Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I want to make something perfectly clear...

Hello blogosphere, I'm sorry if I sound a little grumpy today but I just got back from a trip to New York (good trip but traveling always takes a lot out of me) and I visited a post I shouldn't have that got me a bit upset. One of the things mentioned on this post was:
One thing I've always found peculiar is that Robin, owner of a small press, spends all her time on the Internet gushing about the glories of self-publishing. That would certainly cross Ridan off my list if I wrote SF/F. I would want a publisher who was giddy about the glories of going with a small press, not one who seemed to feel I was foolish for not going it on my own.

Because of this attitude, I've always had the impression that Ridan was all about Michael Sullivan's work, not about publishing SF/F books in general. If the other authors' sales are as great as claimed, that's wonderful, but I take Robin's assertions with a great deal of salt.
While I doubt the person writing that post reads my blog, and of course being banned from the site in question makes it impossible to respond there. I thought I would at least talk about it here as there may be others that are curious or think similarly.

I thought I've said this numerous times before, and therefore my feelings on the subject were well known, but it appears that this may not be the case so let me try once again to explain how I feel.

There are three very legitimate paths to publishing: self, small press, big-six. None is "better" than the other. They all have their positive aspects and their challenges. Each author must align themselves with the path that is "right for them" and what is right for them may change as their goals and the market change.

Do I gush about the benefits of self-publishing? Yes, and why shouldn't I? I want authors...all earn a living doing what they love to do. And unlike 2 years ago (when there were very few people making good money self-publishing) I know many who are making five and six digit incomes. This is worth celebrating. It's worth letting others know that it can be done. why should I NOT?

Am I giddy about the glories of going with a small press? Well that depends on what small press we are talking about, doesn't it? There are many who are doing an excellent job. I recently wrote a post on Bell Bridge Books and another publisher who I like what I see is Dark Quest Books. The bottom line is that the new model of print-on-demand and ebooks is making small press publishing a viable business model. But not every small press is a good choice. Someone recently sent me a link to a contract from a small press they were considering and I told this particular author to run as fast as they can because the contract would have allowed the publisher to do some things with the author's work that the author did not intend. I'm pleased that with so many small presses who can now make money, that provides more opportunities for authors. So yes I'm giddy about the glories of going with a "good" small press, I just ask that you do your research before signing on the dotted line.

As for the statement that I imply people are "foolish for not going on their own" see my above statement about there being 3 legitimate paths and you need to align with what is best for you.

As to what books Ridan "pushes" like any publisher the most "visible" attention is paid to new releases and hot sellers and at one time that was Michael's books (he averaged 10,000 books a month for Nov 2011 - Feb 2012) but his sales have subsequently been dwarfed by stats such as:
  • Joe Haldeman selling 1,000 copies of Forever War in just 4 1/2 days
  • Nathan Lowell selling 3,600 copies of Full Share in 1 week
  • Leslie Ann Moore selling 5,500 copies in a single month across 2 titles
  • Marshall Thomas selling 9,500 books one month followed by 19,500 the following month across 6 titles
These kinds of numbers don't happen by "accident" it is because Ridan selects outstanding books by talented authors and we work hard to get the word out to help them find an audience. A tremendous amount of work goes into every title we produce and I don't "get" how we not about selling SF/F "in general".

I don't know how else to interpret the last statement about "my claims" and "grain of salt" other than to conclude that this person says that I'm a liar. I believe in sharing sales numbers like above as it helps authors to know what is possible and my Amazon rankings when I post the numbers will provide proof as to whether they are real or not.

I work very hard to try to be a resource for the writing community as a whole and provide the best information that I can. It takes a great deal of time, and in general is very rewarding work but today I feel beaten and bruised and wondering why I should even bother.

Sorry if I'm not my usual upbeat self but I'm batter, bruised, and well just plain bummed.


Hunter F. Goss said...

Robin, it’s almost a cliché, but most people find it far easier (and perhaps more fashionable, these days) to criticize than to say something productive. When I was in the corporate world and one of our suppliers or sub-contractors did a good job on a project, I called them and told them. And if at some point, I did have a complaint for them, they listened attentively and took care of the problem right away.

Keep doing what you’re doing. There are some of us out here that enjoy your posts even if we don’t comment all that frequently.

Veronica - Eloheim said...

Hi Robin, It's hard to be a public figure, especially on the cutting edge of such a dynamic field.

You are a successful publisher. The checks are flowing in. Authors are finding readers. That's the truth to lean into.

I have a saying. "You've found one of the four billion." As in, one of the four billion (probably a much higher number, but four billion is the figure I seem to use) people who just won't "get" you. They won't "get" you for lots of reasons - because they will never hear of you, or they don't speak your language, or, the toughest, they just don't agree.

The four billion can't decide how you feel about yourself or what you do with your day.

Holding onto that and acting from that place isn't all that easy sometimes. But, what is the alternative?

You are generous with your time and knowledge and I know I am not alone in appreciating that.


Joan Reeves said...

Robin, one measure of success seems to be that it antagonizes some people until they are compelled to lash out--to tear you down and denigrate, not just what you accomplish, but also you, the person.

You can have the tallest building in town by building yours taller than any others. But that's too much work for these people. They just want to bulldoze all the other tall buildings until theirs is the only one standing.

This nihilistic approach seems to be a hallmark of many people online who get a bee in their bonnet over something or other.

My husband always quotes: "Don't let the bastards wear you down."

Keep on, keeping on. It probably kills the person who made that comment that you crafted a great blog post because of it. *g*

Best wishes,
Joan Reeves

India Drummond said...

I know how hard it is to brush it off when someone makes personal, ad hominem attacks.

I've found your blog to be such a valuable resource. Even if I don't agree with everything you write here, you always give me something to think about and a challenge to my perspective, which is healthy!

As far as your "claims," people who sell a decent number of books know how many books it takes to get to certain rankings levels. So all it would take to prove you wrong would be to look at your rankings and say.. wait.. "Book X is ranked at 23,000 on Amazon US, so it's likely selling 5-10 books a day." But the books you're talking about have rankings in line with the sales figures you're putting out there, so... this person isn't credible.

It would be ludicrous to lie about something that's so easy to verify, so I find the accusation a bit bizarre.

I know it might nothelp to say 'Dont worry about it,' but really... don't worry about it. =)

And thanks for your service to the online writing community. =)

Mercy Loomis said...

Robin, don't pay attention to a word of that post. Joan is right; people lash out at things that scare them or that they don't understand. The changes in publishing are enough to scare and confuse anyone.

You are incredibly generous with your time and expertise, and I for one am hugely grateful! I've heard you on a few podcasts, and that led me to your blog (and PG's blog, btw). Between you, PG, Dean, and Kris, us newbie indies are blessed with a wealth of information and a wonderful and supportive community. I'm self-publishing 12 titles later this month, and let me tell you, your blog and podcasts have been a huge help.

What authors need now is information, not a cheering section. You guys provide that. Like you said, there are different routes for different needs, and authors can't make those decisions unless they have information.

Don't let one jerk get you down. There are lots of non-jerks who are benefitting from your work and enthusiasm.

Sharper13x said...

Robin, Please don't sweat criticism from the Internet. Everyone is a tough guy and a genius when safely tucked behind a keyboard.

You do excellent work and your blog is an great service to many people.

The fact that you were singled out like that only goes to show something else you do well... You're interesting. Being interesting makes you a lightning rod for all kinds of opinions, good and bad, accurate and not.

David Gaughran said...

Consider it a tax on success.

I don't post there anymore; it's just not worth it. I do pop in now and then though to see the deluded talk from the usual suspects.

And it's the same people posting in that thread about you. They all have agendas, and it's clear to any unbiased reader.

Don't sweat it, and remember: if you and your authors weren't such a success, they wouldn't be so worked up.

John Twipnook said...

Add my voice to the chorus saying, "Pay the fool no mind." Keep up your good work!

Libby said...

At moments like these, I like to think of the rap lyrics "Haters gonna hate." That's what they do. I also like to think of Kat Williams, paraphrasing, "If people hate on you, you must be doing something right."

Rob Cornell said...

I'll echo what others have said here. It's jealousy, plain and simple. They can't stand that the old rules don't apply anymore, and others are having tremendous success. But as has been said, this is a testament to your success.

What's sad is there are two ways to look at this: Jealous and therefore resentful and mean-spirited. Or envious and happy to see the rising tide that will lift us all. (Some people are just too lazy to swim, I guess.)

Rob Cornell
Author of Darker Things

W. Bradford Swift said...

As far as I can tell, you've just demonstrated how to turn a very sour lemon (the negative post) into very tasty lemonade.

Look at the great responses you've already received. We can all use a little of that, right?

And, you also underlined an easily missed alternative for writers. I know that I've tended to think the choice are only two -- traditional publishing or self publishing, and with only those two choices, I've elected to go the self publishing route which is what led me to his blog (among others).

But not far down the 'traditional publishing route' is another fork -- Big 6 or small press. I for one will consider how a small press might be a legitimate way to go for at least some of my books, especially the SF that I'll probably published under a pen name.

Next stop -- look more into Ridan, what is offered there and maybe how to submit to them.

So, hang in there. You're doing far more good than the person who criticized you is doing.

Splitter's Blog said...

"You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill

Smart man.

People tend to project their own ways of thinking onto others. Lack of arrogance baffles some people. If they do not make a practice of giving back, they cannot understand when someone else does.

If they make a practice of believing their way is the only way, they cannot understand when someone else presents options for solving a problem.

Your blog and advice have saved me tons of time and saved me from making certain mistakes on the publishing side. Michael Sullivan's story inspires on the writing side. There are many more people who feel that way. You are doing "good" things for many of us, whether you realize it or not, and we appreciate the effort.



Katherine Owen said...

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." - Dr. Suess

I've never gone back to that site since you were banned. I have no time for small-minded people and if some writers still lap up their wash like kitties to milk~shame on them.

You are fabulous. You are generous with your time and your wisdom. Don't waste another minute on that person's post. I'm sure they're one of the many ducks pecking away that Stephen Covey always warned about.

You are amazing. Keep going.


Katherine Owen

Kris Bock said...

I have appreciated your insight into publicity, which is important no matter how you publish. I never got the impression you were pushing one form over the other.

Anyway, if someone doesn't like your blog or your company, why can't they just not read and not submit work? But some people have to attack and stir up negativity. It says a lot about them, and absolutely nothing about you.

Hang in there! You are appreciated.

Chong Go Sunim said...

What Spliter's blog said:

"You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill

I think the orginal poster completely failed to notice that you are very generous with your time and advice, freely offering help and suggestions to any writers. It takes a certain selflessness and kindness to step out of your model and give someone honest advice about other ways of doing things that may work best for them. And, by the way, thanks for the great blog posts and podcasts!
(Robin also has a lot of great podcasts at Dead Robots Society)

Wendy Tyler Ryan said...

Robin: I've only been blogging for little more than a year and a half but I have gotten quite an education during that time.

I agree with Joan and her "tall buildings" analogy. There are those who know they have nothing of worth to say or offer so they take the easy way out. Picking on others. They are the classroom bullies of blogging.

When I started blogging I followed numerous agent/publisher blogs until I found myself so jaded that I now only follow two - yours and Kristen Nelson's. (Kristen's got my dander up a couple of times but for the most part she seems pretty cool.)

Why jaded? Making fun of or belittling others for self gain is something I won't abide. I won't bore you with the details, but if anyone is interested, you can read a post I did awhile back after just having visited an agent blog for the last time. Here is the link:

I know that it's hard to take things in stride when someone has just attacked you. None of this "be a bigger person" crap, it's going to hurt. If we have any integrity, it's going to hurt.

I have never once felt battered or beaten down by anything you've ever said on your blog, which is why I keep coming back.

Just know that intelligent people will see this person for what they are. Have a big glass of red (Valpollacella is my favorite)and take a long, hot bath. Cheers!

Wendy Tyler Ryan

Unknown said...

The book snobs are uniting ... the average sale from the major publishers is so dismal (now looking at 500 books) ... that if authors don't figure out the publishing game/maze ... they are doomed. Learn about publishing... create your own imprint. It's a business ... not a hobby---Judith Briles, author of Show Me About Book Publishing.

Sierra Gardner said...

Hi Robin! Everyone's comments have been so great and have already said everything I wanted to. Your blog is a wonderful resource, and one I check frequently. In fact, the things you have posted here have helped me realize that self publishing might be an option for me in the future. Thanks so much for everything you do to help the writing community!

Alice Benton said...

Hi Robin, I've only recently found you and what I have seen so far is amazing. If one day I no longer agree, I wouldn't write about it. I simply would stop following your blog. Taking time to spread negativity tells you what type of person they are and how much you should or should not pay attention to them.

I'm sorry you're bummed, but I'm glad to have blog met you. I appreciate your hard work.

Alice Benton
Author of Beauty in Pain

Lexi said...

The ethos on that site is one of suspicion, cynicism, and, when they can't ignore success, of denial it is happening.

It's full of people posting long elaborate posts while asserting they want to spend all their time writing books.

It's its own weird little world.

Suzanne said...

The more successful you become, the more the naysayers will jabber. Stop reading their publications. Tune them out. Focus on delivering your vision here and at Ridan. Steve Jobs would have agreed.

Suzanne Adair

Robin Sullivan said...

Thanks everyone. I kind of expected a few - 'keep your chin up' posts but was really floored, and touched' to see so many encouraging words. So thank you.

There are a few things that really really bother me.

1 - Why do they keep returning? This post was started in a year and a half ago!! and has had steady traffic. When I was able to post to it, it made some sense as they could ask questions and have me answer.

2 - The banning prevents me from posting. So people can make all kinds of wild claims and false accusations and I'm not permitted to face my accusers? I see them speculating on my motivations and I'm mute and unable to set the record straight this drives me completely nuts!

3 - None of the people complaining have any stake in Ridan now - nor will they in the future. I carefully select what author's I chose to devote my energies to - would anyone saying such things be selected?

4 - The "if I were a Ridan author I'd be pissed" comments are crazy as well. If my authors are pissed they can talk to me...they can leave me...if they are not complaining why do you feel you need to on their behalf?

Gah...It's nerve racking!! Okay...rant over...let me go see if I can post something productive.

David Gaughran said...


They are baiting you.

You know what will piss them off the most? Ignoring them, as it will make clear their irrelevance while the future passes them by.

ccc said...

One time I repeated to a colleague a humorous, but not so flattering remark that someone had said about him. His reply was, "at least they're talking about me."
I never forgot that.

Unknown said...

That sucks.

I think you do a wonderful job for your writers. You are knowledgeable and always eager to learn and try new things.

If you published my genre, I'd send you a query today! :)

Unknown said...

The being banned thing is really crazy. I guess it's good in a way because it allows you to look like you're taking the higher ground and ignoring them! lol. I'm the same way, though, I feel the need to speak and explain everything. If someone criticizes me I CANNOT stay silent. I wouldn't be able to go to even read stuff on a board where I couldn't respond.

KevinMc said...

Hey Robin. =)

I'm going to take a wild, leaping guess that this is the jerks over at Absolute Write again? They're the only ones I can think of dumb enough to ban you from a writing/publishing discussion.

They banned me too. Just banned Joe Konrath for a week.

I mean, C'MON. Seriously. No sign of a pattern there, I guess? ;)

They're a cluster of folks who have absolutely no clue what they're talking about, chatting back and forth at each other to encourage their own delusions. It's one of the clearest examples of "groupthink" I've ever seen.

And you wonder why they make moronic posts like that?

Of course, if you or I or Joe had posted that, we'd have been banned. ;)

Really. REALLY! Take it from whence it comes.

Yeah, just found the post over there. Absolute Write jerks at it again.

When folks on Absolute Write are calling you names, you KNOW you are in good company, Robin. Continue standing up for what you know is right and true.

Absolute Write's rep is terribly stained already, and getting worse. Let the dinosaurs continue slowly sinking into a tar pit of their own creation. Nobody will miss them.

Unknown said...


I've heard and known about your blog for over a year. I have no idea who the other blogger is. That says something right there.

cidney swanson said...

Dear kind-hearted, generous, and tireless-in-the-assistance-of-those-who-would-write-for-a-living Robin,

They are wrong. They behave badly. Go look at your spreadsheets and please, please combat that feeling that it's not all worth it.

It is.
<3 Cidney

Rob Cornell said...

The "if I were a Ridan author I'd be pissed" comments are crazy as well.

It's crazy all right. Anyone working with Ridan is a lucky duck. This is based on my, you know, research. 'Cause I'm a big boy and can look into things myself. I don't need to be spoon-fed half-truths and lies on some random web forum.

Sandra Patterson said...

Absolute spite? Don't feel bad, Robin. If there's one thing they hate more than writers on there it's success. That post reeks of sour grapes. I can understand your hurt and frustration at being maligned but don't dignify their playground behaviour by responding to it.

Dr Chris Tallant said...


It may hurt the ones who make wine, but it's better for your brain if you ignore those who hate to simply hate.

David Gaughran said...

Ah, yes, forums.

This explains it all:

Author Scott Nicholson said...

Robin, you are one of the most astute, generous, and uplifting of all the thousands of people talking about publishing today. I am eager to work with you! Anyone who closes their minds is hurting themselves--and you don't lose at all when you lose those who don't want your message. Because there are plenty of us who do want it!

Margo Lerwill said...

I'm perplexed by the idea that your support of self-publishing throws your work with Ridan into question.

I had always assumed you were just paying it forward, supporting the empowerment of writers by whatever path they chose.

Apparently, it doesn't compute to some people that you would help writers who aren't making you money. That says something about the mindsets of everyone involved in this one-sided exchange.

Anonymous said...

ignore them. you seriously can't worry about or respond to every person who's going to kick up an opinion about your business, your blog, your opinions, etc.

you are doing your work, and you are generously sharing what you learn and what you know with others. i, for one, get a tremendous amount out of your blog, and i am VERY appreciative, though i rarely comment. i'm sure there are many others like me.

their main complaint is based around the fact that they don't get it. you just can't make it your job to educate everyone - there are MANY people who aren't going to get it. most of them will just drift away into the ether. some will always hang around the edges and kvetch. mostly to themselves or the air around them. no one who matters is listening. anyone with three brain cells to rub together can check out your blog and see the truth for themselves. and what do you care about people with fewer than three brain cells? ;o)

keep doing what you're doing! ignore the haters!

Ender Chadwick said...

Well, I got to this conversation late so everyone has already said everything I wanted to say. Anyone willing to say that you push for one publishing avenue or another, obviously has never really read what you have to say on the subject, and should be ignored (easier said than done, I know) until they can come up with a logic-based argument and have a reasonable debate in which you are not banned.

When someone earns respect, and that respect is not given, the usual cause is jealousy. I believe this case to be no different.

But really what I wanted to say, I'm sure I'm not alone when I say it, is: I look up to you as one of the most intelligent, astute and level-headed sources of information around.

I'm lucky and grateful that you're willing to share your thoughts and knowledge and hope you will continue to do so.

Robin Sullivan said...

@David - I don't think they are "baiting me" because after all I can't respond. I'm really not sure what their fascination with me is.

@ccc - good point - but it still stings

@ruth - I see your point but to my eyes it doesn't look like I'm "taking the high ground" it makes me (in my eyes) look like a coward for not addressing the accusations. I wish I could respond.

@Kevin - yes it is absolute write. considering how "out there" Joe can be it's interesting that he is banned for a week and I'm banned
for life ;-)

@lois - well that's good to know.

@cidney - Can I adopt that as the title on my business cards ;-) Thanks for lifting my spirits

@Rob - thanks I feel that way too

@The rest of you...I'll read and respond soon have to run now.

Jodi Ralston said...

Robin, I too am on that site and I looked through the thread a little. I know it doesn't help to say "don't worry about it," because that never helps. Instead just trust that you are providing a value many people benefit from, and in the long run that will outweigh any negativity from the outside.


Robin Sullivan said...

@Sandra - you made me LoL with "Absolute Spite" - you are probably right success is the best way to combat those sentiments

@Dr. Chris - If I didn't read comments - I wouldn't see all the great posts here - but yeah I get your point

@David - That comic is one of my all time favorites!!

@Scott - Thanks for saying such nice things.

@Margo - I'm equally perplexed - I'm not sure why I can't support an auhor's right to choose.

@Anonymous - Thanks for letting me know that there are people who read my blog but don't comment - it helps me to know that it is worth me spending time on.

@EC - Thanks for the saying such nice things and for letting me know my posts are helpful to you.

@Sphinxnihps - we can hope! Thanks for the words of encouragement

D.B. Smyth said...

Two more cents to add to the pile... I appreciate you and all the time and information you give to us freely. Thank you, thank you. You are wonderful!!!

Robin Sullivan said...

@D.B. - Thanks...You've always been very generous about my posts and spreading the word -- I really appreciate that.

Anonymous said...

I had a run in with MacAllister Stone on AbsoluteWrite too. Never heard of the woman until I was banned from the site for good; though anyone reading my valid comments with regard to a legitimate discussion about small press publishing v major publishers would notice I refrained from using bad language or inflammatory/insulting remarks. I was exceedingly polite throughout, taking the insults hurled at me on the chin. She's also a liar, which I discovered from her note. MacAllister Stone is a very ugly personality from what I can gather, envious of successful authors, and best avoided. She also has issues with anyone who has an affiliation with small press.


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