Books Writing

Book publishers suck

I’ve been in negotiations for over four months with a publisher on a book. After the last book deal fell through with negative reprecussions for me, I’ve been more wary when it comes to contracts.

One issue with the new publisher has been about a clause in the contract that the publisher could bill me for royalities paid out if the books are returned.

With my previous books, the publisher holds a percentage of royalities aside for coverage of book returns; or hold royalities for 3-9 months for the same reason. They also keep most of the profits from the book. In exchange, the author isn’t suddenly presented with a bill when they’re expecting a royalty check.

I’ve earned out my royalities and advances on all the books I’ve authored or co-authored but Developing ASP Components, second edition (because Microsoft came out with a new architecture just as we went to print), and the recent Practical RDF (I have hopes I’ll earn out the advance on this one, but slowly). Both of these books have been with O’Reilly Publishing (who has an uncomplicated contract without a lot of ‘gotcha’ clauses about billing the author, may I add).

However, the publisher I’ve been dealing with not only wanted to hold payouts for several months, reserve 25% of the royalities for return, but they also wanted to bill me for any returns beyond that. Paired with very low royality–eight percent–I had to decline. Disappointing, and discouraging, but these things happen.

Now it gets good.

I didn’t hear anything more for about a month or so. Then, out of the blue this last week the publisher came back and said they would strike this clause, in addition to paying half the indexing fee (having me pay all the indexing fee was something else I wasn’t happy about). It wasn’t a great deal, but I’ve spent so much time on this, I said I would agree and asked to see the new contract.

Well today, I heard that the publishing company has decided to keep the clause in after all, but that they “never invoke it, so it doesn’t mean anything”. If a clause in a contract doesn’t mean anything, why keep it in the contract? Do they think me stupid?

Needless to say, that’s the end of my relationship with this publisher.

This is two bad experiences with publishers in a row trying to get a book out, and spending over a year in the process. Frankly, the news today was like getting sucker punched.

People Political

In Defense of Michelle Malkin: The Case for Integrity

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Michelle Malkin appeared on Hardball yesterday and much buzz is circulating about the experience. As to be expected, the liberals side with Matthews, while the conservatives leap to her defense.

Norm Jenson posted video clips from the interview in question, and after watching them, I wrote the following in Norm’s comments:

I hate to say it Norm, but I don’t blame Malkin for leaving in a huff. Chris Matthews was beligerant, didn’t allow anyone to answer, talked just to hear himself talk, and came out as an asshole.

He wasn’t as bad with Larry Thurlow, but he was absolutely horrible with Malkin.

Personally, I would have slugged him and then walked off the set.

Matthews didn’t play hardball with Malkin – he lowballed her; using an unrelenting, rapid fire badgering in order to discredit not what she was saying, but her, specifically. He literally attacked Malkin, never once giving her time to fully think, must less answer a question.

More than that, though, was his behavior before the show. I am not a fan of Malkin’s, as she herself has noted. But I have no reason to disbelieve her when she talks about her conversation with Matthews about her age before the show started. And I have to share her disgust with this. He’s a professional, and knows that this type of conversation right before going on TV can rattle a guest, and deliberately undermine their confidence–putting them on the defensive even before the questions started.

As for the responses, Atrios referring to Malkin as “LuLu”, played both the gender and youth cards to discredit Malkin rather than Malkin’s writing or statements. In fact, I found that this is common for him. If the only way he can discredit Malkin is to use statements such as this, the sooner he drops back into obscurity, the better.

In the recent discussion about Malkin’s book, “In Defense of Internment: The Case for ‘Racial Profiling’ in World War II and the War on Terror”, Eric Muller and Greg Robinson focused on what Malkin wrote, her historical research practices, and her previous statements. They were unrelenting in putting out facts to discredit Malkin’s book; but I don’t remember either of these gentlemen condescendingly patting her on the head verbally, or referring to her as “LuLu”.

David Neiwert doesn’t play gender or age cards, but he also declares Matthews the winner in this exchange:

It used to be infuriating watching Matthews’ show and seeing Hitchens, Coulter, Sullivan and that whole crowd simply waltz away with a free propaganda ride. I have no idea what finally turned Matthews’ old juices back on, but this (combined with his recent exchange with Bush propagandist Matthew Dowd) are certainly welcome signs. When he was just doing a column, Matthews was a solid reporter and smart analyst, but it all seemed to fly out the window once he got the MSNBC gig. Nice to see some hints of it resurface.

To call these tactics a return to solid journalism is ludicrous. Just because it’s on ‘our side’, doesn’t make these tactics somehow blessed with credibility and righteousness.

Do I agree with the claims of the Swiftboat Veterans? No, but I find that a calm recital of facts on the issue makes a better argument than histrionics (thanks to Tim for the link). And bluntly, as the Citizen Times said:

Inordinate amounts of time have been burned up by reporters and editors tracking down the charges of SBVT, time that could have been far better spent finding actual positions that will affect us tomorrow.

We hope this is the last hurrah for this type of nonsense.

Otherwise, in 2040 we may be having the same debate about the awards some soldier is earning in Baghdad today.

I would like to add to this that enough time has been spent on Bush’s military record, too. “Last hurrah for this type of nonsense” is about right.

Integrity starts at home, folks. Our shit does, too, stink.