December 30, 2016

Happy New Year—Don't Boycott Simon & Schuster, Do This Instead


As you have probably read, terrible person Milo Yiannopoulos just got a big book deal at Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

People are mad about it, as they should be. He's an aggressive, soulless, hate-mongering bigot.  The Chicago Review of Books has said they will not review any S&S books in 2017—though they have been careful to say they are not endorsing a boycott. Nonetheless, many people are calling for a boycott and saying they will not buy any books from the publisher unless the deal is revoked. 

I think this is not a strategic tactic or a credible threat, honestly. Boycotting all of S&S and all their imprints would mean not supporting books like Jesmyn Ward's The Fire This Timeor Isabell Allende's The Japanese Lover, to name just two. Those are big names, but there are also countless smaller writers, writers of color, LGBTQ writers, and others who wrote their books and signed their contracts long before Threshold signed Milo. These people didn't get huge advances. Their books deserve to be purchased and read. The publicist Kima Jones has said a lot of smart things about this on her Twitter feed—she also mentions The Fire This Time.)

(I should say here! Simon & Schuster is my publisher, not that I am making any money off my books, and Jesmyn is a friend. I would love to be Isabel Allende's friend, I am sure, but I do not know her.)

Now I'm going to post this extremely smart analysis from an anonymous Facebook post that explains why letters work better than boycotts or threatened boycotts, gives you the addresses to write to. Underlinings are mine. So, you guessed it, todays action is to write some letters. Maybe buy some books too :)

WHAT NOT TO DO: No “I’m going to boycott Simon & Schuster” talk unless you are a published author and you’re talking about not contracting with them. This is not like buying toilet paper or leather jackets - they sell the work of real, living, struggling authors who really really want you to read what they’ve labored over for years, and it’s unfair to penalize them because their publishing company is being dumb. Print media is a fragile industry these days, and that’s why we’re seeing these big stupid controversial book deals - it’s because we no longer have a world where people walk into their local independent neighborhood bookstore and let the kindly old cashier recommend you a book of poetry with a 500-copy print run that speaks perfectly to your reading sensibilities. You gotta have your crossover blockbusters or the whole enterprise crosses the December finish line in the red. Insisting on a boycott just makes people who haven’t bought a book since college want to run out and pre-order this to spite you. Simon & Schuster knows you “I love books, here’s a shared image macro about how I would literally make gentle love to a piece of printed paper if it were socially acceptable” folks get all your books used from Amazon for $3.99 + shipping, anyway, so they don’t care whether you’re their friend. This is for the business traveler with gross views who needs something entertaining for the plane flight to the Atlanta conference. You gotta convince them not to sell to THAT guy.

WHAT TO DO: Write them letters, hard-copy ones that need a stamp and an envelope. At any major publishing house, the people at the bottom are mostly clever, thoughtful, progressive gals who don’t like this sort of thing any more than you do. They want to be able to go to their bosses’ bosses’ bosses with a massive stack of post and say, “Hey, this is the only reader correspondence we’re getting now,” because that wastes time, and the easiest way to piss off a publishing house is to waste their employees’ time. Wasting time = less time for making books. Remember also that everybody who gets into publishing does it because fundamentally they love to READ, they READ anything that is put in front of them, even the guys at the top who spend more time on the phone and at cocktail parties than working with text believe in words as a magical conduit of ideas, and if you write them a long heartfelt letter, they may scoff at it but they will read it, and if they have 1000 heartfelt letters a day, then sooner or later all those words will sink in.

This is not a plastics manufacturer, this is not a bank. This is a book company. Write to the people who are in the business of reading.


Corporate Headquarters
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
PHONE: 212-698-7000 

And individual contacts here, best to address it to someone in particular:

Normally, the best tactic is to write directly to a specific editor or the imprint, but Threshold is conservative, so they may not care. Still, perhaps try:

Threshold Editions
General Phone: 212-698-7006
General Fax: 212-698-2858
Jennifer Robinson
Vice President, Director of Publicity

And make the point that the views of this author are not conservative views, they are fundamentally hateful and aggressive views which seek to undermine the rights of other citizens. He did, after all, help lead the hate mob against Leslie Jones that got her hacked - they should ask themselves whether that’s something with which they want their otherwise respectable work to be associated, especially since the published book may end up becoming associated with additional hate crimes should readers take it too literally. Surely they don’t want their book to start making news for being repeatedly found in the homes of every homegrown militant for the next 10 years.

I’ll also add that Louise Burke is president and publisher of the Gallery imprint, which Threshold falls under, so you could send to her as well.

This is the last newsletter of 2016! Who even knows what the next year holds, but I appreciate all of you who read this, and who write and tell me of your doings, it's very lovely. I'll keep going as long as you do. xxMikki

Recent topics:
Persistence and moral mettle
Assist the LGBT community in enrolling for healthcare
Pen pals, music, bone marrow, and mending!!!
Safety Pin Boxes

Please spread the word about action now—here is the subscription link. 
Tweet suggestions to @mikkipedia
The archive. 
The original action page
Remember you don't have to do everything—but anything you do can change the world
And please do write me about your actions—love hearing about them!