Can public schools now ban blacks?

That would appear to be one unintended legal consequence of the recent 9th Circuit Court’s decision concerning limits on the freedom of expression:

Officials at a Northern California high school acted appropriately when they ordered students wearing American flag T-shirts to turn the garments inside out during the Mexican heritage celebration Cinco de Mayo, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the officials’ concerns of racial violence outweighed students’ freedom of expression rights. Administrators feared the American-flag shirts would enflame the passions of Latino students celebrating the Mexican holiday. Live Oak High School, in the San Jose suburb of Morgan Hill, had a history of problems between white and Latino students on that day.

The unanimous three-judge panel said past problems gave school officials sufficient and justifiable reasons for their actions. The court said schools have wide latitude in curbing certain civil rights to ensure campus safety.

There is even less question of the connection between blacks and racial violence than American flag T-shirts and racial violence. So, now that we know “concerns of racial violence” supersede the 1st Amendment in public schools, it should be obvious that they must supersede every other Constitutional and legal stricture as well.

That’s an incantation to which everyone should learn to resort. “I’m sorry, I fear racial violence on the basis of past problems.” It’s a free legal pass to restore freedom of association.

In fact, Live Oak High could probably cite this decision in refusing to permit Hispanic students to attend school on Cinco de Mayo. Or, as is more likely the case, white students.


Wallpaper No. 2

In honor of the publication of QUANTUM MORTIS The Programmed Mind, JartStar has produced a wallpaper showing ATSV Draco approaching Bonoplane and the stricken Shiva-class cruiser in orbit around the planet. To download the full 1920×1080 picture, right click on the image and select “Save As”.

The initial reviews have been positive. Some selections:

  • Writing you a quick note to let you know how much I enjoyed The
    Programmed Mind
    …. The misdirection was excellent.  I read a good deal of sci-fi and a ton
    of mystery, and this is definitely among the top books I have read.
  • I thought I knew how it was going to end, and was pleased to find out I
    was only 50 percent correct. Suffice it to say the twists were great.
    Highly recommend this as a precursor to MCID Chief Warrant Officer
    Graven Tower’s world.
  • Tight story telling. Interesting well thought-out characters… and a
    fascinating futuristic spy plot. The book fleshes out the Quantum
    Mortis world even more, and sets the stage for what appears to be a
    galaxy-sized war.
  • This book differs in subgenre from the other two
    installments currently making up the QM series; there is less explosive
    action and a bit of a Tom Clancy feel as other reviewers have noted,
    where the character and personalities of individual characters have a
    direct effect on the events that unfold. I enjoyed it more than the
    other two for that reason, though I recommend reading the entire Quantum
    Mortis series.

Also, I think this guy Tom might have written a book or something. Some people seem to think it’s all right….


Raise the minimum wage

Ann Coulter sees the connection between immigration and falling real wages, but she fails to see the obvious Republican strategy:

Why were wages so high until 1968? Because that’s when Teddy Kennedy’s 1965 Immigration Act kicked in, bringing in about a million immigrants a year, almost 90 percent of them unskilled workers from the Third World.

Our immigration policies massively redistribute wealth from the poorest Americans to the richest. It’s a basic law of economics that when the supply goes up, the price goes down. More workers means the price of their labor plummets.

Unfortunately, politicians spend a lot more time talking to rich employers than to working-class Americans. And the rich apparently have an insatiable appetite for cheap labor. Having artificially created a glut of low-wage workers, now Democrats want to artificially raise their wages.

It’s win-win-win-win-win for Democrats.

— Employees who get a higher minimum wage are grateful to the Democrats.

— Employees who lose their jobs because of the minimum wage hike are grateful to the Democrats for generous government handouts.

— Poor immigrants who need government benefits are grateful to the Democrats.

— American businesses enjoying the deluge of cheap labor are grateful to the Democrats.

— Democratic politicians guaranteed re-election by virtue of ethnic bloc voting are grateful to the Democrats.

Do Republicans have any principles at all? Why isn’t the GOP demanding an end to this dump of unskilled workers/Democratic voters on the country?

Democrats show how much they love the poor by importing a million more of them to America each year. But then they prevent the last batch of poor immigrants from getting decent, well-paying jobs by bringing in another million poor people the next year.

You want a higher minimum wage? Turn off the spigot of low-wage workers pouring in to the U.S. and it will rise on its own through the iron law of supply and demand. In response to the Democrats’ minimum wage proposal, Republicans should introduce a bill ending both legal and illegal immigration until the minimum wage rises naturally to $14 an hour.

No, in response to the Democrats’ minimum wage proposal, Republicans should introduce a bill that ends both legal and illegal immigration AND raises the minimum wage to $14 per hour. This will eliminate the incentive to businesses and families to continue importing cheap labor from south of the border. What is the point of hiring an illegal if you’ve got to pay him the same as you’d pay an American?

And what is the point of increasing the Gross National Product when the Nation is destroyed in the process?

However, it is interesting to see Miss Coulter finally abandon the artificial and irrelevant distinction between legal and illegal immigration that so many Republican commentators attempted to maintain for the last two decades. It doesn’t matter if they invade legally or illegally, in either case, they are here to replace the native population. Historically speaking, it didn’t matter to the Indians that the Pilgrims were here legally, or to the Romans that the Lombards weren’t breaking any laws by colonizing their northern territories.

Legally or illegally, they were still conquered and subjected to rule by the foreign invaders before largely fading into irrelevance.


Raising Steam and the devolution of Pratchett

At his best, Terry Pratchett was much better than he was ever given credit for. His characters were deeply human, his social commentary could border on the brilliant, and if the humor occasionally fell flat at times, well, that was forgivable. That being said, for the sake of his own reputation, he probably should have ended the Discworld series with Making Money.

Raising Steam, the 40th in the Discworld series, isn’t just a predictable spin on the same “new technology comes to Ankh-Morpork” that Pratchett has been increasingly relying upon since Pyramids, it’s Message Fiction. Even worse, it’s Multicultural Message Fiction, which reveals an author woefully out of touch with the nationalist zeitgeist now sweeping Europe.

It’s all very NuLabor and Kumbaya and Surely We Can All Be Friends, which looks hopelessly outdated in George Zimmerman’s America, Lee Rigby’s Britain, and Vladimir Putin’s Russia. And the speechifying, O sweet Rincewind, the speechifying!

His voice low, Rhys spoke. ‘For what purpose am I King? I will tell you. In a world where we formally recognize trolls, humans and, these days, all manner of species, even goblins, unreconstructed elements of dwarfdom persist in their campaign to keep the grags auditing all that is dwarfish.’
He looked sternly at Ardent as he continued, ‘Dwarfs from every area where dwarfs live in sufficient numbers have tried to modernize, but to no avail apart from those in Ankh-Morpork, and the shame of it is that often those determined to keep dwarfkind in the darkness have somehow inculcated their flocks into believing that change of any sort is a blasphemy, no specific blasphemy, just a blasphemy all by itself, spinning through the cosmos as sour as an ocean of vinegar. This cannot be!’
His voice rose and his fist crashed down on the table. ‘I am here to tell you, my friends and, indeed, my smiling enemies, that if we do not band together against the forces that wish to keep us in darkness dwarfkind will be diminished. We need to work together, talk to one another, deal properly with one another and not spend all our time in one enormous grump that the world isn’t entirely ours any more and, at the finish, ruin it for everyone. After all, who would deal with such as us in a world of new choices? In truth, we should act as sapient creatures should! If we don’t move with the future, the future will twist and roll right over us.’
Rhys paused to accommodate the inevitable outburst of Shame! and Not so! and all the other detritus of rotted debate, and then spoke again. ‘Yes, I recognize you, Albrecht Albrechtson. The floor is yours.’
The elderly dwarf, who had once been favourite to win the last election for Low King, said courteously, ‘Your majesty, you know I have no particular liking for the way that the world is going, nor some of your more modern ideas, but I have been shocked to discover that some of the more headstrong grags are still orchestrating attacks on the clacks system.’
The King said, ‘Are they mad?! We made it clear to this council and all dwarfs, after the message we received from Ankh-Morpork about their clacks being attacked, that this stupidity must cease at once. It’s even worse than the Nugganites, who were, to be sensible about this, totally and absolutely bloody insane.’
Albrecht coughed and said, ‘Your majesty, in this instance I find myself standing shoulder to shoulder with you. I am appalled to see things go this far. What are we but creatures of communication and communication accurately communicated is a benison to be cherished by all species everywhere. I never thought I would say this, but the news I am hearing lately, and am expected to delight in, makes me ashamed to call myself a dwarf. We have our differences and it’s right and proper that we should have them, and discourse and compromise are cornerstones in the proper world of politics, but here and now, your majesty, you have my full and unequivocal support. And as for those who stand in our way, I call down a murrain on them. I say, a murrain!’
There are uproars and there are uproars and this uproar stayed up for a very long time.
Eventually Albrecht Albrechtson brought his axe down on to the table, splitting the wood from top to bottom, bringing terrified silence across the gathered dwarfs, and said, ‘I support my King. That is what a King is for. A murrain, I said. A murrain. And a Ginnungagap for those that say different.’

Then, three pages later, Lord Vetinari contemplates those irritating little unthinking people who stand in the way of Progress.

Curious, the Patrician thought, as Drumknott hurried away to dispatch a clacks to the editor of the Times, that people in Ankh-Morpork professed not to like change while at the same time fixating on every new entertainment and diversion that came their way. There was nothing the mob liked better than novelty. Lord Vetinari sighed again. Did they actually think? These days everybody used the clacks, even little old ladies who used it to send him clacks messages complaining about all these new-fangled ideas, totally missing the irony….
There was nothing for it but to follow the wave. New things, new ideas arrived and strutted their stuff and were vilified by some and then lo! that which had been a monster was suddenly totally important to the world. All the time the fanglers and artificers were coming up with even more useful things that hadn’t been foreseen and suddenly became essential. And the pillars of the world remained unshaken.

Pratchett completely fails to see the irony in his presentation of a King and a Dictator as the voices of Inevitable Progress. This scene gives way, on literally the next page, to a dwarf waxing eloquent on how wonderful it is that dwarves and trolls are friends now, and twenty pages later, is followed by a FOURTH repetition of THE SAME VERY IMPORTANT MESSAGE.

Bleddyn had cooked a good rat supper and was upset when she saw his face and said, ‘Those damn grags again! Why don’t you tell them to put their nonsense where the light shines too much!’fn26
Bleddyn didn’t usually swear, so that surprised him, and she continued, ‘They had a point once. They said that we were being swallowed up by the humans and the trolls, and you know it’s true, except that it’s the wrong kind of truth. The kids’ve got human friends and one or two trolls as well and nobody notices, nobody thinks about it. Everyone is just people.’
He looked at her face and said, ‘But we’re diminished, less important!’
But Bleddyn was emphatic and said, ‘You silly old dwarf. Don’t you think the trolls consider themselves diminished too? People mingle and mingling is good! You’re a dwarf, with big dwarf hobnail boots and everything else it takes to be a dwarf. And remember, it wasn’t so long ago that dwarfs were very scarce outside of Uberwald. You must know your history? Nobody can take that away, and who knows, maybe some trolls are saying right now, “Oh dear, my little pebbles is being influenced by the dwarfs! It’s a sin!” The Turtle moves for everybody all the time, and those grags schism so often that they consider everyone is a schism out there on their own. Look it up. I’ve cooked you a lovely rat – nice and tender – so why not eat it up and get out into the sunshine? I know it isn’t dwarfish, but it’s good for getting your clothes dried.’
When he laughed she smiled and said, ‘All that’s wrong in the world is that it’s spilling over us as if we’re stones in a stream, and it’ll leave us eventually. Remember your old granddad telling you about going to fight the trolls in Koom Valley, yes? And then you told your son how you went back to Koom Valley and found out the whole damn business was a misunderstanding. And because of all this, our Brynmor won’t even have to fight unless someone is extremely stupid. Say no to the grags. Really, they’re bogeymen. I’ve spoken to all the women round here and they say exactly the same thing. 

It’s one tedious lecture after another and the sheer idiocy of the message is remarkable. The idea that war is based on misunderstanding, that people are all the same underneath, and that multiculturalism and multiethnic societies means our children won’t have to fight is not only wrong, it is downright backward. It is this very thinking that has guaranteed that the wars of the next generation will be more vicious, more bitter, and more terrible, on a larger scale, than anything Europe has seen since the Thirty Years War.

The nations did not come to exist in a vaccuum. Nations are born from two things, geographic isolation and the hellish cauldron of inter-group exile and extermination. Just as Hutus and Tutsis didn’t care that they were both called “Rwandans” when they murdered each other, no one is going to care that they are “British” or “French” or “American” when the debt-inflated pseudo-wealth is gone and the struggle for real resources begins.

Raising Steam isn’t a capstone on a distinguished career, it is a badly written caricature that is a tombstone for a dying idea.


Computer-generated science

In fairness, the fraudulent science papers were no less rubbish than most of the stuff being published by human scientists these days:

Computer
scientist Cyril Labbé of Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France,
spent two years examining published research papers, and found that
computer-generated papers made it into more than 30 conferences, and
over 120 have been published by academic publishing houses — over 100 by
the the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and 16
by Springer.

The papers were generated by a piece of
free software called SCIgen, developed in 2005 by scientists at MIT.
SCIgen randomly generates nonsense papers, complete with graphs,
diagrams and citations, and its purpose was to demonstrate how easily
conferences accept meaningless submissions.

Actually,
in light of how they demonstrated that peer review is a completely
ineffective filter and “published science” is no indication that it is
even non-fiction, let alone reflective of actual science, one can
reasonably argue that the computer gibberish was of considerably more
scientific utility than the average science publication.

At this point, it’s simply laughable that anyone even dares appeal to science anymore, let alone “scientific consensus”.


Krinocracy in America

Or rather, the absence therein:

Ending a day that cast a glaring national spotlight on Arizona, Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, vetoed a bill on Wednesday that would have given business owners the right to refuse service to gay men, lesbians and other people on religious grounds. Her action came amid mounting pressure from Arizona business leaders, who said the bill would be a financial disaster for the state and would harm its reputation. Prominent members of the Republican establishment, including Mitt Romney and Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, also sided with the bill’s opponents, who argued that the measure would have allowed people to use religion as a fig leaf for prejudice.

Not that we needed any additional confirmation that Mitt Romney was a social liberal and against the Constitutional right of free association, but this is just one more reason that conservatives were right to stay home rather than vote for the man. Meanwhile, a federal judge provides Texans with a good cause for revolution as he tries to overthrow the Texas State Constitution:

A federal judge in Texas struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage on Wednesday, ruling that the laws restricting marriage to a man and a woman violated the United States Constitution and handing gay-rights advocates a major legal victory in one of the nation’s biggest and most conservative states.

The judge wrote that the amendment to the state Constitution that Texas voters approved in 2005 defining marriage as between a man and a woman — and two similar laws passed in 1997 and 2003 — denied gay couples the right to marry and demeaned their dignity “for no legitimate reason.”

“Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our United States Constitution,” wrote Judge Orlando L. Garcia of United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, in San Antonio.

As I said years ago, the DOMA people were right. Without writing the defense of marriage directly into the Constitution and thereby making it definitionally Constitutional, the wicked judges of the land would simply overturn any law, any vote, and, apparently, even the Constitution of a Sovereign State. We don’t live in a democracy or a nomocracy or even a Constitutional Republic, we live in a krinocracy where judges rule and freely legislate from the bench with about as much legal coherence and legitimacy as freestyling rappers.

What is interesting isn’t that the terminally aggressive lavender lobby is insanely overstepping its bounds, ensuring a vicious and well-merited swing of the pendulum, but rather the way it has educated foreign governments to realize that they dare not give their homosexual communities an inch, lest they immediately seize a mile.

I strongly suspect the recent political gains for gays in the United States are directly linked to the recently expanded criminalization of gays in India, Nigeria, and Uganda. And the foreign response is not only sensible, but advisable. I’m a “leave everybody alone” libertarian with no particular animus towards gays myself, but it is obviously preferable to see an increasingly obnoxious minority locked up and forcibly closeted than see both democracy and the freedom of association completely destroyed and thereby immanentizing the societal eschaton.

Actions always have consequences. We know that civil society can survive the mild societal oppression of gays, (and in the USA, it was mild by every historical standard). We do not know, and in fact, we have good cause to believe otherwise, that it can and will survive the intense suppression of democracy and free association by krinocracy that we are presently observing.


An authorial announcement

Fresh on the heels of Castalia House’s release of Mr. Kratman’s latest military science fiction, another author joins the esoteric elite:

We are very pleased to announce that we will be publishing a select collection of John C. Wright’s insightful essays, entitled TRANSHUMAN AND SUBHUMAN: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth, later this spring. Mr. Wright was a finalist for the 2005 Nebula Award for Best Novel and was described by Publisher’s Weekly as “this fledgling century’s most important new SF talent”.

Look for more announcements to come soon. We welcome submissions and have already found one new author with whom we intend to work in the future, so even if you’re an SFWA member, feel free to submit your work to us.


Of gentrification and immigration

It astonishes me that many people who are capable of grasping the fact that gentrification changes neighborhoods nevertheless reject the idea that immigration changes countries. Spike Lee opines on changes in Brooklyn:

You can’t discover this! We been here. You just can’t come and bogart. There were brothers playing motherfuckin’ African drums in Mount Morris Park for 40 years and now they can’t do it anymore because the new inhabitants said the drums are loud. My father’s a great jazz musician. He bought a house in nineteen-motherfuckin’-sixty-eight, and the motherfuckin’ people moved in last year and called the cops on my father. He’s not — he doesn’t even play electric bass! It’s acoustic! We bought the motherfuckin’ house in nineteen-sixty-motherfuckin’-eight and now you call the cops? In 2013? Get the fuck outta here!

Nah. You can’t do that. You can’t just come in the neighborhood and start bogarting and say, like you’re motherfuckin’ Columbus and kill off the Native Americans. Or what they do in Brazil, what they did to the indigenous people. You have to come with respect. There’s a code. There’s people.

You can’t just — here’s another thing: When Michael Jackson died they wanted to have a party for him in motherfuckin’ Fort Greene Park and all of a sudden the white people in Fort Greene said, “Wait a minute! We can’t have black people having a party for Michael Jackson to celebrate his life. Who’s coming to the neighborhood? They’re gonna leave lots of garbage.” Garbage? Have you seen Fort Greene Park in the morning? It’s like the motherfuckin’ Westminster Dog Show. There’s 20,000 dogs running around. Whoa. So we had to move it to Prospect Park!

I mean, they just move in the neighborhood. You just can’t come in the neighborhood. I’m for democracy and letting everybody live but you gotta have some respect. You can’t just come in when people have a culture that’s been laid down for generations and you come in and now shit gotta change because you’re here? Get the fuck outta here. Can’t do that!

And then! Whoa whoa whoa. And then! So you’re talking about the people’s property change? But what about the people who are renting? They can’t afford it anymore! You can’t afford it. People want live in Fort Greene. People wanna live in Clinton Hill. The Lower East Side, they move to Williamsburg, they can’t even afford fuckin’, motherfuckin’ Williamsburg now because of motherfuckin’ hipsters.

Gentrification, immigration, and colonization are all exactly the same thing. They are the replacement of the native population by invaders. Whether this happens peacefully or not is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things; the consequences are the same.


Rules of Writing VIII: maintain viability

Most of the posts in this series have revolved around the craft of writing, but now that I’ve had the chance to see the publishing business from both sides, I think this is a good time to look at the business angle. Some of you may recall that during last summer’s lunacy, (was it four kerfluffles ago or only three? I’ve lost count), a certain SFWA president completely lost it in his penultimate act as SFWA president after Random House announced its Hydra imprint. He declared:

Advances are typically all authors make from a book. It’s a competitive market and most books sell relatively small numbers. One reason to go with a publisher at all — especially these days — is because you get a concrete, definable amount of money fronted to you at the start; which is to say, you know you’ll get paid at least that much. The publisher is not doing you a favor by fronting you an advance; the publisher is making a hard-headed determination of how much money it will owe you (under terms of contract) and giving you that much up front so they don’t have to bother with royalties on the back end.

It’s also — importantly — an amount of money the publisher has invested in a book, which it will not get back if the book fails. It’s the publisher’s skin in the game, as it were. If there’s no advance, there’s no skin in the game for the publisher, and no real motivation for the publisher to bust its ass on behalf of the book. Neither Random House nor Bertelsmann is some hard-scrabble, scrappy company trying to make it in this big world; please look again at their revenues and net income. However, even if they were hard-scrabble, scrappy companies it would still be wrong not to offer advances to authors.

This is woefully clueless, but before I explain the essential problem with it, let me first point out that the individual concerned has clearly never grasped the risk-related aspects of the advance, the potential problem it creates for the writer, or the important distinction between short-term financial risk and long-term caeer risk that must be evaluated and balanced by the writer. As evidence, consider what the same author had to say about advances TEN YEARS AGO, before advances began to significantly decline and no-advance deals became increasingly common:

$0 to $3,000: A Shitty Deal. Because that’s what it is, my friends. Possibly the only thing worse than a shitty deal is no deal at all. Possibly.

$3,000 to $5,000: A Contemptible Deal. The deal you get when your publisher has well and truly got your number, and it is low.

$5,000 to $10,000: A “Meh” Deal. It’s not great, you know. But you can pay some bills. Get a few of these, and a tolerant spouse with a regular income, and you can tell your day job to piss off. This year, anyway.

$10,000 to $20,000: A Not Bad Deal. Note that “not bad” here should be said with a slight appreciative rise of the eyebrows and a small approving nod — this is the level at which the money begins to look not embarrassing both to writers and non-writers. A couple of these, and you’ll definitely be punting the day job (I did, anyway).

$20,000 to $100,000: A “Shut Up!” Deal. This needs to be said in the same enviously admiring vocal tone as a teenage girl might use to her girlfriend who is showing off the delicious new pumps she got at Robinsons-May for 30% off, or the vocal tone (same idea, lower register) Jim Kelly used when one of our number admitted to having at least a couple of deals in this range. With this kind of money, you don’t even need a supportive spouse to avoid the Enforced Top Ramen Diet (although, you know. Having one doesn’t hurt). But it’s not so much that the other writers actively begin to hate you.

$100,000 and above: “I’m Getting the Next Round.” Because if you’re at this level, you can buy and sell all the other writers at the table. Get ‘em a friggin’ beer, for God’s sake.

It should be noted that I have received three separate SHUT UP deals from major publishers, so I’m neither ignorant nor in the “sour grapes” category. It is interesting to observe that even at the time, in 2004, other writers recognized that the SFWA president to-be didn’t understand the basic risks involved. Hence the following dialogue between Jeremy Lassen and John Scalzi:

JL: “A $20,000 advance = “not bad?” Fuck that. A $20,000 advance could mean the end of your fucking career. If you don’t sell 7,500 copies of your book in hardcover, or 15,000 of your book in trade paperback, you didn’t earn out.”

JS: “Or really NOT, since that was the exact amount of the advance for my first book, and I’ve subsequently sold six more, including two more to the same company. Sometimes I get more than that $20K, sometimes I get less…. What’s indisputable is that $20K paid my mortgage for the year. That’s Not Bad.”

So, as long as you plan to rip-off Robert Heinlein, then follow that up with rip-offs of Philip K. Dick, H. Beam Piper, and Star Trek, you need not worry about killing off your career with a failed first novel on the basis of an excessive advance. For everyone else capable of learning from the 10 years that have passed by in the meantime, it might be wise to consider this cautionary tale, in which a young woman discovered that a $200,000 book deal was a Trojan Horse insofar as her literary career was concerned:

In 2008 I sold a book-in-progress for $200,000 ($170,000 after commission, to be paid in four installments), which still seems to me like a lot of money. At the time, though, it seemed infinite. The resulting book—a “paperback original,” as they’re called—has sold around 8,000 copies, which is about a fifth of what it needed to sell not to be considered a flop. This essentially guarantees that no one will ever pay me that kind of money to write a book again….

MY FIRST CLUE THAT MY BOOK WOULD NOT BE A BESTSELLER came in a marketing meeting about six months prior to publication. Actually there were several clues in that meeting. The first came when a marketing assistant suggested that I start a blog, and I had to explain that her bosses had acquired my book in part because I was a well-known blogger. The second came when my publicist asked how I thought they should position my book. She rattled off a short list of commercially successful essay collections by funny, quirky female writers like Sloane Crosley, Laurie Notaro, and Julie Klam. Books with “Cake” and “Girls” in the title and jokey subtitles.

Having worked at a publishing house, I know that it’s not possible for
everyone who works at a publishing house to read all the books coming
out that season, or even parts of them, or even the descriptions of them
in the catalog or in-house “tip sheets.” But I also know that if a book
is supposed to be a “big” book, everyone in the office will read it. I
was a young woman, so of course they had lumped me in with the cake-girl
books.

I had a similar problem, although what killed off the Eternal Warriors series was Pocket’s well-intentioned, but mistaken decision to retroactively shoehorn it into the Left Behind department, where it failed, rather than leaving it in the Fantasy department where The War in Heaven sold through all 35,000 copies in its two print runs. They even tossed out the half-completed Rowena painting that would have served as the cover for The World in Shadow. As it happens, Emily Gould survived her disastrous first book in the short term; she somehow managed to finagle a second $30,000 book contract on the strength of her social media presence. However, if Friendship fails, as And the Heart Says Whatever did, her traditional publishing career is done. Traditional publishing is now a two-strikes-and-you’re-out business.

And note that despite paying a $200,000 advance, her publisher only managed to move 8,000 copies. So much for the skin-in-the-game theory. If $200k isn’t enough to focus their attention, how much skin do you think a meager $3k advance going to get you? I can personally attest that not even a $60k contract was enough to get Pocket to do more than return my phone calls.

Now consider if Miss Gould had sold 8,000 ebooks with an independent publisher. At a 50 percent royalty on the $7.99 kindle price, she’d have earned about $2.75 per book, or $22,000. That is ALREADY into SHUT UP deal country; not only that, but she probably wouldn’t have fallen into debt on the basis of her “windfall”. And, if she still wanted to go the traditional route, most publishers would be open to publishing her rather than viewing her as if she’s radioactive.

As long as the writer is looking at his career beyond his current book, it is ALWAYS better to take a no-advance deal so long as a) he isn’t starving, b) the royalty rate is better than the standard 25 percent offered by the major publishers, and c) there is reason to believe that the independent publisher can both produce professional-quality books and find a market for them. Self-publishing is an excellent option, but having been through the oft-aggravating setup process, it is definitely not for everyone and not everyone can afford to drop between $250 and $1,000 on ISBN numbers, to say nothing of the price of good covers and editing.

Only the most short-sighted author will want his publisher to assume all the financial risk for them, because whereas the publisher is merely risking a few thousand dollars that first book, the author is betting his entire career. But very, very few authors write their best, or their most successful book, first. This means that it is downright foolish to attempt to shift the short-term risk to the publisher, because that necessarily means the author is assuming an inordinate amount of medium-to-long-term risk.

Maintaining viability should be the writer’s foremost objective on the business side. One never wants to bet one’s entire career on a single book. The risky bet can pay off, as Dan Brown proved after getting dropped by Pocket Books, but the reason we all know Dan Brown’s name is because he is the very rare exception. And it probably will not have escaped the sophisticated observer’s notice how these exceptions often appear to be linked to what shall be politely described as literary borrowing.

I will provide more information on this in a month or two, when I will conclusively demonstrate that in at least some cases, an author will actually receive a check for an amount equal to a professional word-rate from the new no-advance model months BEFORE he receives it from the traditional advance model.


Playing with fire

What business is it of the NFL’s to interfere with state law in Arizona?

Call it what you want — anti-gay or religious rights — but if Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signs a controversial bill, you might not be calling Arizona the home of the 2015 Super Bowl.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, S.B. 1062, is the current controversy du jour out of Arizona, and the National Football League is with the opposition.

“Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or any other improper standard,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told USA Today. “We are following the issue in Arizona and will continue to do so should the bill be signed into law, but will decline further comment at this time.”

The idiots in the league office are making the same mistake that the gatekeepers in SF/F made about 20 years ago. They wrongly assume that they are in a position to dictate to the public, when in fact it is their position that relies upon the good will of  the public.

Tolerance is an evil joke. It is nothing but a stalking horse to impose anti-Christian, anti-Islamic secular values on an unwilling public. It is now eminently clear that the First Amendment was a mistake, considering the way it is being used to attack religion rather than protect it, as was the original intention. Somehow, “Congress shall make no law” has metastasized into “no one anywhere shall be permitted to make a law.”

Arizona should respond by telling the NFL that if it pulls the Super Bowl, it will be taxed 100 percent of its revenues in the state, including revenues derived from television income.