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Old 1st April 2012, 12:58 PM   #1
Beanbag
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What book is everyone writing right now?

Reading a book is one thing; writing a book is another. I know there are authors in this forum (Conspi: I'm looking at you).

So, what are you working on?

Me? Lessee:
1) I'm revising my absolutely terrible first novel (unpublished) called Tales of The Winterhawk;

2) converting my "best" screenplay to novel form (The Molenschtadt Rotors);

3) got a scifi modern-day thriller in the works called Lazarus Flats, where an aging researcher has to deal with the consequences of developing a process to transfer consciousness into another body, made more difficult because on the eve of its release, he was bonked on the head and woke up eight years later in the body of a twelve-year-old boy abandoned on the side of the road;

and

4) about halfway through a young adult novel concerning a bachelor whose quiet life is turned upside down when his cat drags home an injured faerie.

I'm also using my first novel, Tales of The Winterhawk, as a test subject for producing ebooks. I figure it might be interesting to bypass the whole publishing house mess and deal directly with the readers via the internet,

Beanbag
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Old 3rd April 2012, 05:07 AM   #2
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My enemies list.


I'm on my eight volume, at the moment.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 06:54 AM   #3
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Not writing, but I'm working as a freelance editor for a California publisher, currently working on another writer's history of the last stages of the war in Viet Nam and its effect on U.S. politics.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 06:57 AM   #4
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Income tax return.
It's a work of fiction.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 06:58 AM   #5
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I have three drafts in the works, mostly in my head. Just got my first payment from Amazon Kindle - $16!!! For about five months of sales. Not quitting my day job.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 07:14 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Beanbag View Post
I'm also using my first novel, Tales of The Winterhawk, as a test subject for producing ebooks. I figure it might be interesting to bypass the whole publishing house mess and deal directly with the readers via the internet,
I thought it might be useful for me to share my experiences as a reader/consumer. I downloaded a couple of self-published ebooks on Kindle. I won't be buying any more; the quality of the writing is just terrible.
Publishers perform an extremely important quality control function with books. I'm sure it's possible to successfully bypass that function in other ways, but a lot of readers are not going to want to give the book a chance if it can't make it with a publisher.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 08:17 AM   #7
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I have two manuscripts in the almost-final-draft stage, already accepted for publication, and overdue by going on two months now. The first is an adult sf-fantasy crossover, the second a YA.

I also have a non-fiction manuscript nearly ready for release to my first readers.

Progress has been stalled since December for a variety of reasons -- health, family, and work have all had crises lately. My publisher is, unfortunately for my productivity, quite accommodating and patient. I've set aside the months of May and June to get all three manuscripts out the door.

Writing is never something I've enjoyed doing, although I tremendously enjoy having done it.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 10:13 AM   #8
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I'm waiting for the acquisition editor at my publisher's to tell me whether they will be publishing the second book in my trilogy (they published the first); if so, I'll begin editing work on that. When I'm done with the editing, I'll begin my own editing of the third book prior to submission. It's still 105,000 words and I need to chop it down to 100,000 or less.

Avalon, I agree for the most part. I'm glad I got a professional editor and also a cover artist for my first book, through my publisher. I recently read a self-published mystery that had a great premise and horrible typos, punctuation, grammar, and formatting. Even a proofreader could have caught most of the issues. It's a shame. There are some authors out there with enough experience to pull it off, and some who hire editors themselves, so don't completely give up on the self-published experience. The problem is sorting out the good from the bad. Amazon offers the ability to"look inside" and read a few pages in most books; it's feature worth using.
I'm also working on a short story that might become a novel in the future and reworking an old mystery (the trilogy is fantasy fiction).
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Old 3rd April 2012, 11:13 AM   #9
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What's the title of your first book, Tiktaalik? You can PM me if you prefer.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 11:16 AM   #10
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Nothing commercial, not for some time. I have finished by (second) thesis and am waiting for my vivas to be scheduled.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 01:43 PM   #11
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500 pages into my first attempt “ A clear golden Pool”
Real events from my family history and some done right lies, set in a 19th century historical, romantic adventure.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 01:56 PM   #12
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I'm writing a book about the worst religious leaders in the history of the western world. I'm most of the way finished with it and I must say I rather like what I have!
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Old 3rd April 2012, 01:57 PM   #13
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I haven't written anything in ages. A few years ago I tried my hand at writing a Star Trek fanfic, set 100 years in the future from TNG. I got through about 100 pages, then set it aside for a couple weeks. When I went back and re-read it to pick up the thread again, I realized it stunk on ice and deleted it. I haven't written anything longer than three paragraphs since.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 02:37 PM   #14
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Not a book, but a short story. I've been tweaking it for a while and it's awful damn preachy, but that's sort of the nature of the tale. I'm about ready to say I'm done with it. Shall I post it in this thread? Shall I? Shall I?
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Old 3rd April 2012, 02:51 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Brown View Post
Not a book, but a short story. I've been tweaking it for a while and it's awful damn preachy, but that's sort of the nature of the tale. I'm about ready to say I'm done with it. Shall I post it in this thread? Shall I? Shall I?
You shall.

And If it's really preachy, you can just call it a parable.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 03:10 PM   #16
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I'm about to become unpopular in this thread, but what I'm going to say is (at least as far as I can see it) the truth.

Self-publishing and e-book publishing that circumvents the traditional process is only a means for the mediocre to soothe their egos.

Hate me yet? It's true. Now I'll tell you why.

We can all as writers, published or aspiring, point to examples like Twilight, or Danielle Steele's entire body of work, and lament about how corrupt and awful the publishing industry is. They make for handy excuses. But, that's all they are. These books are, yes, horrid. I agree. You agree. Let's shake hands.

But they sell. I don't precisely know why, and it's tempting to write off the mass of readers as stupid cattle, but that still leaves us with a problem: who else is buying in large numbers?

As well, examples like this tend to cloud over the fact that each year many hundreds of wonderful books also get published and do well.

Here is the truth: agents want you, publishers want you, and readers want you. But only if you can deliver. It's not easy, but it's not impossible either. This system disenchants many writers, but it also makes a lot of them better writers.

When somebody says to me "I'm going to self-publish or e-publish" then, sorry, what you're telling me is that you've given up. You don't want to try, because trying is hard. You're going to stick it to the man, ride the wave of e-revolution, cut out the middleman, and put the power back to the people.

Fair enough.

You have failed. Done. Cooked. Happy? I sure hope the hell not. I hope you're pissed right off, in fact. Because if you're inspired to write then you should be inspired to be read, and if you're inspired to be read then you better damn well mean it enough to fight for it or you're a dilletante who has no business scribbling in the first place - and e-publishing cannot fix that, so stop kidding yourself. It's not a fix.

The fix is in you, and in your work. Instead of giving up and taking the easy route, you should be looking for ways to make it better. And if you do this, you can compete in the traditional publishing industry. And if you do that, you'll have all the readers you'd get from the e-book plus more.

Isn't that worth a bit of effort? I think it is.

And that's why I think e-book self-publishing is a delusion propagated by the lazy, the unwilling, and the unworthy. I won't waste my time on them, because if you're willing to cheat yourself as an author then I can guarantee you'll cheat me as a reader.

So don't do it. Don't lie to yourself. Just work harder and find ways to do it better. You'll win and your readers will win.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 03:26 PM   #17
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I believe the rule of thumb is that it takes six goes before you manage a decent novel. Or, rather, manuscript - it's not a book until it's been published, and you can't get published until you get an agent, except agents won't take on an author who hasn't been published. Catch 22!

My current work is a Doctor Who fan-fiction - no! stop! come back! The First Doctor, the crusty grumpy old git Doctor with nubile grand-daughter and two teachers in tow. Featuring space-bandits, land-travelling squids and an archetypal Big Dumb Object.

Other stuff - first draft of Zombie-Apocalypse-in-the-UK, first person narrative from perspective of army officer. All very matter of fact, nothing supernatural, avoiding teleporting-zombie, silent-zombie, human-more-stupid-than-zombie tropes.

More distant prospects: linked short-stories/novellas of intrepid Action Geologist, who manages to fall feet-first into unusual situations - first one being excavation of 1940's Iron Curtain uranium mine, buried for 50 years and now revealed to be chock-full of hideous - ah! but that would be telling.

I don't expect any of these to see the light of day, but - heck, a man's got to have a hobby, and it keeps me off the streets.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 03:37 PM   #18
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Fully aware that I've just trod on some toes, here's my follow-up.

I don't want to oppress you. I'm not trying to be a bully or smash up your dreams for my own amusement. Precisely the opposite.

All writers are siblings-in-arms. All of us. We get an idea, like it, and start writing it down. Only a relative few ever make it.

But, you know, anybody inspired enough to write in the first place does, I believe, have it within themselves to make it. Most don't because there are a lot of traps laid along the way.

The resources exist for you, too.

What I want, as a writer and a reader, is to see more good stories. Anybody else want that? I imagine a lot of hands just went up.

That's why it irks me to see people trying to cheat the system somehow. Not only is it bad on its own, as evidenced by the many horrid e-books self-published, but it serves to waylay and destroy potential good writers who settle into mediocrity - and it also destroys the viability of e-publishing for everybody else.

Getting published seems undemocratic, but really it's the most democratic thing there is. Ultimately, agent or not, published or not, sales or not, the entirety of your future rests with one thing:

readers.

Welcome to democracy. You won't like it, I promise you. It will boggle your mind, torture your soul, and in far too many cases lead to substance abuse. We write for ulcers, they're all we can count on getting.

Best thing anybody ever said to me when I was starting out was this, following a rather cutting critique of my beloved pet project (which all of my friends and mom had thought brilliant, of course, and told me I should be a writer):

Writing is like farting. What comes out is influence by what goes in, and everybody likes the smell of their own the best.

Crude, but apt. What she was saying was that I could never make it so long as my ego needed shielding, so long as I couldn't see past the end of my nose long enough to realize the work never stops. The struggle to be better never ends.

And it shouldn't. You agree, whether you know it or not.

How many people here have had a favourite author whose work petered out and became boring and flat?

I imagine a lot of hands went up.

Struggle never ends. They forgot that, and went coasting. They turned into crap writers, some so bad if their latter work was what they had submitted in the first place they'd have been shown the door.

So, Beanbag?

Don't give up. Don't give up on yourself, and don't give up on me, the reader. Come on, fight for it. Fight for it! Let us read it, but let us read it when it's there, when it's good, when it grabs us and slaps us upside the head with awesome.

Do it!

But don't you dare cheap out on us.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 03:41 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Comsat Angel View Post
Or, rather, manuscript - it's not a book until it's been published, and you can't get published until you get an agent, except agents won't take on an author who hasn't been published. Catch 22!
Myth. Total myth. I have a list of some 200 agencies (good ones) worldwide currently accepting open queries from new authors. They want them, they're looking for the next big discovery.

And the other side of it is that if you're already published and your sales see a dive, good luck competing for representation with the new blood. Far from it being a blue-blood hierarchy you'll find yourself out in the cold while somebody new gets your spot.

Remember, it's a business - not an aristocracy.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 03:45 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Comrade Raptor View Post
I'm about to become unpopular in this thread, but what I'm going to say is (at least as far as I can see it) the truth.

Self-publishing and e-book publishing that circumvents the traditional process is only a means for the mediocre to soothe their egos.

Hate me yet? It's true. Now I'll tell you why.

We can all as writers, published or aspiring, point to examples like Twilight, or Danielle Steele's entire body of work, and lament about how corrupt and awful the publishing industry is. They make for handy excuses. But, that's all they are. These books are, yes, horrid. I agree. You agree. Let's shake hands.

But they sell. I don't precisely know why, and it's tempting to write off the mass of readers as stupid cattle, but that still leaves us with a problem: who else is buying in large numbers?

As well, examples like this tend to cloud over the fact that each year many hundreds of wonderful books also get published and do well.

Here is the truth: agents want you, publishers want you, and readers want you. But only if you can deliver. It's not easy, but it's not impossible either. This system disenchants many writers, but it also makes a lot of them better writers.

When somebody says to me "I'm going to self-publish or e-publish" then, sorry, what you're telling me is that you've given up. You don't want to try, because trying is hard. You're going to stick it to the man, ride the wave of e-revolution, cut out the middleman, and put the power back to the people.

Fair enough.

You have failed. Done. Cooked. Happy? I sure hope the hell not. I hope you're pissed right off, in fact. Because if you're inspired to write then you should be inspired to be read, and if you're inspired to be read then you better damn well mean it enough to fight for it or you're a dilletante who has no business scribbling in the first place - and e-publishing cannot fix that, so stop kidding yourself. It's not a fix.

The fix is in you, and in your work. Instead of giving up and taking the easy route, you should be looking for ways to make it better. And if you do this, you can compete in the traditional publishing industry. And if you do that, you'll have all the readers you'd get from the e-book plus more.

Isn't that worth a bit of effort? I think it is.

And that's why I think e-book self-publishing is a delusion propagated by the lazy, the unwilling, and the unworthy. I won't waste my time on them, because if you're willing to cheat yourself as an author then I can guarantee you'll cheat me as a reader.

So don't do it. Don't lie to yourself. Just work harder and find ways to do it better. You'll win and your readers will win.


Your assumption is that someone who goes the self-publishing route doesn't put as much time and effort into getting their book of high quality as someone who goes the traditional route.

While this may be true of some self-publishers, it's certainly not true of all.

There are self-published authors who have achieved levels of success traditional published authors could only dream of.

I'm self-publishing my book. I'm not doing it because I am lazy, or because it's the easy way out, but because I've done my research and concluded it offers me the best deal; a deal no publishing company can offer me.

My book is going through the exact same process a book being published traditionally would go through, in fact it's probably being more rigorously worked before release.

I've worked and reworked my book more times than I care to count, going over every inch of it, and yet that only gets it to "writer's draft" level. From there, it will be flayed alive by no less than two professional editors.

A professional artist will produce the cover, and a professional designer will create the layout.

The only difference is that at the end of the day I will retain total ownership of my work, and I will be the one that profits from my hard work, not a publishing house.

As for your blind dismissal of self-published eBooks, I'd love to hear you make your arguments to Amanda Hocking.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 03:59 PM   #21
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As for what I am working on... am editing the first volume of my "House of Kings" series; The Silver-eyed Child, which is of the epic fantasy/historical persuasion.

It's currently with Tor in New York but I'd be very surprised if they were able to offer me a deal that would convince me not to self-publish, so I am anticipating a release in the second half of this year.

Once that's released I'll be editing volume two and writing volume three.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 04:00 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by gumboot View Post
Your assumption is that someone who goes the self-publishing route doesn't put as much time and effort into getting their book of high quality as someone who goes the traditional route.

While this may be true of some self-publishers, it's certainly not true of all.

There are self-published authors who have achieved levels of success traditional published authors could only dream of.

I'm self-publishing my book. I'm not doing it because I am lazy, or because it's the easy way out, but because I've done my research and concluded it offers me the best deal; a deal no publishing company can offer me.

My book is going through the exact same process a book being published traditionally would go through, in fact it's probably being more rigorously worked before release.

I've worked and reworked my book more times than I care to count, going over every inch of it, and yet that only gets it to "writer's draft" level. From there, it will be flayed alive by no less than two professional editors.

A professional artist will produce the cover, and a professional designer will create the layout.

The only difference is that at the end of the day I will retain total ownership of my work, and I will be the one that profits from my hard work, not a publishing house.

As for your blind dismissal of self-published eBooks, I'd love to hear you make your arguments to Amanda Hocking.
My argument intentionally avoided the rare exceptions in order to further a more basic point.

Yes, Amanda Hocking has seen success. Yes, your method may offer a better deal.

I'll even concede these without argument.

But: Amanda Hocking would have enjoyed equal success by breaking through traditionally. Her works have appeal, and sell, and traditional publishers want that.

And you have not shorted the process. Props to you, and my respect. My intention was not to insult you.

But an overwhelming majority of self-publishers are doing it for the reasons I explained, and are suffering the problems thereof. It's not fair to them, and it's not fair to readers. Also not fair to you, since it creates a dismissive atmosphere for e-books. It doesn't help you to have e-books in the public consciousness become a synonym for crap, does it?

The point I'm making is that the end effort for success in both areas is the same. So for most people, fighting to break out traditionally is the better first choice. It forces them to do what you have volunteered to do, and that should yield better writers and better books.

Does that help clarify my position?
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Old 3rd April 2012, 04:07 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by gumboot View Post
As for what I am working on... am editing the first volume of my "House of Kings" series; The Silver-eyed Child, which is of the epic fantasy/historical persuasion.

It's currently with Tor in New York but I'd be very surprised if they were able to offer me a deal that would convince me not to self-publish, so I am anticipating a release in the second half of this year.

Once that's released I'll be editing volume two and writing volume three.
Do you have an agent, or have you submitted directly to Tor?

If your work is that good (and I have no reason to believe it isn't), a good agent could get you a deal that ought to be quite competitive and having an advocate is a handy thing.

Clearly you've put a great deal of thought into it, and I wish you success.


ETA:

Also, my purpose here is to be helpful and not to dump on people and smash their ambitions. You may disagree with me, and that's perfectly all right, but the reason my opinion on the matter is so strong is because I thought about the e-publishing route and then discovered for myself that it wasn't the best way to go.

Your mileage may vary. I'm me, you're you. We're different, and may have vastly different results. But, knowing what I know now I'd never argue the e-pub route over a good agent and a proper deal.

Doesn't make me 100% infallibly correct, but that's where I'm coming from.

Last edited by Comrade Raptor; 3rd April 2012 at 04:11 PM.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 06:41 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by AvalonXQ View Post
What's the title of your first book, Tiktaalik? You can PM me if you prefer.
It's called "Stolen". There's a thread about it in Community titled "It's Out!"...
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Old 3rd April 2012, 06:42 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by jhunter1163 View Post
I haven't written anything in ages. A few years ago I tried my hand at writing a Star Trek fanfic, set 100 years in the future from TNG. I got through about 100 pages, then set it aside for a couple weeks. When I went back and re-read it to pick up the thread again, I realized it stunk on ice and deleted it. I haven't written anything longer than three paragraphs since.
Too bad. I kind of like Star Trek fanfic.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 06:45 PM   #26
Tiktaalik
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Originally Posted by gumboot View Post
As for what I am working on... am editing the first volume of my "House of Kings" series; The Silver-eyed Child, which is of the epic fantasy/historical persuasion.

It's currently with Tor in New York but I'd be very surprised if they were able to offer me a deal that would convince me not to self-publish, so I am anticipating a release in the second half of this year.

Once that's released I'll be editing volume two and writing volume three.
I read the first part of this on another forum and liked it...
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Old 3rd April 2012, 07:27 PM   #27
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Most of what I'm working on (that isn't academic) is in my head, though I do have a few notebooks full of notions and elaborations. While it's really a bunch of active procrastination, I like to think of it as my process. Think. Make notes. Filter my thoughts through a new subject (from sociology to economics, say) or literary ideal. Repeat.

I guess such percolation is necessary, but it's been going on like that for years. A more disciplined person with more time could probably synthesize a few dozen manuscripts from what I've thought up or written down. Even if nothing ever comes of it, I find the process of fiddling with ideas and approaches to be somewhat fulfilling in its own right.

(That, incidentally, is the only point I'd argue with Comrade Raptor -- that dilettantes
have no business scribbling. Rather, they merely have no business complaining about failure.)

My primary focus of my pre-writing is... very difficult to describe in a single go. It started out simple and has grown into something huge and unwieldy (as things tend), but I'm sort of rolling with that, trying to see how much I can cram and layer (I'm a big fan of trying to get as much from as little as I can) in so that when it's time to prune I have a better selection. Naive? Time will tell.

I can say that it's science fiction, a novel -- or a few, depending on how things shake out. I've never published, of course, and I'm not sure if, when given an idea that might take a few books to do justice to, it's better to write the first and try to publish that on the hopes that they'll want the rest, or write them all. Naturally that's ultimately an expression of my own doubts that I can write them all, though to be fair to myself I'm also anal enough that I'd hate to have the first set in stone before moving on; better to do it all at once and edit accordingly into its necessary bite-sized pieces.

It started with the premise of a man who finds himself rendered as software and the in creating the backstory for that it has pulled in an entire alien race that long ago put itself in the same predicament by necessity and how that has evolved and why this man is now embroiled in it. As I said, I bit complicated.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 07:54 PM   #28
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I thought about writing a biography of the nineteenth-century Scottish merchant and arms-trader, Thomas Glover, but then I discovered that there are at least two biographies on him in English and a novel as well as a few books about him in Japanese.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 08:26 PM   #29
Comrade Raptor
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Originally Posted by Cynic View Post

(That, incidentally, is the only point I'd argue with Comrade Raptor -- that dilettantes
have no business scribbling. Rather, they merely have no business complaining about failure.)
A fair point to make, and true in its own right. And, to be fair, doing something just for the satisfaction of its own sake isn't horrible, however harshly I expressed my thoughts.

I just figure if you're going to go that far, why not take it as far as you can?

So it's less that I'm trying to dismiss the idea of writing at all (though it looks that way) and more about trying to impress the idea that, hey, there's a great big world of possibility every time you sit down to set out words. No reason to artificially limit your options straight from the start, right?

Remember, not everybody will succeed at writing - but everybody can try.

And even if you're just doing it for yourself, no reason to not take it seriously. If it means enough to you for you to put any time in, I figure it should mean enough to try and do it right. Even if it's only a hobby. You might discover the hobby turns into something more interesting.

Anybody who sits down and says to themself: "I'm just doing this for kicks and it doesn't mean anything", yes, absolutely shouldn't scribble. Find a more rewarding hobby. If it doesn't mean anything, then you don't have anything to say. And without anything to say, why would you write at all? And if you do have something to say, then to quote Mr. Kenobi:

"You've just taken your first step into a larger world."

If you can add another step, and another, you just might discover a hidden something something lurking you didn't expect.

Make sense? If you write it, it means something. To you, if not yet to anybody else. Take it seriously enough to follow the string as far as you can, because for all of us - paid and unpaid - that's all it has ever been.

Words have meaning, but only if they're read. Be inspired to be read, it doesn't cost you anything except time and you're already spending it. Worst case scenario, at least you'll produce something that gives you a little more satisfaction.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 08:49 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Comrade Raptor View Post
My argument intentionally avoided the rare exceptions in order to further a more basic point.

Yes, Amanda Hocking has seen success. Yes, your method may offer a better deal.

I'll even concede these without argument.

But: Amanda Hocking would have enjoyed equal success by breaking through traditionally. Her works have appeal, and sell, and traditional publishers want that.
She spent eight years trying to get published traditionally, and failed... no one was interested.


Originally Posted by Comrade Raptor View Post
But an overwhelming majority of self-publishers are doing it for the reasons I explained, and are suffering the problems thereof. It's not fair to them, and it's not fair to readers. Also not fair to you, since it creates a dismissive atmosphere for e-books. It doesn't help you to have e-books in the public consciousness become a synonym for crap, does it?
Oh I agree 100% on everything you say above. I just hope all of those people keep underselling their work at $0.99 so my stuff doesn't get lumped in with theirs.


Originally Posted by Comrade Raptor View Post
The point I'm making is that the end effort for success in both areas is the same. So for most people, fighting to break out traditionally is the better first choice. It forces them to do what you have volunteered to do, and that should yield better writers and better books.

Does that help clarify my position?
I agree completely. But there's some significant issues with the traditional route as well, and for people who are serious about writing, and who have the resources, I think ePublishing has to be recognised as a real viable alternative. It's not necessarily the last refuge of the failed writer.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 09:01 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Comrade Raptor View Post
Do you have an agent, or have you submitted directly to Tor?
I submitted directly. Since they take work directly I figured it made sense to try that first. There's a distinct shortage of literary agents in my country.


Originally Posted by Comrade Raptor View Post
If your work is that good (and I have no reason to believe it isn't), a good agent could get you a deal that ought to be quite competitive and having an advocate is a handy thing.
Everything I've seen about unknown first-time authors is that the deals they're given are pretty mediocre. While I've not had experience with book publishers specifically, I do have experience with companies that handle acquisition of creative product, and the general rule seems to be that these places have so much product to choose from, they tend to settle into a "non negotiable" attitude where they offer you a deal, and you either accept it or they move on to the next person desperate to be picked up.

I've worked in the entertainment industry for many years, and know something of copyright and contracts and so on, so I'm fully expecting that even if Tor were to offer me a deal, we wouldn't be able to agree to the terms; there's certain points on which I won't budge, and I'd be honestly surprised if they were willing to negotiate with a first time author at all.


Originally Posted by Comrade Raptor View Post
Clearly you've put a great deal of thought into it, and I wish you success.
It's probably fair to say that my situation is far from usual, and I think there's certain aspects of my situation that make the traditional route less productive, and the alternative route more productive.

I'd certainly never argue that the alternative route is the best solution for everyone, or even most people. I think I'm just lucky that in my case it really probably is the wisest course of action.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 09:43 PM   #32
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Good replies, Gumboot. You're right, of course, it isn't necessarily the refuge of the failed writer. But it is for too many. Maybe this will change over time, but I think inevitably some sort of gatekeeper wil evolve - even if it's just Amazon doing the sorting (de facto publisher) - to separate out the junk.

As for an agent, I strongly recommend it. Check around and see if there are some in the US who might be open to the idea. I found a similar situation when I went looking for a Canadian agent, and have a friend who had the same thing. Turns out there are agents who don't really care where you live and will still take you on as a client.

The primary advantage of an agent, beyond the obvious, is that you get somebody on your team who not only believes in you, but who has a vested stake in your success. That's a very good thing to have, and a good agent will push you to do better and will find flaws in your stuff (with offered solutions) that an editor, no matter how competent, might not. The agent doesn't get paid if you don't, and having somebody with a stake in it can make a big difference to where things wind up.

So I urge you to look into that, and explore all your options. You've got entertainment industry experience, which is a plus, but I think for this particular industry an agent might give you a worthwhile edge. While I understand completely your stance on rights, please bear in mind that it's possible for an agent to negotiate terms you might prefer - including bids on limited rights for limited duration. Also please bear in mind that, financially, without knowing how to predict what your actual sell-through will be, choosing to go without an agent or book deal might mean you miss out on a fix or suggestion that could put you over the top. So you may, in the end, wind up shorting yourself on sales. Even a few simple changes can make the difference between moving thousands to moving hundreds of thousands (this actually blew my mind, but it's true).

It's just some things to think about. It's a complicated business, and publishers are notoriously tight-fisted, but I want to see you pull it off no matter which way you go about it. So think over the agent thing and investigate it before you commit, please. It might not change your mind, but it could make a difference and I'd hate to see you lose out.

Best of luck, and I hope it works out.
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Old 4th April 2012, 01:51 AM   #33
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Raptor:
What fictional world do you live in?

Agents looking for new talent? Heh. They can't be bothered to look at your work -- they're too busy dealing with their established clients to look at anyone new. I realize they have a limited amount of time, but the majority of them that I've dealt with project the aura of "I can deign to give you a minute, please don't crap on the carpet like the last one did, and the one before that."

Love the way you crap all over self-publishing (you're not an agent, by the way, are you?). Especially ebooks. The established publishing houses are busy trying to kill that model off and morph it into something that fits their more traditional model. They remind me of RIAA and downloadable music -- the business model takes away their bloated way of life.

What ebooks provide is a way to bypass the publishing house cartel and get something out. True, you bypass the "quality control" of the publishing house, but that might be a good thing in some cases, as that quality control often assures a consistent grade of published pablum.

No, I think ebooks will be a going concern ONCE they're pried away from the established paper publishers, who have a vested interest in squashing new technology. What's needed is a new entity that STARTS with ebooks and STAYS with ebooks, provides a similar level of guidance and editorial services for the author, and provides a central clearing house or online bookstore for distribution.

The beauty of ebooks is that you don't have an expensive large printing of books sitting in your warehouses waiting to be sold. Instead, you have an image on disk that you send a copy to the purchaser. Digital storage is cheap, and getting cheaper. You don't have to risk the expense of an initial printing, allowing works with a less broad appeal to make it to the marketplace. We're talking about the digital equivalent of a small publishing house or small press. Unlike a warehouse full of paper books, you're only out a few hundred kilobytes of storage if the book doesn't sell well. You can afford to take the risk on an unusual story, as the entry-level bar is lower, and ALSO afford to keep it available if sales aren't exactly spectacular, but not dismal, either. You have the option to start is small, and kill it small (if necessary).

Yes, there will be an explosion of published crap, as well as the release of some absolute gems mixed in with the drek. It happened when Guttenberg came up with the press. It happened with the development of the offset press. It happened when the mimeograph machine came out. It happened with the advent of inexpensive copy machines. It happened with cheap laser printers and page layout programs. And, quite likely, it will happen with ebooks as well.

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Last edited by Beanbag; 4th April 2012 at 01:55 AM.
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Old 4th April 2012, 04:32 AM   #34
Comrade Raptor
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Originally Posted by Beanbag View Post
Raptor:
What fictional world do you live in?
The one where agents and publishers are not the enemy, where they are actively seeking new talent, and where they're more than happy to back and monetize you with Simon Cowell cash register eyes if your work appears profitable.

I like to call this place "reality".

I guarantee, absolutely guarantee, that if your work is good (sometimes even if it isn't) and you shop it around to enough people, and it looks even remotely profitable somebody will take you on. How do you think everybody else got in? Rubbing magic lamps?

Or you can up and decide it's not you or your work that needs fixing, it's the evil horrible system instead. That may make you feel better, but it's not going to solve the basic issues.

Not only will publishers take on new talent that looks promising (and profitable, it is a business after all) but even if you are brand new, straight out of the package with your new writer smell still on, if what you've got to offer is good enough they will fight over you.

And no, I'm not an agent. In fact, for the purposes of this discussion, I'd prefer if we just considered me some anonymous internet dude with an opinion just like millions of other anonymous internet people. Feel free to dismiss it, doesn't bother me a bit and doesn't cost me a dime.

Last edited by Comrade Raptor; 4th April 2012 at 04:57 AM.
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Old 4th April 2012, 05:58 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by Bram Kaandorp View Post
You shall.

And If it's really preachy, you can just call it a parable.
It IS a parable of sorts. Seriously, now, this is an original work and it is copyrighted by me. Just by posting it here, that doesn't mean that I am giving anyone free license to reprint it or otherwise make money off of it. Also, the people, organizations and events involved in the story are fictitious and any similarity between any persons or events or companies or organizations or yadda, yadda, yadda, is purely yadda. I mean, coincidental.


****************************
The appearance of influence or access, furthermore, will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy. By definition, an independent expenditure is political speech presented to the electorate that is not coordinated with a candidate. The fact that a corporation, or any other speaker, is willing to spend money to try to persuade voters presupposes that the people have the ultimate influence over elected officials.
—Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the United States Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010)

The majority declares by fiat that the appearance of undue influence by high-spending corporations “will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy.” The electorate itself has consistently indicated otherwise, both in opinion polls … and in the laws its representatives have passed….
—Justice John Paul Stevens, dissenting in the same case


****************************

It was a tough campaign.

A month before Election Day, Wendy Wagner had been trailing in the polls by five points. Her opponent, an incumbent two-term representative named David Snyder, appeared to be on his way to a third term in the United States House of Representatives.

And then the “Nut Case” ads hit the airwaves.

The “Nut Case” ads were attack ads, and made no pretense at being anything else. They accused Snyder of having a long-standing history of mental illness, which he needed to treat with medication. One ad cited examples of erratic behavior that were said to occur when Snyder forgot to take his medication. Another ad presented video clips showing Snyder speaking in an incoherent fashion, the ad attributing the incoherency to mental instability. A third ad itemized Snyder’s inconsistency in political positions concluded by asking “Do we want our interests to be represented by a man who has shown that he is mentally incapable of remembering his political views of the previous week?”

The ads quickly became known as the “Nut Case” ads, because they all challenged Snyder’s mental balance and competence. The term “Nut Case” never appeared in any of the ads themselves.

When Snyder was asked about the “Nut Case” ads, he candidly admitted that he had sought counseling for depression after his daughter’s death, and that he had taken medication to deal with the depression. He adamantly denied, however, that the depression was an ongoing problem or that he had any other mental difficulties. He condemned the ads for “avoiding a rational discussion of the issues while engaging in reckless character assassination.” He dismissed the video clips as being “taken out of context” and he characterized the ads as “a pack of lies, cooked up by the desperate Wagner camp.”

Snyder was wrong. The ads had not been created by Wagner’s campaign, and their appearance on television was a surprise to everyone in the Wagner campaign. Wagner even issued a statement saying that she did not create, encourage or endorse the ads, and she wanted nothing to do with them. “As far as I am concerned,” she announced, “this campaign is about the issues, not baseless, scandalous opinions, which are solely those of the author, and which I do not share.”

The author of the ads, according to the ads themselves, was a group called “Citizens for Honesty and Responsibility in Congress,” a group about which no news reporter or investigator could find any solid information. This group—assuming it was indeed a group— seemed to be well-funded, but there was no way to find out the source of its funding or how many people were in it or who the leaders were. No one seemed to be able to find out whether the people behind the group were Snyder’s own constituents, or if they were even Americans.

Packs of lies or not, the “Nut Case” ads aired repeatedly in the weeks before the election, and Snyder found his lead in the polls slipping. The “Nut Case” ads were having an effect. Instead of being rewarded for his candor, Snyder found himself losing support. Soon two more “Nut Case” ads appeared on the airwaves, under the name of the same organization, which included video excerpts of misstatements and mispronunciations by Snyder, along with claims that these abnormalities were due to patterns of mental imbalance and longstanding mental problems.

One week before the election, the Snyder-Wagner race was a statistical dead heat. On the Sunday before Election Day, Wagner took a five-point lead. In response to pollsters’ inquiries, many voters mentioned Snyder’s mental problems as one of their principal considerations when deciding to support Wagner.

On Election Day, Wagner won by nearly ten percentage points. As Snyder gave his concession speech, he expressed bitterness about “the underhanded personal attacks leveled at me by a faceless, cowardly organization,” and he began to weep openly. His defiant, tearful speech cementing in the minds of some of the voters that the ads were right, and that Snyder did not have the mental toughness to be in Congress.

In her victory speech, Wagner praised Snyder and criticized the “Nut Case” ads for the role they played. A reporter asked Wagner whether she wanted to come clean and admit that she was actually behind the “Nut Case” ads. Wagner denied it. “These attack ads helped me to win,” she admitted, “but they made me ashamed. I hated these ads, I repudiated them, and I found them disgraceful and an offense to our democratic process. I wish they had never been made.”

“Do you know who made them?” a reporter shouted.

“I have no idea.”

Thus the tough campaign came to an end. It was not just a tough campaign; it was a dirty campaign. Wagner’s feelings were mixed. She didn’t want to win dirty, but she did want to win. She felt awful that these vile attack ads had been wielded to bolster her candidacy, but felt some satisfaction in knowing that neither she nor her staff had had any hand in them, and she could honestly say that her own hands were clean.

A few weeks later, she took her seat in Congress.

Snyder went to work for a law firm in Washington DC.

A little over a year later, Wagner welcomed one of her constituents to her office. His name was D. Edward June. June had started, and now ran, a successful business that installed electrical power management systems in businesses and residences. June had started this company with an inheritance from his mother five years earlier, and had built the company from nothing. His company now employed over 250 people, and June was regarded as one of the shining stars of the business community.

He had been requesting an appointment with Wagner for several weeks. On a sunny Monday morning he strode into her office. Wagner and June shook hands, and asked about each other’s health. Presently, Wagner gestured that June should sit. June waited for Wagner to seat herself, and then he eased into his chair and got down to business.

“Congresswoman Wagner, the energy bill is simply not going to work,” June declared. “There are insufficient incentives for solar and wind upgrades, and no incentive at all for efficient power storage and management.”

Wagner smiled. It was no secret that June sold solar and wind electrical generation apparatus in addition to his power management systems. Increased government incentives in any form would mean more consumers would be able to afford what June had to sell, and the result would be more sales, and more profit and wealth for him.

“One step at a time, Mr. June,” the congresswoman cautioned. “We don’t have the support in the House to increase incentives, at least not yet. And the feeling in the Senate is that giving too much incentive to these technologies is risky.”

“Risky?” scoffed June. “You’d have to be some kind of a nut case to think that.”

Wagner shuddered. She had not heard the term “nut case” in over a year.

“These technologies are proven, Congresswoman,” June continued. “They aren’t speculative, they aren’t snake oil. But they are expensive, and your average homeowner and business owner cannot afford them. The House is at a tipping point here, and you can tip it in the right direction. The House needs to step in to make these technologies affordable, and when they do, you know what happens: production gets stimulated, prices go down, consumers save money on energy in the long run, and the country’s energy independence is enhanced.”

“And you make a lot of money,” Wagner deadpanned.

“I already have a lot of money,” June replied, laughing politely. “Sure, it would be good for me, financially, but this is really for the good of the country, and you know that to be true. Even your predecessor, Representative Snyder, thought at one time that this was an important step for us.”

“David did, at one time?” Wagner wondered why June was bringing up Snyder’s name.

“Well, yes, but he disappointed me by changing his mind when it came time to vote. He never offered a rational explanation for his change in position, either. It seemed to me he wasn’t thinking clearly about the future.”

Wagner squinted. Did June just suggest that David Snyder had some mental issues?

“But that’s ancient history,” June went on. “This bill before the House is an entirely new bill, and Representative Snyder is…” he cleared his throat, “… no longer with us. As for building political support, there are some recent developments that may be of interest to you. A television campaign is in the works to try to build more grassroots support for the technological incentives. I fully expect that support for the incentives will grow. When you support these incentives, you be standing with an expanding group.”

“A television campaign is in the works? Sponsored by …?”

“Sponsored by an industry publicity group,” June completed the sentence. “The group is ‘Citizens for Responsible Energy,’ or ‘Citizens for Independent Energy’; the name is something like that.”

Wagner clenched her teeth. It sounded a lot like another “Citizens” group that, like the Citizens for Honesty group that attacked David Snyder, which everyone seemed to agree wasn’t really backed by any actual US citizens.

“To be quite honest with you,” June added as he leaned forward in his chair, “Even though I’m not making the commercials myself, I’m giving serious consideration to contributing a modest sum toward making these commercials, because I think the issue is important. Television can be an effective way to get out a message, as I’m sure you know. I’ve seen some of the preliminary commercials, by the way. I can assure you that they are informative and fair. But they are also rather … uh, critical … of members of Congress who oppose the incentives.”

Pressure, thought Wagner, he’s trying to apply pressure. He’s not just trying to persuade me. He’s trying to scare me. He went out of his way to mention David Snyder and the “Nut Case” ads, and how he’s telling me about political commercials that might make me look bad if I oppose him.

“Just so I’m clear, Congresswoman,” June went on, “I know you’re assembling funds for your re-election bid, and the campaign season will be here before we know it. But that is NOT why I’m here. I’m not here to discuss financial contributions for your upcoming race, or to request anything in exchange for financial support.”

Smooth, thought Wagner. You expressly denied that there’s any quid pro quo. Are you worried that someone might be listening in on us?

June smiled pleasantly. “But I can say that pushing for greater incentives would be for the benefit of the American People. I might add that, even if the American People don’t prevail this year, it would be important for you to be in Congress to push for incentives next year. Congresswoman, if the American People have your support, then you’ll have my support.”

And if not, I’ll run television attack ads against you. To Wagner, this seemed to be the logical next sentence.

And the next logical sentence after that was: The way I ran attack ads against David Snyder.

“It’s been informative, Mr. June,” Wagner announced, “but I’m afraid I must get ready for another appointment.” Wagner and June rose. They shook hands and exchanged final pleasantries.

Once June left the office, Wagner sank into her seat.

She just met the man behind the “Nut Case” attack ads, hadn’t she?

She pondered that question. The more she mused about it, the more likely it seemed. June was trying to tell her, without explicitly telling her, that it was HE who had financed that smear campaign, HE who had insulted Snyder’s mental capacity, HE who had destroyed David Snyder’s career as a lawmaker.

HE was the one who made it possible for her to be a member of Congress. HE was the one to whom she owed a favor.

HE was the one who could destroy her if she didn’t act as he wished.

June and his friends in the industry were almost certainly wealthy enough to fund those “Nut Case” ads. By his demeanor, June seemed capable of fostering such a smear. He certainly seemed to be cold-blooded enough to portray a man’s grief for a lost child as a mental illness, and simple slips of the tongue as mental imbalance. The ads were disgraceful, but there was no denying they were effective.

Wagner got the benefit of the ads, even though she repudiated them and had not known who was behind them.

Until today, that is. David Snyder had disappointed D. Edward June, and June spent a ton of cash to remedy that disappointment. And today, June finally came to ask for a favor in return. That was what today’s little meeting was all about, wasn’t it?

Before meeting with June, Wagner had been ambivalent about the energy incentives bill. She generally favored energy independence and development of clean energy, but she was generally opposed to government giveaways of tax dollars that principally benefitted private industry. The meeting with June had changed everything. She was still ambivalent about incentives, but now her political career was at stake. All the work she had done in the past year—most of it having nothing to do with energy incentives—was now in jeopardy. All the legislation she’d sponsored, all of the consensuses she’d built, all of the committee compromises she’d helped put together, all of those could be lost—wasted—if she became unpopular. If she didn’t support the incentives that June wanted, he’d broadcast attack ads, slandering her the way he slandered David Snyder. The fact that she was hard-working and honest didn’t matter. The fact that she had no skeletons in her closet was irrelevant. The fact that most voters denied that they were influenced by attack ads was irrelevant, since the effect of the ads on voters as a group was undeniable. If she went against June, he’d conjure ups a skeleton for her, and use it to destroy her reputation and strip her of her job. He’d lie about her and people—not everyone, but enough to tip the scales—would believe his lies. He did it to Snyder; he could do it to her.

And what could she do? When she took her seat in Congress, she had made a vow to herself that she would never be bullied.

But was she really being bullied, or just … politically influenced? Perhaps even persuaded? Wagner wasn’t so sure. June hadn’t been rude and he hadn’t asked Wagner to do anything improper. He hadn’t actually threatened to defame her or otherwise hurt her, not really. There was nothing wrong with him saying that he would help spread a message that promoted new sources of energy, and every person has the right of free speech, doesn’t he? Every person has the right to try to urge public servants to adopt policies, right? Besides, Wagner admitted to herself, some of what June said WAS true; the people were beginning to demand changes in energy policy, and they wanted their energy bills to be more affordable. The more she thought about it, the more she thought that she might have to give the question a fresh look. She would have to think about it. She would have to sleep on it.

The next day she made a telephone call to June. “Edward,” Wagner began, “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about our discussion yesterday. I just wanted to let you know that I feel strongly about increasing our country’s use of clean and renewable energy, and it seems to me that the best way to move in that direction is by putting some incentives in place.”

For the next twenty minutes, they discussed potential incentives: tax credits, coupons, rebates, contract packages, regulatory exemptions, intellectual property fast-tracking, forgivable loans and outright grants. Wagner seemed open to them all. She committed to no specific incentive plan, but June commented that he was delighted to hear that she had “decided to move in the right direction.”

“I certainly will be working hard to build up political support for a viable solution,” Wagner concluded, “and I expect that the efforts of others—and you, of course—will help marshal that political support.”

“I’m sure those efforts will, Congresswoman.”

After June hung up his phone, he found himself grinning.

That went well.

And it had gone pretty much according to plan. June had thought he could sway Representative Wagner on the incentives issue if she understood that he was the one behind the devastating political attack ads that helped her take office. Naturally, he couldn’t take responsibility explicitly. For one thing, coming right out and saying “I was behind the ‘Nut Case’ ads” would have been at the very least bad manners, and would have been at the worst a felonious bribe or threat.

And for still another, it would have been untrue.

June never had anything to do with the “Nut Case” ads, and even as wealthy as he was, he could not have afforded a media blitz like that.

June had gambled that those who had concocted the “Nut Case” ads would never show their faces. The fact that the money behind the ads was heavily laundered by dozens accounting tricks, and the fact that the people behind the ads were well-hidden by a maze of corporate shells, meant that whoever wanted to destroy David Snyder would also want to remain unknown. Rumor had it that the source of the money behind the attack ads was Asia, probably a few wealthy foreign individuals who found some of David Snyder’s protectionist attitudes bothersome. To them, Snyder was an irritant. They didn’t care who replaced him in the United States House, so long as he was replaced.

Whoever they were, they’d gotten what they’d wanted. Snyder was gone. They couldn’t or wouldn’t ask for any favors from Wagner in return.

So what the hell, June thought, Wagner owes SOMEBODY a favor. It may as well be me.
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Old 4th April 2012, 06:49 AM   #36
tyr_13
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The working title for mine is called Storm Lord, a fantasy adventure. There are elements of the setting that don't conform with traditional 'high fantasy' but are lifted from the antebellum era in the US, and the Napoleonic era in Europe. Make no mistake though, it's not steampunk.

The story kicks off in part as a quest to bring metal stoves to a village so that they don't need as much firewood in the winter.
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Old 4th April 2012, 07:28 AM   #37
Tiktaalik
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Comrade Raptor, I don't have an agent. I went directly to the publisher. I was also submitting to agents, but the publisher got to me first. I got an editor, cover artist, reviewers, and publicity through the publisher, so I'm not sure what I'm missing there.

And despite having one book up through a trad publisher, I'm planning to put my "backlog" up as self-published - mostly to draw attention to the rest of my stuff, but also because I don't want to spend too much time hawking something that I wrote a while ago when I could be pushing the stuff I'm writing now.

And, I've put previously-published works up as singles on KDP without a publisher. I'm not going to get a publisher for a previously-published work, but I might be able to make some money on it since the original venue is now old.

Although I agree there's some terribly-edited stuff out there, and it's hard to sort out the good from the bad, I think you are overlooking some of the advantages to self-publishing; and I think you are being somewhat unrealistic as far as agents and publishers, too. It seems to be the luck of the draw as much as anything else.
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Old 4th April 2012, 08:42 AM   #38
Comrade Raptor
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Well, faced with so much determination to learn the hard way then I guess I have no choice but to concede. It's not my career on the line, so I don't have anything to lose.

So I hereby admit that I'm totally wrong, that the publishing industry is an evil magical lottery without elements a person can learn and master, that none of you have any power at all to influence your destiny as writers, and that self-publishing will cure all of your ills.

I hope that satisfies, and I'll leave you all to carry on.
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Old 4th April 2012, 09:12 AM   #39
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Does short stories for contests count? If so Era of the Dead, which I'm looking to add more chapters to during sumer break.
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Old 4th April 2012, 09:46 AM   #40
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I once dreamed of being a science fiction writer, but haven't worked on anything much in 30 years. There's a synopsis of the ideas I had here: http://johnmreese.net/story.htm
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