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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2008-02-04 15:07
Subject: [links] Link salad afternoon update
Security: Public
Location:Nuevo Rancho Lake
Mood:busy
Music:house noises
Tags:books, politics, religion, science, tech, writing
Mystery of missing Da Vinci sequel — It's tempting to be a bit snarky about this, but I'm trying to imagine myself in Dan Brown's shoes, and it doesn't look fun. Admittedly, I could be hella miserable for $200,000,000 and keep smiling, but, wow. (From a mailing list I'm on.)

Andrew Wheeler comments on my status as a debutante in a post about the Locus list — Also says nice things about me in passing.

Nanotube radios — For you hard sf types out there. Utility fog, anyone?

Putting Candidates' Religion to the Test — Irreligious questions for the candidates. (The comments section has a decent selection of froth-mouthed religious spew about the THEORY OF EVIL-LUTION which can be read for light entertainment — those pesky facts are still biased, I guess.)

Bill Kristol in the New York Times on the successes of conservatism
Since then we conservatives have had a pretty good run. We had a chance to implement a fair share of our ideas, and they worked. In the 1980s and 90s, conservative policies helped win the cold war, revive the economy and reduce crime and welfare dependency. American conservatism’s ascendancy has benefited this country — and much of the world — over the last quarter-century.
Um, yeah, Bill. Here we are most of the way through 2000s. (I won't even mention Bill Clinton's apparently irrelvant role in the 1990s) Remember the 2000s? When conservatism triumphantly introduced permanent war, created a surveillance state, broke all budget-busting records and destroyed the US economy? Oh, wait, tax cuts. What am I talking about? Of course conservatism remains triumphant! Up the devolution!

Polygamists r us — This squib about George Romney, Mitt Romney's father, is fascinating. "Romney's grandfather emigrated to Mexico in 1886 with his three wives and children after Congress outlawed polygamy." So, basically, Mitt is the son of someone who crossed the Rio Grande, and the great-grandson of a religious separatist who fled the United States rather than comply with Federal law. Confidential to GOP in America: now that's a big tent.
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Greg van Eekhout
User: gregvaneekhout
Date: 2008-02-04 23:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm puzzled by this quote from the article about Dan Brown: There is never any clause from publisher to a novelist that they have to deliver at a certain time. We would not impose such a thing on a contract.

For reals?


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User: ex_chrisbil
Date: 2008-02-04 23:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I have that on my clipboard ready for a paste, and now I don't need to. I spotted the exact same thing - must email Karen; she'll be delighted!
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Andrew Trembley
User: bovil
Date: 2008-02-04 23:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I doubt it's a "never" thing, but there are plenty of reasons to not care about delivery date in a contract.

The publisher wants a contracted book to be good, and doesn't want crap hacked out to meet a deadline, particularly in the case of a big-name big-dollar author like Brown.

The publisher might not even care if a big-name big-dollar author like Brown ever delivers another book. Their biggest concern may be just ensuring he never delivers a book to one of their competitors, and an open-ended contract is a great way to do that.
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andrewwheeler
User: andrewwheeler
Date: 2008-02-05 00:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Actually, a hard delivery date is one of those things only someone of Brown's stature can even try to negotiate into a contract -- it's on the level of cover approval and dedicated publicists.

There have been lots of snorting laughs going around publishing as people have read that particular claim. And I imagine a lot of agents are quoting that back at their Random House editors during negotiations this week.
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Andrew Trembley
User: bovil
Date: 2008-02-05 00:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think we're talking about two different things.

There's the publisher's insistence that an author deliver a contracted draft on a deadline. I believe this is what's in question in the article. As I said, I doubt that's a "never" thing, and I can rationalize ways in which not having a deadline could be beneficial to the publisher.

There's, as you mention, the author's demand for a specific release date, and I agree with you that must be something that's very rare in a contract. With Brown's past sales, though, I expect it's a demand he can successfully make.
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andrewwheeler
User: andrewwheeler
Date: 2008-02-05 16:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The specific claim made, by Alison Barrow of Transworld, was that "There is never any clause from publisher to a novelist that they have to deliver at a certain time."

That's a delivery date, and they are absolutely standard in publishing contracts. Extracting them from a given contract, as I said, takes a lot of pull. Publishers somewhat routinely give extensions to delivery dates, but strike them from contracts entirely only in exceptionally rare cases -- basically, only when the book is so major, and the author/agent is so adamant on the point, that it's a deal-breaker for that publisher's #1 book of the year.

Ms. Barrow was, to say the least, bending the truth. Not having a deadline is never beneficial to the publisher; without that, a lot of the publisher's leverage vanishes, and a lot of other standard contract terms become unenforceable or meaningless. Not having a deadline is very beneficial to the author, who then does not need to turn in the book by any date whatsoever -- which, essentially, means that he does not need to turn it in at all.

Wanting to publish a book on a particular date, which you didn't actually say anything about, is indeed separate. If there's some particular publicity hook to that date, though, you can bet the publisher wants to hit that date as much as the author does.
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scarlettina: LOL!
User: scarlettina
Date: 2008-02-05 03:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:LOL!
Heh. I saw that, copied it out and was prepared to comment on it as well. It's possible that at Brown's level they'd "never" insist on a delivery date, but every author I ever worked with had to make their date or their book ended up in limbo until we could find space for it again. You don't deliver as scheduled and you can lose your place in the queue at the printer. As someone else here said, agents all over town are going to read that and prepare for their next negotiation with great glee.
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biomekanic
User: biomekanic
Date: 2008-02-04 23:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

Sutherland cited Margaret Mitchell, who never published again after writing Gone with the Wind, and JD Salinger, who followed Catcher in the Rye with a few short stories and nothing else after 1965. Thomas Harris, author of the Hannibal Lecter crime novels, needed 11 years to produce a sequel to Silence of the Lambs.


If only Harris had kept waiting.
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Sean P. Fodera
User: delkytlar
Date: 2008-02-05 00:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Re: D. Brown - I hope his Freemason novel is as good as the National Treasure movies.

Re: A. Wheeler - Maybe he should try rotating each of your debut novels in one chapter blocks (Ch 1 from MS, Ch 1 from WOF, Ch 1 from RS, Ch 2 from MS, etc.)
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Danny Adams
User: madwriter
Date: 2008-02-05 01:50 (UTC)
Subject: Missing Dan Brown sequel
I particularly liked this part of the article:

There is speculation that the key date in Brown’s new book may be July 4. In addition to being America’s national independence day holiday, it was on July 4, 1848, that a group of freemasons – whose numbers included President George Washington – laid the corner-stone of the Washington Monument, the 555ft tall obelisk that towers over the Mall across from the White House.

Was that the George Washington who had died nearly fifty years before, or the 116-year-old George Washington who needed to be wheeled out to the monument site in a cart?
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kellymccullough
User: kellymccullough
Date: 2008-02-05 15:09 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Missing Dan Brown sequel
It was the undead version who secretly leads the Illuminati, of course.
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russ: watchmen
User: goulo
Date: 2008-02-05 08:16 (UTC)
Subject: why are they all debut novels?
Keyword:watchmen
So sure it's funny, but seriously, I wonder why all three of your novels were called "debut" novels, when it's only true of the first one? I suppose it's all just marketing piffle, but did you know in advance that they would all be labeled as such, and did you agree? It does seem very odd and false, if not simply dishonest. Will all your future novels also be called "debut" novels?

Or does it mean "debut" in the sense of "the first novel by you from this particular publisher"?

Does this happen with other authors routinely as their first few novels come out from different publishers?

If some long-time famous author like Gene Wolfe gets a novel published by a publisher who's not published him before, do they call it a debut novel?
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-02-05 14:42 (UTC)
Subject: Re: why are they all debut novels?
I believe the logic was that it was a debut at that level -- ie, first trade novel.
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Sean P. Fodera
User: delkytlar
Date: 2008-02-05 15:09 (UTC)
Subject: Re: why are they all debut novels?
You know, a number of cable channels regularly show movies under the rubric of "World Television Premiere" even when it's the 7th or 10th time I've seen that particular movie on that particular channel (in addition to having seen it on other channels). If it's good enough for TNT, such should be good enough for Jay Lake.
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farmgirl1146
User: farmgirl1146
Date: 2008-02-05 18:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hot Stuff, Jay, "he's interesting on-line and is quite likely to be one of the major writers of the current generation." (From Locus, follow Jay's link.)

I was at a Mystery Writers of America symposium (yup -- that's what they call 'em) in NYC in 2002 or 2003, and at a panel of editors the story of Dan Brown was told by an editor from The DaVinci Code publisher. As I recall it went like this:

His publisher had dropped him because he has lack luster sales: He had written 13 books that had not crawled into the mid-list. He took The DaVinci Code to that editor's company (his previous publisher rejected it and metaphorically threw him out of the office). At his current publisher, the young women editors (this may be a key element, I am not sure) liked the story. They looked back over Brown's career, and decided that his previous publisher(s) had not promoted his books. These editors had been discussing the power of the internet to promote books. The idea was that with the right market, website, spin, etc., a book could be promoted into the stratosphere. Because of its accessibility, topic, romantic elements, etc. (it certainly is not wretched piece of writing), they would launch it. I think it worked.

As far as Brown writing another book? Should he bother? It will be a let down. However, the previously published "prequel" to The DaVinci Code, Demons and Angels is pathetically poor, but people buy it. I just saw a new edition in Costco.

We all should have such problems. I could cope with $200,000,000, easy!
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