Ethics and Morals

Letter-Writing Campaign

I had an interesting interaction with one of my vendors last week. Or rather, a lack of interaction. I had ordered promotional materials to have at the upcoming convention, and I had done this about two weeks ago to be sure they would arrive on time. Friday, they showed up on my doorstep. While I was away. UPS dropped them, with a bit of plastic wrapped loosely around the box, and by the time I found them, the box was rather damp. I’m not talking here about UPS incompetence, that is to be expected and sadly, there isn’t much I can do about it as they aren’t my choice, but the choice of some vendors I use (I choose other options when allowed, I know too well how bad the service you get from brown is). 

No, what I’m talking about is the state of the postcards. I had uploaded a design, proofed it online… and what I received in my now slightly-damp box is completely unusable. They printed the file rotated ninety degrees. 

gotprint screwup
There’s a lot missing here. I can’t use these – even the ones that weren’t water damaged.

Now, as soon as I opened the box and saw what they had done, I sent a email to the link provided in their email for order problems. Flash forward 24 hours, and there is no response. I send an email to the contact address in their website, sorted by the kind of problem it was, and again, nothing, now that it has been four days. Not even a confirmation they had received my emails complaining about the state of my order. Needless to say, I will never again use GotPrint.com, and I urge any of you who patronize them to look for another vendor. It’s not a lot of money I’ve lost here, > $50, but the fact that this leaves me without my custom promotional materials for an event with no time to order from another vendor, now that’s a problem. Prior to this I’d used them for years and liked their quality. But I’m done with this company. I will not put up with having my emails disappear into a black hole. 

And speaking of black holes, I was annoyed to discover that Tor Books, on which I blogged at length last week, has apparently decided that the customers who are contacting them to complain about the way Irene Gallo treated them are not real. I wish I were joking. I am being told that they have decided the response is disproportionate, and therefore all the emails they are getting are from ‘bots. Whether this is all of Tor (which I doubt) or a small cadre (likely the same ones who have been so vocally critical in the past of their ‘wrongfans’) doesn’t really matter. This is completely unacceptable. I am angry and abandoning a vendor who has messed up a small (relatively) order. How do you think that I and others are reacting when complaints of being called racist, misogynist, homophobic, our work being ‘bad to reprehensible’ and worst of all to those of us who know history, lumped with neo-Nazis? Those complaints are being ignored, maybe deleted, and I will not put up with it, for one.

I strongly urge my readers to join me in making our voices heard. I am not calling for a  boycott, or firings, I simply want to have a conversation and have my concerns acknowledged. I do not want to be brushed aside and ignored as though I were a meaningless part of this. I’ve bought few Tor books in the last few years because I haven’t cared for most of the authors they support. But I have bought some, and furthermore, am one of those libeled as having ‘bad to reprehensible’ work. 

I am also a businesswoman, and this unprofessional behavior is inexcusable. Allowing their employees to post things like the screencap below, which appeared on a Monday afternoon, meaning it was almost certainly made during work time, on a work computer… that is beyond the pale, as many people have found in the past. Unless, evidently, you work for Tor or MacMillan. If then, apparently you can call your customers names with impunity. sad puppies

Writing an email is a relatively simple step to take in expressing your thoughts and concerns. If you want to do this, here are a few suggestions, and email addresses for people at Tor who need to see your correspondence. 

andrew.weber@macmillan.com
rhonda.brown@macmillan.com

The emails should probably be short, straightforward, polite, and respectful, and emphasize the following points.
• Real person and not a bot.
• Do not approve of the behavior of the senior people at Tor Books. (Be specific if you can, with quotes and links as possible. Please do not just pass on ‘what you heard’ without verifying it for yourself.) 
• Request a confirmation that your email has been read and received.

Pete , who teaches business at a major university, gave me some excellent suggestions that I am passing on to my readers. These apply not only to the Tor thing, but to any business that is failing in their professionalism. We are not using his full name for the precise reason that Irene Gallo ought to have known before she libeled her customers, authors, and others: you don’t say things in public that can reflect on your employer. Even if all Pete is risking is a few rabid attackweasels following him home from my blog, this is called discretion, and it is paramount in the business world when saying things – anything! – in public. 

Here are a few suggestions/reminders/hints I’ve gleaned from dealing with numerous execs over the years. 

 

1) Letters seem to carry disproportionate weight (relative to emails). This is probably for a number of reasons: first, because letters are harder, so they take more committment. Second, many execs are from the letter-writing generation. and finally, they realize that older folks are the dead-tree users and they never want to mess with an older group (we’re nastier, more determined, have more money, and are much less easily dissuaded).

 

2) Keep it civil and professional – people foaming at the mouth are more easily dismissed as whackos. Remember the mission – it’s not to vent, but to effect change. Work in things like “professionalism”, “respect”, etc…

 

3) Make it concrete (i.e. “I spend $45 per month on sci-fi, and you ain’t getting any more”)

 

4) If you’ve been a long-time Tor customer mention that fact. Businesses care greatly about retaining an existing customer. If you’re not already a customer, they think “oh well, that’s one I won’t be getting”. But losing an existing one hurts.

 

5) If you have access to a website or a lot of Facebook friends, work that in (but be professional) – it gets the “force multiplier” effect across.

Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010

Or, Same address, but directed to a different person: contacts at MacMillan, Tor’s parent company. 

Macmillan
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010

President, MacMillan USA: John Sargent ( currently on vacation untill 7 July)
John Sargent
john.sargent@hbpub.com

MacMillan COO
Andrew Weber
andrew.weber@macmillan.com

Tom Doherty, TOR
tom.doherty@tor.com

Chief of Fiction Publicity for MacMillan
Lauren Welch
‘lauren.welch@macmillan.com’

GENERAL COUNSEL US: PAUL SLEVEN
+1 646 307 5202
paul.sleven@macmillan.com
VP – DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RESOURCES: HELAINE OHL
+1 646 307 5148
helaine.ohl@macmillan.com
US LEGAL COUNSEL: RHONDA BROWN
+1 646 307 5193
rhonda.brown@macmillan.com

Holtzbrinck Group ( MacMillan Owners)

Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH

Gaensheidestraße 26
70184 Stuttgart
Deutschland

Dr. Stephan Holtzbrinck, CEO

Keith Glass's photo.

 

37 thoughts on “Letter-Writing Campaign

  1. None of this surprises me. You weren’t real people to them before, so you’re easily dismissed at ‘bots’ now. Personally, I don’t spend enough money at any one publisher to be more than a speck on their radar. Plus, I don’t usually pay that much attention to which house puts out which book – unless one of them gives me a reason to pay attention. Like now.

    Makes me glad they rejected my books. I’d be nauseous now if the publisher in charge of my earnings was behaving this way.

  2. Call your credit card company and issue a charge back against the vendor. If they won’t respond to you, that is your right. If a vendor gets too many charge backs it can cause a freeze on their business accounts, etc. so they take those quite seriously.

  3. I’m not bothering with contacting any of the corporate officials. I’m contacting the authors directly since the authors can always decide to switch to a different publishing house (like, oh, say… Baen).

    — G.K.

    1. Not a bad idea – but not quite so simple, either.

      A majority of authors have their backlist held hostage. Many (most?) also write series, or at least books in the same universe, which are essentially held in bondage by the publisher.

      For example, even the Great Scalzi cannot peddle the thirteen books he’s contracted for elsewhere, even if he has a falling out with Tor. Those particular “raw materials” for a writer are now locked up.

  4. Previously I’d not really paid much attention to who publishes something, with the exception of Baen and knowing that I’d almost certainly like it if they put it out. Now however, Tor gets no more of my money, and if Betsy Wollheim continues dismissing fans I’ll have to pay attention to DAW as well.

    I hand wrote three letters to various people in this business today, and included my original email as well., explaining I’m not a bot, I’m just pissed off. Thanks for the snail mail addresses.

  5. I very much feel that trying to cause professional trouble for people you happen to disagree with — over a science fiction award! — is not something that responsible adults should do. There’s not a small amount of hypocrisy involved, I think, when you have yourself spoken against bullying tactics and denounced your opponents as “social justice bullies”.

    Can’t we disagree on science fiction and politics in a more reasonable manner and quit threatening people’s livelihood? Tor and Ms. Gallo have both apologized for what has happened, after all.

    I don’t wish to troll or be disrespectful, just to state my critical opinions of your actions. All the best.

    1. I have not called for firing or a boycott at this point. However, there is a point at which customers can and ought to respond to repeated derision from employees of a company, particularly when such is made in a manner that threatens the livelihood of those customers – not to mention the authors she tarred with that same derision. This is not about an award. This is about being showered with contempt.

      1. Thanks for anwering.

        Well, there’s plenty of contempt all around and the current situation in fandom seems quite dismal. I don’t think that a manufactured outrage campaign over a single month old personal Facebook post does any good, though.

        Some Worldcon fans are calling the Sad Puppies misogynists and racists. Some Sad Puppies are calling the other side fanatics, KKK, feminazis (there’s nazis everywhere) and communists. It’s just pointless.

        1. I can say that the people I have talked with about this are not feeling any ‘manufactured’ outrage. As for a month old: I for one do not seek out every mention of sad puppies or the Hugo awards. A friend brought this to my attention and I addressed it because it is an example of lack of professionalism.

          You will not see name-calling from me. I cannot speak for anyone else, they are individuals with their own thoughts and manners of expression. I have always called for polite, rational responses as you will see outlined in this post above. I suggest you read it.

          1. By “manufactured”, I was alluding to the fact that Vox Day chose to release a month-old screencap in order to drive his followers into sending angry feedback to Tor and demanding that people should be fired. So far, he has succeeded. Everybody who mailed Tor in these few days just added to his malicious campaigning against his chosen enemies. That’s what the situation looks like to me, but I guess we all have our own narrative at this point.

            1. So tell me, do you view the accusations — repeated over and over again — that those supporting Sad Puppies 3 are homophobic, misogynistic and more as manufactured since they apply it to everyone? Let’s face it, what Gallo said is a firing offense in a lot of industries, especially when she did it on social media where she is known to be an employee of Tor. Worse, her comments not only insulted Tor’s customers but some of their authors as well. That does not reflect well on her or her company.

              Or is it all right for those who hate SP3 to cast aspersions at them without proof or evidence or, to take a page from Gallo’s book, to paint with a broad brush?

            2. The timing of the release means squat! If there is an issue with it coming to light a month later it’s that Tor failed to take corrective action in that time.

              Had I, or any of my friends, made similar remarks about their coworkers, customers and their product we would have had a very short conversation with HR consisting of “It’s been nice knowing you. Don’t come around her anymore.” The outrage isn’t manufactured, some people on the other side just don’t perceive the issue for what it is.

        2. What I would have said, if I wanted to bother.

          “I very much feel that trying to cause professional trouble for people you happen to disagree with — over a science fiction award! — is not something that responsible adults should do.”

          So, kitten, you agree that it was a deranged, psychotic attempt by Scalzi and Arthur Chu and others to unleash minions to one-star review everything by puppies on Amazon? Because let’s face it, that’s not only causing professional trouble, but trying to wreck their livelihood.

          “There’s not a small amount of hypocrisy involved, I think, when you have yourself spoken against bullying tactics and denounced your opponents as “social justice bullies”.”

          Funny, aren’t their whole moments for people to gang up ON bullying these days? Everyone is closing ranks against a bully named Gallo, that’s all.

          “Can’t we disagree on science fiction and politics in a more reasonable manner and quit threatening people’s livelihood?”

          Let me know when the other side is reasonable, we’ll get back to you.

          “Tor and Ms. Gallo have both apologized for what has happened, after all.”

          Gallo said “I’m sorry you’re offended.” Tor disavowed Gallo. Moshe Feder and Company doubled down on what she said, so either you’re an idiot, or you haven’t been paying attention.

          “I don’t wish to troll or be disrespectful,”

          Too late

          “just to state my critical opinions of your actions. All the best.”

          Ciao kitty

          1. So, kitten, you agree that it was a deranged, psychotic attempt by Scalzi and Arthur Chu and others to unleash minions to one-star review everything by puppies on Amazon?

            I read your comment this far before I quit. That claim is complete fabrication.

            1. No it isn’t, an lies are lies. It may be that you have been lied to. That doesn’t change reality. And claiming innocence seems like a poor choice for you

            2. John Scalzi and Arthur Chu attempting to unleash one-star reviews on puppy authors’ works on Amazon isn’t fabrication? Please.

              Why spread untrue statements like that? I’m sure you can find something objectionable your opponents have done that is actually true.

        3. I would beg to disagree.

          What the SJW and Vox have done is ignite fan behavior like has not been done in my generation. I was born in 1961 and was always a fan of the genre.

          I admit that I have taken the side of Vox since I first became aware of him over a year ago after the tools that ran SFWA ran him out. I usually prefer the underdog.

          He threatened vengeance and he delivered. The odd thing was, those who drove him out are reaping the current bitter harvest and nobody deserves it more than those he has targeted. He’s a believer in warheads on foreheads.

          For all the hate and contempt shown by SJW for Vox, consider, they drove him out for making a single claim whereas Tor, all of its senior staff and macmillan stand by Irene Gallo who called ALL of us nazi and bigots and misogynist and racists. Do you detect the difference and possibly, the origin or our outrage? Why is the one hateful and the other just another SJW doing what an SJW has to do?

    2. Professional trouble ? Some of us have jobs that rely on our personal and professional reputations. Others amongst us have Security Clearances.

      Getting tagged as possibly neo-Nazi, and unrepentantly racist, misogynistic, and homophobic damages our future employ-ability. And all over a disagreement on a Literary Award ? The professional trouble has ALREADY been caused. The question is, will it affect some of us.

      1. Let’s be serious. A badly-considered offhand comment by some random person working in publishing on his personal Facebook profile is not going to get anybody in trouble under any circumstances. Nobody noticed it for a month.

    3. I’m sorry, but when someone who uses her Facebook wall to promote her professional work and, in a thread that started off promoting said work, calls people “extreme right wing to neo-Nazi” and goes on to say “they are unrepentantly racist, misogynist and homophobic.,” it is more than about an award. It is more than disagreeing over science fiction. As for wanting us to quit threatening other people’s livelihood, did Ms. Gallo think about that when she chose the words she did? There are people who support Sad Puppies 3 who very well could lose their jobs over her unsubstantiated and broad-brush accusations. Tor has apologized. Ms. Gallo has not. She said she was sorry if people were hurt by what she said. She did not apologize for saying it. Nor did she retract her comments. Before you start coming down on us, I suggest you apply the same standard to the other side.

  6. As for wanting us to quit threatening other people’s livelihood, did Ms. Gallo think about that when she chose the words she did? There are people who support Sad Puppies 3 who very well could lose their jobs over her unsubstantiated and broad-brush accusations.

    To quote myself: “Let’s be serious. A badly-considered offhand comment by some random person working in publishing on his personal Facebook profile is not going to get anybody in trouble under any circumstances. Nobody noticed it for a month.”

    1. Oh, certainly.

      A badly-considered offhand comment by some random person working in publishing on his personal Facebook profile is not going to get anybody in trouble under any circumstances

      Of course, you have ever so conveniently neglected to mention that this was not a case of someone posting on a personal facebook profile in their own time.

      Ms Gallo isn’t merely a “random person working in publishing”. She is a high-level executive -the creative director of Tor, a title she used in her comments and page. High level executives of any company can and have been forced to resign over anything they do that has a negative impact on their employer’s image, whether it is a private act or not.

      Second, the posting was made during standard office hours. Tor maintains an office. It is therefore reasonable to believe the comment was made on company time – and as such is a matter of interest to the company.

      Third, and probably most germane to the issue, The comment was made in a thread promoting a Tor title. That more than anything else makes the comment an official statement from a Tor executive.

      That it wasn’t noticed for a month merely indicates that Ms Gallo wasn’t worth the time or effort of the many, many people who believe that calling people “neo-nazis” is wrong unless you can verify their membership of an avowed Neo-Nazi organization.

      1. Of course, you have ever so conveniently neglected to mention that this was not a case of someone posting on a personal facebook profile in their own time.

        The argument Keith Glass and Amanda Green were making above was that Gallo’s comment can seriously hurt people’s reputations. My response to that was that the comment is published in such an obscure location (as a comment to one of her status updates) that it’s doubtful that anyone would take notice of it. Indeed, nobody did for a month. I don’t see anybody’s security clearances being in peril.

        Is that potential (or, frankly, non-existent) harm increased by the fact that it was possibly done during office hours? I think not. I don’t see why any of us should care what she does during working time versus her own time — except for the purpose of snitching about it to her employer in order to ger her into trouble. That’s still childish bullying, in my opinion.

        High level executives of any company can and have been forced to resign over anything they do that has a negative impact on their employer’s image, whether it is a private act or not.

        That’s correct, generally speaking. So, unlike Cedar Sanderson and Peter Grant, you actually want her fired?

        Third, and probably most germane to the issue, The comment was made in a thread promoting a Tor title. That more than anything else makes the comment an official statement from a Tor executive.

        Ok. Since she wrote that, it has been made clear to everybody that what she and other Tor employees say about the Hugo fiasco is their own opinion and not Tor’s. Can we get over it, now?

        1. The argument Keith Glass and Amanda Green were making above was that Gallo’s comment can seriously hurt people’s reputations. My response to that was that the comment is published in such an obscure location (as a comment to one of her status updates) that it’s doubtful that anyone would take notice of it. Indeed, nobody did for a month. I don’t see anybody’s security clearances being in peril.

          I’m sure the former CEO of Mozilla would agree with you – except that he was forced out years after he made a political donation from his private bank account with no public comment about said donation. By that standard, Ms Gallo should have been gone so fast she’d leave a dust cloud. Furthermore, you have absolutely failed to answer the substance of my point: Ms Gallo was not acting as a private citizen when she made that post. She was acting as an employee of Tor. Should an auditor investigate, that auditor would rule the content of the thread as work-related.

          That’s correct, generally speaking. So, unlike Cedar Sanderson and Peter Grant, you actually want her fired?

          Did I say that? I’d much rather she acknowledged that what she said was wrong (not “painting with an overly broad brush” and not a bullshit “sorry you neo-nazis and abysmal writers got pissy”). It was wrong in fact, mean-spirited, and is costing her employer reputation and money.

          Ok. Since she wrote that, it has been made clear to everybody that what she and other Tor employees say about the Hugo fiasco is their own opinion and not Tor’s. Can we get over it, now?

          You might try being a little clearer with your phrasing. Tor is incapable of having an opinion. Nothing has been said about whether the public comments made by several prominent Tor executives are in line with Tor’s purchasing and editorial policies, and the lack of action on those comments over a period of many years despite said comments being in clear violation of Tor’s publicly stated community relations policy suggests that the comments are not in violation of private policies which presumably override the public one.

          Don’t think I haven’t noticed that you are among those who will not hesitate to bring up presumed offenses that are from years past, yet when the circumstances don’t favor you, you’re calling for the topic to be dropped as “old news” or “resolved” or whatever. That is hypocrisy at best, and blatantly dishonest backstabbing at worst.

    2. Actually, it can and has. Besides, I have yet to see Gallo actually apologize for what she said. She “apologized” if anyone was hurt but not for saying it. Not that I’m surprised. It seems clear that it is all right to attack Sad Puppies and their supporters but heaven forbid anyone should talk negatively against those who hate SP3. Tell you what, we will treat our detractors with the exact same amount of respect we receive. How does that sound?

      1. Tell you what, we will treat our detractors with the exact same amount of respect we receive. How does that sound?

        I haven’t seen anybody trying to cause any Sad Puppy trouble with their employers. Disagreeing with them, sure. Some rather idiotic name-calling, sure. Reaching out to anybody’s employer, no. Kickstarting an intimidation campaign to do so in mass-scale, hell no.

        I seriously think you people should reflect on your actions and possible outcomes a bit before making this conflict worse than it is now. I also recommend reading Gray Rinehart’s excellent blog post that was posted a couple of days ago. Then again, I’m fairly sure that my suggestion is not going to convince you to do anything.

        So, you have a nice day.

        1. Really? What about those who took to their blogs to call on Toni Weisskopf to either rein in her authors or cut them loose? What about certain “names” on the other side threatening to make sure Brad and others never win an award again and never get contracts with anyone but Baen? Then there is that pesky little problem of calling people with security clearances “neo-nazis” and more. Employers do cut employees lose for that sort of thing, proof or not. As for Gray’s post, I read it and agree to a large degree. I’m just tired of seeing my friends –and myself for that matter –being the kicking boy for puppy haters simply because you don’t agree with us. Not that I think it will make you reconsider either, especially after looking at some of your latest posts. So shall we say we will agree to disagree?

          1. What about those who took to their blogs to call on Toni Weisskopf to either rein in her authors or cut them loose? What about certain “names” on the other side threatening to make sure Brad and others never win an award again and never get contracts with anyone but Baen?

            Has something like that been a serious problems? I don’t remember seeing anything like that and I’d object to it.

            Then there is that pesky little problem of calling people with security clearances “neo-nazis” and more.

            Calling them that was stupid but had no consequences. Practically every feminist in SFF is called KKK and fascist in the comments of practically all blog posts by Torgersen (and others). That has no consequences either, and it’s as stupid.

            Not that I think it will make you reconsider either, especially after looking at some of your latest posts. So shall we say we will agree to disagree?

            By all means. Not that I can follow Rinehert’s example, really, but I try to be careful not to call people racist or misogynist or anything like that (without good reasons), resort to ad hominem attacks or threaten their jobs. I hope everything I write is within the bounds of acceptable criticism, even if I have negative opinions on things.

            1. So, Spacefaringkitten, if my citizenship application gets denied because some Immigration official decides that Ms Gallo’s post amounts to “association with terrorist or extremist groups”, I can point to you as a reference in my appeal?

            2. My only response is that you assume there have been no consequences to those who support SP3 and who have security clearances — or who work in jobs like teaching and others where accusations of conduct out of the norm are taken seriously. Just because you haven’t heard of something doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened — just as you don’t remember the calls for Toni to rein in her authors and how you don’t see how that might be a problem.

              I do appreciate how you are trying to keep it civil here. However, I feel like we are talking around one another since you don’t seem to be willing to look at it from our point of view. Shrug.

            3. Apparently, those calls don’t matter since Toni ignored them.

              But those calling for Gallo’s termination or a real apology are out of line despite the fact that Tor has seemingly ignored them.

              Get it?

              Yeah, I don’t either, but whatever.

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