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May 5th, 2012

I realize I haven't posted to this account in forever and a day, but I thought it was important.  Kristine Kathryn Rusch, as many of you know, is one of the paragons of Independent publishing.  Her site recently fell victim to a malware attack.  It is unknown whether or not it's actually related to her many opinions on the publishing industry today.  It's probably unlikely.  However, that doesn't stop us from having the opportunity to repost her latest Business Rusch column.  Enjoy.

Someone hacked my website. Ye Olde Website Guru and I are repairing the damage but it will take some time. The hacker timed the hack to coincide with the posting of my Business Rusch column. Since the hack happened 12 hours after I originally posted the column, I’m assuming that the hacker doesn’t like what I wrote, and is trying to shut me down. Aaaaah. Poor hacker. Can’t argue on logic, merits, or with words, so must use brute force to make his/her/its point. Poor thing.

Since someone didn’t want you to see this post, I figure I’d better get it up ASAP. Obviously there’s something here someone objects to–which makes it a bit more valuable than usual.

Here’s the post, which I am reloading from my word file, so that I don’t embed any malicious code here. I’m even leaving off the atrocious artwork (which we’re redesigning) just to make sure nothing got corrupted from there.

The post directs you to a few links from my website. Obviously, those are inactive at the moment. Sorry about that. I hope you get something out of this post.

I’m also shutting off comments here, just to prevent another short-term hack. Also, I don’t want to transfer them over. If you have comments, send them via e-mail and when the site comes back up, I’ll post them. Mark them “comment” in the header of the e-mail. Thanks!

The Business Rusch: Royalty Statement Update 2012

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Over a year ago, I wrote a blog post about the fact that my e-book royalties from a couple of my traditional publishers looked wrong. Significantly wrong. After I posted that blog, dozens of writers contacted me with similar information. More disturbingly, some of these writers had evidence that their paper book royalties were also significantly wrong.

Writers contacted their writers’ organizations. Agents got the news. Everyone in the industry, it seemed, read those blogs, and many of the writers/agents/organizations vowed to do something. And some of them did.

I hoped to do an update within a few weeks after the initial post. I thought my update would come no later than summer of 2011.

I had no idea the update would take a year, and what I can tell you is—

Bupkis. Nada. Nothing. Zip. Zilch.

That doesn’t mean that nothing happened. I personally spoke to the heads of two different writers’ organizations who promised to look into this. I spoke to half a dozen attorneys active in the publishing field who were, as I mentioned in those posts, unsurprised. I spoke to a lot of agents, via e-mail and in person, and I spoke to even more writers.

The writers have kept me informed. It seems, from the information I’m still getting, that nothing has changed. The publishers that last year used a formula to calculate e-book royalties (rather than report actual sales) still use the formula to calculate e-book royalties this year.

I just got one such royalty statement in April from one of those companies and my e-book sales from them for six months were a laughable ten per novel. My worst selling e-books, with awful covers, have sold more than that. Significantly more.

To this day, writers continue to notify their writers’ organizations, and if those organizations are doing anything, no one has bothered to tell me. Not that they have to. I’m only a member of one writers’ organizations, and I know for fact that one is doing nothing.

But the heads of the organizations I spoke to haven’t kept me apprised. I see nothing in the industry news about writers’ organizations approaching/auditing/dealing with the problems with royalty statements. Sometimes these things take place behind the scenes, and I understand that. So, if your organization is taking action, please do let me know so that I can update the folks here.

The attorneys I spoke to are handling cases, but most of those cases are individual cases. An attorney represents a single writer with a complaint about royalties. Several of those cases got settled out of court. Others are still pending or are “in review.” I keep hearing noises about class actions, but so far, I haven’t seen any of them, nor has anyone notified me.

The agents disappointed me the most. Dean personally called an agent friend of ours whose agency handles two of the biggest stars in the writing firmament. That agent (having previously read my blog) promised the agency was aware of the problem and was “handling it.”

Two weeks later, I got an e-mail from a writer with that agency asking me if I knew about the new e-book addendum to all of her contracts that the agency had sent out. The agency had sent the addendum with a “sign immediately” letter. I hadn’t heard any of this. I asked to see the letter and the addendum.

This writer was disturbed that the addendum was generic. It had arrived on her desk—get this—without her name or the name of the book typed in. She was supposed to fill out the contract number, the book’s title, her name, and all that pertinent information.

I had her send me her original contracts, which she did. The addendum destroyed her excellent e-book rights in that contract, substituting better terms for the publisher. Said publisher handled both of that agency’s bright writing stars.

So I contacted other friends with that agency. They had all received the addendum. Most had just signed the addendum without comparing it to the original contract, trusting their agent who was (after all) supposed to protect them.

Wrong-o. The agency, it turned out, had made a deal with the publisher. The publisher would correct the royalties for the big names if agency sent out the addendum to every contract it had negotiated with that contract. The publisher and the agency both knew that not all writers would sign the addendum, but the publisher (and probably the agency) also knew that a good percentage of the writers would sign without reading it.

In other words, the publisher took the money it was originally paying to small fish and paid it to the big fish—with the small fish’s permission.

Yes, I’m furious about this, but not at the publisher. I’m mad at the authors who signed, but mostly, I’m mad at the agency that made this deal. This agency had a chance to make a good decision for all of its clients. Instead, it opted to make a good deal for only its big names.

Do I know for a fact that this is what happened? Yeah, I do. Can I prove it? No. Which is why I won’t tell you the name of the agency, nor the name of the bestsellers involved. (Who, I’m sure, have no idea what was done in their names.)

On a business level what the agency did makes sense. The agency pocketed millions in future commissions without costing itself a dime on the other side, since most of the writers who signed the addendum probably hadn’t earned out their advances, and probably never would.

On an ethical level it pisses me off. You’ll note that my language about agents has gotten harsher over the past year, and this single incident had something to do with it. Other incidents later added fuel to the fire, but they’re not relevant here. I’ll deal with them in a future post.

Yes, there are good agents in the world. Some work for unethical agencies. Some work for themselves. I still work with an agent who is also a lawyer, and is probably more ethical than I am.

But there are yahoos in the agenting business who make the slimy used car salesmen from 1970s films look like action heroes. But, as I said, that’s a future post.

I have a lot of information from writers, most of which is in private correspondence, none of which I can share, that leads me to believe that this particular agency isn’t the only one that used my blog on royalty statements to benefit their bestsellers and hurt their midlist writers. But again, I can’t prove it.

So I’m sad to report that nothing has changed from last year on the royalty statement front.


The reason I was so excited about the Department of Justice lawsuit against the five publishers wasn’t because of the anti-trust issues (which do exist on a variety of levels in publishing, in my opinion), but because the DOJ accountants will dig, and dig, and dig into the records of these traditional publishers, particularly one company named in the suit that’s got truly egregious business practices.

Those practices will change, if only because the DOJ’s forensic accountants will request information that the current accounting systems in most publishing houses do not track. The accounting system in all five of these houses will get overhauled, and brought into the 21st century, and that will benefit writers. It will be an accidental benefit, but it will occur.

The audits alone will unearth a lot of problems. I know that some writers were skeptical that the auditors would look for problems in the royalty statements, but all that shows is a lack of understanding of how forensic accounting works. In the weeks since the DOJ suit, I’ve contacted several accountants, including two forensic accountants, and they all agree that every pebble, every grain of sand, will be inspected because the best way to hide funds in an accounting audit is to move them to a part of the accounting system not being audited.

So when an organization like the DOJ audits, they get a blanket warrant to look at all of the accounting, not just the files in question. Yes, that’s a massive task. Yes, it will take years. But the change is gonna come.

From the outside.

Those of you in Europe might be seeing some of that change as well, since similar lawsuits are going on in Europe.

I do know that several writers from European countries, New Zealand, and Australia have written to me about similar problems in their royalty statements. The unifying factor in those statements is the companies involved. Again, you’d recognize the names because they’ve been in the news lately…dealing with lawsuits.

Ironically for me, those two blog posts benefitted me greatly. I had been struggling to get my rights back from one publisher (who is the biggest problem publisher), and the week I posted the blog, I got contacted by my former editor there, who told me that my rights would come back to me ASAP. Because, the former editor told me (as a friend), things had changed since Thursday (the day I post my blog), and I would get everything I needed.

In other words, let’s get the troublemaker out of the house now. Fine with me.

Later, I discovered some problems with a former agency. I pointed out the problems in a letter, and those problems got solved immediately. I have several friends who’ve been dealing with similar things from that agency, and they can’t even get a return e-mail. I know that the quick response I got is because of this blog.

I also know that many writers used the blog posts from last year to negotiate more accountability from their publishers for future royalties. That’s a real plus. Whether or not it happens is another matter because I noted something else in this round of royalty statements.

Actually, that’s not fair. My agent caught it first. I need to give credit where credit is due, and since so many folks believe I bash agents, let me say again that my current agent is quite good, quite sharp, and quite ethical.

My agent noticed that the royalty statements from one of my publishers were basket accounted on the statement itself. Which is odd, considering there is no clause in any of the contracts I have with that company that allows for basket accounting.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with basket accounting, this is what it means:

A writer signs a contract with Publisher A for three books. The contract is a three-book contract. One contract, three books. Got that?

Okay, a contract with a basket-accounting clause allows the publisher to put all three books in the same accounting “basket” as if the books are one entity. So let’s say that book one does poorly, book two does better, and book three blows out of the water.

If book three earns royalties, those royalties go toward paying off the advances on books one and two.

Like this:

Advance for book one: $10,000

Advance for book two: $10,000

Advance for book three: $10,000

Book one only earned back $5,000 toward its advance. Book two only earned $6,000 toward its advance.

Book three earned $12,000—paying off its advance, with a $2,000 profit.

In a standard contract without basket accounting, the writer would have received the $2,000 as a royalty payment.

But with basket accounting, the writer receives nothing. That accounting looks like this:

Advance on contract 1: $30,000

Earnings on contract 1: $23,000

Amount still owed before the advance earns out: $7,000

Instead of getting $2,000, the writer looks at the contract and realizes she still has $7,000 before earning out.

Without basket accounting, she would have to earn $5,000 to earn out Book 1, and $4,000 to earn out Book 2, but Book 3 would be paying her cold hard cash.

Got the difference?

Now, let’s go back to my royalty statement. It covered three books. All three books had three different one-book contracts, signed years apart. You can’t have basket accounting without a basket (or more than one book), but I checked to see if sneaky lawyers had inserted a clause that I missed which allowed the publisher to basket account any books with that publisher that the publisher chose.


I got a royalty statement with all of my advances basket accounted because…well, because. The royalty statement doesn’t follow the contract(s) at all.

Accounting error? No. These books had be added separately. Accounting program error (meaning once my name was added, did the program automatically basket account)? Maybe.

But I’ve suspected for nearly three years now that this company (not one of the big traditional publishers, but a smaller [still large] company) has been having serious financial problems. The company has played all kinds of games with my checks, with payments, with fulfilling promises that cost money.

This is just another one of those problems.

My agent caught it because he reads royalty statements. He mentioned it when he forwarded the statements. I would have caught it as well because I read royalty statements. Every single one. And I compare them to the previous statement. And often, I compare them to the contract.

Is this “error” a function of the modern publishing environment? No, not like e-book royalties, which we’ll get back to in a moment. I’m sure publishers have played this kind of trick since time immemorial. Royalty statements are fascinating for what they don’t say rather than for what they say.

For example, on this particular (messed up) royalty statement, e-books are listed as one item, without any identification. The e-books should be listed separately (according to ISBN) because Amazon has its own edition, as does Apple, as does B&N. Just like publishers must track the hardcover, trade paper, and mass market editions under different ISBNs, they should track e-books the same way.

The publisher that made the “error” with my books had no identifying number, and only one line for e-books. Does that mean that this figure included all e-books, from the Amazon edition to the B&N edition to the Apple edition? Or is this publisher, which has trouble getting its books on various sites (go figure), is only tracking Amazon? From the numbers, it would seem so. Because the numbers are somewhat lower than books in the same series that I have on Amazon, but nowhere near the numbers of the books in the same series if you add in Apple and B&N.

I can’t track this because the royalty statement has given me no way to track it. I would have to run an audit on the company. I’m not sure I want to do that because it would take my time, and I’m moving forward.

That’s the dilemma for writers. Do we take on our publishers individually? Because—for the most part—our agents aren’t doing it. The big agencies, the ones who actually have the clout and the numbers to defend their clients, are doing what they can for their big clients and leaving the rest in the dust.

Writers’ organizations seem to be silent on this. And honestly, it’s tough for an organization to take on a massive audit. It’s tough financially and it’s tough politically. I know one writer who headed a writer’s organization a few decades ago. She spearheaded an audit of major publishers, and it cost her her writing career. Not many heads of organizations have the stomach for that.

As for intellectual property attorneys (or any attorney for that matter), very few handle class actions. Most handle cases individually for individual clients. I know of several writers who’ve gone to attorneys and have gotten settlements from publishers. The problem here is that these settlements only benefit one writer, who often must sign a confidentiality agreement so he can’t even talk about what benefit he got from that agreement.

One company that I know of has revamped its royalty statements. They appear to be clearer. The original novel that I have with that company isn’t selling real well as an e-book, and that makes complete sense since the e-book costs damn near $20. (Ridiculous.) The other books that I have with that company, collaborations and tie-ins, seem to be accurately reported, although I have no way to know. I do appreciate that this company has now separated out every single e-book venue into its own category (B&N, Amazon, Apple) via ISBN, and I can actually see the sales breakdown.

So that’s a positive (I think). Some of the smaller companies have accurate statements as well—or at least, statements that match or improve upon the sales figures I’m seeing on indie projects.

This is all a long answer to a very simple question: What’s happened on the royalty statement front in the past year?

A lot less than I had hoped.

So here’s what you traditionally published writers can do. Track your royalty statements. Compare them to your contracts. Make sure the companies are reporting what they should be reporting.

If you’re combining indie and traditional, like I am, make sure the numbers are in the same ballpark. Make sure your traditional Amazon numbers are around the same numbers you get for your indie titles. If they aren’t, look at one thing first: Price. I expect sales to be much lower on that ridiculous $20 e-book. If your e-books through your traditional publisher are $15 or more, then sales will be down. If the e-books from your traditional publisher are priced around $10 or less, then they should be somewhat close in sales to your indie titles. (Or, if traditional publishers are doing the promotion they claim to do, the sales should be better.)

What to do if they’re not close at all? I have no idea. I still think there’s a benefit to contacting your writers’ organizations. Maybe if the organization keeps getting reports of badly done royalty statements, someone will take action.

If you want to hire an attorney or an auditor, remember doing that will cost both time and money. If you’re a bestseller, you might want to consider it. If you’re a midlist writer, it’s probably not worth the time and effort you’ll put in.

But do yourself a favor. Read those royalty statements. If you think they’re bad, then don’t sign a new contract with that publisher. Go somewhere else with your next book.

I wish I could give you better advice. I wish the big agencies actually tried to use their clout for good instead of their own personal profits. I wish the writers’ organizations had done something.

As usual, it’s up to individual writers.

Don’t let anyone screw you. You might not be able to fight the bad accounting on past books, but make sure you don’t allow it to happen on future books.

That means that you negotiate good contracts, you make sure your royalty statements match those contracts, and you don’t sign with a company that puts out royalty statements that don’t reflect your book deal.

I’m quite happy that I walked away from the publisher I mentioned above years ago. I did so because I didn’t like the treatment I got from the financial and production side. The editor was—as editors often are—great. Everything else at the company sucked.

The royalty statement was just confirmation of a good decision for me.

I hope you make good decisions going forward.

Remember: read your royalty statements.

Good luck.

I need to thank everyone who commented, e-mailed, donated, and called because of last week’s post. When I wrote it, all I meant to do was discuss how we all go through tough times and how we, as writers, need to recognize when we’ve hit a wall. It seems I hit a nerve. I forget sometimes that most writers work in a complete vacuum, with no writer friends, no one except family, who much as they care, don’t always understand.

So if you haven’t read last week’s post, take a peek [link]. More importantly, look at the comments for great advice and some wonderful sharing. I appreciate them—and how much they expanded, added, and improved what I had to say. Thanks for that, everyone.

The donate button is below. As always, if you’ve received anything of value from this post or previous posts, please leave a tip on the way out.


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“The Business Rusch: “Royalty Statement Update 2012,” copyright © 2012 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

May 27th, 2010

I once asked Scott Sigler, podcasting superstar and Crown Publishing author of Sci-Fi/Horror novels, what elements led to reaching his first contract with a large publishing house. He listed three things for me: Quality content, consistency and promotion. Quality and promotion are obvious. You can’t build an audience by giving them crap, and you can’t build an audience if you don’ t tell them about your content.

One of these things was not so obvious, and that was the idea of consistency. When he elaborated on the idea, he talked about how many novels he had put out via podcast before he landed that first contract. Sigler was busy podcasting his fifth podcast novel, Nocturnal, before he signed his contract with Crown. I have yet to see another author in the podcast fiction realm replicate this success.

* I’m talking about podcast audio books specifically, not authors like John Scalzi and Cory Doctorow, who have used other elements of giving away free fiction to build quality careers.

* * Yes, I know J.C. Hutchins landed a big publishing contract, but he hasn’t experienced the sustained success of Sigler, who is poised to release his third hardcover novel with Crown, Ancestor, on June 22.

I’ve talked about this before. Why am I bringing it up again? Because I’m taking Sigler’s advice.

I’m obviously currently working on the novella for Grail Quest Books based on Decipher’s WARS collectible card game. I am continuing to bring in cast recordings for my first podcast novel, The Last Guardians (I don’t know that I’m ever going to do a cast recording again with a novel, because if I had done a straight read the thing would be out right now. I digress). I’ve just begun plotting out its sequels. I’m roughly 1900 words into the first novel in a series tentatively titled The Raven and the Dove. I have two novels plotted out in a three-book arc entitled The Bladewielder series. Just last week over the span of two lunch hours at work I plotted out a novel called The Sword of Calagrim, undoubtedly the first in a three-book arc. I have a rough sketch for a four-book space opera arc sitting on my hard drive. I have the beginning of an idea for a fantasy pirate tale also gathering dust in there.

I’ve recently begun working again (as evidenced by my above “lunch hours at work” statement), and am crawling toward developing a consistent working schedule. I have my steno pad at the ready.

I’ve also learned recently that I’m the kind of person who needs to dip his feet in a few different pools at once to keep momentum going. If I lean too heavily into one property, I step back out into time-wasting hobbies all too easily and for far too long. If I step out of a property before I’m burned out on it and into another, I find its easier to keep going. I also find my time-wasting hobby breaks waste far less time.

Anyway another crazy idea Scott Sigler told me is, “don’t submit anything [to publishers or agents] for three years. Podcast consistently for three years, build an audience, then see where you are. Get to the point where you can say to a publisher, ‘I can sell books without you, but we can sell more together.’”

It was a bold statement. ”Don’t submit anything to agents or publishers? Where has this guy been?! Doesn’t he know that it’s a struggling author’s duty to submit themselves to death and pile up rejection slips? Who does Scott Sigler think he is, anyway?” Well I didn’t mention that he happened to have a contract with AOL/Time Warner publishing for his novel Earthcore, before the Dot-Com Bubble burst and they had to drop unestablished properties. He already did the serial submission thing. He already paid his “struggling author” dues to land the big deal. He also did it unconventionally.

Looking at my list of properties, it is conceivable that as I release The Last Guardians, I can finish Sword of Calagrim and record it, ready to release soon after. I can also be working on The Bladewielder series. I can also be working on The Raven and the Dove. In three years I could have four novels finished and podcasted. I could have four distinctly different Epic Fantasy properties for a publisher (or agent) to choose from, should they be interested.

I am Sigler-izing my creative queue, at last. And I like the possibilities.

February 4th, 2010

The following is a reprint from

I don’t really like ebooks. I like to open a real book with real pages. I especially like to read from the standard page because it gives my eyes a much-needed respite from the glare of a monitor. There’s something about an object that shoots light directly into your eyes that bugs you after a while.

I get why other people read ebooks. But I don’t spend a great deal of time in airplanes, subways, buses or taxi cabs. If and when I commute (a story for another time), I’m driving. And I can’t read when I drive. I don’t go a lot of places where I think, “gee, if only I could carry multiple titles on a single device!” I don’t go through books that quickly. I don’t know anyone who does, except maybe Michael Hickerson, the News Director at Slice of SciFi. When I’m reading a book, I carry that single book with me until it’s finished, only to be replaced by another real book. I’m not a technophile; I don’t get sucked in by every new wave of technology. Frankly, I like bookshelves with books on them. Sometimes I like remaining connected to “the old ways.”

That being said, Amazon’s latest form of douchebaggery, in its disagreement with publisher MacMillan, is going too far. Rather than simply refuse to sell MacMillan’s ebooks until they felt they reached a proper accord, Amazon instead also restricted the sale of the print editions of MacMillan’s titles. I won’t regurgitate everything I’ve read here. I’ll provide a good link at the bottom of the page. Suffice to say, the argument was about the pricing of ebooks. MacMillan wanted to have the flexibility to allow market demands to adjust the prices just like every other market allows. Amazon wanted a fixed price so they could move their Kindle ebook readers. This is a simplified form of the story, but that’s all you’re getting from me.

As a person who considers himself of decent knowledge of the way the world and businesses work, this strikes me, as Jay Lake said, “like me beating up your kid brother because you owe me money.” It also strikes me as a stupid thing to do to your customers. If they cannot buy the book at your site, they’ll go elsewhere. Of course, that was the intent all along, to make the customer angry at MacMillan. Only it’s backfiring quickly in the age of Twitter and Facebook. As a writer and prospective author, with my first publication pending, what am I supposed to think if the largest online purveyor of books decides willy-nilly not to sell a certain publisher’s titles? What if it’s my publisher?

Now, I’ve purchased more than just books at Amazon, but it’s mostly books. I’ve especially bought from Amazon if I can’t find a title in my Borders or Waldenbooks, but I prefer the bookstore. I love browsing the shelves, picking up the books and glancing at the first few pages. I like seeing which authors will be surrounding the spines with my name on them. I like finding hardcover bargains inside Books-A-Million (hello, flexibile pricing!). I enjoy the smell of a bookstore, especially if they feature a coffee shop.

Therefore, it is no strange thing for me to stop buying books from Amazon.

I’m not calling for a boycott here. Amazon took a chance with a free-market business tactic. If you don’t like what your supplier wants to charge, you have the right not to distribute them. It’s their legal right, as outlined by other authors smarter than me (see link below). But if your dispute is over ebooks, then why let it spill over to the print titles? It’s not only sneaky and underhanded, but it’s also juvenile and pouty. It’s rather unprofessional. Meanwhile, the authors did nothing to Amazon, but they’re the ones being punished. They’re the ones whose titles have gone unavailable for purchase of new titles. New titles is where the royalties come from, not the sale of used books.

Granted, we are free to purchase those titles from other places, and that is what I recommend to everyone else. It’s not a boycott, it’s called “taking your business elsewhere.” It’s letting the free market take its course. Amazon made a choice, and they ought to receive whatever benefit, or pay whatever consequence, that results naturally from that choice.

If you like to buy online, Powell’s is a great place to shop, plus many other great stores. As always, if you have an independent bookseller in your area, fell free to frequent them.


Brandon Sanderson provides a link salad to several different authors opining on this topic here:

December 2nd, 2009

I just finished The Gathering Storm, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, and I gotta say: I have never nearly fainted from sheer awesome before.

I am beginning to think Robert Jordan is perhaps the single greatest developer of characters in the history of mankind. Scratch that. The second-greatest. I think the only competition Jordan had in mind was The Bible.

I'm not going to give any plot spoilers to those of you actually into the Wheel of Time. Which brings me to another aside. I've spoken with a lot of people who gave up on the series after book six or seven, and I simply must say that those people are weak. I mean, I get it. The middle of the series has some volumes that require some serious slogging. But hey, isn't that true of Numbers, Deuteronomy, Kings, Chronicles... okay, pretty much all of Leviticus through Matthew is a slog-fest. That doesn't make it any less valuable.

The people who gave up on the Wheel of Time simply seem to have lost all sense of what epic character development truly entails. I don't mean those folks who read the first couple of books and just decided it wasn't for them. I mean the people who gave up on it after book six or seven, who had already invested a lot of time in the series. Now, I'll admit, Jordan brought a lot of this upon himself with his Lucasian "It's five books, no it's seven books, no it's ten books, well it's as many as it takes." But as I find myself on the cusp of the end of the series, I see the slogging was not for naught.

As I read through The Gathering Storm, I realize everything that Rand, Mat, Perrin, Egwene, Nynaeve, Siuan and everybody else went through had a purpose. How else do get a sheep herder from the Two Rivers to the Dragon Reborn, kingdoms bowing before his nation-trodding boot? Three books? How else do you ensure that the last scene of the Wheel of Time--the one Jordan had in mind from the beginning--carries as much dramatic weight for all the dramatis personae involved that you can? Five books? Not hardly.

It's not for nothing that the end of The Gathering Storm had me literally dizzy with emotion. The Wheel of Time is not one of those mere trilogies where you sort of identify with the main character but not really, and you think it's a pretty clever plot but it ends the way you think it should, and it's satisfying for the moment but then you go on to something else. Not to take anything away from those trilogies, I've enjoyed them myself. But there is something about the Wheel of Time that sets it apart. There is a reason it always hits #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list, each time a new installment is released.

With the Wheel of Time, you do not merely identify with the main characters, you live it with them. Does that mean a lot of books? Yes. Does that mean a significant investment on your part? You bet it does. But when Rand sits alone and thinks about his life, you feel the massive weight of history and consequence on his shoulders. You don't merely identify with it, you're right there with him in the thick of it! I've only read each book once, but I see things connect with books from the past and each one tugs on an emotion, not merely a synapse of factual connection.

One cannot read the Wheel of Time and stand apart. You will not understand it if you do not absorb it, but it's not like it's hard reading. The depth of Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen will simply cause the brains of most people to explode. Those books take me months to finish. The Gathering Storm took maybe a week. But the Wheel of Time also is not merely a fun little romp. It does take some work.

I will simply say the reward is well worth the wait, and there are further rewards ahead in the last two books. And the Wheel of Time has become a valuable lesson in character development.

November 4th, 2009

Enlisted and Ready for WARS

No, I am not suddenly embarking in a career in the United States Armed Forces.

On Monday I signed a contract with Grail Quest Books to write a Novella in the universe based on WARS, the Collectible Card Game from Decipher, Inc. I am one of three authors enlisted to work on this project, each writing for the three Human factions in the WARS universe. I will be writing for the faction known as Mavericks.

In short, the Mavericks are the outsiders of the WARS universe, the people that play both sides. They are the wretched hive of scum and villainy: pirates, gamblers, smugglers, scoundrels–you’d like ‘em! They are the settlers on the fringes of our solar system, trying to survive the conflict between the other two Human factions, Earthers and Gongen.

The Earthers are the “civilized” folks. The global corporation that governs Earth affairs paid dearly when they tried to assert control over the solar system. The Gongen are colonists to Mars, who fled Earth after a nuclear holocaust destroyed hundreds of millions of lives. Predominantly Asian in culture, they have adopted an almost Japanese way of life, valuing honor and harmony above all other values. The novellas will take place before a rift in our solar system introduces to warring Alien factions to the mix.

In many ways this project is right up my alley. It has a similar tone to Firefly, Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica, and the Star Wars Expanded Universe novels. In fact, Michael A. Stackpole was commissioned by Decipher to create the backstory for the game, and even wrote some short stories to get it started. WARS also based its gameplay on the Star Wars Customizable Card Game, also from Decipher.

It also has an intrinsic connection with my psyche. I am very independent, a lover of liberty, and grew up with a survivor’s mentality. Maverick culture has been described as Deadwood in space, and westerns have long been a guilty pleasure of mine. I also believe Maverick culture allows me to better explore the characters involved, not only because of their knack for brutal honesty, but also because their culture does not provide a framework in which to hide their baser instincts. They do not have an overarching legal base guiding their actions, as do the Earthers. They have no preconceived notions of duty or honor as the Gongen do. They are a flawed people, and those flaws are entirely all-too visible. But it also makes them unpredictable for those who would control them.

I do not know the plot, or the characters that will appear in this novella. We will be brainstorming these things later on. For now, I know that it will be a Graphic Novella, much like the Star Wars Dark Forces Novellas. Not in the common Comic Book style with which you may be familiar. I know Grail Quest Books hopes to continue to expand this property in the future. I will of course keep you posted on developments, but the first WARS novella is tentatively slated for a 2010 release.

For more information on the project:

September 15th, 2009

The Book is Finished

Of all the incarnations, installments, versions and editions, this is the one that has that sense of real completion. You know the saying that you're not ready until your fifth or sixth novel, because you've got all the bad writing out of your system? I took a different path.

This version of this novel has but the bare skeleton of the original plot. I started working on this story in 1997, and looking back it was just a ridiculous mockery of Tolkien. Who really wants to read a story where the hero comes upon The Mystic Gnomes of Darmanae? Not me. What is this, Gulliver's Travels? Can you imagine being an editor and seeing that? Seriously.

So anyway. More to come later on. Suffice to say I am happy with this rendition. Concurrently with submitting it to agents or publishers, I will be podcasting the novel as an audiobook with full voice cast. Stay tuned for details on that.

July 17th, 2009

Yes, I am alive, but I don't spend as much time here as I used to. If you are on Facebook you can find me at If you're on twitter, you can find me at (remarkably)

I thought I ought to rectify my absence, and what better way than with a fresh excerpt from The Last Guardians? This was just written today. One of our villains, Vuliyf, Chieftain of Eagle Clan of the Nordar, is about to challenge the younger Chieftain of Wolf Clan for the mantle of High Chieftain...

Read more...Collapse )
Vuliyf's account continues, but you'll just have to wait!

June 11th, 2009

I admit, I stole that from pbray

I realize I haven't been regular on here. Part of that was due to losing my job back in March. The other part was simply forgetting to check out my friends page every day like I did. My wife and I have decided that I should remain unemployed over the summer to keep from devoting an entire paycheck to summer childcare.

One of the things I'd love to do is go back to college. If I can find some way to have money not only for school but also living expenses as well, it would be a no-brainer. Should probably look into that.

As for the writing, final revisions are moving again on The Last Guardians. I've added 9,212 new words over the last few days, enabling me to cut others later on in the plot. I'm trying to make myself approach this similar to a job, because I'd like it to be my job in the future. Nothing more to add. Back into the fray.

February 3rd, 2009

Jim Perry

2. WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother and fathers middle names)
Unknown Lawrence

3. NASCAR NAME: (first name of your mother's dad, father's dad)
Jimmy Roberts

4. STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first name)

5. DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal)
Green "Bull" Mastiff

6. SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, town where you were born)
Lawrence Auburn

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd fav color, fav drink, add "THE" to the beginning)
The Blue Killian

8.FLY NAME: (first 2 letters of 1st name, last 2 letters of your last name)

9. STREET NAME: (fav ice cream flavor, fav cookie)
Vanilla Bean Oreo (that's about the stupidest thing I've ever heard)

10. PORN NAME: (1st pet's name, street you grew up on)
Sissy Gay (Yeah.  I know.)

11. YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (first 3 letters of last name plus izzle)

13. YOUR IRAQI.. NAME: (2nd letter of your first name, 3rd letter of your last name, first two letters of your middle name, last two letters of your first name then last three letters of your last name):

14. YOUR GOTH NAME: (black, and the name of one of your pets)
Black Hermoine

15. STRIPPER NAME: (name of your fav perfume/cologne, fav candy)
Eternity Dark Chocolate ( wow. that was dumb.)

January 27th, 2009

Shooting for the Stars

New blog post over at

Where to go now that your novel is written....
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