How We’ve Come So Far So Fast

I’m not a great mountain climber, mostly because my feet are too big, my joints are too old, and I don’t have anyone to do it with.  But when I was young and stupid, I used to go climbing seaside cliffs with dad.  Because this was Portugal, we did it without safety ropes (natch) or really any equipment.  Just hands and bare feet on rocks that were often studded with razor-sharp mussels.  Also, because this was Portugal, the printed tide tables were often out of whack, as we spent more than a few days perched on a spire of rock, waiting for the tide to uncover our path back to the beach.  I also once fell down and, having managed to turn on my back on the slide down, skinned my back pretty completely.

The thing is that I enjoyed the climb. It always seemed to simultaneously take forever and be very, very fast.  You were going up hand hold and foot placement at a time, maybe a foot up at a time, and it sounds slow (and often was) but as you got up there, it seemed to have happened in a blink.

It was good, particularly if you weren’t sure of the tides, to keep looking down and make sure you weren’t so far you couldn’t return before the tide filled in.

Life and particularly your profession is very much the same.  You are immersed in what you are doing, and the repetitive nature of most of our occupations make them both excruciatingly slow and very fast.

When I’m writing steadily (an habit I need to get back into, and yes, it’s an habit as well as everything else) I get what I’ve heard other people call “telescoped time”.  Time itself seems to go very fast, because I pretty much get up and write, and I think that a month is more like three because “look at everything I’ve written.”

There are other situations in which time seems not to pass at all and to rush by.  I think this is why we tend not to see how much our lives have changed over time, until we realize they’ve really, really changed.

This being one of those years where, by necessity, I’m stuck with facing how much life changes — between trying to sell a house, trying to buy another in a different city, dealing with a kid leaving home and another getting ready to do it — the past is biting me in the nose every minute, both with things I did and pastimes/hobbies I once had that are all but forgotten now, and with how different life is now, not just for me but for most of us.

For instance, when I got married, 30 years ago, our most expensive item every month was calling my parents.  Now?  Bah.  Mom has free calls to the US, but even if she didn’t, I use my el-cheapo cell phone when the mood strikes.  An hour costs about $3, which is oh… at least ten and probably twenty times cheaper than what twenty minute calls used to cost.  And this is only because I’m lazy and mom hates computers, so I can’t use Skype.

Which brings us to the day about eighteen years ago when Dan told me, “I need to change jobs.”  Since he was in a job that might not have been (by content) his dream job, but where he worked with a group of people he loved, I was shocked.  AND I was outright skeptical when he told me “long distance” (he worked in computers, with MCI) “is a devaluating commodity.  In ten years it will be worth nothing.”

I thought he was crazy because well… MCI.  Possibly the largest employer in our town, with a huge edifice and still continuously hiring, dealt with long distance, by definition.

Sure, I thought, sure, voice over IP and cell phones.  But cell phones were expensive and had lousy reception.  And voice over IP?  We were on dial up.

And yet here we are, and I look back and I say “How have we come so far so fast?”

Oh, sure, it’s eighteen years, but think back.  If you had a time machine and told yourself then that these days many people don’t even HAVE a landline, that cell calls are so cheap that it’s mostly what everyone uses, yourself at the time, unless he was someone like Dan who was working and immersed in forecasting the future of his profession, would have told you-now you were out of your ever-loving mind.

This is similar to ebooks — you know we were coming to it, right?  Well, it’s my job — where  about six years ago, we started seeing people put things up, and there were a few cases of instant millionaires.

And yet, I, who was working in the field and back then for three publishers, had no clue.  I took the occasional “hit it big” as a fluke, as one does.  Because that’s not how life worked.  There was this entire edifice of traditional publishing, and there was the proper ladder to climb.

A friend of mine (much more successful than I) and now a happily hybrid author, at the time told me he would discourage all newbies from publishing first in e, because then no one would invest in them.  I agreed.

Even then there were disturbing intrusions of a new reality into my ordered existence.  I started meeting these authors at cons who had come out first self-published, and done well, and were now getting in with all the support of a traditional publisher.  But I thought “Flukes.”

And then a book into which I’d poured a lot more than in what I was writing at the time (Sword and Blood, reverted, soon coming as a complete trilogy to an Amazon near you!) fetched a minuscule advance, and my agent said that was the best she/we could do.

I was for other reasons (mostly health) incredibly stressed, and I told my husband “I’m walking.  I’m walking out of this field and not coming back.”

And he said “give it another year.  If nothing shakes loose, then you can.”

Well, I found myself in an email conversation with Kristine Kathryn Rusch, who said “come to our workshop this October.  We’re teaching how to go indie.”

By the time I went to the workshop (five?) months later, I had researched, and I knew what indie was and its potential.  BUT when we got there, Dean Wesley Smith told us we were pioneers.  We were breaking a new frontier.  I didn’t believe him.  I knew all the people who’d gone there before me.

Well, I attended that workshop in 2011.

And now I’m looking down that cliff and going “how we’ve come so far so fast.”  I’ve been slower because I’ve been sick and getting sicker all those years (I’m now making the inverse journey hand over hand.)  BUT even so, last year when I was too sick to deliver a book and all I managed was an edit of the book I’d written in installments on this blog, I made close to 30k dollars mostly from Amazon. There were years where I was “employed” in traditional publishing and delivering, and I made less than 10k.  (My mystery advances were tiny, and also any payment over 3k is in three parts, so I’d receive the signing, or the delivery, or the publishing payment one year, the rest the other.)

There are other changes: I don’t need to be under contract, something that always made me feel like I owed my soul to the company store.  I used to be unable to write anything that wasn’t under contract, because there was a 50/50 chance it wouldn’t sell. Now I can write whatever, and if Baen doesn’t want it, it goes up indie, which is fine.

Those 17 or so novels in the drawer?  Yeah.  They’re getting finished/polished and put out.  And I’m writing — right now a bit impatient at not being able to do it as fast as I’d like, yet — as much as I can.

Because it’s been four years since that workshop, and I know people MAKING A LIVING from indie.  Not millionaires, not the headliners.  Just regular everyday writers.

I look down and I think “how we’ve come so far so fast.”

And you know, I can see it from the other side too.  My kindle paperwhite offers me a selection of whatever I want to read that particular night.  I’m limited only by time and money.  Distance?  What’s that?  What’s in stock?  Everything is pretty much in stock.

Those who think this will all vanish overnight are deluded.  Those who think we’re not on track to change as much as phones have in the last 18 years — or faster — are delusional.

Look down from the cliff.  See how far we’ve come.  Then look up and see the summit ahead.

It’s important to keep both ends in sight.

Yeah, the tide tables are important too: keep an eye on how covers are changing, and on how editing is changing, and on what is selling.

It’s really no more work, though different, from keeping track of what publishers want and the different fads and personalities in traditional houses used to be.

The difference now is that though you’re still — of course — at the mercy of fate, you have more control than you ever had, and a better chance of making it as far as you’re willing to push yourself.

And that is a massive change.  Don’t lose sight of it.  I’m telling you now what Dean told me four years ago “it might seem to you all the big innovations are done, all the big sellers have become big sellers, indie is now a limited market.  You are wrong.  You are pioneers.  This market is wide open.  This path is just beginning. Technology ahead will open new vistas, and the public will realize there are people writing to its tastes now.  There is gold in them there hills.”

Now, kick off your shoes and climb that cliff.

74 thoughts on “How We’ve Come So Far So Fast

  1. Heh. Rather like music. ITunes seemed to have a lock on it, then streaming hit.

    Wonder what will be next? Both in books and in music.

    1. And if you like something, you can often buy from the artist direct, and know that they’re getting the majority of your money, not just pennies on the twenty.

      From the production end, I saw somebody posit that you can put together a studio for under a grand. Well, kind of. It’s still closer to ten if you want decent instruments, microphones, pre-amps, and all. But if you keep your eye out for sales and don’t forget the sound foam, it’s not too bad.

      1. My recording equipment, including Logic Studio cost about 6 grand Canadian (would have been about $5,500.00 US at the time).

        I don’t currently have a room set up for recording. I want to get one set up, but I’m to crippled to do the work myself, and can’t afford to have it done.

        1. We’re working on it. The major problem being that all of the sound foam glue sat in the garage for too long and we have to buy new…

          1. Ouch. More expense.

            I really should sell most of my stuff off. I really could use a new MacBook. The old one overheats like crazy. I could just replace the battery, but I’m not sure that’s the problem. I still get an hour out of it, and for a five year old battery, that’s pretty good.

                1. yes, occasionally laptop batteries die as they get old and they bulge out… esp flat battery packs like the mbp uses.

                  1. Ah. I’ve heard of that, just not with laptops. It happens with engine test equipment too, specifically data loggers.

                    Though we just called it bulging.

      2. Last response was off-topic.

        Yes, I prefer to buy from the artist too. Which is one reason I don’t like streaming.

        There’s got to be a better way…

  2. Check the remote call pricing on Skype? I call my sister in the US regularly that way (Skype on my end, regular landline on their end) and the pricing is really low. Not sure how it compares for you.

      1. My father worked for the phone company, and from him I discovered just how cheap long distance calls actually were. Remember 10 cent payphones? Those were subsidized by the huge profits that the phone company made off of longlines (long distance service) so was a lot of other things as well (like all that research Bell Labs / Western Electric was always doing).
        That’s why payphones got expensive, and then went away, after the phone companies were broken up, long distance service was no longer subsidizing them and most phone companies couldn’t afford to have so many out there (they take a lot of service).
        So I’m not really that surprised to see that long distance has dropped in cost so much. The infrastructure was build over 60 years ago, now we’re just maintaining it.

        1. The only Payphones I’ve seen in a long time are installed in obscure corners of the Boeing factory, and nobody uses them, of course.

          (The prices on them though, HAVE been updated since the ’80’s.)

      2. I pay $0.02/minute when I call Mexico, from my computer (via Skype) to my sisters’ phones – landline or cell. If we go video, computer to computer, it’s free.

        But your should be able to call your mom in Portugal with her using her regular phone, and you using Skype from here.

  3. Last time I climbed a hill was in an M-113. May still be up there for all I know. Still, it’s worth a shot, I guess.

  4. Here’s the thing, there is no summit.
    There is only the climb; the occasional descent, transverse, and fresh ascent on a new path; and the eventual flat spot where you can have a bit of a rest and plan the next stage of your climb.
    The climb can stop for any number of reasons. The flat resting place is very comfortable so you’re disinclined to expend the effort to continue; you’ve reached a tricky bit and are hopefully temporarily frozen in fear; or worst case you’ve lost your grip, slipped a toe hold, trusted a loose rock, and find yourself plummeting downward.
    Nothing wrong with stopping the climb. Perhaps you’ve reached a lush mountain valley where you are content to live out your remaining days. Doesn’t mean there aren’t new peaks, just that you have no compelling reason to seek them out. Of course if fear has you frozen your choices are climb or die. I’ve seen people make both choices, and if you choose to climb you may fall and die anyway, but to me it would seem that remaining paralysed is the sheep’s choice, and I’m more of a sheep dog myself. It’s good as well to remember that a fall will either kill you or leave you in a new place with new pathways for ascent.
    And now that I’ve beaten this analogy quite thoroughly to death I think I’ll quit.

  5. I was making 7K a year. Nothing fantastic, but it bought me a nice car and covered the payments.
    Then last year, things took off, and I made over 30K. Me, an indy, no trad pubs at all, and I made most of that in less than six months.
    This year? If I hadn’t had a big interruption that lost me a quarter’s worth of time (and if I had quit my job sooner and gone full time) I might have doubled that amount. As it is, I’m already well past 30K this year.

    I’ve been hesitant to tell people how much I’ve been making, because I didn’t think it was that much at first and I thought everyone else was making more. Then I started to hear people talk about 15K being ‘normal’ and 30K being ‘big money’, and that was for tradpub authors. I’m afraid to talk about how well I’m doing on most of the boards and lists, because there are a lot of people there who get jealous and love to attack anyone they view as more successful than they are (which isn’t how it used to be, which is probably why most of the successful people left the boards).

    So this is the first time I’ve actually put numbers down anywhere. And I have no idea, how am I really stacking up against others out there? I think I’m doing well, but I don’t even know if I’m at the bottom of the pile, in the middle, or slightly above. I’ve sold about 18K books so far this year, I’m fairly certain I’ll break 20K, and I have no idea how good that is really, other than I know I’m doing okay.

      1. No sweetie, you need to keep that *ss firmly planted in the chair and beat away at the keyboard. Maybe consider switching from herbal tea to something with a bit more caffein content? And some really good chocolate treats for meeting your milestones, say a Ghirardelli square every two hours or every 5k words. Gotta keep that blood sugar up don’t you know.

          1. It will happen. All it takes is one qualified buyer, and they’re out there even in these times. For your sake I hope it’s soon.
            Perhaps we should not have let it be know that it was once an infamous whorehouse or that it’s presumed to be haunted, but those both seemed to be attractive selling points at the time.

          2. If I were in a position to move right now, I’d buy it – but you’d have to leave Fluffy. I’ve always wanted my own dragon…

    1. You all keep raising the hopes of newbies with modest goals like, “write short stories good enough to get people to read my website and sell well enough as Kindle collections to pay for internet related services”.

    2. I see you started publishing in 2011. Did you start out at 7K or was it the Portal books that moved your numbers so high?

      1. (pulls out the master spreadsheet – yes, I track everything)
        I made $400 my first year. 7K the next two years. It was the Portals of Infinity series that kicked me over the top.

        I think that the Book Plug Fridays helped a lot by the way (thank you Sarah, Charlie, and Free Range Oyster!).

        Now, I have two pen names out there as well, which is where a decent portion of that 7K was coming from. One writes PNR, the other trashy romance. I haven’t written anything under those names in almost two years now, they were both an experiment and a learning exercise and I doubt I’ll ever revisit them (though they’re still good for ~$300 a month income).

        When I found myself out of work for a while (it happens when you’re a contractor at times) I decided to try and take what I had learned to write something that I thought would have a broad appeal, but which I’d still enjoy writing. It worked out far better than I had expected.

    3. You’re doing well. I have a friend who is getting more books out (small press, paranormal romance), and she would dearly love to be making even a third of what you’ve got. If she were making what you’re making, she’d be able to quit her job and be a writer and photographer full-time.

      (I love her dearly, but I can’t sell her books very well, because paranormal romance is Not My Thing, so the best I can do is look at them and say, “competent and fun”. I *want* her to do well, but someone who loves the genre would be able to sell her stuff, not me…)

  6. A word about landlines:

    In disasters, I’ve seen landlines work when cellular didn’t. I’ve also seen times cellular worked when a telephone exchange was out if the tower was on another exchange. Yes, most cell phone calls are routed through landlines. While many ditch the landline because of expenses, I do not recommend it at all.

    It’s also a good idea to have a plain vanilla landline phone somewhere in the house. It’s surprisingly common for people to only have cordless phones in their home. So when the power goes out, their phone doesn’t work. A cordless phone on a UPS will, of course, but a plain vanilla phone is cheaper.

    1. I keep a basic POTS line in the house for those very reasons.
      During our 8 day power outage after a visit from a 100 mile wide tornado wall across north Alabama we did lose all service for a couple days in the middle, but for the most part that corded phone was my only means to communicate. That and a hand crank weather radio and the FM feature of my generic iPod devices which got recharged off my car inverter.

    2. We had the only working landline when hurricane Sandy took out the power to the houses AND the cell towers.

      Of course, nobody needed it – but we couldn’t have known that part. At least when I picked up the handset, there was a dial tone!

        1. could have told you that. It was one of my mom’s family names (Names given to boys in her family. My grandfather’s and both my uncles’ middle names, in fact.) and all her relatives are crazy. I saw that name and went “uh oh”

        2. Joaquin’s pretty far off as of yet – it wouldn’t even appear for days.

          It MAY go elsewhere, or fizzle. Here’s hoping.

          BUT we just got our hurricane notification email with instructions from the township.

  7. There’s another reason to go indie, especially for people (like me) in retirement: *We don’t have all damned day.* I shopped my first novel to the bigger tradpubs for *six years* before I sold it, to a very small press that did an excellent job but never got the hardcover into any of the chains. Guys, I can’t wait six years to find out if my latest novel is going to be published. I don’t have all that many six yearses left.

    Granted, I took longer to go indie than I should have, since all my habits were formed in tradpub. Several well-known writers told me privately that if I published it myself, no tradpub would ever touch me. I found that scary…for awhile. (Too long, but I got over it. Sarah helped.)

    I’ll state numbers too: $3600 in the book’s first sixty days. The hardcover earned $1100 in *ten years.* If I weren’t moving to Arizona, my second would be out by now, and the third mostly written.

    So don’t lay around and agonize. Get into that chair and take your writer’s life into your own hands!

    1. Get into that chair and take your writer’s life into your own hands!

      This is not a fatuous question but…

      what does one do once one is in that chair.

      The blank sheet of staff paper is scary enough but I can pick up the flute and doodle until I like something. Do that every day and you fill a little notebook with motifs and can be banged together into an 8 bar phrase and then you just develop it. I’m not saying the result is good (it isn’t yet) but it is there on the paper.

      Hell, you can even work various exercises in counterpoint or writing harmony or a dozen other things and steal those.

      But for the life of me I can’t see how to take a sentence describing a conflict and turn it into a story on paper. Can you write interesting paragraphs or scenes and then glue enough together to make a theme of 1000 words which you write variations on for another 9000 and get something? It doesn’t have to be something good but…


      Probably not the place to ask but why not.

      1. It’s actually not a bad technique. Write down bits and blurbs and after a while, see if any of them connect. Eventually you may even have a through plot.

        And there’s nothing wrong with concentrating on the music, either. There are people out there making decent livings from writing music for trailers, after all.

        1. Actually, my goal is music if I want to make money is concert band.

          No really…band composing is the “fat chick” of composing…always up for a date and a lot of fun but you don’t want your friends to know you did it. However, if you told your friends to deal with it and be proud to be seen with her you’d have a happier life.

          Also, nearly every high school and junior high/middle school has one or three. Even Philip Glass’s first paid composing gig was a couple of years as a composer on retainer for the Pittsburg schools when he first left Juilliard.

          That said, for personal music I’m more interested in chamber music.

          As for writing I’ve tried on and off since seventh grade but it never sticks although the reading it has suggested has been fun. However, I’ll write a few days straight and be so sick of what is coming out that I chuck it until…I’d say a 5-7 month cycle somewhat normalized now by failed NaNoWriMos every other year.

          1. I see nothing wrong with paid employment. Kids need good music too. And my husband made some extra cash in high school by being a session guitarist for a local recording studio.

      2. I have a snippets file for those odd bits. Some of them have become chapters, some are still in the file. It just took time for some of them to find a home.

      3. I wish I had your talent for music. I tried. It didn’t work. Maybe I didn’t try enough, or didn’t have the right sort of training. However…your method and mine may be closer than you think.

        I’m what they call a “pantser,” though I don’t like the word. (I got pantsed enough in grade school.) I generally start with a premise, which may be the classic SF “what if:” What if there were a microscopic nanomachine that homed in on and destroyed electrical conductors carrying current? On a world infected with the nanomachine, could there be any sort of technology at all? If so, what form would it take?

        Then I look for conflict: Why would such a device be created? How would it be used and/or misused? What would the rest of the human realm be like? Governments? Societies? Who holds power and how is it maintained?

        Then I create and name a couple of characters. Names are key: Somehow I can’t do anything with a character until I name him or her.

        I then take the premise, the conflicts, and the characters and just doodle for awhile, almost literally: I write scraps of scenes, maybe some dialog, describe places and characters and delicious gadgetry, and then…I wait. I’ve seeded my subconscious, and in a few days or maybe weeks stuff starts bubbling up out of nowhere. I then sit down and blast away. I don’t always begin with the start of the story. I’ve found, though, that just starting to write, anywhere, often reveals to me where the beginning actually is.

        That’s how pantsing works: You create some moving parts, and then see how your deeper mind reacts. Mine can be uncanny, especially with regard to plots: I sometimes don’t know which way the plot will go next until just a few paragraphs before I write it.

        This is odd, since by temperament I’m a pretty analytical person. But writing, for me, is a walk on the very wild side.

        1. Take a few improv classes. Improv is the very definition of learning to do pantsing. And it never hurts to have to incorporate somebody else’s suggestion into your work, because it forces you to think.

          1. Interesting. My sister Gretchen Roper is a well-known filker, and she has an inborn talent for comedy improv. So that may be a reasonable idea for me to pursue.

            On the other hand, I heard a symphony orchestra playing a stirring anthem in a dream once, and when I woke up I realized it was “Telstar.”

            1. Also, maybe you’re not playing the right instrument for -you-. I started off playing drums, always loved them, but they weren’t very portable, were expensive, and practice was always loud.
              I tried guitar several times (I can play rhythm) but it never did much for me. Piano didn’t hold my interest either.
              Then a few years ago, I picked up bass, just out of curiosity.
              I love playing bass! I think I have finally found ‘my’ instrument, and it’s a lot more portable than drums! Wish I had found it sooner.

      4. Depends.

        I’m what is called a discovery writer or a pantser when it comes to nonfiction. I get inspired, possibly by a statement, start writing, get done, and look at it. Sometimes something feels wrong, and I have to fix it. I do at times take notes about what I want to address.

        One time ‘nother Mike pointed out that story ideas were a ‘how’, not a ‘where’. I wrote something to the effect that ‘it is how, the how is the same for many creative processes, this is the way to develop the how’.

        My understanding is that Ringo uses a pantsing process similar to what you describe.

        I’ve only had any success with plotting fiction. I get lost and stall out when I try to pants a story. I have to draw myself a roadmap before I metaphorically start driving.

        Drake is known for writing fairly extreme plots.

  8. Ha ha ha – You make me laugh, you actually thibnk that your puny independent books which you make more than four a year, based on outdated tropes and literaty clichees, can match the magnifficent outpur of pure imaginative quality offered from traditional publishing, such as the brilliant new book by the prime publuisher of the fantastic –

    Matt Wallace
    At a Goblin Royal Wedding party a magical food additive turns the humans in the room into horny 6 foot lizards, and all they want to do is have sex.

    With anything. For as long as they can.

    And as lizard love isn’t something that interests Sin du Jour staff, something must be done, but the building’s magical defenses have kicked in, sealing off access to the outside world.

      1. Strangely, Opus is talking about a real story.

        Of course, it’s labeled as humorous.

        1. What HUMOROUS – it’s just stupid Amazon tryign to stick it to the most prestigous of Trad Pub SF house! I cry FOUL you hear! And call fot thousands upon thousands of five star reviews in return from all the lizard lovers!

          I have no doubt that this totally SERIOUS short novel will be up for all kind of awards, seeing it features all the hallmarks of what true sf should be – a nonsencical non imaginative expose of erotic fantasies presented in a glourious verbosity of a highschool literary assignment – as is proudly represented by such cherised works like Dinosaur, Water, SPrings, Losers and Ancillary.

            1. – OK, now you lost me, I am from Europe and have zilch of idea what that phrase means. Non native english speaker, as you can gather from my grammar and punctuation.

              I went to certain site that lists upcoming releases of all fantastical books ( well that is what they say ) and read for almost an hour through their list – if it is not some rip off of Hunger Games or Harry Potter it is the kind I summarized in post above, with the novel I cited above as the most extreme example.

              Literarly ( pun totaly intended ) from around a fifty or so books presented, only one interested me, and it is written by a man who is writing SF long before than some of authors have been born.

              Also, thing I noted is that no indie publications were mentioned. They promoted that which is i gather Trad Pub. WHich publish 95 percent of total rubbish, judging by my tastes.

              To just think that some of it will be pushed as the best in SF, really, REALLY annoys me.

                1. I didn’t either. I thought he was trying to parody the worst social justice troll in grammar, spelling, and enthusiasm in his initial post. I figure he is one of us.

                  1. I would have guessed too much alcohol, too little caffeine, or a combination thereof. Guess that would have been a bad case of jumping to conclusions. “The Progressives made me do it, honest.”

                  2. Well yes I ve been trying to parody the kind of posts I saw on site I mentioned. SOme of those are … exasperating I guess is the word.

                    I wish one of our hosts here on madgeniusclub would do a post on the stratas of fandom that currently exists. It seems that there are certain unique traits to each of those – and I get a feeling that some people love sf for the wrong reasons – and it shows in their behaviour, both in interaction with other strata of fans, and their own critical posts.

                    1. (Sarah gets away with reposting blog articles, I can get away with reposting comments…)

                      February 27, 2015 at 6:02 AM
                      There are various “science fiction” groups:

                      1) the people who actually read science-fiction-as-I-define-it

                      2) the people who only read movie spinoffs, “urban” or traditional fantasy, shared-world series, and vampire/werewolf/zombie books

                      3) the manga/comics people

                      4) the “fans” and conventioneers, who often don’t read at all. And their cosplay subset.

                      5) the SFWA, which used to be an organization whose purpose was to keep publishers and agents from abusing authors, but now seems to be gnawing off its own limbs

                      6) the “gatekeepers”; the acquisitions editors and the marketers

                      7) the authors

                    2. TRX, I think #1 and #2 overlap quite a bit in Venn diagrams. I’m pretty sure I actually read SF as you define it but read a lot of traditional fantasy and urban fantasy.

                      #3 probably has a strong overlap as well.

  9. For some reason, today it occurred to me at work that perhaps I could sell that Whale/Time travel story I wrote to Asimov’s… if I turned the main character into a Lesbian.

    What do you think?

    1. You’d better do it quickly – it won’t be long before they’re part of the Establishment, and you’d have to promote some other “other” to get past the gatekeeper checklist.

      1. If I do, I’ll have to pull it off of DeviantArt. So read it while you can!

        It shouldn’t be too hard, other than the pronoun, and the fact that he “Lost an arm at Alexandria” that had obviously been replaced, there’s little to no description of the protagonist. Punching up the motivation to more whale worship than just solving a difficult case wouldn’t be too much harder.

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