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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

John Scalzi, Baen author

It's probably a good thing John Scalzi is looking to find some new publishing outlets, because Tor Books obviously isn't of the opinion that they got their money's worth with his most recent submission:
So, here’s the Very Important News about my 2016 novel release:

Currently, there isn’t one. Not a new one, anyway.

Which isn’t to say I’m not writing a novel in 2016. In fact, I’m writing two(!). Merely that Tor has decided to wait until 2017 to release the next new one.

Why the wait? Among other things, because Tor just dropped a ton of money on me so we want to make sure we debut this next novel, the first in the new contract, just right. I’m on board with this plan — note the “we” in that last sentence — since (again, among other things) I actually want to try to earn out the silly large chunks of money Tor has dropped on me. I also don’t mind the extra time it gives me to write/tweak the novels I’m currently working on.
I'll admit it. I laughed. I fully expected Scalzi to crack under the pressure, but not this quickly. It's one thing to talk about writing a really good book that will sell 100k+ copies, but it's another thing to deliver on it the big talk.

Now, those who don't know much about the business of publishing may not understand how serious this little delay is. You see, each quarter, a mainstream publisher has certain books upon which it is relying in order to make its numbers. This is particularly important now, in a market that is characterized by declining sales; all the Big Five have seen their sales shrink as a result of bookstores closing and competition from independent publishers and self-published authors on Amazon.

Now, Tor had never previously depended on Scalzi; as recently as 2012 its bestsellers were Orson Scott Card and Karen Traviss's HALO novels. But they lost HALO and Robert Jordan isn't writing any more books, which is why they badly need Scalzi to step up to the next level. Hence the big contract and the aggressive book tours, which are essentially PNH throwing a Hail Mary in an attempt to save his job.

The recent announcement means that Scalzi hasn't been able to do it and his new novel didn't meet requirements. He turned it in, and after reading it, the editors at Tor know that it won't sell enough to meet their needs. So, they've pushed it back one year in the hopes that Scalzi can tweak it enough to turn it into something that will justify their investment in him.

But it's not going to work any better than signing a WR3 to be a WR1 does. More time won't change the core problem, which is that Scalzi is a stunt writer. He relies heavily on flash to disguise the fact that he's not a good storyteller, he has no original ideas, and he's merely a competent wordsmith. There is nothing wrong with that, and he could have had a perfectly satisfying career as the midlist writer that he is - as an editor, I concluded some time ago that writing snarky dialogue for short TV episodes was probably his ideal medium - but he is not the sort of bestselling writer on whom you would ever want to bet the company.

(For what it's worth, I'm not either. Very, very few writers are. There is no shame in not being a King, a Heinlein, or a Rowling, and even those writers can seldom deliver on that scale for more than a decade.)

But, as we know, SJWs always double down. Tom Doherty or the Macmillan executives should have fired PNH when he gave them the chance last year, because he is going to cost them heavily due to his decision to ride or die with his pyrite boy. It's far too soon to say this is definitely the case, but the smart money would bet on PNH's Hail Mary pass falling incomplete. Sooner or later, one has to stop spinning and massaging the Narrative and actually deliver real-world results.

In the meantime, boycott Tor Books!

Labels: ,

76 Comments:

Anonymous Miso Hawny December 29, 2015 6:44 AM  

Twice he uses "dropped" to humblebrag about how much money Tor gave him. Interesting word choice..

Blogger Mr.MantraMan December 29, 2015 6:44 AM  

The boycott is easy to honor. In important news the Vikes/Pack game has been flexed to 7:30 CST

Anonymous Bz December 29, 2015 6:55 AM  

At one screen in a corner office in a New York office building, PNH has just pressed send and is sweating bullets. At another screen, Doherty has woken with a start from a slumber, scanned the words before him blearily and started dabbing his face with a handkerchief. At a third screen, in a murky room, Scalzi has begun sweating bullets too. Lots of bullets for some gun free zones.

Blogger kudzu bob December 29, 2015 7:00 AM  

PNH's best bet at this point is to take out "writer's insurance" on Scalzi and then look on Craigslist for a hit man.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan December 29, 2015 7:01 AM  

Peddling narrative junk probably has to be the definition of narrowcasting. Each little leftard subgroup rigorously segregated from the other subgroups lest they start fighting and only come together to protest old YT. I'll bet Scalzi's fan base is the epitome of non-diverse, damaged whites on a power fantasy (gammas)

Blogger VD December 29, 2015 7:04 AM  

Interesting word choice..

At this point, I'll be surprised if the contract isn't quietly "renegotiated" before the third year is up. It won't be in their interests to drop him publicly; they want to keep up the value of his backlist if nothing else.

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer December 29, 2015 7:07 AM  

Read Old Man's War, thought it wasn't too bad, the genuflections to left-wing shibboleths were heavy handed and detracted from what could have been a candy coated wish fulfillment fantasy, but between the idiotic (and cliche) "atheist schools stoopid bible thumper by knowing Bible better than the thumper" episode at the start of the book and Scalzi's general ass-hattery on the Internet, I just had no desire to read anything else by him.

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer December 29, 2015 7:16 AM  

Anyway, every second spent reading a Scalzi novel would be a second when I am not reading Butcher or Wright or reading classics that I have missed. I used to think that I was well read in science fiction and fantasy, but since seeing the index n posts I am working on filling in some serious gaps.

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer December 29, 2015 7:29 AM  

And if I'm going to spend my time reading mind candy, there are a boat load of MHI novels coming out. Not to mention new novels in the Hard Magic universe.

Blogger Ron December 29, 2015 7:30 AM  

@Ron W

"Anyway, every second spent reading a Scalzi novel would be a second when I am not reading..."

It's also a second where you are not picking your nose, or spacing out, or smoking crack. All of which are probably better uses of your time.

Wait did I write "probably"?

Blogger Cataline Sergius December 29, 2015 7:42 AM  

But they lost HALO and Robert Jordan isn't writing any more books, which is why they badly need Scalzi to step up to the next level.

Exactly.

Not too long ago, when Larry Corriea was playing slap the retard with Damian Walters, he published The Official Alphabetical List of Author Success

Scalzi would appear to be on Corriea's --

E List – The 1% =$$$$$$$

Authors who make enough off their royalties to impress their mother in law.
Authors who lucked into a decent movie deal.
Authors who actually have long lines at book signings
The Real Housewives.


Although oddly Scalzi behaves as if he was on the --

H List – Holy Shit! I Quit My Day Job! =$$$$$

Authors who are still really glad their spouse has a real job.
Authors who think that paying quarterly taxes on their royalties is total bullshit.
Authors who can go to their high school reunion all smug like, “Oh, you work at Autozone? Well I’m an AUTHOR bitches!”
Authors who have made enough from royalties to impress their mom.


Okay sociopathic narcissists always behave oddly, we all know that. And we all know that Tor has agreed to pay him 250K per book for 12 books. Which puts him in the E-List.

One rank below Marko Kloos.

This is supposed to be their star player. Their headliner. The guy they need to be playing poker with Castle.

And the first book on his new contract has been sent back to the word mines.

I think PNH was really banking on Redshirts, (the basic cable show) to vault Scalzi up the chain to Jordan levels.

Small problem, Redshirts is still on the shelf. No trailers, no photo stills and no other signs of marketing. I am beginning to think it may stay there. CBS is all in on their new Star Trek series. So, I suspect that a deal was struck to spike this little weird parody thing on FX, before real money had to spent on Special Effects.

Leaving PNH with an overinvested in and now underperforming author.

Anonymous TS December 29, 2015 7:44 AM  

All Vox has to do is sit back and laugh as Scalzi the leftard implodes. Depending on Scalzi is like leaning on the splintered reed of a staff, which pierces the hand of anyone who leans on it!

Anonymous Laughing December 29, 2015 7:49 AM  

Vox you could always offer to help Scalzi with his "novel" and charge him on a per word basis. Lol

Blogger VD December 29, 2015 7:52 AM  

Well, I AM a Hugo-nominated editor.

Blogger Daniel Shaw December 29, 2015 8:00 AM  

"note the “we” in that last sentence"

Placing unnecessary emphasis on it certainly clarified whats actually going on. That's not an easy role for anyone to fill.

Anonymous ? December 29, 2015 8:11 AM  

it's not going to work any better than signing a WR3 to be a WR1 does.

Someone explain this... it's a sports reference, right?

Anonymous WinstonWebb December 29, 2015 8:34 AM  

WR="Wide Receiver"

Blogger Salt December 29, 2015 8:55 AM  

Watch Tor come out with a CH style scifi, electing to receive on a hail mary, as PNH exits the scene.

Blogger Skylark Thibedeau December 29, 2015 8:57 AM  

There are only so many ways you can rewrite Starship Troopers and Visit to A Weird Planet Revisited from 1976's "Star Trek:The New Voyages". Scalzi is about to find out that Big Book Publishers believe about contracts what Lenin believed about Treaties: They are made to be broken.

Ask Weiss and Hickman what happened to the third book in the Starshield trilogy. The first two didn't sell and the third was cancelled even though they had a contract. Not only was it cancelled, the publisher kept the rights so it could not be completed by a rival.

You can sue and win but as they say in Hollywood, you'll never work in this town again.

Blogger Horn of the Mark December 29, 2015 8:59 AM  

I really want to pick up Sanderson's recent Mistborn novels, but I'm holding strong.

Anonymous Red December 29, 2015 9:07 AM  

>boycott Tor Books!

I would but they don't publish anything I want to read so there's really nothing to boycott.

Anonymous Gigantor Scalzi December 29, 2015 9:18 AM  

Puny humans!!! Your all just jealous of my husband's talent!!

"Lock In 2 : Cocklocked" is going to be the great American novel.

And if it isn't, I won't be letting Johnnie out to play with his little friend Willy Wheaton!!!

Anonymous VFM #0189 December 29, 2015 9:26 AM  

"Why the wait? See, Tor just George Rape Rape Martined me, and I need to rape a few more before letting the next two novels rip."

After all, if you can't deliver on one book, go big, and fail to deliver on TWO.

Blogger Kallmunz December 29, 2015 9:27 AM  

I know nothing about the publishing industry so it is fascinating to hear that publishers can break a contract at will, can authors do the same?
That said you can't blame PHN too much, when it was time to put the money down he bet on a straight white man who lives in Ohio and writes military SF.

OpenID denektenorsk December 29, 2015 9:40 AM  

Supreme Dark Lord,

I heard from a friend that Scalzi's latest offering sold a (by supposed A-lister standards) a meager 22K. Is the standard publishing deal similar to a video game contract? I.e. a publisher offers X% royalties (which I'm sure you are aware can be considerably less than half) and development is an advance on those future royalties.

What would an author who has a 'proven' track record, a decently selling backlist and is most importantly being paid upfront get? 30%? More, less? Lets assume $3 per book... meaning he has to sell 83, 333 copies to break even. Would there be any cost sharing on the book tours since they are also building the Scalzi 'brand'?

Anything less than that and it starts to chew into the publishers portion. At that point it becomes an opportunity cost of why are they investing their money in A versus B. I'm going to make a guess and say at some point the guy footing the bill is going to want a return on his cash and all things being equal would like more money, not less.

This is problem I have with modern commerce degrees in general. Call me old fashion, but the point of a company is to make more money than they spend if they want to continue doing it for any period of time. Loosing money to gain marketshare is an ends to means of making money down the road, not the goal unto itself. Loosing money to spread a message is the domain of publically funded arts projects (i.e. welfare for college arts graduates).

IMO people who are willing to loose money to gain marketshare are gaming numbers for ulterior motives. For example THQ considered Relic a 'crown jewel' despite the fact that Relic cost more money in salary than they ever made back in raw sales. If memory serves it was a net 10 million loss overall. Best Buy are/were actively lowering per unit profits to try to gain marketshare and look attractive to investors. Look how well that strategy served THQ (went bust) and Best Buy (closed Futureshop).

This will be interesting in the next few years...

Anonymous Napoleon 12pdr December 29, 2015 9:43 AM  

And Vox's plan to make Tor the print subsidiary of Castalia House proceeds on schedule...

Anonymous Scintan December 29, 2015 9:47 AM  

Something like $500 spent on books this Christmas, and 0$ went to TOR. Literally nobody in the family gift ring had a TOR book on their list.

Blogger Student in Blue December 29, 2015 9:55 AM  

@denektenorsk
IMO people who are willing to loose money to gain marketshare are gaming numbers for ulterior motives.

IMO companies who are trying to gain marketshare at the expense of profit believe that if they can gain a stranglehold, they can start monopolizing and killing off competitors, allowing them to eventually start swimming in money.

As far as I know, the only businesses that are able to accomplish this are able to do so via government help and funding.

Blogger John Cunningham December 29, 2015 9:59 AM  

VFM #424 here-- @20 remember you can always search for Tor books at your local used bookstore or alibris.com, abebooks.com, Amazon used, etc.

Blogger Neanderserk December 29, 2015 10:01 AM  

Scalzi was doomed the moment he achieved resource security with the contract.

Now that he's scrambling he may pull something out. But beyond r/K, Vox's analysis of his talent spells doom.

So, we will get to see the rat drown. Goooooood times.

Blogger Chris Nelson December 29, 2015 10:36 AM  

This fall I was at a meeting held at a local library. One of the attendees had a copy of "Red Shirts" he had checked out. I didn't know whether to educate him or let him learn from his mistakes...

Anonymous KoranBurningFaggot December 29, 2015 10:37 AM  

Twice he uses "dropped" to humblebrag about how much money Tor gave him. Interesting word choice

Perhaps they didn't want to be seen paying him so they dropped the money in the middle of the night.

Authors who think that paying quarterly taxes on their royalties is total bullshit.

Is there anyone who actually looked at the taxes they pay and not think it is total bullshit?

Anonymous Ain December 29, 2015 10:51 AM  

@7 but between the idiotic (and cliche) "atheist schools stoopid bible thumper by knowing Bible better than the thumper"

That would earn it a swift trip to the trashcan.

Anonymous Jon Bromfield December 29, 2015 10:53 AM  

Why would Scalzi even make this announcement now? To get ahead of the inevitable rumors about what an salable stinker he submitted? You would think between him and his co-master of lies and deceit, PNH, they could concoct some BS story:

DECEMBER 2015

Scalzi: "Tor has asked if they can delay the release of CHILDHOOD'S SPECIAL FRIEND until 2017 because I came up with a real superduper mega-amazing ending and they need some more time to debut it just right!"

DECEMBER 2016

PNH: Tor is delaying John Scalzi's magnificent new saga THE LORD OF THE SHIRE because he wants to add a wonderful new character, a bisexual hermaphrodite Person of Color, and we need some time to debut it just right.

Blogger Jourdan December 29, 2015 11:15 AM  

The repeated references to his contract dollars is shockingly pathetic, even by Scalzi standards. Anyone with any experience with business would see nothing but red flags all over those statements.

Blogger Sheila4g December 29, 2015 11:44 AM  

I remember enjoying "Old Man's War," and funnily enough I don't recall lots of leftist agitprop (and that's usually an immediate turnoff and cue to drop the book for me). I didn't like the sequel and do recall leftist memes in that. I hated "Red Shirts" and then learned about Scalzi's political stance from my reading here, and have never even been tempted to pick up anything else he's written.

While I very much enjoy your blog, Vox, and own and read SJWAL and Cuckservatives, I've yet to buy or read any of your fiction. I'm uncertain how your prose style would work in fantasy/fiction, and you yourself have written about your limitations as a wordsmith. On the other hand, some of my favorite authors/novels are those you also favor. Can anyone offer some genuine pros/cons re Vox's fiction and suggest one to start with? My old favorites are (besides LOTR) Patricia McKillip, Susan Cooper, Guy Gavriel Kay, Joan Vinge, Judith Tarr, etc. I started George Rape Martin's books many years ago but stopped long before the tv series even began, and I also stopped Robert Jordan years ago. Mixed feelings regarding older Ann McCaffrey books and Tad Williams.

Blogger VD December 29, 2015 11:54 AM  

I know nothing about the publishing industry so it is fascinating to hear that publishers can break a contract at will, can authors do the same?

If they are big enough. But in general, no. Most publishers are absolutely shameless about it. The contracts are only there to define how they will pay if things are going well. If they're not, they'll break every clause and then some, relying on their expensive New York lawyers to flim-flam you.

GT Interactive learned the hard way that expensive New York lawyers are no match for superintelligences. But in most cases, authors simply get overrun.

What would an author who has a 'proven' track record, a decently selling backlist and is most importantly being paid upfront get? 30%? More, less? Lets assume $3 per book... meaning he has to sell 83, 333 copies to break even.

Scalzi gets around 20 percent on ebooks, 12.5 percent on hardcover, and 7.5 percent on paperback. In general, a Big Five-published author ends up getting around $1 per book. However, you have to remember that breakeven for the publisher is much lower than earn-out for the author.

Blogger grendel December 29, 2015 11:58 AM  

@36 Vox's fiction is better than he will ever admit to. Just pick one, you won't be sorry.

Anonymous Jon Bromfield December 29, 2015 12:07 PM  

UNsalable stinker!

Blogger Salt December 29, 2015 12:25 PM  

GT Interactive learned the hard way that expensive New York lawyers are no match for superintelligences.

GTI isn't TPTB, else they'd have had the Judge too. When TPTB want to turn a blind eye, they do it with impunity.

Blogger bub December 29, 2015 12:30 PM  

@36. Sheila4g

Try "Throne of Bones" and "The Last Witchking".
I've read all his stuff, including the Beale pre-blog series.
Enjoyable reading, no nasty surprises, and usually something to make you think.

Blogger Geir Balderson December 29, 2015 12:37 PM  

I am not sure why they place their faith in Scalzi to save them. After all, the way he alienates 66%+ of the SF and Fantasy crowd. Why would he be profitable? Especially, since he seems to have run the course for great ideas. I personally have never bought a Scalzi novel. (And the one I did read I got at a library charity sale for 10 cents) Ok, I got it for a dime so I got my moneys worth as I didn't finish it as I lost interest and enjoyed Neil Gaiman more.

Anyway, I ramble on and wonder if Scalzi has another career in mind? Perhaps, raising organic food on his huge, large, enormous acreage??

Anonymous Bukulu December 29, 2015 12:42 PM  

I guess I'm a little more dense than usual this morning... what's the significance of "Baen Author" in the title here?

Anonymous Minion #0172 December 29, 2015 1:03 PM  

Scalzi will end up in an asylum. You can tell things are going south in his life. Just prior to his "No Tor books until 2017" announcement he was making all kinds of comments on his blog and twitter about upcoming big book and media deals and how wonderful and awesome his life is.

The guy's a loon.

Blogger Patrick December 29, 2015 1:32 PM  

@ # 43 - I think Vox is just having some fun.

Though, to be honest, I think Baen screwed up royally w/Weber's latest. $14.99 for an e-book at Amazon at present. One way to get me not reading the Safehold series at any rate.

Blogger Salt December 29, 2015 1:35 PM  

how wonderful and awesome his life is.

I think he meant his lawn.

Anonymous Albert December 29, 2015 1:47 PM  

#45 - Actually, Safehold is published by Tor. Baen sells _most_ of Weber's books, not all.

OpenID Jack Amok December 29, 2015 1:48 PM  

I heard from a friend that Scalzi's latest offering sold a (by supposed A-lister standards) a meager 22K.

If you apply the Scalzi Scaling Factor, there's your "100k+" right there.

Anonymous daddynichol December 29, 2015 1:50 PM  

Vox wrote:
... I concluded some time ago that writing snarky dialogue for short TV episodes was probably his ideal medium...

That is also exemplified by his move toward Twitter and away from his blog, which is nothing more than kitty pics.

Anonymous nathan December 29, 2015 1:50 PM  

@Patrick, Safehold is Tor, not Baen.

Blogger Midknight December 29, 2015 1:58 PM  

Safehold lost me between the Tor prices, and the scene on one of the last couple books where the female android version of Nimue, recently activated, shows a bigoted jerk of a guy not to mess around with and show contempt for women.

So superhuman (literally) android BREAKS the guy (multiple bones) and everyone in charge has a laugh about it because the guy was such a bigot that straw men would be embarrassed. Like that will teach the guy that normal women are just as tough, etc.

Blogger Patrick December 29, 2015 2:34 PM  

#47 - Did not know that. Interesting, and I guess also explains the price gouging.

#45 - Yep, my post. Wandered over to Scalzi's blog. He is indeed co-writing something w/John Ringo which will be published by Baen. Scalzi actually blathered on in some detail about how much he respects Baen. Even got mildly grumpy w/a commenter who tried to call him out over writing something w/Ringo.

Scalzi better be careful, or he's gonna get the treatment Brianna Wu's been getting of late, methinks.

Blogger James Dixon December 29, 2015 3:05 PM  

> I really want to pick up Sanderson's recent Mistborn novels, but I'm holding strong.

There are these things called "libraries" and "used book stores". You might want to look into them.

> Though, to be honest, I think Baen screwed up royally w/Weber's latest. $14.99 for an e-book at Amazon at present.

See above.

OpenID denektenorsk December 29, 2015 3:22 PM  

Scalzi gets around 20 percent on ebooks, 12.5 percent on hardcover, and 7.5 percent on paperback. In general, a Big Five-published author ends up getting around $1 per book. However, you have to remember that breakeven for the publisher is much lower than earn-out for the author.

Wow, that is much lower than I expected. Someone starting out has to take what they can get but I expected more for a very, very, very popular author with millions of blog hits. I guess he does have a special deal in the 12 book advance.

As for the publishers breakeven, yep it's a lot lower as they take the lions' share of the sale.

Scalzi, being the concerned soul that he professes to be is very concerned with earn-out and not being a drain on his publisher. Hence I was wondering what sort of sales figures would be required to do that.

OpenID denektenorsk December 29, 2015 3:31 PM  

IMO companies who are trying to gain marketshare at the expense of profit believe that if they can gain a stranglehold, they can start monopolizing and killing off competitors, allowing them to eventually start swimming in money.

As far as I know, the only businesses that are able to accomplish this are able to do so via government help and funding.


Agreed, depending on the type of business. For retail it doesn't make any sense but some still pursue it... presumably for attracting investment? Good luck getting a retail chain monopoly. The way to do that is the strategies pursued by Walmart and Amazon. They have marketshare due to success, not because they pursued marketshare as a goal though (IMO). Best Buy are out of their element.

In actual industry it can work but yes, you generally will need some sort of governmental assistance. Lobbyists make tons of money for a reason.

For other individuals it is actually prestige. The number of people I've worked with who have confused profitable product with 'art' is staggering. That's all fine and dandy until developers shutdown and real people loose their jobs through no fault of their own.

Anonymous Alexander, #10 December 29, 2015 4:11 PM  

Ah, call me selfish, but already I can't wait for 2017.

I've always said that I am a professional writer first, and when it comes to my work, ideology comes second to keeping a roof over my family's head. And I've gotten along great with people all across the spectrum - why just last year I co-wrote a story published by Baen with John Ringo! Yes, THAT John Ringo.

Which is why I am extending the olive branch to Mr. Beale - congrats on that Hugo btw - and seeking to open a dialogue that might lead to all you readers enjoying a story from yours truly being published by Castalia House!

We all love to read, and last year's Hugo awards taught all of us a valuable lesson in listening to all sides of the spectrum.

- This thread has been closed to comments.

Anonymous Jake December 29, 2015 4:19 PM  

I've been saying this for some time. Scalzi is a bad writer. He's not a "competent" writer. He's not a serviceable writer. He's a bad writer. Worse, he's no better today than he was when Old Man's War was picked up as a gimmick novel that PNH picked up to sell to the dopes who followed Scalzi's blog. People keep saying he's good at dialogue, but he's not. All his characters sound alike. Women sound like men, old men sound like young ones, aliens sound like humans. There are a million examples of him running 40 or 50 words of dialogue and then tacking on a "he said." As if you can go four sentences without knowing who's speaking. He seems to have never learned that sometimes a dialogue tag isn't needed. He seems never to realize you can change the volume or inflection of a character's voice. And this is supposedly his biggest "strength" as a writer. We won't even begin to address his massive plot holes, ridiculous characters, dull settings, shoddy exposition, rehashed science and lazy philosophical ideas. An enterprising author could use Scalzi's novels to pen a decent HOW NOT TO book on writing. Hell, I might do it myself.

Blogger VD December 29, 2015 4:38 PM  

Worse, he's no better today than he was when Old Man's War was picked up as a gimmick novel that PNH picked up to sell to the dopes who followed Scalzi's blog.

It is a little strange that he hasn't improved at all. I mean, there is a reason why people always make fun of my first novel; I've gotten better over the years.

Blogger Steve, the Dark Ninja of Mockery December 29, 2015 4:52 PM  

Jake - Ouch. Poor Scalzi.

T'aint nothing wrong with being an unchallenging, derivative, pulpy writer though - as long as you're entertaining.

I stopped reading the OMW series when it got boring, which was fast. And Redshirts convinced me never to send that man any money again.

Tor seems determined to promote Scalzi as something he most definitely is not - the next Michael Crichton or something.

Unfortunately for them, you can roll a turd in glitter, but it still smells like shit.

Anonymous Jake December 29, 2015 4:54 PM  

"It is a little strange that he hasn't improved at all. I mean, there is a reason why people always make fun of my first novel; I've gotten better over the years."

It's his arrogance. He doesn't think he NEEDS to improve. After all, look how successful he's been (which would be his argument against his being a bad writer.) And sure, his success has been built on strategic power alliances and attention grabbing schemes and finally a messianic crusade against the forces of evil, present company very much included, but he's too arrogant to see it that way. The guy thinks he can write with the giants, that he deserves all those Hugos and Hugo nominations, that his knock off of Heinlein is better than Heinlein, etc. In order to get better you must first realize you have a problem. As far as his writing development goes, the worst thing to happen to Scalzi was PNH swooping in and sending his moron to the front of the class-- when other people have to pay their dues and learn a thing or two from a rejection slip.

It's possible (with his latest dashed off SF nothing) the truth of this is becoming obvious to those higher up than PNH at Tor. If you're going to bank your company on an author he must produce writing that can transcend a blog, science fiction fans, and leftist activist audiences. So far Scalzi has not shown that kind of talent or even a willingness to work to get there.

OpenID protestmanager December 29, 2015 4:54 PM  

How / why did Tor lose the HALO books?

Blogger Salt December 29, 2015 5:11 PM  

I mean, there is a reason why people always make fun of my first novel; I've gotten better over the years.

You're aging well.

Blogger Cataline Sergius December 29, 2015 5:44 PM  

It is a little strange that he hasn't improved at all.

Who has improved under PNH's guiding hand?

Blogger The Kurgan December 29, 2015 6:29 PM  

Jake,
THANK YOU!
I have always thought Scalzi is a useless writer. I could tell this from picking up redshirts and reading a couple paragraphs of it. I have thankfully never bought anything by him, but his blog gives away his "ability" if there were any doubt.

Blogger Alfred Genesson December 29, 2015 7:47 PM  

Poor Ringo. Of course, the book might not be usable with Scalzi's bits, like his Tor projects. Of course, it will be easy to tell who wrote what; if it's fun and charismatic, it's not Scalzi.

Anonymous GT incident December 29, 2015 9:05 PM  

@37

VD, any reference to the GT incident that you are talking about? I tried looking it up, but it is hard to search for, apparently, for someone that isn't already familiar with the story.

Blogger tweell December 29, 2015 9:21 PM  

Gallery Books (Simon & Schuster) outbid Tor for the Halo franchise in 2014.

Blogger rcocean December 29, 2015 10:12 PM  

"People keep saying he's good at dialogue, but he's not. All his characters sound alike. Women sound like men, old men sound like young ones,"

Like Vox said, his true calling is writing for TV. Snark sells in Hollywood.

Anonymous Silly But True December 29, 2015 10:34 PM  

@65's @37:

GT Interactive was smacked around for interfering with Fenris Wolf's Rebel Moon Rising sequel:
http://www.nycourts.gov/courts/comdiv/lawreport/law_report_-_january_2000.pdf

Silly But True

Blogger Silly But True December 29, 2015 10:41 PM  

...and as an aside Vox is cautioned to search alternate markets or regions to make sure GT Interactive simply didn't pirate it and release it in, say, Germany -- which appeared to be their business plan circa 1999. I mean beyond suing Midway to try and get them some unearned Mortal Kombat money.

Silly But True

Blogger Gaiseric December 30, 2015 12:52 AM  

I wonder how valuable that backlist really is. Agile cruising the dollar store today for some stunt cheap white elephant gifts for a party, I saw a Scalzi title on the shelves. If the distributor is forced to sell them at dollar stores, I can't imagine it's because they can get better prices for him elsewhere.

Blogger Gaiseric December 30, 2015 12:54 AM  

I wonder how valuable that backlist really is. Agile cruising the dollar store today for some stunt cheap white elephant gifts for a party, I saw a Scalzi title on the shelves. If the distributor is forced to sell them at dollar stores, I can't imagine it's because they can get better prices for him elsewhere.

Anonymous Albert December 30, 2015 6:39 AM  

#64: Pretty sure the "book written with John Ringo" is the Black Tide Rising anthology, where Scalzi wrote one short story out of many.

Anonymous That Would Be Telling December 30, 2015 8:05 AM  

Best short description I've found of Fenris Wolf Ltd. v. GT Interactive Software Corp. is from this interview of our host by Roosh:

"Without going into details of legal trials, please say, what was the main reason of the publishing abolition of this in all aspects revolutionary (Rebel Moon Revolution) game? Maybe it was the usual competition of the game developers?

GT Interactive was running out of money and as far as I can tell, they cut every game that wasn’t scheduled for completion within the next six months. The problem is that they didn’t actually cancel the game, which would have permitted us to take it elsewhere, they simply refused to pay an already-approved milestone. They ended up having to write us a much larger check two years later, but by then the damage was done. We couldn’t take the game, or even the engine, to another publisher with that hanging over our heads. When Sega of Japan shut down Sega of America around the same time, the one-two punch was simply more than one small company could take."

There are plenty more details, it's a good interview.

Blogger BigFire December 30, 2015 11:26 AM  

From reading blogs of Larry Corriea, John C. Wright and Sarah Hoyt, I always came away with the impression that a professional writer writes. Most often multiple project at the same time. Hell, Larry is writing 2-3 series at the same time, plus short stories, other people's properties, etc. It is a job.

OpenID protestmanager December 31, 2015 4:37 PM  

@66 Thank you tweell

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