When We Drive out the Innovators We Are Left Only with the Sad and Rabid

June 9, 2015

Hey, folks. Do me a favor. Go read Chuck Wendig’s post “I Stand By Irene Gallo” and Kameron Hurley’s post “The Revolution of Self-Righteous Dickery will Not Be Moderated.”

I agree with them.

That saves us a lot of time and redundancy.

Past that I’d like to make a fairly simple point. I’m not a company man. I do very much believe in loyalty, but I don’t give it often or easily. I’m currently signed for two novella-length books with Tor.com, of which Irene Gallo is associate publisher (my editor’s boss, if you need perspective/clarity) and either official or de facto art director (I’m not entirely certain on that one), because Irene is a genuinely brilliant conceptualizer, designer, and artist. She’s also creative director of Tor Books, which is a separate thing from Tor.com. Macmillan owns everything and signs all of our checks, or at least mine. I haven’t seen anyone else’s check.

Whew. Everybody got that? Good.

Let it be noted here and now I do not speak for any of the above parties and all opinions expressed from this point forward are my own.

I don’t know what the ramifications, if any, of writing and posting this will be, I only know it’s the truth and needs to be said by as many people as possible.

I love telling stories, all kinds of stories, all kinds of ways. I particularly love writing fiction, particularly SFF fiction. It was the first way I ever told stories. And the genre has just always naturally appealed to me. My imagination is slanted towards the fantastical, the futuristic, the weird, the what-have-you.

I love writing fiction.

But I fucking hate the publishing industry.

Seriously. I loathe it. I despise the politics, the business, the pretense, so much of the culture. I hate it so much that roundabout 2009 I gave up on it utterly, moved to Los Angeles, and did everything in my power to sell-out to Hollywood. The toxicity of the film and television industry is no less, arguably more, but it is at the very least more lucrative and for me more autonomous, which is what I was looking for at the time.

But I still loved writing fiction, and in 2012 I began putting out my own stuff, just because. It’s been going okay and I’m content with it.

I still hated publishing.

Then in 2014 I heard about this thing Tor.com was going to start doing. It sounded like they were going to try to bring SFF novellas back to the mainstream (novellas are something I’d been experimenting with on my own through author-publishing). They were going to release them in a bunch of formats simultaneously. They were going to offer authors a fair across-the-board royalty package.

I’d been aware of Tor.com for a while, mostly because I’d been reading short stories and discovering new authors through the website. The art was also striking. It was obviously top-of-the-heap, short fiction market-wise (not that that heap is a large one these days), but more than that it was new.

More to the point, at least for me, it felt new.

And if “new” is reductive, then it at the very least seemed different.

The stagnancy of publishing, or at least what I perceived as stagnancy, was one of the things that made me felt mired and exhausted pursuing it.

What Tor.com is doing excited me. I wanted in. I reached out to Lee Harris, who has become my editor on the novella project. They’re going to be revealing the cover for my first book soon (very soon) and it’s fucking amazing and perfect and that’s Irene and her team all day. My experience overall has been nothing short of wonderful, and seeing the other authors and stories they’re slating only pumps me up more.

Tor.com has been and is doing such cool stuff, folks. The stories, the art, the voices, the talent they’ve been and continue to cultivate. And I’m in no way talking about myself. I’m talking about the writers and artists that made me want to be a part of this thing.

And Irene Gallo is one of the major reasons for all of it.

Her involvement is one of the things that made me so excited about the prospect of being involved.

I don’t know how you feel about what she wrote about the Puppies and I don’t really give a shit. What is not open for debate is the fact Irene has helped and is helping innovate a major appendage of a major publisher and is one among several pairs of hands shaping a better, more interesting, more diverse future for authors and readers of SFF. That is not only needed, it is necessary. It is absolutely vital. She should be elevated for that, not sacrificed to a small clan of mediocre throwbacks because they can be the most vocal on the fucking internet.

Tor’s position on this, among myriad other ways that position is f’ed up, is one of trading innovation and a wider audience for the utterly narrow; a narrow viewpoint expressed by a narrow demographic of the narrow-minded.

The Puppies keep saying they want change, but what they want is things to go back to the way they were.

That’s what really pisses them off so much.

They want things to stay the same.

They don’t want change.

That excludes folks like Irene Gallo, who are literally changing everything for the better.

And in what creatively-driven industry or form has not changing ever been a good thing?

From a strictly business standpoint, she is worth more than a few hundred anonymous user names in a website comments thread will ever be. Alienating your company’s innovators is simply bad business. From a creative standpoint, her involvement is vital to the future of SFF and SFF publishing.

From a human standpoint, Irene simply deserved better.

Much better.

But my opinions are selfish. I want to be part of the future, not the past. I want to be part of a publisher that innovates and spreads my stories to new corners of the internet AND the world of the real. I want to be part of something new, something exciting, something great.

Irene Gallo is taking me and the rest of the Tor.com authors there, the same way she’s helped so many Tor authors in the past.

I need her.

Treat her the fuck better.

That is all.