Rent a grouse

I am very cross with Dragon’s Cave. Two years plus I’ve been playing that game, and I look forward to the holidays because you get a special egg, and it’s the only time you can get that particular egg. This morning I bred a candy-striped one, and it was confiscated from me, and then the site told me I couldn’t have a Christmas egg either.

Upon enquiring at the site, it appears that – unlike EVERY SINGLE OTHER EGG on the site – you can only have two of each of the Christmas themed dragons. So you can never get a full set—and as I have one adult and one frozen hatchling of each type, I’m not allowed any more.

STUPID. To be frank, I’m (probably) going to burn my scroll tonight, it’s not the time sink that the Facebook games are, but after this stupidity (and of course the inevitable rudeness and wank that my innocent, baffled inquiry caused) I am pulling out.

The Silver Publishing Email.

I wasn’t going to post about this, but I’ve been mulling it over and I think I need to say something. Writing is a business. Publishing is a business. Editing is a business. it’s not a high-school playground, or a Women’s Institute meeting, it’s not a social club—no matter how people in semi-public/private fora seem to think so. It’s work. As in the sort of thing that most people do on a nine-to-five basis and behave professionally while they do it. People think that sitting in front of a pc at home means they don’t have to act as well as they would do if they were sitting in front of a pc in an office.

I didn’t get one of these Silver emails, so I don’t know exactly what they contained, but from all the talk about it over the last few days it seems like it was a scattershot-spam email sent to possibly 100s of authors from many many different publishing houses.

I understand that the tone of the letter was (and I’ll probably need to find one posted online before I post this) saying “we can do better than your current e-publisher” and offering high advances and royalties. There’s been a lot of snide talk about desperation and business models and whether Silver is going under and I don’t know or care about that. What has shaken me was the vitriol about someone doing a perfectly legal and normal business practice that has been tried and tested in business probably for EVER.

At least one publisher said that they didn’t want “their authors targeted,” which made me fall on the floor laughing. They aren’t anyone’s authors. They are autonomous beings, who are usually contracted to a publisher for one book—perhaps a series—perhaps a genre. Not wanting their authors targeted smacks to me of a similar kind of desperation they were accusing Silver of—desperate to hold on to their cash cows. Ring fencing their assets and making it clear that to investigate this offer would be some kind of disloyal betrayal.

Would I, as a paralegal, have been considered ‘disloyal’ had I moved to another firm that offered more money? No. Of course not. And I was offered more than once, and sometimes I moved and sometimes I didn’t. What I had to decide was what was right for ME. Not for my employer, my employers were big enough to look after themselves.

But I saw publishers say that they had worked “so hard” to build up a business and Silver were poaching on that hard work. That they had spent years getting into the black and still took no salary for themselves. Oh Boo Hoo. Would whining convince me to stay with a publisher? Er, no.

Most spam mail is annoying. No one wants Viagra substitute adverts or emails promising a bigger cock (although i did reply to this one, but I never was sent one) but when it comes to business it WORKS, or people wouldn’t do it. Just ask the Headhunters.

It’s the law of the jungle, even though you may not like it. If only five authors from the many emails that were sent out put their next book with Silver, then Silver will find that their email (which obviously cost nothing) was cost effective. What Silver did was CHEEKY and perhaps badly aimed (as a lot of m/f authors were spammed, and complained about it, but goodness, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that they might write m/m) – but it wasn’t wrong.

If a new Pizza House opens in a town with three other Pizza Houses, the first thing they are going to do is to print out a load of leaflets and put them through every door in the neighbourhood.  Now – are the existing Pizza Houses going to gang up and slag off the new boy? Are they going to bitch in the trade press as to how the new shop has poached their customers and boo hoo it’s taken them years to gain their clientele? Will there be web-wank? NO of course bloody not. If they had any sense, they’ll check out the new boy’s prices and menu and delivery options and make sure he’s not given them anything they don’t already offer. Perhaps they will pre-emptively up their own game, offer a free coke with every pizza, or a loyalty card: buy ten pizzas over time get one free. Then after that it’s up to the customers.

Same with authors and publishers. IT’S A BUSINESS.

Has no-one seen The Apprentice? Are the apprentice wanabees employers complaining at them trying to get another job?

All publishers work in different ways—and their mistakes are theirs to make. A web-wide-witch-hunt achieves nothing, particularly when Silver did nothing worse than a leaflet drop. Ok, I don’t like the double glazing leaflets through my letter box, but I have a recycling bin in the hall. Similarly I have a “delete” button on my computer. Don’t you? If I’d received one, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to even tell any of my publishers about it-why on earth would I? I wouldn’t tell an employer if a head hunter had got in touch. I wouldn’t go to Joe’s pizzas and tell him that Luigi’s had sent me a leaflet.

Publisher loyalty is admirable in some respects. I understand why some authors like publisher loyalty. It’s a sense of safety, that they know they’ve got a publisher who will at least look at their new proposal, and some authors know that anything they write will be published by their current publisher. They like the sense of community that belonging to a publisher brings, they like the chat rooms, the blogs and the author groups where they can gossip about the world in relative safety. I get that, I do. it’s altogether not for me, but I get that.  What I’ll never get is the playground mentality where one group of authors on a publishing group behave like warring meerkats,but then I didn’t go That Kind of School.

If I had this sense of fanatical “I belong to one publisher and no more” I would probably never have sold another book. I was literally head-hunted for Transgressions by Running Press—what would I have been if I’d have said to them: “Sorry, but I’m a PD Publishing author only.”  Loyal? or Stupid? I can assure you that PD Publishing have never been more than gracious with my “defection” – wished me all the luck. Standish is still one of their best sellers and that makes them happy.  Running Press said to me when tying me in for LIFE with my contract for gay historicals (and I have the email from them still) that they’d like to keep me as long as they could, but when the call from Random House or the like came, and they were sure it would – they wouldn’t stand in my way. (opinions formed by Running Press do not reflect the owner of this blog)

I bought just about all that we need for Boxing Day, might need some more veg by Saturday, but I can pick that up over the next day or so. Tesco’s was quite civilised, and not the madhouse of everyone scrabbling for the last pack of potatoes that I thought it would be.

In final news – I have the first twinges of arthritis(?) rheumatism(?) in the fingers of my right hand. This worries me, not on its own—hell, we are all getting older, but my half-sister developed MS, and when I suggested to the eye clinic last time I was there that my eye problems (and arrhythmia, and swollen legs) might be MS they said “well, there’s no real test for it, but we watch out for the next Event” (e.g. something else going wrong.) Hmm.

IN BETTER NEWS – HURRAH – Shortest Day today, so from now on the days get longer! Whee!

© Copyright 2010 Erastes, All rights Reserved. Written For: Erastes
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One Response to Rent a grouse

  1. Teddypig says:

    Well hmmmm, you know I don’t know if I would go with a publisher that felt randomly spamming writers was a great selling point. What will they do when they want readers? *OMG* the ideas are horrifying.

    I mean if you had some type of business or personal relationship with someone that worked there and they asked nicely that works for me. On the other hand I could see them writing you out of the blue saying they loved your last such and such book and wanted to know if they offered certain things would you write something for them to publish kinda like it.

    But the whole scatter shot deal of spam emails just does not bode well with me.

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