Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Hello from the Pacific coast, somewhere between San Francisco and Astoria, Oregon. It's a sea day, so we're just sort of cruising along here without much to do. It's actually my favorite kind of day at sea; I like being on the ship, moreso than going ashore most of the time.

We've had some weather so far; it's a good thing Jim and I are both good sailors. Note that when a British captain comes over the loudspeaker to say that you're heading into "a bit of a breeze," it's time to tie yourself to your bunk. :) That was the night we were approaching San Francisco. It was rough last night too, although not quite so much.

Our first stop was Santa Barbara. Jim got off there and just walked around for a while, but there's not much to see near the dock. All the places interesting to tourists are some ways away, a bus or cab ride, and he didn't feel like doing either. I stayed aboard and read a book and was happy just hanging out.

We got off in San Francisco and went to Yank Sing for dim sum for lunch. Awesome place, over in the old Post Office building. It's not cheap, but the food is excellent. We tried some new things this time, including an ocean bass in a light honey sauce that was very yummy, and some small patties made with chicken and lotus root. I'd never had lotus root before; it doesn't have much flavor but it added a slightly crunchy (vegetable-type crunchy) texture to the patty. And we had the ltitle dumplings filled with soup; that's my favorite thing to get there, as much for the coolness of soup-filled dumplings as for the fact that they taste good. :)

After that, we wanted to go to the Cartoon Art Museum, up on Mission. We'd passed it on the way to the Museum of the African Diaspora back in September, and meant to get back there but never did, so yesterday seemed like a good day for it. So we walked and walked and commented on how it was farther than we'd remembered and walked some more, only to get there and find out it's closed on Mondays. :/ Massive bummer.

One good thing about this ship -- the Sapphire Princess -- is that it's new enough that they have wireless internet in the cabins. It's great not to have to pack everything up and trek out to one of the public areas to find an internet signal. It's not an incredibly fast connection, since satellite connections aren't and the ship's official traffic has priority, but it's still cool to be able to sit here in my room and get online. Not that I've been doing it much, because it's still expensive, and in fact I'm typing this offline; I'll do a copy/paste to post it in a bit.

One bad thing is that my back loathes these mattresses. [sigh] I have a very fussy back, and I have this problem a lot, although that doesn't make it any easier to deal with. I can sleep for a few hours, maybe three or four, then I wake up hurting, and it's turn-doze-turn-doze-turn-doze, never comfortable again but trying to collect enough dozing periods to add up to a non-zombie state when I finally give up and get out of bed. Repeat about half a day later when I run out of gas. I'm probably going to collapse and sleep round the clock when we get home to our own bed.

Jim's going to see a fort in Astoria tomorrow, and I'm staying on the ship again. The next stop after that is Seattle, which I can see whenever I want. :) Jim's planning to go on a tour of the Boeing factory, which is cool for him 'cause he's massively into planes. Then we'll be in Victoria, where we're going to the Butchart Gardens, to look around and then have tea. We did the same exact tour a few years ago when we did our Alaska cruise, although that was in September. The garden (which was gorgeous enough that late in the season) should be pretty spectacular in May, so I'm really looking forward to seeing it. And the tea was very good last time too, once we found the right building. :)

After that is Vancouver on Saturday and we get off the ship; we'll be taking a bus home.

I'm way behind on blogs and such, and probably will be until we get home. The combination of the cost and the slow connection makes it frustrating to do much on my blog list, so I'll be back visiting folks next week. [wave]


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Publishers and Agents and Business

On E-book Costs, from FutureBook, thanks to Passive Voice for the link.

It does rather leap from the page that "Simon & Schuster's operating income before debt and amortisation (OIBDA) more than doubled to $7m", which the publisher said "was driven by lower shipping, production and returns costs because of the increase in digital sales".

Despite recent attempts to distract us all with talk of piracy and other costs associated with e-books this clearly indicates that is a massive red herring. There are costs associated with e-books, but they are clearly insignificant compared to the benefits.

At one major publishing company that I know of, when editors draw up a profit and loss projection when they are considering acquiring a book there is no column for e-book costs because they are regarded as being functionally zero and are simply dumped on to the hard back costs.

[Note -- I inserted the Bookseller link; Futurebook had it earlier in their post.]

So at least one of the big publishers considers the costs of e-books to be negligible and doesn't even project for them. Yet the big publishers are still moaning and wringing their hands and trying to convince us all that they HAVE to charge $15.95 for an e-book because they're expensive too and if they lower the prices on e-books they'll be losing money, oh noes!

Sure. If the costs were that high, they'd show up in the P&L projections. In actuality, they have to be pretty tiny to be completely disregarded in the preliminary estimates.

Give it up, guys. You show up to make your public speeches wearing a barrel, but we all see the servant waiting behind you with your suit ready to put back on.

On bad contracts, check out Don't Sign Dumb Contracts by Passive Voice, who used to be a lawyer. Lots of good advice there; I particularly like this bit:

2. Every contract is negotiable, so negotiate what you don’t like. “This is our standard contract” is the oldest scam in the world. Standard contracts are for banks who print them by the million. Publishers and agents may want “standard contracts,” but they probably also want world peace. You don’t have to accept their standard contracts. If a publisher or agent is interested enough in your book to want a contract with you, they’ll be willing to change some things. Negotiation is the process by which each side to a potential contract discovers how much they want the contract.

Authors are in a terrible psychic spot in negotiating their first contract with an agent or publisher. They sent out a million queries before they got an agent. Ten publishers turned down their manuscript before one became interested. Authors are inclined to think, “I’ll sign anything. Just don’t tell me no again.” Don’t get into that mode. Your old buddy, Passive Guy, will guarantee that you’ll be in a worse psychic spot if you and your manuscript are treated like trash under the terms of a bad contract. You must be ready to walk away from a bad deal.

Sometimes the contract they hand you will be fine -- I'm happy with my publisher's standard contract. But I read the whole thing, nodding all the way, before I signed the first one, and I look over subsequent contracts to make sure they're the same, or contain only changes that've been discussed beforehand.

Read the whole thing -- this is good stuff.

Then read Advocates, Addendums, and Sneaks, oh my! by Kris Rusch, which Passive Voice links to in the post above. I've linked to Kris before; she's worth subscribing to.

Here she's talking about the potentially adversarial relationship between authors and publishers, and how an agent used to be the author's advocate with the publisher, but isn't any longer. Publishers are tightening up so much that even top agents don't have the clout to get advantages for their clients in contract negotiation anymore, and many agents are more concerned with protecting themselves and their agency than with protecting the interests of any individual client.

Dean Wesley Smith (Kris's husband, and another long-time pro writer who supports himself on his fiction income, as Kris does) has been advising writers not to bother with agents for a while now. Kris hasn't completely agreed with him before, but now she does. Read the whole post to find out what new information and developments made her change her mind.

Angie, who's in Long Beach at the hotel, enjoying free internet before boarding the ship :)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Anthology Markets

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Sunday, May 1, 2011

April Stuff

Submissions 6 = 6 pts
Writing 8096 = 3 pts
TOTAL = 9 pts

Koala Challenge 9

Massive suck in the writing, balanced by a nice number of submissions. In fact, I don't think I've ever done more submissions in any one month before, ever. So that's something. :/

The story I submitted to Sword and Sorceress is being held, so two of my fingers are occupied in a perpetually crossed state until after the mid-May deadline. :) Hopefully good news next month.

You know, I was saying last night in e-mail to a writer friend that I very often find myself scrambling in the last day or two of the month to do enough writing (or occasionally a last minute submission, if I have a story that needs to go out that hasn't already been sent) to make it up to Koala Approves, to get that ninth point. (Or eighth and ninth. Or sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth. [cough]) So I'm pushing myself for that last day or two, but it's not like I'm pushing myself that hard the previous twenty-eight days in the month. :P I have a feeling that if it took twelve or fifteen points to get to Approves, I'd push hard to do that, and would probably get more writing done.

Of course, if I suggested to McKoala that she increase the requirements for Approval, all the other writers in the challenge would carpool to my house and bludgeon me to death. [hides under keyboard]