The Nebula Awards were announced yesterday [see http://file770.com/2018-nebula-awards/ for full coverage]. That brings to a close the minor kerfuffle around the 20booksto50K kerfuffle that I covered here.
As I said in that linked post, four works that were both Nebula finalists and on the 20booksto50K not-a-slate were from the publisher LMBPN which is associated with 200booksto50K (specifically it owns the trademark). Naturally I was curious to see what the reaction was to the results where from the key figures at 20booksto50K and there is a post on the Facebook group today from Craig Martelle. I won’t quote the whole thing, it’s mainly a post about how great 20booksto50K is (and it genuinely does appear to be a strong community of writers helping each other). However, there is a section on the Nebulas that I want to talk about:
“We are setting a new and nearly unreachable standard in author support – all authors, not just indies. The publishing processes that Michael Anderle has set up condense the publication timeline in such a way that books don’t sit around on someone’s desk for six months, waiting to earn money. This is the ebook market and one might as well earn for six months, re-roll and earn more. There is a great saying that we have in the Marine Corps: Amateurs talk tactics and professionals talk logistics. In here, we talk about the uncool logistics. You want input on your tactics (the quality of your story), then talk to those who are vested – your readers. Six indies nominated for Nebula awards last night and zero indie winners. What matters most is which stories resonate best with the readers and which ones will lead to new stories bringing more readers on board. Who is going to be the most professional of the authors? Out of our six finalists? Only one is not a full-time author and that is by choice.https://www.facebook.com/groups/20Booksto50k/permalink/1905480926225029/
I am not talking down about any winners or any other authors – being a full-time writer comes with great risk. It is not something to be encouraged lightly. Or discouraged. Working hard at the right things, with intentionality of purpose, and personal drive toward achievable goals. If you can’t motivate yourself to write when you’re supposed to be writing, then maybe a full-time author gig isn’t for you. It’s really freaking hard. Indies represented strong and proud last night. Professionals in every way.”
Sorry but that is a b*llocks bit of narrative. The idea that ONLY the authors on the 20booksto50K list are the only finalists that were “indies” is false. The claim that there were “zero indie winners” is best described as a lie. The winner of Short Story (“The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington”, Phenderson Djèlí Clark from Fireside 2/18) has just as much, if not more, claim to be indie as any of the works published by LMBNP. All of the main story category winners have published independently at one time or another.
There were several attempts at the time to spin the 20booksto50K fuss as a struggle between indies and trad-pubbed authors. It was a tempting narrative for lazy thinkers but one that did not stand up to examination. There were finalists from the 20booksto50K who have had worked published by more traditional routes (Lawrence Shoen, Yudhanjaya Wijeratne) and finalists who weren’t from 20booksto50K who had published more independently. Overall it is a really bad way of categorising authors taxonomically and a deeply misleading way of characterising the conflict.
It’s really sad to see Craig Martelle still trying to spin what happend as an indie v trad-pub conflict. I was impressed by how other people involved learnt from what others were saying and moved forward positively (e.g. Jonathon Brazee) in a way that found common ground rather than trying to amplify conflict. It’s a shame Craig Martelle is sticking to a tired narrative.