Archive for the ‘Issues’ Category

On the Gay Marriage Case

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Writer Courtney Milan, who’s a lawyer in her day job IIRC, wrote this seriously awesome summary of Tuesday’s Supreme Court arguments in the Gay Marriage case, in transcript form. They’re nowhere near done, but this is interesting and humorous and well worth reading. Probably a lot moreso, for most of us, than the actual transcript (which is 82 pages long) although she links to that if you want to tackle it.

Oral argument starts with Charles Cooper speaking on behalf of the petitioners, who are not in favor of same-sex marriage in California.

COOPER: Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court. Today, we—

ROBERTS: In keeping with the practices of this Court, we don’t allow anyone to complete a full sentence before interrupting them. Tell us why the people who hired you should even be allowed to bring a case.

COOPER: Because California said so.

GINSBURG: So? We’ve said before that in order to be able to bring a federal case, you have to have an injury in fact, something that is specific to you.

COOPER: But these people were injured. They didn’t want gay people to marry, and now look! Gays. Lesbians. Able to marry at will. It’s very injurious. They’re injured just thinking about it.

Click through to read the rest.

She also summarized the next chunk, which is shorter but still has some good ??? stuff in it. She says she’s not going to do any more, which is a shame, seriously.


Scalzi Comments on Random House/Hydra Deal

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

John Scalzi doesn’t make a major point of discussing big publishers messing over writers, so when he does, you know it’s bad. He looks over a deal sheet Random House’s new electronic imprint Hydra is offering, and points out a few red flags.

* No advance.

* The author is charged “set-up costs” for editing, artwork, sale, marketing, publicity — i.e., all the costs a publisher is has been expected to bear. The “good news” is that the author is not charged up front for these; they’re taken out of the backend. If the book is ever published in paper, costs are deducted for those, too. [Note from Angie: there's also a permanent 10% of net charge for the on-going sales and marketing that Hydra most likely won't be doing.]

* The contract asks for primary and subsidiary rights for the term of copyright.

Click through for more detail and some commentary I found pretty entertaining. It’s clear, though, that Random House is looking to squeeze as much money from ignorant baby writers as it can, while hoping to pay out little or nothing.

Also recall that “term of copyright” these days means your lifetime plus seventy years. Your grandkids will still be getting royalty statements from Hydra saying, “Nope, haven’t made up those costs yet.”

This reminds me of the electronic “imprints” set up by some of the other big publishers through AuthorHouse, which were clearly meant to be cash cows for the sponsoring publishers. It looks like someone at Random House figured they could rip off writers just as well on their own, without having to hire another company to do it. Eliminate the middle-man and make more money, right? And hey, some bright RH executive thought of taking the rights for the duration of copyright, which even AuthorHouse, as horrible as its rep might be, doesn’t do. Go you, Random House! Way to be eviller than a notoriously deceptive vanity press!

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, SFWA has issued a statement declaring that Hydra is not a qualifying market. [cough]


Writer Hit by Trademark Bully

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

I’ve been watching this one develop all day, since I saw John Scalzi’s post about it, and things look to be turning around for the writer involved. Still, she’s still pretty firmly in suckland at this point, and the fact that it’s happening at all is outrageous.

MCA Hogarth wrote a book called Spots the Space Marine and self-pubbed it. Games Workshop (a large game company that publishes the very popular game Warhammer 40K) has recently decided to exercise its trademark of the term “space marine” — it has the term trademarked in the area of tabletop games and video games — against fiction. It sent a DMCA notice to Amazon, claiming that Spots violated its trademark, and Amazon took the book down.

Wow, where to start?

First, Games Workshop does not own the term “space marine” in the context of fiction. There’ve been space marines running around SF for about as long as there’s been a recognized genre called science fiction, and maybe even longer. Doc Smith and Robert Heinlein had space marines. There’s reams of prior art. Just because GW’s got a lock on the term in the gaming arena doesn’t mean they own it in fiction too, and the fact that they’ve started publishing fiction recently doesn’t change that.

Second, as Cory Doctorow points out, the DMCA doesn’t cover trademarks, only copyrights, so Amazon was under no obligation to comply with the take-down notice. They chose to do so freely when they didn’t have to — a thwap of the salmon to Amazon for being an auxiliary idiot here. (The comments to Cory’s post are pretty entertaining, if you’re at all familiar with Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. :D )

Third, someone at Games Workshop must know their trademark assertion is completely bogus, because they’re going after a tiny little indie-pubbed book, but (so far as I’ve heard) haven’t said so much as “Peep” any of the big New York publishers who are “infringing” just as much on their supposed trademark, but who all have lawyers on staff.

This is pathetic behavior on the part of Games Workshop. I don’t know where their legal advice is coming from, but it’s not a source I’d ever hire, because it’s making them look like idiots.

The legal blog Popehat is calling for pro bono help for Ms. Hogarth in fighting this crap, which she can’t afford to do on her own. (Which GW counted on, I’m sure.) Popehat has a good track record with this sort of thing, as when attorney Charles Carreon sued Matt Inman; I’m betting they can get help for Ms. Hogarth too, and I’m looking forward to reading about the results.

I’ve been a gamer since I was a teenager. I played in the same FRPG campaign for almost twenty years, until I got married and moved away from my group. I used to work as a developer/gamemaster for a company that does online multi-player RPGs. I have no local gaming group, but still play computer games. As a member of the community Games Workshop is trying to do business in, I have to say that I’ll never again buy one of their products, ever. They’re a pack of cowardly, bullying douchebags and don’t deserve my business. I hope a lot of other gamers make the same decision.

And I hope a trademark attorney or two responds to Popehat’s call and gives Games Workshop a good smack upside the head on Ms. Hogarth’s behalf. They definitely need a few brain cells jarred loose.


The Invisible War

Monday, February 4th, 2013

I really want to see this movie. I know it’s going to piss me off royally, but I still want to see it. And after researching things like this, I can’t even find it in me to be skeptical about the movie’s accuracy, based on what’s in the trailer. If so many in Congress will help government contractors in the field (i.e., mercenaries working for the US government) cover up rapes, when these are just hired hands and not sworn troops, how can we imagine that the US Military would not do whatever it could to cover up a plague of rapes within its own ranks? What a scandal! Of course they’d cover it up, for the same reason the the Catholic Church covered up its child molestors for so long, the same reason Penn State covered up for Jerry Sandusky for so long. The authorities think that the scandal to themselves and their institution is worse than the horror of what the victims are put through.

Apologists claim that some significant number of women who report being raped are lying for whatever reason. Some radical wingnuts claim that most women who report a rape are lying. The fact is that even today, in the 21st century, enough women who report being raped are treated horribly — during the report, during the investigation, during the trial if there is one, and sometimes even afterwards by their friends, families, co-workers — that most women who are raped have to think long and hard about reporting it for fear of being traumatized all over again, and many never do.

This looks like a good movie. I hope it draws some attention to the issue.


PS — of course, men are raped too. It’s just as horrible for them, and the social pressure against reporting a rape is just as strong for men, if for different reasons. Most people who are raped are women, though, so that’s where most of the problem is. If there are men in the military being raped by their fellow soldiers, I hope someone makes a movie about that as well. Any nest of vipers needs to be hit with a flamethrower, no matter who’s being bitten.

Agency Pricing?

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

A discussion on a private mailing list reminded me that there seems to be some confusion about just what agency pricing is, and whether it benefits writers, and particularly indie writers. Some prominent folks in the industry seem to think that indie writers should want an agency model when they do business with their vendors.

I disagree, and I think the confict exists because some folks are confusing a couple of factors. From the POV of the NY publishers, agency pricing is about controlling the final sale price. They were actually making MORE money under the retail system than they were under agency. They didn’t want e-book buyers to get used to low-priced e-books on Amazon, and they were willing to take a hit on their e-book profits to accomplish this.

Under the retail model, the vendor essentially buys however many units of a product, pays a certain price for them, then sells them at whatever retail price they want. That’s what produces price competition between vendors, which is good from the consumers’ POV — the fact that some vendors are willing to accept less profit per unit sold in an attempt to sell more units, by undercutting the store up the street (or online). The manufacturer (publisher) still received the same amount of money per unit sold regardless of the actual retail price, even if the vendor chose to use that product as a loss leader, losing however much money on each sale to get customers to visit their store and hopefully spend more money on other items.

So suppose I publish a book and I’d like to sell it for $6.99. I want 70% of that as my wholesale price to the vendor, so I offer it to the vendor for $4.89. So long as the vendor pays me my $4.89 for each copy they sell, I literally do not give a damn how they price my book. They can sell it for $9.99, or for $12.99, or for $7.99, or for $0.99, or give it away for free if they want, so long as I get my $4.89 per unit they move. That’s the retail model.

Under agency pricing, the book costs the same everywhere. Buyers have no particular reason to shop at Vendor X instead of Vendor Y, and no particular reason to buy a book this week instead of next month, because it’s the same price now that it’ll be next month; the price doesn’t change. And if you’re going through a NY publisher, that price is probably ridiculously high, so you’re selling a lot fewer units; even though you’re making more money per book, you’re selling fewer books and have less money at the end of the quarter.

Agency pricing was about protecting the publishers and furthering their attempts to slow down adoption of e-books. That’s it — that’s what the whole fuss was about. Agency pricing offers nothing to the indie writer. (And actually offers even less to the NY published writers, but anyway.)

Unfortunately, what we have now, particularly with Amazon, is the worst of both worlds. We can suggest a retail price, but the vendor can change that price whenever they want to (usually lowering it) and we get 70% (or 35%, or whatever percentage a particular vendor offers) of that actual retail price, which we don’t control in the long term. All we can do is suggest a price and hope the actual sale price stays somewhere in that neighborhood.

The solution to this problem is NOT agency pricing, which petrifies the whole equation and sets up a bad situation for the buyers, our readers. The solution is a true retail model, where the vendor pays us $X for each sale they make, and then they decide how to price the item in their store, setting up promotions and sales and loss leaders as they choose. If they think $X is too high, they’re welcome to decline to carry our product, and we can decide whether we want to adjust the price, or not. If we want to have some control over our own incomes, though, while maintaining a dynamic market that encourages sales, we don’t want agency pricing — we want retail pricing. We want to know that we’re going to make a certain amount per sale (which benefits us) and that it’s up to the vendors to fight it out amongst themselves in setting their retail prices (which benefits our readers, encouraging them to buy more books).

Agency pricing is about controlling the retail sale price. Wholesale pricing is about controlling the wholesale price. If I could control the wholesale price, I wouldn’t care about controlling the retail price; let the vendor control that, so long as I get my desired wholesale price. Arguing that indie writers should fight to control the retail price is ignoring where our money actually comes from, which is the wholesale price.

Agency pricing only looks good compared with the twisted, non-wholesale model we have now, and if we consider only OUR needs, ignoring the needs of our readers. The wholesale model supports both our needs, while still giving the vendors reasonable flexibility to create their own pricing and sale strategies.


Voter Disenfranchisement in Pennsylvania

Friday, August 17th, 2012

From the Field Negro:

The first story is just about your basic racist idiot (and I’ll agree with anyone who thinks it’s uncool to make fun of the guy for being fat, jerkwad or not), but the second one is a great example of how Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law will disenfranchise honest people. People who are poor, transient, or of color are more likely to have document issues than people who are well off, at a stable address, and white. Being old, born at a time when documentation wasn’t as formal or vital as it is now, is an additional problem. In this case, Ms. Applewhite has been working on replacing her ID after it was stolen, but she’s over 90 and getting everything together is tough. She’s probably not going to be able to vote in November.

If the Pennsylvania Republican leaders had any brains at all, they’d be swarming around Ms. Applewhite, pushing through her document requests, making absolutely sure she gets new picture ID and a new social security card, and that her voter registration is up to date well before the election. If they want to go on pretending that Pennsylvania’s new law is really all about preventing voter fraud (despite the fact that the government can’t produce any evidence of significant voter fraud there) then they should make sure people like Ms. Applewhite are accommodated with all speed.

Oh, and for anyone who still thinks the voter ID thing is all about fraud, read this.

Mike Turzai, the Pennsylvania GOP House majority leader, said that a strict new voter ID law will help Republicans win the state for the first time since 1988.

“Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it’s done. First pro-life legislation — abortion facility regulations — in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done,” he said to applause at a Republican State Committee this weekend, according to

The comment contradicted the usual Republican line that voter ID laws are for guarding against voter fraud — which is extremely rare if not nonexistent in practice — and not to help elect Republicans.

That’s why they’re doing it. Solving an incredibly rare problem with voter fraud is just smoke and mirrors.


Responding to Rape

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

Jim Hines, a great fantasy writer, also blogs about social justice issues. Recently he was scheduled to appear on Reddit, in the fantasy area, to do a Q&A about his upcoming book. He cancelled because Reddit is hosting a rather large and active thread where men who’ve committed rape are talking about what they did and why and how and how it felt, and apparently they’re getting an appalling number of back-pats and attaboys for it, along with praise for how “brave” they are to post anonymously about how awesome it was rape that woman, or reassurances about how they didn’t really do anything wrong because after all, from what you said it’s not like she screamed and cussed and tried to fight you off, right? Or whatever. :/

Jim posted about the cancellation and his reason for it, and of course a bazillion people from Reddit came over to tell him what a censoring dumbass he is. A few people made calm and reasoned arguments about why they thought he was wrong, which is cool, and there were people supporting his actions as well. One of the latter posted a comment I have to share.

Laura Resnick’s comment, trimmed down to emphasize a point:

This all makes me recall my experiences when I took a basic self-defense program designed for women. …

And what I found interesting, shocking, and really eye-opening was HOW HARD most of the women in the group found it to defend themselves. I don’t mean they couldn’t learn the skills. I mean that their upbringing ahd socialization had sCOMPLETELY indoctrinated them with the idea, the belief, and the behaviorial pattern that they DIDN’T HAVE A RIGHT to defend themselves. to such an extent that trying to practice self-defense moves against an attacker in a classroom setting was traumatic for them.

This conditioning was so powerful that there were women in the class who stood facing the attacker, weeping helplessly over their own indoctrinated inability to lift a single finger to defend themselves against a physical attacker.

… [I]t really opened my eyes to how many women have been taught their whole lives, by everyone and everything that’s ever had influence over them, that if they’re assaulted, attacked, raped, then they must lie there, still and weeping, rather than fight back.

And because of that conditioning, rapists like the ones bragging on Reddit can convince themselves they didn’t do anything really wrong since, gee, it’s not as if the assault victim really FOUGHT, right? She just cried a little and lay there, right? “So that must mean what I did wasn’t a violent felony, right?”

This fits perfectly with a post I did a while back about how rape happens, about how women are socialized to go along and get along and keep the peace and make other people happy, about how they’re not supposed to fuss or object or disagree and if they do they’re being a mean bitch or a stuck up bitch or an angry bitch. So many women don’t fuss or object or disagree, until suddenly some guy is pushing their legs open and if they object then, they’re a teasing bitch.

So, many women just don’t object. Much less, as Laura’s experience with the self-defense class for women shows, physically fight back.

Raising women to be ladylike, with a traditional (mild, demure, passive, pleasant, pleasing) definition of ladylike, is a significant chunk of the rape problem in our society. Of course, most of it is egotistical men* who think they’re entitled to anything they want, including a particular woman. But if we stopped enculturating women to be passive and started raising them to kick up a screaming, cussing, punching, kicking fuss whenever some entitled dirtbag decided to invade her territory, preferably well before it ever got to a place/situation where rape could happen, that’d take a decent bite out of the problem.


*Note that not all men are like this. I shouldn’t have to say it, but I’m saying it anyway. In particular, I can’t imagine any of the men who comment here regularly being like this. It only takes a minority, though, to get a whole lot of women worried and wary, especially since the raping minority don’t wear T-shirts that say RAPIST. If you’re a guy and this bothers you, or if you’ve ever had a woman give you a look like she was wondering whether she could trust you, that’s the rapist minority messing it up for all the nice guys.

Kudos to some Eagle Scouts

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

After the announcement by the Boy Scouts of America on the 17th that they’d be upholding their ban on GLBT scouts or scout leaders, some adult scouts have mailed their Eagle Scout badges back to BSA headquarters with letters of protest. BoingBoing (see the second link) is collecting photos of letters, links to more letters, and a lot of comments on the subject, most from former scouts. Many of whom are still scouts, having earned their Life Scout rank.

Despite the snarking and whining of the occasional commenter who can’t read, these are people who are and were members of BSA, supporters of BSA, scouts and former scouts who have their own sons in Scouts or intended to enroll them when they were old enough. Not anymore.

Christopher Baker (whose wife wrote the BoingBoing article) said in his letter:

As a Boy Scout I was taught that ethics are important and that when something is unethical you should stand up and say something. I was taught that it is wrong to exclude people, whether based on race, physical ability or sexual orientation. I was taught that a Boy Scout stands with those being persecuted, and not with the persecutor.

Leo Gianini said in his:

I am giving back my proudest possessions because I don’t want to have my son or daughter one day say to me, “Did you know you were a member when the Boy Scouts used to not allow gay people to join?” As an 11 year old, I remember my mother’s face contorting trying to hide the guilt after I asked her what it was like attending school in segregated North Carolina. That won’t be me.

Martin Cizmar in his letter:

I am not gay. However, I cannot in good conscience hold this badge as long as the BSA continues a policy of bigotry. Thought I didn’t know at the time, I was acquainted with a number of gay scouts and scouters. They were all great men, loyal to the scout oath and motto and helpful to the movement. There is no fair reason they should not be allowed to participate in scouting. I suspect you know this, too. As an adult, I also understand that such policy changes are fraught with complications, possibly including the defection of members affiliated with certain religious groups with dire financial implications. It’s a tough position, but a scout is brave.”

Matthew Hitchens said:

Scouting taught me to honor my conscience. Ironically, it is this lesson that will alienate not just me, but many other people just like me. I take no pleasure in this choice. Today is a sad day for me. However, the Scout Law tells me that a scout is brave. I am calling on Eagle Scouts everywhere to join me, to search their souls for that bravery and to do what they believe is right.

And from a column by political cartoonist and blogger Rob Tornoe:

Ironically, the effect of continuing this policy will be to harm the very people the BSA claim they’re trying to protect — the kids. Straight kids that chose to remain scouts will learn that it’s okay to judge people based on things like sexual orientation, and gay kids that might have benefited from becoming a scout will now be forced to remain in the shadows. 

Or even worse — these kids will move on to other organizations that are more tolerant and expose the fact the BSA has outlived its usefulness.

As you read this column, my Eagle Scout badge, the symbol of one of my proudest achievements in life, is in the mail, making its way back to Irving, Texas to Bob Mazzucca, Wayne Perry and the National Council of the BSA.

As proud as I am of my achievements, I no longer want to be an Eagle Scout if a young man who happens to be gay can’t also be one.

That’s really what it comes down to. It’s not just about GLBT people being offended — it’s about straight people who don’t want to belong to an organization that would reject their GLBT friends and family members and any other GLBT people who wanted to join, who were good, honest, hard-working people and would be great scouts. It’s like refusing to stay with an organization that won’t admit black people or Jewish people. Bigotry is bigotry, and it’s perfectly understandable that good people who are morally straight — as scouts should be — would object to bigotry, and refuse to maintain an association with a group that would reaffirm the bigotry in its rules.

It’s been pointed out in various places that this isn’t a new policy for the BSA. That’s true, it’s not. But they had a chance to revisit it, to get with the 21st century, to uphold their own code about what’s right and decent and kind and brave, and change the old rule. They’re not coasting along on bad old rules anymore; they made a conscious choice, just a few days ago, to maintain those bad old rules. This is what the national leadership of the BSA is all about, right now, in 2012.

As has also been pointed out over and over by commenters who don’t realize that nobody is arguing, the Boy Scouts of America is a private organization and has the legal right to be as bigoted and discriminatory as it wants. But at the same time, its members and former members have a right to protest, the American public has a right to protest, members of Scouting organizations from various other countries — including England, where Scouting started — have a right to point out that Scouting in their countries is fully inclusive (and includes girls as well as GLBT people) and that they don’t get what the issue is with the American branch. Expressing one’s opinion is not forcing the BSA to do anything they don’t want to do. Pointing out that they’re doing something reprehensibly bigoted isn’t bigotry, and it isn’t oppression. The BSA has a right to do what they want, and everyone else (even if the “everyone else” weren’t mainly composed of people associated with the BSA) have a right to comment.

Kudos to the Eagle Scouts who are commenting very effectively.


Kate Wilhelm Joines the Indie Publishing Crowd

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Popping up all over the SF and publishing end of the internet, Kate Wilhelm announced that she’s starting InfinityBox Press with some family members. She’ll be publishing her backlist as well as at least two new novels. When her own work is all up, she’ll start in on that of her husband, Damon Knight, who passed away in 2002.

Unsurprisingly, what led Ms. Wilhelm to this decision was being offered a truly horrible contract by a big publishing house.

In the fall of 2011 I was offered a contract that was so egregious that the publishing house that sent it should have been ashamed, and if I had signed it I would have been shamed. I proposed additional changes to those my agent had already managed to have incorporated and each suggested change was refused. I rejected the contract and withdrew the novel. At that point, I could have tried a different publisher but I knew it would have been a repeat performance, because the major publishers are tightening ranks and the contract I had rejected was more or less the new standard. It wasn’t about the advance, I might add. It was about rights, especially electronic rights, not only those in existence today, but anything that might be developed in the future in any form: who owned them, duration of ownership, how they would be exploited, how and if they would ever revert, and so on. I refused to submit it to anyone else.

Good job to Ms. Wilhelm for walking away. A lot of writers would’ve muttered curses to themselves and signed, which is, of course, what the publishers are counting on. If everyone walked away from horrible contracts, they’d have to change. That’s not going to happen, though, at least not in the foreseeable future. Still, it feels good to see someone escaping. :)



Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Charles posted about maybe publishing his Westerns under a pseud, and collected some comments. I started replying, and as often happens, I ended up with a lot more verbage that is usually polite to post on someone else’s blog, especially when I’m coming from the POV of headdesking at what some of the commenters were saying. I’ve also seen similar discussions elsewhere — it’s not just Charles’s crowd — so I’m posting here instead.

There seems to be a line of thought that says that you *should* publish everything under your own name, that if you write multiple genres, then the real readers, or your real fans, or anyone worth considering, will read whatever you write, or at least give it a try and then figure out for themselves which of your genres they like and only buy/read those. Or something. The thought seems to come from some principle of Writer Against the World, or Artiste Refusing to Sell Out, or some similar ego-war where giving in means losing. Or something.

In actuality, this is about marketing. Sorry, I know I just lost all the artistes, and most of the fierce individualists, but I’m talking to the writers who want their work read (and maybe even paid for) by lots and lots of people.

Anecdotal data, collected from a wide range of sources as opposed to just one writer and their close friends, as well as info from the big NY publishers (who do a LOT of things badly, but do have a buttload of marketing trends data) shows that a large fraction of the audience reads only one genre, or maybe two, and does not want to read another genre. I’ve run into people like this who will get angry about feeling OMGTricked! into reading a genre (or subgenre, or whatever) that they don’t like because one of “their” writers (as if they own them) decided to write something different under the same name.

As a reader, I’ll at least try just about anything by a writer I like a lot. So will a lot of other people I know. Strangely enough, most of these folks are writers — people who are just that interested in fiction in general, and who are constantly aware of skill and style and craftsmanship, enough so to be able to appreciate a good story no matter what type it might be. There are many readers, however, who aren’t like us.

Saying, “Well, I personally am different, therefore that’s not true,” or “I know hordes of people (which is actually like six or ten) who disagree with that, therefore it’s not true,” is an argument centered around ego, not data. Sorry, but it’s true. Your or my personal feelings, or experiences with our friends, don’t constitute a valid data sample.

Now, if there’s something that strongly ties your work together — frex., if all your fiction is pulp-style adventure, even if some is Western adventure and some is horror adventure and some is heroic fantasy adventure — then you can build your name brand on that, because your target audience is fans of pulp-style adventure fiction.

If you’re writing deeply scary horror, and rollicking adventure Westerns, and funny-ironic heroic fantasy, though, those are going to appeal to different audiences, for the most part. It’d suck of someone who loves funny-ironic fiction read one of your sleep-with-the-lights-on scary horror stories, and mentally crossed everything published under that name off their list.

This is marketing, folks. It’s about getting your stories in front of the people who’d enjoy reading them, and be willing to hand you money for them. You’re not in a battle of will with your readers, it’s not an ego-fight, and publishing under multiple names doesn’t mean that you lose, or you’re selling out, or you’re letting Those People dictate to you, or whatever. It means that you’re taking action to make it easy for the folks who’d enjoy reading a particular group of your stories to find them. There you go, that’s it.

And depending on what-all you write, it might also be about sequestering one or more of your genres from people who disapprove of those genres and would cross your name off their list because of that. Anything erotic is going to lose audience for your non-erotic adult fiction, and forget about children’s or YA. Even within the same genre, people who write erotic romance and inspirational romance use different pseuds, because writing one will interfere with selling the other.

Saying, “Well, any reader worth having won’t think like that,” is… well, fine. If you’re okay with chopping a chunk off of your target audience, then go for it. But realize that’s what you’re doing, and don’t gripe about how your sales numbers never look like those of your friend with four pseuds, or like the more popular writers in your genres. (Unless you hit the big-time and become the next Stephen King or something, but counting on that is ridiculous as a business plan.)

If you write more than one genre, or more than one subgenre with distinctly different audiences, and there’s no one strong style that ties it all together, give serious consideration to multiple pseuds. This isn’t about ego — it’s about readers and sales. People who think there’s some awesome heroism about being a starving artist sticking to his principles to the end can, well, do that. Me, I want to make it as easy as possible for people who’d like my stories to find them. Using multiple pseudonyms isn’t any kind of failure, or selling out. It’s a tool available to help you achieve your goals. Use it or don’t, but be aware of what you’re doing before you throw away a useful tool.