid 4th of July sky and reading people’s light-hearted comments about dingleberries and what-not.
    The backyard sky is inspiring too.

    It still hasn’t hit me, but I think “Hmm, wonder who this JS is?’ and am thinking, “he must not work for a living because he writes on his blog all day long.” although “He has a way with words.” and “He must spend a lot of time mowing.”
    OK, I looked JS up.
    Please forgive me. I didn’t know what I didn’t know!

    Have a great week,
    From the other side of Ohio (Well, not that it’s two-sided or anything)


  41. I don’t worry about you, obviously. I worry for the newer authors trying to come up who these folks periodically target (usually because they’re marginalized,) harass off social media necessary for their careers and try to get doxxing farms to send threats their way. The ones trying to walk in the door of what they thought would be an open party, only to be told that they are somehow ruining everything by writing and the door should be slammed in their face and break their nose.

    If it was just dingleberries trying to use the Tinkerbell Strategy on big names, it would be unpleasant but mostly funny. If it was some older fans just grumping that authors and fans aren’t doing things right according to the gospel of right-wing participants or self-appointed superior fans, it would be easy to wave away. But active discrimination is an endgame that’s effective and costing us as fans as well.

    But I will admit I do enjoy the great publishing house collapse conspiracy theories that have been going on towards you for, um, like fourteen years now? I used to think that after the first year of your big ten year deal, it would die down, but I guess you’re so popular that you’re still a good money/status-raiser for them.

  42. I find it sad that they’re so angry.

    (although I’m sure some of them will insist that they’re not angry, no, they’re just having a wonderful time laughing at the imminent Decline and Fall of the House of Scalzi.)

  43. The antics of the prophets of the death of traditional publishing are remarkably similar to what’s happening on this side of the pond. It’s rather like watching the right wing extremists in Europe – including Bannon et al – hailing the glorious moment as the EU collapses. They’ve been doing it for years, and are pissed off about the fact that it hasn’t happened, and looks increasingly unlikely to happen, for a number of reasons including Bannon et al being not nearly as clever as they think they are.

    One of the others is that the Brexiteers promises about leaving the EU have downsized from rebooting the global British empire to assurances that we will have drinking water. The other 27 countries in the EU now look upon the UK as it grapples with reality – not very successfully- as an awful warning rather than the precursor to wholesale abandonment of the European project. This wasn’t supposed to happen.

    The ongoing success of traditional publishing wasn’t supposed to happen either, but it has…

  44. With that said, we’re at a point where the house is paid off and we have zero debt and substantial savings. So working within Krissy’s salary is doable.

    Not to mention that Athena is well on her way to a career and financial independence of her own. Speaking from experience, that is enormously liberating.

  45. This, anti Scalzi stuff always bewilders me. How does your success even matter to anyone else in a practical way? I sometimes wonder if I have read anything by these authors, but have zero interest in finding out who they are or what they are saying. If I find a book I enjoy, then I try to find more by that author. I believe in self publishing (as I understand it) in principle, but have been disappointed so often that I now avoid anything that is not recommended by someone I trust. I feel sad about this because I love good stories, but I have learned that it takes more than a good idea to make a book come alive. I have learned to appreciate the contributions of a good editor and to look on on-line reviews like I do telemarketers. All this to say that I am now more committed to mainstream publishing products than ever before.

  46. Stevie: “The ongoing success of traditional publishing wasn’t supposed to happen either, but it has…”

    They always sell things as revolutionary new by repackaging past traditions as lost glory that will somehow now change the world again. Self-publishing, in print or electronic, IS traditional publishing — when well-off folk were authors who paid publishers to print and distribute their work for up front fees and then with increasing frequency also a split of sales revenues. For the self-publishing world, Amazon is just an old-fashioned 1800’s style printing publisher and its cut of fees is quite hefty. Even the subscription model of KU goes back to subscription libraries of the 1700’s and slightly into the direction of book club subscriptions of the 20th century.

    All of which is fine, but it isn’t revolutionary. Self-publishing has been a steady market since the days of the Roman Empire. E-books have allowed for a significant global distribution in the modern age, which is great but also isn’t something publishing houses are restricted from doing as well. The idea that there is only one way to publish works and get them out to people in the market has never been a reality and it isn’t a reality now. But those who ignore history always use reinventing the wheel as a marketing pitch.

  47. Count the mostly failed ascendance of the term social justice warrior to the pantheon of devastating pejoratives among the myriad things that “weren’t supposed to happen.” Notwithstanding the fringe-dwelling nutbars or faux-allies to which the pejorative applies, the air under and near the banner of any flavor of bigotry will almost always smell worse. Another thing I find interesting is the childish refusal to take responsibility for one’s failure, and the epic (epic specifically meaning one of the nearly 15-year variety) tantrum that has and continues to rage as a result of that failure.

    Sigh; this degree of rage and focus is truly cartoonish.

    Also, all of this reminds me of the “authors behaving badly” drama that pervaded the amazon forums a few years back. Ann Somerville and some others might remember more clearly than I, but what I do recall is that various self-published authors were caught with their pants down, called out, and ridden out of metaphorical town.

  48. Every time I see someone use the phrase “virtue signaling”, all I can picture is a Superb Bird of Paradise doing it’s mating dance. Seriously.

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