Writer, Editor, Reader, Fan Girl

A Couple Mid-Week Updates: A Business Post

As I prepare for this week’s blog, I feel the need to address a couple of things that I will not write about on Thursday.

First, I got a lot of hate mail and vile comments last week for my blog post, all because I told people to learn business, understand the issues they’re complaining about, and then, if those issues matter to them, to take action. Well, apparently a lot of folks seem to think writing on another writer’s blog is action. It isn’t. It’s a waste of phosphors.

Fortunately, Mark Coker of Smashwords.com doesn’t think that writing on someone else’s blog is action. He has been taking very strong action on the PayPal mess for the past few weeks. He blogs about it on the Smashwords site, but more importantly, he gives the customers of Smashwords a guide as to the action they can take. If you’re upset about PayPal’s decision on refusing to support sites that sell certain types of erotica, then go to Mark’s Press Room, read this post, and take the steps he outlines for you.

Folks, everything Mark is doing is the way you fight a legal action that you disagree with. Whether or not you like what PayPal is doing, there is no law preventing them from doing so. Until there is, the only way you can stop them is to hit them in the pocketbook–or to show them how their pocketbook will get damaged by their actions. Mark is doing this quite effectively. Kudos to him for taking action.

Secondly, in the middle of last week, an agent named Terrie Wolf, who works at AKA Literary, tweeted this in her @AKA_Terrie account: “Authors, listen up. Unless you’ve passed the bar – don’t argue contract law with agents/editors. We get it. Promise. #pubtips” If you need to see the tweet for yourself, check it out here. I found out about it because a number of you sent me to that tweet, shocked by it. I wasn’t. I have been saying that a lot of agents and many others in traditional publishing hold writers in complete contempt. I tweeted about her comment, pointing out how egregious this was, and she answered me (and another person) with this tweet: “@Morigutakir @KristineRusch this is not an attack on anyone’s abilities. It is a reminder that all parties must abide by the same rules.”

Which is both silly and not true. I was going to blog (again) about agents who treat writers like small children–which is what Terrie Wolf does here. She assumes we don’t know as much as she does. It’s offensive.

Here’s the advantage or disadvantage (I’m not sure which) of a once-per-week business blog: Sometimes someone handles the topic ahead of you. In this case, Mike Stackpole wrote a blog post that I wish I had written. He doesn’t tar all agents with Terrie Wolf’s brush, but he makes an excellent point about agents writers should hire and agents writers should avoid. Please click over to Mike’s blog and read this. It’s important.

And now I shall return to writing, and preparing for this week’s blog.


  1. March 10, 2012    

    The internet has bred (or revealed) many mentally disturbed people. Disagree with the masses and you will be annihilated. Or just bullied until you change your mind.

    Of course, no one is this bold in person. Of course authors are only this bold with other writers. When agents, editors, publishers, etc stomp all over them, those same people will say, “Thanks.” They’ll come after you, but they won’t sign the petition against the Paypal restrictions or move to accepting cheques (if they’re American). No, they’ll take out their frustration on you and move along.

    I’m surprised by the personal comments. I didn’t think you gave private information over here. Were they people you actually know? Or did they just bash the publishing mistakes you’ve made/lessons you’ve learned e.g. Pulphouse Publishing?

    • March 10, 2012    

      Thanks, Zia. I’ve been around for a long time, so people think they know me. And the personal stuff–well, I’m female, outspoken, middle-aged–you get the picture.

  2. March 10, 2012    

    *shakes head*
    Peer pressure. Makes as much sense now as it did when I was in grade school.

    • March 10, 2012    

      Exactly, Chris. And Carradee, nice analogy. You know, peer pressure didn’t work on me back then either. 🙂

  3. Chris York Chris York
    March 8, 2012    

    I still find it amazing that anyone – even those that only know you through a couple blog posts – would think there is a snowball’s chance in Hell of shutting you up.

    Keep up the good work, Kris. There are a lot of us who appreciate it, and love you for what you’re doing. (Oh, and for your fiction, too 🙂

  4. March 7, 2012    

    There is an organized campaign to shut you up? On the topic of censorship? I sense some irony here.

    • March 7, 2012    

      Yeah. I think it hilarious. Apparently these folks are irony-challenged. 🙂

  5. Dave Raines Dave Raines
    March 7, 2012    

    Wait – *hundreds* of nasty e-mails? One is depressing, two is disgusting, but hundreds? Demented.

    • March 7, 2012    

      Yeah, hundreds, Dave. It was an organized campaign to either shut me up or get me to change my mind. Rather sad, imho, especially since the campaign failed. 🙂

  6. March 7, 2012    

    Looking forward to the “real” Business Rusch post for the week, too, Kris!

  7. March 7, 2012    

    I don’t know who this Ms. Wolf is so I Googled her and found an interview she gave. I copied and pasted this short excerpt from it. It’s verbatim: She said:

    Don’t – I repeat – don’t expect me to join in as you talk down my fellow agents and editors and your fellow authors. I’ll just not be a part. My parents taught me all about etiquette, and I believe in using my best manners with everyone I meet.

    I found it here: http://middlegradeninja.blogspot.com/2011/09/7-questions-for-literary-agent-terrie.html

    When she tweeted that remark, she must have been having an off day. 🙂

    • March 7, 2012    

      I suspect, Grace, that since it was in the #pubrants category on Twitter, she had been in an awful disagreement with one of her writers, and was venting. It was just quite revealing–and not in a good way. And not just of her, but of many in traditional publishing just like her, who believe that writers really don’t get a say in matters. It’s really easy to go over to that dark side. I found myself cursing writers when I was at F&SF–and realized my attitude sucked and it was time to quit. I love writers, writing, books and reading. The fact that I was getting so irritated at the unprofessional writers was a sign I needed to leave. Here, though, it sounds like she’s getting irritated at the professional writer who is acting like a business person, and that’s a red flag for any writer who cares about her own work.

  8. Connor S. Connor S.
    March 7, 2012    

    Don’t worry, there are way more people who appreciate all your awesome than the people who don’t! Even if some of us (me included) don’t show our gratitude enough =P.

    Thanks for everything, Kris!

    • March 7, 2012    

      Thanks, Connor. You folks show your appreciation by coming back every week and sending your friends here. I see that and am grateful for it. Thanks, y’all!

  9. TK Kenyon TK Kenyon
    March 7, 2012    

    Ditto what Suz Korb said.

    It always astounds me that people get nasty about such things.

    I’m sorry the haters flamed you. That sucks.

    TK Kenyon

    • March 7, 2012    

      Thanks, TK. Much appreciated. It astounds me too. I really wonder what they think they’ll accomplish.

  10. March 7, 2012    

    Sorry to hear about the flack – glad you’re not going to let it stop you.

    RE: MS Wolfe – she hasn’t passed the bar either. That’s what IP lawyers are for. 😉

    • March 7, 2012    

      Thanks, K.A. I know that about Ms Wolf. Ballsy of her, wasn’t it?

  11. March 7, 2012    

    I’m not surprised you were attacked. These days clicking “Like” on Facebook and perhaps signing an e-petition are considered activism. Cancelling accounts? Hey, that would inconvenience me. I might make less money. Back the hell off with your ethics, hippie!

    Put your money where your mouth is, or zip it…

    Writers have Stockholm syndrome. Stop acting like Shirley MacLaine and squealing about how your agent likes you, really likes you! and see them as business persons. It’s the same relationship as boxer and promoter… you’re the meat. You need to think for yourself. I know, that’s hard, but get over it. If you want to be pampered like a show dog, don’t complain when the groomer’s clipper nips your nethers.

    • March 7, 2012    

      Thanks, Thomas. Writers have always done this when alarmed. They use words as weapons. It’s just a faster attack with the internet now than it was at F&SF. There, I got letters–and vicious personal attacks on panels at sf conventions. Fortunately, I’m not the shy retiring type, so it soon became clear that the in-person route was a dicey one for anyone who hadn’t had years of debate or talk radio training (like I had). 🙂

      And I love your analogy to a show dog. You made me giggle.

  12. Caroline Caroline
    March 7, 2012    

    By Terrie Wolf’s logic, authors shouldn’t hire agents who haven’t passed the contracts bar. Which, actually, is a good point, because a non-bar-passing agent is giving legal advice on a legal document she has a financial interest in, to an unsophisticated (in the legal sense) client. A member of the bar would have duties and obligations to the client that an agent does not. And attorneys can go to jail or lose their license if they fail in those obligations, while an agent can pretty much only be fired (by the client, not necessarily by her agency).

    Kris, I love your blog just for the way you call out stooped comments like that tweet. This may be the single most useful blog on publishing on the whole internet, imo. A pox on the haters.

    • March 7, 2012    

      Thanks, Caroline. Actually, as the Passive Guy points out in his blog post on this, giving legal advice without a license is illegal, and he wonders how agents have gotten away with it for so long. You can find his post here. And he links to my husband Dean Wesley Smith’s post, which you should also read. You can find it here. And then if you need a laugh after that, here’s Bad Agent Sydney’s post on the same topic. (Sydney is a cat who is also an agent–since anyone who claims to be an agent can be one.)

      And…I really do appreciate the kind words about the blog. Thank you.

  13. Suz Korb Suz Korb
    March 6, 2012    

    It’s a real shame to hear readers think it’s necessary to post vile comments on your blog where you provide free and helpful information. Well, I hope you know how many of us out here are reading your blog and taking your helpful advice on board. If it weren’t for your sage publishing advice, I’d never be persevering at my craft right now. I do hope you keep blogging despite the haters. And thank you so much for the time you take to write about all these issues.

    • March 7, 2012    

      Thanks, Suz. I very much appreciate all the good people who say nice things about my blog or financially support it. I know there’s more of you kind people than there are haters out there. I can see it in my weekly numbers. Don’t worry. I won’t quit. I’m so stubborn. A few hundred nasty e-mails won’t shut me down, particularly when it’s a concentrated effort to do so by people who don’t normally read the blog, but trudged over here to scream at me. I knew that would happen on this particular post. I just didn’t expect the level of insult and hateful personal comments that came at me. I should have though. I’ve experienced it at F&SF from inside the sf field. It’s just been a while, and I’m out of practice dealing with that level of bile. I have never understood why people think that saying insulting things about a person will make that person change her mind…

      That said, I really appreciate folks like you. So thanks for the kind words. 🙂

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