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The Big Yellow Book

Seeing the World from Both Oculars-- a Bananaslug's Journal

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Howard Hendrix on Webscabbery
From the SWFA's blog (http://community.livejournal.com/sfwa/10039.html ) by Howard V. Hendrix:

I'm also opposed to the increasing presence in our organization of webscabs, who post their creations on the net for free. A scab is someone who works for less than union wages or on non-union terms; more broadly, a scab is someone who feathers his own nest and advances his own career by undercutting the efforts of his fellow workers to gain better pay and working conditions for all. Webscabs claim they're just posting their books for free in an attempt to market and publicize them, but to my mind they're undercutting those of us who aren't giving it away for free and are trying to get publishers to pay a better wage for our hard work.

Several people have sent Eric Flint messages asking him how he feels that the Vice President of SFWA just called him a scab... Eric's out of town this weekend...

But let me comment, since I've been involved in the Free Library, and what it will evolve into sometime later this year when we have time to finish setting it up, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Public Library.

Howard Hendrix simply didn't think this through, and after he reads all the comments (except the scatologically-based and terminally dumb ones) on Wil Shatterly's blog, where this was originally posted, he may very well agree.

As many people have posted, Howard's use of the word scab is not correct. Not only is it definitionally incorrect, SFWA is not (thank God) a union. It is, in fact, a guild. And it doesn't have any claim to a "closed shop" despite what the people who perpetrate _Helix_, and Dr. Hendrix, want to believe.

In one swoop, Howard has accused a really big list of people of being "webscabs."

In case you missed the enormity of his accusation, here's just the list of people in the Baen Free Library, which is not the entire list of professionals who are posting samples for free:

Aaron Allston
Andre Norton
Christopher Anvil
Catherine Asaro
Lois McMaster Bujold
John F. Carr
Paul Chafe
Rick Cook
John Dalmas
David Drake
Rosemary Edghill
Linda Evans
Eric Flint
Michael Flynn
Dave Freer
Mark A. Garland
Roland Green
Ellen Guon
James P. Hogan
Sarah Hoyt
Karen Koehler
Mercedes Lackey
Keith Laumer
Murray Leinster
Holly Lisle
Duncan Long
Elizabeth Moon
Howard L. Myers
Charles G. McGraw
Larry Niven
Jerry Pournelle
John Ringo
Richard Roach
Fred Saberhagen
James H. Schmitz
Ryk Spoor
D. W. St. John
Harry Turtledove
Lars Walker
David Weber
K. D. Wentworth
Michael Z. Williamson

I dunno how they all feel about being called scabs, but I'm sure we'll find out.


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I know I'm ticked, but you've missed a major point of what he said.

There are several online markets, both pro and semipro, that don't charge their readers. Places like Strange Horizons and Escape Pod. These are good markets that provide authors with exposure that can be invaluable early (and even later) in their career.

And he's flat out called anyone who's ever subbed to those markets a scab as well. That includes Tim Pratt, Mike Resnick, Kevin J. Anderson, Cory Doctorow, Greg van Eekhout, Eugie Foster, John Scalzi and God only knows how many others.

I didn't miss it...and you are dead right. He called just about everybody a scab. _I_ don't feel scabrous (is that the right word?) do you?


No, no and heck no. I was incredibly happy when my story ended up as one of the sample chapters of "The Best of Jim Baen's Universe." It gives me something incredibly valuable. Exposure. It also increases my chances of reaching a sell through on my first novel that will allow me to sell, 2 through n. All in all, I suspect putting up stuff free on the web is going to eventually be a major factor in raising my advances, not lowering them.

Heck, just about the only sticking point I'm really worried about when I start negotiating contracts with publishers is how large a chunk of my novels I'm allowed to post for free.

I also don't see how this is any different from the On Basalisk Station Hardback I bought for the $1.99 cover price a while back, or the free chap books publishers hand out by the thousands at things like DragonCon

(Deleted comment)
Thanks for the correction, Will.

You can find out...

.... by reading my LJ (seawasp.livejournal.com).

I mock him.

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