Wednesday, January 25, 2017

"The Geek Feminist Revolution" not a huge sales hit.

Kameron Hurley, Intellectual Badass (that's what it says on her blog, I'm not being a dick about it,) is upset. Her new book came out to critical acclaim, social media buzz and positive reviews. Sales, not so much.

There was a huge amount of buzz around the release of The Geek Feminist Revolution last year. More buzz than I'd seen for any book I'd ever written. People were telling me on Twitter that they'd bought three or four copies and were making all their friends read it. I heard from booksellers that the books were flying off the shelves. We went into a second printing almost immediately. I did a book signing in Chicago that sold a bunch of books. The reader response at BEA was surreal. It was magical.

This, I thought, is what it must feel like to have a book that's about to hit it big. This was it. This was going to be the big one. It was going to take off. I gnawed on my nails and watched as big magazines picked up articles from it and it got reviewed favorably in The New York Times, and I waited for first week sales numbers.

Sales for this august tome were... meh. About what she always does. Not a nightmare, but not a breakout, as she says. The stuff was not 'flying off the shelves" as some had said.

But what about all that positive buzz? What about those people crying when they said they loved the book? What about the New York Times?!!! Shouldn't that be good for something?

Well, no. That's because Kameron Hurley lives in a social bubble. There's a whole universe of people who see a title like Geek Feminist Revolution and think that is the cat's fricking whiskers. Kameron's big problem is, it isn't a very big universe. She's getting big PR push and good sales penetration in a pretty small population slice. She's got a Hugo Award

Her other problem is, she's done that by pissing the rest of us off. She's a big name Puppy Kicker and a Trump hater. She goes out of her way to reflect that in her work. Which is fine, it is her work after all, she can do what she wants.

None of this has anything to do with the quality of her work, of course. I have no idea how good or how bad it is, I've never read any of it. Because "Geek Feminist Revolution" is a title that evokes a healthy feeling of "I do not want to read that," as do the cover blurbs for a lot of her books. She brags about a book that has no male characters, for example. (Why is that good? Half the Human Race is male. We're not going away, either.)

But the publishers and the magazines LOVE her. Because they live in the bubble too.

Some years ago Larry Correia pointed this out with his now famous Sad Puppies campaign. There's a bubble, and if you're not in it, you don't get a Hugo Award. Since Sad Puppies 1, the people involved with the Hugo Awards have gone out of their way to prove him right. Kameron Hurley was certainly one of them.

Now, while it is entirely acceptable and proper to have political opinions, and I certainly have mine, it is generally not polite to accuse others who do not share them of being racist/bigot/homophobes. You can think it, but saying it out loud in a magazine article is generally considered to be in poor taste. Particularly when they aren't actually racist/bigot/homophobes.

Well, what happened in microcosm at the Hugos in Sad Puppies 1-4 happened this year in the election. Average working Americans were called a "basket of deplorables" by one of the most corrupt presidential candidates in American history, and they voted for Trump, the pussy-grabbing rodeo clown. Kameron is upset about it, as might be imagined.

Personally I am less upset, Trump hit the ground running hard in the right direction. HJe had the bust of Winston Churchill back in the Oval Office before the ink was dry on his Presidential transfer paperwork.

This could be construed as a watershed moment in American political discourse. The People, as a whole, appear to be divided into two, geographically isolated factions. One wants European Socialism, the other wants American Freedom. As in, less government, lower taxes. The socialists rule in the little ribbon of cities on the East and West coasts, pretty much. The freedom types rule everywhere else.

As a writer, that's the reality of how things are. Social Justice Warriors are now officially not driving the narrative. I predict this Trup election will be the last time a DemocRat politician runs on Global Warming, the Ecology generally, Feminism, gun control, gay rights, and transgender bathrooms in government buildings. It is over. The next battle will be fought over something else, probably some scandal dug up about Donald Trump peeing on a bed.

So if you are writing exclusively for that SJW/Worldcon/boys in the girl's bathroom crowd, you shouldn't be surprised if your sales numbers are meh. Writing is hard enough without deliberately making yourself unpopular with regular people.

To that end, I would love to see writers abandoning one simple premise: "You are bad!"

Humans are bad, straights are bad, men are bad, Americans are bad, Army men are bad. Let me see something where the plot doesn't hinge on how bad society is to some guy or girl or whatever. Show me something where Humans are not the destroyers, the Bad Guys come to wreck everything. Write me something where the wonderful aliens are not coming to show us all how to do it right.

You know, just for a change.

The Deplorable Phantom

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