Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Random reports from the field

I haven't posted here in a few weeks, and have been rather lax through December, so it's well past time for an update.

I haven't been under deadline for a couple months, and it's been my first break and well over a year, so it's been a double whammy: not as much time at the computer to post something, and very little professionally to post about.

My theory of blogging (feel free to argue) is that I don't want to post here every day. I feel like that would be too overwhelming to the audience, and while I may be vain enough to consider myself interesting, I'm not so vain as to consider myself overwhelmingly interesting. If I can offer you five minutes of diversion a week, I think that's doing pretty well. If I have to offer you five minutes of diversion every day, I should be drawing a pay-check.

Well, what's to report? Not much. I should start planning on my next Mechwarrior, Dark Age novel soon. I've had a nibble on another non-novel project, but it's way too early to talk about it.

Author Copies

Just before Christmas I got my author copies of books two and three of my Age of Conan trilogy (as usually, these show up long after the book is in stores), the problem being that I never got author copies of book one, and the number of books sent was less than in my contract. This sort of stuff happens. Sending out author copies is not a high-priority item for a publisher.

Hmmm, you guys do know how author copies work, right? No, unless you're in the business, you probably don't. The author of a book usually, as a matter of contract, gets a certain number of free copies of their published book. At my level of the pecking order, the number is small, usually no more than a few dozen books. I imagine that at higher levels, authors can get cases of books, if they want them, though perhaps they may not. I know prolific writers who have huge problems storing all their copies of books, even when they only get ten or fifteen copies of each, they add up to a significant volume.

I know that comes as a surprise to some people, how few copies we get, and that we have to pay (usually a discounted rate, but we still pay) if we want more. If they meet or correspond with an author, there is somehow an expectation that the author might just hand them some free books. Okay, we might, under certain circumstances (as when we're running out of space for our older books), but probably not.

Look at it this way. Say I get fifteen copies of a book. One pristine copy goes straight onto a "brag shelf" in my living room. A second copy probably goes on a shelf in my office for future reference. A third copy gets carried with me most everywhere for a few weeks so I can show it off (hey, only human!) and usually ends up pretty beat up by the end of that time. Usually three or four copies go out to family members. A few more may go to close friends.

That might leave five or six copies of the book. (Actually, it's probably that plus one. The author copies always arrive so late, I usually end up buying a copy -- at full retail -- as soon as it hits the stores.) So, why can't you have one? Well, I might need some of those for PR purposes, to hand to a reviewer or reporter who might potentially do me some good. If it's an original novel, I'll also want to keep some file copies to send out should I ever want to directly market reprint or foreign rights. So that leave me with -- well -- guess I'd better go buy a few more copies.

Life Distracts

Another reason I've been neglecting here, is that life has kept me busy through the last month or so. We wrapped up the last of our work on the local Fireman's Toy Drive in mid-December (Chris and I have picked this as our major local charity, and it's a major part of our Christmas here).

We took a short trip to California to visit our son and his S.O. just before Christmas, which turned out to be an excellent (if tiring) trip.

There's also been a lot of family business going on, all of it hopefully leading to good news, and all too personal and preliminary for public discussion.

We've also, unfortunately, had cat-health issues. One of our two cats, Banzai, has apparently developed a liver infection and has stopped eating. We've spent the last week torturing the poor guy (he's high-strung, and hates things put into his mouth) with needles, oral meds, and eye drops. For the last few days, we've also been bottle feeding him just to make sure he's getting some calories and fluids down.

Not fun, and he's a long way from out of the woods. Getting him to eat again is key. We got him through a similar "cat-won't-eat" crisis last year (the vet thinks it may have been an earlier bout of the same infection), so I'm cautiously hopeful, but only time will tell.

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