Copy edits and Self Interest and other waffle

The picture is an Amazon link (as fair warning)

Welcome to the tired Zone. In the fashion of publishing, I got a ‘we’ve had a bit of a hiccup, can you help out?’ – and asked to review the copy edits of The Steam Mole – in 48 hours. 48 hours for a job that really needs 2 weeks. On a weekend where I already had several other long term, well organized in advance, commitments, for which people who have done Barbs and I huge kindnesses were relying on us. I do not repay such kindness and help with letting people down, but with giving my best. So I did. I also just worked through most of the night and all of today to help out the publishers of The Steam Mole. I wait with bated breath for the thanks, eternal gratitude, and the bit of extra effort when it comes to marketing and paying promptly…

Seriously, that’s one of the issues publishing has, which if they addressed it would knock on to fixing most of the rest of their problems, and ours with them. It’s been such a lop-sided power arrangement for so long, that the normal relationships of people dealing with each other have broken down. Yeah, I know. It’s no different with milk suppliers and supermarkets… It’s a good short term profit for the dominant party, and there is no value to them (as there is in my honoring my commitment to those good folk) in treating the supplier like anything but an easily interchangeable widget. Greed is good…

Except of course if the dairy gets peeved enough to sell direct to the public, and can. Enlightened self-interest (If I make sure the dairy does better out of selling to me than he can selling direct) isn’t greed, and would pay a better dividend, but it takes a change in mindset. What seems to be happening instead is that the Supermarkets go hunting for new folk desperate to enough to make a living to start a dairy…

Like this digital publishing ‘opportunity’ Hmmm. Caveat submittor The recruiting poster is singly poor on a few little essential details…

1)There is no statement of what royalty they will offer (ie. it is almost certainly not competitive with that you can have from Smashwords or Amazon). It will probably will be negotiated depending on who you are and what alternative you have to them. If you’re a new author… welcome to the contract that will make slavery seem a soft option. Your editor may be a sweetie and a genius, but the contracts departments of most publishers make great white sharks run for mummy, and the music industry look benign.

2)There is no statement of term (ie. this is possibly a life of copyright deal. You will not get your rights back. Ever. So if it’s a runaway success you will find yourself earning a very very small return, and stuck with that, forever. Many authors have been done this way. Insist on a reversion time.)

3) The term exclusivity is mentioned. This is red flag, and should tell you need an IP lawyer before signing anything. Usually these are warnings of restraint of trade, which will indenture you to this company forever – at terms they dictate.

4) The publicity they offer doesn’t amount to whole big hill of beans. What it probably amounts to is that they will – at 90% of the wholesale price, recover their expenditure on a cover, editing, and proofing. Shop around and you will realize at best this is 3-4K and at worst 300 dollars. Work it out. Work out what your hard work will earn you for what they offer. It could be 30 dollars… or pieces of silver. It may still make sense to you.

So: by all means, submit. If you get accepted, contact either a reputable agent or an IP lawyer, before rushing into signing anything.

On a completely different tack I was amused (in a very unholy way) to see one of our shall we say quintessentially PC female authors in fear and trembling at the fact that she was now in the writing establishment’s Goebbels sights. Our Goebbels has driven various vicious purity campaigns aimed destroying authors careers – and been supported by the various establishment darlings. I’m not going to add to her traffic by giving a link but suffice to say race, feminism, orientation are her holy grails and she delights in politically correct racism, misandry, bashing guess which religion and defending guess which, and general US hating and suggesting lovely violent nastiness, carpet bombing, murder etc. She’s a sad little troll who gets her pleasure out of anonymously attacking those who cannot defend themselves. A few months ago the establishment darlings were defending the fact that she shone light on things we ought shine light on (ie., people who actually aren’t dictated to into apologizing frantically all the time by a 0.01% of the population minority’s real or imagined or even ancient history victimhood) and praising her incisive tongue etc…

The trouble with Goebbels is the ordinary German nationalists quite liked some of what he said at first — enough to ignore the nasty bits. And, um, actually, they privately thought some of those nasty bits, and it was very satisfying to hear the Jews blamed. As the nasty side gradually became too nasty for anyone who wasn’t a hard-core doctrinaire Nazi at heart, Goebbels propaganda and nastiness only reached the real Nazis. Anyone else… well, soon outside Axis territory being vilified by Goebbels was just about a vote of approval. No one believed his vicious drivel. Just the fact he’d said it, made it a lie. Inside Germany – or the conquered territory – it was good for nasty Nazis. Only when things started going pear-shaped and outside was growing… Goebbels hadn’t run out of nasty. He’d just run out of anyone but his own that he could affect. And he needed that constant vilification. He had to have the cruelty of it – a sort of sadistic power thrill. And the only place he had any power was over a shrinking core of fellow travellers. So then the purges of anyone not as pure Nazi as his beloved Adolf started. Only his narrow view was pure, and the fact that they’d been allies once did not save them. At the end, only someone nastier – Adolf – was safe. Adolf clung to him and defended him to the end.

Likewise I think the writing establishment’s empire is shrinking, and their own Goebbels is turning on its own. For ordinary writers her bile is likely to sell extra books not hurt, if your audience aren’t only her doctrinaire fellows. Only those who have put themselves and their market deep in her camp can be negatively impacted. Suddenly the most unlikely people are realizing that you don’t have to be white to be racist, and you don’t have to be a heterosexual male to be sexist, and that vicious and nasty is unpleasant regardless of whether you’re gay or from Asia.

It’s a good thing. A nasty son-of-a-lady-dog remains that even if he claims he’s yours.

It’ll be interesting to see who the Adolf turns out to be.


  1. The, he’s an SOB, but at least he’s our SOB; presupposes that either you as the owner will always have someone on the outside to point him at, or that you are smart enough to keep a gun trained on the back of his head, and put him down like the rabid dog he is, as soon as he starts to turn on you. Of course it is often forgotten that bites from a rabid dog, cause a contagious condition called rabies, turn him loose on an enemy population without making sure everyone he bites is dead, and all of sudden you have lots of rabid dogs, that you don’t control. And that blame you as the cause of their condition.

    OK, I read what I wrote above, and it sounds like something Mao would have said, unless you want to imitate him, it was meant as a warning, not an instruction manual on how to do it right.

  2. People are already asking copyright and contract questions on the HarperVoyager submission form, and the FAQ is down for re-working. The plaints about “1500 words is too few for a synopsis” are also odd: I thought you always needed to be able to present a “back of the jacket” synopsis, which seems to be two hundred words at most. Ah well, I think I’ll pass on the generous offer.

    1. possibly the only thing to show good in it is the plan to limit it to 1 book a month. Still, looks like they’ll have lots of applicants (shakes head) What was it PT Barnum said…?

  3. I haven’t a clue who you’re talking about (and that’s okay) but it reminds me of the amazing spectacle here in the states of a gay advocacy group demanding a grovelling apology from the television show Glee.

    But that was the same thing with SF publishing, I think. It was already a case, or always was, of attempting to shame and demand apologies from those who had already bought in to the propaganda. Who else would it work on?

    1. you haven’t lost anything not knowing 🙂 A nauseating far left supposed Asian Lesbian who got sycophantic sympathy from those whose writing and viewpoints echoed hers. I think she said what they thought. Now she’s started attacking her ‘friends’. Quite honestly being on the receiving end of her vitriol would probably do anyone but her ‘friends’ the world of good. If I was attacked by her ilk, I’d just publish the threats and abuse and ask readers whether they supported her views or bought my books. Could be a real chick a filla success for her.

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