Aftermath Author Chuck Wendig Pens Open Letter to Star Wars Legends Fans


aftermath-topStar Wars: Aftermath author Chuck Wendig has faced the brunt of the harassment stemming from the fan campaign for Lucasfilm to restore the Legends continuity. He’s commented on it before, and now he’s written an excellent open letter to these fans. In it he details how he could see new Legends stuff being made, but he also explains very well why it probably won’t happen.

The letter is very wrong, but there are two very important sections here. I’m actually going to quote them out of order, as his bit on harassment is the most important:

“Many of you are nice and passionate. Thanks for being fans — if not of mine or my work, then of Star Wars in general. It’s a universe under a big, big tent. That’s a good thing.

Sometimes, though, in fandom, passion becomes tainted — shot through with the sepsis of frustration. And further, sometimes fandom attracts people who are, mmm, maybe not the finest specimens of humanity, and when that happens, harassment occurs. As it has occurred amongst the Bring Back Legends movement.

You need to get your house in order.

What I mean is, harassment is not a good way to get what you want. It is, in fact, a very good way to be dismissed. It is a great way to be seen as bullies. And nobody wants to give you more Legends if the way you get it has been by protracted campaigns of harassment or even by rogue members of your campaigns and Facebook groups demonstrating very bad behavior. Some other fans who operate fansites have felt harassed and bullied (for instance: this post at Tosche Station). I’ve seen it in person. I’ve seen it online. I’ve seen what happens at the Star Wars Books public Facebook page (and whoever runs that page has the patience of the saint and is hopefully paid a merciful six figures). Threats to spoil The Force Awakens came out of an Expanded Universe group. This is not unknown. It is real.

I know I’ve been on the end of harassment — not just for the content of Aftermath but sometimes because I am somehow held responsible for having ended the EU, or because I’m not Timothy Zahn or because I supposedly hate Legends, or, or, or. I get emails. People tweet angrily at me every week. I get hate and harassment flooded in my direction just because I wrote a book. It’s not awesome, and it’s certainly not endearing. The public relations manager of the Indiegogo campaign for the billboard made this video about me, which — *whistles* — I don’t even know what to say about that except I hope he’s okay. It is not his only video of… dubious content.

It’s not fun. It’s not funny. It’s harmful to your cause and to the victims who endure. And I know that it’s #NotAllLegendsFans, but that doesn’t really salve the sting of harassment that both fans and professionals have felt.

I hope you get more books. Sincerely. I cheer you on. More stories is more goodness.

I also hope some of you stop your worst behaviors and your worst members. Because they have dominated this conversation and poisoned your efforts from within. It’s time to grow up and be better. Demonstrate your desires with love and outreach, not hate and spite. Even if that doesn’t get you what you want, it at least keeps the slate clean and ensures that nobody feels harassed.”

Before that he details why Legends may not come back:

“It also probably won’t happen at all. You need to prepare yourselves for that. The reasons it probably won’t happen are many. For instance:

a) It takes a lot of ecosystem to fire up a new publishing line, and that’s sort of what’s happening here. It takes staff, it takes money, it takes time out of a publishing schedule. Publishing is slow. It’s already understaffed. I speak from experience. This isn’t a case of JUST FLIP THE SWITCH AND BRING BACK LEGENDS. Mountains need to be moved.

b) Right now, Disney has a pretty sweet thing going, and seeing them switch gears — even temporarily — would surprise me. The new movie did huge numbers. The books are selling well — and despite some who want to assure me that Aftermath did not sell well, it, ahh, it really did. It sold big. It lingered on the bestseller charts. I have a very small royalty percentage compared to my other books (most tie-in work offers you no royalties), and even with that truncated royalty, I just got a royalty check that was bigger than some of my advances. I don’t say that to brag (okay, humblebrag, maybe), but just to clarify: the book sold well and continues to sell well even now. So, it’s hard imagining why Disney would have interest in suddenly returning to stories that don’t connect to the larger narrative.

c) That larger narrative is actually part of the problem for Legends — it’s quite a big deal that, at present, everything coming out regarding Star Wars is connected. That’s not true really with anything else, I don’t believe, at least not at this scale. It is all, relatively-speaking, “canon.” To suddenly introduce these other stories that aren’t connected opens Disney up to branding confusion. People yelling at them on social about how they thought Han and Leia had only one kid and is Rey actually Jaina and wait is Kylo and the Knights of Ren in these books and HOLD UP IS MARA JADE REY’S MOM. You’re fans, so you understand the difference. But the average reader doesn’t see the difference. They have a limited view of canon and think that if they pick up a new Star Wars book it’ll probably connect to the movies or the other new books. When that fails, that creates disappointment.

d) It bears repeating: Disney probably wants to avoid branding confusion. At all costs. At least until all the movies are out and that part of the story has been told.

e) You may not have the numbers to demonstrate support for the continuation of Legends. The Indiegogo campaign had 146 backers and raised $4,784. No small feat and really cool. But 146 people is not enough to support a line of books. And 1,146 people isn’t enough. And maybe, 11,146 people wouldn’t do it, either. They want to sell 100,000 copies of a book.

f) A lot of “fan-demanded” projects actually don’t earn out. Serenity eventually made it on DVD, but in the theater, was a bomb. When a TV show comes back based on fan demand, it often ends up getting canceled again anyway because the reality is, core fandom isn’t enough to support big meaty narrative universes. Fandom by its nature represents the most excited members, sure, but most big properties thrive on non-fans — people who don’t want to read 100 other books to understand this one they just bought. Narrower, niche properties can live on the support of fandom. But Star Wars is not a narrow, niche property.”

The full letter is worth a read (and a share) and you can read the whole thing on Wendig’s blog here.