“Redshirts” Auction Update

First: Gaze upon the Redshirts manuscript, returned to me by the copy editor and full of red marks. Full! Which is to be expected; while I am not a copy editor’s worst nightmare, neither are my manuscripts complete cakewalks. I will be spending the next few days going through the changes and making sure I don’t have any problem with them. I forgot again to note that I am not a fan of the serial comma (this is my journalism background coming to the fore again), so I’m sure I’ll have some STETs there. That said, I’m a fan of a good copy edit — it makes me look smarter — so I don’t imagine I’ll have too many arguments.

Second: The “Redshirts” auction is going swimmingly: In one day, the bid is up $4,700, so that’s at least $4,700 the Bradford Public Library will have coming its way. Naturally, I am thrilled, and would be even more thrilled to see the bid go up higher from there.

I’ll admit that what I really want is for someone to bid $10,000, so I have an excuse to commission a black velvet painting. So if you have ten grand burning a hole in your pocket, you just let me know. I’m sure my local library could find a use for it, and then you would have the most magnificent work of art since the Velvet Wesley. I’m just saying.

47 Comments on ““Redshirts” Auction Update”

  1. Hypothetically speaking, if a group of people (say, 10) were to get together and collectively bid $10,000, and were happy to figure out the allocation of indivisible goods amongst themselves, could there be multiple
    1) ukelele songs?
    2) schadenfreude pies?
    3) names in your next story?
    4) people fighting aliens with you on velvet?

    This is, unfortunately, really hypothetical for me, but I am hoping to see the bidding go higher, and aggregation can do that.

  2. No. The group could portion the prizes out amongst itself but it’s really one of each. That said, a group could vote on a particular song to be ukuleleized, one schadenfreude pie would feed several people, and I suspect we could get more than one person into a painting.

  3. Not a fan of the serial comma, huh? You crush, disappoint, and disillusion one of your biggest fans!

    Just as long as you don’t stet things into lines of the form

    This book is dedicated to my parents, Ayn Rand and God.


    Among those interviewed were his two ex-wives, Kris Kristofferson and Robert Duvall. (via Making Light)

  4. The Velvet Wesley is the name of my next … oh, never mind.

    Has the library heard about this auction yet?

  5. I haven’t told them yet, no. Someone else might have.

    Xopher: I don’t use the serial comma automatically, but I’m not opposed to their presence when they help with clarity.

  6. Meg @3: Banks are carefully set up so that you aren’t going to get much at all from a robbery (plus, massive federal crimehammer of death). I forget who was who said that you can steal a lot more money owning a bank than robbing one.

  7. I sometimes look back at something I’m writing and my first thought will be,
    “Why the hell are all those commas in there.”
    It’s like an unconcious tic.
    Here’s hoping the bids get higher and higher, but damn my finances, I was outbid in the first hour or so.

  8. Ah, John, then we end up in the same place when it comes to clarity. My default is to use the serial comma, and omit it in those (IMO relatively rare) cases where it’s actually a detriment to clarity. So we’re opposite in most cases…but concur where it matters most.

  9. Shame on you, Bob! As all know, John sometimes updates from the small town of Aucton, Ohio, where he keeps a small office.

    No, huh? Well, it was worth a try.

  10. When serial commas are outlawed they will have to take my serial comma from my hands, which will be cold, stiff, and dead.

  11. $10,000: I will commission a large black velvet painting of the two of us, fighting space aliens WITH LASERS.

    I’m confused, who has the lasers? You, the bidder, or the aliens?

  12. I remember reading that stealing an ATM is a much better payoff/risk option than robbing a bank.

    Robbing a bank gets you a couple of thousand bucks, and you stand the chance of doing hard time in a federal pen.

    Stealing a cash machine can net you $50,000 or more, and in many jurisdictions it’s generally considered burglary, which gets you a couple of years.

    Now, I Am Not A Criminal, nor a Lawyer so I’m prepared to be corrected on this.

    I do know that one Xmas season while at Mall of America, I was reading over the shoulder of the guy who was stocking the ATM I was waiting for, and I’m pretty sure he stocked that one machine with $200,000.00. Boggled my mind.

  13. mythago@9: “…massive federal crimehammer of death.”

    I’m pretty sure bank robbery is not a capital offense. But it’s a good way to experience the government’s hospitality for up to 10 years, or up to 25 years if armed with lasers.

  14. They still physically print out the manuscript and mark it up in pen? I would have assumed there would be software to deal with that by now.

  15. Nope, PeterP. Still done with paper. Has to be, at some point, as long as the end result has to be a paper book, because previews and WYSIWYG renderings are not reliable, and because what you notice on a screen and what you notice on a printed page are still two different things.

    Also, copyediting marks aren’t terribly printable. They overlap, circle, and insert between manuscript letters. It’s still simpler to do this on paper.

  16. PeterP, I cannot speak for the good folks at Tor, but speaking as a person in charge of a managing editorial and production department:

    1. At my previous employer, we would have the ms electronically copyedited with Track Changes in MS Word, then send a printout to the writer to go over. Frankly, we didn’t trust the writers not to screw up the Word file.

    2. At my current employer, we do send the edited files to the authors, and let them screw up the Track Changes all they like.

    The whole process would be slower and more expensive, but MUCH, MUCH MORE ACCURATE if we had just stuck with pencils and paper. I cannot begin to express how much I hate electronic copyediting. There do exist some CEs and some authors who are competent enough to do an adequate job, but they are very few, and rarely on the same book.

    Words cannot express how much I hate electronic copyediting. It’s really just another way to make books cheaper, faster, and of poorer quality.

  17. Steve @ 17:

    I gather that ATMs are notoriously hard to rob. Banks are relatively vulnerable at least partly because of the humans in them. ATMs don’t give a shit what weaponry you’re carrying, and can’t read your note. They’re well-armored, well-anchored, and wired up such that there’s simply not much time to break into them.

    Not that it hasn’t been done …

  18. I cannot afford to bid in this creative and admirable auction, but you have inspired me to make a donation to my local library. Due to budget cuts, our library relies solely on private donations to be open for 3 hours on Sundays.

  19. Would the velvet painting have both red AND blue lasers? And could the winning bidder specify someone else to take their place in the painting, along side you?

    And if bidding reaches $7000, could the delivery of the Schadenfreude Pie be delayed to a given date? (Say, a birthday, or the Chicago Worldcon, hypothetically speaking?)

  20. E: I just graduated from law school, where I spent my last year as an editorial board member on one of the school’s law reviews. We would actually do three rounds of text edits on each piece. The first two were electronic, done with track changes in MS Word. Once we made it very clear to the author “DO NOT TURN OFF TRACK CHANGES OR WE HUNT YOU DOWN AND SUCK OUT YOUR SOUL” (or words to that effect) they were fine with it. We gave our authors the option of getting hard-copy proofs, but none of our authors took it.

    The last round of editing – “executive read” – was done on paper. Each editorial board member (there were seven of us) got a different colored pen, and we had to go through all the articles again, each noting what we saw that needed to be changed. You might think that editing by committee would be horrible, but it actually worked out very well because we’d each notice different things. (Law professors love run-on sentences, and those are a pet peeve of mine. Also, I replace all. But there are still things you don’t see until they’re on paper – formatting, sentence structure, unclosed parentheses/quotation marks – that stick out. But your milage may vary.

  21. Carl Rigney:

    1. Yes, we could tailor the picture to certain specifications and I would allow the winner to specify someone else if they wished.

    2. Pie delivery dates could be likewise tailored to the recipient’s wishes.

  22. Seriously, the serial comma (AKA, the Oxford comma) gets mentioned and no link to this song is included?!?


    I hate serial commas as well. My journalism classes shining through as well. I worked as a copy editor for a couple of years after college and I removed them whenever possible. I never once had an author STET their removal.

  23. Bearpaw@22: I worked with an engineer who had previously worked for a company that manufactures ATMs. They regularly received machines that had been beat up in burglary attempts, usually with smashed keypads or displays but otherwise still functional. They’d recondition the machines and ship them back out.

    One machine came in full of mud, with an amazing story attached. It had beein installed in the outside wall of a bank building. Someone had carefully chipped away the stucco around it (and didn’t trip the impact alarm), hooked logging chains to the edges of the machine, and yanked it out of the wall with a truck. (Tire tracks in the lawn outside made that part obvious.) They also managed to yank a big chunk of wall out with it, since ATMs are anchored with rebar. The perps loaded the machine into their truck and drove off before police could respond to the alarm.

    The machine was found face-down in the river a few days later, with cutting torch burns and saw marks on it but otherwise intact. At the factory they cleaned out the machine, replaced some water damaged machinery, and returned it to service.

    The perps never did get any money from the machine. Cash and deposits are held in a separate strongbox inside the building, and are carried into and out of the ATM in a little converyor on demand. When they took the machine they left the box in the bank.

  24. evolvedape, you never copyedited me. I insist on them unless they’re confusing, and even then I’d rather rewrite the sentence than leave them out. I think lists look stupid without them.

  25. As a fellow Ohioan impacted by the lack of Library Love of late thanks for starting this contest and supporting local libraries! My kids have grown up loving and frequenting our Library, as did I when I grew up. It’s great to see someone doing this to support their local library.

  26. The action blew by our limit before we’d even set it. You’ve done a good thing for your local library, Scalzi; thank you. The Oxford Comma vs. Cambridge Confusion thing will have to wait.

  27. Polishing typically results in editing out a fair number more commas than are added – but my Oxford commas are off limits.

    I love a good copy editor.

    I don’t love the low standards that I keep hearing about with ebooks from even the major publishers. I’m not much into ebooks, so maybe things aren’t as bad as I’ve heard regarding conversions.

  28. Steve @17: Defrauding people is, sadly, much more lucrative and often faster.

    DaveH @18: Nope, it isn’t. It would have been more accurate for me to refer to the Federal Crimehammer of Doom.

  29. When I read about the auction I told my husband that I was never more sorry that I wasn’t Warren Buffett. Not that I personally need all the fabulous prizes (OK, maybe the Ukulele Lullaby) but it’s an awesome cause and the prizes amuse me greatly. In an alternate universe where I am filthy rich I will be bidding the 50K. Apropos of nothing, Ukulele Lullaby is the name of my new Tiny Tim cover band.

  30. If you want to take down an ATM you need to move it to a place you can take your time with it. I have seen video of guys wrapping a chain around an ATM in a convenience store & ripping it out with a pickup truck. The outer case is easy, its just sheet metal but the safe inside is going to take some work.

    I work in IT security with a side of physical security work & these scenarios come up from time to time.

    One word of cautions though – I worked with a guy who worked on bank vaults. He said (I have my doubts but he swore it was true) that some safe manufacturers put plates in the safe wall of a metal that, when breathed, caused lesions on your lungs. So people who drill or cut into these plates are going to die. Proceed at your own risk.

    I would think the Maul O Merica might have a bit more but most ATMs hold between $5-20k. Not enough for me.

  31. How I dearly wish I had the 10 grand. I have a thing for the utter cheese that is black velvet artwork. I have a black velvet pirate ship hanging in my classroom, a belated tip from a coworker who realized she had stiffed me back when I was a pizza delivery boy/ substitute teacher. Apparently, she overheard me speaking of many many attempts to steal the black velvet painting of Poncho Villa that used to hang in the Mexican restaurant across from my Dad’s work.

    He was a cop. The cops ate there. I never did get that painting.

    So yeah, that, and the thought of having John Scalzi do a stirring ukelele rendition of Rammstein’s Du Hast, Ministry’s Jesus Built my Hot Rod, or a slightly modified version of Zappa’s “My Guitar (uke) wants to kill your mama.” has me seriously considering a home equity loan.

    I’m only slightly joking.

  32. So (based on your recent admonition on G+) how much of a donation would it take to get a cell-phone picture of your naked ass? :)

    If you’re even minimally famous, here’s a tip for you: Your naked ass? Don’t take a picture of it with your cell phone. Ever. You’re welcome.

  33. I’m glad, for the library, that your auction is doing so well. Not so glad for my chance to get in on it. It was way past my limit before I even saw the post.

  34. I’m with Xopher on the comma thing. Calling them “serial” commas doesn’t make them incorrect. I see many instances where leaving out the last comma is amibiguous, and other instances when the result is downright incorrect.
    I have had people tell me they were instructed in school that the word “and” and a comma are exactly the same! How can that be, when their purpose in language is diametrically opposite? Commas separate things, the word “and” links them.
    Xopher, thanks for the examples.

  35. Frankly@35,

    I could have been wrong and it was only $20K they put in the machine; I didn’t want to be too obvious with my shoulder-surfing the guy lest the other guard would notice and perhaps take issue.

  36. Mythago at 33: re defrauding people:

    Plus, if you do it on a big enough scale, you can be declared Too Big To Jail.

  37. What a great thing you’re doing. That’s going to be one happy library when all’s said and done. And some happy fans of you! I’d love to donate myself, but I’m busy trying to not live in a cardboard box right now. :/

  38. So glad that you appreciate a good editor. Most of my authors are similar, and I’m lucky that I’m involved enough in the submissions process to be able to feel out that part of the author’s attitude before signing to contract. It’s so nice when authors remember that a good editor is selfless and wants only the best for the work.

    Of course it’s also helpful when editors are actually selfless and want only the best for the work. Like any bunch of apples, there are a few bad ones that give us a bad name. Authors would be wise to ask questions & learn about a publisher’s editorial process before signing with them, lest all parties have a bad experience.

%d bloggers like this: