What Ten Years Looks Like

Tor Books and I agreed to our deal in May, but for various reasons (including the fact that the deal was for thirteen books, to be delivered over the course of ten years), the actual, finalized contracts didn’t get to me until this very morning. Here they are, laid out. You’re looking at ten years of my life, here — or at least the literary aspect of it, through 2026. I will be 57 years old when the last of these books is released into the world. Honestly, that just seems unfathomable at the moment.

I have a lot of deep thoughts about all of this, but I’m going to wait a bit until these contracts — which I signed! — are countersigned over at Tor. Until then, look: A decade, in contract form.

37 thoughts on “What Ten Years Looks Like

  1. So, thirteen books and fifteen contracts. Would you mind sharing what the other two bundles of paper cover?

  2. How’s your hand? I strongly suspect that book signings have prepared you well for this, but my carpal-tunnel-addled wrist is twinging in sympathy.

  3. It’s like half a mortgage–lots of pages, signatures and initials for something you want but scares you at the same time. Adulting.

  4. You are a brave man, John Scalzi! At the same time, I guess there are much worse counter parties for a contract like that than Tor books, which gave the world many wonderful stories, and has a blog with a cute logo of a vintage rocket ship. Congratulations!

  5. Just think of it all as your enlistment paperwork. You’ve just signed up for a 10 year hitch. There is security in that, but there is also a little fear of what you might have given up in exchange (opportunity cost for the Econ 101 folk). Congrats!

  6. You’ll still be younger than I am now … which caused me to think back ten years … 7 or 8 books ago depending on what you count as the date of a book.

    Certain things don’t change much in some decades.

    I still occasionally get up wondering if the kid next door will be knocking on the door asking if I can come out and play (no he won’t; he owns an auto repair shop 1100 miles from here), or if I’m going to figure out differential equations well enough to pass the class the second time (I didn’t understand them much better but sheer chance allowed me to pass, barely), or why, when I walk into the bathroom, my Uncle Jim is looking back at me from the mirror, with such an expression of horrified bewliderment.

    Anyway, have some fun, there, whippersnapper, and keep in mind that continued existence, while sometimes problematic, almost always beats the alternative.

  7. Marshall Ryan Maresca:

    Neither the deal nor the contracts were in doubt when we announced. The complexity of the deal took time to put into contractual language, is all.

    Joseph Finn:

    It’s a desk at the local FedEx Office, where I printed and shipped the contracts.

  8. Warren Terra got there first. Yes, we urgently require a scale-kitten!

    Hmmm. I do a lot of scale drawing as part of my job. What, I wonder, is one kitten-scale measure. One kitten equals a foot? Doesn’t seem quite right. One kitten seems more likely to equal … a tempest. Possibly a curiosity. Now how to relate those options to units of size …

  9. We really need a good way to sign (solely) electronic documents.

    I was so happy to have found a vendor willing to do my most recent mortgage refinance “completely online” — until closing, when I had to print out a pile of documents perhaps three times the size of those pictured.

  10. That’s a lot of paperwork. My eyes would be hurting after reading all the legalese as well as hands chapped from turning pages and wrists/hands/fingers hurting from all the signing. But it must feel good to have it all put down on paper and the details agreed upon. Congrats.

  11. And it’s quite possible Athena will have her first and possibly second college degree by the time this contract has run it’s course.

  12. I can relate. I turn 50 in March. Parts of me know that’s true, but most of me still thinks I’m in college or earlier, despite all the years and the misadventures in them.

    However, a secure deal, stable employment for ten years and thirteen books, that’s really something.

    Just think, maybe they’ll get ebooks working about right by then. hmm, then again, seeing how things are now versus when I first used computers…. Ah, well, it beats stone knives and bearskins!

    I want my hoverboard, though. — And how come we’re not on Mars yet? Harrumph.

    Also, I still haven’t found Mr. Right, and he hasn’t found me yet. Just saying.

  13. With the upcoming new Star Trek TV show do many of today’s science fiction writers having grown up with the show did they write of a “I wrote a Star Trek show for Fun or I first tried to writing for Star Trek” ?
    I hope some very talented writers have a script in their back file that they are dusting off and re tuning. There could be some excellent shows.
    I know that you have tons of upcoming work and new stories, but does your contract prohibit you from submitting a script? Not that I am begging, I got my fill with Red Shirts.
    But are other big name authors prohibited from submitting their star trek scripts, or do you think we can see same big name authors in the credits?

  14. So thats a little more than a book a year. How does that compare to your current rate of output, and do you have any concerns about keeping up? I’m still slogging through my first novel, but working part time on it while consulting full time its hard to get a feel for how much I could produce if I was doing it full time.

  15. Somehow I expected one, or several contracts, but not 13 – and certainly not 15. Wow! Hopefully you can give at least a vague explanation in a follow-up post about why 15 contracts. :-)

  16. I loved the suggestion above that one kitten equals one tempest; or one kitten equals one curiosity.

    Perhaps it’s a litter of kittens equals one tempest, while one equals a curiosity?

  17. I turned 67 a few months ago, and this I can tell you: you will be bloody amazed at how quickly that 10 years goes by.

  18. @Bluecatship: Good thought, about numbers of kittens!

    Though it could also have to do with age, I suppose. A six week old kitten equals a curiosity. A four month old kitten most DEFINITELY equals a tempest!

  19. Aha! I’d agree with that, @Elizabeth McFadden :D So, how does the metric vary if you have a litter of kittens over time? :D Just to be sure our scaling factors are as accurate as possible.

    Hmm. How does this vary as the speed of Thing 1 approaches C? As Thing 1 and Thing 2 approach C? As a litter of kittens each approach C at intervals, until all the kittens in the litter are approaching C?

    We just might be onto the Missing Sock Destination!

  20. I don’t like this talk of Thing One and Thing Two and physics. Cats can have bad experiences with physics, especially if boxes are involved.

  21. I guess as an established writer your time has been yours for a long while, now.
    But congratulations on excising the bulk of negotiation until 57-year-old-Scalzi gets here!
    And now: back to squinting slightly so you can continue to write the books you want to write.
    (All the best)^13!

  22. @Captain Button — Good point. Schroedinger’s thought experiment seems unfair to cats. I personally wouldn’t want any cat to have to be involved in such an experiment. I like cats.

    We shall certainly exempt Thing 1 and Thing 2 from any such boxes. But they’re probably too smart for that anyway.

    However, in the set of possible outcomes, a few others do come to mind:

    * The cat was never in that box to begin with. He or she has far too much sense to trust some maniacal physicist who’d want to shut up a cat in a box. Really!

    * The cat exists as an undead cat, neither alive nor dead, but in some vampiric or zombie cat state. Hmm, I dunno. I prefer regular cats. But you never know about these things.

    * Dr. Schroedinger, in his zeal for science, forgot the subset of universes or outcomes wherein the guy suggesting such an experiment was instead the one in the box, while the cat was the observer outside. Possibly this balances the overall karmic debit of the multi-verse equation? On the other hand, one has no real wish for over-zealous physicists with a questionable thing against cats to be in some quantum uncertain state, either.

    * Or possibly the cat has a little cat spacesuit equipped with plenty of air, and a handy teleportation device (don’t all cats have a teleportation ability?) so that the cat can get the heck outta Dodge before the crazy scientist gets back.

    Other possibilities likely are, uh, possible. Heheheh.

    It’s the freaking middle of the night, but I’m awake because my circadian rhythm is permanently off-kilter. So I should be doing something; either sleeping or something constructive.

    I think I prefer the cat in the spacesuit to the undead zombie or vampire cat, really. Hmm.

  23. I will be 74 when the last of this bunch of contractual works is published. I look forward to adding them all to my re-read list. I’ve gone through the “Old Man’s War” series about 6 times so far..Well the first one anyway, cause I start over when a new one comes out, not to mention all of your other works that reside on my Kindle. So I have my own little mental contract with you sir. You keep writing them and I’ll keep buying them.

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