This is a great read about the political bias in mainstream publishing. http://www.nickcolebooks.com/2016/02/09/banned-by-the-publisher/
But remember, all of those allegations about ideological bias against conservative and libertarians was just in you Wrongfans’ imagination.
I don’t know Nick Cole. I spoke with him on the internet for the first time this week. I’ve never read any of his books, but apparently lots of people have. From what I understand he was a solid midlister, who was selling well, and growing his backlist. The usual good career track stuff. His last book did well and got great reviews. However, one small bit in the next (under contract) book in the series hopelessly offended a young editor at Harper and it went sideways. But read Nick’s account. It is fascinating stuff.
For years we’ve known there is a liberal bias in the publishing industry. I mean come on, almost all of them work in Manhattan. Duh. Of course the publishing industry vehemently denies that. Left wing fans don’t see it the same way fish don’t notice water is wet. It just is. Right wing fans get sick of being preached at or treated like they’re stupid, and go spend their entertainment dollars elsewhere.
Because this isn’t my first rodeo, I already know exactly how Nick is going to get attacked and dismissed.
- There is no bias.
On the contrary, it is biased, and anybody who has paid any attention at all knows it. Just like Americans in general, some authors are politically apathetic and don’t pay any attention to that part of their business. Other authors know about the bias, but they benefit from it, so they’re cool. Other authors know it, but don’t say anything because speaking up is at best a hassle, and at worse, career damaging. Then there’re some of us who can’t keep our big stupid mouths shut.
Authors are about as evenly divided ideologically as the rest of America, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at what we say in public, or reading our books. That’s because most of the non-left keep their heads down to avoid rocking the boat. In my genre there are hundreds of outspoken left wing authors, because that’s accepted, normal, and good, while there are a few dozen outspoken on the right. And that’s way more than when I started. The declining power of traditional gatekeepers has enabled more writers to speak freely.
Once I started being really vocal I was shocked by how many well-known, established authors I met who had the wrong politics who were keeping their heads down out of fear of damaging their careers. I’m talking living legends, and I’m all like “Whoa… You?” There are lots more than you’d think. We’ve got like a secret handshake and a decoder ring and everything now.
I’ve also spoken to a bunch of liberal authors who think the system is hopelessly biased to the point of stifling free expression and artistic creativity, but even being on the home team they can’t say anything without fear of hurting their careers. All the time at cons I meet an author for the first time and get some variation of “I disagree with your politics, but you’re right about this.” And then it usually turns into them ranting about how messed up their publishing house is.
- Let’s quibble over the definition of “censorship” and “banned”.
I haven’t read the other side’s take on Nick’s article yet, but knowing them as well as I do I can guarantee that will be brought up. While I was reading that link the second I saw those terms I knew the CHORFs would do the whole Strain at a Gnat, Swallow a Camel thing, nitpick the definitions, and then dismiss the whole thing.
Yes. A publisher is perfectly free to reject a book.
Yes. Refusing to publish someone’s work is not the same as banning it.
Yes. Part of an editor’s job is “censoring”.
Yes. Part of an editor’s job is understanding the author’s market, what the customers want, and providing them a product which will sell and be profitable.
Great. Now that the stupidly obvious is out of the way for the dimwits at File 770 (don’t forget to look both ways before crossing the street!), let’s get down to the important part of Why it was rejected.
So, for definitions I wouldn’t use the word Ban, but it is certainly censorship: the practice of officially examining books, movies, etc., and suppressing unacceptable parts.
In this case, unacceptable was a small idea that cast a bit of liberal orthodoxy in a negative light.
And this wasn’t a message book. This wasn’t a big recurring theme. This wasn’t a preachy, beat you over the head with Special Topic X message of the day (note, all that stuff is perfectly cool with mainstream publishing when it is left wing), this was one bit of backstory about one group of characters explaining their motivations.
But that one kernel of something that could be construed as going against holy left wing dogma was the kiss of death. It was horribly offensive. AIs find casual abortion of convenience an indicator of humans possessing a callous disregard for life… (that’s actually a pretty clever idea for the usual AI uprising trope). Nope. That’ll offend 50% of your audience!
In a genre where we can be eyeball deep in murder, rape, genocide, every crime known to man while inventing a bunch of new ones, carnage, and sheer awfulness, with dangerous ideas supposedly our bread and butter… Yet having a bit that from the PoV of one group looking at a progressive sacrament in a negative light is just too offensive to tolerate. Now if a left wing author wants to sprinkle liberal amounts of abortion through their fiction, make all the Christians into belligerent inbred rednecks, and then kick George Bush’s severed head down the street, nobody in Manhattan publishing is going to bat an eye. Because they live in a Manhattan echo chamber where everybody thinks the same way, and the idea of there being customers who would find that offensive is simply inconceivable to them.
This is supposed to be a genre of ideas, big ones, small ones, and dangerous ones. The problem is that for too long we’ve had a homogenous bunch of gatekeepers, many of whom were willing to sacrifice story and creativity in favor of enforcing a rigid group think. And then some ideas just aren’t allowed.
The fact that this editor thought that bit would turn off 50% of Nick’s audience just demonstrates how incredibly out of touch these people are now. Sure, years ago that might have been the case because all of the review places were as in lockstep as the publishers, so if anything with dangerous wrongthink escaped into the wild it would be trashed or ignored. They’re still trying to do that (which was one of the reasons behind Sad Puppies) but their stranglehold is crumbling.
- This is all a publicity stunt to sell more books.
Since I’m an author with GET PAID in my mission statement, I wouldn’t blame him if it was, but I don’t think so. That story is far too familiar, and I know too many other authors where similar things have happened. However, I warned Nick yesterday to get ready. This story appears to have gone viral. He is probably about to get slandered with every vile accusation imaginable by the CHORFs.
We’ve seen repeatedly that any time an author breaks from the group think, they’re going to get slammed. If you say anything at all about the existing system, it is either a publicity stunt, or you’re a delusional liar, or a bitter whiner with sour grapes. At no point in time does the idea that you’re telling the truth as you perceive it actually ever enter into their narrative.
Yet you can tell the truth and get publicity. Once this story broke Nick’s self pubbed version of this book went right to the top of the charts. Scaring off 50% of your audience? Nonsense. He’s sitting at #1 in like three genres right now. Like I said, the gatekeepers are crumbling. Their ignorance would be laughable if it hadn’t already screwed over so many good authors.
Here is the beautiful part… For decades the left held all the power. Readers are sick of their shit. The fact that standing up to them can actually be a sales boost demonstrates that their power is waning. You know why I talk about the size of my royalty checks? Because nothing pisses the bullies off more than being successful despite their best efforts to trash you.
Nick is getting publicity off of this? GOOD. That means creators no longer have to be beholden to the whims of every twenty something junior editor with a gender studies degree in Manhattan.