Sacrifices

Via Victoria Strauss:
What writers risk in not repeating themselves:

It’s debatable whether Lethem would have had the same kind of five-book support for his genre-bending fictions – even with all his awards – in the current climate, but I’m sure that there would be some grumbling from the sales department eager to sell in another fantasy-crime novel featuring a returning character.

The problem is, as Lethem highlighted, that one can only write the books you feel compelled to write.

This crosses my mind every-so-often. The novels I’ve written aren’t entirely different from one another, but someone looking for another drawing room horror novel might be slightly put off by the supernatural crime thiller or the alternate world science fiction (that looks a little like fantasy). But, yes, there’s nothing for it. A writer writes what stories she has. Maybe if we all encourage readers to read widely?

Also, wasn’t it a rule that the titles of novels should be italicized? Or have we as an internet writing culture moved beyond that? (Btw, Research and Documentation Online, I love you.)

There’s a discussion going on around the web about gender bias, or maybe just lack of gender participation, touched off by a post by Jeff Vandermeer. The argument, at its heart, is that women write less (and therefore submit less for publication) because of the extra demands that society places on women. After a couple days of mulling this, I think it comes down to the same old issues of budget that most things relate to. Just as you only have so much money in your pocket or so much caloric burn in your metabolism, you only have so many hours in the day. To put it in heretical terms (as far as "society" goes), you can’t have it all. At some point in life, you have to decide what it is you *really* want and what things will have to be sacrificed to get it. Sure, some people are more efficient than others. If you have kids and a clean house and still write mammoth novels, cool. More power to you. But I am not that person and I know it. When I get down to writing, really real writing, the apartment goes to hell. That’s a sacrifice make despite the shadows of my mom and grandma who kept their houses sparkling. I’d like a bigger place, even a house, but that requires money from a paying job. Paying jobs requires time that I’m not willing to give up. That’s a sacrifice for me. Same goes for the traveling I’d like to do, the events I’d like to see. I don’t plan on having children (not a huge sacrifice since I’m not keen on kids), but that’s usually a sacrifice women aren’t willing to make. In the end, the trick is not letting people get to you about your messy apartment or your lack of kids (or your unfinished novel) if those things don’t mean much to you.

Yesterday was a mulling and talking day writing-wise, and I finally took the Christmas tree down.

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I haven’t posted about ebooks in, like, *days*…

Quality Control: It Matters | Booksquare:

I asked this question in the narrow context of ebook prices, addressing, specifically, the issue of lousy final layout in digital books. So much effort goes into the acquisition, editing, and marketing of a book. So much is destroyed when the final product is near-unreadable. It’s hard to argue for the value of a book when the publisher of that book throws a sloppy edition at the market.

Interestingly, I had never thought about the gaming industry in the context of ebook before this article. The gaming industry went semi-electronic years ago. They use PDF format and produce some slick graphic-and-tables heavy documents. As far as I know, most of them are DRM free, and most are a decently reduced price over their physical copies. How is this working out? Is piracy taking too big of a chuck out of them? Or have electronic versions been seen as cheap to produce and distribute; gravy atop regular sale mash potatoes?

YorkWriters: Trading in Wooden Blocks: Readers and the Ownership of eBooks:

Let us be clear. … You have NEVER owned the books you “bought.” You owned the blocks of wood on which they were printed, the ink, the glue, but not the words themselves. Those were offered to your on a limited license.

The problem is, publishing houses still want to charge a price that is not much lower than buying the content *and* the block of wood. I suppose this can be seen as the cost of convenience, but the simple fact remains: when I buy an ebook, I am getting a different product and perhaps less of a product.

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Tonight is my last game as a peach-y Desert Diva. We’re playing in finals: 5-1 Miss Read versus 4-1-1 Divas. Despite not playing very well, it’s been fun, as I knew it would be. As most disc is. Hopefully, my body is willing to participate. The monsoon weather patterns have left me on the achy side and ulti yesterday wore me out. We had low numbers in the morning and then Chris and AJ showed up wanting to play 2 on 2 at about 7pm. As is tradition it was Eric and I (combined age 73) versus them (combined age 42). Luck for us, neither had played in a while, neither was wearing cleats, and AJ is out of shape.  I think the scoring ratio was 3:1 in our favor.

What’s that they told you about a book & a cover?

Often at conventions themes start to reoccur across panels. It’s a product of common participants and topics that are closely related. At FiestaCon I’d say one of those themes was the pitfalls of being desperate to publish. And sometimes it’s hard not to be desperate.

I’m not a gambler. If you give me $5 and tell me you’ll give me double or nothing if five blue cars pass by my window in the next five minutes, I’ll take the fiver and have a nice lunch at Taco Bell. I’m low risk all the way. Except when it comes to my chosen career. Writing is a somewhere between roulette and a long con. You can jimmy your odds, but you have to be very patient to make it pay off. I’ve been working with varying degrees of intensity for over ten years now. While my first novel is being published in September, the last five years have been dedicated to a multi-book project. It’s a great project, a beautiful project, but I have no *guarantee* that I’ll get paid for the last five years of work. How many people would work for five years on the belief that one day they’ll get paid? Of course, money’s not the only thing. Let’s say you’re a lawyer. You have a degree in law, but you only sit at home and argue cases hypothetically. In the eyes of others, how much respect would you be given as a professional? While most writers contend that they write for themselves, publication is the next step to being considered a professional.

Again and again at FiestaCon, authors were warned against being desperate to publish. Don’t pay to have you book published, or “marketed,” or edited. If you’ve managed to catch an editor’s eye, be prepared to walk if the editorial changes are not within your view of your book. Because, it’s your name on the cover. And despite the old adage, the cover matters. The cover is the first communication that the author has with the reader. Ironically, the cover is possibly the thing the author has the least influence in choosing.

Which brings me, round about, to two articles that went around my corner of the internet this past week:

Ain’t That a Shame | Justine Larbalestier
What happens when you love your publisher, but they’ve saddled you with a cover that is totally misleading? We’re not just talking details being wrong, we’re talking a cover that could produce a complete misreading of your book. How do you take your novel and “walk” then?

And then there’s this:
Adventures in Book Marketing with Simon Kernick’s DEADLINE
Having someone else’s name on novels for marketing purposes isn’t new. There’s the blurb. There’s the “Presents”. There’s writing within another author’s universe. But this takes it to a whole new level. This is someone else’s name on half your cover. Regardless of whether it’s misleading or how much better sales are going to be, I’m not sure I’d feel right about that. Kernick isn’t a new author. Would it be different if he were?

Shiny Bits of the Internet

A look at bloggers/forum posters that fake their own deaths: The death bloggers.
I’ve had a similar experience though it didn’t involve the poster’s death. This person was continuously the victim of drama. The details of her stories were very inconsistent and it became obvious that she wasn’t being truthful with members of the community. It pretty much drove the forum apart when some of us began to express skeptical opinions of her tales.

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Two unrelated “media” links:
The Geek Beat: Why Can’t Geek Girls Be … Girls? – Cinematical
Comparing the BBFC and the MPAA, and How Antichrist Illustrates The Differences | /Film

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A splash of science:

Report on Gene for Depression Is Now Faulted – NYTimes.com
Science at its best: “What we thought we knew might be wrong because the system is more complex than we expected and now we know more.” I’m not being sarcastic; this is the thing I love most about the scientific process. In general, more would get done in the world if people were willing to look at evidence and admit when they’re wrong.

Mixing memory with reality can bring pleasure to the routine: Scientific American Blog

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And the every-so-often ebook links of note:

SF Signal: eBook Readers, or, How To Miss The Point:

I want an eBook reader which not only lets me comfortably read my books – and by comfortably, I mean forgettably: right now, I cannot get immersed in something I’m reading in an eBook reader; I cannot forget I am reading it on an eBook reader – and I want something that also allows me to comfortably do other things.

I agree. I’ve always believe that if books went electronic, they should be better than *mere* books. But I’ve also noticed that I’ve become pretty comfortable reading on my laptop. Most of what I’m reading for FiestaCon is online or downloaded. The Davidson story is being offered as a pretty poor quality PDF. Jekyll & Hyde I read in text form with Notebook++. Format has become less important to me. But still, there are some interesting things you could do with electronic books. Texts can be linked and interlinked. They could even be non-linear without the confines of cover and pages. No one seems to be interested in doing those things either.

J.A. Konrath offers his opinions on where the ebook might take the publishing industry: A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing: Should E-Books Be Cheap?
Seems that Konrath is making decent money by offering his books through Amazon for cheap. But he can do that. He’s an established author with a following. That’s not going to work as well for the publishing newbie. Still, as I’ve said before, this is an interesting time in publishing.

Keith linked this to my Facebook wall:

The Kindle Revolution | The Big Money

My response, since it was a little long for FB:

The publishing industry (like most industries, I suppose) has been very slow to change. Amazon.com alone has been a complicating factor to their distribution model since its inception, but changing the attitude of the consumer might be the bigger challenge.

Amazon changed music distribution as well, but the digitization of music has been a pretty painless process for most listeners. (Less so for the actual artists and labels.) Music buyers were already accustomed to changes in format. I alone have lived through vinyl, 8-track, cassette tape, CD, and digital download. In the last case, the change was made by the consumer and prompted the music industry to change.

In the land of book publishing, the consumers have been very reluctant to change formats. We’ve had the book for hundreds of years. I don’t know what the Kindle’s sales numbers are like, but in comparison to what (and how) the general public is buying, I’m guessing that its less than the hype would suggest. Regardless, the industry is creeping toward some changes. Whether they will be better or worse for the mid-list writer remains to be seen.

I kind of wonder how independent music artists are doing on their smaller labels and Amazon.com/iTunes downloads.

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Speaking of independent music, I haven’t linked to any updates to Obscure Music Monday in a while. I took February off in an effort to catch-up. Which I didn’t.

I have the galley proof of Lucinda at the Window work on this week. Hopefully, that will consist of a quick read-through.

This morning’s reading. I need to work…

The Origin of Menopause: Why Do Women Outlive Fertility?: Scientific American
The “grandmother theory” came up in conversation just the other night. Still, the rest of women’s systems do decline after menopause. Women get to weigh the benefit/risk of taking hormones for the last 40-50 years of their lives.

Debate over core exercises – Los Angeles Times
Nothing to add to this really. Just not surprised.

Premium Chocolate Wars Are Pure Bliss

Trade literature contends the M&M’s Premiums will not cannibalize the core M&M’s brand because Mars is targeting what it dubs the “Savvy Socials”—women who shop premium categories, like to show their sense of style and entertain.

*checks the calendar to make sure it isn’t the 1st* The land of chocolate has gotten insane in the last couple years. To the benefit of the consumer. I still maintain that Hershey’s has one of the best 60% dark chocolates. Just wish they could really get it to work for them profit-wise.

Essay About Love and Literary Taste – Books – Review – New York Times
I often think twice about stating what my favorite books are because they are not very serious, but, I suppose, if you want to dismiss me out of hand for them, it’s not really my problem. (The Last Unicorn and 84 Charing Cross Road, btw.) My pile of religious texts did make Eric think twice when we were dating though. Personally, I’m always open to hearing about what someone find to be a good book.


New HarperCollins Unit to Try to Cut Writer Advances – New York Times
Now that’s interesting. It will be interesting to see how this “small press” model works for one of the big boys. I am rather amused by Writer’s Blog’s alarmist take on it:

Writer’s Blog: New HarperCollins Imprint Won’t Pay Author Royalties [sic]

The problem is this: what are authors supposed to live on while they are writing?

Maybe the same thing that not-yet-published writers live on. I see possible benefit for the “regular” writer, or at least not the peril that Writer’s Blog sees. If there’s less financial risk involved for the publisher, they might be more willing to take a chance on a “regular” writer. On the other hand, if there’s too little risk involved, will the publisher make the effort to help the author become a success?

Better coverage at:
HarperCollins Decides Thursday Is A Good Day For Radical Announcements | Booksquare

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Things to bookmark later on my other computer:
Love to Know 1911
Mortakai’s Mumblings
About.com’s Free Online TV List

And for future reference:
A Valentine’s Gift from Writer Beware — ‘Cause Ann and Victoria really do love us.