Drumroll Please…

Today, everything changes.  Well, not everything

But I cross a threshold today.  Today I am not merely a writer.  I am not merely an aspiring author.  Today I am an author – an honest-to-goodness published author.

Fantasy Magazine May 2011 - Issue 50

Fantasy Magazine May 2011 - Issue 50

My piece, titled “Now Hiring in the Airship Lounge: Fantasy Archetypes Get Steampunked” appears today in Fantasy Magazine

I can’t even tell you how excited I am to share this news.  Obviously, I’ve been sitting on it for a while (for a lot longer than a week), but I didn’t want to say anything until I had something to show for it.  But now it’s here, and I’m letting the cat out of the bag at last.

My article, as you can guess by the title, isn’t a story: it’s nonfiction.  But as is also probably clear, it’s nonfiction of a sort that’s right up my alley, as a writer of fantasy and speculative fiction.  It’s a great little piece on the relationship between character archetypes in Fantasy and Steampunk fiction.  If either genre is of interest to you, you should check it out!

Fantasy Magazine is an online magazine dedicated to fantasy fiction, in the broadest sense.  They publish stories of a variety of different fantastic types, making them available online  for free periodically throughout the month and in an ebook format available for purchase at the beginning of the month.  And, obviously, they publish fantasy-related nonfiction as well.  Of which my article is one.

And thus beginneth my reign of terror.  Today, a short article on the subject of Steampunk archetypes on Fantasy-Magazine.com… tomorrow, the world!  Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! [Insert evil steepling of fingers and evil petting of my evil dog Shasta here.] You poor fools. There’s nothing to stop me now!

Ahem.

So, I hope you go and check out Fantasy Magazine – and particularly my article and the story it is paired with (Genevieve Valentine’s “Study, for Solo Piano”).

A Public Service Announcement: The Internet is Not Open Source

Picked this up via John Scalzi‘s blog, and I do think it’s worth taking a couple minutes to spread this message (in the viral way things spread on the Internet) so that the offending party is never given the opportunity to make this mistake again.

The story is that a writer who had published an article on medieval-style apple pies to her own web page woke up one day to discover that her article had been… “appropriated”, let’s say… by a cooking magazine by the name of “Cook’s Source“.  The author was given attribution, but the article was printed both without her permission or knowledge and without payment to the author.

But, as though the first offense were not egregious enough, the editor of said magazine proceeded to add insult to injury.  When the author, Monica, contacted Cook’s Source about the error, she got a response.  Oh, did she get a response.  Here, quoted in part, is a snippet from the response sent by editor Judith Griggs:

But honestly Monica, the web is considered “public domain” and you should be happy we just didn’t “lift” your whole article and put someone else’s name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio. For that reason, I have a bit of a difficult time with your requests for monetary gain, albeit for such a fine (and very wealthy!) institution. We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me! I never charge young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces, and have many who write for me… ALWAYS for free!

And, later in the letter, this:

There, now. I have gone on enough. Thank you for allowing us to use your (improved) article. the only piece of advice I have to offer is that I would watch your email content, it was very offensive, what you sent.

Hmm.  Wow.

What else can be said.  You, Ms. Judith Griggs, FAIL: the internet, and copyright law, and editing FOREVER.  And that, I think, is the end of your career as an editor.  I hope you enjoyed your three decades.

The original author’s own take, as well as that of author Nick Mamatas, are here and here.

Therefore, go forth and spread this message: The Internet is NOT Open Source.  And it goes without saying… What a writer writes on the internet is copyrighted without said writer needing to do anything else to secure that copyright.  Let us pray.  Amen.

Writing Quote: Eat Its Head Off

It’s that time of week, again: time for another dose of Writing Quotes.  I’ve quoted Isaac Asimov here, before, so I won’t belabor you with his biography or lists of accomplishments.  I’ll let the link to his previous quote do that.  So, what does Uncle Isaac have to tell us today?

You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist.

~Isaac Asimov

It’s an important lesson for we writers.  We hear it time and time again, and yet it bears repeating, if getting published is our goal.  I, myself, am planning soon (as soon as I get a little time to address a large manila envelope) to send out that story I wrote.  And, when I have time again, I’ll be spending a little time working on a first (and very rough) draft of my next story (or two… I’m contemplating taking some of my old Friday Flash/Author Aerobics stories here and fleshing them out a bit).  It’s sloooooooooooooowwww going for me.  But that’s to be expected, under the circumstances.

Mostly, though, I picked this quote not because it’s such good advice (it is, but that’s not why I picked it).  Mostly, I picked it because I loved the metaphor embedded in this one: “never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer”.  Fantastic.

Happy Writing.

Editorial Response

I promised that I’d let everyone know what the response was on the story I submitted once I got it back.

Well, journey thou hither to learn the results.

Writing Quote: Getting the Edit

Today’s writing quote comes from one-time managing editor of Harper’s: Russell Lynes.  The story of writing goes, of course, that writers love their own work.  We’re simply enamored of it.  We have to be; how else do we summon the courage to expose it to the world, and even – horror of horrors – submit it to the whims of an editor to consider for publication.  It takes more than a thick skin; it takes a belief that what we’ve written is good and worthy of publication.

So, perhaps, it may come as no surprise that, unless we’re well acclimated to the idea, some writers may have a little difficulty hearing that what they’ve written… needs work.  Some writers might even grow a little hostile to the notion that their work is anything less than perfect already.  But here’s a quote to set you straight about that inclination, should you ever feel it welling up inside you:

No author dislikes to be edited as much as he dislikes not to be published. 

~Russell Lynes

Yes indeed.  If you’ve already gone through the trouble of submitting your work, and you now get feedback that the editor requires changes, consider the alternative. Continue reading

News and Muse on Deadlines

I’ve posted a little retrospective on having missed my deadline today over on the sister-blog. Check out my thoughts on the matter, if such things be of interest to you.

Beat to the Punch

Regular readers may recall a few weeks ago this post, in which I go on about a possible “successor model” to the way publishing is done today.  Well, a friend from class clued me in late last week to this:

http://springwise.com/media_publishing/tenpages/

I’ll give you a minute to go check that link out.  Okay.  Done, now?

So, for those of you who didn’t click the link, here’s the gist: Dutch website “Tenpages.com” has created a partnership with several publishers (presumably Dutch ones) in a venture that allows the users of the site (who act as investors on a virtual market) to decide which books sourced through the site will get published by buying “stock” in that book.

Sound familiar?  If you were here a few weeks ago when I posted about my “Novel Venture” concept, you might be thinking “yeah, that does sound familiar”.  The ingenuity of this site, it turns out, is that, well, it’s a website, and takes that whole “building up a community of investors” problem out of the “Novel Venture” concept I proposed by establishing a virtual place for that community to gather.   Frankly, though, I’m surprised that someone else (albeit in Holland) had almost the same idea, and is actually finding a way to make it work.  I was ambivalent enough about the chances of my idea proving successful that I wasn’t sure anyone would ever try it, so imagine my surprise to learn that someone already has.

The biggest drawback that I see to this site, however, is that it offers writers and investors only a 10% royalty/share of profits each.  In normal publishing contracts, the writer gets roughly a 20% royalty rate (actual rates vary, but 20% seems about average), so a 10% rate is pretty low.  In other words, this is only going to attract brand new, unproven authors.  And those authors, if they grow successful, are going to want to renegotiate their contracts.

From the investor’s perspective, the 10% rate is also too low.  These are the people putting up the seed money to get the venture started.  Although, to really analyze whether that share is really too low or high, I suppose, the amount of the seed money will need to be compared to the amount the publisher is kicking in.  The investors need to be justly compensated for the degree of risk they’re taking on, and it matters which party is bearing the majority of that risk.

Overall, I think the idea is a very intriguing concept.  I wonder if it can work here in the States.  And I wonder how long it will take someone here to try.  I think the idea has to work a few kinks out if it’s going to prove successful: the amount of seed capital needed to get a book off the ground and get a publisher on board, the royalty and returns offered to writers and investors, etc. will all need to be fine-tuned.

Thoughts, dear readers?