Why I Publish With Baen too

So my buddy Brad Torgersen, who recently signed with my publisher wrote this: http://bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/why-publish-with-baen/

I’m pretty sure Brad wrote that after a straw effigy of our publisher got burned for things she never actually said by a mob of butt hurt Social Justice Warriors. Basically Toni wrote a guest post on Sarah’s blog about her opinion on the recent butt hurt from the Anti-Puppy lobby, so of course the response was to make up a bunch of fabricated bullshit about “divisiveness” that Toni never actually said. And that crowd—the one which is “purging” sci-fi, chasing “badthink” from their ranks, all while threatening boycotts or actively character assassinating those who disagree—accusing somebody of being divisive is pretty hilarious.

But rather than take the time to Fisk the attention whores, I’ll be positive and chime in about my publisher too. I started with Baen in 2009. They picked up my original self-published novel and I’ve been with them ever since. During that time I’ve written ten books for them, and am currently under contract for, if I recall correctly, fifteen more. I’ve also written a bunch of short stories for them, and they’ve sent me all over the country for tours and events, so I’m fairly certain I’ve worked with just about everybody in the Baen office at one point or another.

Basically, I love my publishing house.

I know a lot of other writers, and I know somebody with just about every publishing house out there. Hang out with a bunch of writers long enough and you’ll get to hear them gripe about their publishers and their editors. And if they’re not a star or a golden boy with their publisher, then you’ll really get to hear them bitch and vent.  After five years of this stuff I’ve heard all sorts of horror stories, yet I’m unable to commiserate with them because luckily for me, my editors don’t suck, and I haven’t ever felt like my publisher is trying to screw me over.

Editing complaints are the best. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard stories, especially from the mid listers at one of the big houses about how they’ve turned in a book and waited 6 months, 9 months, or a YEAR to get any editorial feedback. Hell, at that point I’ve already written another novel and have forgotten the prior one. Then when the feedback comes back it is “Hey, throw away this half of the book and write something entirely different, oh, and I need that by Thursday.”

Sorry. Can’t commiserate with you, buddy. My editing advice, with three different Baen editors, has all been helpful, valuable, and useful. They don’t tell me how to do my job. They treat me like a professional. They just tell me when I’ve done something wrong and give me suggestions of how to make it better. I’ve had Toni circle a scene and write “Make this part not suck!” Yes, ma’am. And because we’re both professionals, I then go and make that scene not suck. I’ve had Jim Minz give me some great bits of advice to make parts better. Hell, one time he had me move up the appearance of a cupcake with a birthday candle in it to add some cognitive dissonance to a scene, and it make and okay scene awesome.

Baen editing is straight forward because their honest to goodness corporate goal is make the readers happy. If the writer is happy, then that will come through the work, and then the reader can by happy too. Yay! And that wasn’t just after I was successful enough that they could trust me, but they treated me with respect when I was a totally unproven newbie.

I’ve got friends with big houses where their relationship with their editor is so adversarial that they actually use their agent to contact their editor… holy shit. I can’t even imagine. But I don’t even have an agent. I don’t think I need one. Like I said, 10 books in 5 years, and enough under contract to assure my steady work for the next seven years, so apparently I’m doing okay without an agent. (I was a government contract accountant, so I wasn’t afraid of reading contracts) But I’ve got a sneaky feeling that if I was with certain other publishing houses, damned right I would have an agent to try and protect myself from their bullshit.

Let me give you an example of what doing business with Baen is like. When I first started out I had absolutely no idea what I was doing as far as business, and like I said, no agent to guide me (got rejected by pretty much all of them, which is funny because I’m betting they’d love to be getting 15% of this action now!) so when I signed my first contract, I gave over things like dramatic rights (movies and TV), audiobooks, and foreign rights to Baen. At that point in my career, I was just happy that anybody was reading my stuff at all, and I couldn’t imagine that people would want to listen to it or read it in other languages.

So then I got approached by my first movie producer. Wow. Didn’t see that coming. Uh oh, my contract turned all that over to my publishing house… The contract doesn’t specify percentage details for that kind of thing. Now, at this point many publishers would have just screwed me over. Nope. One phone call to Toni, she sticks Baen’s Hollywood agent onto it, we talk, and boom, no problem. I’m then getting an extremely large percent of any of that sort of thing. For the last three years I’ve been collecting option money.

Foreign rights? I believe I’m now in 7 languages with more in the works. I didn’t do anything to arrange that. Baen did. And my percentage that I’m getting for it is extremely fair. Audio? I’m doing awesome (seriously, if I could do in books what I do in audio I’d be on top). Also something they arranged. If I’d kept those rights for myself and an agent had tried to sell them for me, they’d be getting 15% of everything and they might not have gotten me into as many markets. All of this ancillary money for MHI is something that they could have hosed me on, but they didn’t, because Toni is an honest businesswoman.

You’d think this stuff would be a no brainer, and you’d run a business like a business. Keep your suppliers happy and keep your customers happy, that’s pretty basic right? Not in this industry. Oh heck no. There’s a reason most successful industries hire us heartless conservatives to run companies, but publishing is part of the entertainment industry, which means it can get goofy.

Meanwhile, while I’m hearing horror stories of other editors being a bunch of PC douchebags to their authors and being jerks to them over politics, Baen is happily publishing the likes of me, Tom Kratman, Mike Williamson, and Sarah Hoyt, while simultaneously publishing Eric Flint, Misty Lackey, Sharon Lee, Steve Miller, and Stoney Compton. If you’re unaware, that is pretty much the entire political spectrum and then some, but because Baen is the only place to not actively muzzle people like me, Tom, Sarah, and Mike, then obviously we’re that Evil Right Wing Place. But right wing, left wing, republican or democrat, libertarian to communist, it doesn’t matter what an author is. Toni just wants our readers to be happy and keep buying books.

When I was writing Grimnoir, and I had the FDR vs. Francis bits, I asked Toni if she thought that was a good idea or if I was pushing it too far, having a beloved democrat icon be the total asshole he was in real life. Her basic response? I don’t care if my authors get political as long as it is entertaining, and if it is something they are honestly passionate about and that comes through, then it’ll make the readers happy.

Boom. Done. Those made for some great scenes by the way. And I’m still getting hate mail about how FDR rounding up a hundred thousand people to throw them in prison camps is just ripping off X-Men… Thanks American education system!

Meanwhile, I know a bunch of authors who have been actively silenced by their editors (or worse, openly sabotaged) because their writing (or in some cases, their personal beliefs) go against the accepted groupthink of the Manhattan party set. I know of authors being hosed for their beliefs, mocked, shunned, attacked, maligned, you name it, until most of the ones who fall anywhere on the right half of the spectrum just keep their heads down. But the proper goodthinking side of the industry has its head so far up its own ass that it doesn’t even recognize that it is biased. They are simply doing what is proper. Heck, half the time when somebody like me mentions somebody like this the SJW crowd shows up demanding the names of these authors. Yeah, I can’t imagine why I shouldn’t just reveal the identity an author who has a problem with their vindictive, petty, spiteful editor so it can damage their career. Yes. They are demanding that we “out” people. That side isn’t super good at irony.

So you can see why I think it is funny that Toni, who’ll publish just about anything as long as it is entertaining, is labeled as “divisive” for not sucking up to the perpetually butt hurt crowd. Recently I discovered sci-fi author John C. Wright, who is openly staunch Catholic and a fantastic deep thinking political blogger, and I was absolutely stunned to discover he writes for Tor. Go John! All I know is that he must sell a freaking ton of books. 🙂

I’ve worked with just about everybody in the Baen offices. They aren’t a big operation. I think we’re like the 4th biggest publisher of sci-fi and fantasy, but most importantly, we’re headquartered somewhere OTHER THAN MANHATTAN. Those of you who’ve dealt with New York in your careers know that it is a very special place with a very special class of people who live in the city who think they are the absolute center of the universe. Most of America isn’t Manhattan. Hell, most of New York City isn’t like that. The last signing event I did in New York I had a ton of NYPD (all of the ones who actually know how to shoot!) show up, and the running joke was that they were only allowed across the bridge through the servant’s entrance.  Baen realizes that most of our target audience isn’t Ted Mosby.

Baen’s employees rock. They are always helpful, whether it is publicity stuff, or writing stuff, or tour things. On that note, our marketing director, Corinda, is a total badass who gets things done. Everybody in the office is on the ball. If I’ve got a question, they’ll get me an answer. If I need something taken care of, they’ll take care of it. Marla, Laura, Tony, Hank, Grey, all awesome (and I’m probably forgetting somebody, and I’ll kick myself later).

Then you’ve got the Baen fans. Brad mentioned this in his post. I think we’re about the only publisher with fans who are loyal to the entire brand as opposed to just individual authors. They loved Jim Baen for the work he did and the stuff he put out, and Toni has picked up the mantle and ran with it since he passed on. Baen fans are hard core. They know that if Baen put it out then it is going to be first and foremost, fun. Back when eBooks started, Jim Baen was a pioneer. When other publishers were charging hard cover prices and putting annoying DRM software on their books, Jim decided to be fair and not treat all his customers like thieves and pirates.

Brad mentioned the size of the advances. Yep, Baen advances for new authors aren’t that big. Toni takes the long view. She is taking a risk on a new author, so it is way easier for a book to become profitable with that smaller risk than a big one. On the bright side you are spared the massive whine fests like that recent blog post that went around with the chick who got a $200,000 advance for her first book that then sold a pathetic 8,000 copies. Holy shit. The publisher just took a massive loss. Then after several years of moping around and, I’m not making this up, forgetting how to write in the first person, some dumb ass gave her a $30,000 advance for another book.

Personally, my first few books got a smaller advance, and now that I’ve proven myself and have a solid fan baseI get a pretty good advance. But it doesn’t really matter since every single one of my books has earned out during the first royalty period so this hasn’t been an issue for me.

I’ve got friends who’ve gotten the big advances for their first book. Hey, no pressure, except if this book doesn’t blow up huge and you’re not the next Robert Jordan, you are now considered a total loser and your publishing house will hate you… Even though you as the author have zero control over how much that publishing house is going to push your work, advertise or promote you. And we’ve seen repeatedly that most of this industry can’t make a business decision for shit. Hey, we have this first time author’s book, and it sold pretty respectably, but since we threw a 50k advance at him, he’s a total financial loser. Oh well.

I know of one publishing house that gave a first timer a big advance, and she sold an extremely respectable 40,000 copies of her first book (the average midlist novel in America only sells a measly 15k) so she should be good right? Only they printed 200,000 copies. So she was a “loser”. Wow. Holy shit, publishing industry. Speaking as a retired auditor, somebody should get fired for that, but it sure as hell isn’t the author.

Is my publishing house perfect? Nope. It is an organization made up of human beings. Duh. However when you go to a convention and you’re listening to a bunch of authors who’ve had a few too many drinks whine about how much their publishers suck and how the publishing industry is screwing people over, you’ll begin to notice a theme of how the industry is such and such way “except for Baen”.

Sad Puppies Update: Time is almost up to nominate
New web address and fixing up the blog

160 thoughts on “Why I Publish With Baen too”

  1. Funny, I am/was listening to a podcast from SFsignal (Episode 236) where your name and Baen (and several other Baen authors) were brought up…

    It seems Myke Cole doesnt think you and Baen are “his Tribe” and He and the “lady editor” 😉 of what sounds like a lefty Military anthology seem to have a low opinion of Ringo…

    I hope you guys are laughing all the way to the F’in Bank!!

    1. I’ve never met the guy. Talked to him on Twitter once. Seemed nice enough.

      But another Mil-SF writer has a low opinion of Ringo? I’m sure John will be super worried. I mean, John is only like one of the biggest sellers ever in the history of the genre with a massive, loyal fan base.

      If I was to guess, I’m betting my “tribe” buys a lot more of the Mil-SF subgenre than the Social Justice Warrior crowd. 🙂

    2. You mean this panel? Karin Lowachee, Richard Dansky, Jaym Gates and Myke Cole
      SuperStar Military Scifi Panel Discussion “SuperStars?”

    3. Listened to it. Mike Cole stuck writing Mil Fiction
      Trying to get out of it writing Dark Fantasy with the main protagonist young gay female.

      1. Larry what he said about you was basically something along the lines of “When I was looking for a publisher, I looked at Baen…Larry Corriea, John Ringo, Eric Flint…they aint my Tribe man, they are not my tribe.” You know the type of comment that is made with a wink and a nod to signify he wouldnt lower himself to be associated with you guys. That he was better than Baen or something.

        My thought was “successful money making authors arent your tribe…then what does that say about you…”

      2. Let’s see, Baen has Flint on left part of the divide politically and Ringo is on the Right and there is people everywhere in between, so what tribe is he?

      1. Cole is a decent author, but let’s face it, most of his financial success comes from his willingness to kiss Pat Rothfuss’s ass on twittter thus guaranteeing that the hippy Rothfuss monkeys buy his books.

    4. If Myke actually said those words, “[Baen] ‘aint my tribe,” I must conclude that Myke simply does not know that many Baen authors in person. He has probably only ever heard bad stuff about us from the usual suspect sources. He knows not of what he speaks.

      1. I just listened to the whole thing. At first, Myke tried to couch his comments against Baen in a very respectful manner. But as the interview went on, his commentary became increasingly more hostile. He even called Orson Scott Card a “vile human being.” I’m not sure what Card did to deserve the label, but I wouldn’t call someone “vile” unless they put babies in microwaves or something worse.

        The man’s certainly entitled to his opinion, but one shouldn’t take shots at a group of people without having them there to defend themselves.

        Also, how is it that many of these military panels are exclusively populated with liberals? I’ve only been out of the Army about 10 years, but 90% of the officers with whom I served were conservative. Why is it that 100% of the panel on military sci-fi represented the political views of 10% of the Army officer population? To be fair, enlisted folks would have a slightly higher proportion of liberals – say maybe 30% – but still. You’d think that you’d have a balanced range of political viewpoints on such a panel.

        Then again, I think only 1 out of the 4 panelists actually served.

      2. OSC is considered “vile” simply because he opposes gay marriage. That’s it.

        What’s funny is, from what I understand, he’s generally fairly liberal.

        And, as an former enlisted man (Navy), I’m not sure that it was even 30 percent that could be called liberal…but it also depends on where they’re from.

        Of course, I got out in Clinton was still in office.

      3. Tom,

        I led a tank platoon, a support platoon, and then was an executive officer of a cavalry troop. In combat arms (infantry, armor, artillery, etc.), conservatives outnumbered liberals by about 9 to 1. But in the support functions, that ratio was much lower. In my support platoon, I’d estimate it was about 1 to 1. Again, the data is obviously anecdotal, but that’s my opinion based on my experience.

      4. OSC tried to talk the LDS (Mormon) Church, with many extremely homophobic members, into perhaps not hating gay people so much.

        I have met many LDS men who are certain that *all* gay men are constantly raping very underage boys to ‘convert’ them; therefore, all gay men need to be shot upon discovery. I didn’t say ‘every lds man’ or even ‘a majority’. (And certainly not Larry who only divides humanity into ‘current’ and ‘future’ CorreiaTech customers.)

        At the same time, working on acceptance from the other end, he tried to point out to gays that they were breaking the rules of a voluntary membership club.

        You can’t have gay sex and be LDS in good standing.
        Because rules. Just like:
        You can’t be in the O administration and support the US Constitution.
        You can’t be a McDonalds employee and wear a KFC uniform at work.
        You can’t be black and a Republican.

        In every case above, it’s breaking that club’s rules, and violators will be sanctioned or ostracized. Americans have a right to wear, act and campaign and share sex with anyone legally of age. They don’t have a right to loved for every choice.

        You can’t be a member in good standing of a society where you’re flagrantly violating the rules.

        There are many reasons why gay marriage is a very, very bad idea for gays. But try to bring up any of these ideas at a GLAD meeting and you’ll get thrown out on your ear.

        OSC knew he was risking backlash from many members of the LDS church for trying to nudge the body towards acceptance. He didn’t realize he was going to get backlash from the gay community or lefties in general, since he was doing his best to *help* gay acceptance in the LDS church. But he got hammered from all sides anyway.

        Reasons why gays might want to rethink marriage:
        Gay marriage license = gov’t registration of:
        active homosexual lifestyle
        partner’s name.

        Once you’re in the database, you’re in forever. Societal pendulums swing both ways.

        There are many countries, most notably Islamic, where homosexuality is a capital offense. That particular religion is on the popular upswing, and government database security is notably lacking lately. Perhaps screaming to the world your gayness might be a bad idea.

        Also, divorce. It sucks. Without gay marriage, no gay divorce, alimony, spousal support, or court division of property.

        But you can’t bring up any of the above at a gay meeting without getting shouted down and thrown out.

      5. Sean,

        That’s possible. I was a Navy Corpsman, so we were a bit of both. We could be support or front line troops.

        The Navy’s kind of odd that way. Even our support troops might find themselves in harms way during a naval conflict.

        I wonder if that somehow colors my observations compared to yours? Either way, mine’s only anecdotal as well.

      6. Card’s a liberal, but not an orthodox one. He doesn’t take any positions that are contrary to his LDS beliefs (i.e. which largely means no abortion, and his already mentioned stances on same sex relationships). And he supported the War on Terror during Bush’s term (including the invasion of Iraq). I know he strongly disliked Edwards, but he based that on having had the guy as a politician in the region (Card lives in North Carolina). I’ve no clue what his position was on any of the other Democratic nominees since the start of the current century. My read is that he’s probably not someone who’s going to go into full-on frothing moonbat mode.

        But I haven’t checked in on his stuff lately (I used to read the pieces he wrote for his local newspaper), so it’s possible that I’m missing a more recent bit of news regarding him.

      7. Henchman wrote: “But you can’t bring up any of the above at a gay meeting without getting shouted down and thrown out.”

        Yeah, because those “reasons” are completely idiotic. I’d make sure you bounced. Twice.

      8. @Pavepusher,
        I’m hetro, so I haven’t been to that many LGBT meetings, though I have close friends who are out and flaming.

        Where gay marriage exists, gay divorce will inevitably follow. People grow and change, and divorce just means ‘it was great, but we’re done now’.

        Of late, the huge discussion among straight guys is how marriage has become an arrangement on the order of Lando Calrissian and Darth Vader’s deal. In other words, a total con and ripoff for men. Marriage was originally a contract with obligations on both sides. Now, it is common for a woman to adulter, become pregnant, divorce the man, take half or more, keep the house and get alimony plus child support for the kid who has 0% of his genes. It’s also common for a man to divorce his wife for her abusing the kids, and she still gets half and custody + child support because “kids belong with their mother”. Yes, that’s straight out of a local newspaper.

        Of late, the female responsibilities have vanished in court. The judges have the authority to ruin men’s lives, and it is to the point that everyone now assumes that a wife testifying under oath to physical abuse is perjuring herself. It is also assumed (rightly) that such perjury will never be punished. It’s unarguable that divorce court has become inherently unfair.

        What happens with a gay divorce? Most judges are lean conservative and they have unbelievable power to wreck the lives of people in their divorce courts. What if he/she is a bit (or a lot) homophobic? Functionally, there isn’t any appeal to divorce court rulings, it’s all up to the judge, and the only real revisions to court orders happen require convincing the original judge to admit (s)he was wrong. Good luck.

        Gov’t registration…
        Marriage licenses are government grants of permission to have sex. Period. “Unlawful Intercourse” used to be any sex outside of marriage. “Consenting Adult” just meant it wasn’t statutory rape. As recently as John F. Kennedy, who continually faced prosecution for adultery with accompanying impeachment and getting fired as president for his famous bed hopping.

        A marriage license is a public record that anybody can look up. Including someone looking to target gays because they’re a psycho. And yes, these folks exist. When I married, I had some tension with my family, and I eloped without telling them. A family member got suspicious and checked the courthouse records and found our marriage license.

        Gun owners don’t want to be registered because those records are invariably used against them in the future, as is happening in VT and NY as you read this.

        Do you really think it impossible that people might resent the left in coming elections for their current re-run of the Weimar Republic and Zimbawbe’s fiscal policies and the all to forseable results to come? And elect someone from the far right? And perhaps folks might decide to come after the most dependably solid left minority around, the gay community?

        Or what about Dearborn, a.k.a. Dearbornistan where Christian missionaries were arrested for “disturbing the peace” by preaching around Muslims? The city formally apologized and paid undisclosed compensation for the harassment.

        In England, Sharia law is already a parallel legal system. In France, there are many sections of Paris where the police *never* go. Period. Sharia law is real and is made many inroads in the west.

        Under Sharia law, gays are executed. Those following Sharia have often shown extrajudicial initiative in carrying out Sharia punishments without bothering the authorities first. If you want to see the results, go to liveleak and do a search for gay + execution. The bodies hanging by the neck from construction cranes are executed gays.

        The internet has taught us that digital records are forever. Perhaps public records of acts punishable by death aren’t smart records to be splashing around the world. Who knows what the legal system is going to be a decade from now. Or two decades from now. Are you willing to bet your life? Your lover’s?

        The property and other benefits of marriage should be easily obtainable through powers of attorney, trusts and shell corporations. I know that many companies provide medical insurance to gay partners because I worked at one of them, and there’s no way it isn’t even more common now.

        If there are any holes in that alternate solution pack, I recommend the LGBT work from the civil end. Marriage should be nobody else’s damn business and certainly not the state’s. I’m for abolishing the institution altogether.

        All consenting adults should be able to join whatever marriage they like on a contract basis and leave the government out of it.

      9. @Pavepusher

        You should take the Muslim threat to gays a bit more seriously, unless you are

        (1) – Really sure that where you live is never going to go the way of Dearborn, Michigan, and

        (2) – Really sure that you’re never going to travel to a Muslim-dominated country.

  2. So I cheated, as we all know. I didn’t have to struggle through the slush pile like most aspiring authors. I didn’t even think the online story we wrote back in 2006 was worthy of actual publication. I owe you that one, dragging me into being an actual author even though I doubted it would work. I know you mainly did it because you wanted to get another book out there that you’d already pretty much written, but it worked out for both of us.

    I wouldn’t want to write for anyone else but Baen, and as Larry can attest, I’m a pretty mercenary mother hubbard. I tell my aspiring author friends to give Baen a shot. The vast majority of the time, you’ll just get a yes or no answer on your submission. In my experience, they don’t jerk you around, they don’t ignore you, they don’t string you along, or any of that other horse shit. If they give you advice, it’s good, useful advice. Toni actually reads most of the manuscripts that go to print, herself. I can’t IMAGINE reading that much each day, my eyeballs would fall out of my head.

    But she’s dedicated, and that sort of dedication deserves dedication from us authors in return. As long as Baen will keep printing my crap, I’ll keep churning it out for them.

  3. Both Larry and Brad have alluded to something, and it’s this: The entire Baen “family” **IS** pretty much an extended family. We’ll occasionally bicker and fight, especially over important stuff like preferred drink and preferred caliber (7.62x54R, thank you very much. . . ), but we’re still FAMILY. ..

    1. I think Baen authors and staff and fans generally remember that this is supposed to be a big tent operation. Petty little personality bitch fests and political knife fights are not what Baen is about. It really is a company centered around the idea that books ought to be fun. People who can’t grasp that . . . well, they won’t grasp the idea of the big tent, either.

      1. I’ve always felt that way. I think that the Bar went a long way to create that feeling. It’s a shame that none of the other publishers ever picked up on what the Bar was doing for Jim. It gave him immediate feedback on stuff and made it easier for him to take chances on things like open ebooks, the free library and the handout infection CDs. Baen became a community rather than a publisher with readers who the publisher never talked to.

      2. I think Tor tried to create something like the Bar with their website, but it quickly became a place where the opinions were dictated to the community by the editors. Often with swings of the banhammer. An anti-Bar, now home of those who want to impose orthodoxy on SF&F.

        It was good for a few things, though. When an author spent most of her time talking about the Doctor Who cameos hidden in her books instead of her books, I knew I could skip them.

      3. That is perhaps the best capsule definition of the problem. I read Baen because the writers can TELL A FRICKIN STORY that I WANT TO READ. Sorry about the caps, but it’s amazing how rare that talent has become. And another Baen bonus is that I frequently learn something of value in areas of expertise outside my own. I don’t often find that in “mainstream” lit.

      1. Depends on the application. It can make headspacing easy on some platforms. If, for example, you’re rebuilding a military and an industrial complex after a serious collapse or disaster, it would be simpler to build Degyartevs or Brens for rimmed cartridges than modern MGs.

  4. I’m aghast at the divisiveness in this post. After the righteous take-down of Toni’s post, the We Don’t Care About that Big Ol’ Meanie Anyway Ha Ha Ha Ha Sob Club are doubling down! Not only are they demanding for themselves the mantle of the One True Fandom, not only are they insisting that all bow before the altar of R.A.H., now they have the temerity to claim that their publisher is the only worthwhile one. The idea that a publisher shouldn’t care about politics is just a dog-whistle for the idea that your horrid, horrid, right-wingish whitemale (OK, trans-white, but cis-male so it still counts) thuggish racist “politics” is somehow “acceptable”.

    [Poe’s Law disclaimer: 🙂 ]

  5. Its very true about people being devoted to the Baen brand. When it comes to other SF publishers, its been hit or miss whenever I pick up a new book from them. Even if I do my research beforehand, there have been times I’ve just had to put a book down because its a struggle to read.

    I can’t think of a single Baen book that I haven’t been able to finish. And its precisely why you said. They’re fun. Even if I dislike the characters, find the themes pretentious, or the dialogue atrocious, I always enjoy the read because its *entertaining.* Seeing the Baen label indicates to me that a book is less of a risk.

    So all I can say is don’t sell the company! The reputation alone is worth a fortune and hopefully it will be maintained well into the future long after the other hoity-toity labels have crashed and burned.

      1. Tom,

        Are you trying to get both of us in trouble? 😉

        But you’re probably right. That said, I’m more than happy to wait that long if that unnamed magazine ultimately decides to buy my work.

        1. Me? Get us in trouble? Moi?? 😀

          Oh, of course.

          I somehow doubt they’re going to buy mine. It’s really not a particularly good fit for them in hindsight.

          1. Mine’s a decent fit, but it also has a lot of twists and plot elements that would require the editor to take too many risks if he published it.

            We’ll see. With my luck, it’s probably lost.

      2. Rumor has it that certain magazine (which also publishes me, ahem) is picking up the pieces in the slush department. I truly am sorry it’s been such a rough ride the last two years. Hang tough. I think brighter days are ahead.

        And if I am totally off the beam about this certain magazine — having displayed myself as clueless — well, nevermind. 😉

        1. You know, I think this particular might have published a thing or two you’ve written. Surely nothing anyone’s read or anything 😉

          Seriously, I hope they do get it straightened out. I don’t mind waiting…to a point.

          Oh yeah, you weren’t supposed to read this!!!! 😉

  6. Having now read both Brad’s post and this one, I have to say I’m glad to see it. While I love a good fisking as much as the next member of the Monster Hunter Nation, sometimes it’s great to hear about the awesome.

    Larry, is it possible for you to share some the types of stories your author friends at other publishers have shared? Obviously, nothing that would peg it as being a particular author. I’m not asking for anyone to be outted by any means. I’m just wanting more information in general.

    1. The danger with getting too specific is that it will get back to the bitchy antagonistic editors and hurt careers.

      For example, about 3 years ago I was in a conversation with 2 other writers. One who was doing super good and one who was struggling. Same publishing house. Different editors. The guy who was struggling was one of those where he’d gotten a big advance and was under a lot of pressure, and though his first book had done well, it hadn’t blown up huge like the publisher wanted. The biggest single complaint about the book from all the critics were a direct result of a meddlesome thing that his editor made him do. The author knew this editior had made the wrong call.

      Fast forward a few weeks, I get a frantic call from this author, wondering who I told about this conversation. I hadn’t told anybody. But it had gotten back to the editor in question and he’d had a giant tissy fit come apart. Now this author was in trouble because he’d publically complained about this editor’s editing decisions. The other author hadn’t talked either that he could think of. Later on we discovered that it was actually the other author’s assistant who’d made a remark in passing and it had gotten back, and that was enough to cause all sorts of massive career problems for the poor guy.

      So that is sort of why I don’t give specifics, and that wasn’t even a political/social one. Those are WAY worse.

      1. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want anything that was specific.

        Maybe stories that seem to be common enough that there’s no way it could be tied to a single person or something like that.

        The truth is, while I’d like to be published with Baen, I’m not sure that will happen. I’m curious what the hell I’m in for if I don’t get in with them.

        1. Get with whoever you can sign with. Sell as many books as possible to build your fanbase. Then if it doesn’t work out, you’ve got a fanbase to sell to on your own or when you get a deal with somebody else.

          1. Fair enough.

            Obviously, the first step is to write something that’s not absolute shit. Without that, everything else kind of becomes irrelevant.

  7. As a LONG term reader of sci-fi etc., when bored and looking for books that I’m pretty sure I’m going to like, I go to the Baen catalog and start ordering. I can’t say that for any other publisher.

    1. I used to find books online, read, and if I liked, buy. But then I met Baen, where the first several chapters are free. I figure that at 1/3 through the book, if I can stop then fine.

      Of course, by the time the free chapters have run out, I’m usually well and truly hooked, and out comes the credit card.

      The Baen free library was an astounding idea. That, too, hooked me on many a Baen author. Like the partial book deal, the BFL generally offers only the first book of the series for free.

      Talk about setting a hook…

      1. They know what their doing. You want loyal fans and a strong costumer base, give a little and it pays in dividends.

  8. Larry, I forgot which one of your fisks (it was an epic one, though), brought up John C. Wright, but thanks to that, I picked up his “Golden Age” trilogy (iirc, it’s his first 3 books). I can see why he must sell a ton of books. They’re incredibly esoteric like “Hyperion”, but unlike Dan Simmons, Wright’s stories make cohesive sense and tell a human story that is really really good, while all the while maintaining that sense of “holy crap this is fantastic” that writers like Heinlein must have done with readers back when space travel still seemed wild and unknown in fiction, with the technology and culture.

    So, I hope you’ve found time to start reading the guy’s sci-fi work. Its totally different than what sci-fi staples like Weber, Drake, Ringo, and Kratman put out (and I love those guys’ works), but just as good.

    He’s also pretty funny. Just wait till you get to the line of “My dear boy, did you just use yourself as a verb?” “I’m feeling a bit intransitive.” in “The Golden Age.”

    1. I bought a three of his books and they are sitting next to my bed, waiting to be read. My wife is reading Count to a Trillion right now.

      1. I’ll get to those books after I’ve finished his first trilogy. The Amazon reviews seemed to point to those 3 as a good starting point. Being that they’re amazon reviews, I wasn’t sure how to take them, so I figured I’d find one that most folks couldn’t really say bad things about (impugn? Geeze, I used to be a better writer than this. I blame the internet!), even if they didn’t really like it.

        Because I already polished off Weber’s latest Safehold series, and Baen reviews on the latest Flint/Weber book seem to be “Good lord, half of this is copy/paste from the other books!”…. which I sadly have to say has become aggravatingly typical. And MHN is still a few months off, and my book-devouring rate is increasing.

        I think we need a new SM character: Book monster. He can take CM’s place while CM is out killing commies for cookies (I love alliteration).

      2. The Golden Age set is brilliant. Post-humans, post-Singularity, and you get… people.

        The Orphans of Chaos series is… different. And, though most people would consider it fairly mild, I did have a “Oh, John Wright, no,” moment—as did the author, when he re-read it. (John Ringo’s comment when he reread his own Ghost recently: “I need help.”)

        I’m reading the Count to a Trillion books now; waiting for Judge of Ages to come in from the library.

        All of them: Big idea, taken to an imaginative extreme, with deadpan wry humor. I love the MHI books, but Wright has first dibs on my book budget.

      3. Joel, so is Orphans of Chaos (I do hope this combox allows use of hmtl tags) worth it, or a “skip” series? B/c when I get into an author and he’s on Kindle, I can usually afford to buy most of his library of work if it’s not too extensive. If it is extensive, I buy piecemeal as I read through it and skip the “oh no”s that are going to be there with any author with an extensive corpus (of work).

      4. Sir Brass the fault with the Weber/Flint 1632 series is a result of trying to have everything tie together and still let reads just read italy stores or german stories or x stories. I notice this problem early on but I still love the alternate history to much not to buy them. Try the e book bundles. 18 dollars for 4 to 6 books really helps the pocket book and you don’t feel so bad about skipping the tie in parts of that 25 dollar hard back.

      5. SirBrass, the Orphans series is definitely worth a read. Imagine someone threw Percy Jackson and Teen Titans in a blender along with their mathematics and philosophy curriculum. The books vie for my favorite of his series. The “Oh, Wright, no!” moment I figure Mr. Salomon is referring to is one scene in the second book where two of the characters get nekkid in order to persuade their friend to transform himself back into a human. It makes sense in context, but it is a too descriptive about the whole affair, which is doubly frustrating because if the scene were written in a less titillating and more humorous fashion, it could be comedy gold (it’s still kinda funny). Still, I wouldn’t let a few pages spoil the other 1200 or so in the trilogy. It’s definitely the funniest of Wright’s series (though if The Hermetic Millenia is any indication, the Chaos gang may soon find themselves in fierce competition with Menelaus Montrose for this honor).

      6. Mr. Correia, just wanted to let you know I found your blog through Mr. Wright’s, and am quite happy to have done so! Hard Magic was actually sitting in my book stack, a gift from a friend, and after perusing your blog, I was like, “Wait a minute, I know this name!” Needless to say, Hard Magic quickly shot to the top of the book pile, and I am heartily enjoying it so far. I’m recommending it to another friend of mine who reminds me a lot of Jake Sullivan.

        Also, SirBrass, if you are picking up his works a little at a time, here’s a quick overview of his other novels. Count to a Trillion‘s completion is contingent on each volume selling out its initial print run, so I kind of plug for that series:

        The Golden Age: Amnesiac conspiracy libertarian action thriller, with the most invention I have ever seen in one book. You could probably do a whole novel using just one of the many ideas Wright throws at you. It is a very optimistic look at the future and technology; if you’re a Heinlein fan, I think you’d like this series. It also has one of my favorite characters of Wright’s, Marshall Atkins Vingt-et-Un, the World’s Last Soldier.

        Count to a Trillion: Wright’s newest series, serving somewhat as a commentary on his earlier sci-fi. If The Golden Age is Campbellianly optimistic about the future, Count to a Trillion is…not. Hilariously, the protagonist himself is a sci-fi nerd (and gunslinging lawyer specializing in “out of court settlements”) disappointed with how the future is turning out. Also, he tries to hack his own brain and become a posthuman. He succeeds, but soon finds himself pitted against similarly upgraded supermen in a duel both physical and philosophical for the fate of the Earth and her inhabitants, all tinkering with the tides of history and evolution to try and produce a human race of either worthy slaves or fierce defenders to greet the slowly advancing alien invasion. The series has a lot of time jumps. Like, a lot of time jumps. There’s a reason it’s called Count to a Trillion. I didn’t think the series really picked up until the second volume, but when it gets going, it gets going.

        The Last Guardian of Everness: Wright’s most underrated series, in my opinion. It doesn’t have the geewhiz waycool technological explosion of The Golden Age or Count to a Trillion, or the snarky and colorful cast of Orphans of Chaos, but the series is just plain FUN: the characters are great, the action thick and fast, and the mythological references plentiful. Like a kid in a sandbox, Wright gleefully stuffs as much fantastical and mythological coolness as he can into the two volumes, plus the biggest explosion this side of Gurren Lagann.

        Null-A: Continuum: For any A.E. van Vogt fans, an authorized sequel to Players of Null-A. This is the only one I haven’t read, because I haven’t been able to find a copy of Players of Null-A to read first.

    2. You may be interested to know that Castalia House will be publishing AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND by John C. Wright next week. It is excellent. We will also be publishing a collection of his nonfiction essays entitled TRANSHUMAN AND SUBHUMAN in April, followed by more of his fiction works.

      And, to return to the topic at hand, we aspire to be as well-loved by our authors as Baen is. We consider them to be a model publisher.

      1. Castalia House looks very interesting. It would be great to submit a story and know it would be accepted or rejected on its merit and not whether or not my twitter account or blog are sufficiently left of center.

    3. I’ve read all three “Eschaton” books (just finished Judge of Ages recently). Wright has replaced Frank Herbert as my go-to sciffy author. I can’t wait for the next book. Unfortunately, some kind of software glitch at B&N led them to massively over-order book 2, and now Tor is having second thoughts about buying books 5 & 6. If folks could find time to write Tor asking them to buy the rest of the series, it would be a mitzvah. Here’s Tor’s address:

      Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
      175 Fifth Avenue
      New York, NY 10010

      Thanks everybody, especially our doting landlord (bought Hard Magic & digging it).

    4. I agree. I happened upon his Chaos trilogy, and it caused a reaction I have come to cherish on the few occasions I encounter it: it hurt my head, but in a good way

  9. Still getting hate mail over FDR in Grimnoir?

    That’s the best laugh I’ve had in days. Though at some point, you have to stop blaming the education system and blame the person. Some of us survived public school and managed to educate ourselves in spite of bullshit attempts to create a zombie army of leftist idiots.

    1. Best laugh for me as well. You can almost hear the sputtering through the web browser when you remind them that their lefty hero FDR ordered the Japanese internment camps. Never gets old.

    2. The trashing of FDR in Grimnoir was a particular favorite of mine.

      Dan, I sort of agree. I had to rise above what I was taught in public education, however.

      Hell, these days I could write a book called, “Everything I learned, I learned in Kindergarten, Marching Band, and post High School.”

      The folksiest wisdom I ever got was from my kindergarten teacher, my parents (despite their liberalism), my marching band teacher, and folks I met and talked to on my own during my college years and beyond.

      I’ve spent years deprogramming the stuff I learned in k-12. True, I turned out alright, but it was thanks to some good teachers I had in k-12 who taught me how to think, NOT thanks to the material I was shoveled.

      1. Sounds like you did alright for yourself, sir. If you’re the writing sort, you could sneak some of that knowledge into a story. I’m sure there’s young ‘uns out there (maybe yet to be born) that could use those lessons. They don’t get taught often enough.

        If I tried to give credit to all the folks that made the parts of me I’m proud of, I’d bore you to tears. I’ve had some damn good role models and teachers of the practical sort in life, very few of them in school.

        Also, good books. That’s why I’m glad Larry, Brad, Sarah, and all the rest are writing today. Keeps me happy, and someday my godson will probably be reading these. I’d rather find one of them and get hooked than have some wacko English prof sour him on books because he had to read Madam freaking Bovary and got scarred for life. *chuckle*

  10. I’m not sure how any science fiction fan can ignore Baen. For Christ’s sake, they publish David fucking Weber.

    Also, I never realized what a giant d-bag Scalzi was until I starting following your blog. It’s a shame too, because the guy can write a solid novel.

    1. I guess I’m ahead of the curve. I quit reading Scalzi when I read something he said fairly insulting libertarians in general. As a card carrying libertarian, I decided that he didn’t want any more of my money.

    2. Let’s get one thing clear about Scalzi. He can put words on paper and he can tell a decent story. But he makes politically-motivated errors. When he rewrote H. Beam Piper’s fuzzy novel, he pulled out all the nuclear stuff. Instead of mining precious stones with nukes the protagonist is mining anthracite coal. Yup, anthracite coal. This starfaring civilization is going to cross hundreds of light years to fetch anthracite coal… sure.

      1. Scalzi represents a widespread and peculiar American phenomenon: talented people who have chosen to be idiots.

  11. Funny how FDR doesn’t get mentioned in relation to the internment camps. Or Earl Warren, for that matter…

    Can’t imagine why…

    At a signing I attended, Orson Scott Card once briefly mentioned when he learned why he needed an agent. One of his books (Treason, I think) got published, sold some copies, and then got sat on by the publisher. I think Card switched to a different publisher after that mess, but he quickly realized how important reversion rights were (i.e. in the event that the publisher doesn’t keep printing the book at a reasonable rate, the rights revert to the author). And an agent, to avoid any further rookie mistakes like that.

      1. Heh.

        Not likely to happen, though. I don’t know who Card’s publisher is these days off the top of my head, but I suspect that he has a pretty stable relationship with them. And iirc, the Treason rights issue resolved itself when his post-Treason publisher ended up buying his original publisher.

        Though it’s not as if Card would get much *additional* hate mail for switching to Baen. He’s already managed to get that particular crowd angry at him for other things (he’s a lib, but not the flavor of lib they like).

        1. I think it’s a good thing that Card and John Wright are published by Tor. If Tor ever drops them it’d be for political reasons and everyone would know it; until & unless that happens, Tor still has credibility as SF/F publishers.

  12. There was a time, decades ago, when I felt loyalty to the Del Rey imprint. That began to erode in the early ’90’s, and now if they publish a good book, I tend to assume that it was an accident. Pity, really.

    1. Del Rey was absolutely rock-solid in the 70s and 80s. But this was because Judy-Lynn del Rey (Lester named the company after her) was an editorial and marketing genius. She practically invented the bestselling SF/F novel, where none had ever existed before. Drove a bunch of SF/F books to the very tops of the chart. And then . . . Judy-Lynn died. Dwarfism. And the light at Del Rey slowly flickered, and failed. Now Del Rey is just another corporate house. You takes your chances and you gets what you gets. Ask Eric Flint about them some time.

  13. All right, this is like the 5th time I’ve heard you trumpet the awesomeness of your audio book sales. Are the book sreally that much better to listen to? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got all your books and I’m waiting for the next, but what’s so special about the audio version? You get Michael Dorn and Clancy Brown to do all the voices or something?

    1. The actors who read the audio books do contribute a LOT to the quality and success of the book. That said, I’ve listened to Larry’s books being read by several different readers (actors? narrators? what is the correct title?), and I can say that Larry’s style of writing does tend to translate well to audiobooks. Bronson Pinchot, who reads the majority of Larry’s books, does a magnificent job of polishing them up to a high finish.

      On the other end of the spectrum, some author’s styles do not do well in audible format at all. David Weber’s style is certainly one of these. Much as I love reading his books, speculating on and enjoying the high amount of technical detail he puts into his worlds, it doesn’t translate well.

      1. Weber does a lot of info dumping/background information in his writing and that will not translate well into audio. Now Larry has a lot more action and lot less background info that translates well.

        Also they are called voice actors and probably some of them are the same ones you find doing Anime dubbing and other voice over work.

    2. It’s heresy, but I put the Grimnoir books at a 3. I almost didn’t finish Warbound. I got Hard Magic as an audio book as an experiment because radio is dead in this town. On the usual scale of 1 to 5, the audio book is an elevenTY!!1!!! Yes, it’s that much better. Correia’s audio books make me look forward to rush hour.

      1. Even though it was mentioned repeatedly how slow and deliberate Jake Sullivan speaks in the books, it wasn’t until the audio book how he was supposed to sound like. He IS supposed to sound like an uneducated hick from Detroit. The fact his physical appearance and speech pattern fits the average stereotype of Heavy belay his actual ability and intelligence.

        Yeah, the audiobook for Grimnoir is really good.

    3. He’s got better. He’s got Olivery freakin’ Wyman and Bronson Pinchot doing the reading.

      Wyman is, hands down, one of the best damn readers I’ve heard on audible.com. He does voices incredibly well. To see how broad he can get, listen to both MHI and then Weber’s “Off Armageddon Reef”. Wyman narrarates both, but they have entirely different-sounding characters. Wyman pulls off both without trouble. He even differentiates with gender well enough that you never get the sense of the guys sounding effeminate or the girls sounding butch.

      Pinchot has a less broad voice-range (he has about 2 different sounding “foreign” accents… and that limitation comes out in the Dead Six series), but he reads the stories very well and the characters sound different and right still. His reading for Grimnoire was very much right (especially in his portrayal of Faye and Jake).

    4. Oh yea. The audios are definitely worth the listen, even if you’ve already read them. (I own almost all of LC’s books on audible. Just missing the Dead Six series.)

      TBH, I’m not a huge fan of the MHI narrator- but that’s just my taste. I would listen to the sample before getting those; but the Grimnoir guy (Bronson Pinchot) is OUTSTANDING. There were a few times while listening to the books that I remember thinking that I might have missed an amusing passage or a meaningful sentence were I reading instead of listening. That may just be me, but he really seems to get into the story. A few times I’d swear that he’s smiling along with the listener.

      Either that or he’s a great faker. ^_^

      1. I agree with the sentiment about Bronson Pinchot’s work. Excellent. I never listened to audiobooks, but one of the seamen on my boat brought his collection, and we’ve been listening on the bridge during the midwatch when we’re underway.
        I’m now hesitant to buy MHI, for audiobook, though.

  14. I know of at least one law school that studied Baen’s approach to digital rights, and how it was an example of a successful digital business approach.

    1. It certainly works on me. I just finished the free With the Lightning by David Drake yesterday and as soon as I get pay again I plan on buying a bunch more books in the series. With eleven books in the series, that one free book is easily going to turn into 5 to 9 purchases from me.

  15. You forgot to add a trigger warning for fear and privileged mischief, because there are some very delicate shell-like feminist ears listening.

    By the way, has anyone who hates SJWs and likes guns used “Trigger Warning” as a title?

  16. If I had any complaints about Baen it would be that sometimes when you get into the end of a long popular series it seems like the editors take a break and let the authors get away with too much, but I’ve never sat down to read one of their books and walked away truly disappointed. Not once, ever. The other publishers have gotten to the point where if I’m walking through the bookstore I don’t even bother to look at anything that isn’t Baen.

    1. You mean like Weber and the Honor Harrington series? If so, I agree whole heartedly. I think his editors need to say, “This section repeats in your books too much. Take it out. Make this part not suck.” Or something.

      His Safehold series is great, but the Honorverse needs some help otherwise an amazing series is going to come to a crashingly bad end. Kind of like what happened with the Mass Effect universe in ME3: great build up and story and anticipation till the end, then “WTF?!?”

      1. There is no ending to Mass Effect 3. The game was released incomplete. Whatever is supposed to happen after you launch the second missile during the fighting on Earth never occured.


      2. There’s a “Happy Ending Mod” over on the Bioware forums that is decent, at least from the videos posted on YouTube.

        Otherwise, yeah, I actually haven’t completed one game of ME3 singleplayer. Paused before Rannoch, actually.

        1. I rage quit after the entire Quarian species decided to go extinct even though there was a really simple, easy solution.

      3. Even with all its missteps, Mass Effect 3 was one hell of a ride up until the last five minutes.

        Still, whenever Larry talks about leftists stroking their egos (Funny name for it) instead of entertaining the audience, my mind always flashes back to the Starchild and his three choices.

      4. It’s possible to negotiate peace between the quarians and geth, but it depends on some things you did in ME2 and some missions in ME3.

  17. Myke Cole has written 3 Mil. fiction novels. Jaym Gates works on the new SFWA bulletin and seems to be editing a SF Military anthology and Richard Dansky horror writer, game designer and writer, and works at Ubisoft as the Central Clancy Writer, helping to create games like Splinter Cell: Blacklist.

    1. Thomas. I meant name something they wrote that people should know them from. Like John Ringo wrote March Upcountry with David Weber. Or David Drake who wrote Hammer’s Slammers. Just saying this is a dude who wrote some books doesn’t answer the question of who they are if you don’t identify the books. If I said Machiavelli wrote a book on politics that wouldn’t tell you anything about him. And if I told you he wrote a play you would totally get the wrong idea about him but he did.

      1. Blume I’m not defending them. For one thing Jaym is working on the restarted SFWA Bulletin which last year fired Resnik and another author for being nonPC. Now the Bulletin has to be approved by board of SFWA members before it gets published.

      2. I have heard of Splinter Cell. However, Blacklist is the second game in the Splinter Cell series that’s ignored the original mold (the first game to really do so was the previous game in the series, Conviction; you could argue that the game before that, Double Agent, did similar things, but at least *that* game was knowingly sold as a game in which you did morally ambiguous things). Part of the original idea for that game involved sneaking around and not leaving any trace that you’d ever been there (for the most part – there were exceptions). The demo that I played of Conviction appeared to focus on being a super-sneaky stealth agent who sneaks around… and then wipes out entire rooms full of bad guys, with a pistol, in seconds. AFAIK Blacklist follows the same pattern. Nothing wrong with that per se. But it completely wrecks the original playstyle of the game series.

    2. I never heard of any of them before and I have been reading science fiction since I was 8 and I am in my early 50s. To me that would put them as somewhat marginal. From reading Weber, I got hooked on Ringo (the March series), and somewhat by accident I got onto Larry C’s books. I have been buying a lot of Baen books primarily because they seem so innovative and have a great stable of writers.

      Myke’s description of himself turned me off and his subsequent thrashing of authors I liked has made sure I will ignore him. The guy said he was in the Coast Guard and described him self a “soft” operator and dropped all the usual refs to delta, etc. Sounds off to me but maybe there is something to part of it.

    1. I can think of lots of leftist governments with strong and active armed forces. National Socialists, Soviet Socialists, Cuba, China…then again, whenever I bring up these places I’m told they’re not “real socialists.”

  18. As an outside observer who reads some skiffy, though not as much as I used to (I think seeing the year 2000 come and go without getting my flying car and silver jumpsuit kind of soured me on The Amazing World of Tomorrow–I speak tongue in cheek here, of course), it saddens me to see the SFWA do this to itself.

    Not so long ago, there was a clear need for skiffy writers to have some sort of association or guild to give them some semblance of collective bargaining power.

    We all know the story of H. Beam Piper, who was slowly starving to death, in debt beyond the power of any honest man to repay, and about to be foreclosed upon and evicted from his home while waiting for Ace Books and Galaxy to pay him for stories they’d published five and ten years before–and so committed suicide.

    We all know about H. P. Lovecraft, who wrote gloriously insane cosmic horror for peanuts, for magazine publishers who stiffed him half the time, and so lived on canned pet food until it gave him intestinal cancer and he died at the age of 47.

    And I have read that things were fractious even in the 1960s. I have read Dr. Pournelle’s accounts of ugly and unbecoming behavior on the part of grown-ups who ought to have known better, motivated by disdain for some other author’s politics. I am old enough to have seen science fiction authors and critics I respected (though I will give no names) on early-1990s Internet skiffy mailing lists engage in what seemed to me at the time to be the most shocking, spiteful name-calling and sneering.

    But that was nothing compared to this.

    At the obscure little “Radish Reviews” blog, owned by one Natalie “Fuck Civility” Luhrs,


    one can see her, egged on by her little fan club of Tumblr Social Justice Warriors and self-proclaimed “transsexual persons of color” going full retard on Robert Silverberg.

    Yeah. THAT Robert Silverberg. THE Robert Silverberg.

    Apparently he is insufficiently enthusiastic about the proposed new Stalin-style SWFA censorship board, and has gone on record asking inconvenient and uncomfortable questions about it. So he has been formally accused of THOUGHTCRIME. OLDTHINKERS UNBELLYFEEL INGSOC.

    For my own part, I am horrified and agog. One can only roll one’s eyes and shake one’s head.

    1. You can tell a lot about people, based on who they choose to attack. Bob Silverberg is one of the last of an original breed of true gentlemen to inhabit the field — to have seen it since the original days, one might say. That anyone could target the man . . . . well, I notice that the link no longer works? Perhaps someone older and wiser than Ms. Luhrs pulled her aside and talked some sense into her. Not everything that’s old or white or male deserves to have verbal monkey poo flunk at it. Despite Ms. Luhr’s instincts. Though I did notice her mindlessly chiming in on the anti-Weisskopf bandwagon. Charming. Not.

    2. Examining a bit closer, I see that Ms. Luhrs fancies herself a cultural gadfly, with an emphasis on SF/F. As if we don’t already have 1,001 of those running around the field. It’s easy to be a complainer. It’s not so easy to make something that can stand the test of time, provide a worthwhile experience for others, or show the world to itself in an interesting or exciting way. Thus Ms. Luhrs i like the grumpy cat: forever frowning on the people and the products that she herself can’t hope to match, because she has made herself into a sniper. Not a creator. A sniper. She’s lucky Bob Silverberg (or anyone else of note) deigned to engage her. I ignore snipers almost entirely. They thrive on attention and are natural attention-seekers. Water them with attention, and they grow. Let them wither and dry out, and they will blow away.

    3. I read through the comments appended to that blog post and I couldn’t help but notice the blatant and obnoxious lack of respect for Mr. Silverberg. Regardless of whether or not you agree with him on a subject, the man is a giant in the field of Science Fiction and deserves better than to be scorned by Poo Flinging Monkeys.

    4. Natalie Luhrs appears to have pulled her hate piece on Silverberg from her blog — perhaps because some friends of hers gently informed her just who it was she was attacking? I just LOVE idiots whose knowledge of science fiction history seems to have started around the time of ST:TNG and gone no deeper.

  19. > Baen editing is straight forward because their honest to
    > goodness corporate goal is make the readers happy.

    The number of publishers who have folded in the last couple of decades are a shining example of businesses that didn’t connect the dots between “paying customers” and “profits.” Somewhere in corporate-land, tiny details like that tended to be obscured.

    A lot of publishers kept on printing the things they felt people *ought* to read, instead of things they might actually buy. And too many of those turgid, socially-significant novels got their covers stripped for the books to balance, and it was those darned ungrateful readers who were why they were shutting their doors, not their own fault…

  20. A quick check of the SFSignal podcast panelists suggests that 1 had military experience, and the bulk of that as a contractor. Cole identifies as other than combat arms. How that qualifies as a “SuperStar Military Scifi Panel Discussion” is curious.

    Now a panel consisting of Kratman, Ringo and Drake? That fits the description better.

    1. I don’t know Myke Cole’s military experience. I thought he was Coast Guard.

      Thinking about Baen writer’s military experience, if I recall correctly:
      Mike Kupari is still EOD. His first novel came out when he was deployed in Afghanstan.
      Tom Kratman was Army. (Lt. Col Army SF turned JAG)
      Drake was Army.(Cav)
      Patrick Vanner was a Marine.
      Mike Williamson was Air Force.
      Ringo was Army. (Airborne?)
      Torgersen is still Army. (Chief Warrant Officer)

      Yeah, I can see why nobody would want to associate with that tribe. 🙂

      I was just a cake eating civillian contractor, but I worked with the culture long enough that I can at least pull it off in my writing convincingly (but note, I usually write mercenaries so I have some cultural leeway).

      1. Mercenaries have the option of maintaining a better haircut, Larry 😉 .

        Your list is more comprehensive, to be sure.

        I appreciated that in the referenced podcast where they dinged Ringo for his Dragoncon’13 panel comment that many successful female soldiers played the role of ‘chicks with d*cks’ (a term he got from a female Air Force pilot – when he asked her how she defused the tensions of working in a male centric environment) the panel moderator called out a few women milscifi writers who were strong in the genre – like Elizabeth Moon and Mercedes Lackey – thing is – they are both Baen authors too, right?

      2. I don’t think Elizabeth Moon is a Baen author. She’s…

        Hold on while I check real quick…

        It looks like Random House publishes most of her stuff. But it also looks like Baen did the Paksenarion compilation (i.e. the original three books in one volume).

        Hmm… It looks like Baen publishes Sassinak as well.

        Did she start with Baen and then move to Random House? Or is Baen picking up some of her older titles?

        1. Moon was with Baen from her first novel until 2002 when She and Jim Baen had problems. In part it was about her Speed of Dark novel that she wanted published and also I believe their were problems about Baen assuming a contract covered ebook publishing.

  21. Another comment – I am interested in Cole’s use of a label which he applies to himself ‘Operator’, but then he hastens to add that he isn’t a ‘door kicking operator’. When did this differentiation become canon?

    Either you are an operator or you’re not. If you have to modify the term, odds are that you are trying ‘too hard’.

    1. Maybe he was an “operator” in the sense that he ran a switchboard?

      Might explain a few other things as well. 🙂

      Seriously, I haven’t read his stuff, and it looks kind of interesting. However, I do tend to worry about someone who calls themselves an operator without having been a door kicker. I mean, in my mind at least, the two things kind of go hand in hand. Not all door kickers are operators, but all operators are door kickers.

      Am I really that far out of it?

      1. Operators gonna operate.


        Though it probably sucks to be a radar operator nowadays and have to explain your job to the MilSpec scarf and fingerless glove wearing, only sit with their back to the wall, Uber Tactical crowd. Only those guys don’t “sit” they perch like a falcon, ready to swoop in. 🙂

        Yes. I worked in the Black and Tactical end of the gun business for a long time. How can you tell? 😀

        1. What’s really funny is when those guys weigh 400 lbs, eat like crap, and still think they’re bad asses.

          I’m a fat ass and I know it. I don’t act like I could take Chuck Norris and Carlos Hathcock at the same time, however.

      2. I have been off AD since the late nineties, but I hit the reunions and keep up with the guys. We commiserate over yet another SEAL book apearing on the bookstands (in the fall of last year I was flying through Chattanooga and stopped at the bookstore at the entrance to concourse B. There were 7 (!) books with the word SEAL or a trident on the cover.).

        The definition of an operator was someone on the sharp end. Running a HSB, manning a door gun on a Pavehawk, playing SIGINT games with johnyjackass in the Med – all critical roles – but not operators.

        Hell, the word ‘operator’ didn’t even make it into popular lexicon until Clancy’s novels took off in the video game world and spawned more successful clones (Rainbow 6 to Call of Duty to BF/BF3/BF4).

        1. Cool. I was stationed in Portsmouth from 93-96. Didn’t know if we knew some of the same folks.

          Of course, since I did know a SEAL or two during my time, we may still know some of the same folks. It’s not like there are a million of you guys…

          …unless we’re talking about ex-SEALs. In which case, you and I really need to talk. 😀

      3. I think that there have been about 50k SEALs, if you start from the days of Ft. Pierce in FLA circa1943. At any given time, there are perhaps a max of 3k guys wearing Tridents on active duty. Figure… 8 SEAL teams, plus SEAL Team Shhhh, plus 2 SEAL Delivery Vehicle teams (which have a sprinkling of frogs), 4 (I think it is 4) Special Boat Squadrons (which have a light dusting of frogs) and assorted staffs at the group, service HQ (Coronado), joint HQ (Tampa), JSOC and dissassociated staff tours – and then the school house (upper and lower division).

        If you want to ping me you can use ratseal@gmail.com and we play ‘Did you know…?’. I’ll also be at Penguicon, RavenCon and perhaps LibertyCon. I am giving DC*14 a pass – freaking expensive and the crowds have never eased. Same reason I give SDCC a pass, too.

    2. Ive listened to the SFsignal podcast since it began, and Cole is a pretty regular guest, I will say he writes/describes his bio in way to make those not paying attention think that he is/was a long serving military guy…

      “As a security contractor, government civilian and military officer, Myke Cole’s career has run the gamut from Counterterrorism to Cyber Warfare to Federal Law Enforcement. He’s done three tours in Iraq and was recalled to serve during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. All that conflict can wear a guy out. Thank goodness for fantasy novels, comic books, late night games of Dungeons and Dragons and lots of angst fueled writing.”

      Every word is true, and it is written in a way to make him have military gravitas with the SFWA/worldcon crowd. And he seems to have worked to become the young goto “military expert” for that crowd.

      I think that is why he couches so much of his language in “milspeak”, but I will give him credit if somebody asks for clarification he doesnt seem to have any problem saying he wasnt a long term military guy, that his time in iraq wasnt in the army but was as a intel/IT guy for a PMC (or as he says “mercenary”), and his military XP comes from joining the Coast Guard Reserve a few years back.

      In other words, it is marketing, and it seems to have been genius since it got him published.

      1. That’s my sense as well. If this analysis is accurate, it reflects a smart strategy of being the best informed milspec-ish person in a group that is proudly ignorant of things military. The notion that a Coast Guard officer reservist can claim even indirectly to be an operator and remain unchallenged is a sign of the understanding gap in the SFWA. Still, hat’s off to him for his marketing chops – it works, it gets him looks, it helps him make money and costs nothing. I did get a giggle from him linking himself to ADM McRaven and Geronimo – good marketing indeed.

        I met Cole at a small NY con – Lunacon? in 2010(ish). Young, fit, comes across as credible.

        I wonder if the mil sci fi genre is growing or is more profitable now? If so, are the Tors/Del Reys of the world trying to grow their stable?

        1. I guess it says more about the crowds one runs in more than anything. My readership has tons of prior service from every branch and job you can think of. If I ever inflated anything I’d ever done I’d get called on it by like 200 people in a matter of minutes. But that’s what I get for writing for the Baen tribe. 🙂

          Me saying that I was the primary finance number cruncher for a company that helped keep the wings from falling off of A-10s isn’t exactly awe inspiring when my readership is made up of a bunch of total badasses.

    3. If Larry is a “cake eating civilian” I am right there on the couch with him, chowing down on boxes full of Lil Debbies.

      I’m a civilian most of my time, and only serve as a Reservist. 12 years, 3 different units, no deployments. Paper pusher by MOS. Chief Warrant Officer Paper Pusher, to be exact. But I do know a little bit about soldiering. I definitely agree with the idea that if you have to wear your “operator” status on your sleeve, you’re probably trying a little too hard. Speaking from my own personal interactions with people who’ve been places and seen some very real fighting, the “operators” kind of ooze that experience on a subliminal level, and don’t have to talk about it much.

      I think this is a key reason why (in mil SF circles anyway) it’s important for any writer with service time to put his or her cards on the table, no prevarications. I’m a paper pusher and I am damned happy as a paper pusher, because my tactical abilities are piss poor, and I was never going to be an infantry rock star, even if I had tried. Which I did not. My objective was humble: following 9/11 I merely wanted to participate (however I was able, to the extent of my limited abilities) in the defense of my great nation.

      I don’t make anything more of myself than what I am. And I don’t think any less of myself for not being an “operator.”

      Thus far, my career has allowed me to enjoy my civilian life and see and do some pretty cool things while in uniform; to include meeting some pretty cool people. A lot of this pays off for me with my fiction because I can write from the “inside” to a degree I never could have done, when I was writing stories before 2002.

      Of course, Mike Kupari had some interesting thoughts on his FB wall, regarding “operator” and the EOD world. Over to you, Mike.

    4. Yep, my feeling also. He really plays it up without outright lying and to the uneducated, they would get the feeling that he was the same as a delta operator. In a sense that is somewhat dishonest.

      However, does being the “hardest operator in the world” make you the best mil sci fi author around. Unlikely, first you would have to be a good writer. People like John Ringo and Larry Correia has legions of technical experts they can call on to tell them what makes sense and rings true.

  22. And I might add that Baen will pick a good writer off the floor after a blindside knock down, get the cut man on him, then send him back into the ring again. (He said, speaking from personal experience.)

  23. “Her basic response? I don’t care if my authors get political as long as it is entertaining, and if it is something they are honestly passionate about and that comes through, then it’ll make the readers happy.”

    Strange that for a publisher this attitude is considered, well, strange.

  24. Could we get the names of the two publishers that ponied up $230k for the idiot? I suspect I, and several of your other followers would like to buy an M16, an STI and 8 bricks of .22lr


  25. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your post inspired me to visit Baen’s site directly and I discovered that P.C. Hodgell finally has a new novel out. Hot damn. I’ll buy one of your books, too 🙂

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