Sunday, June 04, 2006

Four Letters

Today I received wonderful art for my latest hardcover release in the mail -- amazing, dignified, gorgeous cover art -- which thrilled me. True renaissance stuff; the sort of art you see in museums or galleries where you can't afford to buy anything or you're not dressed well enough to browse. My old artist pals? Would weep over this cover. That good.

I went into the office to scan it for the weblog and then and only then it hit me. The art is for a WFH book. I can't show it to anyone. I can't tell anyone it's my work, or even that it's been released. My reaction: four letter word, four letter word, four letter word.

I consoled myself with a trip to BAM for some ref books. As I passed the remainder table, I saw one of my favorite author's novels stacked on it. Instant outrage and depression. Then I saw a bigger stack of trash by an author I can't stand and it didn't make me feel better. I hate the remainder table. The remainder table should be a four letter word.

Soothed my psyche wounds at the bargain supply bin, out of which I unearthed a nifty sketch diary and some swanky pens for my kid. Ignored the depressing amount of scratched/dented Christmas holiday tree ornaments toward the bottom. I used to start planning holiday projects in June and would finish my shopping by August; I was that obsessed with getting it done. Anal is a four letter word.

Drove home and gave the pup a bath. Actually, the pup gave me a bath and I dripped some soapy water on him. We both ended up clean and shiny. Remembered to give him the monthly heartworm pill on time; was one week late on the flea-and-tick treatment. I covered his ears before I uttered the applicable four letter word for my stupidity in forgetting.

I updated calendars after that. I have a dog calendar, a cat calendar, a kid calendar, a my-guy calendar, a medications calendar, a therapy calendar, a doctor appt. calendar, a writing calendar, a production calendar, a bill calendar, an investment calendar, an online calendar, a low-fat alternative meal calendar and a monthly "Appreciate Your Life" calendar. No, I can't merge them. Gravitational fields are involved now.

I need calendars. There isn't a day in the month that doesn't involve me giving someone a shot, a pill, a treatment, a synopsis, a partial, a co-pay, a threat to kick them in the cajones if they bend my knee like that again, a phone call, copy approval, or something tasty that doesn't clog their arteries. Calendars are why I won't wear a watch. I couldn't have just one; I'd have twenty of them, all set to different times or something.

I do appreciate my life, though, as frustrating as it can be. Because life is a four letter word, too.

25 comments:

  1. You need remind-me-please, yet another of my useful little apps which I give away with no thought for my financial wellbeing ;-)

    You can set up a bunch of layers - e.g. pets, family, deadlines, whatever. I use it for everything because paper-based anything on MY desk just ends up as a scribble pad.

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  2. i own one calendar.

    rarely use it. if and when i remember things, it's seem to be pure chance.

    the work for hire stuff~do you get ARCS/author copies of those? Who does promo on them?

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  3. Palm Desktop saves my life. Date reminders that repeat weekly, monthly, or yearly, whatever you need, color coded by categories. I track everything, and it's backed up to my Palm so my "head" is always in reach. I also don't know how I ever functioned without Apple's sticky notes program. (Before Sticky Notes, I used real paper notes...and they sometimes got lost. Aaaiiiieeeee!)

    And same question as Shi. Who promotes the WFH?

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  4. I loved this post. Thank you.

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  5. Ohh, PBW, since authors often blog about other people's books, couldn't you blog about the WFH, including a picture of the beautiful cover, while cunningly disavowing any knowledge of authordom?

    We can read between the blog lines and keep secrets.

    Nope. We have NO idea who (subliminal whispers of PBWPBW) wrote that book (PBWPBW). Nuh-uh. Not us.

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  6. Er, what does WFH stand for? (And BAM for that matter).
    Thanks.

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  7. WFH stands for Work For Hire. It will be someone else's name on the cover, not PBW's, so we can't go buy the book and help the publisher earn loads of cash, even though that's what we want to do.

    BAM...not sure, but I think it stands for Bras and Manacles (or is that just my imagination?) :)

    PBW, I can understand why, as a writer, you hate the remainder table. But as a reader, I love it. That's where I go to buy the books of authors I've never read, because I can't afford the rrp on a book I might not enjoy. And if I like the book, there's a very good chance I'll go back and buy the other books by the same author...at regular price. So it's not all bad.

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  8. Love Ann1:30 PM

    I KNEW I loved your work for a reason...you "four letter word" like a sailor, just like me! Your work is incredible --and I'm glad I stumbled on your blog!

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  9. I don't do this with calendars, but I do do it with my PDA. All tasks must be assigned categories. All categories must make sense.

    I also do it with weblogs. I have the writing blog, the game-writing industry blog, the stuff about my personal life that mom will be okay reading blog, the aikido blog, and the spirituality and religion blog. I'm sure there are other blogs that I have simply forgotten about.

    People don't fit in cubbyholes, but dammit, something has to! :)

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  10. Simon wrote: You need remind-me-please, yet another of my useful little apps which I give away with no thought for my financial wellbeing ;-)

    You're right, Simon. And very generous. Why are you in publishing? Lol.

    Shiloh wrote: ...the work for hire stuff~do you get ARCS/author copies of those? Who does promo on them?

    Usually I get a couple of author copies, which I save for the kids and donate the balance to libraries. The publisher and/or the client handle the promotion for 99% of my WFH books.

    Mary wrote: Ohh, PBW, since authors often blog about other people's books, couldn't you blog about the WFH, including a picture of the beautiful cover, while cunningly disavowing any knowledge of authordom?

    That would be like giving myself a blurb or interviewing myself in a trade mag. I don't like myself that much.

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  11. Maxine wrote: Er, what does WFH stand for? (And BAM for that matter).

    Ooops, sorry. As Dawn pointed out (thanks, D) WFH stands for writer-for-hire. BAM is shorthand for Books-A-Million, one of the big bookseller chains in the US.

    Dawn wrote: PBW, I can understand why, as a writer, you hate the remainder table. But as a reader, I love it. That's where I go to buy the books of authors I've never read, because I can't afford the rrp on a book I might not enjoy. And if I like the book, there's a very good chance I'll go back and buy the other books by the same author...at regular price. So it's not all bad.

    I know, and I shouldn't bitch about it, because a lot of readers wouldn't have a chance to read great authors without the remainder table. It's just, I don't know -- this author is SO good, and I'd hoped this particular book would stay in hardcover for a bit longer. The author also doesn't write that many novels and I know needs the income from the royalties. But that's the biz...

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  12. BAM stands for Books-a-Million, not a bad place as far as chain nook stores go. They are usually good about leaving browsers in peace, and they have great cream sodas in the coffee shop. Ann

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  13. Love Ann wrote: ...you "four letter word" like a sailor, just like me!

    I try to be an upstanding citizen, but sometimes nothing will do but a four letter word. :)

    Stephanie wrote: I don't do this with calendars, but I do do it with my PDA. All tasks must be assigned categories. All categories must make sense.

    Of course. PDA organization is vital (eyeing the five PDAs on the desk.)

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  14. Ok, it should have said book store. I should know better, three is the limit of things that I can do at one time. I try four and they all go to hell on a library card.

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  15. This may be too personal a question and I will understand if you decline to answer.

    What percentage of your writing income do you get for your own books as opposed to your WFH books? Could you make a living as a writer without doing the WFH gigs?

    (Hoping that wasn't a totally crass question. . .)

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  16. Ann wrote: Ok, it should have said book store.

    Oh, I liked that typo. I was enjoying the idea of being a nookie writer. :)

    LJ wrote: What percentage of your writing income do you get for your own books as opposed to your WFH books? Could you make a living as a writer without doing the WFH gigs?

    It varies from year to year, depending on what I can sell. Some years it's 75% my own books, 24% WFH. Other years it comes close to 50-50.

    Strictly from a financial standpoint, I think I'd be more likely to give up writing my own books and go 100% WFH. I like the work, and it can be very profitable, especially when you get up in the higher level jobs. I don't really need to vanity perks of being a public author, and being an anonymous one is certainly less stressful. But it's not all about the money for me. There are a couple things left that I'd like to do, and I can't do them undercover. ;)

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  17. Some years it's 75% my own books, 24% WFH.

    5 out of 4 people will understand that percentage split, too. (eye roll) That should read "75% my own books, 25% WFH."

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  18. Lleeo7:22 PM

    There are a couple things left that I'd like to do, and I can't do them undercover. ;)

    Well, I should hope so! What with all those genre borders you plan to keep smashing down, or ignoring, or slipping under. ^_~
    You're my only hope right now for guaranteed, consistently good, entertaining science fiction and sci-fi romance involving exotic alien species. And I just graduated high school last summer, so you know that I can't, in good conscience, allow you to retire, well...ever. ;)

    And if I don't see some good homosexual romance stories out there in the romance section in the next five years, I think I'm going to scream! Or use a four letter word... ^_~

    But back to your post, I've never heard of writing-for-hire before and I find it very interesting that you have in fact done a lot of your professional writing through that. And it's admirable that the fact that your name isn't acknowledged on the book doesn't bother you. I'm curious: what kind of genre or fiction vs. non-fiction is it usually done for?

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  19. Why are you in publishing? Lol.

    I write for the fun of it, to entertain myself and because I'm the only person who can give my two characters life. (Other than a high court judge - hah.)

    I'm into computer programming for the fun of it, to entertain myself, and because I like software to be just so. Bug free and easy to use, mainly.

    So, back to your question: My software pays the bills and my writing keeps me sane. Semi.

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  20. Anonymous6:35 AM

    I've been working on a proposal for a work for hire and I was told by the agent that, if it sold, I could announce on my web site that I was the author. Is it standard that you can't tell anyone you are the author?

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  21. Lleeo wrote: I'm curious: what kind of genre or fiction vs. non-fiction is it usually done for?

    Anything in print can be contracted out as WFH. Celeb bios and help-you books are usually at the top of the chain, followed by writing for more famous authors who are too busy to write their books anymore and publishers looking for niche fiction and who want to hang on to the copyrights in case it takes off. Technical writing is often subbed out, as are speeches, newsletters and so forth. Anything goes.

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  22. Anonymous wrote: I've been working on a proposal for a work for hire and I was told by the agent that, if it sold, I could announce on my web site that I was the author.

    It's quite possible that you can; I've been permitted to several times. Make sure you check your contract for a gag clause before you sign it, though. I'm not knocking your agent, but I never listen to verbal assurances; I always look for it in writing.

    Is it standard that you can't tell anyone you are the author?

    It depends on the sort of WFH work you're doing. If you're writing to publisher spec, and there are no other writers involved, likely not. If you're writing Dr. Phil's latest book, Dr. Phil is going to want to take credit for it, so he and/or his publisher will stick a gag clause in your contract.

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  23. For the multiple calendar thing, you should check out Google's calendar. You can do multiple calendars, send reminders to your cell, and a lot of other really nifty things that make procrastination tons of fun.

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  24. I'm so relieved to learn I'm not the only multiple calendar/multiple PDA person on the loose. I thought I was the only one.

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  25. Note to casual visitors from AAR: Welcome. If you paraphrase quotes from this particular blog post, do attribute the post with the correct URL so others can read for themselves what was actually written.

    Also, to clarify my own experience, I have not and will not take WFH jobs to write novels for more famous writers. I may not be able to publicly take credit for everything I write, but I would not allow another author to take credit for that work. Nor do I collaborate with other, more famous authors. All my WFH work has been for publishers, and all of my WFH books have been published under a name that is unique to me. Please make note of this when you're talking about me specifically.

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