Just Not Feeling It: The Lack of Sympathy for Seth Grahame-Smith

PPZIt had been a while since I’d been able to blog and I wanted a topic that would get back on writerly advice. This morning, I was intending to blog a bit about the beauty of research. It’s something I was reminded of when I penned for Tor.com a response to WIRED on the history of podcasting fiction. So “Research” was to be my topic du jour until I saw in my feed this morning the story of author Seth Grahame-Smith and his current battle with New York publishing house, Hachette. The Guardian reported that the author inspiring a string of mash-up novels (his being Pride and Prejudice and Zombies which led Quirk Books to publish other works such as Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and Android Karenina) is being sued by Hachette for delivering a manuscript that claims is an appropriation of a public-domain work.

Just let that kick around in your brain for a minute: A New York publisher is suing a guy who took a Jane Austen classic, threw in a few set pieces from The Walking Dead, re-packaged it for a zombie-hungry market, and made a metric fuck-ton of money off of it, for writing a book that was a knock-off of a public domain work…like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Hold on a minute…KandP-seriously

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Amazon v Hachette: Round Two (Featuring 100% More Monster Porn!)

20140515-161639.jpgI honestly thought I had said everything I wanted or needed to say about the current face-off between Amazon and Hachette; and when I read John Scalzi’s angle last week, I figured this discussion was done. 

Amazing what complete and utter absurdity writers can kick up within 24 hours.

It started first on Chuck Wendig’s TerribleMinds.com where he brought to light a petition making the rounds on the Internet.

Well, it’s not really a petition as a petition is defined as “a formal written request, typically one signed by many people, appealing to authority with respect to a particular cause.” This it is more of an open letter to Amazon saying “You are a winner, bro! Keep that up!” with an appeal to independent authors everywhere to sign this, acknowledging why Amazon is so star-spangled awesome.

Here’s how the “petition” closes:

“It is fitting that Independence Day is upon us. Amazon has done more to liberate readers and writers than any other entity since Johannes Gutenberg refined the movable type printing press. With the advent of e-books and the ability to ship paper books to your doorstep in record time and at affordable prices, Amazon is growing overall readership while liberating the voices of countless writers, adding to the diversity of literature. A large percentage of the e-books sold on Amazon are from independent authors. You have validated our decision to write and to publish. Don’t let the wealthiest of writers convince you to turn away.

We urge you to support the company that supports readers and authors. Amazon didn’t ask us to write this letter, or sign it. Amazon isn’t aware that we’re doing this. Because in the end, this isn’t about Amazon. It’s about you, the reader, and the changes you’ve helped bring about with your reading decisions. You are changing the world of books, and you are changing our lives as a result.”

I was trying to process exactly why I would want to add my name to this when, later in the same day, I got a note from the Science Fiction Writers of America, announcing their endorsement of an open letter from New York Times Bestselling Author Douglas Preston. Here’s a selection from this letter the SFWA president is signing and the SFWA Board are inviting members to co-sign:

“Many of us supported Amazon from when it was a struggling start-up. Our books started Amazon on the road to selling everything and becoming one of the world’s largest corporations. We have made Amazon many millions of dollars and over the years have contributed so much, free of charge, to the company by way of cooperation, joint promotions, reviews and blogs. This is no way to treat a business partner. Nor is it the right way to treat your friends. Without taking sides on the contractual dispute between Hachette and Amazon, we encourage Amazon in the strongest possible terms to stop harming the livelihood of the authors on whom it has built its business. None of us, neither readers nor authors, benefit when books are taken hostage. (We’re not alone in our plea: the opinion pages of both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, which rarely agree on anything, have roundly condemned Amazon’s corporate behavior.)”

Seriously. This “Pick A Side” bullshit has got to stop. Now. Continue reading