Annie Bellet Criticizes 20Booksto50K Slate and Members of the Group Respond

Annie Bellet says she was livid when she read about “The Nebulas & 20booksto50, not-a-nudge-nudge-slate” on Camestros Felapton.

She’s brought to bear on this 2019 Nebulas slate her experience with the Sad/Rabid Puppies Hugo slates of 2015, when she took her Hugo-nominated story out of contention (see “Two Hugo Nominees Withdraw Their Stories” from April 2015). Twitter thread starts here.

She also showed the characteristics that distinguished this slate from a mere recommendation list.

Marko Kloos was the other 2015 Hugo nominee named in the story linked above, and he added his support today:

Marshall Ryan Maresca commented on the differences between authors asking for consideration and a slate.

People involved with 20Booksto50K, the creator of the slate, and the author of one of the listed works, have also weighed in.

Yudhanjaya Wijeratne, co-author with R.R. Virdi of “Messenger,” a work on the list that is now a Nebula finalist, had this to say:

The disproportionate influence of a slate may also be due to the small numbers of nominations needed to make the Nebula ballot, according to this exchange:

Whether something is a recommendation list or a slate is a question:

Bellet said this about recognizing the difference between slates and recommendations:

Incidentally, there is support for Wijeratne’s nominated story.

Michael Cooper responded on Facebook by essentially arguing no one can show anybody was influenced by the list:

Recently the Nebula Award finalists were announced, and there’s been some flak because of the number of independent authors on the ballot.

Honestly, so far as I’m concerned, I don’t think there are enough.

I think that the ratio of indies to trad pubs on the ballot is backwards from what it should be. Why do I think this? Well…sales. Indies sell more books than traditionally published authors by a wide margin. Granted, this is as a whole and there are individual trad pub authors who do very well, but if you look at the top SF authors on Amazon, the list is dominated by indies.

…If you’re a SF reader, then you probably know this statement: Correlation does not equal causation. Just because a list of books to vote for was posted in the 20Books FB group, does not meant that that list got the indies who are on the ballot up there. It’s not a smoking gun.

To say that the indie authors in SWFA (the organization that produces the Nebula awards) voted as a bloc because of that list is to call into question the character of all those people and to say that they did not evaluate the books they voted for.

That sort of statement is: irrational, a baseless accusation, and irresponsible. Now, I know that a lot of people didn’t come out and *say* that members of the 20books FB group voted as a bloc, but they implied it. For the sake of intellectual honesty, they should make it clear that they did not imply such a thing, and that to the best of their knowledge, every SFWA member that nominated a book or story, did so after careful consideration and review.

Because they have no evidence to the contrary (that they’ve presented, at least).

Lastly, to say that because a person is a member of an FB group means that they adhere to all the core tenets of that group is frankly stupid and lazy thinking. To then denigrate them because you don’t like an aspect of a group in which they are members is the sort of thinking that belies a lack of clear logic and reasoning.

Craig Martelle, who runs the 20Booksto50K Facebook group, added a comment on Cooper’s post:

It’s hard not take negative comments about 20Booksto50k® personally since I run that group, but taking a step back, we did nothing untoward. Indies read indies. We support each other by reading and buying each other’s stuff, often promoting it as well with our own hard-acquired email lists. The ignorance is appalling about what we do. I think ethically making money isn’t dirty and that’s part of the allusions. People contact me if they find a typo in one of my books – I fix them and reupload. The books with the most typos are my trad pub books. Trad does not necessarily equal higher quality. I think my latest books are as high in the quality department as any trad book out there. But I digress – this isn’t about me. It’s about a system that promotes ebooks that cost more than a hardback. It’s about the old guard who are slowly changing yet having a hard time giving ground. It’s about the industry of middle men who stand to lose their jobs from the indie revolution. Of course they don’t want to change. I can’t begrudge them a long career that ends on a whimper. But adapt and overcome. That’s what has made indies a force to be reckoned with. I demonstrate that with The Expanding Universe anthologies, now a two-time Nebula finalist publication. I support indies taking charge of their own careers through 20Books. I support all authors taking responsibility for their career decisions. I don’t support those who need to denigrate others. It won’t make them feel better and it definitely won’t stop the indie train. That baby is already well down the tracks and picking up speed.

Martelle also waved the threat of a SLAPP suit against offenders:

We simply asked people to read our stuff with their limited time because full-time indie authors are busy as hell. I’m watching the blogs and stuff. If anyone crosses the line into libel, I’ll drop a C&D on them and then follow with a lawsuit. As they say, put your money where your mouth is. I’m willing to because I know for a fact that we didn’t do a slate. Let’s see how the keyboard warriors respond to real world consequences.

Jonathan Brazee continues to claim SFWA itself okayed the list:

I didn’t respond to any of the blogs or Reddit, but just as an aside, the indie FB list was cleared with the SFWA staff before it was ever posted.

I have asked Brazee for the name of the person he spoke to. Who knows what really happened anyway? If somebody asked me “How about if I put up a reading list” I wouldn’t think anything of it, unless I knew that person was the representative of a large group, and was going to preface his list with an encouragement for the group to nominate those works for the Nebula Award.

J A Sutherland has added perspective in this Twitter thread: