Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The TorCott and the State of Tor

About a year ago, Peter Grant and Vox Day called for a boycott of Tor books, on the grounds that the editorial staff didn't want our money. Or at least, that's the takeaway when they call readers hateful, sexist, misogynistic, etc. In the interim, John Scalzi did not deliver a book last year(he's signed for 13), and his current book is underselling to the point that it is currently on Amazon for over 30% off. It had been cheaper, but maybe it sold enough to bring the price back up.

Now, the Supreme Dark Lord has recently posted that he has information that Tor is going to be dropping a number of authors soon. Now, in one of his Darkstreams, he did mention that he did not believe this to be the result of the Torcott. Rather, he felt this to be the result of a continued string of decisions to publish increasingly one type of fiction, romance, which Amazon recently put a hammer on from being labelled as SFF.

Now, I think it might be a bit of both, as well as miscalculation on the part of Tor. Tor has another author in their stable that gets a good amount of push from them, Brandon Sanderson. He's really good at worldbuilding, especially if you like magic systems that follow logical rules. I have several of his books(up to the Torcott, plus non-Tor), and while he's got a bit of Social Justice ideas, he hasn't behaved badly.

Here's the bit Vox may have missed: Tor recently put out a big hardcover of Cosmere stories. It's pretty, it's big, it's largely filled with stories in anthologies. There are, I believe, two new works here: an Elantris story, and an early draft of White Sand. The big deal is that Tor overestimated demand for stories we already have. The book is already half off cover price at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. In fact, I suspect the audiobook is doing better, as none of it was available in that format before.

In addition to this, I think Sanderson is running late on the third Stormlight novel. Part of this is likely that he writes a lot of books. Part of it is his writing process, he currently states 93% on his third draft. From the standpoint of Tor, this costs them money. I have to wonder if they signed him to a similar large deal to Scalzi, for all of the Cosmere novels. And yes, I think the Torcott has hurt Sanderson's sales.

At any rate, there is one thing the Torcott has done: I don't miss Sanderson's work anymore. I've got too much other stuff to read, and there's so much that's good. Why should I toss money to him, when I can give that much to more books, and help more authors? I don't wish him ill, but I see this as a win.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.


  1. Tor is officially trying to kill SFF. As the ones the fans have given to be the gatekeepers and guardians of the genre, this is shameful and a betrayal of a magnitude that I can't put into words. They deserve to go under. Keep the boycott going, lads. They'll start feeling it soon enough.

  2. I've pretty much made a "well I'll not pick up Tor EXCEPT Sanderson" the last year or so, and that except also includes JCW. Because frankly, that is voting with my dollars what I want Tor to be and what I want them not to be.

    I picked up the Sanderson book in question, as I didn't have 3 stories in it, and I'm a bit of a Sanderson super-fan over the years. I enjoyed those three stories, but yes, putting out a collection like that is a risky thing when all of this is readily available, in print, has existed in multiple forms for, most people as big fans, to have already consumed.

    But yes, in finding the small press and self-pub crew, I have a lot to read and the quality is on part with or superior to most of their catalogue. There's very little reason to go back.

    1. Tor isn't going to change. Like our host pointed out, they were given a choice between serving their readers and social justice, and they chose social justice.

      They don't care about your money. They will never care what you want them to be. Otherwise they would have fired PNH, Gallo, and Feder.

      Tor Books has nothing but contempt for you. All that giving them your money does is draw out their remaining time to express that contempt.

      JCW is done with Tor after his last Eschaton book. He'll send you the manuscripts of his Tor books if you donate to his tip jar.

      Sanderson needs Tor like a famine victim needs a tapeworm. The sooner he goes indie, the better off he'll be.

    2. Yep. Tor is currently run by ideologues; when ideologues run something, the ideology always comes before the quality and the business until either the business folds or someone with some sense and money on the table they stand to lose comes in and throws on the brakes.

  3. One thing I'm curious about. In terms of the Amazon discount, isn't that typical? Amazon is usually so aggressive with pricing, particularly on pre-orders that I find it's often easier to just preorder a film or book at full price, knowing that if it's on sale anywhere between then and release date, they'll match.

    I don't personally buy a lot of hardbacks, so I don't know if the same pattern that holds true for movies works in books, as well. Just curious.

    1. The big publishers got Amazon to give them agency pricing deals after the Hachette debacle a couple of years back. The discounting is coming from Tor.

    2. Scalzi's was under 13. For Sanderson to be at half off this early hurts Tor a lot.

  4. Sanderson hurts more than Scalzi, as he is one of the tentpoles for Tor alongside Orson Scott Card (Ender's Game) and Robert Jordan. Basically they make the money that allows Tor to publish their prestige projects.