Business Musings: Stupidity Fatigue

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I’ve written five openings to this blog today. I want to write a completely different blog—and I will. In fact, I’ll write five completely different blogs, but I can’t publish them for several months. If I publish them now, then the people I’m referring to will know I’m referring to them, and that would be bad.

Several months from now, I will have accumulated even more experiences to go with the experiences I’ve had this past month, and everything identifiable will fade into the noise.

But all of this crap I’ve been dealing with has pissed me off. Much of what I’m dealing with is writers who are creating problems for themselves in the future. Not indie writers—although I encountered one of those this week too—but traditionally published writers. Writers who will, one day, wake up and wonder why in the hell that happened to them.

I could tell them why. It’s obvious to anyone with half a brain. C follows B follows A. It’s pretty damn simple.

You’ll see all of this stuff, properly shaded to protect the areyoufuckingkiddingme folks. You just won’t see it for a while.

But all of this stuff—and several more things—have left me with stupidity fatigue. Instead of responding kindly and with advice to some of the emails I’m getting and the comments people make to my face, I’m deleting the emails or walking away from the commenter.

I’m not your mom (or your grandmother). I don’t have to listen to you. I don’t have to watch as you ignore all the signs that say Beware! as you drive your car off a cliff.

I tried to write a different blog. I really did. Something filled with good advice. Some little tidbit of information I’ve gleaned this week (and frankly, I gleaned a lot of tidbits).

But I’m surly. And I have a lot of pent-up fury about some things that happened, and I’m not feeling very advice-y or even very kind.

So I’m going to drain off some of that energy.

None of the things that follow are the things I mentioned above. Only one or two of the things that follow even happened in the past month. And most of this probably doesn’t apply to most of you.

If it does apply to you, be suitably embarrassed and don’t do the damn thing again. At least around me. And for god’s sake, don’t apologize to me. Because I don’t want to hear it. Let’s forget this little incident even happened.

Got that?

Okay. Here goes:

  1. I don’t publish guest blogs on

Not now, not ever, never going to. If you write me an email—through the damn comment form (which means you were on my site for at least a nanosecond)—and say, “I love your website. I read it all the time, and never miss a post. I have xx credentials and feel I can add to your blog’s quality…” realize:

  1. It’s pretty obvious that you’ve never read my website because I DON’T PUBLISH GUEST BLOGS HERE and never have, so…
  2. You don’t love my website. You just know that it has visibility as a blog that you want to harness for your own marketing purposes, which I am not going to help you with because…
  3. You just insulted me, you dweeble. You can add to the blog’s “quality”? Because, as a lone-voice blogger, I’m doing such a piss-poor job of it?

Here’s a tip, aspiring blogger. If this query is an example of your writing style (and it is), then you’re the last person I would ever ask to write a guest blog if I ever published guest blogs on this website, which I do not.

  1. I do not exist to validate your decisions.

If you want a piece of advice from me about your business career, then contact me before you make the deal or negotiate the contract or hire the agent or price your book. If you want me to weigh in on your decisions, then contact me before you make them.

If you made the decision last week, and you want me to weigh in now, it’s pretty damn clear you don’t want advice. You want me to reinforce how brilliant you are. You want me to pat you on the head and say, Wow, that was a wonderful thing you just did.

I’m not wired that way. If, in my not-so-humble opinion, I think you made a crapass decision, I’ll tell you that. Or I would have a few years ago. Now, I’ll delete your stupid e-mail or nod politely and walk away. I probably won’t answer any of your business emails in the future either, because you have just proven you are not worth one second of my precious time.

  1. If you want help getting out of a bad contract or a deal signed long ago, I will help you if I can. Generally, all I do is recommend you hire a lawyer. So, to save us both time and a lot of headache…go hire a lawyer before you ever e-mail me.

Not an agent. A lawyer. An agent probably got you into this mess. Agents often practice law without a license, which is illegal. Agents charge 15% for the life of the copyright for doing so.

Lawyers charge by the hour and the first consult is generally free. Lawyers are licensed and regulated. If you don’t like the lawyer, you can fire him. If you don’t like the agent and you signed a stupid agency agreement without consulting a lawyer, your shit-ass agent will still get 15% of your money for the life of the copyright.

Lawyers are a bargain. Agents are not.

You don’t know how to find a lawyer?  Laura Resnick has already done the vetting for you. Click here for her list.

And if you still need help figuring out why you should have a lawyer in this instance and not an agent, Laura has very kindly written a FAQ to tell you why. Much more politely than I would.

  1. So you’re writing a book for your agent, and you’ve told me this why? So I can talk you out of it? So I’m impressed that your Big Name Agent has bamboozled you into writing for free?

Why am I unimpressed? Because…(wait for it)…agents don’t buy books. Agents don’t even sell books most of the time. Agents are your employee.

You should be writing your book for readers. You can get readers by indie publishing or by selling your book to a traditional publisher.

You get readers by writing a damn good book.

You can’t write a damn good book by committee.

Think of it this way: If an agent could write a good book, why in god’s name is that person taking 15% of your work?

I could easily agent. In fact, a number of you have asked me to represent you. It wouldn’t be hard for me to do since literary agents aren’t licensed. All I have to do is hang out a shingle.

But I’ve done the math. I can make more money as a writer than I would as an agent taking 15% of most writers’ earnings. Certainly more than I’d make from 15% of your earnings.

I know how to write a good book. Agents don’t.

So…Why the hell are you writing for your agent??????


  1. For some reason, you feel the need to tell me that you’re a traditionally published writer who put up one of your backlist novels on Amazon in 2010. You used a word doc, had your dentist’s daughter design the cover (she’s the only artist you know personally), and you’ve never upgraded the file. That book doesn’t sell well. In fact, in the last two years, it’s gotten the worst reviews of your career. Those reviews hurt your feelings. And this is why you’re sticking to traditional publishing.

Good for you, honey. Glad you proved to yourself that this self-publishing thing is a bust. Glad you gave it the good old college try.


I really do have stupidity fatigue. Because I’ve gone from sarcasm to shouting to a heartfelt angry “Jesus” to my own personal version of bless your heart in less than 1500 words.

When I realized I had done that, I laughed out loud, which means the fury isn’t pent up any more, and I’m a lot less surly.

I’m moving on to writing other things now, including one of the five aforementioned blogs.

You can go on doing whatever it is you do. If it’s any of the five things above, please don’t tell me about it. Bother some other writers. Maybe one of them will pat you on the head and tell you how brilliant you are.

Because I certainly won’t.

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“Business Musings: Stupidity Fatigue” copyright © 2015 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Image at the top of the blog copyright © Can Stock Photo Inc. / sveter

38 thoughts on “Business Musings: Stupidity Fatigue

  1. Nice. And no, this is not one of those spammy “nice” comments either. But your rant about not doing a guest blog did remind of a brief attempt that someone made attempting to write an interview about me and my blog. She sent me a long list of questions to answer via the e-mail and all of them sounded reasonably intelligent until she asked where I got the name of my book from. The title she mentioned happened to be the name of my blog, not a book. I politely pointed this out to her, she responded by getting her panties in a bunch (old chat room/guv’ment office phrase) and telling me that she wasn’t interested in interviewing me.

  2. I feel your pain, Kris–and I am happy to have a good “but in pleasing contrast to that” anecdote to share.

    I got an email this summer from a new writer who has (I gather) seen me around online, seeking advice. The author was most-of-the-way through negotiating a deal with a publisher and had some questions for me. I braced myself for the all-too-common sort of experiences you describe above…

    But, in fact, in describing the deal and the negotiations, the author had been very intelligent, thorough, and professional. A number of the clauses were already negotiated and agreed upon, and they were good clauses. The author has done the necessary homework about the company and the deal. The sticking point now, about which the author wanted some advice, was negotiating the reversion clause..

    But there, too, the author had already been so resourceful and capable, I couldn’t think of anything to add. They had been negotiating that clause for a while, the publisher would not agree to the terms the author wanted, and the author had made multiple sensible and shrewd proposals or counter-proposals. The publisher had budged a little, but not nearly enough, and the author had legitimate concerns about the terms the publisher wanted to settle on.

    Like I said, the author had already tried just about everything I could think of. And the writer was taking a reasonable view of things. Not “I MUST HAVE THIS DEAL NO MATTER WHAT!” but rather, “I want this deal, but I’m very concerned about this clause, so I’m trying to decide what to do, and wondering what I’ve overlooked.”

    Helping new writers would be SO MUCH EASIER AND MORE SATISFYING if they were all like this one!

    I made one minor suggestion about the reversion clause, which I doubted the publisher would agree to, but asking doesn’t hurt. And the only other thing I could advise was to pull back and think about this deal in a broader frame. Things like: What are your short-term and long-term career goals, and how does getting this deal help them? How does a bad reversion clause on this deal hurt your goals? Are there real or potential gains in working with this publisher that off-set the real or potential cost of that reversion clause–yes or no? (An example I used was a writer I know who’d taken a hit on income and rights to license some books to a publisher that was getting into markets where her self-pub work wasn’t getting any attention. The publisher pushed the books she did for them, and this drew enough attention to her name to substantially improve her self-pub business in those markets. So there was a potential gain in signing that deal–and it was one that turned into a real gain–despite the deal having disadvantages (in terms of the rights, reversion, and royalty clauses).

    And the writer thanked me, saying that was helpful advice and put the situation into fresh perspective.

    (self hug) Sometimes it’s good to be me! (g)

  3. I take this opportunity to mention that I am always looking for more referrals for my directory of literary lawyers. If you’ve dealt with an attorney in your writing business who you found capable and who is not already in the directory, please contact me to discuss why you’d recommend them to other writers. (Note: I will contact the attorney to request permission to list them in my directory. I only list attorneys who’ve agreed to it. Ex. Sometimes they tell me they’re so busy that they’re not taking new clients, so they’d rather NOT be listed–but would like me to contact them again in a year or so, when things may be different.)

    Contact me at LaResnick at sff dot net.

  4. Oh good, none of my particular mistakes (this week) make the list. Fantastic article, Kris, as always. Runs help with me with that kind of fatigue, among other things. May next week treat you more kindly.

    1. I have been running and listening to good old Taylor Swift telling me to Shake It Off. The level of stupid I’ve been dealing with (not outlined here) has been so far above and beyond that the runs help, but not as much as usual. 🙁

  5. LOL! Heck, even I’ve gotten some of those ridiculous let-me-guest-post-on-your-blog e-mails, and my blogs all together get like a tenth of a percent of the traffic of yours. I’m actually open to guest posts, but none of the people I know and respect have ever offered (they generally have their own blogs and are doing fine) and none of the people who’ve asked have offered me anything I’d have on my blog.

    One guy offered to write a post for me, and asked (after assuring me that he’d read and loved my blog [cough]) what topics I’d be interested in. I told him I mostly blogged about writing and publishing and e-books, that sort of thing. He came back with a post that was essentially E-Books 101 — “An electronic book, or e-book, is an electronic file containing a book which can be read…” blah-blah-blah. It read like he looked up “e-books” on Wikipedia and summarized it like a lazy high school student with a report due. I went all o_O and rejected it. He came back hurt and indignant, but as I pointed out, if he’d spent any time at all reading my posts and the comments, he’d have picked up on the fact that I and most of my audience are writers, most of us published electronically, and that an “E-Books 101” post was grossly inappropriate to that audience.

    I had someone else write to offer me an already written article on how to maximize the benefit you get out of your health insurance. WTF? That’s like offering a billionaire-and-secretary contemporary romance story to Analog.

    Seriously, a post from someone I didn’t know would have to be completely gold-medal stellar for me to even consider it. No one’s ever cleared that bar, and after eight years of drek mongers, I’m not expecting anyone to do so in the future. It’s just amazing how many people expect others to share their forums with a random stranger peddling crap. If even I’m getting this stuff, I shudder to imagine how much you must get.


    1. It would not surprise me if a “how to make money blogging” book/seminar/video course from a freshly-baked “social media expert” is making the rounds of the internet marketing crowd.

  6. I notice that no one here is admitting to stupid decisions.

    I’m trying different things that may prove costly, but I decided to try them anyway. All my life, I’ve played it pretty safe. This past year, I’ve been researching risk-takers and experimenting more with my writing/publishing career. I’m considering freelancing, which in my mind is the biggest risk of all.

    If I go down, I can get a lawyer.

    No matter how it plays out, I’ll always keep writing.

  7. ** Clap clap clap! **

    Well put.

    As someone who reads as many of your posts as I can, and who has for years, I really DO love your blog, and I wish you idiot-free days in the very near future. 🙂

  8. Now I’m so sad. I was hoping you would let me guest blog about how you helped me get out of a bad contract so that I could rewrite my book for my beloved agent and so avoid the evils of self-publishing. Now you’re telling me none of this will happen. 🙁

  9. I love your website. I read it all the time, and never miss a post. I have incredible credentials and feel I can add to your blog’s quality…


    Sorry, had to be done. 😉 Great post, shared it around. I applaud your decision to let go. Most of these horses simply won’t drink your good clean water. They want you to tip champagne into their open maws.

    I’ve experienced the same thing, though not in the numbers you must attract.

    Them: How do I get to where you are? I’m not succeeding.

    Me: Do A, B, then C and D.

    Them. Thanks, but that obviously won’t work.

    Me: Have you actually tried it?

    Them: No. It seems too hard. I’ll just keep doing my own thing.

    Me: Facepalm Whatevs.

    Keep ‘m coming.

  10. LMAO – that image is definitely worth 1000 words!!! Glad you got this out of your system and let it go right back to the stupid people that aren’t worth the effort. And the real plus? I got a great boost this morning, reading your sane approach. Thanks!

  11. Ah the old “I want to guest blog on your blog” request. I swear there is some old blog post where someone said contact folks and offer to guest blog. Say you read their blog religiously and love them. It will boost their ego and they’ll say yes… don’t worry if you don’t. Know one will ever know!

    I’ve had people come to my cat blog (which is really about my cat, not cats in general) and offer to guest blog. I ignore these requests by and large but one day I responded to one (I believe it was the second or third inquiry by the same person) and said something to the effect of, I write about my cat, the one that lives with me. I don’t know you. She doesn’t know you. How exactly do you think you’re going to write a guest blog?

    And they returned with a response that said I could send them the information and they would write posts for me with a fee schedule. My blog was about 6 or 7 years old at the time, so you could see how someone would think I needed to pay a spammer…err writer.

    There is at least one thread a month in the Cats with Blogs or Cat Lady Coalition Facebook group that deals with people sending bizarre requests about guest blogging or asking us to review products on our blog. Some guest bloggers want to write on a specific subject that has nothing to do with cats. Sometimes we have the option to try their product. Over the years there have been people out there wanting guest post about or advertise everything from dog toys to sun glasses to lingerie to Viagra.

    All of these people love our blogs, read them regularly, and are very impressed by our expertise. When I get one of those, I always acknowledge to myself, that yes, I am an impressive expert on the cats in my house. It gives me a little glow and each time I consider having that inscribed on my headstone. Then I think, “Nah…”

  12. Kris, I’m so happy that thanks to you and Dean I am able to avoid committing any of the aforementioned sins plus many others. I also want to say that I just finished your Read Like a Writer lecture series and found it liberating. Thank you so much for all you do for us. I plan to publish six books by December (my first time publishing, I wanted to have more than one). When I start making money, and I know I will, I will certainly pass along some of those earnings to you and Dean as you have been instrumental in giving me the courage and know-how to do this. Noble

  13. Wow, I really love your website. I never miss a post, and because I’m an indie published author with almost $25 in sales over the last five years I think I can really add something to your single-voice business blog which hasn’t reached as many people as it would if I guest blog for you.

    J/K. Really. That was a joke. Please don’t hurt me. As a peace offering, here’s a contract you can look over for me now that I’ve signed it… 😉

    Thank you for all you do, Kris. I learn a great deal from you and Dean, and have learned a lot here today. Bless my heart.

  14. You are beautiful in your wrath, Kris. Gorgeous, painfully brilliant, and incisive. Kind of like Galadriel. (Petting a cat generally helps…)

    Since you seem to be so flummoxed by the vampiric allure of agents, let me try and shed some light on it from a new-writer perspective. I have a friend who’s been writing longer than I, and whose books are a pleasure to read. She was in NYC for RWA, and she was taken out to lunch by her agent. This here is glamorous stuff. I could only envision a nice, white-cloth restaurant with a single rose on the table, a great menu, and a fawning agent who is laying it on thick, telling her how awesome she is. (All that for only 15%… I know, I know. Still, though. Cinderella, anyone?)
    An agent sounds glamorous like high-heeled shoes look glamorous. Look at that lofty, exalted shape. Dainty straps, bling on the buckles, and that extra curve on my calf. Oh my. Glamorous! My feet will be in agony before the hour is over. I’ll kick the damn shoes off under the table (a lot easier done with stilettos than with an agent). They will neither help me stand my ground nor dance away. But some women seem comfortable in them, and they look so pretty. So glamorous.
    As a runner, I think you might have some sympathy for this analogy. Wishing you a great day from the (finally) rainy Pittsburgh!

    1. Glamorous was not one of the agents I met at a writer’s conference. I was running the pitch session, and there was woman agent who came dressed in shorts and a tank top. Every time she left the room and came back, I stopped her because she looked like a teenager trying to crash the room!

  15. I’m amazed at the people who don’t seem to really think about what they’re doing, or expect to have their hand out for me to do something for them. I do allow for guest blogs myself, but I find that if the person reads the blog, they tend to quietly go away. They hear writer and think craft blog or book reviews; I write on women in the military, some writing topics (non-craft), and whatever topics please me. I’ve also had “drive bys” where someone will email me and say something like “I see you blog about Facebook a lot. I’d like to do a guest blog on social media for you.” Those are really apparent they haven’t read the blog at all, since I haven’t done any posts on Facebook.

    Then I had one writer who did not know, had never read, had never heard of email me twice in one hour. Told me–not asked–to promote his book for him. Another writer emailed me wanting to swap autographed books. I imagine he thought this would be promotion for his book in some weird, desperate way, but seriously?

    Way, way too many people someone else to do the work for them!

  16. “Think of it this way: If an agent could write a good book, why in god’s name is that person taking 15% of your work?”

    MUCH less effort, would be my guess.

    WRT other subjects. As a reader an effing ocean away from the States (and so, not subject to a lot of ebb & flows), it’s interesting how many writers, classic writers, have managed to get in my “mind-spam” folder the last couple of years. Some of them won’t notice, because they have enough readers “outside there”. Some others are… not so much on top of it as they think. And it’s going to get worse. I don’t have hard data, but I (again, a reader) have way too many glimpses to think they don’t amount to this. Sorry, I’m a bit abstract; I’m trying to avoid any reference to some recent things, too.

    By and large, it looks like a bunch of writers, specially those published by the big names, are, er… NOT good at the semi-social environment of Web publishing.

    Take care

  17. Even at my (advanced) age I never cease to be astrounded by the capacity of human beings for utter and complete stupidity. Considering the amount of stupidity around, obviously there has to be some evolutionary advantage to it, but damned if I can figure out what it is.

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