- The Most Hated Woman on the Internet This is an interesting article about Amanda Palmer. However, Doyle doesn’t really leave any room for anyone to just simply dislike Palmer’s public persona. Which is pretty much where I am with her.
- Aaron Sorkin thinks female roles have a lesser ‘degree of difficulty’ Shut up, Aaron Sorkin.
- A Lack of Female Characters is Always a Choice Someone else tells Mark Lawrence to shut up–and quite thoroughly. Sadly, it didn’t take. Also, his fixation on a 3 year old review of the first Jorg book is really creepy and he needs to cut it out.
- Welcome to SF fandom, here’s your complimentary sexism
- Of Hard SF and Messy Emotions Great essay from Cora Buhlert.
- DON’T DO THIS EVER: “World Before Columbus Syndrome” edition Oh, look. J.A. Konrath also needs a nice big glass of shut the fuck up. He gets the biggest glass of shut up because I know he’s been to at least two RT conventions (I witnessed his presence) where he presumably talked to some erotica writers and you’d think some of it would have sunk in between drinking vast amounts of alcohol and pontification on the joys of self-publishing but apparently not. Next RT you go to, Joe? Try drinking and talking less and listening more. You might learn something.
- How Self-Tracking Apps Exclude Women (and other people who are not cis men).
- Diversity for Sale
- How Jessica Mitford Exposed A $48m Scam From America’s Literary Establishment Amazingness.
- In Which Three Adults Discuss “Dune” Seriously and At Length This was a little through the looking glass ish to read, as while I first read Dune as a teenager, I certainly don’t perceive it as a book intended for teenagers. Whereas these readers–and many of the commenters–do. And this is mostly a non-fannish discussion which is also odd to me–is this how people who don’t go to SF conventions and spend a lot of time time online talking about books and publishing talk about books? Anyhow, this made me want to reread the book and contemplate trying to read some of the sequels again. (There was also Dirtbag Paul Atreides which was delightful.)
- I Am Bread Review: The Tenacity of Toast
- Help author Katharine Kerr care for her husband Howard
Yesterday afternoon, I saw a post at Writer Beware about one of my favorite websites, The Toast. The post was about a section of their contract in which they asserted rights to contributors’ copyrights.
I trust the people at Writer Beware, so when they say something is an unacceptable rights grab, I believe them. I’m not the only person who did.
A few hours later, the issue was resolved–everyone’s happy, right? Well, I’m not.
I’m unhappy that Nick Pavich, publisher of The Toast, was dismissive when these concerns were raised last night and then proceeded to be grossly sexist. He did apologize. To me, it felt less than sincere.
Dream journal? Kittens? Really?
This is the moment when I point out that Nick Pavich is an attorney. Presumably, he knows his way around a contract or would know someone who would and would be willing to give him a friends-and-family rate on the billing in order to, I don’t know, write a contract that wasn’t capitalizing on people’s lack of knowledge about publishing (especially since the artists’ contract wasn’t so awful)? I don’t give a flying fuck if sites like xoJane and Gawker use similar contracts with their freelancers; The Toast’s public position has been that they are, in some ineffable way, different–nay, better–than those sites.
Jacqui Shine says it much better than I could:
Just: if your site is built on having lovely, moving stories about (often) the most excruciating experiences of a writer’s life at $50 each,
— jacqui shine (@DearSplenda) December 17, 2014
AT THE VERY LEAST, the writer should be able to use the material again and make money from the piece in the future. Under an agreement that — jacqui shine (@DearSplenda) December 17, 2014
ALIGNS WITH INDUSTRY STANDARDS. Elevating marginalized voices isn’t quite so honorable a project if you’re taking advantage of them too.
— jacqui shine (@DearSplenda) December 17, 2014
The opportunity to be heard isn’t always sufficient or priceless compensation. — jacqui shine (@DearSplenda) December 17, 2014
Or, more succinctly: exposure kills.
The Toast–and its parent company, Manderley LLC–are in this to make money. That is something they’ve been open about since day one–the fact that a community has sprung up in their comments is wholly incidental to their stated purpose. They run advertising and sponsored posts–what this means is that the audience is the product. They aren’t running the site and acquiring content out of the goodness of their hearts or because they want to be nice. They have found an audience that isn’t being served and they’re using that to create revenue.
And speaking of the advertising–it’s terrifically intrusive. Five ads above the fold, four of which are animated in some way and one of which, if hovered over for too long, opens a content-obscuring box and starts talking to me about the deals at my local Chevrolet dealer.
I am, of course, not saying that they shouldn’t have advertising or that they shouldn’t make money. But my local newspaper manages to have ads that are less obnoxious than this. And my local newspaper is in this to make as much money for their corporate overlords as possible.
Also: I do generally love The Toast. I link to them quite frequently and I remember when they were just a wee little site that could. I’m happy they’re successful. They’ve been on my list of places to pitch (if I ever get around to firming up some of my ideas). I also believe that Mallory Ortberg and Nicole Cliffe are doing the best they can. They seem to be genuinely nice human beings.
But that’s the thing–it actually doesn’t matter if they’re nice. Nice doesn’t pay the bills. It doesn’t matter how nice they are if their contracts are (were) written like that. Nice is not an excuse or a reason. It is completely orthogonal to the issue at hand. (Also: so is being new to publishing writers and paying them–again: Pavich is an attorney. He has the resources to set up an LLC and handle the business end of things, he has the resources to create a standard contract that doesn’t suck.)
Again: The Toast is a for-profit business. If you’re writing for them, you are providing them a service for which you should be compensated. Part of that is a fair contract. Many of the people writing for The Toast are not professional writers and they don’t know what a fair contract should look like–this is why sites like Writer Beware exist (the comment at The Toast calling Victoria Strauss’s post “a poisonous little blog post” made me see red; this comment may be directed at Scalzi’s blog, but it seems likelier to me that it’s directed at Writer Beware as this is what got this party started).
I am pretty sure that The Toast is doing fairly well financially–after all, they were profitable a mere 9 months after they came into existence (you can actually see their traffic analysis here; their monthly unique visitors have essentially trebled since that article was published in April). And it’s not like they’re paying their contributors a whole heck of a lot, either.
And yet: there are clearly members of the commentariat who see this nominal payment as a lagniappe for the exposure. Who feel that even though the contract was flawed, that The Toast would never be so crass as to actually enforce those terms because they hadn’t in the past and because Pavich can pull a handful of examples out of his hat where he didn’t enforce them. Writers shouldn’t have to rely on a business’s goodwill and niceness to be treated fairly.
The Toast is a financial asset. And do you know what happens to financial assets sometimes? They get sold. And when they get sold, all bets are off. Just ask the writers who had contracts with Night Shade Books. Or Dorchester.
Thanks to my husband for hearing this on one of our local radio stations and taking the time to look up a link. This really is something else. (I am glad to know this exists and to have heard it once. Not sure I need to hear it again.)
Well, actually of last week, but whatever. Tried out a bunch of new tangles, not sure what I think of the execution on any of them. My shading also needs some work (using a less-soft pencil will help; a 5B is just Too Soft). I do like the combination of spiky and more rounded shapes as well as the mix of dense and less dense patterning.
Onwards. We are all works in progress, are we not?
[Try and fail to insert clever intro text here due to depressing content.]
- Page: How I sanitized the feminist outrage over the Montreal massacre
- On Rolling Stone, lessons from fact-checking, and the limits of journalism
- Something Terrible Happened to Jackie
- Aaron Sorkin is still terrified of women on the internet
- The Police Are Still Out of Control
- Why Eric Garner was blamed for dying
- Black Women Are Already Leaning In
- The New Republic’s Race Problem
- Schools’ Discipline for Girls Differs by Race and Hue You know, I was suspended in 10th grade for getting in a (completely stupid) fistfight. My mother was terrified that it would prevent me from going to college (spoiler: it didn’t).
- Bill Cosby Drugged Me. This Is My Story. Beverly Johnson is amazing and she lays out–very clearly–her reasons for not speaking until now. Read this.
- CIA Torture Report. Truly sick-making.
- My Great-Great-Aunt Discovered Francium. And It Killed Her. For me, the most interesting question here are the ones involving workplace safety–why did it take so long for labs to implement safety standards after it became clear that radiation was not safe?
- Margaret Hamilton, lead software engineer, Project Apollo
- The City That Split in Two
- Science Fiction and the Post-Ferguson World: “There Are as Many Ways to Exist as We Can Imagine”
[Amusing or entertaining links]
- How Medium Is Trying to Bring Back the Web We Lost Funny. I never stopped reading blogs. And here I am, writing a blog. As I’ve done for over a decade (here, there, other places). Whatever, rich white dudes trying to control how we talk on the internet and whose voices are heard.
- Administrating Imaginary Empires: Ancillary Sword and The Goblin Emperor Well, I don’t need to review either of these books, I guess. Except I like that they’re both endless meetings–which is also why I like Cherryh’s Foreigner books. If I like characters, I am perfectly happy to read about them having meetings and drinking tea and then–in the last chapter–everything blows up.
- How Chan-Style Anonymous Culture Shapes #gamergate (with images, tweets) This is a really fascinating breakdown–I just wish it were an essay instead of about a million tweets.
- Musical Monday: Grease I don’t normally read Tom & Lorenzo, but I found this to be delightful.
- A Secret Ballroom Built In The 1800s Lies Under A Lake, Guarded By Neptune This is awesome.
- Elf On The Shelf: Santa’s Secret Police
- How to Be a Ladyperson at the Holidays: 10 Important Tips
- The 2014 Hater’s Guide To The Williams-Sonoma Catalog