More pimping

So, I’ll point out again that I belong to a writing group called the Inkbots, what’d once been called the Anxious Appliances. And some of the group have some neat projects just getting published.

There’s Wesley Chu with his debut SF novel, Lives of Tao, which is getting a lot of good buzz. And, yes, he really is that funny.

Then there’s Michael F Stewart, who’s self-publishing a YA novel called Assured Destruction. It’s heavily into exploring social networking and the concept of online identity. It too, is getting alot of positive buzz.

As for me? Still plugging away. Not getting anywhere, but still plugging away.


Hydra and Alibi contracts: more palatable

In this post, I discussed some pretty unacceptable contract terms being proposed by two e-book imprints of Random House.

After a great internet uproar, in which I’m pretty sure I had about zero impact, Random House has backed down, sort of, by at least giving authors an option at something more conventional. John Scalzi has more thoughts here and here.

A big improvement, but I’m not sure about this profit sharing deal as one of the options. It still opens the door to potential accounting shenanigans.

Hydra and Alibi book contracts: pathetic

I try to stay away from talking about the business of writing on this blog, because it’s stressful trying to draft, edit, re-edit, re-re-edit pitch, query, and potentially sell something. But then something happens that just pisses me off and I can’t keep my mouth shut.

This story is flying around the SFF author world like a bad bout of norovirus. And it’s just as ugly.

John Scalzi reviews an exploitative contract by Hydra, an imprint of Random House.

John Scalzi reviews a different exploitative contract, this one by Alibi, another imprint of Random House.

Victoria Strauss has another opinion.

In other words:


But there’s more.

SFWA finds that Hydra is not a qualifying market for membership and delists them

Random House responds to… something, I don’t know what because they don’t address almost all the criticisms laid against them.

SFWA responds to Random House’s response essentially telling them to go away unless they admit their contracts are the crap that they are and change their terms.

Essentially, it comes down to several things. The contracts offer:

1) No advance. How can a publisher like Random House, one of the biggest in the world, not afford an advance? No advance and there’s little incentive for them to try and earn that money back by, I don’t know, giving the book good editing, cover design, and promotion.

2) The rights–all of them, different languages, movies, toys, etc…–are held by the imprint. That’s a huge rights grab for tons of stuff typically held by the writer.

3) Out-of-print clause to get your rights back? Not defined. Not good. While a life-of-contract clause isn’t unusual, it’s typically limited such that, if the book isn’t selling, the rights revert back to the author. But the bar can be set so low (especially if it’s undefined in the contract) that the rights never revert back.

4) Profit sharing instead of a simple royalty. Sounds good? Nope. Incredibly bad. Costs of publication (like editing, cover illustrations, promotion, advertising, etc…) are downloaded onto the author and the author only shares in the net profit. Who determines what’s a profit? The publisher of course. And it opens the door to manipulative accounting just like it always has in Hollywood, where some of the biggest grossing flicks somehow never earn a profit.

So, and to keep with the Star Wars memes:

do not want

In other words, these two imprints of Random House are trying to completely redefine the author-publisher relationship into something that’s so exploitative that authors can probably expect to see jack shit for anything they publish with them. It’s absolutely pathetic.


Yeah, it’s been a while. No, McFuzzball didn’t send me head first down the stairs. Nor did she turn me into a midnight snack amongst other gruesome strategies.

I’ve just been very busy with a WIP that’s now in the hands of many, many betas (yay for betas! I love you all!).

But, I’m here to do some pimping. Two writers in my writing group (the Inkbots–I’d link to our page, but it’s not quite ready for primetime yet) have new books coming out. I’ve been fortunate to have been a beta for both, so I’ve known they’re very good before either of them hit the presses.

First, there’s Laura Lam, with her debut Pantomime, published by Strange Chemistry. While it’s YA fantasy, it tackles a very sensitive topic I really haven’t seen explored elsewhere and does it with grace. Plus with a neat plot twist. I won’t say more, just expect to be challenged.

Then there’s Lee Collins with his second book She Returns From War (his first was the Dead of Winter), both  of them published by Angry Robot. A blend of fantasy with western, it’s not often I can say a sequel is better than the first  book, but this is definitely the case.

Congratulations Andrea Stewart!

I consider myself lucky, because I belong to a pretty neat writing group (Anxious Appliances) and you’ll find many of their blogs in the  blogroll to the right, including Andrea Stewart‘s. A bunch of them (Laura Lam, Lee Batterby, Wesley Chu, John Dixon, and, and Lee Collins) are scoring some decent book deals.

Well, Andrea has some big news now too, because she just won the third-quarter 2012 Writer’s of the Future contest. It’s a pretty big deal. She gets some cash and a trip to a week-long writer’s workshop.

Congrats Andrea!

My most writerly schedule

I and McFuzzball are creatures of  habit, which has effectively led to a cold war in the house. I’m thankful for it, because the tension keeps me wary and is probably why I’m still alive. Our daily routine plays out like the following:

6 AM: My alarm wakes me. I stare at the ceiling and rejoice. McFuzzball hasn’t infiltrated the bedroom and smothered me in my sleep, which means the day is already off to a great start, except that it’s 6 AM and I’m awake.

6:05 AM: I shower and shave.

6:25 AM: I come out of the bedroom, carefully looking both ways, and I see nothing but two globes of fire in the darkness. McFuzzball launches herself out of it, crying, “Feed me! Feed me! Feed me!”

6:26 AM: I make my way down the stairs, McFuzzball winding her way through my legs, all the while crying, “Feed me! Feed me! Feed me!” Her nefarious plot to distract and trip me—sending me head first down the stairs to break my neck without leaving a single incriminating claw mark—fails again. Every day is a new roll of the dice and I rue the day I roll snake eyes.

6:27 AM: I feed McFuzzball. She tells me, “What the hell took you so long?”

6:28 AM: I eat my cereal in peace, knowing there’s no toilet cleaner in my milk. Every cleaning chemical in the house is behind locked doors and McFuzzball hasn’t learned to pick locks. Yet.

6:35 AM: I brush and floss my teeth. Dental hygiene is important.

6:45 AM: I leave for work. Yes, work. My writing, for now, is an incomeless hobby and I have a day job. McFuzzball’s caviar doesn’t materialize out of thin air, as she keeps reminding me.

4:00 PM: I arrive home from work. In the time it takes me to close the door, McFuzzball is back at my feet, this time trying to trip me as I climb up some stairs to the kitchen, all the while she’s crying, “Feed me! Feed me! Feed me!”

4:01 PM: I feed McFuzzball.

4:02 PM: I start making dinner. Typical favorites include risotto and pasta primavera. If each day could be my last, I might as well eat well.

4:30 PM: My wife, home from work, walks in the front door, crying, “Feed me! Feed me! Feed me!”

5:00 PM: I feed her. And me too.

5:30 PM: I finish dinner and exhale. It’s time to write.

5:31 PM: I remember my brain needs lubricant, so I pour myself a glass of scotch/wine/beer.

5:45 PM: More lubricant required.

6:00 PM: Now I’m getting somewhere.

6:10 PM: McFuzzball is crashed out on the far end of the couch from me. I turn to look at her and her eyes are closed. I turn away and, out of the corner of my eye, I’d swear she’s watching me.

6:11 PM: I need another drink.

6:12 PM: Back to the laptop. What am I supposed to be doing again?

6:30 PM: Oh, that’s what I’m supposed to be doing.

8:00 PM: After hammering away at the keyboard for a feverish hour and a half, McFuzzball comes out of her post-dinner slumber to remind me her 9:00 PM feeding is getting close. I don’t know how she does it, but, for an hour straight, she constantly cries, “Feed me! Feed me! Feed me!” without taking a single breath. Maybe she’s undead, but she’s too wily to be a zombie. Maybe a vampire? I’ve always known she was going to outlive me, but this is just bizarre.

8:10 PM: Her meowing is absolutely hypnotic and I find myself slipping into a trance. Definitely a vampire. Or, maybe it’s the alcohol. The end result will be the same if I’m not careful: the cat gets an easy meal and an inheritance.

9:00 PM: My wife breaks me out of my trance (or drunken stupor) so I can feed the cat. It’s 9:00 PM already? Damnation.

9:01 PM: I feed the cat before packing tomorrow’s lunch.

9:10 PM: I climb the stairs to go to bed. McFuzzball races up beside me. There’s a look in her eyes telling me, “I’m not done with you yet, writer boy.” Write? When the hell did I have time to write? I brush my teeth. Dental hygiene folks.

9:15 PM: I play with McFuzzball for ten minutes as she chases a shoelace around the hallway outside my bedroom. I aim to burn the hunting instinct out of her for the night, to take away her instinct to hunt me. Maybe there’s something to it. Or maybe she’s the one toying with me.

9:25 PM: I shut the door to the bedroom, carefully watching to ensure McFuzzball remains outside (those  two globes of fire in the darkness again). I climb into bed and open a book. I exhale. My bedroom. My fortress of solitude.

9:59 PM: My wife joins me. I carefully watch to make sure the cat doesn’t follow her in.

10:00 PM: I’ve made it through another day. And it’s time for lights out.