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There is no extra credit in science fiction.

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I learned this from Robin Hobb, though I'm pretty sure she didn't realize that she was teaching it to me at the time: there is no extra credit in science fiction. 

By which I mean, one of the things that I do, that other writers do, that people in various other fields probably do too (though I don't have direct experience of that) is that we make extra work for ourselves because of... I don't know, acculturation probably that if we JUST WORK HARDER and are teacher's pets and volunteer for extra labor that somehow we'll get better outcomes. This is superstition, really--because publishing is an enormously unpredictable and random business where quality is not always rewarded, and a lot of things can go wrong. And like anybody who makes their living off a capricious and dangerous environment (actors, fishermen) writers are prone to superstitions as a means of expressing agency in situations where we're honestly pretty helpless. (Nobody controls the hive-mind of the readership. Oh, if only we did.)

Now, by extra credit, please note that I don't mean the things that I consider part of baseline professionalism in a writer: turning in a manuscript that is as clean and artistically accomplished as possible, as expediently as possible, and working with your editor to polish and promote the resulting book. What I mean is raising those bars to unsupportable levels, such as: "I will turn in a completely clean manuscript so that the copyeditor has nothing to do!" and "I have a series of simple edits here, which I will resolve be rewriting the entire book, because then my editor will be more impressed with me."

Spoiler: The copyeditor will have stuff to do, because part of her job is making sure that if you break house style you're doing it on purpose. Also, your editor will probably be a little nonplussed, and possibly sneak a pull out of the bottle of Scotch in her bottom drawer, because you've just made a lot more work for her.

Other manifestations include: "I must write forty guest blog posts today!" and "I must write at least twenty pages every single day to validate my carbon footprint!"

(That latter one is the one I tend to fall prey to, for the record.)

I see it a lot among women writers especially, probably because we feel like we constantly have to validate our right to be in a space that is only intermittently welcoming, but it's certainly not a gender-specific problem. 

And the thing is... it just isn't so. You don't have to do a pile of extra credit work. It doesn't help, and might in fact be detrimental--to your health, your sanity, and eventually your career. It's possible to out-produce your readership's appetite; it's possible to out-produce the publishing slots available to you; it's possible to fuss yourself so much over tiny details that don't actually matter that you add years to your production schedule and die broke in a gutter, or talk yourself out of finishing the book entirely.

They're never perfect. They're just as good as you can get them, in the limited time available, and then they're done and you learned something and the next one can be better, you hope.

And nobody's going to bump your 4.0 up to a 4.2 because you did a bunch of homework you didn't actually need to do to get the finished product as good as possible, and also out the door.

64 Comments

1:

I dunno - it's not extra credit, it's competence, a desire to do it *right*.

If you've ever seen Seven Samurai (long version, subtitled, only, please), think of the one who's the Perfect Samurai. He goes out in the rain, in private, just to practice, because although everyone else thinks he's perfect, he knows he's not.

Or, well, there's a line I heard when I just started programming, half a lifetime ago, which I thought was something for managers to beat programmers with, but as time went on, I realized it was for programmers to beat managers with: there's never time to do it right, there's always time to do it over.

NOT!

2:

Interesting. To me, in writing, extra credit is adding additional bits that aren't strictly necessary for the story -- one example that comes to mind is Steven Brust blending a Vlad Taltos scene with a scene from Amber. (Putting Devora in everything started out that way, but then it became obligatory, so that's also an interesting thing.)

But that's my perspective as a reader, not a writer or editor.

3:

Not what I'm talking about. "Now, by extra credit, please note that I don't mean the things that I consider part of baseline professionalism in a writer: turning in a manuscript that is as clean and artistically accomplished as possible, as expediently as possible, and working with your editor to polish and promote the resulting book."

Doing it right is the baseline I'm talking about.

Fussing over stuff that doesn't improve quality, just makes extra work, is a whole different thing.

4:

"Doing it right"
According to whose criteria?
Yours / the "editors" / the readers ??? ( Posterity? )

Look at composers, in particular for that skewed judgement-set - people who were wildly popular in their day, now mostly forgotten, people who struggled in their day, now seen as towering genius', people who were totally obscure in thoer day, now seen as, at the least, significant.

5:

I suspect that Western society's overwhelming competitiveness has a lot to do with it. We're all encouraged to "give 110%" in everything from sports to business to... homework. In many I think it's a subconscious refrain they can't not hear. In others it might be a panicked response to younger competition. It has its uses and its dark side as well.

6:

re. Aiming to make your copyeditor obsolete: By all means! The higher you aim, the higher you'll land when you fall back from that lofty goal.

Speaking as someone who's worked as a (primarily science, but many other things) editor, we editors really do appreciate an author's efforts to send us a clean manuscript. If we don't have to worry about typos and dangling participles and other grammar trivia, we can focus on the really important parts: helping you communicate what you set out to communicate, and eliminating egregious errors that are only obvious once they've been published. *G* The more typos etc. we need to worry about, the less time, energy, and mental focus we have for the important stuff.

And don't worry, you won't obsolete your editor. Worst you'll do is make our job easier. Speaking as someone who's published on the order of 400 nonfiction articles (not including blog posts and participation in e-mail forums), I can say with some chagrin that each new manuscript I've had edited has been a new exercise in learning about my fallabilities as a writer. (I try not to repeat past errors, which is good. Sadly, I seem to be very skillful at finding new ones to commit in their place.)

Errors are largely inevitable: we aren't perfect. And no matter how hard we try to remember that the reader isn't sharing our brainspace, we always fall prey to the "curse of knowledge": we forget that our readers don't already know everything that we know. The only person who can really solve this problem for us is an independent set of eyes: our editor, and ideally beta readers too before the editor sees the manuscript.

Pace Elizabeth, there really is extra credit: readers and editors both appreciate the extra effort you put into crafting the best manuscript you can. When the words get out of the way and let the story shine through, that's authorial and editorial nirvana. There's no guarantee anyone will like your story as much as you do, but the extra effort really does help.

7:

I'm... somewhat competitive, and so's my wife (we met while competing in our sport). I'd suggest that "what most people think of as competitive" (including many in actual coaching positions, and some competitors) and "actually being competitive" are two different things.

IMHO it's about the performance, not the result. If you focus on the result, you end up in an unhealthy attitude. One way to tell is to listen to them talk about losing; if they tend to excuses, blaming the equipment or environment... result-oriented. If you hear "I didn't do X", or "I got Y wrong", it tends to indicate performance-oriented.

Focus on the performance, and the results will come; You'll come out of a competition happy as a clam with a 10th place (after a good performance, or learning something new), or grumpy with a win (after a poor performance).

You carry on because you love the activity; the old definition of the sportsman as "magnanimous in victory, gracious in defeat" works rather well; the shouty "win at all costs" caricature beloved of Hollywood are thankfully rare, and rarely consistent at top levels (the "Karate Kid" school of thought, if you like).

They're never perfect. They're just as good as you can get them

This is the thing that you see in the Olympic medallists; although, they're just impressively focussed. Not obsessively so, more "don't make excuses to themselves"; the ones who train when others might take a day off. So they go out, and improve a little bit. And then tomorrow, improve a little bit more. They also understand is that while effort and focus are critical, that you can overtrain...

Even among the successful, performance-oriented, athlete; not all "understand what you can control, and what you can change"; i.e. think through what might happen, but accept that you can't control everything, or anticipate everything. You see some who refuse to acknowledge chaos, and attempt to create the absolutely repeatable environment; as a coping strategy, it works right up to the point where something unanticipated happens.

As the saying goes, rituals are a great slave, but a lousy master.

8:

Olympic competition ... yuccccckkkkk
Sorry, but the co-ordinated group-fascism of the olympic movement & crawlers like the vile Coe have given me the all-over creeps since I was about 11.
Don't get me started on the fun of compulsory "games" either .......

9:

Not much of a comment; I was trying to think whether Impostor Syndrome feeds into this, or if it's a manifestation of IS—or something else?


...and the train is already heading off the tracks, in Gold Medal time.

10:

Thanks to this post, the penny has finally dropped about why my editors keep complementing me on how little I change in the edited manuscript. They're happy it's a quicker job. I think this sort of basic "what publishing looks like from the other perspectives" knowledge was lacking in my education.

11:

Shit, did I just humble-brag? I swear I was trying to thank you for the insight, so: thanks!

I need to stop posting when I'm so damn tired. :P

12:

> Fussing over stuff that doesn't improve quality, just makes extra work, is a whole different thing.

The original post doesn't make it clear that you're talking about "stuff that doesn't improve quality." In fact, you specifically say "quality is not always rewarded," which seems to imply you are talking at least partially about stuff that does improve quality.

Personally, I'll put in a vote for "work smarter, not harder." There are low-effort things you can do with big payoff, and also high-effort things you can do with very little payoff.

Knowing something about the jobs of the other people in the production process sometimes makes it easier to identify which is which. (And don't forget to tell those people something about your job, for the same reason. They don't always realize that they are making things hard on you!)

13:

My Dad was the most creative guy I ever knew. He dabbled with so many different forms, yet each time he would abandon the work because he didn't make money at it. When he did start making money on some of the stuff, he was not comfortable after the first wave of success. He would say, "These people are paying hundreds for something that took me no time at all to create." He could not put a value on what he was doing, and when people praised him, he could not understand their praise.

My Mom started quilting again once she retired on disability. At first she tried to make money at it. That was a disaster. A shop in Santa Fe paid people by the inch of hand stiching to quilt assembled pieces. The work was interesting at first, then she became miserable with the deadlines. She quit that and simply took workshops the rest of her life, producing her own quilts and wall hangings, with many a blue ribbon win. She was many times president of the NM Quilters Association as well.

- My Dad was never satisfied unless what he was doing made money, then was not comfortable when he did. Mom was only happy learning and doing, not for the money.

Here's another example:

The local PBS station used to show Bob Ross painting. He would calmly do a painting in a half hour episode. No rush, no hurry, no drama. It is soothing to watch him work.

Bob Ross
https://www.youtube.com/user/BobRossInc/videos

Then there is the documentary Tim's Vermeer.

'Tim's Vermeer' Trailer (2014): Tim Jenison, Penn Jillette
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94pCNUu6qFY

- Both Bob Ross and Tim did what they wanted to do, not for the money. Bob Ross was retired Military, Tim was richer than Kings from his real job. HA!

Elizabeth Bear said: It's possible to out-produce your readership's appetite; it's possible to out-produce the publishing slots available to you; it's possible to fuss yourself so much over tiny details that don't actually matter that you add years to your production schedule and die broke in a gutter, or talk yourself out of finishing the book entirely.

You're kidding, right? You could not write so many books that the reader isn't demanding more, more, more. What you are talking about is trying to please other people who are standing in the way of you and the reader. Strip out the middleman, and Indy publish your stuff, the reader will be there wanting more.

- Do the work DIY, it costs dollars to do POD, not thousands.

Yes, I've read your usual response about going Indy, I just wish that there was a way to help you get there.

- You have to discover if you need external validation to create, i.e., praise from people, peers, Awards, or can you create for the sake of creating.

BTW, The reason you are not making any money, is that most of your books are either OP or available cheap from the Penny sites. When people find your books, neither you nor the publisher makes any money on those used books, thus the publisher is not as interested in your stuff despite you having a huge audience. And I need to stress that, you have a huge audience, but your books cycle in the used market and you do not see those sales. You are one of many Trad Published authors with that problem; huge audience, but primarily used books sales.

- If you Indy publish, all of your "future" books will be available POD, always in print, not sitting in the Penny sites, and you control your books, you are the Indy Publisher at that point.

That means that you have to publish POD that are not all puffed up like Trad Publishing does. Page count is where the cost comes in. If you do CreateSpace, 6x9, Garamond 11, single space, half inch margins, you can publish a 150k novel priced at 12 bucks and still make money. You could do 100k novels at 8 bucks and still make money. If you do ebooks, then price them at 4 or 5 bucks, not at 10 bucks or more! I'm painting with a big brush here, you would need to tweak things a bit, but that is the essence.

- I've seen too many authors Indy publishing great books at ridiculous prices because they were trying too hard to make money or look like a Trad Published book, then have few sales because people are still buying used. I could list a few Indy published books as example, but I don't want to start a food fight. Everybody here on the blog has seen and commented on some of the price fails out there.

If you write 8 manuscript pages a day, you can Indy publish six 100k novels each year, and have a career outside the used market. Think Bob Ross vs Tim's Vermeer. 8 manuscript pages a day is Bob Ross, take your time, no rush, no hurry. It is doable, and enjoyable when you are writing for yourself, not trying to please some middleman.

And that's why I mentioned my Mom & Dad up above. There is a vast difference between writing 8 manuscript pages a day "for yourself" to Indy publish as opposed to writing for a bunch of middlemen in Trad Publishing telling you, "No, no, no, we can't make money on your books."

14:

"Quality"

Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenence ... ( ? )

15:

While I appreciate you hated your PE teachers, Greg, I was trying to lay a parallel between what Elizabeth does, and the approach to performance of the Olympic medallists that I've met...

I read Karen Memory; and it was a beautiful performance. I don't know whether it was one of those days where the flow state just kicks in and the process feels effortless, or whether it had to be ground out with gritted teeth and years of practise. As a reader, I can't tell.

16:

"And nobody's going to bump your 4.0 up to a 4.2 because you did a bunch of homework you didn't actually need to do to get the finished product as good as possible, and also out the door."

Some of us would! But I am a mostly retired professional pedant ....

I agree with your point, though. I can ignore minor errors and sloppiness (whether consistency, grammatical or scientific) where they aren't relevant to the main thrust of the story, but it really grates when they are. Inter alia, they can lead a reader to misunderstand what the author trying to say, so that the story falls flat. That is particularly critical in fantasy and science fiction, because it is all about the different and unexpected.

17:

Yes

We were just talking about this at work funnily enough

No one cares how hard you work

Do no mistake motion for progress

18:

Zen & the Art is a beautiful example of what I'm talking about. He talked about trying to get people past their own limits while he was teaching.

Go to Amazon, pull up _Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance_, and the "Look Inside". Search for the word "brick" and on page 191 you will find the story of Pirsig getting a woman to break through her writer's block.

"Start with the upper left-hand brick."

She wrote 5,000 words about the Opera House, brick by brick.

The woman had all the skills to write, but was trapped by all the people in her head that she was trying to please. Been there, done that. What I do is put all those people in my head that are telling me "No", and I put them to work rather than letting them snipe at me. HA!

Greg, read Zen & the Art again in the context of what I posted above and you will see what I'm talking about. See it from the viewpoint of a "writer" trying put words on the page despite all the people saying, "No". That battle is what put him in the hospital.

19:

My original copy disentegrated - I now have a hardback ...

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Off-topic, wonderful quote, from "City Metric" - an international on-line mag that often deals with transport issues, but:

Yet we shouldn’t allow Trump’s shining impotence to push us into the arms of false comfort. For starters, he and his clique of racist gargoyles are working hard to make life more perilous for women, people of colour, and immigrants in ways obvious to anyone who bothers to look.

Never mind the rest of us, of course - openly doscussing pardoning hiomself & hios family ... sorry, but this is NOT 15thC Florence & the Medici did have some redeeming habots, unlike DT

20:

"I have a series of simple edits here, which I will resolve be rewriting the entire book, because then my editor will be more impressed with me."

I apologise for being THAT GUY but having a tiny mistake in this sentence basically makes your point for you.

After four and a half drafts I have a novel with an editor and... maybe I'll re-write it when it comes back. Or maybe I'll just examine their edits and fix what I think needs fixing.

(Greg talks about popular composers no longer well known; my novel is set in 1902, and here's a list of bestselling novels from that year. Two influential novels on that list and eight essentially unknown.)

21:

I took her to mean her own, primarily.

(Re "obscure" composers (lesser-known, that is) both Classical-era, Romantic, Early 20th century and more recent (e.g. in the 20th century from Britain, Brian, Sorabji, RW Simpson to name three) - my own area[s] of extremely strong interest, for what that's worth - I'm not entirely sure I follow, actually...

22:

(though yes- popular and no longer so (though relatively increasing in popularity, if almost? 3 recordings of his complete symphonies is any indication- note _relatively_) - Joachim Raff, e.g., or similarly Friedrich Gernsheim, agreed... (Howard Hanson?)
not at all known during their lifetimes but much moreso now at least for one work - maybe a bit tougher, that. (Mozart was not in fact obscure during at least the last quarter or so of his life, though his contemporaries valued his operatic music over his other music on the whole- as he did himself. Schubert might be a better example, esteemed by his fellow musicians more than the general public, iirc.)

23:

Since I have several chores to delay, including writing, a few additional thoughts:

EB: "It's possible to out-produce your readership's appetite;"

In theory, yes. In practice, almost certainly not. It takes at most a few hours to read even a relatively long novel (for large values of "few" if the novel is really long), but I'd be surprised if you could crank out a new novel on a monthly or faster schedule. Authors whose work I admire and enjoy (like you) always leave me hungry for more. I'd be happy to read a new Bear or Stross novel every (say) 3 months, but I'm not holding my breath on getting one that fast.

EB: "it's possible to out-produce the publishing slots available to you;"

Only if you restrict those slots to traditional publishing. Worst-case scenario, self-publish. Once you have a Name and a Following, your readers will find and buy this work. No disrespect to traditional publishing, which contniues to play an important role, but modern publishing tools mean that no author has to wait for their traditional publisher to open a slot. Keep your publisher fed and happy so they keep you fed and happy, sure; but they're not even remotely the only way to publish.

EB: "it's possible to fuss yourself so much over tiny details that don't actually matter"

Very much so. It's important to learn to accept "good enough" once you've defined a sufficiently high target level of "enough" to satisfy yourself.

24:

Re: Working hard to no meaningful benefit. Many office workers, and workers in the academic salt mines, are very familiar with the process.

In my last (as in final) office job (doing policy work on contracts for local governments) I had multiple experiences where I poured my time, energy and health into producing the best output I could. I sacrificed weekends, family time and far too much else in service of my own idea of quality, combined with high pressure deadlines in the context of a 'for profit' consulting firm.

Eventually I got burned out and ended up turning in an under-edited stack of what I thought was trash. I spent months feeling guilty, expecting an outraged client and various recriminations - which never manifested. It wasn't long until I realized that few, if any, people ever read anything I had produced at such a great personal cost.

That 'epiphany' was the beginning of the end for me and that sort of work. A commitment to quality with some hope of communication with future readers is one thing. A commitment to quality with zero hope of any readership or engagement was just too much for me.

Mandalas are beautiful, but I suspect I am not quite ready to spend my life writing literate mandalas for no purpose beyond churning revenue.

25:

Elizabeth, this explains why nobody bought my 57-page epic short story about everything an android sees, tastes, smells, hears, feels, and senses with his millimeter radar on the way to the grocery store!

Just kidding, of course.

On the subject of self-publishing, I think every author needs to have a plan and some experience with the issue. Beyond that, if you've got a publisher, use them!

And I'm waaaay-late to the party with this, but I thought "Shoggoths in Bloom" was a truly amazing story; beautiful language supporting a wonderful story arc, and my favorite short story in at least a decade. No flaws, just pure narrative perfection.

26:

P.S. I need a T-Shirt that has a cool sci-fi picture and the caption, "There's no extra credit IN SPAAAACE!"

27:

For those people curious about the state of Indy Publishing vs Trad Publishing today:

Author Earnings
http://authorearnings.com

Read the various reports and see how Indy books are performing against Trad books. There are pie charts and bar charts galore!

The other thing to remember is, that if you can some how make a deal with Trad Publishing today, you lose total control of your book, for life plus 70 years, all for a few bucks, and the glory of saying that you are published with a "Real" publisher. Plus, your book will be OP for most of that time, owned and controlled by a company that is only interested in having your book on their balance sheet.

Wow! Where do I sign up for that.

Where if you Indy publish your book it is in print and available for decades, and the money flows to you, the writer, rather than to the oh so creative accounting that goes on in Trad.

But of course, YMMV. HA!

28:

"...I realized that few, if any, people ever read anything I had produced..."

...which is, of course, your cue to start doing things like selecting the initial letters of each paragraph to form the rot13 of "Buggre Alle This for a Larke", etc.

29:

Small note @ OP. Love your work, not read enough of it. (Saw the Patreon; sadly less than muck-rakers, sigh. And you can make $32 million in Fairy ICO Dust these days in a couple of nanoseconds).

I'd counter your proposition with some Dionysian nose wiggles, but we'll share a cup on this one:


Rather than to drink alone,
I’ll make bold to ask the moon
To condescend to lend her face
The hour and the scene to grace.

Lo, she answers, and she brings
My shadow on her silver wings;
That makes three, and we shall be.
I ween, a merry company

The modest moon declines the cup,
But shadow promptly takes it up,
And when I dance my shadow fleet
Keeps measure with my flying feet.

But though the moon declines to tipple
She dances in yon shining ripple,
And when I sing, my festive song,
The echoes of the moon prolong.


Some of us just are, not Patterned.

30:

That list ( for 1904 - also appearing in '06 & '08 ) also includes at least one extremely well-known author, who is usually even more famous, now, for being a politician, but those particular works are obscure, now.

31:

Few now remember C V Stamford ... Edward Rubra ( Undervalued IMHO )
Some are much too popular ( Messian ), some are still gaining in popularity ( Glass - his "Akenahten" is a real masterpiece ) ... Gustav Mahler's symphonies were not performed here until ridiculously late - after 1960, certainly.
So it goes.

32:

The other thing to remember is, that if you can some how make a deal with Trad Publishing today, you lose total control of your book, for life plus 70 years, all for a few bucks, and the glory of saying that you are published with a "Real" publisher

This is not actually true but don't let the facts stop you from explaining incorrectly what Bear and I do for a living to us, OK?

33:

If only some well-known published author had written an in depth series of blog articles about traditional publishing, perhaps including something in the series title about misconceptions and how common they might be with respect to the publishing industry.

One can but dream, I suppose ...

34:

The other thing to remember is, that if you can some how make a deal with Trad Publishing today, you lose total control of your book, for life plus 70 years, all for a few bucks, and the glory of saying that you are published with a "Real" publisher.

I love me some indy publishing but if that's what your publishing contract does you are not dealing with a traditional or real publisher, but a predatory scam artist. Thank them politely, do not sign anything, leave and count your fingers on the way out.

35:

Since this is a thread on writing.... I've currently got three short stories I'm bouncing (*sigh*). One, I'm trying to figure out a good place to submit. It's an android story, it's also a love story... but there are some thing I do with the android, and the society she's in, and our male protagonist, that as far as I know, and I've spoken to some friends, and they agree, is unique.

So: anyone got a suggestion where I might submit? I've already bounced from F&SF; Clarksworld doesn't seem a fit for it (esp. given his cmts in the submission guigdelines, and this is in another solar system, on a colony).

36:

Charlie, you missed the "YMMV", and who said I was talking to you or Bear. You guys are already trapped in the geas of Trad publishing.

Dave_the_Proc, see my answer to Charlie above. His "misconceptions" are literally that. Hint: Charlie's favorite narrators are unreliable narrators. Am I right, or am I right.

Neil, sorry, but when was the last time you were a brand new writer with a finished book and you've just started the multi year process of trying to get Trad published. Have you seen the latest "first contract" as put out by a "Real" publisher. It is exactly as I said, you lose total control of your book, for life plus 70 years, for just a few bucks. That's what copyright is today.

Guys, I'm not being mean, I'm not attacking anyone, I'm not trying to win points here. I'm just pointing out facts that are obvious to anyone who tries to start getting published today from a "Real" publisher.

If anyone is interested, Kris Rusch has a discussed this stuff in her blog for years. Ignore her at your own peril. She's got more publishing experience than all the posters on this blog combined.

Contracts and Dealbreakers
http://kriswrites.com/business-musings/contracts-and-dealbreakers/

Overview of Publishing Industry
http://kriswrites.com/business-rusch-publishing-articles/estate-planning-series/the-business-rusch-publishing-series/

That's all I have to add. I can already smell the sulfur of an active geas being triggered. HA!

37:

It's often harder with 'art' to know when it's finished, as compared to some engineering where there are hard criteria. But even in engineering, you can keep working on something forever if you want to. That's why software in particular has developed a mindset of "early version in front of the user ASAP". Well, that and once the user sees the software they always want it changed. Many problems in software flow from those two sources, I know.

But the key point: you can sit alone polishing your masterpiece as long as you like.

(also, that's not a euphemism).

38:

"Sei es autographiert, sei es gestochen." - Liszt, that consummate re-re-re-re-reviser, on whether or not any given work of his was ready for the publisher ("If it is signed by me, it may be published." as quoted in Alan Walker from a letter Liszt sent to a publisher in 1864, from "Liszt: The Weimar Years", p. 305.)

39:

I used to have a page about Edmund Rubbra on a website of mine (which led in turn to my meeting, during a London trip, someone who'd been a friend of the composer, and joining him for a Prom concert (Debussy/Boulanger psalms/Sibelius... great memory!), but that's yet more irrelevant and a bit of a story. ...) anyway.) Agreed, anycase- mostly. Except maybe for the part about Messiaen being overvalued.
If the moderators want us to take this conversation elsewhere, I can suggest a place or two :)

40:

I recall an interesting discussion with an early music expert on the joy of trying to establish what today we call "the final version" or the authoritative version, even after the invention of modern-ish musical notation. Often there are multiple versions and they're not in any obvious chronological order (oh that Shakespear or Liszt had used version numbers). I wonder when version numbering was even invented, I suspect recently (otherwise the later Empire would surely have been called Empire 2.0).

For a long time music and even the written word was very much a "it is what it is" and what you got was the preferred arrangement by the local performer/scribe as influenced by the wishes of the audience (I am tempted to argue that this is exemplified by the Council of Nicea :)

That just makes the "is it finished yet" question worse.

41:

Because I have a few minutes, some further comments:

you missed the "YMMV"
This may indeed be a failure of single-channel communication (written text, that is), but the full context of your quote was "But of course, YMMV. HA!" -- the inclusion of the fake-laugh "HA!" seems a clear indication that the meaning of your previous sentence should be inverted, and that anyone taking it at face value is something of a fool. Selective quoting yourself, and claiming that "YMMV" is some kind of magic get of jail card a la "I'm not racist, but..." is a pretty poor strategy for convincing anyone of the worthiness, accuracy, or integrity of your argument.

and who said I was talking to you or Bear.
The context of your comment says that you are: Not replying to a specific comment, and not having strong relevance to the immediately preceding post indicates that you are responding to either OGH or the OP. The fact that you are expressing opinions directly related to the business in which both Charlie and Elizabeth (let's be gentlemanly and refer to Charlie's guest by their given name, hm?) work, and also that your previous post #13 was directly addressed to Elizabeth, lends further weight to the conclusion that they were exactly who you were lecturing.
(We'll leave aside the missing question mark, it's not totally relevant, but perhaps a little revealing?)

You guys are already trapped in the geas of Trad publishing.
"All published authors are brainwashed by the publishers" -- this is a tiresome falsehood that gets trotted out every time the trad-vs-self publishing debate begins. Insulting the intelligence of OGH and the OP is just plain rude (plus a not so subtle ad hominem -- shall we begin a logical fallacy bingo card?).

Dave_the_Proc, see my answer to Charlie above. His "misconceptions" are literally that. Hint: Charlie's favorite narrators are unreliable narrators. Am I right, or am I right.
"CHARLIE LIES! ALL PUBLISHED AUTHORS LIE! THEY DON"T WANT US UNPUBLISHED PLEBS TO KNOW THE TRUTH!" -- move along, nothing to see here.
(Question mark seems to have gone astray again here. Pattern? Relevant to not being published? You decide.)

Neil, sorry, but when was the last time you were a brand new writer with a finished book and you've just started the multi year process of trying to get Trad published. Have you seen the latest "first contract" as put out by a "Real" publisher. It is exactly as I said, you lose total control of your book, for life plus 70 years, for just a few bucks. That's what copyright is today.
This truly seems like an "YMMV" scenario -- my understanding is that unless you've already signed a work-for-hire agreement, copyright is usually retained by the author and ownership of same is not a deal breaker (even if the publisher may attempt to include it in the initial contract -- as most author's agree, agents are your friends in this scenario).

Guys, I'm not being mean, I'm not attacking anyone, I'm not trying to win points here. I'm just pointing out facts that are obvious to anyone who tries to start getting published today from a "Real" publisher.
Can be handily rewritten as: "I am not attempting to win points, but you are all wrong." Stating that what you are doing is not what you are doing does not occlude the facts of your behaviour; implying that everyone who disagrees with you is either ignorant or brainwashed, and being thoroughly condescending when called on it sure reads like an "attack" to me.

If anyone is interested, Kris Rusch has a discussed this stuff in her blog for years. Ignore her at your own peril. She's got more publishing experience than all the posters on this blog combined.
Went and read some. Interesting stuff, and of course your much loved "YMMV" applies in spades.

That's all I have to add. I can already smell the sulfur of an active geas being triggered. HA!
Oh, you brave speaker of truth to power! I am thoroughly convinced by your superior rhetoric (and ad hominems, and appeals to authority, and poor grammar, and arguing the general from the specific, and lack of conviction -- YMMV).

PS: There are indeed benefits to both traditional publishing and also to self publishing, and one size very much does not fit all (see previous guest posts here by self-published authors); but rather than making a decent argument all you are doing here is being rude to everyone that disagrees with you and making something of a fool of yourself in the process.

42:

Neil, sorry, but when was the last time you were a brand new writer with a finished book and you've just started the multi year process of trying to get Trad published. Have you seen the latest "first contract" as put out by a "Real" publisher. It is exactly as I said, you lose total control of your book, for life plus 70 years, for just a few bucks. That's what copyright is today.

When indeed?

I am a brand new writer. I have a finished book. I have spent more than a year trying to get it published by a publisher (or rather mostly I've tried to get it agented by an agent). Because of that I've done some research on the topic. What you describe is a bad contract not a typical one. I apologise for my hyperbole; I am sure that there are sections of the traditional publishing industry who will indeed try to offer you this type of contract. It should be the starting point of a negotiation rather than the end point.

Meanwhile I have self-published a novel on the Amazon*. For a variety of reasons it's going through another round of editing and then I have to promote it, both tasks I am figuring out how to get done. If only I had professionals with skills, contacts and experience, and best of all, they were financed out of the expected future profits. I might not have launched it in quite such a half-arsed way. Oh well.

So anyway there's my mileage and how it varies.

* An Edwardian comedy-crime novel called The Inexplicable Affair of the Mesmerising Russian Nobleman. Please delete these details if I have done too much self-promotion here.

43:

That's not a fake laugh, it's a real laugh, and I do that all throughout the day. HA!

44:

Neil, I've read the sample of your book, I want more. I hope that this is the start of a series, because despite your afterword, there is huge desire for this style of book and era. Your afterword felt like you were having to justify writing the book to some unseen critics.

If you have read Ian Tregillis' noir disaster _Something More Than Night_ you can see how he talked himself out of writing a great book. He clearly listened to too many critics while he was writing. Even the characters in the book were complaining about the pseudo-noir banter.

Don't let yourself fall into that trap. Never apologize to the voices in your head(Well, that depends) and never let other people in when you are being creative. There is a great book by Roger von Oech, _A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative_ that goes into great examples of the concept of Explorer, Artist, Judge, Warrior.

Go to Amazon, the "Look inside" and search for "explorer". The sample for page 171 will give you a taste. The whole book is filled with great tools to help create rather than let other people shut you down.

Don't worry about trying to find someone to re-edit your book. As you are finding, the Agents want you to rewrite, or use their super-special(expensive) book doctor to help you, and the editor that you can hire wants a great deal of money for something you have already done yourself. Publish and move on to publishing the next book. Having a body of work that people can read is far better advertisement than one "perfect" book, edited to death.

In the meantime, please tell me what software you used to generate your POD and e-books, and some details like:

- Did you use CreateSpace

- What is the word count

- What is the font and font size used in the body text of the POD

- It looks like you used 1.5 spacing, and possibly 0.3 leading on the paragraph

- What are the Margins, gutter

I like trying to duplicate the layout of other books to get a sense of how other people work. I like the layout of the your POD, the cover and back matter is good. I can live with 1.5 spacing, but I prefer single space to keep the page count, and thus cost, down. I prefer clean, simple, covers like yours. I have a folder that I keep examples in, and I've put yours in as well.

I do not publish ebooks, but I do make them for myself. I am still torn by the choice of having a space between paragraphs as you did, or having no space. That inner conflict is one of the reasons that I will wait until I have a larger body of work before I decide whether to do ebooks.

One final comment. Read the Kris Rusch that I linked to. You will find that you can publish a number of books, making money on them, long before any "Real" Trad publisher sends you a contract. As Kris points out, most of those contracts would declare that your Indy published stuff is in violation of their contract, and require that you delete them from the system. She also says, run away from Agents. She has horror stories that are common in the industry.

I'll post when I read your book. Thanks....

45:

Well the easy answers:

Book designed in Microsoft Office Word 2007

Cover in gimp

Wordcount: just over 100,000 words (the file including title, copyright page etc. says it's 101,798)

Font: 11pt Times New Roman

Line Spacing is 1.15. Paragraph Indent is 0.65cm

Margins 1.27cm, Gutter 0.64cm

Due to being confused at the time I actually put it together in the Kindle Direct Publishing Beta rather than Createspace.

Most of it comes from following the Amazon POD suggestions, then fiddling with it until it looked like a book. I had some help; The front cover was designed by a friend of my brother. The back is basically the outline of the front with my blurb. The current editing is being done by a friend, a journalist currently unable to work due to visa issues and so helping out at a very reasonable rate.

(They have mostly convinced me the afterword would be better as an essay on a website, and should be replaced with something shorter and funnier).

46:

Neil W said: (They have mostly convinced me the afterword would be better as an essay on a website, and should be replaced with something shorter and funnier).

That's neat, I'll have a unique version. I seem to buy odd books just before they suddenly change or vanish.

Due to being confused at the time I actually put it together in the Kindle Direct Publishing Beta rather than Createspace.

Interesting, that's why your book is listed as "Publisher: Independently published" instead of as "CreateSpace". I haven't used that system yet, so you are probably ahead of the game.

From your description of using Word, Gimp, that's good. Keep it simple, and stay flexible. You will thank yourself over the decades. Be sure to save a copy of your final document as text or RTF. LibreOffice is making a point of being able to read expired Word formats, but it's best to be safe. LibreOffice is only recently able to read my mac files from twenty years ago. I kept moving the files to each new system, even when I couldn't read them anymore, just in case.

BTW, I also keep the file as a very simple html document so that I can open the books in a browser and do a quick search or review while writing sequels. I hand code the html, don't trust Word to make a clean html version. Adding the paragraph tags is easy if you learn to use search and replace correctly.

This is series for generating ebooks using a simple system. I use the process to create the html files that are precursors to generating the ebooks. I find the simple html useful like I said above.

http://guidohenkel.com/2010/12/take-pride-in-your-ebook-formatting/

I have three separate browsers on my iMac. I use one browser to only read my html books, so I can size the window in a narrow column. I could code the window to do that automatically, but the browsers have changed enough to make the code no longer work, and I do not have time to constantly update the books. By having the html be as simple as possible, and physically setting the window, I can stay ahead of browser changes.

Decades ago, I started doing book design and layout at the Department using software and printer tricks that worked, but were not easy to figure out. Then PCs came out with wordprocessors that started acting like "Desk Top Publishing" and things opened up. I used fancy, high priced, software at work, but I've found over the past ten years that the simple things like Word, LibreOffice, etc..., are more than enough. The software produces something as clean as the best layouts from pre-2000, which is good enough for me. The free software tools are continuing to improve over the years, and I'm transitioning to them.

I've bought a number of specialty tools like Scrivener, Jutoh, etc..., that I ended up setting aside to use a mix of software that achieves the same result. At the Department, we ran into the problem that beautiful software, that did everything we needed, would suddenly no longer be supported. On the various selection committees I was on, I would see awesome software, only to discover that it was written by one person. We had to plan long term, on the order of decades, and could not set ourselves up for a major fail like that.

I need to avoid the trap that Harlan Ellison is in where he can only write using typewriters, or GRR Martin is only able to use something on MS-DOS. I need to remain as flexible as I was over 30 years ago when we did the impossible and produced the Standards & Specs book in house. By using a mix of software, I can shift to other software as things vanish.

I have to be the wordprocessor. HA!

47:

Font: 11pt Times New Roman
ARRRGGGGH! EUW!

48:

Greg Tingey objected to "Font: 11pt Times New Roman"

Greg, with more than a little mockery, we technical writers used to call people who objected to a typeface merely because it was commonly used as "font fondlers". The virtue of Times, and the reason it's survived as long as it has, is that it's highly legible and space-efficient, and there's little or no reason to look for alternatives when the goal is to be read easily, not to be admired for your typography. There are obviously cases in which design trumps legibility; I don't usually work in those areas, but when I do, I'm happy to work with equally legible but more elegant fonts like Palatino and Garamond. But if the goal is to communicate clearly without wasting time "fondling fonts", Times works just fine.

50:

*sigh*

Are you writing SF/F? If so, you *have* been to cons, right? I ask, because I had a coworker, back in the early nineties, who told me his wife was working on an SF novel, but hadn't been to a con, no time.... I jumped up and down, and finally they did make it to Armadillocon. And he came in the Tuesday after the con, and she'd asked him to apologize to me, that I'd been right, that she really *DID* need to go.... My daughter, far more knowledgeable, knew she needed to go back to Real cons when she finished the first draft of her fantasy... was it last year? Year before?

No, you don't have to loose all rights. I've hit three agents, and it's been with the third since Dec, and I'm still waiting to hear.... BUT: last year at Balticon, I went to a presentation by Bilmas of Jabberwocky (it's *his* agency) entitled "so you want to be an agent". In that, he talked about for the average Big 5 publisher boilerplate contract, they normally negotiate something like 75 or 80 points, including world rights, etc. I spoke with him after, and if I wind up directly submitting to a publisher (most WILL NOT ACCEPT unagented novels), and it's accepted, I will go to him and have him deal with the contract... and it would be *well* worth my while. As he put it, even if it doesn't get me more money, it gets me *rights*.

Writing isn't just a hobby or a love or a need, it's also a business, and you *must* treat it that way.

51:

Fonts.... I heard from my old friend Bill Higgins that in the late eighties, our friend Neil Rest bragged he had something like 700 fonts, and when he heard that, Bill responded that Neil needed another 300, so he could be the Man With A Thousand Fonts.

I was in an APA for about 15 years. We had someone like that in the APA. Y'know, an *awful* lot of fonts look so much alike that it's hard to distinguish them. And then there's others, that you take one look at, and you understand why they were used once, and NO ONE ever wanted to struggle through reading that font again.

And no, I've never considered trying to read Fraktur.

Finally, being as how I'm bouncing three shorts, and there's the novel, I *know* from submission guidelines that the publishers or agents or editors do *not* want to read in your beloved font, they want Times Roman or Courier, I forget if they want 10.5 or 12pt, 1.5 or doublespace.... But then, I read the guidelines. I don't want them to reject me out of hand.

52:

From the Long Ago and the Far Away, the classic manuscript page is the best for many things. This is based on typewriters.

Manuscript Preparation
http://www.sfwa.org/2008/11/manuscript-preparation/

The form is incredibly useful as a tool, not just for submissions. Think of the classic manuscript page as a "container" to fill. When filled completely it is 60 characters across and 25 lines down. The classic "word" was five characters and a space, so each "line" could hold ten "words", thus a page would hold 250 "words". The reality of course is that a filled manuscript page has white space, that part is critical and is missed by most people. The white space is important.

When publisher shifted from paying writers by the "page" to counting "words" it divorced the process from the final book. A 100k "word" novel is larger than 400 "manuscript" pages, yet 400 manuscript pages would have been considered 100k in the past.

You had people like Frederick Van Rensselaer Dey, writing Nick Carter, who filled whole digest magazines published weekly. He would write 33k by hand each week, yet that was based counting manuscript pages, not "words".

Nick Carter digests
http://dimenovels.lib.niu.edu/islandora/search/mods_primaryName_author_ms%3A%22Carter,%20Nick%22

53:

More on the power of "manuscript" pages as a tool:

When I write by hand, I use a standard "wide rule", 70 page spiral, filling only one side. If I fill one page and start the next, I have to fill it as well. In the Long Ago and Far Away, I would scribble a brief sentence or two in a tiny notebook I carried. I'm still trying to understand those notes. I learned that words on the page can grow to something greater, but the page must be filled to have those words grow. Get _Writing Down the Bones_ by Natalie Goldberg, or _Writing Without Teachers_ by Peter Elbow for more about "Free writing".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Elbow#Writing_Without_Teachers

Filling each page is the same as filling a classic "manuscript" page. I count each page as 250 words. I name, date, and number each page as I go. When the spiral is filled, I pull the wire, then clean the left edge; most spirals have a clean perforated line to tear on. I then put the pages into three-ring binders based on how they are labeled. I scan the pages and have them in pdf files so I can have them there on the screen to read. There is no valid OCR option, so I simply read what is on the scanned page. The hand written page acts as a mnemonic for me. There is more information triggered by the memory of writing the page, than is on the page itself.

When I type a page, I use a simple editor like Bean that lets me set a classic manuscript format, one inch margins, half inch gutter, double spaced Courier 12. It is the classic 60 characters across, 25 double spaced lines down. I save it as rtf so that it keeps the manuscript format.

There is a structure and a rhythm to filling the hand written page, or the classic manuscript page. That first half page drop, then filling each page. Not letting the last page be just a few sentences, but filling to "The End". It drives the process forward because I know what my "page count" needs to be.

I've been doing this for decades, and it is a joy to work at my own pace, for my own production schedule.

whitroth @50 said: Writing isn't just a hobby or a love or a need, it's also a business, and you *must* treat it that way.

Sorry, Mark, but we seem to be talking past each other. I recommend that you read the Kris Rusch links that I posted above before you commit to anything. You will find that the stuff you keep saying has no basis in reality. The steps that you make now can have longterm adverse impact on trying to make this a "business". When I saw your comment I instantly said to myself, "You really shouldn't use words that you don't understand." Sadly, I don't think that you will read the links, and five years from now you will be wondering what happened. Like I've said, I'm not trying to score points here, but I can see the train-wreck that is about to occur, and I understand why, because you feel the need to have your book published by a "Real" publisher so that it can get recognition and be up for awards.

- That is putting a ton of stress on just one book. Don't do that to yourself.

As far as going to conventions: I don't even know where to start explaining my shock and horror when as Licensed Professional Civil Engineer, I attend the Santa Fe Nebulas in 1998 as a "fan". Bedlam is the closest word. I of course did not learn my lesson, so later, as a member of SFWA, a "Real" published writer, I was exposed to even worse and let my membership slide. I look at what happened as a lesson well learned. I was lucky, Spinrad was the SFWA President at the time, and everything he said made so much sense, so I walked away from the madness.

When Indy opened up in the past ten years, I saw that I no longer needed to try and "thread the needle" to get my stuff in print. Think of the story _Diamond Dogs_ by Alastair Reynolds to describe the process of going through Trad Publishing. No thanks.

This has been fun, but I really have to get back to work. Thanks for letting me kibitz. HA!

54:

allynh spoke about "the power of "manuscript" pages as a tool"

I get where you're coming about writing on paper. I tried note-taking on a laptop at a couple conventions, but it wasn't the same feeling/memory as writing on paper.

For what it's worth, one of my pet bugbears about writing for publishers (peer-reviewed journals, genre and other magazines, book publishers): the kind of author guidelines that require us to format pages in a specific way (e.g,. 12 point double-spaced Courier) are archaic and long overdue for being replaced with a more modern approach. Yes, people who have been brought up with this system can do a decent job of *estimating* the length of an article or book after a few years. Yes, after you've spent 10 years reading the same font, you can read it more efficiently. But you can gauge the length more accurately and faster by simply pouring the text into a properly formatted template. And learning to read most standard fonts isn't hard. As a budding SF/F author (3 sales to anthologies), it frustrates me every time I have to reformat a manuscript to comply with some publisher's weird variant on the standard MS guidelines.

I say this as someone who has managed fairly busy publication departments (7 years government, 10 years private sector) and who has been desktop publishing since the early days of PageMaker (ca. 1987). I know whereat I speak.

allynh: "because you feel the need to have your book published by a "Real" publisher so that it can get recognition and be up for awards."

Again, for what it's worth, the point of having a "real" publisher instead of going the Indie route is that you have a staff of experienced people helping you with quality control, with the gritty details of publishing, with marketing your book, and with getting your book into bookstores and the hands of online readers. Yes, you can do all this yourself. No, you can't do it without a difficult learning curve and a willingness to invest many hours of work that most of us can't afford. There are many things I criticize about traditional publishers, but they do a far better job than most indies at getting stories into the hearts and minds of readers.

Also, it's important to distinguish between the humans you deal with while prepping a book or story for publication (editors), who are not the soulless bloodsuckers who write contracts for publishers (lawyers). A publisher is in business to earn money for its partners and stockholders, and earning money for their authors is nothing more than a means to this end. Understand the distinction makes it much easier to work with publishers: enjoy your interactions with their human minions, and hire an agent to infuse your manuscript pages with garlic to deal with the bloodsuckers.

allynh: "I don't even know where to start explaining my shock and horror when as Licensed Professional Civil Engineer, I attend the Santa Fe Nebulas in 1998 as a "fan"."

You seem to have approached conventions with entirely the wrong attitude. I attend a couple cons every year because it lets me meet hundreds of people who really get why I'm so passionate about F/SF and would love to chat with me about it to compare passions. We have a small SF/F community where I live, and for various reasons (distance, busy lives) I don't get to meet most of them more than occasionally. But at conventions, I can spend 2 or 3 days chatting with people who send me home energized and eager to start writing again -- plus with a reading list pages long. Plus, I get to interact with the pros, most of whom are pros because they love fandom and the things we all want to talk about. Try conventioning again with that attitude, and you'll come away with a different impression. It will still be bedlam, yes, but we're all sharing the same good crazy.

55:

PageMaker, yes, that was the expensive software we ended up with, after we published the book and shifted to PCs. We did the Standards & Specs book on a Dec mainframe, All-in-One office system. We tricked the laser printer into using Helvetica by adding control codes to the files. From that we created "Photo ready" pages for the local University press to print the book. Fond memories of doing the impossible.

Using classic "manuscript" pages:

Think about it, I don't send stuff to Trad publishers or magazines, yet I use classic "manuscript" pages as a way to power the writing. Having that "container" to fill, knowing that if I start a page, that I have to fill the page, that's what drives the words. Look at the Bob Ross videos above. He doesn't just fill part of a canvas, he fills the whole. When Dey wrote the Nick Carter stories, he knew that he had to fill 132 manuscript pages each week. That "archaic" format is powerful.

About "Real" publishers and "Agents":

It's clear that you have not read the Kris Rusch links I posted above. Do so, you will thank yourself, down the road.

About conventions:

My point about being a Licensed Professional Civil Engineer, is that I would attend Engineering conferences each year, filled with Professionals. Aware of our responsibility to the public, to make sure that what we built did not kill people. Yeah, sure, the Stone Faced Structural Engineers would occasionally crack. You knew that you were in trouble when their eyes would start to twitch. Just their eyes. Then with the battle cry of, "Timoshenko", they would draw their slide rules and begin to duel. That's okay, we didn't mind, that's how Stone Faced Structural Engineers are. After all, some of my best friends are Stone Faced Structural Engineers. I stand in solidarity with them. Timoshenko!

So you can imagine my shock and horror when I attended the Santa Fe Nebulas, and wandered among the Lotus Eaters, the children trapped in magical thinking. People who were anything but Professional. When I later joined SFWA as a published author, and had access to the inner sanctum, the flame wars and toxic cliques were appalling. When I questioned the zeitgeist that they were trapped in, I was basically told, to eat shit and die. So I went back to the real world.

Now imagine what it would be like for me, someone used to "Professional" behavior, to go to a SF convention knowing what I know about "Agents" and "Real" publishers. I made my living kibitzing. Solving problems, answering questions, making things work. How long would I be able to remain silent once the Lotus Eaters start speaking in hushed reverent tones of "Agents", or when they make the sneering comment about the losers who have to, tsk, tsk, self-publish as a last resort.

No thanks. HA!

56:

allynh: Yes, I did read the Rusch posts. I think the problem we're having here is that both our descriptions are valid descriptions of the same overall context: I always have a great time at conventions; you don't. I know several authors who love their agent and/or publisher; you know several who don't. I know many fans and pros who are delightful people and some who really, really aren't; you don't seem to have met any of the good ones.

Taken together, both perspectives provide a holistic view of the complex system known as fandom and SF/F publishing. Taken separately, neither perspective describes the whole situation adequately. In short: YMMV.

Based only on what we've written in this thread, I'd speculate that I'm a "glass is half full/let's make lemonade" kind of guy and you're a "glass is half empty/lemons suck" kind of guy. À chacun son goût.

57:

But! I love lemonade! HA!

58:

Here's a great podcast. Love the synchronicity.

Episode #33: Dean Wesley Smith on the Myths of Writing and Publishing
https://www.theprolificwriter.net/episode-33-dean-wesley-smith-on-the-myths-of-writing-and-publishing/

59:

If Greg doesn't like Times New Roman 11pt, then good for him. One advantage of an ebook is that you can change the font to suit yourself.

I had reasons for my choice*.

I've read some of Rusch's posts which are filled with useful hints. I can see why Rusch, with decades of experience as an author and editor; with contacts throughout the industry; with knowledge of who does their job, who can be poked into action and who is a waste of time; with friends who will promote her work; with a name that makes people pay attention; with reviewers interested in her work; and all that; has come to the conclusion that agents and traditional publishing are a waste of her time. If I can get someone to promote my work and educate me on some of this stuff at the same time for a contract that I find acceptable, well that's what middle-men in the market are for. If I can't then I guess I'll spend the next three years trying to figure this stuff out for myself.

* I was looking for:
A readable font, preferably serif;
Easily (and hopefully freely) available;
One that was either period appropriate for a novel set in 1902, or timeless enough to pass for one. Times New Roman is from 1931, but was a fairly conservative typeface, harking back to late Victorian fonts.

Meanwhile typewritten letters and telegrams are in Courier. Telegrams are hell on daily wordcount targets. You write the telegram in as few words as possible, then immediately cut out a third of the words. A quick review and alteration using a telegram style guide cuts out still more words. You end up having spent three quarters of an hour reducing fifty words down to twenty eight.

60:

I love doing book design, and studying interesting ways to do stuff. Jeff VanderMeer did a book where the actual story occurred in the footnotes. I think that it was _City of Saints and Madmen_? I'll have to pull it out again to see. The problem with getting fancy with the pages when it comes to paper, is that with POD, page count is what controls the cost. The more pages you have, the more expensive it is.

I bought the Dover edition of _When the Sleeper Wakes_ by Wells decades ago. He has single paragraphs that go on and on, page after page. I tracked down the text version on Project Gutenberg. I need to work through it and break up the paragraphs, turn it into an ebook that I can read without going nuts. Glug!

In those three years while you are learning, keep publishing. People who do that find they are making real money. But that means you have to have many books in the system. Publishing is long term, and having a body of work matters, so publish the next book so I can buy it. HA!

Read through all the Rusch posts a few times and you will get all of the critical business advice that you need. She has a huge number of posts about business. You get the equivalent of a Master Degree reading through her stuff. Deeply scary.

It's not that she thinks Agents are a waste of her time, it's that most are not, shall we say, "acting in a clients best interest."

- She found many times that foreign rights were never sought by her agents, or foreign royalties never paid to her. Now she routinely licenses foreign rights herself and has the checks paid to her.

- She is an anthology editor and is constantly trying to get short stories through agents who could not be bothered to work with her. She contacts other anthology editors to ask about their problems with various agents, and they tell the same stories.

She often asks:

- Why would you let a third party, who is not a lawyer, negotiate a contract. She goes into detail about contracts that have clauses scattered throughout that essentially strips you of all rights to your own work. She recommends that if you get a contract from a Trad publisher to use an IP Lawyer to work on the contract. But as a new writer, there is little chance of making those changes, especially if the publisher is only offering a few thousand for your book. They will simply drop you.

- Why would you let a third party have the publisher send all royalty checks to them, and maybe pass on a payment to you, after taking a 15% cut. Too many agents have been faced with the need to pay their own bills, then deciding to send money on, or not.

- An agent may have a dozen books that he is negotiating with a publisher at the same time. If he starts trying to "improve" your contract, it is easy for the publisher to use that as a reason to kill the deals on all twelve. The agent is taking care of himself first, and will not do something to have the publisher close the door in his face, not over a contract that will only pay him 15% of a few thousand bucks. He will make the best contract deal for him, not for the "new guy."

- Most agents today make you sign a contract with them, giving them a piece of your copyright for life. An agent can fire you at the drop of a hat, but it is almost impossible for you to fire them.

- If you are able to fire your agent, they still get the checks from the publisher, still take their 15% cut even though you fired them, because the contract they helped "negotiate" says to always send the money to the agent, not the writer.

- When an agent dies, who suddenly has control of you as a "client." Remember, the publisher sends the money to the agent. How do you get paid at that point.

Rusch has lived the horror stories of dealing with major agents and some big firms playing fast and loose with the rules, and she has collected many more stories of such.

I could tell a Story about my own quest for a major agent, how I got the run around each time, where he wanted me to rewrite or use an expensive book doctor that he knew, or when I sent him book after book and he told me that I was writing too much, but we won't go there.

I shudder when I remember trying to "thread the needle", but I'm much better now. HA! Read _Diamond Dogs_, it is too close to Trad reality. Run away from the madness. Go Indy.

61:

Here is more synchronicity with another podcast with Dean.

Your Magic Bakery Of Intellectual Property Rights With Dean Wesley Smith
https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2017/07/31/intellectual-property-rights-dean-wesley-smith/

62:

Here is more synchronicity with an article about negotiation by Kris. Love when this stuff happens.

Business Musings: My Day in Negotiation
http://kriswrites.com/2017/08/16/business-musings-my-day-in-negotiation/

63:

Belated response: the first (I think) performance of a Mahler symphony in the US, strictly speaking, I gather was as early as 1908 (Mahler conducting his own 2nd symphony in New York City on December 8, 1908 - "Gustav Mahler conducts the New York Symphony Orchestra and the Oratorio Society of New York in the US Premiere of his Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection"".)

64:

I'm fortunate enough to know a few writers, one "indy," two traditionally published. (All of them started as indy, FWIW.)

My observation is that some people are businessmen, and some people are writers, and relatively few are good at both. Indy writers that do well tend to be in that last category. The problem is when you're selling, you're not writing, and vice versa -- there's no division of labor.

The two traditionally-published writers jumped on the chance to stop being indy. They were terrible at self-promotion and were making less than they eventually made as a published writer, a LOT less. Even though there are now middle-men involved, those middle-men are very good at the things that those writers were very bad at.

The remaining indy writer is actually desperately hoping to find a way to be traditionally published, because the grind of selling and promoting means she has no time to actually write. She's also suffered many of the mistakes that indy writers inevitably fall into -- Kickstarters that result in weeks of tedious, unpaid box-stuffing; months of fighting with printers over printing errors and whose fault they are; spending thousands of dollars on boxes of books for a con at which she sold two books, then having to pay to ship them all back and store them in her living room.

Being an indy writer is *hard*. I respect anyone who can make money at it because it's basically doing three or four jobs at once, jobs with very different skill sets. It's a bit like how some people sell their own house and pocket the commission -- they sometimes make out like bandits, but most people seem to do better if they hire a realtor, you know?

Now, most people I know who have gone the indy route have done it for lack of alternatives. I can see how an established artist, with a well-known name, who already has lots of industry contacts, could probably make more money doing it themselves -- although at the cost of time and effort spent on running a business instead of writing. But for people starting out, it's a massive time sink with little reward. Most small-time indy writers I know are viewing it as the minor leagues, hoping to attract the attention of a publisher.

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