WARNING: THIS IS A DINA!RANT. It’s long and bloody. There is language and pics and is generally NSFW. Enter at your own risk.
All right, that does it.
I’ve been feeling a rant coming on for awhile now, and until tonight it’s been a minor annoyance, writhing inside me every now and again. Tonight, though, it finally burst forth from my chest like a xenomorph.
I shall not name names of the guilty (except one, because I’m going to link to the annoyance), not because I’m passive-aggressive or fearful of retaliation – I will tell you to your face that you suck if you’re stupid enough to ask me what I think of your asshatery – but to protect the obtuse and because I don’t want them getting any more of the attention they’re desperately trying to attract. No, not even for the purpose of sharing the horror and mockery. Cope.
It all started with an obviously clueless author whining about how no one is buying their series despite them doing everything they can to promo it. Ye, gods, the BUTTHURT.
It was furthered by Amanda Palmer’s TED talk on “The Art of Asking.” More on this in a minute.
It was worsened by a poorly-written (and this person claims to be an author and constantly spams everyone in hard-sell fashion to buy their piece of shit?) blog post detailing the evils of corporations and contracts and “big names kill everything and the industry is dying!” then going on to celebrate (I think this was a lame attempt to offer hope to the aspiring) the “indie” spirit by touting crowd-funding and self-publishing.
A link to a particularly annoying, martyrish “thank you” note written by yet another butthurt author that ended up reading like “I appreciate you doing what you can to help but I don’t know what good it will do because no one supports us poor widdle writers no more” was the final push that enabled this xenomorph of a rant to punch through my sternum and shower the room in blood.
Hope you’ve got your waders and rain gear on. Goggles might also help.
Let’s address the above one at a time, shall we?
Dear Butthurt Author – GET. THE FUCK. OVER. YOURSELF. There’s a reason writing is called “work,” and there’s a reason not everyone makes it in this business. Clearly you are not cut out to cope with the difficulties of the profession – you know…the word that makes up “PROFESSIONAL” – and should take your toys and go home like you keep threatening to do with each of your martyrish tweets, blog posts, and status updates. I am not surprised that both your personal and professional lives are a complete mess, because you bring the habits of one into the other. I’m done enduring your asshatery. No love, Me
Note that, Aspiring Creatives – keep your personal and professional lives SEPARATE. It takes a certain level of finesse and proficiency to be able to declare your political, emotional, medical or any other issue publicly to your fans and anyone else who might take an interest in you and your work, and if you’re nothing but a whiny asshat, that’s going to color what people think of you. For instance, if you’re a bigoted asshat, there’s them that may take issue with that and not want to work with you.
In a related example, I’m an evil bitch who doesn’t have time nor patience for stupidity in any form, and I’m okay with everyone – both personal and professional – knowing that. In fact, they SHOULD know it before they choose to associate with me, because it’s not a “persona.” I operate on a WYSIWYG system (what you see is what you get), and while I don’t overshare, my personality is obvious in my online presence. You should keep your appearance in mind when you blog, tweet, or Facebook, because if you really AREN’T a desperate clingy bitch who does nothing but whinge about all your problems, then your mouth is talking and you might want to look to that*.
Done? Now go read this – http://gawker.com/5989280/when-people-write-for-free-who-pays. It’s okay. I’ll still be here when you get back. But, if you don’t have time right now to read the whole thing, I’ll paste the relevant part of it here:
Wealthy musician Amanda Palmer, who last year raised $1.2 million on Kickstarter to produce and release a record, recently used a TED talk to expand on the idea that artists should be willing to work for free. After relaying a story about how she used to be a street performer, Palmer, who is married to a very successful author named Neil Gaiman, told an audience of people who’d paid $7,500 apiece to be there that musicians shouldn’t “make” people pay for their work, but rather “let” people pay for their work. She also explained that she found it virtuous when a family of undocumented immigrants huddled together on their couch for a night so that she and her band could have their beds, because her music and presence was a fair exchange for the family’s comfort. After about 13 minutes of explaining why she is content with people giving her things, Palmer received a standing ovation.
All in all, the creative landscape is starting to look more toxic than it’s been in our lifetimes: Artists with million-dollar checks in their pockets are telling other artists that they shouldn’t expect to get paid; publications are telling writers that they shouldn’t expect to get paid, either….
From her own website (by the way, very nice fancy website with lots and lots of people taking care of lots of things for her – which they may or may not do for free just for the sheer privilege of being associated with her) This is [sic], meaning all spellings and captializations or lack thereof are hers and hers alone:
DEAR DOWNLOADER of MUSIC,
this store is built on a “pay what you want” philosophy for my digital music.
i firmly believe in music being as free as possible. unlocked. shared and spread.
i believe that in order for artists to survive and create, their audiences need to step up and directly support them. honor system. no judgment. if you’re broke – take it. if you love it, come back and kick in later when you have the money.
if you’re rich, think about who you might be karmically covering if you really love this record.
once you have it, SHARE SHARE SHARE! COPY COPY COPY! SPREAD THE EVIL!!! we are the media.
I also release all of my music and writing using the Creative Commons “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA)” license. If you want to understand what this means, google Creative Commons.
Okay. Fine. She’s a supporter of filesharing (some of us ’round these parts call that “stealin'”) but that is HER CHOICE to do that. It’s HER CHOICE not to care if people take her work for free. She is also giving people THE CHOICE to pay or not. Good for her. All fine and good. I’m all for people making their own choices. I’m all for sharing things that you’ve chosen to share. I’ve benefited from open source myself, and have contributed to it as well. I’m all for helping people out in the field and so on with no compensation other than the warm fuzzies (totally a lie – everyone knows I don’t do warm fuzzies for anyone but Lord Vader).
What’s NOT fine with me is that she’s foisting her beliefs off on other people, basically telling them that not only should the artist be grateful someone wants their work, taking what they want is okay because that’s the way it should work/works now.
No. No, it isn’t.
I work hard at what I do, and I want to be paid for it. I deserve to be paid for it. It’s a job. Would YOU go to your job and work for free, or for the prestige of being associated with your employer? What? You can’t do that because you have bills to pay and kids to feed and need actual money? No problem! According to Amanda, you can just ask people to put you up for the night or feed your kids for you so you can go do what you want. After all, they’ll get the prestige – nay, HONOR – of putting you up for the night because you’re so awesome, so it works out for everyone! Because the ability to claim that you once put Someone Cool up for the night is what life is all about, right?**
Amanda says it herself in her talk – people used to shout “Get a job!” at her when she was doing her street performing. It used to bother her that they didn’t get that her performing was her job. Well, just because I sit at a computer and make words appear on digital paper instead of standing out on the street on a milk crate giving flowers to random strangers (she did this – watch the vid) doesn’t make it any less of a job.
Just like she suggests, I ask people to pay for my work. I do. I ask them to pay the cover price of the finished product. I ask them to pay for it instead of just taking it for free from a torrent site.
Let’s look at this another way. This might be hard for some people to grasp, because they don’t equate digital files/stories/songs as property or the same thing as physical items. This example is hard for some because they don’t see the work I do as having a product they can own, or worse think that because they have a copy of it, they own that work. (Hint: You own the physical object, not the content of it. You own the book, I own the story. Just like you own your car, but Honda owns how that car is designed and manufactured. Get it?) They think digital files are just that. Files. True. But the CONTENT of those files is something that took time, effort, and yes, money to create. Your identity isn’t a physical object either, but people can still steal that, and I’ll bet it would piss you off royal if someone did that, too. But I digress.
Say you’re in the mood for a mocha and go to your favorite local coffee shop. You order your drink, the barista makes it and slides it over the counter for you. You take it and walk out of the store because you don’t have the money to pay for it, but you promise her you’ll pay her when you do. In the meantime, you’ll tell all your friends about how awesome it is and where you got it and give them all a sip of it.
Do you think she’ll take issue with that? If you don’t, go on and try it.
Now, if she’s offering free samples, that’s her choice. You’re welcome to take those and try it. It’s her choice to offer those for free and she doesn’t expect to be compensated for them. She doesn’t even expect you to buy a bigger version of it. She’s just saying, “Here, I made this. You’re welcome to try a little of it and see if you like it. If you do, there’s more available for purchase.”
Again, it’s HER CHOICE to share with you/offer something for free.
Another example for those who don’t get this just yet.
There’s a new book out you simply HAVE TO HAVE. You go to your local bookseller, pick up the book and walk out of the place, telling the bookseller that you don’t have any money right now to pay for it, but you’ll come back when you do, and in the meantime you’ll tell all your friends about it and leave reviews everywhere and go to your local copy shop (that doesn’t charge you to do this – torrent sites allow multiple copies of one file to be downloaded ad infinitum) and make copies of it and give them to EVERYONE.
Do you think the bookseller will have a problem with that? Again, go on and try it. Let me know how that turns out for you.
I have a real problem with people not paying me for my work. There are two words that come to mind for people who do work without getting paid. One is a choice. One isn’t.
Those words are “volunteer” and “slave.”
Amanda Fucking Palmer wants to volunteer her work for availability and pray she makes enough to pay her bills, that’s HER CHOICE. (I’m not even going to address the fact that she’s not a starving artist but still asks you to pay for everything from her plane tickets to appearing with her on stage.)
If YOU choose to download and share her work (you know – do her promo work for her), that’s YOUR CHOICE. It’s also your choice to pay for it or not. If you choose to pay for it, congratulations on being a decent human being who supports artists. If you don’t pay for it because you genuinely can’t, you’re not scum. She gives her permission for you to do just that, so it’s okay. Free. Go on. You’re allowed to do that WITH HER STUFF. HERS. Not anyone else’s stuff. Just hers. That’s the difference, here.
Also, she doesn’t have the right to tell everyone they’re doing it wrong if they don’t make the same choice to do what she has.
She doesn’t have the right to give permission for everyone to take what they want. If she wants to give her work away, that’s fine. More power to her. But she doesn’t have the right to look down on people who choose otherwise. She also doesn’t have the right to encourage people to take from those who don’t do things like she does.
I choose (and want!) to get paid for my work. Someday, maybe, I might offer a short story or an ebook or a “deleted scene” or other freebies (like tea or something I’ve knitted) on my website, but right now I don’t, for a lot of reasons.
The main reason is – I don’t work for free. I’m with Harlan Ellison on this one. You want me to work for you (and believe it or not, the entertainment industry – of which writing is a huge part of – is a luxury, not a necessity), you FUCKING PAY ME. You want me to come to your convention, class, library, book club, writer’s group? You pay me for my time. You’re asking me to provide you with something to benefit you, whether that’s my time, experience or knowledge, then you want me to just give it to you for free? How does that benefit me? I have bills to pay and animals to feed. I have books to write. You know…those books you enjoy reading? Yeah, those take time. It’s my job to make those. Speaking to your book club doesn’t do anything to help any one of those. It’s just a whole lot of work for me and no benefit other than the warm fuzzies for me. (See above about me and the warm fuzzies.)
Now, if I happen to be in a generous mood or it’s a great cause or something, I may volunteer my time/offer my services at no charge. For free. It’s my choice to volunteer my time and effort for things. And I do. Take a look at this blog alone – you’ll see how much time and effort I volunteer for charity. That’s why it’s called “CHARITY.” My time and effort are given without the expectation of return or compensation.
In her TED talk, Amanda Palmer is basically telling people that paying the artist or author for their creative work should be voluntary, not mandatory, because most people are honest and good and will pay for things they like you/if you’re good enough. That creative types shouldn’t expect to be paid, but instead “let” people pay if they want to.
EXCUSE THE FUCK OUT OF YOU, LADY.
Damn skippy I expect to be paid! I’m not obligated to do shit for anyone. I don’t have to write stories for publication. I do that because I choose to. You chose to dress up like a bride and stand around handing out flowers to random people instead of doing something else. It was your choice to do that. If I wanted to, I could bang stories out for my friends and family, then put them on the Internet for people to download and share and put out a hat like Miss Palmer says we should all do.
I choose to do otherwise.
That choice doesn’t make me an idiot, and it doesn’t make me a bitch for wanting to be paid to do what I both know how to do and love doing.
Neither are you entitled to my work for free. That’s the real issue here.
People nowadays feel entitled to entertainment. There’s a “culture of free” that pisses me the hell off, and people like Amanda Fucking Palmer and her husband (my former hero and writing god, before he went and did this shit) Neil Gaiman don’t have the right to speak for all of us. They don’t have the right to give people permission to steal. (Sorry, Neil, but downloading a copy of a book from a torrent site is not “like lending” or “borrowing from a library.” I will forever disagree with you on that.)
What’s worse is that many creative types think that they’re supposed to work for free because what they create isn’t worth anything and they believe they should be grateful for any recognition of their work, even piracy. This is simply NOT true. Remember the Hollywood writer’s strike? Yeah? Writing is work, people, and you pay your fucking employees. Your favorite TV shows? Movies? They’re all written. Yes, even the “reality” shows have a script. I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but those are written as well. Don’t argue with me. Just Google it.
Enough about Amanda Palmer and her sanctimonious condescension. It’s really too bad she supports piracy. I think I’d really like her if she weren’t such a fucking hippy.
However, she does provide a nice bridge to my next topic – authors who think that self-publishing is THE WAY IT’S GOING TO BE FROM NOW ON.
No. No, it’s not. Why? Because self-publishing is work, and I’ll get to the part of the rant about how people don’t want to do the fucking work here in a minute. But first let me say that my bigger issue with self-publishing isn’t the piety of its devotees.
My big issue with self-publishing is people thinking that THIS IS THE WAY IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE.
No, it’s not.
No, it’s FUCKING NOT.
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating because it can never be said enough. MONEY COMES TO THE AUTHOR FROM THE PUBLISHER, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND.
Now, I’ve ranted a lot about self-publishing before, so I’m not going to get into all the old points now. I’m a firm, FIRM believer in “stupid should hurt,” and if you’re too stupid not to figure out all the angles and caveats of self-publishing, and realize that it’s expensive, time-consuming and has a dismal success rate for all the work involved, you deserve to suffer your fate.
And you do NOT have the right to whine about it when you don’t succeed.
The success of a self-published (NOT “INDIE”) author is varied and depends greatly on many factors the majority of them aren’t willing to endure. Success stories are the exception, not the rule.
Also, if you’re stupid enough to pay to publish, you don’t get to bitch when you don’t make your money back. There is NO EXCUSE FOR IGNORANCE in this age of information. A five second Google search will provide you with a wealth of information about literary scams and people willing to help you out for a fee, a huge percentage of your “royalties,” whatever. Self-published authors yell and scream about how they’re INDIE and get control of everything and how they get this and that and the other, but in the end, you’re just trading one type of caveat for another.
Sure, the commercial (not “traditional”) way of publishing might not be perfect, but again, it’s MY CHOICE to do it that way. It’s MY CHOICE to seek to employ (that’s right – they do a metric shit-ton of work for the author for compensation from the sales of the author’s book, meaning they’re employed by the author) the services of an agent.
Self-published authors choose not to do that, instead paying their fees up front and hoping they make enough in sales to recoup their expenses.
We’re both paying for something, just in different ways. So…why am I stupid again for choosing to publish commercially?
As long as there are people like me who choose to commercially publish, publishing will never die. Self-publishing is NOT the future of publishing. In my opinion, it’s just another outlet for people who don’t want to put in the work to become professionals. Oh, they’ll say it’s because they want complete control over their work and so on, but in the end, it comes down to nothing but pure ego and frustration.
That’s just my opinion. I warned you this was going to be bloody. Let’s not even get into the part where I think self-publishing is a form of cheating, or cowardice, or surrender, or just plain ignorance. Let’s just say I have very little respect for the self-publishing world with very, very few exceptions, and those exceptions go back to that whole “choice” thing. The people I respect that self-publish (there are some!) understand the work involved and use self-publishing as it’s meant to be used. They don’t do it because they’re frustrated with commercial publishing or want to “prove it to them” (“them” being the commercial publishing industry that rejected them time and time again) that they don’t suck. But again, I digress.
Which brings us to my last point in this very long rant. (You were warned it was long.)
I really feel like this part is beating a dead horse, but I’m going to say it again anyway. The publishing world is very, very small and people talk to one another. It gets around who plays nicely and who doesn’t, who is an asshat and who isn’t, who is amazing to work with and who you don’t want to be associated with. Politeness gets you a lot more places than asshatery, and if even saying “thank you” for something that someone went out of their way to do for/help you is too difficult for you to manage without stuffing barbs and passive-aggression into your gratitude, you need to reassess your choice of profession.
See, there’s that “choice” thing again. Funny how everything keeps coming back to that in this rant, isn’t it?
For instance, you’ve chosen to read this far, and I’m appreciative of your time. You didn’t have to read this rant at all, but if you have, thank you.
The xenomorph of a rant has escaped the confines of my ribcage now and is running through the ship to make its hidey-hole and grow up big and strong so it can hunt down the unsuspecting. I’m sure it will appear randomly and tear more heads off before plastering someone to the wall.
I do so love me some xenos.
*Points if you get the reference.
**I really wonder how many people Amanda Fucking Palmer would let crash on HER couch if they were in town and needed a place to stay. She talks about random strangers hosting her whenever she and her band were in town for a gig. I really wonder if she’d be willing to do the same for other artists needing a place to stay. And don’t even get me started on what Neil Gaiman asks people to pay him for appearances and so on. I wonder if he’d be willing to “let” them pay/offer to pay him his fees instead of charging them.
Note: Comments are always moderated on this blog because I despise spammers, so it might take awhile to show up!
ETA: Someone drew my attention to this form. This might come in handy for some. If you’ve been butt-hurt, please fill this out and send it to:
6969 Upyour Pass
Eat, ME 54321