Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Survey

This is a survey by a Grad Student frm the University of Chicago. It's somewhat comic-centric, but meant for both regular readers and non-readers alike.

Try it, if you like.

Survey

Friday, November 20, 2009

Best thing ever

The only reason I want cable...

Gaywatch - Peter Vadala & William Phillips
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Fantastic.

Also

It's Friday, kids, so you know what that means...

Check out Mark's latest posts over at the Scribblerati blog!

A loss of prestige

If you read somewhat regularly in the Lit-blog sphere, then you've probably already heard about the current BIG FLAP over Harlequin publishing and its newest imprint: Harlequin Horizons.

If not, start here, then go here, here, and here. Also: You can go here. And finally: Go here. John Scalzi does a good summation here.

And for the lazy out there, the nutshell:

Basically, Harlequin has announced that it is opening a vanity press house. They're calling it self-publishing and pretending that it's not a horrible scam usually reserved for false Internet publishing houses and people purporting to be former Nigerian royalty, but in actuality, they're really lying. Harlequin horizons is a vanity press.

Now true, Harlequin publishing and I, most likely (actually most definitely after this recent news), have very little chance of ever working together because I don't write bodice-ripping romances... at least, you know... not blatantly... Anyway, the point is, this does not bode well for the industry or for the craft of writing as a whole.

You see, Vanity Presses are one of the dark and terrible downsides that came about as a result of the Internet and publishing having met. It is a horrible beast that used to lurk in the shadows at the edges of civilization, and rightfully so, because it's twisted visage is too gross and mean for decent people to have to look upon. Vanity presses are ugly, ugly things and Harlequin is trying to drag it out into the light, dress it up like it's a semi-respectable self-publishing option and then force it's deformed, bastard children upon the world.

What's the difference?

Self-publishing is just that, you write it, you market it, you have it printed up as needed, and you keep the (usually negligible) profits. It's a route that is not for me personally, as I view the submittal process of traditional publishing as a challenge that will (hopefully) help me to turn out the best product I can offer, and one that I strive to meet. But whatever, the Self-publishing route is a personal career decision that every author can examine for themselves. As far as I'm concerned, if you just can't wait or you aren't interested in making any money or having anyone read your book, then go the Self-publishing route. That's fine. Even if I feel that it's a mistake career wise and comes with a somewhat unshakable stigma and I can't really see the value of it as a whole when weighed against the very obvious downsides, there are still some very valid reasons why someone might choose this route.

But like I said: it's not for me.

Vanity Presses, on the other hand, are synonymous with absolute crap. Let me be clear: They are synonymous with ABSOLUTE crap. A Vanity Press does nothing but CHARGE YOU for the privilege of having them bind up a glossy version of your manuscript. They offer no editorial support of any kind, nor any quality control, unless you pay them a ton of money, and then they expect you, the author, to pay even more money for a pre-determined bulk number of your book, right off the bat, and if you wish to re-coup that money, then you need to sell your whole stock yourself without any marketing support. Also, your book never makes it into any brick and mortar bookstores. AND the Vanity Press usually get a cut of your sales, usually around half... How is this ever seen as a good idea?

Good luck, rube.

Vanity Presses violate the number one rule of having a real career in writing: All money flows toward the author. It is a scam perpetrated on the dumb by the unscrupulous and one that usually ends with the poor schmuck being stuck with a garage full of their crappy books and out several thousands of dollars. There is absolutely no reason to go this route, at least, not one that couldn't be met simply by going to Kinkos.

No, Vanity Presses are generally the province of people with zero talent for the craft and are unable and flat out unwilling to submit themselves to the process, to critique, and to both the possibility of rejection, and, unbeknownst to them, the possibility of improving both their work and their publishing chances. They refuse to believe their "art" could possibly have a flaw, saying instead something akin to: "An artist's vision is pure, sacrosanct." Which is pure crap. They then try to go around and pretend that it's real, that they actually accomplished something, that a vanity press book is an actually published book, but it's not and everyone knows it. It's cheating. It's false. These people are the lepers of the literary world, the worst of the worst, the lowest of the low, the hanger-ons, the wannabes, and now Harlequin has decided to open a purposely misleading imprint designed to take advantage of these delusional souls.

So... people are in an uproar.

Why? A few reasons.

1. It's a scam. It's reprehensible that a previously "reputable" business would blatantly take advantage of people like this. And the tip-off is the careful wording on their official site so that it is clear that anything published through this new Harlequin Horizon imprint (or Hh) is NOT actually part of the official Harlequin list and they go to great lengths to assure their existing authors that these Harlequin Horizon books will in no way be associated with their own. Basically: Don't worry, we'll keep that shit separate. Harlequin then turns around and infers that this scam is actually a proving ground of sorts, a possible path to legitimate publishing, but really it's just a way to make a boatload of cash without having to do anything, off people that, at the very least, are operating under the false belief that this will help them on their path to their dreams.

2. Part of the publishing process is the Test. That you are either good enough or you're not. Part of it is that you have to work hard to make that grade. It's an accomplishment, one to be proud of. But if the sluice gates are thrown open wide and all the fetid trash that resulted from every mouth-breathing shut-in with the Internet, an oh-so-sensitve "everybody should win" bullshit attitude, and a ream of boring, delusional hackery are allowed to flood in and swamp us all with their stagnant purple prose, even if only on-line and under a false imprint pretending at legitimacy...

What's does that say for the rest of us? For those of us that work hard at what we do? Where's the value? Where's the accomplishment when so many can, even if wrongfully and only at first glance, be seen as equals for doing so little, for doing what basically amounts to taking a day-trip to the Copy Store with a pocket full of quarters and air-filled head? Aren't we all, and our shabby well-loved art, that much lessened by the association, by the lack of quality, by the lack of style and substance? What's the point of swimming for that fabled and far off pristine distant shore if it's swamped in a sea of poo?

So, I'm saying this now:

It's for real for me or I'm done. No Self-publishing. No Vanity Presses. Nothing. It's traditional or I quit. No compromises, no delusions, no regrets.

It's published or it's nothing.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Song Sung Blue

Today is a crappy day.

I got my first real rejection letter.

Actually, I got it yesterday… on my birthday.

This particular rejection (technically my second, but the first one was just a 24 hour later form letter rejection, one that I attribute more to a key-word type trigger or a general lack of subject interest then to the fact that I suck, but whatever…) ANYWAY, this particular rejection comes from the Agent that requested the full manuscript from me about a week ago.

Now, honestly, this rejection wasn’t too much of a surprise as the Agent in question, at least going by her personal blog and her client list, is pretty YA and Chick-lit-y and I am not. So, from the start, it was always kind of surprising that she even expressed any interest in my stuff in the first place, especially since I never actually queried her specifically… but again: whatever… it’s still a bit of a bummer.

Le Sigh…

On the upside, she has been very attentive during all this with an amazingly fast turn-over, and even if she did come back with a response other than the one I would have preferred, at least she was quick about it. She also took the time to give me some feedback, which is cool of her, and proves that she actually read my book, or at least part of it.

Some of this feedback was possibly good stuff and I will examine and possibly implement it. A couple of them seemed more like an over-simplified solution for some inherent and known possible problems, and the last few were, for the most part, of the stripe that I would expect from… well, someone like her, at least, judging again by what she puts in her blog and who she represents… which is cool, you know, I mean, different strokes and all that jazz… but still: No big surprise. Some of the feedback, though.. well, some of it seemed really off-base. I won’t go into specifics, because it was maddening, but yeah… it was crap and very telling. Ultimately, though, it doesn’t matter, some shit you have to let go, because you can’t control people’s perceptions. Of course, however invalid in actuality that particular personal opinion was, the fact that it came up at all does carry with it the validity of it possibly repeating in my possible audience’s possible perceptions, which makes it something to consider and be aware of.

So, I’ll examine that too… even if it was bullshit.

But there you have it.

Two queries down, who knows how many more to go. This latest bit is disappointing, but what can you do? Such is the process, I guess. And, truth be told, I’ve only sent out six queries total, so far, and in just about a month and a half's time since Q Day, I've gotten three responses for further samples, sure two were from the same person, but still: fucking victory, man.

On one hand, I can appreciate the feedback and I’ll take a look at possibly implementing some of it and hopefully the time she took will end up helping me out on my road to getting published.

On the other hand… who cares?

A new Query Letter goes out tomorrow.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Scribblerati Part 2

Hey, hey!

It's my week over at the Scribblerati blog!

Go check out my post!

Love it! Love it!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Update!

Ok, well, the good news is, I got my full manuscript finished up, polished, and sent off. Very, very exciting. And...

What the hell...?

Excuse me? Miss? Hello...? Excuse me? Yeah, hi. Um... I'm not sure who hired you to paint in here, but I gotta tell you... On first sight, I'm not entirely convinced that this is something you usually do for a living... just a feeling. No offense. My concern , of course, is that I might not get a good, smooth coat out of this and, you know, this IS one of the first places people see and all, right...? I mean, I don't know about you, but a bump in the paint? Frankly, I won't be able to see anything else. I'll stare at it for an eternity.

And there's a moth... or something... on your stomach, a box elder bug maybe, I don't know... I can get that for you.

Also... FYI, you seem to have forgotten your pants.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Request for full

Well...

So, I got a request for the full manuscript.

One of the two agents who had previously asked for an initial sample of Gunslingers of the Apocalypse (thirty pages specifically) e-mailed me on Friday and asked for the whole thing. They stated in their e-mail that they would "love to read more."

Now, maybe I'm reading into that statement a bit too much, but the word "love" really jumped out at me. Don't you think that the use of that word indicates that they already like it? Don't you think that the use of that word "love" denotes feelings of not just professional interest (in which case I think they would have simply written: "I'm interested in reading the whole thing"), but ones of actual personal enjoyment as well? Doesn't that seem like a reasonable supposition on my part? Or do you think I'm reading into it too much?

Hurm... We shall see.

It is certainly my hope, at least.

Anyway, I'm going to send it out in a couple of days here, after first taking a moment to obsess over it one last time. This is a moment that is both nerve-racking for me and also one of resigned calm. I mean, the way I look at it, at this point, it's down to the wire. Yay or nay, either way, it's done. No more next level in the submissions process, at least, as far as this particular agent is concerned. Either way, I move up or I move on. So, either way, I'm feeling pretty good.

I mean, I made it to the final round in the submissions process in just over 5 weeks while still on my first six Queries ever... That's not bad, people. That's not bad at all. In fact, you know how I look at that? You know what I see this as?



A Victory.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Internet drama!

Oh boy!

There's a storm brewing, kids. Trouble! Right here in Blog-city! There's some grade-A- mouth-breathing-Internet-denizen-slap-fighting on the horizon and we have a front row seat, people, you lucky ducks! I am so excited!

So, it breaks down like this...

In one corner: Kristen Nelson, literary agent, and her various and sundry blog-followers.

Now, Kristen actually seems pretty nice and, on a regular day, she mostly just blogs about her work and her daily life stuff. She appears to be level-headed and professional, so honestly, I expect her to refrain from participating in this.

No, the true combatants will be her Blog-comment Regulars, a surly and devoted bunch. The reason for this is because Kristen is a Literary Agent. This means that most of her Followers are, really, just a bunch of struggling writers. This means that they all visit her blog pretty much on a daily basis, all of them working their asses off, trying their level-darnest to interact with Kristen in what will hopefully be perceived as a pleasant and friendly manner, due to a desperate and shared hope that if they are successful, and she notices them, they will then receive an "in" from her to use on that inevitable day that they all submit their Queries to her. Meaning: if they're nice and attentive, then she will bestow upon them a free pass to publishing, fame and fortune! Huzzah!

That is the hope, anyway...

But really, this isn't going to happen.

I mean... duh... who the hell is going to base their professional career off the practice of regularly hitching their wagon up to the best sycophant? No one, that's who. But still, her Followers keep trying, after all: Ya' never know, ya' never, never know... and there are new ones added to the mix every day and they don't want to rock the boat and risk possibly getting tossed out into the cold. I mean, the lady might be handing out free publishing deals written on solid gold paper, for Christ's sake!

So, the cycle replenishes itself. At this point, the usual Internet hierarchy begins to establish itself: Take a net nerd and give them a regular presence on a website somewhere on the Internet and they will immediately squat down and begin to build a fort. From these ramparts, they cross their arms and begin to hold forth. Due to the length of time they have spent on this site and the amount that they post daily, they believe themselves all-powerful, unassailable, and always right, second in total awesomeness to the site's owner only, and they will bristle and attack at even the barest perception of disrespect.

So, when a dissenter appears and begins to douche-bag it up in the comment section to such a degree that it results in Kristen turning on the Comment Moderation in order to put a lid on said douchebag's activities... the Sycophants start to get a bit twitchy. They begin to spoil for a fight, ready at a moment's notice to defend Kristen the loudest of everyone and then... well, maybe then they will receive that "in." Unfortunately, with the douchebag effectively banned, the Followers now have no one to attack and nowhere to direct their anger and, if they were to follow the douchebag somewhere else and then attack that douchebag in anger... all that would do is turn the Followers themselves into douchebags, the very thing they hate. It is a situation much like that of the Jedi when faced with the Dark-side of the Force.

...Sorry, that was pretty nerdy...

Ahem...

ANYWAY, but... if that aforementioned douchebag were to go to their own blog and begin to talk a bunch of "shit" that can then be construed as a slight...? Well, kids, that's how flame wars start.

Thus, in the other corner, I present for your reading enjoyment: Gordon Jerome, bitter douchebag.

I read both of these blogs on a semi-regular basis for completely different and most likely, readily apparent reasons and you, my gentle and constant readers, will be able to find all the build-up, to what I just know will be an epic rumble, in their respective previous blogs and comment sections.

WOOOOO! Fight! Fight! Fight!

Quick, quick! Pull up a chair!

Popcorn?