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Posts from the ‘business’ Category

Reading and writing in a pandemic economy

I was very interested to read how bookstores are coping with the challenges of a coronavirus-hit economy.  The BBC writes about “How bookshops are helping with isolation“.  I’m going to quote from their article at some length, to illustrate how innovation and enthusiasm can compensate for other problems.

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What doesn’t kill… makes you stronger.

I see panic, doom-n-gloom, ranging from ‘we’re all gonna die!’ to ‘they will take away our civil liberties, forever’ all over the place. Well, who knows? But honestly, I doubt either scenario. I think we’re in for a rough ride. People will die, and economies will suffer. Whether any of that is as bad as those panic buying TP think… well, dudes, I’m relatively high risk (underlying condition), and I do work in a high risk environment (I’m a Volunteer Ambulance Officer- on a small island where we are all they have) and am married to and live with someone who also works in the front line.  I don’t want to die, but I’ve had one hellva life, if God thinks it is my turn.  I’m not giving up my Ambo work, nor stocking up on TP.   I think governments loathe giving up control of anything. But… well, once a genie has been out of the bottle, it’s not that easy to push back – or once the scare is over, to keep back. Yes, it may require hanging or shooting a few politicians, but, think of it as pour encourager les autres.

And we’re in for turbulence, bad bits, lots of human stupidity… but there might be some upside as well as downside in the medium to longer term (and I may be dead –so serious upside for the worms. Until they get unhappy gastrointestinal tracts, because I would disagree with anyone. I hope they stockpiled TP). Read more

Around the writing and publishing world

Several articles and reports caught my eye over the past couple of weeks.  I thought you might find them interesting, too.

First, the BBC has a fascinating video report on ancient libraries in a town in the Sahara Desert.

The ancient African town of Chinguetti was once a stopover for trade caravans and pilgrims in the Sahara Desert.

As many of the people passing through were rich and educated, libraries started opening along the route to allow visitors to read and write.

Today the remaining libraries are fighting to preserve these ancient books in the hostile desert climate.

I can’t embed the video, but you’ll find it at the link.  It makes interesting viewing.

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Can I Quote That? Ask Your Lawyer

At least, that’s the short version of the answer.

The slightly longer version of the answer would be: how long has the original author or speaker been dead?

This has come up a few times when I wanted to quote more than just the title of a song or poem. The rough rule of thumb for fair use in a commercial setting (your book) that I was given has been five words. If you quote more than five recognizable words, then you are getting into copyright law’s turf. The rule comes from academia, specifically what constitutes plagiarism, and a real copyright law site suggests that you can go a touch farther. In one case, I knew I didn’t have a prayer of using the lyric, because it was (and as far as I know, still is) tied up in a nasty copyright fight between a performer and the writer of the song, and the distributor.  That’s the sort of fight no author wants to wade into, so I made up some lyrics that fit the mood of the song and went from there.

Making up something is always safe. Doing your own translations is also safe. Read more

Advances: Buy, Sell, or Hold?

What should you do with an advance, if you get one? For purely indie writers, or those who work with small presses that don’t offer advances, we dream fond dreams akin to “if I won the lottery, I would . . .”

I have gotten one advance, that for a non-fiction work. It was to pay for necessary research, and I used it for just that, after deducting 30% for Uncle Sam (social security and Medicare taxes – 22.5%, plus extra just in case.) The hefty advance countered the very, very low royalties, which makes that a bit of a backward contract compared to fiction. However, the tax problem remains constant, as does the question of “Ooh, money, what now?”

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What is Your Job?

What is your job? What qualities do you need to do that job?

As fiction writers, our job is to tell stories that readers want to read. At a minimum, we need to be creative, have a better-than-average grasp of grammar and composition, some basic research skills, and very good imaginations. Understanding people and how to stir readers’ emotions is a big plus, whether it be to make them very happy, curious, angry, sad, or fearful.

We need to connect to readers, and the more tools we have in our toolboxes to do that, the better off we are. Not every story uses the same skill set, but all the basics had better be there. Read more

Which Genre, Anyway?

I recently launched a book on the ‘Zon and checked off the applicable genre tags. And discovered that it also appears under a horror sub-genre. “But wait, this isn’t horror! Just because it has…” Um, OK, never mind. But it is still not horror. Or is it?

What separates urban fantasy (UF), paranormal fantasy, paranormal romance (PNR), dark fantasy, and horror? Besides “Does the guy on the cover have a bare chest? If so, PNR.” Although that might change next week, given how publishers keep re-doing genre conventions on covers. Read more