So I’ve forgotten to turn on my humidifier for the last… week, and this morning I woke up completely stuffy – having the effect of a hangover without having had the fun of getting gloriously drunk.
Which is why this post is so late. I couldn’t figure out what to write about, until RES suggested the joys of breathing.
I added the breathing free.
You see, when it comes right down to it, there’s only three types of political views: those who want to tell others how to live, those who want to be told how to live, because then if it all goes wrong it’s not their fault, and those who want to be left alone. I fall in the later. I want government to leave me as alone as possible.
I’m willing to tolerate a modicum of intrusion. While I think there might be better ways to build roads and finance armies, for instance, the ancient and quaint custom of our civilization is to do this via taxes. (We should just be glad taxes are no longer collected irregularly and in varying amounts so you never know how to plan f… never mind.) I’m even willing to tolerate stuff like taking money from me on the promise of an old age payment that will never come or from my husband on the promise of an unemployment payment that will come but that we hope not to need.
I’m willing to admit some poor relief might be undertaken, though I think it should be local and on very different lines. I would seriously prefer any of those three functions be private – old age insurance; unemployment insurance; charity – and I think those are way more efficient, but when you idiot-proof your form of government someone builds a better idiot, and I don’t think privatizing those functions will be possible without a complete (and slow) change in culture.
I don’t like any of those intrusions, mind. If everyone in the world were of my kind, we’d probably not have a government. (We might also not have roads or armies. I don’t play well with others – or at least that’s what Kindergarten said before they expelled me.) And we very well might be lacking a civilization altogether (but hey, we’d have some COOL stories.)
Everyone in the world is not my kind. There will always be those who want to tell people what to do and those who want someone else to choose for them, either out of a becoming modesty or because they want someone to blame. (My dad always makes mom pick where to go out to eat, because then if it’s horrible, he can blame her. It’s the worst of his non-endearing habits.)
America has a higher proportion of people who – while gregarious or even cooperative with their fellow citizens (we give more to charity than any other country) – don’t want anyone telling them what to do. This is what gives me hope for us.
But of course, even here most people want to be told what to do or to tell others what to do.
Right now I’m seeing this in my chosen field: Big publishers and small are preying on newbies who want to be “real.”
They might be doing very well indie, but they will ditch it all to go with the big house, which these days most of the time means less money, but it makes them feel “real.” (The world is full of velveteen authors.)
Since I generally don’t care what people do, and it’s their money and their bet, this should leave me untouched. It doesn’t. It doesn’t because I’ve read some of these contracts or heard talk of the terms.
I’m going to say it here, once and for all: MONEY FLOWS TO THE AUTHOR. (Thank you Kris Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith for beating this into my head.)
Most of you have heard this and are at least somewhat leery of outfits that ask you to pay a fee to read/edit/publish/submit your book. Bully for you.
What you aren’t – and you need to be – is aware that your writing itself has a value. Yes, even you Ms. Beginner Writer, with the manuscript mostly about having breakfast, picking outfits and shopping.
The value in many cases is miniscule, or at least minimal, but in an era of ebooks, there IS a value. (The (Ric) Locke Theorem: For any book, no matter how ridiculous the subject, poor the plotting and lousy the language, there will be at least 1000 buyers worldwide who think it’s the best thing ever.)
If you’re putting it up Indie, you might only see you know, $700 dollars over ten years or so. BUT YOU WILL SEE IT. And meanwhile your writing will get better.
If you hand it to one of these scammers (and for the love of heaven, stop signing away your copyright – more on that later) and they bring it out, you’ll see zero. (No, seriously. Not just because you are probably not looking at the contract enough and half of these are for 50% of NET which means their expenses come out first, but also because these companies go under regularly. One of my favorite indie authors appears to have had a nervous breakdown after the publishing company went nuts and went under. – No, I’m not going to identify author or company here, because it’s a hot mess all over the net, and I don’t need into the middle of that.)
The other part of this is that no author is good at evaluating his or her own work – NO AUTHOR. Not even I with twenty five (six?) novels published traditionally and a few on their way to indie publication, much less a newby author.
We’re even worse at evaluating how much these things will sell. It was relatively easy to evaluate what would sell to some publisher (mostly in magazines. In books only Baen has a recognizable brand. Which is why the others are hosed… er… are in trouble now, when brand IS the only thing you can give a newby.) While it’s sort of possible to predict what an editor/publisher will like, when you’re dealing with two or three people, max, the brand gets diluted for something like TOR with their rent-a-editor, and it goes outright nuts when you’re selling directly to the public, where … unless you’re psychic (if you are I apologize for doubting you. Most authors are only psychotic. The publishers made us that way) you can’t tell what the mass of humanity will like.
If you’re bleating that this is why you need a publisher, I swear I’ll come out there and bring my Oxford’s English dictionary for foreign learners (the most formidable blunt instrument ever created.)
I mean nothing of the sort. What I mean is that your learner’s novel, which you think is just all thumbs and glue might take off and sell millions. (I talked to someone who works for Amazon and who assures me even they have no clue what makes something take off freakishly. They’d LIKE to. But they’ve spent hundreds of thousands studying it, and they can’t tell.)
And then, if you gave it to one of the scammer’s companies, they’ll be making the millions, and selling the movie rights, and– You’ll be living under the bridge and suffering repetitive stress injuries from kicking yourself.
For big publishers, if you’re going with a reputable publisher who can offer you brand support – and right now I can’t think of any but Baen, frankly that I’d trust enough – going with a publisher is trading your rights for a mess of… nothing. For small publishers, make sure you get AT LEAST 50% and that it’s GROSS. The dollar comes in, you get fifty cents. And do it only to diversify your output. Put some out on your own ALSO. Then compare the outcomes and decide accordingly. (And remember that short stories sell poorly unless you have a lot out.) And make sure the contract with small publishers has a term limit. Two years, at most. One year if you can get it.
AND READ THOSE DAMN CONTRACTS. Get a lawyer friend to skim them, at least. ALWAYS. Even with Baen – they might have been attacked by brain worms overnight or something. You never know. I respect them and trust them, but it doesn’t mean they couldn’t be taken over by aliens – or lawyers! – tomorrow.
Your work. Your livelihood. Your responsibility. FREEDOM ALWAYS REQUIRES RESPONSIBILITY.
If you want someone to make choices for you, you’re also giving them power over your life. This might be worth it or not. I don’t know. But it is worth thinking about, instead of blithely signing it all away for “prestige” particularly with small press that can give you none.
The glory of being “traditionally published” won’t keep your rent paid. Indie work might.
(And yes, the reason this p*sses me off is that I can see stupid young me falling for this. We writers all want to be “real” and are willing to risk starving for it. I’m older and wiser, and I wish I could protect the young ‘uns.)
And now the cranky author is going for a walk before the snow (!) to clear her head so she can do some guest blogging. (I apologize to those waiting for guest blogs. I’ve found I can only do about five, before I HARD block on them for a month or so. I think the fact that I’m also doing these posts everyday makes it harder to guest blog. Like I only have so many non-fic pieces in me a month, and have to regenerate. Maybe I’m like that author in TX and only have so many words. I should avoid answering the phone or dinner time chat. I don’t know if my family would be relieved or worried.)
I now have plot and voice for both Through Fire and Darkship Revenge, and I HAVE to clear the decks so I can work on them.
Because death, taxes, and demanding characters shall always be with us. (Or at least me.)