So of course someone had to ask Jonathan Franzen what he thinks about ebooks, since he’s the critical darling of the moment. And of course the Internet exploded when he said ebooks are damaging society. Ink, both actual and virtual, was spilled. Haterade was prepared in copious amounts. It was like the hate that started swilling when Sherman Alexie called the Kindle “elitist.” Of course, I am much more likely to think deeply about anything Alexie says than Franzen, for a variety of reasons.

When Alexie “clarified” his stance, this caught my eye:

Having grown up poor, I’m also highly aware that there’s always a massive technology gap between rich and poor kids. I haven’t yet heard what Amazon plans to do about this potential technology gap. And that’s a vital question considering that Bezos wants to change the way we read books. How does he plan to change the way that poor kids read books? How does he plan to make sure that poor kids have access to the technology? Poor kids all over the country don’t have access to current textbooks, so will they have access to Kindle? (Sherman Alexie)

Right there, in a nutshell, is a point that gets lost when people on the Internet talk about ebooks. The hidden costs of buying that cheap digital edition–why aren’t more people talking about this rather than hating on Franzen for having an opinion? (Admittedly he comes off as somewhat of a pretentious knob in that Telegraph piece, but still.)

It sent me off on a (quelle ironic) Twitter rampage.

Why doesn’t anyone factor in platform and obsolescence costs for ebooks? I.e., the ebook reader and its updates.

Frex, the laptop or ereader you’re using, and the cost to charge it and replace it for wear and tear, not to mention updates.

Until we get wetware that can jack the book right into our brains, there are still going to be platform costs.

A paperback’s cover price takes into account production and platform costs; an ebook’s price does not.

These are the discussions we should be having, not hating on writers who have Opinions About Publishing.

And certainly not stroking the turgid egos of highly-paid anomalies on the Internet, either. (My Twitter feed)

After having a great deal of fun with the phrase “turgid egos” I really warmed to my theme.

Ebooks are not “cheap” or “free”. They are *convenient* for certain socioeconomic strata.

There is not nearly enough attention paid to the hidden costs, like hardware, platform, obsolescence (planned or otherwise) of hardware–

–replacement costs, access to electricity, etc., etc.

This is the kind of conversation I wish we were having about ebooks, not “So and So is elitist because they have Opinions about Self-Pub.”

Or “So and So gives their books away so piracy is always OK.” (Hint: this one REALLY irks me.)

Or, “Big Name Author has enough money/brand recognition not to worry about lost sales, so they say piracy isn’t a problem.” (My Twitter feed)

At that point I started getting a lot of “But I LIKE my Kindle/Nook!” And I’m happy that they do, but that was not the point I was making OR the conversation I was inviting.

There is a narrative out there saying “digital=free.” I’d like to see discussion that doesn’t use that equation, because it’s untrue.

Most of the human species can’t afford a desktop/laptop/Kindle/Nook/monthly smartphone bill/startup smartphone investment.

Those that can tend to think their experience is ubiquitous, because it FEELS ubiquitous. The curse of the Internet, you could say.

An examination of the underpinnings and the hidden costs is more productive than hating on ebooks or Authors With Opinions. (My Twitter feed)

At that point Stephen Blackmoore made the great observation: “Not to mention there are still places in the world that don’t even have electricity.”

Discussing the real costs could help us bend our considerable energies to raising literacy, not getting all hatey on the Internet.

Why is this not a blog post? Because I don’t think I can refrain myself from ranting without Twitter’s character limit. *sigh* (My Twitter feed)

I’m glad I waited, but so many people asked me to collect those tweets I decided to put them all here.

There were a number of responses that I should probably answer right now:

* “But I LIKE my Kindle/Nook/ebook reader!” Well, see above. That’s GREAT. It’s WONDERFUL that you like it. I’m not arguing that you shouldn’t. I’m saying that when we talk about publishing and ebooks, we should be talking as well about the hidden costs of the platform used to decode/store/show the digital “book.” Because those costs are more than you think–not just electricity, and the initial investment in the platform (desktop computer, laptop, ereader, smartphone, tablet) but also things like the monthly cost of an Internet connection or the cell phone bill, the cost of upgrading the hardware every few years (because of the pace of technology and obsolescence both planned and unplanned) not to mention the social costs of slave labor to make it, pollution from the making of it, pollution from the electricity used to power it—the list goes on and on.

* “I’m disabled and the ebook reader makes it easier for me to read!” Often accompanied by “Alexie is ableist!” (I shit you not.) It’s great that this technology is helping you, I am very happy for you. But I am mystified at how this was even a response. I don’t think it’s “ableist” of Alexie to point out that poor kids and their families can’t invest in this kind of technology as easily as others can, or of me to say that talking about the hidden costs might help us find a solution.

* “But I have a computer/laptop anyway, adding the ebook-reading function is free.” It’s not “free.” Adding that functionality presupposes the investment in the platform; it is convenient, certainly, but you pay the hidden costs for that convenience whether or not you engage it. It is the fact of the hidden cost we’re talking about, not whether or not you feel like added functionality is something you want to use.

* “Paper books have hidden costs too!” Well, those are rather elegantly included in the cover price, so they’re not so “hidden.” The cover price of a paper book takes into account the price of the paper and distribution, and has for a long time because of the built-up infrastructure. You could argue that bookstores are the purview of a higher socioeconomic stratum too, and that there’s invisible privilege there, but I don’t think it’s quite as germane. For one thing, there’s the used books factor; for another, there’s few upgrade costs with paper books–if you read them to pieces and get another one, that’s an upgrade cost, but it’s not nearly as huge as upgrading an ereader every couple years or a laptop every four-five years. There’s also the marvelousness of libraries, which even the field a bit for some poorer strata of society.

Of course, it’s incredibly hard not to snark observations such as:

Franzen said he took comfort from knowing he will not be here in 50 years’ time to find out if books have become obsolete.

“I’m amused by how intent people are on making human beings immortal or at least extremely long-lived,” he joked.

“One of the consolations of dying is that [you think], ‘Well, that won’t have to be my problem’. Seriously, the world is changing so quickly that if you had any more than 80 years of change I don’t see how you could stand it psychologically.” (Telegraph)

Somehow I think the world will carry on, Jonathan dear.

But I would really like to see more discussion of hidden costs, platform costs, access differences between socioeconomic strata, etc., instead of hating on an author for having a goddamn opinion about developments in the industry they’re working in. Doctors have opinions about developments in their field; bricklayers and pizza delivery people, retail workers and scientists have opinions about their chosen (or just career) field. People have goddamn opinions about everything, as evidenced by the jackasses who know nothing about publishing but try to school me about the industry.

But that’s another rant, and this is already long enough. Let’s talk about the hidden costs of ebooks and eplatforms instead.

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Nov. 1st, 2011 09:47 am)

Weren’t we just here, where I tell you how nervous release days make me? It seems like we were just here. *blinks*

I am proud and happy (as well as knocking knees with fear) to tell you that Reckoning, the fifth and final in the Strange Angels series, is officially released!

Nobody expected Dru Anderson to survive this long. Not Graves. Not Christophe. Not even Dru. She’s battled killer zombies, jealous djamphirs, and bloodthirsty suckers straight out of her worst nightmares. But now that Dru has bloomed into a full-fledged svetocha – rare, beautiful, and toxic to all vampires – the worst is yet to come.

Because getting out alive is going to cost more than she’s ever imagined. And in the end, is her survival really worth the sacrifice?

Now available at Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, BooksAMillion, Powell’s, the Book Depository, and Amazon!

I am sad to be saying goodbye to Dru. From the first moment I saw her standing in her kitchen, staring at the back door while a zombie’s fleshless finger tapped against the glass, I’ve known that she would grow up and continue on. It’s very bittersweet, but I’m proud of her. She’s learned a lot along the way, and through it all she’s remained that same smart, driven, incredibly loyal girl. Growing up is never easy–it’s even less easy when there’s vampires looking to tear your head off and betrayal lurking around every corner.

But I think she’s done just fine, and I’m glad she has exactly the right ending.

Now I’m going to go be a puddle of frayed release-day nerves. See you around.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

First, the serious: Jim C. Hines on reporting sexual harassment in the SFF community. The comments also mention Gavin de Becker’s The Gift of Fear, which I also can’t recommend enough.

Then, the fun! Would you like to win a signed (in the US) or free (outside the US) copy of my just-released Angel Town? Or a copy of fellow Dame Keri Arthur’s Darkness Rising? Or would you, perchance, like a $15 Amazon gift certificate? Would you?

Well, you’re in luck! Just head over to the Deadline Dames’ latest Release Day Giveaway. All you have to do to get a chance to win is comment there. The Dames, we believe in making it easy to win.

We’re cool like that.

While you’re there, you can also find tons of other cool things, like the Readers on Deadline contests and helpful writing/publishing advice. And as soon as we figure out how to give out pie over the Internet, we’ll probably do that too.

Because we’re Dames. And Dames rock.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Oct. 11th, 2011 10:43 am)

Some tidbits for your consideration:

* Dina James’s new book is out! Dina is my Evil #1 over at the ELEW, and a lovely person.

* A call to action against a serial plagiarist.

* Topeka, Kansas, is looking to decriminalize domestic violence. To, erm, save money. (If I halt to comment on this, there will be a whole day’s worth of ranting. I’ll just skip it, and you can fill in your own.)

The kids are at school, the houseguests are gone, my street is empty, and I can hear the ticking of the cat clocks on my wall. Archibald Clare has a man in knee-deep Londinium sewer water, and has a mouthful of blood besides. I can feel the rest of the book calling me. Plague pits, sorcery, potential zombies, and a mad art professor beckon, and the hunt is afoot again.

I’m swamped.

See you guys around…

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Jun. 30th, 2011 09:34 am)

I broke my best speed for running outside today–five miles, 54 minutes 24 seconds. I’m pretty damn proud of that. Yet one more funny thing about stress, cortisol, and adrenaline–I can feel it burning off while I run, and and I can smell the flat mineral tang of my body metabolizing the stress hormones. At the same time, stress forces me to push and run faster, so I end up going faster or longer or both. Plus, getting back into the swing of five miles four or five days a week does things to my appetite–I start craving lean protein and not wanting so many sweets or junk. (Well, there’s choco–the more I run, the darker I want my chocolate to be.) The ankle is holding up fine; I think it’s pretty much rehabilitated.

I think we’ve found a winner for the Stupidest and Most Blatant Plagiarist of the Year Award, and it’s only June. Bonus points for the woman’s website About page, where she says “I love to write I just started do this January of 2011 and have grown a lot where it comes to my books.” (See for yourself. Caution: Twilight wallpaper ahoy.) It’s been a week for stupidity–you probably heard about the “writer” who decided fake kidnappings were a great way to get an agent’s attention. (Hint: IT’S NOT. And the “publisher” he finally got to take his book? POD or vanity? You make the call.) I think these two are neck and neck for the “Ways To Destroy Any Chance You Ever Had Of A Writing Career” prize this year, too. It’s been a busy week.

If you need an anodyne after that, the JFK turtles are back. Their Twitter is hilariously cute, too.

With that, I’m off to go bouldering. Play safe out there.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

I’m starting out the week with hives. Actually, they started yesterday. I think I’m allergic to becoming vertical and achieving waking consciousness, since that’s when they happen. Solution: stay in bed all day. (BRILLIANT!) Only I can’t. (Bummer.) Besides, today I need to get two characters out of the Wark and separated, and introduce An Adventurer into the tale. That will be too much fun for me to stay away. I am literally chortling every time I think about this particular character’s entrance.

Here’s Courtney Milan on 99-cent ebooks:

Now, I don’t deny that books are imperfect substitutes for each other. And I don’t deny that this results in price competition. But as a general rule, the better the author, the harder it is to find a good old-fashioned economic substitute for her. Conversely, the worse the author, the easier it is to substitute. It’s really easy to bore people. It’s hard to entertain them. And the authors who can make you laugh consistently–or keep you on the edge of your seat–or have you reaching for your hankie–you know they are not interchangeable. (Courtney Milan)

The underlying assumption in the “race to the bottom” plenty of analyses of e-publishing are based on is that books are interchangeable units, which may be so for some (very limited) statistical purposes but is definitely NOT so for most statistical purposes, or in practical reality. This core assumption raises its ugly head in a number of ways, but most often (and most maddening) when non-professionals lecture writers about e-publishing. If I had a dime for every time someone not in the industry tried to “school” me with fuzzy illogic based on this assumption, I wouldn’t have to write. I’d be relaxing on a beach somewhere with the cabana boy rubbing my feet.

Anyway. That’s a rant for another day.

Spring proceeds apace, with new projects, trees just beginning to bloom, and the Scotch broom down the street sending up its yellow flags. The usual storms are coming through, the usual restlessness taking hold. I have itchy wandering feet, and it’s not just because of the hives.

See you around.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

My semi-hiatus from blogging proceeds apace. Here’s a couple links:

* I linked to my “The Hard Sell Doesn’t Work” post on Twitter yesterday, and Becca Fitzpatrick has further thoughts.

* An underground village in France, continuously inhabited for thousands of years.

* The Wishery Snow White remix, just because it’s been too long since I’ve linked to it.

* Larissa Ione on thickening skin and review scars.

I am also breaking the semi-hiatus to announce something. It’s that time. I’ve been given official permission to announce the project I’ll be working on after (sadly) finishing up Jill Kismet, Bannon & Clare:

Emma Bannon, Prime sorceress in the service of Britannia, has a mission: to protect Archibald Clare, a failed, unregistered mentath. His skills of deduction are legendary, and her own sorcery is not inconsiderable. It doesn’t much help that they dislike each other, or that Bannon’s Shield, Mikal, might just be a traitor himself. Or that the conspiracy killing registered mentaths and sorcerers alike will just as likely kill them as seduce them into treachery toward their Queen. In an alternate Londonium where illogical magic has turned the Industrial Revolution on its head, Bannon and Clare now face hostility, treason, cannon fire, black sorcery, and the problem of reliably finding hansom cabs. The game is afoot…

I am so ridiculously excited about this. Clockwork horses. Charm and charter. Gryphons. Cannon fire. Logic engines. GIGANTIC CLOCKWORK MECHA RUN BY LOGIC. *does squealing Kermit arm-wavey dance* This is why I’ve been diving up to my eyeballs into Victoriana. I am having a ball with creating Bannon & Clare’s world, and I can’t wait to invite you, dear Reader, into it.

And now, back I go to the semi-hiatus…

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

I’ve received a deluge of email after yesterday’s rant. The vast majority is supportive, and I thank you kindly for it.

The small proportion left over, well…I’ll give you a sample. This one’s representative, both because of its phrasing and because of a self-serving justification for stealing I hadn’t noticed much before. We’ll go point by point.

So, this is from a certain S.E.P. He starts out with his main thesis.

I find it extremely hypocritical talking about “stealing” e-books, when your not making sure people can actually buy them.

Oh, my. Well, if they’re there to be stolen, perhaps they’re also there to be bought? And how am I “not making sure” people can buy them? I’m not going door to door with cases of them? But wait, he explains further.

I have no way of legally obtaining your e-books by paying for them.

Let me repeat that, I’ve no way of legally paying for your e-books due to your stupid publisher. Your not loosing money by me obtaining your books without paying, because there is no way for me to pay for your e-books as your unwilling to sell them Internationally.

What? Just…what? In the first place, I AM losing money by you “obtaining my books without paying”, for fuck’s sake, and in the most fundamental way. You just shot yourself in the foot and didn’t even notice.

In the second place, I am not unwilling to sell my books internationally. Neither are my publishers. In some cases we are unable to do so.

This particular canard is related to the argument that you are justified in stealing because the ebooks don’t come in a format that fits your e-reader. Both are something I, as a writer, have as much control over as, say, the weather in southeast China. (Which is to say, none at all.) The correct people to talk to about this are the original publishers, so you can find out if foreign rights have been sold to a publisher in your country and then, ask that publisher if there are plans to release in ebook format. You can also talk to your distributor and let them know you want X book in their format. They’ll listen–it means taking your money, after all. They like that.

Regardless, saying you’re entitled to steal because of foreign unavailability, or because a certain distributor doesn’t have my book in their format, is hogwash.

I like the Korean pop star Rain. Unfortunately, I can’t get hold of most of his stuff unless it’s import CDs for a hellish amount of money. This is an inconvenience to me, but I manage to avoid STEALING and torrenting his music. I refuse to steal, and I either wait until I’ve saved up to buy the import CD, or I go to Everyday Music and check their International section, or I go to Ebay. If I still can’t find it, well. Rain doesn’t get my money, and I don’t get his music, and that’s sad. It’s a goddamn tragedy.

It is NOT a justification for fucking STEALING.

Do I wish everyone in the world could read my books? You betcha. Do I wish it was easier for people in different countries to read my books? Sure do! But this is an imperfect world, and there are things I have no control over, and those two issues are picture-perfect examples of things I have little to no control over. Not only that, but those issues are not justification for taking without paying. Because taking without paying is STEALING. How many times do I have to repeat that basic fact before it sinks in? Or, wait. It’s sunk in. you know you’re doing wrong, otherwise you wouldn’t be attempting to justify so damn hard.

The basic assumption here is that you are entitled and someone is infringing on your entitlement. You are mistaking an inconvenience for a violation of your rights. When you’re three years old, you think you have an absolute right to have what you want whenever you want it. By the time you reach adulthood, you are supposed to realize that this isn’t so. But some people apparently don’t get it. They feel entitled, and so they steal. You are inconvenienced by the fact that the logistics of international law stand in your way of getting an ebook, and it’s easy to steal, and then you have the unmitigated effrontery to write to me justifying it when I publicly ask you not to steal from me?

I am inconvenienced every damn day too. I am inconvenienced by a long line at the grocery checkout, but that is not a justification for taking my groceries without paying for them. I am inconvenienced by the price of diamonds, but that does not justify stealing them. I am inconvenienced by the fact that there are certain countries my ebooks aren’t sold in, and there are certain things I love, like J-pop, that I can’t indulge as freely in as I’d like because of logistical difficulties.

I manage to refrain from fucking stealing.

As far as I know my bank converts the money into $ before transferring them to you, so what the hell is wrong with my money since they aren’t good enough to pay for the books, just because my credit card and bank is in another country?

This has nothing to do with anything. The publishers would love to take your money, and I would love to have them do it because I get a chunk of it. My books are sold in several foreign countries, by foreign publishers–Brazil, France, Russia, to name only three. Those publishers would probably love to take your money too, if you asked them. In the countries that remain, if enough people asked them to carry my work, they would be all too delighted to.

This is 2011, The Internet connect us all, so stop being stupid and prevent people from paying for stuff.

I am asking you not to steal, jackass, not “preventing” you from paying.

The Internet makes it easy for people to steal and gives them the illusion that they can get away with it. (And as Laura Anne Gilman noted yesterday, “Information wants to be free” means “Information wants to be unrestrained,” not “unpaid-for”.) I don’t think the Internet has made people more likely to steal, I think it’s made it easier and removed perceived difficulty and risk, much the same way cars removed perceived difficulty and risk for bank robbers in the twenties and thirties.

You’re not justified in stealing my books. You’re not fricking Jean Valjean, you’re a jerk who thinks he can get away with stealing and blaming the victim of the theft when she publicly asks you not to do so.

Believe it or not, this letter was actually one of the more coherent I received out of the small proportion classified as “I’m going to edumacate you in WHY I’m justified in stealing and it’s all your fault anyway and how DARE you ask me not to!!onety!” (As well as the one with the least typos. The mind boggles.)

I’ll bet, now that I’ve shot down the more common justifications for e-piracy, that the emails will only get more venomous and more exotic in their attempted justification of theft. The thing that comes through most clearly in this letter is that S.E.P. believes he is entitled, even though he knows what he’s doing is wrong. This Speshul Snowflake of Entitlement is very, very common, and the Internet makes it easy for such people to steal.

If you steal ebooks, it means less stories for you. It’s that simple. I will continue to ask, publicly, that you don’t steal my books. In a perfect world I wouldn’t even have to ask you not to steal my books. We don’t live in a perfect world, but I am not going to stop calling piracy what it is–theft–and publicly asking those engaging in it to just goddamn stop.

Over and out.

ETA: It is a common misconception that ebooks “cost nothing” to produce, or that the price of ebooks is padded excessively. This is not the case. Ebooks are not cost-free, and here’s why.

Comments closed, once again, for the same reasons as yesterday. My comment policy is here. Comments will reopen on tomorrow’s post, probably, and my Hammer of Moderation is ready and waiting. Just so you know.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

So that rant I was thinking about yesterday…well. One more straw was added to the camel’s back, and I’m going to go there. If you have a problem with four-letter words, don’t read any further. Go find some rainbows or ponies or something.

Here we go.

Why do I have to keep explaining to people that stealing is wrong? You’d think that should be a given. You’d think people wouldn’t argue.

To the person who sent me a little note about a “just-released study” “proving” that ebook piracy actually “helps” me: number one, I’m pretty sure that “study” doesn’t say what you think it does, and number two, how can I put this politely…

Oh, I can’t. I can’t be polite about this.

Fuck you.

E-piracy is “not a black and white issue,” you say. FUCK that. Taking without paying for is called stealing. Piracy is people stealing my fucking books, and it doesn’t get much more black and white than STEALING IS WRONG.

Even if that study says what you thought it did, you would still be asking me to believe that potential sales (which I can’t see and nobody has any way of proving) are somehow equivalent to the thousands of downloaded copies I can see people STEALING. If you even try to pull out the “well, maybe those people stealing it wouldn’t have bought it in the first place, so you should be grateful”, I will only repeat, fuck you very much. This is like saying car theft increases brand visibility, so nobody should be worried or upset about it. It’s just plain ridiculous.

The other thing I’ve had thrown at me lately–once when I politely asked someone to stop stealing my books, and again when someone on Facebook was trying to justify piracy–is that I shouldn’t be writing for the money anyway, implying that I’m somehow “lesser” because I expect people not to steal books I’ve written. I’ve already written about that canard. I don’t write “just for” the money, and even if I did it wouldn’t make me any less of a human being who doesn’t deserve to have her work stolen. Trying to say you’re justified in stealing my work because I shouldn’t be writing for money is so incredibly stupid, I can’t even talk to you if you’re going to be that willfully, obstinately stupid.

“But Publisher X GIVES AWAY ebooks and it HELPS THEIR SALES!” you wail.

Publisher X chooses to offer some of their list for discount or free, for varying reasons. They have a choice, and the content creator (the person who spent the effort to write and revise it in the first damn place) is part of that choice. This is not in any way, shape, or form an equivalent to people fucking stealing. Why do I even have to explain this?

I have a suspicion of why: because e-pirates know what they’re doing is wrong. They dress it up in silly stupid arguments like the above because they are trying to cover up theft with a pretty name. It’s not a new human behavior, (for lo, theft and greed in their many forms have been with us from the beginning) but it’s not one I have to condone either.

It’s very simple.

Piracy is stealing. Stealing is wrong. Pirating my books means I can afford to write less stories for you. If the first two sentences of this paragraph aren’t enough to stop you, maybe the third will be.

Comments are closed because I will not listen to one more idiot bleating about how epiracy is somehow beneficial to me, or how I should really be grateful to the jackasses stealing my work, or how it’s not really stealing because everybody feels like they deserve something for free and that’s what the Internet is about, or any of the other red herrings, false equivalencies, downright lies, or self-serving idiocy that one or two assholes always have to throw into the pot every time an author objects to people STEALING his or her work. (ETA: Like another one I just noticed, the “publishers charge too much, so we’re RIGHT to steal, because we’re customers!” OMG. There just aren’t words for the stupid.) Today I am just done with explaining. If you didn’t learn in elementary school that stealing is wrong, I doubt I’m going to be able to teach you now over the Internet. But even that doesn’t make stealing any less goddamn wrong.

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames. Check out our new shiny!

Good afternoon, my dears. A couple things, then a small Friday post, then off into the wild blue yonder.

* If you look at my events calendar, you’ll see I’m at the Auburn, WA, public library tomorrow (Saturday), and on Sunday I’m at the Cedar Hills Crossing Powell’s for the SF/F Authorfest. I’ll gladly sign books at both events, though there will be no books for sale at the Auburn library. I’m beginning to get pre-event nerves (nobody will show up, my heart will stop from sheer terror, someone will throw rotten fruit, etc., etc.) so I will just content myself with saying, if you’re in the area, both events promise to be a lot of fun.

* Want to know what makes me feel really, really unclean, and not in a good way? This article about James Frey preying on creative writing graduates.

This is the essence of the terms being offered by Frey’s company Full Fathom Five: In exchange for delivering a finished book within a set number of months, the writer would receive $250 (some contracts allowed for another $250 upon completion), along with a percentage of all revenue generated by the project, including television, film, and merchandise rights—30 percent if the idea was originally Frey’s, 40 percent if it was originally the writer’s. The writer would be financially responsible for any legal action brought against the book but would not own its copyright. Full Fathom Five could use the writer’s name or a pseudonym without his or her permission, even if the writer was no longer involved with the series, and the company could substitute the writer’s full name for a pseudonym at any point in the future. The writer was forbidden from signing contracts that would “conflict” with the project; what that might be wasn’t specified. The writer would not have approval over his or her publicity, pictures, or biographical materials. There was a $50,000 penalty if the writer publicly admitted to working with Full Fathom Five without permission. (Inside Full Fathom Five, p. 3)

In case you’re wondering, these are bad, bad terms. They’re the sort of terms Guy Pearce’s Warhol offered Sienna Miller’s Edie Sedgwick, only without the initial friendship. Or the sort of terms Lord Ruthven might have offered one of his victims. I’ll just content myself with noting that Frey’s earlier hijinks make me feel filthy about this in a way that James Patterson’s or VC Andrews’s ghostwriters don’t. Also, dude, if you’re a rebel, you don’t need to go around saying what a rebel you are. Henry Miller would kick Frey’s ass for presumption.

“But wait!” you might say. “Nobody’s forcing these people to sign with Frey’s company! He’s not holding a gun to their heads or anything!”

True. But Bernie Madoff didn’t hold a gun to anyone’s head either; scam artists don’t have to and we still prosecute them–or at least, evince some distaste for their methods. As a professional, I cannot condone Frey’s behavior and I hope one or two aspiring writers might decide in light of that article not to lend themselves to this nastiness. ‘Nuff said.

* Also, while I’m in take no prisoners mode, there’s the same kerfluffle there is every year over NaNoWriMo. (No, I’m not linking to the kerfluffles. They make me tired.) NaNo is great for one thing: teaching aspiring writers to shut up, sit down, and make writing a priority. That’s great, and it’s just the sort of lesson a lot of people who want to write often need. But writing only one month out of the year is not a good way to maximize your chances of producing quality, publishable work. That’s like saying a two-hour class can teach you to safely be a trapeze acrobat. I’m not knocking NaNo–I’ve participated several times, and plan to participate next year. It’s a good thing, but it’s not the sole means of becoming a writer or of learning to consistently produce publishable work.

Anyway. I promised another process post, didn’t I?

Read the rest of this entry » )

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Great news! Death’s Excellent Vacation has just released!

With an all-new Sookie Stackhouse story and twelve other original tales, editors Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner bring together a stellar collection of tour guides who offer vacations that are frightening, funny, and touching for the fanged, the furry, the demonic, and the grotesque. Learn why it really can be an endless summer-for immortals.

My story, The Heart Is Always Right, focuses on an EvilMart checker…and a gargoyle who wants to go to Bermuda. I had a lot of fun writing it, and I’m thrilled to be in such a great anthology. It’s available at Barnes & Noble, Borders, Indiebound, Powell’s, Book Depository, and Amazon.

That’s the big news for today–and, of course, Jealousy is still out. I’m just now getting a swell of emails about it. The next book, Defiance, is tentatively scheduled for next spring. So it’s not that long of a wait, I promise.

A couple crunchy links today: the Bookshop Blog on why the book hasn’t had its demise just yet. And Michael Bhaskar on the real cost of digital publishing:

The main argument for why royalties should be higher in digital seems to be that, given we don’t have a physical book, the costs to the publisher must be so much lower. This is very easy to answer. The per unit cost of printing a book is, in most cases, not where the majority of a publishers’ costs are directed. They are directed at overheads, at editorial and editorial management, at sales, marketing and publicity. Regardless of whether you have a print book or not, these costs are absolutely consistent. So really the only difference we can talk about is the marginal print cost difference, only a fraction of a book’s total cost.

Moreover there is then a whole new set of costs associated with digital. First, you need people, such as myself, to manage, develop and grow this new area and put in place the foundations for strong publishing companies that will last the next 50 years. Second, there is the cost of conversion of an ebook, which although small still has an impact if sales volumes are low, as they are for many ebooks. Third, there is then a host of distribution systems, business system upgrades and additions and new digital production software requiring investment. People might argue that this is a one-off cost, and once amortised should then be factored out. Yet this fails to understand the nature of most software agreements, which work as SaaS (software as a service) arrangements, whereby the software is leased on a usage fee basis. So in fact as time goes by and we use these new systems more, we will have to pay more, in absolute terms. Even basic technology can subsume surprisingly large chunks of income – DRM (Digital Rights Management) for example can eat as much as 7-9% of a book’s RRP, although this would usually not be felt by the publisher. (Bookbrunch)

I wish I could pound this into the head of everyone who says “But authors are greeeeeeedy because ebooks are cheeeeeap!” A quality ebook is not cheap to produce, kids.

Following up on yesterday’s “when students plagiarize”, today we have an article on when teachers cheat.

This morning was full of unpleasant business, but the sun has come out and all is well now. There are nice things about my life now, and the unpleasantnesses are getting further and further apart. It’s a good thing.

i hope your day is similarly perking up, dear Reader. Now it’s time for me to take a bunch of werwulfen through Central Park on a dare…

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Aug. 2nd, 2010 10:34 am)

Morning. I had a helluva weekend, how ’bout you? For me it’s straight to work on revisions for the next Dru book, and a whole clutch of things I kind of let slide while the release madness was jumping up and down under my skin like red-hot ants.

Yeah, great image, right?

A couple of great links: LA Banks on writing the paranormal. I about died laughing because I’ve done what she describes before. And Michelle Sagara on the fact that not everyone has to love one’s books. John E. Dunn on who owns a book and Trip Gabriel on how student plagiarism could be rooted in “changing ideas of authorship.” (Both of those two last courtesy Victoria Strauss.)

I don’t quite agree with that last one. I’m more likely to ascribe it to a new form of the same old laziness–almost everyone wants something for nothing, and given a way to cheat, significant proportions of people will. I don’t think “ideas of authorship” have changed. I think people are just as they have always been, except it’s easier to plagiarize and easier to be caught doing so because of the way the Internet works.

Anyway, I have an event to announce! On August 19 at 7pm, I will be at the Cedar Hills Crossing Powell’s, to read from and sign copies of Jealousy! (More information here.) You can even preorder signed copies.

I may–MAY, mind you–even be wearing heels.

Yes, the excitement. I don’t know how we stand it either. *grin*

The only thing I have left to say is a huge thank-you to everyone who has deluged me with congratulations and wonderful responses to Jealousy‘s release. I am overwhelmed by the support and cautiously optimistic, since plenty of you seem to have read it and like it. Thank you! You are, after all, who I write for.

Back to the word mines, my dears. Have a good Monday.

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This is going to be short and sweet, because wow, busy. Not only is there the Readers on Deadline, but this week has been full of Dame releases–of which I am one, since Jealousy, the third in the Strange Angels series, officially released yesterday. Thanks for all the good wishes! I’ve heard from a few Readers who have finished it already–glad you like it, guys!

Plus, I’m in our local newspaper. Along with a few other people. Ahem.

Release days are always nerve-wracking for me. I’ve had over 20 of them, and each time I’ve been a pile of bare nerves. That’s one thing nobody ever tells aspiring authors about publication–after you’ve done all you can to the book and it goes into production, you have the nail-biting wait for it to release…and then it’s out in the wide wide world, in the Readers’ hands, and oh my God, what if they hate it?

The butterflies have largely gone down today. If everyone hates it, there’s nothing I can do. You’d think it would get easier, but I’m here to tell you, it hasn’t so far. I do recover more quickly. It only takes me two or three days instead of a week to bounce back from the stomach-churning uncertainty. I’ll take it. I have yet to meet a writer who doesn’t have kittens, penguins, or some other small cute animal on release day. Which is not as cuddly and comfortable as it sounds.

So while I go nurse my nerves, dear Readers, be gentle with yourselves this weekend.

You’re worth it.

Over and out!

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Why was I up at 6am this morning? Oh, yeah. Getting the morning run out of the way so I can hit an early open climb at the rock wall. Yes, I am going to be attempting my first open climb. I hope nobody laughs at me and I hope I don’t embarrass myself. It’s bad enough that I’m going to be wearing capris. LOOK, I HAVE TO, ALL RIGHT? They allow freedom of movement and don’t interfere with my foot and toeholds the way jeans or my yoga pants do.

Anyway.

John Scalzi, as usual, hits it out of the park with Why “Punishing The Publisher” Usually Doesn’t:

So, on one hand, the attempt on the part of the potential reader to send a message to the publisher via the refusal to buy a particular work has succeeded. On the other hand, the message the publisher has received is “this author can’t sell.” To be fair, this has more to do with the publisher than with the reader. But that doesn’t change the result for the author. (John Scalzi)

YES. *points at Scalzi* What he said.

I wish I could make some people–including some people who have recently tried to take me to task and explain to me “how publishing REALLY works”–read this. Of course, it probably wouldn’t do a lot of good, for the simple reason that a lot of people who try to tell me “how publishing REALLY works” have no fricking idea; they have an emotional hobbyhorse to ride and it involves blaming Big Bad Publishing (which, like most straw men, doesn’t really exist) for their various ills in one way or another. I’d be a lot more likely to believe them and listen if they had, oh let’s say, any real publishing experience. And no, vanity press or one self-published missive full of typos does not count as experience that qualifies someone to be nasty or condescending to me about publishing.

But I digress. Moving on.

Scalzi highlights something I wish more people understood, and I know plenty of authors try to educate their readers about: that the publisher is generally consistently trying the best they can, but they are also hedging their bets. When bets are hedged and a reader decides to “punish” a publisher by not buying a certain author (especially when this “punishment” is aimed at something like a distribution problem that is not the publisher’s fault), what happens is that the author gets screwed. Which means that the reader has shot him/herself in the foot, because it’s now harder for the author to bring you those stories you love.

I’m not saying that readers shouldn’t be angry. What I’m saying is that readers need to direct that anger at the companies that are actually to blame–companies like Amazon, or distributors of ebooks who don’t like the agency model. Those are the institutions that deserve a reader’s ire in the current brouhaha over ebook pricing. Not the author, who ends up getting the full force of the misplaced “punishment”.

If you will, allow me to suggest to you another course of action in situations like these: Rather than “punishing the publisher” by not buying a particular book you would otherwise buy, support the author by purchasing the book. Why? Because the support you give an author allows that author to have a better bargaining position with the publisher the next time the two of them negotiate a contract, and you know what? Generally speaking, authors like being able to make potential readers happy, and thanks to that there thing called “the Internets,” authors are often aware of the wishes and desires of their readers and will try to make them happy whenever possible. (John Scalzi)

I know I do, dear Readers. Every other writer I know does, too. We want to make you happy. We like you.

Over and out.

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I’ve been getting a lot of questions about some things, so I might as well do a blog post.

* Every time I say “trunk novel”, someone asks what that is. A trunk novel is a term for a novel that won’t ever escape the inside of a trunk. It’s a piece a writer works on solely for his/her own gratification, one that stands little chance of every being published, mostly because the writer understands it’s horrible. It’s the writing version of junk food. I love my trunk novels. (Yes. That’s plural.) Often I work on them during breaks from other books. They’re sort of dry runs, practice to keep me in the game. It can also mean a trunk novel that gets published after a writer is famous, or famous and dead.

* OK, guys, let’s get serious. Lots of you are emailing me telling me that various e-book distributors are protesting publishers’ move to agency pricing by pulling my books. You invariably ask me to “talk to the publishers” and solve this problem.

I cannot do that. Furthermore, I will not even consider it and the very thought makes me cranky.

First, the publishers have little control over whether the distributors carry their books. Publishers and distributors are two separate companies and make their own decisions. Second, I would not dream of coming down on the side of the distributors on this issue, for the simple fact that the publishers’ interests in this case align with my own. The agency pricing model gives writers a better deal, and it keeps the books around for longer. The distributors want to profit at the expense of the writers (who produce the content) and the publishers (who invest in quality control and on the chance that the content will made the money back for them).

In short, THE PUBLISHERS ARE NOT THE ENEMY HERE, AND THE WRITERS ARE NOT THE ENEMY EITHER.

It is perfectly natural for the distributors to want to maximize their profits, or to keep going with business models that benefit them at the expense of the writers or publishers. They’re businesses, maximizing their profits is what they DO. But neither I nor the publishers should take the rap for it. Because it is also well within publishers’ rights to say, “We invest in bringing this content to the marketplace. We pay the advance, we provide the editing and quality control, we provide the art and marketing, and we will set the price for it as we see fit.” And in this one case, the publishers’ views align nicely with the rights and views of the writers producing the books in the first damn place. Professional writers are OF COURSE going to support their publishers in seeking the pricing and policies that grant them a living wage (or a close approximation of one). Or, to be more precise, that maximize the chances that a writer can afford to continue writing because the financial rewards are enough to let them scrape by. (This is where I go off on my “just because you’re published doesn’t mean you’re rich” rant. I’ll save that for another day.)

The distributors’ response–yanking certain publishers’ goods in order to pressure them into dropping the agency pricing model–is greedy and short-sighted in the extreme. Brick and mortar stores, e-book sites like Fictionwise, other sites like Amazon, are DISTRIBUTORS. The whole purpose of these companies is to distribute the goods that people want to buy, in this case, books. If they do not distribute, people should get annoyed and find somewhere else to shop. Distributors shoot themselves in the foot in these kinds of situations, despite their PR working overtime (usually through their customer platforms) to convince customers that someone else (the big bad publishers, the writers) are to blame.

I understand people contact the writers because we are the “face” of our books. People write to me about all sorts of things I have zero control over, like cover prices or font sizes or distribution to foreign countries or or or…you get the idea. It irks me that there are problems I can’t solve for the readers or to facilitate their enjoyment, but that’s life.

But please, please, dear Readers, don’t jump on me because a distributor is kicking and screaming over the e-book pricing model that may very well make or break an author’s chances to keep bringing these books to you. (Although, really, e-books are such a small part of total book sales…even though it doesn’t seem like it to people on the Internet.) Don’t jump on my publisher, or THE publishers, either. The publisher wants me to keep writing as much as you do; the publisher wants you to have the books as much as I do and you do. It’s the distributor who doesn’t want agency pricing because it gives the publisher and writer a bigger slice of the profits (profits that distributors have grown accustomed to in the last five-ten years or so) that deserves your ire. They are the ones you should be demanding an answer from–an honest answer, not “the big bad publishers are picking on poor little us, waaaah!”

Honestly, if it was the publisher being an asshole, I’d tell you. If it was me being an asshole, I’d admit it.

In this case, it’s neither. We’re not the assholes here, and filling up my email inbox with rants about how I need to get on the publisher and yell at them do not help. I know you’re frustrated. I’m frustrated too, as you can probably tell. I have no choice but to sit tight and wait for it to all shake out, since there is literally nothing I can do. In this case, the publishers are going into battle on behalf of writers. Well, it’s on behalf of their own profits, but it’s benefiting writers. Fair enough.

Now I’ve got to go hop on the treadmill and work all this adrenaline anger off.

See you around.

PS: Behave in the comments, please. Thanks.

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Good morning, all. First, the news.

* There may be a 6-10K-word story dealing with Selene and Nikolai’s reunion in Saint City in the works. I’ll have details when everything firms up, but for right now, I thought I’d let you guys know.

* Events! I will be at the Ooligan Press Write To Publish event on May 23, 2010, at 2pm. I will also be signing in conjunction with Devon Monk and Ilona Andrews at the Cedar Hills Crossing Powell’s on May 25, and by my lonesome in the same location on August 19 to celebrate the release of Jealousy. Details of the Powell’s signings will be forthcoming; they’re usually around 7pm.

* Release news: Heaven’s Spite, the next Jill Kismet novel, is due for release in November 2010. I just confirmed this with my editor yesterday (or was it the day before?) Anyway, now I know, so now you know.

And, linkspam:

* Post-Healthcare Fatigue Syndrome. Don’t worry, the Republicans are still tirelessly working to make sure only the rich have healthcare. Oh, and stirring up their nutwing base to terrify the rest of us. It’s unsurprising, even if it is enough to make one sick enough to need that public option.

* A great Tor.com article on my very favorite fairy tale. Seriously. I collect versions of Beauty and the Beast. I even wrote my own take on it, as yet unpublished.

* Tim Burton might direct Maleficent’s story. OH PLEASE OH PLEASE. Maleficent is my very favorite villain in any Disney movie. The horns! The shapeshifting! The elegant black cape! The sneer! Oh, please, let this come to pass.

* If you’re not reading the Comics Curmudgeon, you’re missing out. I check in with Josh daily to see what the hell he’s come up with now. Comics snark is pure LOVE.

I think that’s about all. I’m on the last push to complete Dru 4, have a detail-round of revisions due for Kismet 5, and there’s a short story in there somewhere needing to be written. I bought a hat to cover up the fact that my hair is at an awkward length. I’ve stocked up on coffee, because the way things are going, it’s going to become one of my major food groups through the month of April.

Fasten your seatbelts, kiddos, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Mar. 8th, 2010 03:28 pm)

My God, you guys. I just listened to the boathouse scene in Betrayals on audiobook. (Strange Angels is here.) A copy of it was just delivered today, and OH MY GOD, you GUYS, the woman reading it is spectacular. She just nails Christophe. It’s amazing. I finished listening to the scene and had cold chills.

It’s an exotic experience to hear words that you agonized over read professionally. I just about came out of my skin, I was jumping up and down and squealing so hard. This is the first time I’ve had the chance to listen to my own work in audiobook format. It’s so strange. But ZOMG, wow. I was blown away.

Little things like this totally make my day.

I have to zip, because I’m in a ticklish spot with the current book and I want to get a good handle on a showdown scene before everyone comes home for the day. But I just had to pop in and tell you that. Plus, stay tuned for an upcoming contest! I have a Reader Request for the mark Japhrimel put on Dante’s shoulder; I know what it looks like but I think I need an artist to draw it for me. I think this particular Reader is planning to do something with whatever I come up with, so that’s a consideration.

If you’re not an artist, don’t worry. There will be a contest for you to win something too!

Anyway, off I go. I am grinning foolishly and not at all calm right now.

Some days I love being me.

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Links this morning!

* Ever wonder how the Deadline Dames came to be? Wonder no more. Here’s the real story. (Devon Monk is a GENIUS.) Before you ask, yes, I am considering a Tiger Lili short story.

* Motoko Rich on the math of of publishing meeting the ebook. (h/t to Colleen Lindsay and Victoria Strauss.)

* It’s amazing what gets left out of a Will Rogers quote. (h/t to Mary Robinette Kowal.)

It’s ironic that not so long ago I couldn’t run a mile without wanting to throw up and die, not necessarily in that order. This morning I was actually Quite Put Out that I could “only” run two miles, taking it easy because of the cold the Princess brought home from middle school. It isn’t a bad cold by any means, except it made me so exhausted yesterday I could barely crawl. A little bit of stuffiness, a little bit of sore throat, and a whole lotta tired. Oh well.

Today is the drop-dead date (I should blog about drop-deads, maybe this Friday) for beginning serious work on a couple projects, so I won’t be around so much for a couple weeks. If you send me an email, it’s going to be a while before I get to it. It’s not you, it’s that I’m focusing on getting some stuff out the door. Nuff said.

And with that, off I go to turn off the wireless router and get down into it. Catch you on the flip side.

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Just a flyby post, since the last few days have been crazy. Next week will be better.

Tonight at 6:30PM (Pacific) I’ll be doing #askawriter on Twitter or about 20 minutes/half an hour. Come by and ask questions about writing/publishing. I will NOT answer questions such as “will you read my manuscript?” or “can you help me with my homework?” Other than that, fair game.

It’s a beautiful blue-sky day and I’ve some zombies to kill. Catch you later.

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I got SFF Hero Conan the Barbarian dedicated to me, first thing this morning. That will put a GREAT shine on anyone’s day. Plus, I’m getting more work done, about to see if I can bump up my morning runs to 2.5 miles, and just basically looking forward to a day that is going to kick a ton of ass.

So, while I’m off humming the waltz that was playing while James Earl Jones turned into a giant snake (oh, my God, I love that scene), you could read Scalzi’s Why Publishing Will Not Go Away Anytime Soon, a very nice little three-act play. You could try to imagine the point at which I completely lost it and started laughing hysterically while nodding vigorously and screaming “Yes, YES!” so loud I’m sure the neighbors think I’m Up To No Good.

Yes, I’m in that particular stage of hyper where I can tell a book is going to break loose soon. It’s probably going to be revisions on Heaven’s Spite, which took a left turn while I was weaving in some plot tangles. I have to think about this, and I’m sure when I go back to finish it I’ll lunge through the next hundred pages of revision at warp speed and somehow discover I’ve added another 2-3K words. That’s how these things usually happen.

So, today will be a day of awesomely utter zaniness for me. I hope yours will be just as fun.

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