Moving the Goalposts

Blogging is taking a back seat to the new novel (30K+ yea me!) And yes, I bumped up the total wordage of Valentine’s Night, the spec novel I’m working on while waiting to hear back from Anne. Two reasons.

  1. I have trouble writing short, and I don’t feel I’m that close to the halfway point.
  2. I can.

Another week, another asshat. . .

Presented for your consideration, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White of California. Whose attitude toward the free flow of information on teh interwebz seems cribbed from North Korea. Apparently a swiss bank is somewhat miffed at Wikileaks.org a website organized by a bunch of journalists and other activists whose primary mission is to give an anonymous platform for publicizing documents showing governmental and corporate wrongdoing in situations where the “leaker” would suffer serious reprisals. (i.e. it targets a lot of nasty regimes that could, for instance, kill you for blabbing embarrassing facts.)

So what happens when lawyers working for the Swiss banking group Julius Baer, file for an injunction to suppress the site’s publication of several documents posted on the site allegedly revealing the bank was involved with money laundering and tax evasion? Why, the judge issues a permanent injunction shutting down the whole effing site, with only a couple hours notice to the sites’ owner.

Now, within a few hours, someone must have pointed out to Judge White that he was not, in fact, issuing internet rulings in mainland China, and his injunction might be viewed as a tad extreme, because the permanent injunction was clarified with a temporary injunction focusing only on the documents in question.

Way to uphold the bastion of freedom. Nice to know that any tin-pot regime and corporate scumbag can get a web-site sanitized just by filing suit in California.

(But actually not, since no one can take back electrons. The site is mirrored up the wazoo all over the world, meaning the injunction is pointless and ineffective in addition to being draconian.)

We just keep rolling along

Well my latest spec project is still rolling along quickly, quickly enough that if Anne continues being overworked at Bantam, I might get the whole thing done before I have to do any editorial revisions on Wolfbreed #1 (titles, I need titles). I started it a week and a half ago, and I have 23K words. The good news is, unlike Wolfbreed I do not anticipate going back and completely revising everything halfway in. (Of course, I just jinxed myself, as I didn’t have any plans like that for Wolfbreed at this point.)

For those curious, I have returned to vampires. However this is going to be unrelated to the pair of Blood & Rust novels. I’m trying my hand at an intentional paranormal romance. One that kicks most of the late 20th Century’s contribution to the vampire mythos to the curb. No blood-drinking cabals conspiring in the darkness, no angsty goth heroes, and no supernatural vampire hunters of whatever dynasty.

Coping with the day job

Reading Scalzi’s great posts on making a living as a writer got me to thinking about the worst piece of career advice I ever got:

“Take some brainless low-paying job just to make ends meet so you can devote all your creative energy to work on your writing.”

Do me a favor, next time someone utters this, or something similar, to you, slap them. Hard.

The people making this asinine comment are either justifying their slacker attitude at their 7-11 gig, or are just in love with the image of the artist struggling for their art.

Bullshit.

First off, if you undervalue yourself for a third of every day, you’re going to undervalue yourself as a writer. Also, nothing saps writing energy as much as stress about money, food and shelter. Dreading waking up to go to the daily grind will not make you excited or give you more energy for the writing. Also, if you’re placed in the position of relying too much on a low income writing (voice of experience here) you can severely sabotage your writing career. If you have a decent income at a decent job, one you enjoy, you are in a much better position to see the merits of any offers that do come in.

Say someone offers you two grand for world rights and a film option on your 150,000 word epic fantasy. It’s a lot harder to say “no” to a horrid offer like that if your paychecks come from Burger King, rather than Google. (See prior comment about undervaluing yourself.)

You want to be a successful writer? Get a day job you like and that you’re good at. The worst that could happen is that you’re a bigger success at that. So what? If you make more money in IT, or sales, or real estate, than you do with your novel, it doesn’t make you a lesser writer.

To paraphrase General Patton, “Your job isn’t to suffer for your art. It’s to make the other guy suffer for his.” Or, ah, something like that.

Tomorrow’s economy.

I’ve gone on at length about the replicator economy, what will happen to commerce as the cost of “stuff” goes to zero and the ability to copy anything becomes ubiquitous. Understanding the implications of this is going to make the difference between success and failure for whole industries. It also will help in drafting a post-Singularity tale that has logical economics. Well, I came across an absolutely magnificent article by Kevin Kelly on The Technium on exactly what you can sell when copies (of everything) are free. The premise is simple: if copies are ubiquitous, copies are worthless, so we trade in what cannot be copied. Think about that long enough, and you can leverage yourself out of the 19th century widget box much of the western world is still trapped in, and achieve, zen -like, an economy independent of things. This is the kind of article that will make an RIAA executive’s head explode.

Book spamming for the Lord!

Today I got a new book spam. This has come to me via Media E-Blast, a company whose name was coined by someone in a desperate attempt to make unsolicited spam and e-mail harvesting all respectable and Web 2.0ish.

Here’s my first piece of advice: Paying some “consultant” to make you a fancy JPEG ad and send it to a “carefully targeted” e-mail list doesn’t make you look any better than someone using broken English to peddle erectile-dysfunction medication. Just because they can use Photoshop and have a mailing address in the continental US doesn’t make it less sleazy, it just means it’s a little less likely they’re using hijacked zombie PCs as mail servers. (Mmmm zombies. . .)

Second bit of advice: If you’re self-published, seriously consider paying someone else to write your ad copy. If you rely on borderline ludicrous sentence constructions like,

“Sleepless nights, anxiety attacks, drug or alcoholic addiction, sexual addiction, murder, losing a loved one, broken marriages, are many things that we sometimes face.”

your only market will be among the kind of masochists that buy awful prose with the specific intention of mocking it.

Third bit of advice: Don’t lie in the subject line of the e-mail and pimp your work as “Warren Caldwell’s #1 Best Seller.” It really looks bad, especially for a minister whose selling his “life-changing testimony.” Here’s a little clue: those lists in the New York Times, those books? No spam involved. That should tell you something.

Fourth bit of advice: No one likes large unsolicited JPEG attachments. Most are porn, and I like to solicit my own porn, thank you very much.

Last bit of advice: Never use the phrase, “I stripped down to nakedness to share my most inner self,” in a spam that lands in the same folder as all the penis enlargement ads. We don’t need that mental image.

An idea whose time has passed

According to Reuters, Random House is trying an experiment:

Random House … is planning to test selling individual chapters of a popular book to gauge reader demand. [They] will sell the six chapters and epilogue of “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” for $2.99 each according to the report.

First: e-books have been around for years, and authors have been putting out samples on the net for ages. Not new, or innovative.

Second: it makes no sense. iTunes can bust up albums because, with very few exceptions, each track on a CD represents a standalone piece of work. Unless the book is an anthology or collection of essays, chapters themselves won’t stand alone. $1 for complete work > $3 for incomplete work.

Third: who’s the market for this idea? Why would someone pay three bucks for one seventh of a book when you can get the whole thing from Amazon for 16.47?

Fourth: what do you do when your more savvy competitors give out samples for free?

This strikes me as someone either a) trying to make a bad analogy with the iTunes business model or b) the person in charge of the implementation hates the idea and is making sure it tanks before it gets off the ground.

[Thanks to Dear Author.]