Charlie's Diary

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Tue, 06 Jan 2004

Deeply unamusing

Well, I've been ploughing on -- passed 15,000 words of new material yesterday.

In the meantime, I was deeply unamused to notice the US dollar continuing its slide on the world currency markets. Never mind the Euro being at an all-time high; you can now buy 1.8025 dollars with a single pound sterling. That's the weakest the dollar has been in 11 years.

Leaving the macroeconomics aside, the dollar was at 1.50 to the pound for almost the whole of the 1990's. While I've now got a UK publisher, the majority of my sales -- the majority of sales for anyone writing SF in the English language, for that matter -- are to publishers in the United States. Contracts are negotiated and paid in US dollars. If the dollar loses 15% of its value against the pound between a contract being negotiated and the books written, delivered and paid for, then the author loses 15% of his or her pay packet for the next year or two. If the dollar goes back up, this won't necessarily fix things -- if the cheque has already been deposited and converted into sterling at a poor exchange rate, that money has vanished into the haze of might-have-been.

Of course, currency fluctuations don't mean an automatic pay cut for writers. For one thing, currencies that go down may also come back up. For another thing, authors are paid both a lump sum advance (a non-returnable loan) against future earnings, and a royalty (a percentage cut of the earnings from their books, from which the advance is deducted). A book that sells well and earns out the advance will pay a further royalty, a year or two down the line for the time when the contract is signed. And authors usually hope that their next book will sell more copies than the one before. So if the second and third (and subsequent) books sell 15% more than the first, the effect of the exchange rate fluctuation is cancelled out. Of course, I'd rather have the 15% pay rise ...

But the fact remains, if you're a British SF/fantasy writer, then almost by default (if you want to earn a living) you're a one-person export industry aimed at the North American market. Which is why headlines like this one (No end in sight to dollar's descent) do not fill me with joy and goodwill towards all Federal Reserve bankers.

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posted at: 11:36 | path: /writing | permanent link to this entry


Is SF About to Go Blind? -- Popular Science article by Greg Mone
Unwirer -- an experiment in weblog mediated collaborative fiction
Inside the MIT Media Lab -- what it's like to spend a a day wandering around the Media Lab
"Nothing like this will be built again" -- inside a nuclear reactor complex

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Missile Gap
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The Jennifer Morgue
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The Clan Corporate
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Some webby stuff I'm reading:

Engadget ]
Gizmodo ]
The Memory Hole ]
Boing!Boing! ]
Futurismic ]
Walter Jon Williams ]
Making Light (TNH) ]
Crooked Timber ]
Junius (Chris Bertram) ]
Baghdad Burning (Riverbend) ]
Bruce Sterling ]
Ian McDonald ]
Amygdala (Gary Farber) ]
Cyborg Democracy ]
Body and Soul (Jeanne d'Arc)  ]
Atrios ]
The Sideshow (Avedon Carol) ]
This Modern World (Tom Tomorrow) ]
Jesus's General ]
Mick Farren ]
Early days of a Better Nation (Ken MacLeod) ]
Respectful of Otters (Rivka) ]
Tangent Online ]
Grouse Today ]
Hacktivismo ]
Terra Nova ]
Whatever (John Scalzi) ]
Justine Larbalestier ]
Yankee Fog ]
The Law west of Ealing Broadway ]
Cough the Lot ]
The Yorkshire Ranter ]
Newshog ]
Kung Fu Monkey ]
S1ngularity ]
Pagan Prattle ]
Gwyneth Jones ]
Calpundit ]
Lenin's Tomb ]
Progressive Gold ]
Kathryn Cramer ]
Halfway down the Danube ]
Fistful of Euros ]
Orcinus ]
Shrillblog ]
Steve Gilliard ]
Frankenstein Journal (Chris Lawson) ]
The Panda's Thumb ]
Martin Wisse ]
Kuro5hin ]
Advogato ]
Talking Points Memo ]
The Register ]
Cryptome ]
Juan Cole: Informed comment ]
Global Guerillas (John Robb) ]
Shadow of the Hegemon (Demosthenes) ]
Simon Bisson's Journal ]
Max Sawicky's weblog ]
Guy Kewney's mobile campaign ]
Hitherby Dragons ]
Counterspin Central ]
MetaFilter ]
NTKnow ]
Encyclopaedia Astronautica ]
Fafblog ]
BBC News (Scotland) ]
Pravda ]
Meerkat open wire service ]
Warren Ellis ]
Brad DeLong ]
Hullabaloo (Digby) ]
Jeff Vail ]
The Whiskey Bar (Billmon) ]
Groupthink Central (Yuval Rubinstein) ]
Unmedia (Aziz Poonawalla) ]
Rebecca's Pocket (Rebecca Blood) ]

Older stuff:

June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
(I screwed the pooch in respect of the blosxom entry datestamps on March 28th, 2002, so everything before then shows up as being from the same time)

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