The Truth Behind the Lies – The SFWA

The Truth Behind the Lies – The SFWA

A company is always open to criticism, but when you are part of an extremely competitive industry then that criticism is escalated and the voices of those critics are sometimes, not always, heard above the voices of praise.

When you’re searching for Austin Macauley news online, there’s a chance you’ve spotted an organisation calling themselves Writer Beware. This USA based organisation seem to have considerable influence on some writers. However, these people have their information wrong, despite how many times we have explained the overly simple concept of hybrid publishing. For our comprehensive guide to publishing, please check out our post here.

The fact that they are, even if only sometimes being listened to, concerns us, because Writer Beware are part of an organisation littered with racism, sexism and child molestation. Are these the people whose opinion you may have trusted?


Writer Beware and Victoria Strauss – Bullying, Insults, and Lies

The SFWA state on their website that they are a sponsor of Writer Beware. This gives the illusion that these companies are in fact separate and each has a different agenda.

However, the main page of Writer Beware is on the SFWA website [1]; it is quite clear that these two companies are one and the same. Also, Michael Capobianco, member of Writer Beware, was not only the former SFWA treasurer, vice-president and the President of the SFWA for two terms, but is also currently sitting on their board of advisors, according to their own website [2].

This means that the people believed to be ‘white knights’, in terms of providing support to the science-fiction and writing community, are in fact ones with a black heart, as their history is defiled with harassment, hatred, racism and crimes much worse.

Victoria Strauss has also managed to offend the writing community by supporting the majority of the bullying that takes place on ‘Absolute Write’, a forum where authors are able to share ideas and opinions. The moderators, of which Victoria Strauss formerly held a position as, has been accused of outright bullying against members for no apparent reason.

“That place is an almost a sewer of negativity. The mods are bullies. They bash self-publishing. They are so pathetic. I don’t know why writers even bother going over there- to have themselves kept in check by a bunch of bums.” – The Last of Us Comment Thread [3]

“I'm one to lurk before joining in, and after watching the mods tear apart people for NO reason, then egging on others to bash those people, then carrying on long after they chased the person from the site” – The Complaints Board [3]

“The mods are powertripping jerks” - Rachel W. - The Missing Sitejabber Reviews [3]

Absolute Write
Picture Reference [3]

 “Flaming, shilling, spamming, sockpuppets, trolls” – Victoria Strauss, in response to the critics of Absolute Write. [4]

Her lack of credibility is furthered due to her blatant lies in an attempt to drum up hatred for a publisher she appears to hate. Much like her claims to us, her stating that a company called ‘American Book Publishing’ was under investigation was backed by zero evidence. Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act over in the United States, the people at ‘The Write Agenda’ [5] researched a huge number of agencies asking about any investigation into the company in the jurisdiction. Every single one came back with nothing. Victoria Strauss’ facts are opinions and her evidence is non-existent.

Her detective skills are also in question. Co-founder of Writer Beware Ann Crispin and Victoria Strauss have been praising their favourite lawyer Charles Emil Petit. He represented people who were defrauded and was known as the ‘Authors Lawyer’. His ties to the SFWA and Writer Beware are well documented, working closely on the website, and often contributing to Writer Beware. However, although Charles Emil Petit went by the profession of “lawyer” and legally represented people, he in fact was not licensed in New Jersey and had no legal qualification to represent anyone in court in that state. He did accept the services before referring them to actual practicing attorneys, but he was then subjected to disciplinary action in May 2007 by the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. He was found guilty of misconduct and engaging in dishonest and deceitful conduct, breaching fiduciary duties. [6]

So far, our investigation has shown that Victoria Strauss lies, bullies and recommends a lawyer found of breaking the law.


Vox Day – Sexist, Racist & Supported by the SFWA

The first person to introduce is Theodore Beale who, more commonly, goes under the name Vox Day and is the man who has previously received 10% of the vote to be the next SFWA president [7]. Vox Day is no stranger to controversy, as he is not only openly racist and sexist, but he also openly promotes rape culture and victim blaming.

“Perhaps women would be slower to put themselves in positions where they can be raped with impunity if they understood that they will not be taken at their word simply because they cry rape. It’s ridiculous.” [8]

This astonishing statement is then made worse when he compares a woman calling the police about being raped to the equivalent of calling the police when you cannot find your car.

“Feminists love to conflate the difference between saying that a drunk woman’s testimony is insufficient to establish a conviction of rape in a he/she said situation and the mythical attitude ‘she’s drunk so she’s asking for it even if she’s passed out on the floor.’ They don’t understand that this is primary evidence for the fact that feminists should never be allowed to vote, because they’re (deliberately) too stupid to grasp the fundamental principles of civil society, or that alcohol affects men’s inhibitions as well as women’s” [8]

Vox Day’s comments have stirred up a lot of controversy online, and his blog attracts huge numbers of followers; each post is, in our opinion, more detestable than the last. Everyone is entitled to a pen name, but the literal translation of Vox Day is ‘The Voice of God’ (Latin translation). Vox has also modestly labelled himself as “one of the greatest science fiction writers alive” on his blog ‘Vox Popoli’.

This is the same man that was responsible for putting forward the name of artist ‘kukuryo’ put on the Rabid Puppies and consequently who made it onto the Hugo Ballot. The artist was then accused of child paedophilia by drawing an underage comic book character with her genitalia on display [9].

It was in 2013 [10] when he harassed fellow members of the SFWA on social media, calling Teresa Nielsen Hayden “dumb” and a “fat frog”. He also said that “whites defend their lives and their property from people, like her [Nora Jemisin], who are half savages engaged in attacking white people”. His abuse continues for Jemisin, where he is quoted as saying:

“Jemisin has it wrong; it is not that I, and others, do not view her as human, (although genetic science presently suggests that we are not equally homo sapiens sapiens), it is that we simply do not view her as being fully civilized for the obvious historical reason that she is not.” [10][11]

His defence about the racial onslaught towards fellow members of the SFWA was that he cannot be racist due to the fact he is from multiple heritages.

Vox Day then speaks out against feminists in reaction to the Washington Post publishing an article about the harassment and rape and death threats they receive online.

“Don’t think for even a nanosecond that they don’t deserve it every bit of the criticism, of the contempt, of the disdainful dismissal that overwhelms them. They are trying to destroy Western civilization. They are trying to destroy marriage and civil society. They are advocates of child murder. They are advocates of a philosophy that makes National Socialism look merciful and Communism practical and Fascism coherent by comparison” [12]

The SFWA themselves reported of cases where Vox Day has overstepped the lines, listing his nicknames for fellow members; John Scalzi was addressed as ‘McRapey’ and Nora Jemisin as ‘McRacist’. He then compared Amal el-Mohtar to an Egyptian cleric who has, according to Vox Day, called for the ethnic cleansing of Egypt. [10]

Vox Day also accused James Enge of despicable behaviour and once again called out Nora Jemisin and confronted her with a charge of plagiarism. Vox also took to his blog to humiliate and disgrace Teresa Nielsen Hayden by claiming she has herpes. [10]

Vox Day continues his aggressive and worrying onslaught even further by appearing to be a firm promoter of rape culture and was documented as telling a popular illustrator online to “relax and enjoy it”.

On the blog called ‘Preliator pro causa’ [13], writer Joe McKen picks up on the comments made by Vox on a cartoon that highlighted the sexist and abusive attitudes towards women in this modern age.

“First of all, Kate being terrified of rape when she goes to get milk is her problem. Some women are terrified of bats, others are afraid of heights, and those fears are no more your problem or my problem than Kate's terror of rape on the milk run.” [14]

Vox then lists off his top ‘advice’ for Kate (illustrator of the cartoon) and advises her to reduce her chances of being raped by carrying a gun and “avoiding the company of black and Hispanic men”. He then goes on to defend his stance and says:

“Kate's chances of being raped in any given year are less than one in 12,000 and declining. This cannot be reasonably described as a ‘rape culture’.” [14]

“There is no more evidence for equality than there is for rainbow-tailed unicorns. Human equality simply doesn't exist and it has never existed. As I have pointed out before, both logic and genetic science demonstrate that human beings are not even all equally human.” [14]

“If she can't be bothered to put any effort into defending herself against rape, why should anyone else?” [14]

“If it's not her responsibility to act on something about which she professes to care so deeply, how could it possibly be mine.” [14]

“it is very difficult for a woman to get raped without her not only contributing to the situation, but contributing significantly to it“. [14]

To further cement his beliefs, he was very happy in May 2014 to show off his views on marital rape:

“Some of my dimmer critics have attempted to make a meal out of my factual statement: a man cannot rape his wife. But that is not only a fact, it is the explicit law in the greater part of the world, just as it is part of the English Common Law…The fact that some of the lawless governments in the decadent, demographically dying West presently call some forms of sex between a husband and wife “rape” does not transform marital sex into rape any more than a law that declared all vaginal intercourse to be rape would make it so.” [15]

The ‘dimmer critics’ that Vox Day must be talking about are the United Nations, who have recognised marital rape as a human rights violation for over twenty years. As of 2011, over 100 countries would recognise marital rape as a crime, including the likes of the UK, USA, Russia, Brazil, France, Australia, South Africa and Japan.

Vox has also been open in his attitudes towards marital rape, disregarding it as even possible.

“Anyone with a basic grasp of logic who thinks about the subject of ‘marital rape’ for more than ten seconds will quickly realize that marriage grants consent on an ongoing basis. This has to be the case, otherwise every time one partner wakes the other up in an intimate manner or has sex with an inebriated spouse, rape has been committed.” [15]

Nora Jemisin finally came forwards on her blog to express her contempt for Vox Day and some other members of the SFWA:

“I’ve watched ostensibly reasonable people ask whether it’s racist to call an entire group of people savages — no, really — and I haven’t talked about how nauseating that was. I’ve seen fellow SFWA members suggest that there must be room in the organization for white supremacy, misogyny, homophobia, and other forms of bigotry — because of course some members’ right to be assholes should trump all members’ right to operate in professional spaces free of harassment, intimidation, and abuse” [16]

“I have sat seething, literally shaking with fury, while a SFWA officer tried to get me to change the wording of a letter I’d sent to some members of the Board, which stated that I intended to leave the organization if Mr. Beale was not expelled, and why. This person’s concern was that I had “sent it in anger” and was somehow unaware of the potential consequences — by which they meant alienating the Board and not, y’know, the death threats that concerned me.” [16]

It was finally in August 2013 when the SFWA had finally decided enough was enough and made the decision to expel him from the society.

However, Vox Day was a member for years, and unless we can believe that these actions and deplorable beliefs arose within a month and were without any support from fellow members, his disgusting and inconceivable behaviour went on for years unpunished, whilst also being nominated for the Nebula Awards (run by the SFWA) and receiving support for his Presidential bid.


The Rest of the SFWA – The Belief Women Do Not Belong in Science Fiction.

In January 2013, two of the board of the SFWA held a discussion in which they were due to review female editors of the SFWA, and avid readers of the next magazine were keen to see what their peers and idols thought of them. They were happy to finally be recognised as an integral part to not only the SFWA, but the world of Science Fiction.

Instead, they were greeted with the two sexists Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg basing the “lady editors” talent on which ones are more visually appealing. They judged them not on professional skill or for their work, but on which ones were “beauty pageant beautiful”. In the following bulletin, CJ Henderson called Barbie a role model for women as she was a “nice girl” who “maintained her quiet dignity the way a woman should”. [17]

An onslaught of comments rained onto the SFWA from those upset, only for the society to then bypass the apologising and in bulletin #202 (May 2013) wrote six entire pages attacking those who criticised their talk of female editors by calling them “liberal fascists”, threw around accusations of censorship and compared them to Stalin and Mao, whilst also labelling them as anonymous cowards.

This sparked further outrage from readers, and one of those was E Catherine Tobler. She wrote online about how she felt:

“…your apparent willingness to overlook constant and continued sexism in your own publication and ranks I do not love…” [17]

“People have told me I never should have joined SFWA if this is what I wanted from it. That I was wrong to try to make it conform to me and my ideals. They have told me not to let the door hit my perky ass on the way out.” [17]

NY Times best-selling author Ann Aguirre wrote about how sexism was not limited to just the magazine, as she had received horrible abuse from male science fiction writers at these conventions:

"I had a respected SF writer call me 'girlie' and demand that I get him a coffee, before the panel we were on TOGETHER." [17]

Her online plea was not met with support from the community. She was, rather shockingly, attacked further, receiving a tidal wave of abuse along the likes of:

"It’s bitches like you that are ruining SF. Why can’t you leave it to men who know what they’re doing?" [17]

In a huge response to all of this, Mary Robinette Kowal, an editor from the SFWA stepped down and left with a final message to all of those that were listening: “…know that I am not an isolated case”[19]. She claims that a further 12 members of the SFWA harassed her whilst she served as vice president and secretary of the organisation, calling them all “rabid weasels”. [19]

Another member of the SFWA, Arinn Dembo, provided the community online with this statement, with which we could not agree more.

“Judging a woman by her appearance and validating her as a professional in a field like writing or editing based mainly on her sex appeal is just a gross, ugly thing to do” [20].

All of these elements of controversy sparked the exit of quite a few board members and higher-ups, but it is well worth wondering how many left in the organisation share the same views. The SFWA chose not to expel Resnick from the society.

Almost a year later, a small group of the SFWA start circulating a petition against the new editorial standards now in place by the bulletin editors. Any reader of the petition would have been shocked, but unsurprised by the racist and sexist language used, comparing the new decisions as the ‘enforced cotton-picking of slaves’. This was signed by David Truesdale, Gregory Benford, Robert Silverburg, Barry Malzberg and Mike Resnick. A less offensively-worded petition was released soon after, and the old one then removed.

“Far from an editor, this person will be nothing more than a slave, dragging his bundle of copy to the mansion from the field, where the ‘review process,’ and some proposed ‘volunteer and advisory board,’ and the President himself will be making the real ‘editing’ decisions. You gather the cotton, we’ll spin it into what we think looks good for us.” [21]

“I understand all the reasons for having ‘private’ SFWA forums, but having been a member on and off (currently on) for well over a decade, I’ve gradually come to the conclusion that the downside of it far outweighs the positives. SFWA has become a cult, dedicated first and foremost to the preservation of the cult. It has increasingly little to do with creativity, commerce, or the actual business of science fiction.” – Patrick Nielsen Hayden.


Edward Kramer & Child Abuse in the SFWAEd Kramer - SFWA Member Until 2014

Members of the science fiction community might recognise the name of Edward Kramer. He was a proud member of the SFWA and was even a co-founder of DragonCon. This is the same man that admitted guilt in 2013 of molesting three young boys in attacks dating back to 1996 [22].

Child molestation, paedophilia, is universally considered one of, if not the worst crime a human being can commit.

The SFWA clearly think otherwise.

“What can we do to help our friend Ed Kramer? If money is needed, we should organise a benefit campaign” – Issue 199, October 2004 [23]

Once again, Edward Kramer was arrested in 2011 after he was found unsupervised in a motel room with a 14-year-old boy for ‘risk of injury to a child’. [22]

In fact, he was still listed as an active member of the SFWA up until June 2014 until he was finally removed.

The SFWA posted in 1999 a post inviting people to the funeral of writer and member of the association Marion Zimmer Bradley, a page dedicated to her memory, and is still there as of today[24]. However, The Guardian [25] reports that this woman was accused of abusing her own children and others.

“The first time she molested me, I was three. The last time, I was 12, and able to walk away … She was cruel and violent, as well as completely out of her mind sexually. I am not her only victim, nor were her only victims girls." – Moira Greyland, daughter of Marion Zimmer Bradley.

Moira was also the daughter of Walter Breen, who was jailed for child molestation and died in prison.

“I put Walter in jail for molesting one boy ... Walter was a serial rapist with many, many, many victims (I named 22 to the cops) but Marion was far, far worse." – Moira Greyland.


The View on Hybrid Publishing from the SFWA and Writer Beware

The SFWA makes a point of highlighting exactly what the hybrid publishing concept is. You can find our handy and more definitive guide here. The SFWA and Writer Beware have specified these main points as how to spot a real hybrid publisher.

“A hybrid publisher also charges a fee but is selective in what it publishes and adds value in the form of professional-quality editing, design marketing, and/or distribution. As with vanity/subsidy publishers, hybrid publishers can be extremely costly, and author fees are a major profit engine; but a good hybrid will also be committed to getting the books into the hands of readers. As with traditional publishers, rights are contracted on an exclusive basis. Unfortunately, many publishers that call themselves hybrids are actually vanity/subsidy publishers in disguise” [26]

Here is the breakdown of the argument.

Is Austin Macauley selective in the titles they wish to publish? Yes. There are many, many books sent to us that we turn down.

Do we offer editing, design, marketing and distribution and more? Yes, we do. We perform the same tasks you’d expect from any traditional publisher.

“Hybrid publishers can be extremely costly”. The cost of self-publishing is averaging between £2500 to £5000 according to Orna Ross, director of the Alliance of Independent Authors [27]. Therefore, if the contract offer is anything less or in between, why not have a company of professionals to support you? To professionally publish a book, a publisher has to pay more, so Austin Macauley also doubles your investment into the book’s production.

Will we be committed into getting the books into the hands of readers? Yes, Austin Macauley are constantly helping to organising appearances in the media and organising events. Have a look through our news and events pages to find out more.

“Rights are contracted on an exclusive basis”. Actually, we have an even better option for you. The rights to the books are entirely yours, 100% of the book’s copyright belong to the author, we acquire publishing rights only.

The SFWA have also said this: “A good hybrid works with you both pre-publication and post-publication. The relationship doesn’t end once the book is done. (However, you may have to pay fees to continue the relationship.)” [26]

This is a bizarre concept to us, as we do work closely with authors before and after publication, but we most definitely do not charge authors for them to continue working with us once their book is out.

This comment is also made as one of the best ways to identify a vanity publisher:

“They may promise to publish your second book without charge if the first book does well.”

As far as general sense is concerned, this is not a way to identify a vanity publisher but just a hybrid publisher in general. If a book does not initially warrant a traditional contract but it does, to everyone’s delight, become the next generation’s equivalent of Harry Potter, we would surely offer a traditional contract then for the next book? If we offered a contributory one, would that not be more cause for concern?

Victoria Strauss is very active on social media trying to deter writers away from our company and strongly recommends self-publishing, saying that it is the only alternative to traditional publishing. However, she once said this in an interview: “You’ll have to do a lot of work to have success! Many people think they’ll get tons of sales just because a book is listed on 500 websites. That’s not the way it works” [28]. We completely agree, which is why self-publishing is not the only alternative.


Conclusion – Why Does Anyone Listen to Them?

The internet is wonderful in providing a platform for everyone to have a voice. However, it‘s lack of regulation and the sheer freedom of voice allowed on it makes it a dangerous place to be.

Do you know who you are listening to? When you are looking for advice for a company, turn to the people that understand, most naturally being the authors of Austin Macauley. Do not turn to a company or an individual you do not know or trust. Do not turn to a company that allows sexist and racist abuse, one that values the views of someone promoting rape culture, and one that openly supports a convicted paedophile. Of course, the decision you make is your prerogative, we can only provide the information that you may have not had.

We are, of course, not saying every member of the SFWA is like this, but these people are not the ones who should have a say into a company’s reputation when their own society is a plague.

We at Austin Macauley were put on their list of publishers to avoid, and we can safely say that we have never been prouder.

To our critics, whether you be SFWA, Writer Beware or whoever, please take note. We are not doing anything illegal, we are not working against the interest of our writers or our readers. Stomp and scream all you like, we are not going anywhere.




[1] – Writer Beware Homepage -

2] – About Writer Beware -

[3] – Is That Legal? Here We Go Again! The Endless March of iPredators on Absolute Write Forums – Their Pathology and How to Spot Them -  Absolute Write (February 2017) -

[4] – Haters Gonna Hate: The Smear Campaign Against Absolute Write – Victoria Strauss (20th August 2014) -

[5] – American Book Publishing “Investigation” Research Released: No Proof of Victoria Strauss’ Claims – Absolute Write (31st May 2011) -

[6] – John Steinbeck Family Defrauded by Writer Beware & SFWA Attorney: The 2007 Scam that Writer Beware Didn’t Report… Why? – The Write Agenda (7th December 2011) -

[7] – SFWA election results – James Nicholl (4th May 2013) -

[8] – Vox Day: Reporting a rape you were too incapacitated to fully remember is like calling the cops when you can’t remember where you parked your car – We Hunted the Mammoth (26th August 2014) -

[9] – Vox Day Put a Child Pornographer On The Hugo Ballot – Phil Sandifer -

[10] – Evidence regarding the complaints made against Theodore Beale: Report to the Board of Directors of SFWA – Matthew Johnson (1st July 2013)

[11] – A black female fantasist calls for Reconciliation – Vox Day (13th June 2013) -

[12] – Vox Day: Still a Massive Misogynist Douchebag – Ed Brayton (2nd March 2015) -

[13] – Vox Day: Women should “relax and enjoy” rape culture” – Joé McKen (16th -

[14] – Oh, relax and enjoy it, Kate – Vox Day (16th June 2012) -

[15] – Vox Day: “The concept of marital rape is not merely an oxymoron, it is an attack on the institution of marriage, on the concept of objective law, and indeed, on the core foundation of human civilization itself.” – We Hunted the Mammoth (15th May 2014) -

[16] – Time to pick a side – N. K. Jemisin (14th August 2013) -

[17] – Science fiction authors attack sexism amind row over SFWA magazine – Alison Flood (12th June 2013) -

[18] – Me, as a useful representative example – Mary Robinette Kowal – 17th February 2014) -

[19] – Apparently, these guys don’t want women to write science fiction – Aja Romano (15th February 2014) -

[20] – On Being a SFWA Member with Ovaries – Arinn Dembo (18th February 2014) -

[21] – OH DEAR: SFWA BULLETIN PETITION – Pretty Terrible (10th February 2014) -

[22] – Dragon Con co-founder avoids prison – Marcus K. Garner, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (2nd December 2013) -

[23] –SFWA Forum Responses on Edward E. Kramer (4th November 2004) -

[24] - RIP: Marion Zimmer Bradley (1930-1999) – SFWA (September 1999) -

[25] – SFF community reeling after Marion Zimmer Bradley’s daughter accuses her of abuse – Alison Flood (27th June 2014) -

[26] – Vanity/Subsidy Publishers – Writer Beware -

[27] – The costs and benefits of publishing your own books – Kevin Peachey (11th July 2014) -

[28] – Victoria Strauss About Self-Publishing – Savvy Writers & e-Books online (31st December 2012) -

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