Some of the biggest promoters of the pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy theory are in a civil war over how much money they should be wringing from their followers, with each side accusing the other of being “fake MAGA” agents for the Deep State.
The fight centers on the future of QAnon: An Invitation to The Great Awakening, a book for QAnon fans that came out earlier this year. QAnon believers rely on a series of mysterious clues posted anonymously on message boards by “Q” to decipher a world they believe revolves around Donald Trump’s secret war with Democratic pedophiles. So they snapped up the 270-page book that offered to explain those clues. Despite being described by one reviewer as “difficult to actually read,” the QAnon book neared the top of the Amazon charts in March.
Now the book’s 14 co-authors are divided over what’s next for the franchise, opening up yet another rift in the lucrative, fractious world of QAnon hucksters.
The feud burst into the open earlier this month when Dustin Nemos, a prolific conspiracy theorist and one of the book’s co-authors, tweeted that fans should stop asking him when the QAnon book would come out as an audiobook. Nemos blamed “JoeM,” another co-author, as the reason for the hold-up, saying JoeM was afraid of making too much money from the book and being called a “grifter”—the ultimate insult for QAnon boosters.
“He became petty and hostile and paranoid and refused to allow us to do an audiobook,” Nemos told The Daily Beast in an email.
While the question of an audiobook might seem arcane, it’s a key issue for the QAnon community. That’s because, according to Nemos, so many elderly QAnon believers have poor eyesight and are unable to read the font in the regular book. JoeM’s refusal to participate has also raised questions about whether the co-authors will be able to make a sequel, let alone profit from it.
JoeM has nearly 120,000 Twitter followers, making him one of the most prominent QAnon promoters. He’s also the editor behind a popular QAnon introduction video that has earned praise from, among others, former baseball star Curt Schilling.
JoeM didn’t respond to requests for comment from The Daily Beast, but he has sent cryptic tweets taunting Nemos’s desire to make more money from QAnon believers.
Nemos counters that he needs to make money to support himself. Now he says he’s going to get back at JoeM, and accused his one-time collaborator of being in league with several reporters who have criticized the conspiracy theory.
“I have staff to pay and his voice carries weight with many patriots,” Nemos said. “I always punch back, taking the example from POTUS.”
This isn’t the first time QAnon promoters have fallen out over money. Infowars founder Alex Jones and his then-employee, birther conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, were initially supportive of QAnon and quickly became two of the leading voices “interpreting” QAnon clues.
But last year, right as Infowars was gaining control of much of the QAnon audience, the anonymous person or group of people behind Q denounced Jones and Corsi as “paytriots”—an insult unique to QAnon world that implies someone isn’t a real QAnon believer but merely preying on them. Jones and Corsi were quickly exiled from QAnonworld, and eventually denounced it as a Deep State plot.
It can seem strange that QAnon promoters are so sensitive to accusations of grifting, given that they’re all backing a baseless conspiracy theory that, in its various iterations, has been interpreted to mean that John F. Kennedy Jr. is still alive, that Hillary Clinton eats babies, and even that the world is controlled by alien lizard-people.
Still, grifting continues to be a constant accusation thrown around between rivals in the QAnon community, especially when it comes to merchandise sales. Tim Stahl, a Laredo, Texas, accountant who sells $17 QAnon commemorative coins, says he’s constantly worried about being accused of “grifting.”
“If it looks like I’m trying to make a profit, I’m afraid it will diminish the power of Q,” Stahl told The Daily Beast. “And I know the movement gets criticized for getting into grifting and T-shirt sales’
QAnon: An Invitation to The Great Awakening co-author Roy Davis, who spoke to The Daily Beast from his houseboat, said the book had originally been created as a rebuke to Reddit administrators who had just banned the QAnon subreddit. With their usual forum gone, Davis and the other writers wanted to put their material in a book—one that was eventually priced at more than $22 per copy.
“Nobody thought it would be a bestseller,” Davis said. “It wasn’t to make a statement, I was just kind of pissed at Reddit.”
Davis said there are no plans for an audiobook version of the book, despite requests from elderly QAnon fans. But Davis isn’t letting the infighting amongst his co-authors stop him—Davis has another QAnon-related book of his own coming out later in June. After that, he thinks he and the other QAnon book authors will get back to work.
“We all will be busy again on the next Qbook,” Davis told The Daily Beast in an email.