Posts Tagged ‘writing’
Tom’s Glossary of Publishing Terms
by Thomas Christensen
A perfect bit of snarkiness for authors, and the people they drive crazy who return the favor.
For anyone who has ever written a book, and especially for those who dream of one day writing a book but so far have hit nothing but brick walls, I recommend you read Bookgasm’s hilarious article, “50 Reasons No One Wants to Publish Your First Book” by Allan Mott. It’s funny because it’s true.
I can say that while pitching a book to an editor a few months ago, I really was rebuffed with explanations #4, #5, and #50. I’ve often said that #35 is the root of my frustration with the publishing world, and I think that most of the idiots who ask me to read or cowrite their brilliant unpublished idea need to take #48 to heart.
Go. Read. Laugh.
Last night, Showtime aired the series finale of The L Word. What a goddamned disappointment. (A lengthy rant follows…)
Sometimes in the life of a freelance writer, all of one’s projects seem remote and abstract. Even if you are focused on the one you are currently drafting, you are half aware of the others lingering in various stages of completion.
At other times, everything collides.
For me, today is an example of the latter. Though I am in a mad scramble to finish my ms. for Star Trek Vanguard: Precipice by April 15 (having negotiated a deadline extension today with Madam Editor), I now must also review and return the copy edited ms. of The 4400: Promises Broken and the first-pass pages of my first original novel, The Calling, by March 25.
Write one novel while editing two others: this is the nature of the job. Oh, well — I knew the job was dangerous when I took it.
Back to work now. If I don’t return phone calls or e-mails in a timely fashion this month, now you know why….
A few months ago, an online discussion between other professional writers in a forum I visit alerted me to the fact that I didn’t understand “fair use” law at all. Basically, when it comes to song lyrics or poems (or any other work still under copyright), there is no such thing as “fair use” if the work in which you wish to reproduce the quote is even remotely commercial.
For instance, if I were a music critic writing a review of the latest Rush album, and I wanted to quote a few lines of its lyrics to underscore a critical point about my opinion of the album, that would be protected as “fair use,” which is intended to protect academic and critical writings. The same would hold true if I were writing a college thesis about, for instance, lyrical themes in progressive rock music between 1990 and 2009.
But I wanted to quote a few lines from the Rush song “Workin’ Them Angels” as the epigraph for my new novel, The Calling. And there is absolutely nothing “fair use” about that. My novel is a commercial venture. So if I want to reproduce, even only in small part, someone else’s copyrighted content as part of that work, I have to get written permission and pay for the privilege.
So I did. I contacted the management company of Rush back in December and submitted via e-mail my written request to use four lines of lyrics as my novel’s epigraph. I followed up with their office this afternoon.
Tonight I have my license agreement. Its terms are simple and fair, and the fee was reasonable. And I have the peace of mind that comes with knowing I can include a nod to Neil Peart and Rush, long a creative inspiration to me as a writer, without violating their intellectual-property rights.
This pleases me.
For the past few hours I have stared at the blank page, or searched the Internet for inspiration, but I am stalled.
I had all these great notes in my outline for the backstory of an alien world visited by my characters. A tale of its social decline and lapse back into an agrarian age, etc. There was just one thing I forgot to plan ahead of time:
What the damn aliens who live there look like. All day I’ve been stuck on this, and I’m stumped.
They need to be vaguely humanoid, but everything’s been done in Star Trek. There are no more animals left to anthropomorphize, it seems. And who cares about yet another distinctive bump in their foreheads? I feel as if I’ve already used up my quotient of cool alien details in the Destiny trilogy with the Caeliar and the brief walk-on by the Kindir.
In my own books I’ve already done the hawk/eagle-based species known as the Tezwans. No mileage to be found in felinoids, caninoids, lupinoids, etc. Bipedal rabbits, anyone?
I can’t believe that this is what has derailed my entire process….