Monday, June 15, 2015

"Can you hear us now?" Another open letter to Tor and Macmillan

A heartfelt "Thank you!!!" to everyone who responded to requests to e-mail Tor and Macmillan about the situation there.  I'll leave the co-ordinator of the campaign to announce the totals, but they appear to be well into four figures as of the time of writing.  I wonder if Tor and Macmillan will now accept that we aren't bots and we aren't just a few malcontents? We are, in fact, a growing wave of SF/F fans who are threatening to abandon them altogether.  If they haven't yet got that message, they'll probably never understand it without more direct action.

(By the way, I can only describe as 'catastrophic' the performance of whoever's responsible for customer relations at Tor and/or Macmillan.  There's been an absolutely inexplicable, deafening silence from both companies in response to e-mails and other communications - not even so much as an acknowledgment of receipt.  When I was a manager and, later, a director, if I'd had a customer relations person who performed so abysmally, they'd have been fired the moment I found out about it.  "Do not pass 'GO', do not collect $200, and by all means let the door hit you in the ass on the way out!"  This is simply ridiculous.  Oh, well . . . if they want to play the clam, I think we have every right to assume that both companies are standing behind the unconscionable words and attitudes of the Tor personnel we've named.  We're therefore free to take our response to the next - and only logical - level.)

I'll be sending the following open letter to both companies this evening.

Dear (Name),

I hope the e-mails your company received today have demonstrated the strength and breadth of feeling among a large number of SF/F fans concerning the attitudes, lies and libels expressed by Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Moshe Feder and Irene Gallo, all current or former employees of Tor, and by the Tor-published author John Scalzi, concerning supporters of the 'Puppies' slates for the Hugo Awards.

Last week I asked Tor and Macmillan to respond to my requests by Monday (today).  As I posted on my blog over the weekend, I've been persuaded by two Tor employees that I hadn't allowed sufficient time for that, and I therefore publicly extended the deadline until noon on Friday, June 19th, 2015.  I hope and trust your organization will have the courtesy, professionalism and common decency to respond by then.

As I wrote in my earlier, private letter to Tor and Macmillan:

"... please be advised that I look for the following actions from Tor by not later than noon on Monday, June 15th, 2015:
  1. Tor should publicly apologize for the efforts by all, repeat, all of the persons I named above to demonize, denigrate, slander and lie about the ‘Puppies’ campaigns;
  2. Tor should publicly reprimand those individuals for stepping over the line (including misusing company time and computer equipment to do so);
  3. Tor should publicly indicate that it is putting in place policies to prevent any recurrence of such issues.
Please note that I am not demanding the dismissal of, or resignations by, the individuals concerned."

I am simply not prepared to allow the lies, slander, libel and open contempt of those named above to continue unchallenged.  Therefore, those expectations still hold.  If they have not been met by noon on Friday, I shall call for a boycott of Tor Books.  I've spoken to a large number of SF/F authors, fans and others about this.  Some will publicly support a boycott.  Others will do so more tacitly.  I imagine we'll both find the result interesting.

I do hope that your company will at least show courtesy enough to acknowledge receipt of this message.  However, in the light of its past cavalier conduct towards customers complaining about this situation, you'll pardon me if I don't hold my breath.

Yours respectfully,

Peter Grant

I wonder if they're listening yet?  I guess we'll soon find out.



Vinnie said...

The Hugos are not a beauty pageant or a political test. They are a talent show. Write a good story and I'll buy. I can get a sermon on any Sunday.
that is from the one(sorry) email I had to send.

Anonymous said...


I came across your blog some time ago. I believe it was your posts about gun safety, training that interested me.

But... I am also a scifi fan. Your coverage of the Tor/Hugo/Puppies thing has clarified what I thought was going on. From the get go I thought it was another SJW "gamergate" type fiasco of some left wing nut(s) trying to make ideological hay at an innocent community's expense.

I like your writing and I especially like you writing a pointed letter outlining the hyperbole that passes for leftoid debate these days. It is good for someone to call these jokers on the carpet for using terms "neo-Nazi" so cavalierly. They say it for shock value without realizing that in some parts of the world away from their frothy lattes accusations like that kill people.

Keep up the good work.

Da Curly Wolf said...

I wonder if the lady I saw in one post has followed through? after the gallo thread came to light she said she was gonna pack of every, single, tor book in her inventory, put a print of the screen cap of gallo's comments on top of the stack inside the box and ship the entire thing to Tor's hq

Francis Turner said...

If you are right that we're up at the level of enough readers for a midlist book to earn out its advance they'll listen. Though they may not reply, simply because they probably have no idea what to say beyond a bland - "thank you for your comment" - and even replying to dozens let alone hundreds of emails with that kind of duck-billed platitude takes time and effort.

I don't know how many letters they'll get over the next few days but even 100 actual snail mailed letters will make the point even more pointedly. And I won't be surprised if we do get replies to those.

That doesn't mean that we won't have an effect. I suspect Tuesday morning NY time is going to be an interesting time for the execs and editors in the building at 175 Fifth Avenue,
New York, NY. Hopefully they'll read a random sample, discover that they are generally polite and take the implied lesson to heart. Well that is the senior execs and junior editors will. There may be a layer in the middle that may decide to go swimming in the Hudson due to be confusing Cairo with New York and the Hudson with another famous river. One hopes your informants can leak some more.

Rand. said...

What about resending your letter(s) as certified snail-mail. You can do it online these days, and it shows they received the messages. It'll prove they are getting the messages, show you're very serious, and give you extra high-ground if they refuse to respond.

kamas716 said...

At this point the only acceptable response, in my opinion, is that certain people are gone from the company. And I included that my reasoning behind in the snail mail I sent this morning.

There is no reason for me to conduct business with a company whose employees publicly malign me, their other customers, their own coworkers and their own product.

Brad Richards said...

I spent more time that I should have, reading messages on all sides. The thing that really strikes me is how few people are actually listening to what the other side is saying. Read 100 comments, and maybe one will actually attempt to frame the other side's argument and discuss it fairly. The rest are just pouring gasoline onto the fire.

At worst, the SJW side is still pure ad hominem: All Puppies are right-wing, mysogynistic, homophobic, etc.. At best, the Pro-Gallo/Pro-Tor side think the Puppies are against SF&F discussing social issues. Few if any have understood the point: Puppies are against the apparent requirement to promote a particular point of view on these issues.

On the Puppy side, most commenters show no respect whatsoever for Ms. Gallo's right to free speech. Sure, by lumping the Sad Puppies in with Vox Day's group, she put her foot squarely in Tor's mouth, sure, but it's her opinion and her mistake to make. Granted, this is indicative of the deeper problem at Tor (and indeed throughout most publishing and media organizations) that the SJW point of view is the only acceptable one. Her unfortunate comment was just the last straw, and caused an explosion all out of proportion to its actual importance.

Tor is in a no-win situation. Once an Internet shit storm takes off, there is nothing that they can do except hunker down and wait for it to pass. Anything else will just feed the storm.

Consider: what is the most reasonable thing that they could do. What if they were to issue an official policy statement that all political views are welcome; thatd books will be accepted and published based solely on the quality of the content. Heck, let's go one step farther and assume that they find some way of convincing us that they really mean it. Consider the reactions:

- The SJW crowd: outrage. Tor folds to the demands of right-wing extremists. Editors will feel obligated to accept racist, mysogynistic, anti-semitic, homophobic books just in order to ensure political diversity.

- The Puppies: outrage. Irene Gallo and others remain unpunished. They remain in power at Tor and cannot be trusted to treat books and authors fairly.

Really, at this point, it's a lost cause. Tor is screwed. The best thing - indeed, the only thing - that we can do is continue buying books at Baen, or directly from indie authors.

@Peter: write faster :-)

tannasmarchat said...

Brad says " show no respect whatsoever for Ms. Gallo's right to free speech. "

With respect, Ms. Gallo's constitutional right to free speech has not been contravened. She is welcome to her opinions. But no where is there projection against repercussions for exercising that right. If you speak a lie, then you should expect to be called a liar. If you insult your customers/clients, then you should expect that they will complain – loudly – to your employer.

Chris Scena said...

Brad, I must agree with tannasmarchat. Ms. Gallo has the right to say what she wants. She also has the right to deal with the repercussions of her speech. If I were to walk into Watts or Harlem and start spouting racial epithets, I would fully expect to be physically assaulted in some way. Similarly, if I were to go to a blog and libel and insult customers of my company, I would expect a pink-slip in short order.

Please explain to me why her case is different than any other worker in this country (who would have been fired as soon as the post came to management's attention).

Joshua Dyal said...

Free speech is one of the most often badly referred to and poorly understood doctrines of the American experiment. And we have right here, exhibit A from Brad Richards, exactly how it's improperly referenced most frequently.

We also have freedom of association. Tor is free to disassociate themselves from someone who uses their right to free speech in a way that they dislike. And if they don't, well I have my right to disassociate myself commercially from Tor. Honestly, at this point, I'm almost certainly going to do it anyway, even if they do clean house. They're the ones who crossed the Rubicon. I would have been perfectly happy minding my own business, not really paying attention to which imprint published books. But as political and social polarization continues to grow, I've had it. I will not be insulted, vilified and made the victim of scurrilous calumny and just shrug and say, "oh, well." I may be a single guerilla fighter against a juggernaut, but I suspect that I am far from alone. And when I say that I will never buy from Tor again, that I will tell all of my science fiction and fantasy reading friends what Tor says that they are, that's what I mean to do. They'll get nothing but scorched earth from me.

Alone, my little corner of scorched earth is insignificant. But I really doubt that I am alone.

tweell said...

I have already begun my boycott, like others.

If MacMillan, Tor, et all don't see fit to follow their own guidelines by the end of the week, I'll be talking to my family and friends about it. My boycott will grow twenty-fold; more if some of them pass it on (which some will).

That's as it should be. We're a conservative bunch, and these folks shouldn't want to do business with racist homophobic neo-nazi's.

kamas716 said...

Brad Richards - "Granted, this is indicative of the deeper problem at Tor (and indeed throughout most publishing and media organizations) that the SJW point of view is the only acceptable one. Her unfortunate comment was just the last straw, and caused an explosion all out of proportion to its actual importance.

Tor is in a no-win situation."

This shitstorm no-win situation is almost entirely their own doing. You are correct Ms. Gallo's statements were the final straw. I disagree it is all out of proportion. Had they addressed behavior such as this early on they wouldn't be in this situation. This is a failure of leadership within the company as much as it is a marketing nightmare. I have sympathy for the poor innocent workers who just want to show up, put in an honest days work and go home. The leadership of the company? - not so much.

Will said...

As I asked in my letters to MacMillan: why is there no adult supervision at TOR? They act like a bunch of 3rd graders at recess out in the playground.

Will said...

To be frank, I wonder if the best thing is for TOR to go bust. If that happens, perhaps the rest of the publishing businesses would get a clue.
In other words, pay attention to the customer! In most manufacturing/production arenas, you either pay CLOSE attention to the people who buy your product, or your competitor(s) clean your clock. Businesses regularly fail due to this lack of focus. I'm thinking that the book world is in dire need of a wake-up call.

Anonymous said...

Been following Sad Puppies, et al. over the past few months, and I'm pretty shellshocked. SP has been a wonderful way to discover new authors, but the scorched earth mentality of the opposition is exhausting and disheartening. This entire Gallo fiasco is just the last straw -- my WoT paperbacks are going back to Tor, along with a print out of an email I sent yesterday.

As someone who works in publishing in the NYC area (who deals with *challenging personalities* daily), had I made comments similar to Gallo's about a client, I'd still be bouncing down the street. These communities are *incredibly small*; people I haven't worked with in over a decade still remember me (authors *and* vendors!) -- they *all* see me as a representtive of my employeer.

richard mcenroe said...

If they want to play the clam, we can fire up the steamer...

Groot said...

I am Groot.

Anonymous said...

If you feel that issuing demands (with a countdown, no less!) is appropriate and adult behaviour then that's your prerogative. I find it humourous that a movement (the Sad Puppies only; Rabid Puppies has always been about watching things burn) based on broadening readership and giving authors who write different types of books a shot at an award because they are good writers (in their opinion) is now threatening to boycott a company and punishing authors because of opinions held and expressed by a handful of people.

Hypocrites. All of you.

I doubt that you read much of Tor's books already. If you do then you're giving up on that author for things the author has presumably no part in.

Choose to spend your money as you want but you're no different than the SJWs you howl about. Your cause is just different.

kamas716 said...

Anonymous, if you get continually insulted by a company, why would you want to do business with them? An isolated incident or two this is not. Several leaders of the company have issued public statements to the effect that they don't want us around. We're saying to the company itself (and its parent company) that they can either sell books to us or they can keep insulting us. But not both. If you think that's hypocritical of us, you might want to go seek out someone who teaches critical thinking.

Anonymous said...

Then don't give them your money. Again, I doubt that you are Tor's primary readership. Except, of course, for Wright and Anderson who were part of the Hugo list this year put about by the Sad Puppies themselves.

You punish authors you like because people in the Tor organization think badly of your group and in particular of your leadership. It makes sense. Make it harder for them to publish. I am sure that will get them winning lots of awards.

Tor is never going to do what you want. If they even officially acknowledge you I will be surprised. Since they are in a no-win situation and their authors are more often socially inclusive than conservative they have less to lose by pissing you off. You've made it about money and money will talk.

And your actions smack more of terrorism (the countdown! my god, it's straight out of a villain from a Bond movie) than anything else. If you were going to boycott then you just do it. You don't send a list of demands to be met "or else." Clearly those people at Tor don't like your actions or your motives and that's not going to change. Those people are also talented and highly-valued and supported by many of the authors who keep Tor afloat. Soo...yeah. Good luck with all of this.

kamas716 said...

Anonymous, the only one here with a countdown is our host. As was already acknowledged several of us have already said "we're done". Oh, I wouldn't worry about too many of the authors. Most of the popular one already have stuff published elsewhere that I'm perfectly happy to purchase.

I told Tor/MacMillan in both the emails I sent and the letters I sent through the US Post Office that my little library of ~2K books may not be much to them, but it means something to me. And no, I don't expect my little contributions to their bottom line to noticed. The strongest blizzards are made up of individual snow flakes. If a bunch of other like minded people do something similar maybe they'll take notice. I'm just a little snowflake standing on principle.