L'Affaire del Arroz
Or How Jon del Arroz Has Been A Valued Friend & Ally to Me & Other Creators
A friend of mine, Jon del Arroz, has come under attack by a big-name author who calls Jon a “sociopathic grifter” and a “fucking cancer.” He accuses Jon of “fucking people over for clout,” and concludes, “[t]rust him at your own peril. That dude is the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
One of his publishers, Vox Day, has offered his take. Now, Jon is a capable culture warrior fully able to defend himself. He hardly needs me or even Vox to assist him, but I’m not willing to stand by and see a good man, a friend, and an ally libeled without sharing my perspective.
As my fans and Wise of Heart subscribers are well aware, I run periodic “Based Book Sales” where indie and small press authors join together to offer some of their books at $0.99 or free. I compile them in a couple of big blog posts and we all use our social media reach and email lists to promote the sale. We introduce our readers to other authors whose works they might find interesting. And those other authors introduce their readers to our books. It’s a win-win.
Lately, sales have been moving about a thousand books in each outing. The all-time record was about five thousand. Each sale connects several dozen authors to hundreds of new readers. And Jon del Arroz has been there since the beginning, participating and helping out fellow authors, most of whom have no where near his social media reach.
The big-name authors are well aware of the sale. We even include their books, since our readers may not be familiar with some of them and might appreciate being introduced to a new author. But with few exceptions, they prefer to whine about how they are being ignored by influencers with greater reach than theirs, while at the same time refusing to lend a hand to the “parasites” trying to “ride on their coat tails.”
This is a stupid and self-destructive attitude. While many authors in the sale may have a small reach, there are a awful lot of those small authors. They collectively bring with them the attention of new readers to check out the offerings of all the other authors, big-name or not. A small author may only sell a half dozen or a dozen books in the sale. But whose books will be listed as also-boughts on the small author’s book page? The most popular sale authors get free advertising for their books sprinkled across several dozen book pages across the Amazon site. And how does a big-name author take best advantage of this? By sending their own fans and readers to prime the Amazon ad-placement algorithms with their selections. And what does it cost them? A free social media post that will make them money and yield dozens or more sales of their own books. It’s not just free advertising… it’s advertising that pays you to advertise and compensates you handsomely for the minute or so of effort it takes to change your book price and another minute or two promoting the sale online. There is absolutely no better deal in online book marketing than that. Yet, the response I’ve had from big-name authors is all too often crickets.
Sometimes it makes me feel like I’m trying to give away massive yachts for free on the Internet.
Jon del Arroz understands marketing and promotion. Jon understands how promoting emerging talent rebounds to enhance your own reputation and readership.
Big-name authors? Not so much.
But Jon has also been a great help to me behind the scenes in less public ways. When I decided to dip my toe into graphic novels, I asked Jon for advice. He connected me with the amazing Elin Chancey who did a marvelous job with her illustrations for The Wise of Heart. All the beautiful art on my Substack here and in my book? It’s because Jon knew the right artist to steer me to.
Jon gave me advice on my crowdfund campaign and was amazed when Kickstarter approved it. “They’re going to cancel you,” he predicted. He invited me on his stream to discuss The Wise of Heart as I was nearing the $3,000 funding goal I set to reimburse myself for the funds I advanced to Elin for the art. I blew past my goal thanks to Jon and a great piece by Paul Hair at Bounding Into Comic, and I was well on the way to a $6,000 audio book stretch goal when Kickstarter cancelled me. Jon was right. And within a couple hours of my cancellation, Jon was telling me I needed to speak with Luke Stone at FundMyComic to get my campaign replatformed. Another critical connection made by Jon del Arroz helping out a fellow author.
Before Fox News and The Blaze picked up the call, it was Jon who served as the middleman to get me re-platformed. Also, he wrote a great piece at Bounding Into Comics diagnosing what happened, making people aware of my situation, and steering them to my new campaign. I told the whole story of the cancellation, here, and how it rebounded against Kickstarter and doubled my pledges, here.
Jon del Arroz was in my corner. Big-name authors? They are severely constrained by the golden chains that bind them. If they make too much of a fuss, draw too much negative attention from the wokescolds, they risk cancellation, since their distribution is run by the Skittle-hair people of traditional publishing. Even if they’d wanted to comment on my cancellation and offer public support, they probably couldn’t associate themselves with such a controversial project without risking their careers.
The “Sad Puppies” saga is not my story to tell. I was merely one of thousands of backers and supporters of the movement. From my in-the-trenches perspective, though, it was an effort to carve out a niche for non-woke fiction from the Skittle-hair people in the publishing industry who sought to ignore and suppress not only dissenting views, but also any fiction that failed to properly kow-tow to their diversity quotas and social justice diktats. Great progress was made… until big-name authors and their big-name publishers decided enough controversy was enough, their point had been made, and they were going to take their flags and go home, abandoning the rest of us on the field of battle.
Painful as that betrayal was at the time, it was probably for the best, because it gave rise to a more decentralized and less cancellable movement. Individual creators carved out their own independent pieces of a based literature movement, call it “Iron Age,” or “Comicsgate,” or “Superversive.” Based creators making based fiction and graphic novels serving their fans and defying their would-be gatekeepers.
And the legacy big-name authors and some of their fans are clueless and fail to understand what Jon means when he says “I am the leader of Sad Puppies,” for he omits the rest of the Gamergate-inspired mantra: “and so can you.” Anyone who backs the original vision of Sad Puppies is welcomed to stand up and be another Spartacus in the movement.
“I am the leader of Sad Puppies, and so can you.”
Today, we have our own science fiction convention, BasedCon, attracting distinguished academics like Rachel Fulton Brown, leading tech entrepreneurs, and established and emerging writers and their fans. Look for BasedCon IV to continue defying cancellation attempts in Michigan in September 2024.
The Based SF&F Book Club is targeting a January 2024 launch, featuring fantastic books by non-woke authors.
Arkhaven has multiple serialized graphic novels (like Jon’s Saga of the Nano Templar) and illustrated novels (like my own, The Wise of Heart). The site is nearing a total of 14 million views. Click through quickly, and you may see my work and Jon’s featured in the header.
FundMyComic offers a crowd-funding home for me and other creators free from the threat of woke cancellation. The Wise of Heart was the first campaign to break $10k raised on the platform, a record soon shattered by multiple other successful projects.
Upstream Reviews highlights “the best in science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, and thrillers.”
Bounding Into Comics does much the same, but with an emphasis on graphic arts, like comics, games, and movies.
I’m proud that my Based Book Sales are a part of that emerging ecosystem. I could go on and on and still fail to do justice to all the many parallel and independent creative efforts there are out there leaving the sad, “Sad Puppies” in the dust. Not all will succeed. But there is a robust and emerging based-art ecosystem that is liable to leave big-name authors behind if they fail to embrace it.
You’ll certainly see big-name authors produce entertaining and engaging stories, some of it quite excellent fiction, but you’ll rarely see them creating truly epic stories that challenge the comfortable status quo within which they - and their publishers - operate. They have reach and they have clout, but they lack the freedom to create great art without the risk of social-justice gatekeeping.
To be clear, I feel no animosity toward big-name authors. They made their decisions. They accepted their golden chains. To point out some of those decisions were wrong is not an attack. We’ve moved on and are carving out our own success without them. And when inevitably, they too are subject to cancellation by their woke gatekeepers, we will back them, support them, and welcome them to the fold. Or they will cave to the gatekeepers and produce increasingly irrelevant and ignored art.
Not my circus. Not my monkeys. Not my problem.
One final point… did Jon shamelessly exploit my cancellation to raise his own visibility and sell his own books and comics?
Of course he did!
And I would be disappointed in him if he didn’t.
Because that’s exactly how marketing and promotion work when you’re an indie author trying to rise above the social media-noise floor and make fans aware of your awesome books. That’s precisely the point that big-name authors who rely on the marketing muscle of their big-name publishers fail to understand. It’s not just writing that’s a business. So also is marketing, and indie authors need to keep raising awareness and “Always Be Closing.” Jon’s in-your-face style isn’t my own, but it is effective, and his energy and enthusiasm set a great example. And for Jon’s confrontational marketing style to be criticized… in vulgar and profanity-laden rants is… well, let’s just call it a bit ironic.
Speaking of shamelessly exploiting controversy to sell books, if you’re new here, check out the first forty odd episodes of The Wise of Heart on my Substack for free. Start here. Or follow the installments on Arktoons. It’s all free. Because I love my fans and readers. And because I think once you take a look, you’ll want to buy a book. My courtroom drama of biological science versus the transgender ideology is exactly the kind of amazing, but politically-charged story that big-name publishers steer clear of and would try to cancel if they could. If you like what you see, and don’t want to wait for the ending, buy the novel.
Or if you prefer alternate-history conspiracy techno-thrillers, check out The Hidden Truth.
And of course, Jon will be similarly delighted to sell you his books and graphic novels as well. I recommend my favorites: Deus Vult, Flying Sparks, and the Saga of the Nano-Templar.
Recriminations and backbiting serve no good purpose, but let us be quick to extol virtue when we see it. By their fruits, you shall know them. Jon has been a friend, ally, and booster. He’s a good tree who bears good fruit. You will be fortunate indeed to have such a solid comrade in your corner if you run into a tight spot and need help.
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