Saturday, April 05, 2008

my life in green and purple

Merrilee (who is, as she has been for the last 20 years, my literary agent) has gone away, leaving me with a huge sheet of paper on which pretty much everything I've agreed to write over the next 18 months is written down in purple and white (for books or articles or stories) and green and white (for film or TV scripts).

I'm now officially forbidden from agreeing to write any more introductions, or saying "Sure, I'd love to do that, that sounds fun," without consulting her first, so she can say "YOU WHAT? ARE YOU MAD? OF COURSE NOT!" At least until the current round of stuff is done.


Bob Miller, who was the publisher of Hyperion, is heading over to Harper Collins [NB: one of my publishers, and also the people who pay for this website] where he wants to set up an experimental publishing unit with no or low advances and with profit sharing for an author. It could be interesting -- I was particularly fascinated by the final line of the NYT coverage:
Mr. Miller said he was considering offering both e-book and audio editions of the hardcovers at no extra cost to the consumer.
Because it seems to me that giving away an e-Book with a hardback is an excellent way to grow the e-book world, and something that a publisher could do at little or no cost. And I like the idea of essentially having bought a HEART-SHAPED BOX license rather than a copy of HEART-SHAPED BOX -- of course buying the book would give you the audio and the text, not just the object.

The Guardian and the New York Times both write about Bob Miller's arrival at Harper Collins, and between the two articles you get a fairly good picture of what's being said.

I think the Times statement that Typically, authors earn royalties of 15 percent of profits after they have paid off their advances is very dodgy. Many Authors earn royalties of 15 percent on the cost of a hardback, which goes to repay an advance until the advance is earned back, and then continues on from there. It's not 15% of profits.

Publishers can be making healthy profits on books that have not earned back their royalties.

My son Mike is home for a couple of days, and we went walking in the blazing summery sunshine, which only got weird when we were tramping through still unmelted snow, talking about this stuff, and he asked how it could work. I tried to explain simply, with pretend numbers,

Me: Let's say you get a thousand dollar advance on a book, with a ten percent royalty, and the book sells for ten dollars. The publisher has to sell a thousand books before you have earned out. But the publisher is selling the book, which it costs them a dollar to make, to the retailer, for four dollars. So they'll earn money from five hundred copies on...

Mike: So fifty-fifty profit sharing would be really smart in that case.

Me: I imagine that's why Stephen King did it...

[Edit to add - At Making Light Patrick mocks the New York Times as well.]

Hi Neil,

I was looking through your site at the word counts you posted for your books, and I wondered how you arrived at that cont? I know most word processors have a word count function--is that what you used? I've also found a formula where you count characters in a line, divide by six, then multiply the answer by how many lines are in your document. Which way did you arrive at your counts?

Waiting patiently for "The Graveyard Book,"


I just use the word counters on whatever word processing thing I'm using at the time. They may disagree a little.

In notebooks I laboriously count the words on a couple of pages, divide by two and use that as my What I'm Writing Per Page Average. Then when I type it I find out how wrong I was.

Hi Neil,

Have you seen this lovely awesome video of city lights at night made by my favorite astronaut, Don Pettit(who also happens to be married to my husband's sister)? While on the space station he figured out how to film the earth's lights without the blur of travel. It is so cool.


Claudia Carlson

I hadn't, and it is extremely cool.


I'm organising one of your events in Melbourne, and just wanted to let your readers know how they can book:

Neil Gaiman 1pm May 5.

Village Roadshow Theatrette

Entry 3, State Library of Victoria

La Trobe Street, Melbourne

free (or gold coin donation)

Bookings at or 8664 7555

Was that where I spoke last time I was in Melbourne? If it's the one I'm thinking of, it is not huge, so book to guarantee a seat. Lots of people asking why I'm not going to New Zealand or Perth or Brisbane or Canberra or Adelaide on this trip (A: Because there is only one of me and time is not infinite... Sorry. )

This one's important...

Hi Neil,

You may remember Emru Townsend. He did this interview with you around the time you were promoting Princess Mononoke:

You may also remember his sister Tamu, who is one of the organizers for Anticipation SF, the 2009 Worldcon in Montreal where you will be guest of honor.

The reason I'm writing is that Emru is in need of a bone marrow transplant.

He has been diagnosed with leukemia and a condition called monosomy 7. Due to the monosomy 7, he has an increased risk of the leukemia coming back, no matter how successful chemotherapy may be. A bone marrow transplant is his best chance for survival. Unfortunately, his sister was not a match.

While anyone, anywhere can be a potential match, his best chance for a match comes from a donor who shares his ethnic background. As the son of two African Carribean parents, his chances are further diminished as blacks are underrepresented in bone marrow registries worldwide.

Emru is one of the nicest, coolest people I've had the good fortune to meet. He also runs fps Magazine, one of the best web sites around devoted to the art of animation.

Would you mind posting this message to get the word out and maybe get more people around the world to join the bone marrow registry?

Registration is quite simple, and usually requires a cheek swab or a small blood sample. If you end up being called in as a donor, the procedure itself is a simple, painless day surgery. Recovery involves mild discomfort in the pelvis and back for a few days. Your own bone marrow will replenish itself within six weeks.

The donation process is anonymous. You won't know if you're helping Emru or somebody else, but you will be helping to save a life. How cool is that?

For more information and links to bone marrow registries all over the world, please visit:

--Jeff LeBlanc

Right. And my assistant Lorraine asked me to mention her blog, as she is campaigning to get people to read Martin Millar's book LONELY WEREWOLF GIRL, which has been her favourite book since she read it in manuscript, some years ago.