March 18, 2012

Blood-pressure headache

So Pooka, who came off her drip feed at 100% this morning, by this evening, after almost two hours of Japanese lessons* while hurtling and over an hour Skyping** with a friend*** while recovering from hurtling, was redlining again.  The problem with plugging her into the laptop during working hours instead of the mains/wall last thing, is that the iTunes store pops up and starts blandishing you.†  So I, easily distracted little hussy that I am, downloaded a (cheap) ap that is supposed to make typing on your frelling device less of an occasion for practising vocal exercises. 

            Aaaaaaand it won’t load.  It downloaded onto the laptop all right and appears in my app library.  But it won’t climb into Astarte, which is what I want it for.  Astarte’s main failing as the perfect bedtime companion†† is that you can’t type on her.  I’m kind of fascinated by all these people who apparently churn out great novels on their iPads:  not me.  I can’t even type two-fingered without going qwk7\7+km££BLERG?xx#.  Arrgh.  But the relentless little error message in this case says ‘app will download when you are logged into iTunes on your computer’.  I AM LOGGED IN ON MY COMPUTER YOU FRELLING PIECE OF CLOTHESHANGER WIRE AND CHEAP GLUE.†††  I AM SITTING HERE STARING AT THE APP IN THE ‘ROBIN’S LIBRARY’ SCREEN.  And the ‘help’ is useless, of course:  it doesn’t even allow for the possibility of troubleshooting:  all of its answers appear to be based on the indisputable fact that Apple is god and therefore perfect and its worshippers are merely sometimes rather stupid and have to have the same things to explained to them more than once in a patronising tone.  ARRRRRRGH.

            So in this spirit of weekend cheer and relaxation‡ I thought I’d re-answer one of those questions that comes up again and again AND AGAIN AND AGAIN because . . . sigh.  Because people not in the publishing industry don’t know any better.  But if I’m lucky a few of them, who will now not write me emails, will be reading the blog tonight. 

. . . I am a very devoted kindle reader. I had your book, Sunshine, recommended to me by friends. Eager to read it, I search on my kindle right away. I’m sure you can imagine my disappointment when I found that it was not on the kindle, despite being a popular book. Perhaps, you would consider having it put on there, so that ereaders like myself can enjoy it. 

Any of my books’ availability or lack thereof in any format has essentially nothing to do with me.  Nothing.‡‡  I have no control over this and—once I’ve signed the contract with the publisher, and contracts pretty much all now include electronic rights as standard—ebooks as well as all that hard copy stuff are the publisher’s problem.  Just like getting the book out in any and all other formats is.  Your contract will say that the publisher does have to publish, and if it doesn’t you get your book back.  (Which is not what you want.  You want it published.)  And you can lobby for the format du jour, or something special—like the illustrated ROSE DAUGHTER which we had to get special permission for.

            But if you assume that all the writer does is write you will not be far wrong in most cases.  Yes, some writers are a lot more involved with the rest of the business than I am—I don’t know and don’t want to know as much as I can possibly avoid knowing‡‡‡ because, ahem, I am prone to blood pressure headaches and chewing the wallpaper over something I can do nothing about is too frelling demoralising.  Yes, you can write letters and make phone calls—and badger your long-suffering agent—and get to know people and network and some writers are good at this, and some of them do make a difference to the rest of us.  And I’m grateful.  But I have no talent in that direction.  ‘Negotiation’  and ‘calm rational discussion of a controversial subject’ are not in my skill set.  I want to kill myself over jacket art regularly even now, when I do have some leverage.

            I’m actually surprised SUNSHINE isn’t available as an ebook§;  mostly it’s the books that came out before electronic publishing was beginning to be an issue that get trapped in the mincer.  But if it isn’t, there’ll be a reason.  The publishing behemoth regiment is still having trouble lurching into the electronic age, and older books by people who aren’t JK Rowling and Dan Brown fall through the cracks sometimes.  

            And self-publishing?  Not me.  Thank the gods for publishers, however paralytically, blood-pressure-headachingly behemothy they can be.  I do read some of the articles (on line, speaking of ereading) about sisters doing it for themselves.  I can barely do the laundry, and every year when I’m trying to produce a full set of bank statements for the accountant—I fail.  If I tried to self-publish I’d be reading the want ads for shelf-restocker openings§§ within the year. 

* * *

* Atama ga itai desu.  Which may mean ‘I have a headache’.  Note:  when they say that Japanese [grammatical] particles are a nightmare, believe them.  

** Who is coming to visit.  And thinks we should SING something together.  Aside from my extreme peculiarity on the subject of other people hearing me sing—and, after all, she would be singing with me—we have a slight repertoire problem:  I sing classical and folk.  She sings musical theatre and barbershop.  Can This Friendship Be Saved.^ 

^ I’m not sure.  She hates Sweeney Todd.  I can just about allow this in someone who doesn’t like musicals generally+.  But in an avowed musical-theatre devotee?   This is like someone who claims to love dogs making an exception for sighthounds.  The door’s that way, honey.  

+ No, it’s not an opera. 

*** On the sofa, resisting entropy and the strange hierarchical struggles of hellhounds.  Guys.  It’s a sofa.  Play nice or the hellgoddess will go all hellgoddessy on your ass. 

† I’m puzzled that they haven’t gone the amazon route and started targeting you.  Hey, last time you were here you bought Demolition Bingo and Space Pastry Chef!  We’re sure you’d love Washing Machine Lint vs Sink Elbow Trap!^ 

^ Has anyone played Pizza vs Skeletons?  Which sounds about as likely. 

†† Hey, I’m old.  And possibly a little strange. 

††† Ee, ah, eeee ah, eeee aaah eeee ah.    

‡ Are you KIDDING?  I’m writing a novel.  Novel-writing is a 24/7 activity.^ 

^Barring hellhounds, blogs, and scream—I mean singing. 

‡‡ In deference to Hannah and Merrilee’s sensitivities, I am NOT CAPITALISING THAT SENTENCE. 

‡‡‡ Yes.  It’s a very good thing I have an excellent agent. 

§ No, I’m not going to go doublecheck on amazon.  If you want to, feel free.  I avoid pages with my professional self on them like six kinds of interstellar plague.  And even if the person who wrote to me is wrong and it is available, and she or her frelling device was having a brain spasm, the principle remains:  once the story I’ve written is out of my hands, it’s out of my hands.  

§§ Shelf restocking at a big supermarket during the graveyard shift sounds quite restful when novel-in-progress is being unendurably wayward.  And no, SHADOWS isn’t.  As I keep moaning to Merrilee, if I hadn’t been trying to finish it in five months it would be going really well.  Unfortunately . . .


Please join the discussion at Robin McKinley's Web Forum.