Various & Sundry 2/13/08

More bits and pieces:

* First, dig this: The super-mega-ultra deluxe versions of Old Man’s War and The Ghost Brigades:

These things are wrapped in so much leather that when I took them out of the shipping box, I thought I’d stepped into a boot store. The insides of the tray cases you see here are covered in buttery-soft suede, so again I spent some time petting my books. And to top it off, green and black are my favorite colors. There’s nothing I don’t love about these things. Yes, some animal had to die for it to get to me, but I like to think that up in cow heaven, this cow is happy that it didn’t just get processed into some convenience store heat lamp hamburger. There’s at least some dignity here. In any event, it’s a very nice presentation for the books, and it ought to be, because these particular editions of OMW and TGB go for $250. There are still some of this version of TGB available, if you feel splurge-y.

* As another quick follow-up to the money advice entry, I do see online that people are now complaining that my “20 cents a word” lower bound (see tip #9) is unrealistic. I agree it’s unrealistic in the SF/F genre, where that rate is on the upper end, but then I don’t think people who want to write full-time should be confining themselves to genre. I disagree that it’s unrealistic elsewhere, and I’ve got a Writers Market with at least a couple hundred magazines and markets that pay in the 10-to-49 cents per word range (that book’s “$$” tier of markets) to back me up on that, and this doesn’t count corporate or other sorts of writing gigs. There’s a reasonable amount of opportunity for a writer to get work in that range of pay.

That said, fixating on a specific per-word rate is kind of missing the point. The point is that writers need to understand that their work and time has value, and that, particularly if they want to write full-time, they have to exercise some judgment as to what is going to be worthwhile exercise of both. Personally speaking, if a gig is below 20 cents a word, I have to ask if there isn’t a better use of my time. Other people’s lower bound may be lower than this, or (gasp!) higher. But I think establishing some sort lower bound is useful for a writer, particularly those of the full-time stripe, because then they don’t get suckered into doing work they can’t afford to do. They can just say “sorry, not worth my time,” and look for something else. This lower bound can be fluid based on a realistic assessment of one’s experience and the state of the market, but it needs to be there.

(Also, and to be clear: Yes, I do sometimes write for less than 20 cents a word. Because it’s a project I want to do, for reasons other than money, or at least money is not the primary reason to do it. I’m not purely income driven, nor, for their sanity’s sake, should anyone else be. But you have to make sure you have the balance right.)

* Speaking of the money entry, my fellow writer Jim C. Hines adds his perspective (and outs his own writing income) here. It’s worth reading.

* Obama wins eight straight primaries and he’s only now ahead in the delegate count? How many “superdelegates” are there, anyway? Also, if anyone doubts Clinton’s going to push to get the Florida and Michigan delegates counted (they were disqualified because they pushed up their primaries), this state of affairs is going to make it inevitable. Fightin’ and scratchin’ all the way, folks. It’s that kind of year. Unless she gets hammered in Ohio and Texas. Then, as I understand it, it really is all over.

That said, there wasn’t a contest last night where Clinton, who didn’t crack 40% of the Democratic vote, didn’t get substantially more votes than McCain on the GOP, who swept all three primaries and didn’t get less than 50% of the GOP vote last night. Overall the turnout was incredibly lopsided, even if you throw out DC, which you should (McCain got 3,900 votes there; Obama, 85,500, which tells you just how Democratic-leaning DC is), and has generally been lopsided all the way through the primaries, even when the fields were better populated, and the GOP field hadn’t been narrowed down to a candidate whom conservatives loathe and one who has no chance of winning. I don’t expect the disparity to be so great in the actual election, regardless of who is nominated. Even so, GOP strategists can’t be happy with this state of affairs.

* Today is the second straight day school has been canceled here in Bradford, and for the second day, the weather really isn’t that bad. The school is closed because of “road conditions,” but I suspect that translates to “we decided to save a little extra money by keeping everyone home today.” Yes, I’m cynical. They did this last year in February, too — there were like 10 snow days. At least then there were actual snowdrifts. Not that Athena is complaining. Of course, now she’s bouncing off the walls because she’s bored and I’m working. Go us.

Speaking of work, off to do some now.


35 Comments on “Various & Sundry 2/13/08”

  1. Those deluxe volumes sure are purrrty. I can smell the leather from here.

    And speaking of cents-per-word, I get paid 2 cents a word for proof reading gigs. Y’all who’re getting paid 3 cents a word for your writing need to get a new agent, unless you’re doing it for love.

    And go Obama!

  2. Gawwwwd – senseless time out of school brings back some memories. I lived in semi-rural northeast Tennessee while in junior high and high school. They would cancel school if it even got a little chilly (yet another culture shock, having moved there from Maine), inevitably meaning lots of makeup days. The 8 or 9 years I was in school there, we had spring break *once*. Of course, I picked that single solitary week to have the mumps.

  3. Regarding Obama and delegates – a lot of the Democratic primaries award delegates proportionally. So, if you get 40% of the vote, you get 40% of the delegates. Also, don’t forget Edwards still has a chuck of delegates in his pocket.

  4. You’re welcome. Figured I’d get that out of the way early. :)

    BTW, the correct translation of Athena’s school closing is: “We’re deathly afraid that one of our bus drivers may almost slide towards the side of the road, and that one of the children, while grabbing her notebook, will suffer a paper cut, and her parents will sue us for a gazillion dollars. Better to leave the kids at home, where they can suffer such injuries in your house. Because that’s your problem.”

  5. Yeah, what Chris said. They count the number of delegates won, not the number of states. The superdelegates are about 20% of the total votes, but I think you already know that.

    I suppose I am one person who doubts Hillary will push to get Florida and Michigan counted. That would a BAD move and I think she is smart enough to bide her time instead. But hey, what do I know?

    Disclaimer: I think both Obama and Clinton would be a fine president and I will gladly vote for either in the Presidential election.

  6. The cynic in me wonders, when forced to choose between a black man and (OMG!!!) a woman, who will the Texans choose?

    And…I’m a Texan.

  7. Out of curiosity, what’s a good rate for freelance copy editing as opposed to writing? I figure you don’t get paid by the word for that sort of thing.

  8. I don’t copy edit (for which I think many people are grateful), so I don’t know personally. My Writers Digest says the range is $20 – $75 an hour, with $34 an hour being average.

  9. @Justme: At least we’uns here in Texas get to see our primary votes count this year.

    I’m actually excited about the situation because it may bring out some folks who never vote in the primaries. In other words, it might make a few entrenched poster “children” for term limits sweat just a bit. Add to that the talk of some Republicans of boycotting the primary because McCain is too liberal and perhaps some moderates will influence some of the other races.

    I can dream, can’t I?

    Or perhaps it’s just a hallucination due to the lack of oxygen to the brain caused by last night’s asthma attack.

  10. John,

    I wouldn’t put a whole lot of weight on the raw numbers for Democratic vs. Republican primaries. Item 1, lots of Republicans may not be bothering to turn out for their primaries because the nomination seems to be decided already. Item 2, as far as Virginia goes, you don’t declare a party affiliation when you register to vote here. You show up at the polls, and then they ask you which primary you’d like to vote in. Looking at the numbers from around my area, I suspect most people picked the Democratic primary because that’s where the action is, even if they’re more likely to vote Republican in the general election.

    Upshot is, it just means a lot more people are excited about the Democratic primaries than the Republican ones. I don’t think it reflects the actual turnout for the general election.

  11. Julie@14 Just so you know … the Justme that sometimes posts here is me, but I didn’t post the comment above about Texans. Sometimes my form fills in other peoples names or maybe someone else likes the Justme handle. Either way, this Justme has nothing to say about the choices Texans make.

    But I am curious about what Texans thinks the impact of a Richardson endorsement for one of the candidates prior to the primary would make.

  12. I am eagerly hoping for Obama wins, because I want to vote for him in November. I doubt I could bring myself to vote for Clinton.

  13. God Damn! How many editions of these books will there be? Do you people think I’m made out of money? Jesus! (where’s the wallet?!)

    My kiddo is home on another school day. Also due to road conditions. I suspect she’ll be in school until July 4th. Right now we’re watching Mr. Rogers while I recover from a burner of a migraine.

  14. Not that Athena is complaining. Of course, now she’s bouncing off the walls because she’s bored and I’m working. Go us.

    When my mother was a child (in the ’50s) my grandmother used to give her a half-glass of wine and sugar. It put her out for a few hours and my grandma could do the houseworks without further disturbance.
    I suppose that nowadays certain tricks are considered unsuitable. Pity!

  15. Overall the turnout was incredibly lopsided, even if you throw out DC, which you should (McCain got 3,900 votes there; Obama, 85,500, which tells you just how Democratic-leaning DC is)

    I live in DC. DC is so Democratic-leaning that the Republicans don’t spend any ad money here (not that that’s a bad thing) and didn’t even bother to do the callibng people to get out the vote and having people standing by the polls thing. Not even in my ward, Ward 3, which is where pretty much all the DC Republicans live. And when i went to vote at 6:15pm, there was a huge stack of yellow (Republican) cards and a little tiny stack of pink cards (Democrat). The Dc Statehood/Green party had a smaller stack than the Republicans, but I suspect their stack was smaller to begin with.

  16. @Justme 16: Had to think about that one for a minute. The suburb to the south of me is called Richardson. Lack of oxygen to the brain. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

    Richardson’s (the governor, not the city) endorsement may carry some weight here in Texas. Clinton is taking no chances. She was in El Paso last night and is in McAllen today.

    This is gonna be interesting to watch.

  17. JH, in most of the cases I’m familiar with, copyeditors are paid by the manuscript page. I don’t know what freelance copyeditors who work for my employer are paid, but I recall that my ex was paid something in the range of $3.00/page by a client he did a lot of work for; this was several years ago, though, so that may have changed. (Or not….)

    (And everything Scalzi said about freelance writer finances applies to freelance copyeditor finances. I would also add that if you have to put your child in daycare in order to get your freelance work done, you might want to rethink whether freelancing is right for you at this time. My ex and I would certainly have been much better off financially if my ex had dropped the freelance work for a few years to be a plain stay-at-home parent and we’d taken our child out of daycare.)

  18. The irony of genre writing is that just because for SF/F/H short stories that 5-6 cents a word is considered a “pro rate” doesn’t mean that everyone should be proud of that. It just is what it is.

    Dr. Phil

  19. The way the primaries/caucuses are presented by the media is misleading. Especially on the Dem side. You don’t so much “win” a state as you compete for a share of the state’s delegates, and since you can “lose” a state and still end up with more delegates from it than the “winner,” looking at it by states is misleading.

  20. a candidate whom conservatives loathe and one who has no chance of winning.
    I dunno about this. I think against Hillary he stands a pretty good chance, given the amount of vitriolic Clinton hatred present in the GOP core.

  21. Pretty much what Andrew L said in regards to Dem vs Rep turnout. No contest leads to low turnout. Tight contest leads to high turnout. My vote will count syndrome.

  22. Vociferous Mole: I took Scalzi to mean “a candidate whom conservatives loathe [McCain] and one who has no chance of winning [Huckabee].” He was referring to what the GOP field has narrowed down to.

  23. JJS,

    I am eagerly hoping for Obama wins, because I want to vote for him in November. I doubt I could bring myself to vote for Clinton.

    If it comes to that I hope you do what many Republicans do. Hold your nose and vote for your party.

  24. Yeah we have school cancelled up here in the Maritimes too. Only thing about living on the extreme east coast of North America is that we always hear about the weather coming to us at least a week in advance. It allows us plenty of time to say and think ” ooh, this is gonna hurt.” So we all get kind of depressed if school is not actually cancelled.

  25. If anyone wants a feel for how conservatives feel about McCain, head on over to and read the thread about McCain’s ties to George Soros. There are about 500 comments blasting McCain. McCain is being swiftboated by his own party. A poll at the site gives McCain a 92% unfavorable rating. Not that that site represents the GOP as a whole by any means, but I believe it is evidence that McCain isn’t making any headway convincing conservatives he’s one of them.

    Another ominous sign is that McCain is only winning the states that Democrats dominate in, while the red states are going to Huckabee. Unless something drastic happens it doesn’t look good for McCain, which is probably just fine by a lot of Republicans anyway.

  26. Generally speaking, extreme weather conditions cause school closures here in Alberta. For example, about three weeks ago ago we had a dump of snow, blizzard-like conditions, a 3 day wind chill warning and temperatures hovering between -35 and -40 C (before the windchill). It’s -13C(-21C with windchill) right now and by Friday its supposed to be even nicer (a projected high of +3C BUT with a chance of showers). The irony is that next week, it could be down to -25C again. Its safe to say that weather conditions can change here in a heartbeat.

    I am continually mystified by American politics, but hope that it works out for y’all anyway.

    The uberdeluxe books look great!! Remember that too much petting can cause shiny spots……

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