Monthly Archives: November 2011

Michael Stackpole

ON HOW THE legacy publishing environment fails midlist writers — and, by extension, ALL writers.

(Hat tip: Passive Guy.)

The Perpetual Motion

MACHINES ARE getting ever more complicated, which says a lot.

Next to the Large Hadron Collider, the infernal combustion engine is probably one of the most complicated (as opposed to complex) and kludgey machines invented by the mind of man. So it takes quite a lot to better it. Apparently, a fetish for fuel conservation does the trick.

Maybe What We Need

IS MORE COMMON-SENSE government control.

For the chillrun, doncha know.

But we already have that. Or we’re supposed to. It’s called the Constitution.

Yebbut — you know — if people won’t obey one law, why, we’ll pass another one. That’ll show ’em.

Government by apposition?

Who knows? Might work as well as anything else?

Update: Sounds as Though

MY INITIAL reaction may have been more accurate than I could know.

Now to See

IF WE CAN WIN beyond the margin of fraud.

Polls close in about ten minutes. Let’s see how the Democrats can steal this one.

Where I Work

IT IS AN ARTICLE OF FAITH that most artists and typesetters are idiots. This is not a random brain fart opinion, but one that is very well-informed, based on a cumulative century-plus of experience dealing with what such risibly call art, design, layout, and so-forth. Nor is it idiosyncratic to this shop. Anyone who’s ever worked directly in print production will tell you the same. It’s as though an MFA graduate discovers he/she can’t get a job in that field, so they come over to the commercial side and bother us.

More proof of the pudding is in this bad aftertaste, as reported by Passive Guy. He quotes a post that tells us…

[For traditionally-published books] Typesetters strip the author’s codes and import these word processing files into page layout programs, such as Adobe InDesign or Quark, and massage them into attractive book pages per the publisher’s design specifications.

At this point, all connection with the author’s original files is lost. Any changes made from this point forward are made solely inside the page layout software, NOT in the Word document as well. It is not a parallel process.

Well, that’s the case if you Embed (Place) the text in your page layout project. But there’s another way to do it, and that’s via a live link. That is, the text is linked in the layout document (say: InDesign), but the link is maintained and can be refreshed in case of changes in the word processing document (say: a Word .doc.)

Which is, now that I mention it, the way that the system is meant to be used. But it requires a certain level of professionalism, organization, and discipline, which those MFA majors are apparently incapable. So they don’t do it that way, and … violas … they lose the connection between content and formatting that the system is designed to maintain.

Of course, if smart indie authors are using Scrivener, they can recompile their entire book, with proper formatting presets, every time a change is made — almost in seconds, certainly in minutes.

And to hell with the page layout software, which I have maintained since the days when Aldus ruled the page, does not work and play well with others. On account of which, I have an unreasoning prejudice against Aldus products, their heirs, assigns, and successors, world without end.

Throwing the BS Flag

ON SHARON BIALEK: Gloria Allred. “Registered Republican” (only Democrats talk like that — or think it matters to your morals). Didn’t report the so-called incident. Didn’t tell anybody at the time. October surprise.

And, even if it’s true, she said, “No.” He stopped. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work?

Passes the duck test for an evergreen Democrat dirty trick. Afraid I’m going to have to go with the “beyond a reasonable doubt” requirement, and this one doesn’t pass the smell test. Stinks to high heaven. Smells like teen bullshit.

Book Piracy

THE CONTROVERSY OVER ABE Books (see item at Chaos Manor) makes me wonder if some of the eBook Omnibuses from deceased authors are also in this vein. I got Kindle books for H. Beam Piper, Andre Norton, and others which I assumed, since they were offered on Amazon, had been cleared one way or another. Now I wonder…

Oakland Businesses

HIT BY THE INFEST YOUR PLACE crowd are dismayed, owners protesting out that they, too, are members of the so-called “99%.”

In the ’60s, black business owners used to paint on the plywood over their broken store windows, “SOUL BROTHER.” Didn’t matter. The wreckers hit them anyway.

Ralph Ellison, in his classic Manchild in the Promised Land reported that his grandfather had taught him that a riot was “a whole bunch of niggers gone crazy.”

A protest is a whole bunch of spoiled crackers gone crazy. As a starting point. When they go violent, it can’t get anything but worse.

And protesting that you sympathize with them won’t protect you from their manifest evil. All you can do is separate yourself from them by a gulf they cannot cross, or to fight them with equal and opposite violence.

Not advising which, mind. Just sayin’s all.

Kris Rusch

HAS UP A THOUGHTFUL post on the value of free.

Check it out.

Had Occasion the Other Day

TO SPEND A DELIGHTFUL HOUR ON the phone with a guy who’d been Jackie Wilson’s road manager back in the day. Which put me in mind of the Van Morrison song, “Jackie Wilson Said,” and then the Tears for Fears pastiche, “Brian Wilson Said.”

Which makes me want to write something called “Robert Heinlein Said,” but … well, I do that several times a week anyway, so.. WTF.

This time, it’s that RAH said, “If everybody knows something, it usually isn’t so by half.” Like: sugar making kids hyperactive. NOT.

Or, like: catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is real, is happening, and we need to dislocate the entire global economy to ameliorate its worst effect.

NOT.

Rush Rick-Rolled Himself

2:35 PM WEDNESDAY, coming back from a commercial break.

Just thought you were waiting with ‘bated breath to hear that.

We Need to Stop With the End-Zone Dancing

PASSIVE GUY POINTS to a column by David Gaughran at Indie Reader. The title of the piece is “The Future Is Indie.” Which may be true. But…

Just as (and I think I’ve said this before) it’s foolish to write a scene in which your protagonist breezes through and knocks down all the challenges facing him like they were so many flop-over targets in a shooting gallery — paraded before him in sequence, at pace, to give him the best opportunity to look good, so, too, is it foolish to anticipate that trad-pub will, on being “called” as in a poker game, simply fold its cards and slink away from the table. There will be counter-action, and chances are things will get ugly. The future may be gravid with promise, but so, too, is it fraught with risk.

But even so…

A dear friend of mine — a fellow OWW-er — has recently sold her first novel. Now, she has pro credits in shorter media, and I know NUSSINK about the contract, but still… Knowing the state of play, we can guess that she will be getting a paltry advance in three chunks, and, with a probable pub date almost two years off, she’s not going to see any real remuneration (if at all) until long after her next two or three books are written.

Meantime, I’m well within striking distance of having an e-novel out and up at Amazon well before Christmas. And a follow-on for early next year.

In his notes on the column PG relates…

One of the ways Big Publishing responds to these trends is to lock its authors up tight. Passive Guy regularly sees publishers pushing for more and more control over their authors and all books those authors may write, including books that are not under contract.

Publishers do this with restrictive contract clauses. Under some publishing contracts, once you sign, you’ll need to take down your indie books. Even after you deliver your manuscript for publication, you will be locked out of any indie publishing or contracts with other publishers for an extended period of time.

If you’re trying to make a living from your writing, this indie royalties blackout period will mean living off your advance for a year or two. When you consider that possibility, also consider that payments of portions of your advance due upon signature, manuscript acceptance, publication, etc., may be delayed for months after the contract says they will be paid.

Anticipating a thought that will immediately pop into your mind: No, your agent may not protect you from clauses like PG has described.

Per David’s column, as financial pressures on publishers increase, PG expects restrictive clauses to become worse rather than better.

And that, I suspect, is going to hurt the trad pubs more than anything else — all the good ones will want more independent. In my most-private midnight fantasies…

Well that’s the end of that.

Eh…?

Not private any more.

Oh. Well.

Late at night, when the cats have settled in for a long nap, I dream of a time when I might have reason to negotiate with a trad publisher. And I really think I would simply refuse to agree to any such terms. The only way, I think, I would want to do business with a publisher would be if one were to offer to print, publicize, and distribute works I have already published in e-format, on my terms.

But I know better than that. That would never happen.

Due to a Spam Attack

TOTALLY RE-WRITING THIS POST but leaving it in place for the nonce. New posts will appear below.

I got spammed. It looked to me at first like the bastard had managed to insert links to his site into the comments for nearly every post in the database. It would take me, to open each post, identify the spam comments, close or delete them, in onesies and twosies — according to my careful prosthesis </firesigntheater> — approximately forever. And I couldn’t anticipate there being any defense against it happening again tomorrow and the next day and the next day.

It would not be putting it too strongly to say I panicked.

It looked at that moment as though I had two choices — shut down comments altogether, or require membership. The latter, while not something I wanted to do right now, was something I was considering for other reasons sometime down the line. The former was simply not an option.

All the same, I could not stand idly by and allow some sub-human intellect to destroy what little influence value BTB has to sell viagara and human growth hormones — or whatever he’s plugging. (The links, you see, could not possibly be there for commerce purposes. No idiot would ever follow them or buy anything there once they got there if they did. No, they were inserted to use my blog’s good name and authority (such as it is) to boost his site’s ranking in search engines. The ultimate theft of intellectual property. He’s using MY name to sell his junk.)

So I cast out panicked emails to my pillars of support and got advice that let me see more clearly what my situation was and how to handle it. I managed to stem the tide and figured ways of fighting off future attacks with little more time spent than I have formerly taken to put down the odd small-time, penny-ante crook up to now.

Meantime, I had flicked some switches in my controls and put up the post that occupied this container, requiring registration and membership for comments. Since I wanted to do that anyway down the road, I thought to let it stand and get the bugs worked out of it. And new members were signing up, so it seemed it was working.

Then I realized it wasn’t working. Worse, I realized I had blown it all over the place and YOU, my dear readers, were catching the shrapnel. NOT good. I appealed once again to the pillars of support, who pointed out to me the exact nature of my stupidity, and made me realize what I had to do to fix it, and that it wasn’t a quick fix. So I de-flicked the “require membership” switch. It will remain unflicked until such time as I get the right incantations and spells figured out and in place.

I expect it might take up to a week. Not because it’s that size of a task, but that’s how much time I can afford to dedicate to it right now. More news as it comes in.

Meantime, the offer still stands. Anybody who joins BTB in the month of November will receive a free copy of my eBook It’s Dolly’s Birthday, which I hope to have published before Christmas, when it’s done. Email me (at the link at right) your real name, a valid email address, a desired user name and password. I’ll set you up manually as a member of the site (I can do that, it’s just not built into the site interface for you to do it) and put you on the list for the book.

I apologize for the hassle and the insanity, and thank all of you who tried to register despite it all. You’re the best readers any blogger could hope for.

Not Pointed at Anyone

IN PARTICULAR, BUT I’d bet you couldn’t swing a cat in here without hitting one…

Robert Heinlein, (a cat lover, it bears repeating), introduced me to that phrase — “swing a cat.” Sounds rather … off … to me, however descriptive.

He also wrote (said) this:

A touchstone to determine the actual worth of an “intellectual” — find out how he feels about astrology.

I would paraphrase that last to change “astrology” to “climate change.” I would argue that the use of the word “denier” to mean “skeptic” is a sure sign of someone who accepts authority to willingly and has not done the homework himself, but is afraid, if it were revealed that he had, he would be terminally embarrassed.

Which, when you think about it, might be entirely appropriate.

Quote of the Day

If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no candidates and no measures you want to vote for, but there are certain to be ones you want to vote against. In case of doubt, vote against. By this rule you will rarely go wrong. If this is too blind for your taste, consult some well-meaning fool (there is always one around) and ask his advice. Then vote the other way. This enables you to be a good citizen (if such is your wish) without spending the enormous amount of time on it that truly intelligent exercise of franchise requires.

–Robert Heinlein

Scrivener For Windows

IS OUT sort of. You download a trial version, and the real on comes out November 7 — in a week.

There’s a discount if you’re participating in NaNoWriMo. (I am.)

Read all about it.