Tidbitty Goodness

What I’m thinking about a bunch of things:

* Mel Gibson’s Anti-Semitic Meltdown: See, this is why I don’t drink. Not that I harbor long-suppressed anti-semitic inclinations, or (perhaps more charitably) have a holocaust-denying anti-semite father who drilled his prejudices into me deep enough that they burst out when I’m stopped by the cops from driving down Highway 1 at 80mph with a bottle of tequila to keep me company. I mean to say that booze has a tendency to take one’s least nice qualities — the ones we have enough sense to keep stuffed into a hole — and let them out for a run, especially when booze is consumed in quantity. I have enough bad qualities that I barely keep beaten down as it is. Also, I’m not a big guy. The first time I’m a jerk while drunk, I’m going to get flattened.

Alcohol isn’t an excuse for Gibson’s Jew-baiting tirade, and I think drunk or not he’s going to have to well and truly answer for the outburst. People are rejecting Gibson’s apology as not nearly enough to make up for the tirade, and while I think he’s getting short-changed for the directness of the apology, I think the general consensus is also correct; the man’s going to spend some time in desert, and how long depends on him. I’m not going to front the idea that I think the man doesn’t harbor some anti-semitic prejudices, but I think would be tragic would be if Gibson, whose father, as noted, is a noted holocaust denier, had been generally struggling against that early-inculcated prejudice and had much of that progress wiped out, as far as the public is concerned, anyway, in a moment of drunken stupidity. Gibson can work his way back, but it’ll be a lot of work.

Aside from the anti-semitic thing, I wonder what possessed Gibson to go on his drunken drive in the first place. My understanding is that he’s struggled with alcohol for quite some time, and if that’s the case, it’s possible something stressed him out enough to hit the bottle. Again, not an excuse for doing and saying stupid and hateful things, but possibly an explanation.

* Call me crazy, but I think announcing that the FDA is re-considering letting the Plan B pill be sold to adults without a prescription a day before the nominee to lead the FDA gets grilled by the Senate is possibly the height of gross political cynicism. How will we know? We’ll know if Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach gets confirmed, and Plan B goes back in regulatory limbo, as I fully expect it to.

* Men are like dogs — they raise the pitch of their voices talking to men they intuit are socially superior to them. That’s the idea being presented here, anyway. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that one myself, since I have a somewhat naturally high-pitched speaking voice, and there’s not a lot of men I think are socially superior to me (equal? Sure. Better? Nah). On the other hand, maybe this explains why people always say they expect my voice to be lower, and possibly why I talk with a lower voice when dealing with annoying phone calls. Oddly, I sing baritone. I don’t know what that means.

* Speaking of men, I found this NYT story interesting: It’s about men who have decided that between not working, and working at a job they think is below them, some men will choose not to work. Max Weber must be twisting in his grave. I’m sympathetic to this impulse — I’ve been known to leave jobs when I didn’t like what I was being made to do — but I’m not sure I could do it myself. I would be very reluctant not to have an income of my own, unless Krissy was doing so well in her work that we could comfortably survive on her single income alone. And even then, I expect Krissy would be saying to me “you damn well better be writing some pay copy,” which of course I would be feverishly endeavoring to do. But in all seriousness, I can’t imagine not working at something if it came to the point where the income was needed, or not working started eating into what we had for retirement. Fortunately it’s theoretical at the moment.


Coffee Shop Rescheduled

A note for the folks who have preordered You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop Into a Coffee Shop: Scalzi on Writing: Subterranean and I are pushing back the release date to February 2007. The pre-production took a little bit longer than we had anticipated, which would have pushed back the the release date to late September/early October, which would have been uncomfortably close to the release of The Android’s Dream.

Rather than have two books pop out on the market at the same time, we moved Coffee Shop back a bit. Now it rests comfortably between The Android’s Dream, which debuts on Halloween (w00t!) and The Last Colony, which arrives in May. This also gives us time to polish the book to a high sheen and to get it out to reviewers and what not. The content will likely remain the same, although it’s possible I might add a piece or two. I will tell you I’ve seen an early design version of it, and from that I can say it looks really great. It’s going to be worth the wait.

In any event, re-mark your calendars: Coffee Shop in 2/07. Maybe I should do a tour of coffee shops then, eh?


One Last Hugo Plug

For those of you who are eligible to vote for the Hugos and the Campbells, Monday is the last day to vote. Please do vote. I go into detail why you should vote in another entry, but in sum, you should vote because you can. So vote, even if you don’t vote for me. But if you do vote for me, for either the Hugo or the Campbell, thank you.

(NB: Please do not discuss how you’ve voted in the comment thread to this entry. Come Tuesday — i.e., after the voting has closed — I’ll probably open a discussion thread on the subject. But for now, hold your fire. Thanks.)

Update: Been asked in the comment thread and e-mail how one becomes eligible to vote. The answer is that you need to be a member of this year’s Worldcon. Memberships come in attending and supporting levels. Attending allows you to vote and attend this year’s Worldcon; supporting allows you simply to vote. Attending memberships are $200; supporting memberships are $50. If you want to get a membership, here’s the online registration site.


Athena Giving You The Word, Fresh For ’06, Sucka; Plus, a Blogging Self-Pimp Thread

I pity the fool who doesn’t respect the Goddess.

Now, onto various random things:

* First, antipodean SF editor Jonathan Strahan has posted up a podcast which features Tim Pratt reading his original fantasy short story, “The Third-Quarter King.” It’s up here.

* Also landing on my desk from down under: Hal Spacejock, a humorous SF novel from Simon Hayes, who is in Perth. It’s 11,157 miles from Perth to where I live (measured in a great circle), so this officially makes Hal Spacejock the originally most-distant object ever to land on my desk, so far as I know. Congratulations, Simon!

* And as long as I’m chatting up Australian things: Here’s Aussie band Wolfmother, doing their song “Dimension.” Honestly, it’s as if the lead singer has warped back in time, snatched Robert Plant’s voicebox straight from the man’s golden throat, and brought it back to 2006. Frightening, really.

* Words arranged in a fashion I never expected to see: “Something you wrote on the Whatever may lead to me eating pizza on national television with Regis Philbin.” Is this a good thing or bad thing? The details of this Whatever-originating adventure begin here and continue through a series of links.

I’d just like to note that all of this involves New York style pizza, which is inferior in every relevant respect to Chicago-style pizza. Inferior. To an appalling degree, really.

* Since you asked, The Last Colony writing is going well. I’m behind where I need to be (my deadline is in three days), but I like what I’ve written so far and I think you will too. I will say that thematically it’s a bit different from the other two books; the other two were focused on the military aspect of this universe, and this one (as the title quite naturally suggests), focuses on the colonial aspect. It also deals quite a bit more with the political aspects of the universe, and I can already tell that people are going to daw parallels between what’s going on in that universe and what’s going on in this one. All I can say to that is that I plotted this out some time ago; I can’t be held responsible if the real world begins to resemble what I long ago worked out in my own silly little head.

* I’m not going to be updating over the weekend, for reasons mentioned above, relating to being behind in the book. I don’t expect I’ll finish the book this weekend, but I do suspect I can close out the particular section of the book I’m working on. With explosions!

* To keep all y’all amused while I’m away, I hereby declare this comment thread to a blogging self-pimp thread: Link to a entry on your own site (or someone else’s site) you think the readers here would find particularly interesting. Also, please make a quick description of the link, so people aren’t shocked and appalled (any more than they would normally be) when they click through.

However, when self-pimping, do me a favor and please limit yourself to linking to just one entry. More than one link and your comment post will likely get tossed into the moderation queue, and I’m not making any promises that I’m going get around to liberating those over the weekend. Having your comment sucked into the grey netherworld of moderation will defeat the entire purpose of self-pimpery. So, you know, you have incentive to follow this direction (also, don’t post multiple posts with one URL each. Honestly, if what you link to is good enough, people will wander around your site).

Have fun — see you Monday.


Because Apparently I’m Just a Chatty Cathy…

Here’s another interview of me, this time a short one at Meme Therapy.


Cincinnati/Covington Appearance

If you live in the Cincinnati area in Ohio or the Covington area in Kentucky, and you want to see if I actually exist, and you’re not doing anything on August 12th, then you should know I’m making an appearance at the Mary Ann Mongan Branch of the Kenton County Public Library, In Covington, KY, on that date, at 2pm. I’ll be there as part of an overall symposium on science fiction. The links have address information.

What will I do? Well, I thought I’d debut my acapella one-man musical about alien abductions, called What, The Anal Probe Again? Or, Once More With Feeling. But I’m having trouble with the bridge for the show centerpiece tune, “I’ve Got a Funny Feeling Inside,” so I want to emphasize that the performance of this work is not confirmed at this time. Whatever I do, I should be reasonably entertaining.


And Now, Another Exclusive Sneak Preview of The Last Colony You’ll Remember For the Rest of Your Days!!!

Can you contain the excitement? No? Well, fine. Here’s a bucket.

And now, your exclusive sneak preview:

It was raining werewolves.

Cryptic, yet inscrutable! Just the way you like your exclusive sneak previews.

Don’t worry, I’m not giving away all the best lines.


Wednesday Author Interview: Ellen Kushner

Over at By The Way, we’ve got the fabulously fabulous Ellen Kushner talking about her latest book, The Privilege of the Sword, as well as her radio show, her work with Interstitial Arts Foundation, and all other sorts of good stuff. Go read the interview and I’ll love you forever! In that, you know, comfortingly Platonic sort of way.


Did I Mention: House For Rent?

I mentioned some time ago that our house in the Washington, DC area would soon be up for rent. Well, now’s that time. We’re posting the listing in other places, of course, but just in case DC-area readers (or, alternately, readers who know people in the DC area) are in the market for a house to rent, here’s what we’re offering:

A great home for rent in Sterling, Va (20164). Here are the details:

* 3 levels (house + full basement); house levels approx. 2300 sq. ft.
* 3 bedrooms (HUGE master bedroom is 22×12)
* 2.5 baths
* Living room is 14 X 14
* Dining room is 10 X 11
* Family room is 19 X 12
* Kitchen is 16 X 12
* Basement level includes three additional finished rooms plus full bath plus very large workshop
* Washer/Dryer, Microwave, Dishwasher and of course standard oven and fridge
* Air conditioning/heater plus vent fan
* Carpeted floors with hardwood hallway (kitchen is tiled)
* Working fireplace
* Located on family-friendly cul-de-sac (with good neighbors)
* Close to Rt. 7, Toll Road and tons of shopping and restaurants
* Pets okay with additional deposit
* House comes with gorgeous full-sized single slate pool table

The lot is small (.11 acre) but the back opens up on a .33 acre “common area” that effectively belongs to the house (you can’t get to it except by going onto the property), so the back yard is pretty nicely-sized.

Rent: $2,000 per month (plus $2k deposit); year-to-year lease. No subletting. Renter pays utilities; we pay homeowner association fee.

If you or someone you know is interested, drop me an e-mail; I’ll send along a rental application and give you a phone number to schedule a visit to the house.



Don’t Stop Believin’, Man!

Chad Orzel, who knows of my predilections, has pointed me in the direction of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Journey, which offers an album-by-album retrospective of the most radio-persistent rock band from the 80s. It’s not a bad overview; I don’t think any over the age of 25 really needs a recap of the Escape/Frontiers era of Journey, but most people are clueless about the band pre- and post- Steve Perry , and this is a useful way to learn a little about those eras.

In the circles I run in, Journey is looked on with something less than regard, which means that the band’s cultural persistence irritates and terrifies most people I know. I remember ten years ago, when the Escape-era line-up reteamed for the Trial By Fire, Ted Rall declared that the reunion album would debut to massive indifference, so I bet him a fiver that the album would enter the charts in top five. In fact, it debuted at #3, and Ted still owes me $5. Look, people like Journey. It’s like the multivitamin of rock: It’s got the rockers for the boys, the ballads for the girls, Neal Schon’s technically impressive fret work, Steve Perry’s swoopingly expressive voice, Jonathan Cain’s major-chord bell ringing keyboards, Steve Smith’s thundering drums, and whatever the hell it was Ross Valory brought to the party (mostly, a droopy ‘stache). Maybe it’s not in the best taste, but name a multivitamin that tastes good. No, Flintstones don’t count. So chalky.

The other thing, which is what I told Ted at the time, is that for the vast majority of Suburban Americans between the age of 14 and 24 in the early 80s, when it was time to make out and you put Escape on the turntable, you were automatically spotted two bases. Honestly, if you didn’t have a hand under a bra or massaging a button fly by the end of “Who’s Crying Now,” Steve Perry would stop what he was doing, fly to your house and then beat the crap out of you for blowing a sure thing. God forbid you actually flipped the LP, because then, baby, you were going home. There’s an entire generation of white 22-to-25-year olds walking around today whose moment of conception is largely coincident to the second chorus of “Open Arms.” These people will be driving along with their moms, that song will come on that radio, their moms will get a small, wistful smile, and these people will spend the next three minutes, nineteen seconds uncontrollably shuddering.

Good times, good times.

Anyway, that’s why all you snobs will never be rid of Journey; too many other people got lucky with Steve Perry yodeling in the background. Deal with it. It could have been worse. There’s a whole bunch of 15-to-20-year-olds whose mothers were inseminated to Warrant. No amount of therapy will ever make that right.

To finish up, allow me to indulge in my own Journey-geek dorkiness by once again hauling to my own techno remix of “Don’t Stop Believin’,” named, appropriately, “Don’t Stop.” If you’ve not already subjected yourself to it, I assure you it’s pretty much as terrifying as you might imagine. Enjoy!


Interview in Some Fantastic

For those of you who don’t already know what I think about everything, the SF zine Some Fantastic has a pretty long interview with me in its latest edition (note: 2.2 MB pdf download in that last link). In the interview you’ll discover why Old Man’s War protagonist John Perry is not my “Mary Sue” (and which character is), why the war in my books doesn’t map to the wars down here, why I don’t do media tie-ins, and why I work on novels more than short fiction. In sum, lots of interesting yabber yabber. Enjoy.


Yeah, I’m a Dork

The really interesting thing is that it’s gotten to a point where Athena doesn’t really blink anymore when I add an extra finger to her hand, or make her eyes the size of saucers, or give her vampire teeth. She’s pretty much immune to the Photoshoppery at this point.

To forestall the inevitable “aren’t you on deadline?” cracks, this was actually for something I was doing for By The Way. Yeah, I got paid for this. So there.


Every Night the ACLU Lawyer Will Have to Come Home and Scrub Scrub Scrub

The ACLU is defending the right of the Westboro Baptist Church to picket funerals. That gig’s gotta suck. I think the members of the Westboro Baptist Church are hateful little worms who ought to fall down a sewer drain and receive an entirely appropriate demise therein; I also strongly suspect they have a valid First Amendment case. We’ll see what the ACLU does with it.

However it goes, this will be a fine case to point out the next time someone blatherates about the ACLU just being for godless liberal freaks. Clearly it’s for the fundamentalist conservative freaks, too.


The Value of (Long) Fiction Online

Science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer and science fiction commentator Evo Terra are having a rather lengthy discussion on their Web sites about whether e-books are really a way to get one’s self known as a science fiction author. This particular conversation began when Sawyer, who has his own book line in Canada, rejected a book from an author who had submitted a book, but then asked Sawyer to hurry making up his mind. Apparently the author had another offer on the table from a publish-on-demand publisher and interest from Web site which wanted to serialize the book. Sawyer passed on the book and futher noted that he believed the author was being foolish, because in his opinion neither PoD or Web serializing was likely to get this author any serious number of readers. Terra, who runs a site which serializes books as podcasts, disputed that serialization was not a useful way of getting one’s name out there. Sawyer followed up in the comments and in a couple of additional posts on his own Web site, in which he and Terra dug into the numbers of who was listening to what and what the numbers meant.

Along the way the discussion turned toward the more general topic of selling and promoting one’s writing online, and the names of myself and of Cory Doctorow were invoked, because Cory and I are arguably the best known examples in science fiction of people who have distributed texts online that have also been available in print (although I would argue that Charlie Stross deserves recognition in this arena as well). Sawyer argues, however, that Cory and I should be thrown out as data points in this discussion, because we are extreme outliers — and anyway, there are no hard public numbers for how Cory and I are selling, so it’s hard to discuss the topic in anything more than generalities.

Since my name was invoked, and since I have some thoughts on this topic, allow me to add my own commentary to this matter, some of which will echo what has been previously written by Misters Sawyer and Terra, and some of which will be new information.

To begin, everyone so far agrees that this unnamed author was a bit of a fool to try to rush Sawyer into making an editorial decision, and I agree with that. A first-time, unknown, unagented author really is in no position to push along the editorial process like that, especially when the manuscript has been at the editor’s desk for only three months; response times for unagented manuscripts at publishers are often a year and sometimes longer. And simultaneous submissions are generally a no-no as it is, so Sawyer was being nice to this guy to begin with.

As a writer, I certainly agree it sucks that the submission process takes so damn long — indeed, the lameness of the submission process in general was one of the major reasons I decided to serialize Old Man’s War online in the first place — but writers have to remember that the submission process is not for their benefit, it’s for the benefit of the editor. And anyway, if you’re annoying an editor at the submission stage, you’re not making an argument for yourself being easy to work with at any other stage. So, in sum: don’t piss off the editor.

Second, not only do I agree that Cory Doctorow and I are outliers, but we also exemplify one big problem with talking about the utility of putting writing online: there is no standard way of doing it, so relating the results to each other is not really meaningful. For example, Cory releases his novels online for free simultaneous to their release in bound format in the bookstore. In my case, I serialized my novel Old Man’s War online, but after it was sold, I took it down. It was only available online for about a month, and in its entirety for less than two weeks. Cory uses his text as a way to sell the physical manifestation of the novel; I put my novel online because I didn’t expect to sell it, and when I did, I took it offline. These are not equivalent methods; it’s not useful to suggest they are.

To go further on this, I’m skeptical you can make much of an argument that the text of OMW being online did much to sell the book to readers. There was a two-year gap between when the book sold and when it was published; during that time the readership of the my site more than tripled, and has tripled again since then. Which is to say the number of people who could have read the novel when it was online is a number less than 2,000, and the number who did read it was probably less; not everyone who visited my site probably read the whole thing. To date, Old Man’s War has sold about 20,000 copies (and we’ve yet to go to mass-market paperback, so the end number will — cross fingers, knock on wood — hopefully be a bit higher), so even if we assume that everyone who read my site in December of 2002 bought a copy (which would be a silly assumption), the vast majority of the people who have bought the book still simply could not have read it in online form.

What did sell OMW online? This site itself, for one, since I know anecdotally that many readers here who had not seen the novel online were curious to see if I could write one well. But the good reviews the novel got on sites like Instapundit and BoingBoing were critical too — and those reviews came via the physical copies of the book, not the online version. After this, word of mouth kicked in, online as well as offline. But again, all of that was based on the printed, published book, not the online version.

Now, the fact I sold the book after I serialized it online is a great story, and God knows I’ve used it enough in interviews and articles. It’s a grabber, something that sets the book apart from other books and gives reporters something for their lede. But again, the story of how I sold the book is different from having the actual text online.

A somewhat more useful set of data as to whether having the text online can help sell one’s book can be seen by looking at Agent to the Stars, which is available online, and was so simultaneous to the book being out in hardcover form. I also, from 1999 through 2004, had the book available as “shareware,” which is to say I let people know that if they liked it, they should send me a dollar. Now let’s look at some numbers.

Between ’99 and ’04 I received about $4,000 from folks who read Agent, which is as anyone will tell you, a nice and tidy sum for anything written online. Since I asked folks to send me $1 if they liked it, you might assume that means I got 4,000 readers to pony up. In fact, the average person sent in something like $3.70 (which is to say most people sent $5 or $1, and clearly more people sent $5 than $1; this number doesn’t count the guy who sent me $200, which still boggles my mind). So, more or less, about 1,080 folks forked over the dough. Over those five years, I estimate about 25,000 people looked at the Agent pages online or downloaded the text file. So we’re talking about about a 4-5% conversion rate for people looking to people paying.

I sold Agent to the Stars into a limited hardcover edition in early 2005 and it became available for pre-order in late February; it came out in August and officially sold out its 1,500-copy print run in January 2006 (although Amazon claims it can still get it for you, if you’re willing to wait 4-6 weeks). Between January 2005 and this moment, the Agent page on this site was visited about 60,000 times, so you could say there was a 2.5% reader-to-buyer conversion rate there, if you believe that the only way people found out about the book was through the Agent pages of this site…

… which would be silly. For one thing, I got Mike Krahulik of Penny Arcade to do the cover of the book, not only because I knew he’d make a cool cover but because I knew PA fans would be interested in the book just because Mike did the cover, and I’m not too proud to bask in a little reflected PA glory. For another thing, people who had read Old Man’s War and liked it hit Amazon or SF speciality sites to see what else I’d written and picked up Agent that way. For yet another thing, Subterranean Press, the book’s publisher, promoted the book via its site and mailing list. And of course I chatted it up here on the Whatever. It’s fair to suggest that some of the Agent copies were sold by having the text online, but most? I have my reservations.

(Did having Agent online for three years before I sold Old Man’s War do anything for my profile as an SF writer? In a word: No. When OMW sold, the vast majority of SF fandom and SF publishing hadn’t the slightest clue who I was, and those who did, knew me as a blogger. Which dovetails into the next point:)

Third, as I’ve noted before, given the choice between placing or serializing one’s work online, and creating a kickass blog/Web site that draws people in and has them returning on a repeat basis, I think it’s much smarter to build that kickass Web site. No one would have read either Agent or Old Man’s War if I had simply put them up cold; the people who read them when they were online (and before I became known for any other sort of writing) were the people who were already reading me because of my site. They already knew they liked my writing. Overall, I feel very confident in saying that it is the blog writing, not the fiction writing, that draws people here. This is changing somewhat as I become better known as a novelist (people read the books and then come here), but even so, if all I had here was fiction, I can pretty much guarantee you that the number of people who visit here regularly would be a small fraction of what the site gets now. If you want to get your name out online, focus on regular, interesting slice-of-life writing, not fiction.

Having said all of the above, I do wonder what would happen now if I offered up a novel or novella as shareware, a la what I originally did for Agent. Part of me thinks I could do pretty well with it financially (because instead of being an anonymous schmoe with a blog, I’m a Hugo and Campbell nominated schmoe with a blog), and part of me thinks it would be a bust (because, after all, what does a Hugo and Campbell nominee need with money? He’s rolling in it, right? Ah, if only they knew). Either way, however, whatever attention the novel/novella would get would be based on my existing notoriety, both as a blogger and as an SF writer.

And this is the real take home point, boys and girls: Online, your fiction writing doesn’t increase your reputation; it relies on the reputation you already have.


Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

Note to aspiring authors: Just remember that for everyone of these you get, you also get one of these. And you have no control over either. So don’t fret over either. Just write as well as you can.



Passing along this e-mail I got from Rick Kleffel, editor of The Agony Column:

Thought I might mention that my report on the Singularity for NPR is going to run this Sunday, near the end of the second hour — Vernor Vinge and Cory Doctorow on NPR! If enough folks respond, NPR will commission more SF reportage.

Finally, a reason to listen to NPR!

No, I’m not a regular listener to NPR because I prefer my radio to have music on it. Which means it’s hard times for me these days. Nevertheless, it’s always a good day when SF gets a bit more attention. Here are more details on when Rick’s piece will air tomorrow. And if you do listen, do give feedback.


How Not To Market to Bloggers, Redux

Someone got fired. In the wake of this entry about a really bad e-mail pitch I received from a PR company on behalf of Napster, this popped up in the entry’s comment thread:

Hi John,

I am the President & CEO of Guerilla PR and am quite disturbed by the email that was sent to you by Nadine of my staff and want to personally apologize.

Each of our outreach emails are crafted for a specific target audience and typically go through a quality control and approval process. As I’m sure you are well aware, mistakes occur within even the most strategic marketing campaigns and, unfortunately, you mistakenly received an email that was specifically developed for outreach to a database of comedic fansites (thus the affiliate-focused offer and tone).

Aside from containing messages that were not tailored specifically to you, the email you received was crafted by a Guerilla staffer who took it upon herself to make creative changes to the approved email copy, which resulted in language that was far more cutesy, “salesy”, immature, unprofessional and generic than any which Guerilla pr typically recommends using- with any audience. The copy in the email was not approved by anyone at Guerilla PR, nor by anyone at Napster.

At Guerilla PR, we understand that “guerilla” marketing can be an incredibly powerful tool, but only when well executed. The type of communication you received is NOT indicative of the communications that we send on behalf of Napster or any of our clients.

In all fairness, Guerilla PR and our employees have relationships which we have built up over 7 years and have succeeded in providing sites, writers and users with valuable digital assets, tools, story queries, interviews, videos, and more.

I am glad this was brought to my attention, as it enabled us to correct the situation. We concur with your assessment and strive to continually have our entire staff practice the recommendations you scribed. To reduce the risk of future similar incidents, this GPR rep’s employment has been terminated.

Please email me back if you have any additional needs or questions. Thank you.

With respect,

Michael Leifer

Two things here:

1. Very large kudos to Mr. Leifer and Guerilla PR for moving quickly to explain the situation from their end and to address the issue in a substantive fashion. It’s always a good thing when errors are addressed, and the transparency here in dealing with the issue is also super smart. That is, indeed, good PR. So well done, sir. Apology accepted, with sincere thanks.

2. Holy crap, what I wrote got someone fired. Well, to be accurate, their own actions got them fired, although it does appear my entry was a contributing factor in the actions coming to light. I’m still working out how I feel about this personally, although from a business point of view it has undeniable logic: If someone went that far out of the chain of standard practices for a company and the result is that a client was put in a bad light, it’s time to clean out a desk.

In any event, good to see this dealt with.

Update, 7/22/06, 9:30 am: As you’ll see in the comments, many of the commenters seriously doubt the sincerity of the letter above, and suggest Mr. Leifer’s explanation (and termination of his staffer) are largely the work of a marketeer trying to once again get a grip on his spin. I fully acknowledge he could just be telling me what I want to hear and letting me imagine that my immense blogger powers have crushed my marketing foes, when in fact they continue on unscathed. But inasmuch as that Mr. Leifer is putting the credibility of his shop on the line with a public apology, and that it would be simple enough for an industrious business reporter to verify the particulars of Mr. Leifer’s letter (hint, hint), I’m willing to take him at his word for now. This does, however, accentuate how suspicious folks in the online world are of bad marketing, and how quickly credibility erodes when one’s company does something dumb.


Day of Play

Here’s Athena on her new bike (she outgrew the old one — who knew that’s what kids do), and now we’re about to head off to see Monster House, which, as the title suggests, is about a house that’s also a monster. So basically, no time to hang with all y’all. You kids have fun without me. See you later.


Foil-Stamped and Embossed For Your Pleasure

Tor sent me a few samples of the cover of the upcoming mass-market paperback version of Old Man’s War, which I share with you now, in all its foil-stamped and embossed glory. And not just foil-stamped and embossed in one color, but two — silver and gold. Truly, I am living the science fiction author dream. Indeed, I think it entirely possible that, however OMW fares at the Hugos this year (have you voted? Have you? Huh?), it’ll be a true contender for the 2007 Gold Leaf Award for Best Foil Stamped/Embossed Book Cover/Jacket, handed out — of course — by the Foil Stamping and Embossing Association. It’s not too much to hope for.

Seriously, though. It looks really good.


La Guerra Del Viejo

This just in: Spanish-language rights to Old Man’s War have been claimed. Excellent. That’s the seventh language into which OMW will be translated (following Russian, French, Chinese, German, Japanese and Hebrew). My book is seeing more of the world than I have. I’ll have to fix that one day.

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