Daily Archives: March 14, 2008

WordPress Features: The Addination!

I’m fiddling with the site a bit, and adding a couple of features I’ve been asked for. So far, here’s what’s new:

* I’ve added an Archives section over in the sidebar, to make it easier to access entries from previous months and years. Note that the archive only covers entries created through WordPress (i.e. from 9/30/07 onward). Maybe one day I’ll hire someone to import the previous nine years of entries into WordPress, but you know what? Today’s not that day.

* I’ve added a widget that makes it easy for you to bookmark/recommend an entry to various bookmarking and recommending sites. You just click on the appropriate icon and I believe it will do the rest of the work (if you don’t see your favorite bookmark/recommend site, click on the “more” button; it’ll pop up a couple dozen others). (Update: took out the “more” option because it made the page hang). There’s also a button there to e-mail an entry (or an entry link, at least) to someone.

Please use these buttons responsibly; not every entry here is worth recommending.

* Updated the search function to be more responsive. Again, it covers only the WordPress entries (use the “Full Site Search” link for everything).

* Fiddled with the CSS to highlight my comments. Because I know none of you want to miss my oracular declarations!

* Added a “The Critics Rave!” widget in the sidebar, featuring “reviews” of my work from last year’s Scathing Review Contest.

If I add more tonight, I’ll update this entry.

Fun With Flats

One of my favorite bits of bookseller marketing is the Mass Market Paperback Flat, which publishers send along to bookstores a few months in advance of the paperback release. Here you see the flat for The Last Colony, which is imminently headed toward paperback. I like them because among other things, it’s the actual cover of the paperback, so one can admire all the pretty stamping and foiling that will be on the first printing of the paperback (the nice touch on this one: gold edging on the title — it makes me feel special). On the backside is all the information booksellers need to know, such as release date (July 29, 2008 — just head of the release of Zoe’s Tale), order-inspiring blurbage, images of other paperback books available and so on. And, apparently it’ll also have its own mixed floor display available. Man, I want one of those for my own.

This is part and parcel, however, with my general fascination with marketing, and particularly marketing here in the publishing world. I quite naturally have an interest in the marketing of my own stuff, of course, but in general the mechanics and practices fascinate me. It’s de rigeur for authors to be ambivalent about this stuff, since we’re not supposed to acknowledge that the success of our art depends to a greater or lesser degree on the business of selling books. But as you can imagine I find this studied ambivalence to be a little silly. I’m writing to be read by as wide an audience as possible, and successful marketing does me a world of good in that goal. So it’s important to me to know how that marketing works, and to be engaged in and cooperative with it. It does help that the Tor folks know what they’re doing with this stuff — it makes my part of it a lot easier. Note to self: Send a big fruit basket to Tor’s marketing folks.

Anyway, this is what the paperback cover of TLC will look like. Folded over 336 pages, that is. It won’t be as flat, then.

Various & Sundry 3/14/08

Some stuff:

* Josh Marshall pegs the salient nature of the whole Geraldine Ferraro/Obama thing:

At a certain point I realized that for all the ancillary nonsense Ferraro is simply not capable of seeing Obama’s campaign as anything but an African-American favorite son candidacy. Once you get that everything seems to fall into place.

Yup. And it makes sense from Ferraro, who seems to be well aware that she was the Democratic VP candidate in 1984 because she was (and, well, is) a woman, rather than for her other qualities.

I also suspect it really is a generational thing. Nobody misses the fact Barack Obama is a black man, but I really do think most white voters under 40 don’t see it as the primary quality of interest about the man, whereas I think a significant portion of white voters over 40 do. I could be wrong about this, but this is the vibe I’m getting.

(Likewise, I suspect there may be the same schism over Clinton’s sex, but at this point, I’d hazard that the most salient potential aspect of Clinton, either positive or negative, is not that she’s a woman, but that she’s a Clinton.)

(Also, weird — I had the strangest sense of Deja Vu writing that last sentence.)

All of that said, Geraldine Ferraro is not doing herself any favors claiming, as she does now, that her being thumped for her comments was all part of a dastardly plan by the Obama people to discredit Hillary. Ms. Ferraro, you’re doing that well enough on your own, ma’am. You might wish to STFU now.

* An interesting photo montage of gun owners in the US. The impression one gets from it is that guns are like potato chips; it’s hard to stop with just one. Perhaps not entirely surprisingly there seems to be a number of folks in the montage who by personal appearance and their surroundings appear to be members in good standing of the geek tribe. Just in case anyone thinks the geeks will be easy pickin’s after the revolution comes.

* StarShipSofa has posted audio versions of all the BSFA short story award-nominated works for 2007. Should you decide you need some easy listening.

* The folks who posted this suggest it is in the running for one of the worst inventions ever, and I’m hard pressed to disagree.

* What? No link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda? Who knew? But then again, this report does come from those goddamned pinko liberals at the Pentagon, and it’s well known that they all like drinks with umbrellas in them, if you know what I mean, and I think you do. But, don’t worry — there’s certainly a link between Iraq and al Qaeda now.

If I remember the last few days correctly, this report is the one that the Bush administration decided not to release to the press, even though was available to anyone who requested a copy from the Pentagon. Congratulations, Dubya, you managed to delay its appearance in the press by, oh, six hours. Well done you.

* Apparently, we can keep our stinkin’ dollars; no one wants them anymore. I should be concerned about the dollar’s free-fall — and I am — but at least there’s a silver lining for me: it means that I’m getting paid more for my foreign sales, so long as those sales are denominated in Euros, which largely they are. To put it another way, I got paid in Euros the same amount for the German version of The Last Colony that I got paid for the German version of Old Man’s War, but thanks to the dollar’s precipitate decline, I’m getting paid like something like 40% more after the payment is converted to dollars. And our inflation here in the US is not at 40% yet, so I win. That is, as long as I don’t leave the US. Rumor is that it’s a big country.

If the dollar wants to stay hideously depressed through my next round of foreign sales, I guess I won’t complain. But in the long run it would be nice to have my home currency seen as stable and having value. The cynical part of me wonders how much the global perception of the dollar will change simply by having a new occupant in the White House on January 20, 2009. I guess we’ll find out.