Addressing A Percieved Double Standard In Speculative Fiction Publishing

There’s some musings (most recently by Lela Buis here and here) comparing the treatment of Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Sunil Patel, and Greg Andree after their bad behavior in the writing community. Is it racism? Is it sexism? Is there a double standard?

As I have published both Ms. Sriduangkaew and Mr. Patel, Alliteration Ink came up. 

So I figured I should probably say something.  I’m speaking here as a private individual, but since Alliteration Ink is me, you can consider this an official statement as well.

A Quick Note About Who Gets The Money

I should clarify that for both Steampunk World and No Shit, There I Was, the authors were paid a flat fee. The authors don’t get further royalties from those books; purchasing them supports me and the editors who get paid from retail sales rather than the Kickstarter.

Comparing Treatment of Three Authors

First, Mr. Andree.  I don’t know the guy, haven’t published him, and know very little about the allegations about him. If he were to submit to me or want to participate in something I was organizing, I’d have to investigate… but I’d probably pass just because there’s so many other authors who don’t have any allegations attached to their name.  (He did get a brief mention in my public statement about Mr. Patel.)

I – like many small publishers or editors – have a day job. Or hell, the publishing job. Usually by the time I hear about something, it’s already hit full boil because I’m doing or reading something else.  So when faced with a choice of publishing an author who has scandal following them around or someone else… it’s an easy choice.

Which brings us to my business relationship with Mr. Patel and Ms. Sriduangkaew.

Mr. Patel’s behavior came to my attention during the Kickstarter fulfillment phase of No Shit, There I Was. One of the backer rewards was a video chat with him, which given the allegations, was particularly problematic. Because of the timing and the backer reward in particular, this required a public statement from me.

In contrast, I became aware of Ms. Sriduangkaew’s behavior as Requires Hate after the fulfillment phase of Steampunk World (after the publication date, even), and there were no backer rewards involving them specifically.  Others had more than sufficiently covered RH’s behavior at the time – hell, they’d won a Hugo for it – so I didn’t weigh in with a public statement.  I figured my stance was understood and obvious.

Am I going to be buying any more stories from either of them? Probably not. As I said above, there’s a lot of bad behavior there to atone for, and there’s a lot of other authors with talent who would love that opening.

The authors I’ve named are not the only ones that I won’t publish. 

As I’ve stated before, there are some people I won’t publish because of their behaviors.  It’s not only the ethical thing to do, it’s also a prudent business decision.  But unless there’s a direct reason for me to do so (such as the Kickstarter above with Mr. Patel), I’m not going to publicize my decision.  For me, it’s as simple as that.

It’s perhaps fortuitous that most of those (unnamed here) people I won’t publish don’t want anything to do with me either; no tears there.

So that’s me done. 

Why the different treatment?

I think there might be an even bigger reason why Benjanun Sriduangkaew and Sunil Patel were treated differently when their scandals broke.

In short:  Because Requires Hate was a fucking horrific troll, and had a tendency to go after anyone who criticized RH/Sriduangkaew in psychologically damaging ways – and even to goad followers into doing the same.

Often BS/RH will then begin to pursue the person she has decided to target, issuing multiple vituperative posts or death threats on blogs they frequent, and/or on Twitter, and/or in the online forum where she first targeted them. She then erases—at the very least—the most violent and abusive comments and posts, leaving the target reeling but with no visible proof that the threat occurred. Often, she deletes everything. Therefore not many screencaps of her worst abuses exist.

Ironically, this is the same behavior that racist and conservative assholes (RH’s nominal targets) would use over the next several years to intimidate, silence, oppress, and harass women and people of color.

So why poke a hornet’s nest when you don’t have to? 

Maybe that’s why Ms. Sriduangkaew’s presence is tolerated in the community today: a fear that if you don’t walk on those eggshells just right, Sriduangkaew will put on a new pseudonym and resume those old tactics.

I don’t know – Steampunk World predates the report exposing her, and I’ve not published her since.  You’d have to ask some of the other publishers who have why they’ve discounted past behavior so much.

For myself, I still have my respect policy.  And while I’ve been struggling with issues of my own health (mental and physical), and I’m behind on so many things, there are some principles you can be sure that I will always strive to adhere to.

Also, yes, I’m aware that this post is exactly the sort of thing that would get that kind of response from RH in the past.  We’ll see – maybe RH is really gone for good.

One thought on “Addressing A Percieved Double Standard In Speculative Fiction Publishing

  1. lelaebuis says:

    Hi, Steve. I've responded at my blog.

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