A pro is someone who has professionally published sf. Typically, fans use the term to refer to authors, although editors, literary agents and professional artists are lumped in with the general crowd of "pros."
Few writers earn a full-time living as pros, and they need not earn a significant amount of income from published sf to get the label. However, a writer who has made only a few sales is termed a neopro, regardless of how long ago those sales were.
Pros may be fans, and historically, most pros came out of fandom, many remaining active in fanzines, clubs and concoms while their professional sales grew. Increasingly, however, pros have had little or no contact with fandom until after selling their first works, and their attendance at conventions and other involvement in fan doings tends to be self-promotional.
The relationship between pros and fans, always uneasy, as the Fancyclopedia 2 passage below indicates, becomes ever more contentious. Although prosuckers are worshipful, many concom members and other actifans chafe at some pros' demands regarding convention policies and programming, and resent their commercialism and tendency to disappear after panels rather than socializing with fans. These differences are exacerbated by perks given pros at ticket shows that are not usual at traditional fan-run cons.
|from Fancyclopedia 2 ca. 1959|
|Professional. Commercially published fantasy magazines and the people who write or draw for them. Art Rapp wants to eliminate confusion by the practice, which we follow in this volume, of using "pros" for people and "proz" for publications. Whether specialist booksellers should be included or not is disputed; "No," says Bob Bloch, "they are filthy hucksters", but "Yes," says Big Hearted Howard Devore, "and be sure you spell my name right". Joy Clarke informs that Anglofans include booksellers with other pros.
Behold the Pro in all his glory!
He's dreaming up a new stf story
Which writ, he'll send off to NY
For some rich publisher to buy.
After the sale, I rather fear,
He'll turn his profits into bheer,
Proving his appetites the same
As theirs from whom the money came.
Bob Tucker observes sourly: "These people are often called 'filthy pros' and 'dirty old pros' [or 'vile pros — because that's what they write'] because they are supposedly rich, and because it is whispered that they will stoop to any trick to do wrong to the innocent fan. The majority of them are as much fans as anyone; many are older fen who turned to writing for fun and profit [including Bob himself]. They are both despised as parasites and fawned on as minor tin ghods. And those fans who are loudest in censure are often just those who try hardest to sell fiction and thus become pros."
Joy Clarke explains that the dividing line in Anglofandom is not marked because many British pro-authors have emerged from the fan groups, British fandom is sufficiently close-knit for everybody to know the pros and pro-fans before they turned pro, and it's therefore hard to consider Ted Tubb, Ken Bulmer, Arthur Clarke, Sam Youd and the like as anything but fans selling to the prozines.
In practice most of the fan-pro prejudice Tucker remarks is turned against those their own sections of stfdom admit to be obnoxious — 7th Fandom and the other Beanie Brigadiers and the less scrupulous or more conceited professionals. Sometimes seen is "prodom" for the field of professional scientifictionists; the word is a mere analogy with "fandom", since the pros are not so selfconscious, vocal, or organized.
Prozines for pros to appear in have multiplied from the old days of the Big Three to peaks in 1940, 1951-2, and 1956-8. In an IPO Poll taken near its inception, the flood of new proz was disapproved 18:5, so there mustn't have been much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth when the growth-curve turned downwards. (Reasons for such ups & downs much debated.) The 1951-2 peak, and following slump, were also regarded with a good deal of equanimity, but the depression of 1958-9 was intense enough to create audible alarm and despondency over the future of the field and, therewith, fandom's prospects for recruiting. Disapproval of new proz is mainly because, with some exceptions, they print even trashier material than the older ones, and fans aren't interested in reading it themselves and certainly don't want other people to read it and sneer at stf.
Quite a few long-time fans have at times completely given up reading the proz thru disgust, or preoccupation with fan and other activities. The course of fan history has varied from close to slight connection with the proz, and the wish has often been expressed that we could get along without using them as a recruiting medium. This is principally a fanationalistic manifestation, however; the average stfnist eats up good stfantasy, has an exaggerated idea of its literary merit, and will leap to defend it against detractors.