Friday, September 30, 2011

So, let's see...

In addition to article writing, this week I wrote (but did not finish) two short stories that I intend to submit to a literary journal.

I also got a good start on editing my latest novel, with the working title 'Third Princess'. I'm hoping a beta reader will come up with a better title. I've yet to think of one I'm happy with. I seem to be one way or the other with titles. Either I have an absolutely great one from the first moment I think of the idea or I have to wrack my brain about it, sometimes for hours.

Ah well. It's a great novel, I know it's my best yet, and I think I may have found my target audience. I'll leave you on that rather mysterious note.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Horseshoes and self publishing

Bear with me, because I'm off on the extended analog train again.

People who ride horses tend to have some...ideas...about how best to treat them. Five minutes on any equestrian board will show you arguments about when it's best to turn a horse out, the best bit for any situation,

Horse shoes are, in fact, the subject of a war of ideas between people who believe All Horses Need Shoes and those who strongly feel that Shoes Are Evil And No Horse Should Ever Wear Them.

And never, it seems, the twain shall meet. They strongly drown out the sensible horse people who actually think that, hey, it might depend on the horse and what you're asking the horse to do. I've known horses that could trot for six hours on tarmac without shoes and horses that needed them to do work in an arena on good footing. And in some parts of the world it's not uncommon to put shoes only on the horse's front feet.

The right kind of shoe is important, too. In England, for example, road shoes are common, much to the surprise of many Americans who have never heard of them. Road shoes have special studs, made of a slightly harder material than the shoe itself, set in the back of them, specifically designed to prevent a horse from slipping on tarmac. Carriage drivers know all about road shoes, but most casual riders in America don't and react to a horse being ridden and driven on tarmac with negativity. But nothing is quite as heated as the argument between the shoe people and the barefoot fanatics.

Well, except for the argument between the people who believe all self-published books are of lousy quality and not worth publishing and those who opine that mainstream publishing is evil, wants to control writers, is taking more than their fair share.

I have to admit I have long leaned towards the first side. It's my opinion that the majority of self-published books should probably not be published, because people are lazy and don't bother with editing or decent cover art. (And really, the right photo and a free graphic editor can give you decent cover art). Editing is a particular problem as professional editing runs to about $100 for a short story and between $1000 and $1200 for a novel. Most self published books don't make that much.

But, I also don't feel that mainstream publishers are evil and setting out to control writers. I also don't feel that there should be so many absolutes.

Maybe, just maybe it depends on the author, the book, and the circumstances? Is there any real reason why a writer can't do both, using self publishing for niche books and to put out back catalog whilst working with a 'real' publisher for novels they hope to sell thousands of copies of? Other than people's attitudes, I don't see one.

I give every kudos to people who self publish right. For me, I hesitate to spend that much cold, hard cash on editing on a book that might not make it. I'd much rather have a publisher to share the risk and the profit, but I also know that some times going it alone is the way to go. And maybe we need to stop arguing about whether to shoe our horses and look at ways everyone can work together for a healthier publishing industry.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Okay, I like it...

The new blogger interface, that is. I always worry about software 'updates' because they are often nothing of the sort, but it is a lot easier to read my followed blogs and look for interesting stuff. The post window is cleaner, although I personally think it should default to the full would look better that way.

My only issue is that tags (labels) don't appear automatically, but you have to click on them. As I'm horrible for forgetting my tags, this is a bit of a downside. But otherwise, kudos to Google for an upgrade that really is.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


I've been thinking a lot about DRM lately.

My investigation of Smashwords came up with the fact that they outright refuse to use DRM, and are perfectly fine with people downloading multiple copies of a book so they can play them on all of their different devices.

Thinking about this some more, I came up with an analogy. Back when I was in college, I used to MUD a lot. I still do, although these days I only do pure RP games and I don't do it as much as I once did.

But back then, I was quite happy to spend a couple of hours killing monsters. Now, there are a ton of different kinds of MUDs.

One particular kind is the RPI (Role-Playing Intensive) MUD. The point was not to just kill monsters, but to interact with one another in a realistic manner. Some RPIs even got rid of the unlimited lives of the traditional MUD. I tried a number of different RPIs, thinking they would be more fun than just typing 'kill ' a thousand times.

Were they? Every single one I tried approached the idea of 'role-play intensive' in the same manner. Instead of encouraging roleplay, providing the tools for it, they chose to enforce it. (In fact, some of these MUDs called themselves 'Roleplay Enforced'). For example, they would disable the tell command (allowing a direct message to another player) because 'people will use it to pass out OOC information'. In fact, it was not uncommon to disallow all communication with characters not in the same room, or limit it to one (very spammy) channel on which staff would jump all over anyone who said anything they didn't like. The result of heavily restricting communication, of course, meant that the only way to actually roleplay was to wander the grid until you bumped into something.

The news files invariably had a long list of code enforced rules with the attitude of 'Players always cheat'. I didn't appreciate being assumed to be a cheater from day one, so I left, gave up, and took my custom elsewhere.

Digital rights management is the same thing as 'role-play intensive'. It approaches the problem from the standpoint of 'Customers always steal'. It restricts perfectly legitimate uses and sometimes declares them 'wrong', 'bad', or 'evil', just as RPI admin said it was 'wrong' to send somebody a tell and ask them if they wanted to roleplay.

People do not appreciate being assumed to be thieves from day one and until some kind of terrible dystopia emerges in which it is impossible to acquire any kind of content without egregious DRM, they will take their custom elsewhere.

If the only elsewhere for them to take their custom is the pirates, then there is a problem for content providers. And, ultimately, for content creators, many of whom are opposed to digital rights management.

As am I.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Scientific discoveries...

I think it was Asimov who said the most important words in science are 'That's odd'.

I would actually rephrase it to 'That makes no sense'. Like this article, which implies...well. I'm not even sure what it implies.

I'd love to read the actual paper and find out whether it's being overhyped, but I can't find it. However, it might explain one of the odd anomalies of the world.

Why has no bird, even ostriches and penguins, to whom it would be a huge advantage, ever evolved to bear live young?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Reprint Alert!

Two years ago I sold 'The London Incident' to Alternative Coordinates. It's a great story and they printed it more or less as is.

Sadly, early this year, Alternative Coordinates vanished off the net. Their archives are, of course, gone. I've thought about this for a while.

I've now decided to make this story available again myself. This is my first venture into self-publishing and an experiment...and one about which I'm very nervous, not least because I'm not perfect and am worried there may be errors in the text.

The distribution channel I've chosen to use is Smashwords, as they make things available in all ebook formats, including several you don't need any kind of e-reader for.

So. If you didn't read it the first time round, then feel free to go to The London Incident and download it in whichever format you're most comfortable with.

FTL or cold fusion?

Have scientists at the CERN particle accelerator really found neutrinos going faster than light? Or is this going to prove to be a flawed experiment, an artifact or even something more interesting, like an experimental condition messing with the speed of light itself?

Will it prove to be more than a laboratory effect?

And, of course, this opens the old question. If something can go faster than light, then where are all the aliens?

Here's one intriguing thought. Perhaps, due to the nature of relativity and causality, living beings cannot travel faster than light, limiting faster than light to communications and probes.

There's a thought for a hard science fiction future I might or might not have time to do anything with...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Clueless versus scam

Somebody brought Pubslush Press to my attention. They have the brilliant idea of basically crowdsourcing their publication decisions. That is, they'll publish only books that get a certain number of pre-orders.

Unfortunately, they have a bad contract...that is non-negotiable and agreed to on submission. Amongst other things, it allows them to change your royalties at will. Are they pulling something?

More likely, they're just clueless. They don't realize that most professional writers won't agree to give away any rights at all on submission. Or that what they likely intend to be a get out clause if they go bankrupt sets off everyone's scam radar.

New publishers crop up all the time. The internet and electronic publishing make it easy. Not all, though, have the savvy to go the distance. I actually hope Pubslush has success - it's an intriguing idea, but as it stands, they won't be seeing any of my work.

Unfortunate, really.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Warehouse 13 prediction

So. They fired Jinx for having scruples. And now he's being hired by the bad guys.



My prediction: He hasn't been fired at all. It's all a set up to get somebody into their organization...somebody with enough scruples not to be corrupted. Would explain Arny's casual dismissal of the manner and why he won't talk on an unencrypted cell to poor confused Claudia.

(Who is my favorite character in that show and one of my favorites in current spec fic TV).

Genre Snobbery

I just saw something in my G+ feed which said 'Should we defend chick lit?'

I hate chick lit. You wouldn't catch me dead reading it. Heck, I can't stand Jane Austen and have referred to her as the 'mother of chick lit' before.

I will never, ever buy a book that is categorized as chick lit. So...will I defend it?

Heck yes. If people enjoy writing it and people enjoy reading it, then it needs to continue to exist. Just because I see that section of the bookstore and walk away doesn't mean that I am going to go around saying other people shouldn't read chick lit. Or whatever else floats their boat. I'm fairly sure there are people out there who can't stand fantasy and science fiction too.

That's one side of genre snobbery, dismissing something because you don't like it and not respecting the thousands of readers who do.

The other side, of course, is the writer who insists their genre is better than somebody else's. For example, a lot of writers would never be caught dead writing erotica. They'll disparage it as pornography, or strings of sex scenes. Look down their noses at the people who write it, and use excuses to do so, such as vague comments about morality or even mocking the pen names used in the industry.

I won't write erotica either. But for a completely different reason - I'm not very good at it. I have absolutely every respect for people who can pull it off and make a success of it. One of my good friends, in fact, is an erotica writer under the name Nobilis Reed. (Also known as 'That guy with the podcast'). He's a great guy. He's very good at what he does and people buy what he does. I'm not going to look down on him because he chooses to write about sex, romance and the emotions that surround it.

Every single genre is valid. Not equal, no, because they require different skills, a different mind set and different inclinations. Historical fiction requires the ability to do...and enjoy...hours of research into the past. Science fiction requires an understanding of how the universe really works rather than how we wish it would. Thrillers need an incredible grasp of pacing. I don't like Dan Brown as a writer, but that man can pace a book to perfection, and that is why he sells millions of copies.

Setting genre snobbery aside can help you open your horizons as both a reader and a writer. Perhaps if you're willing to learn the understanding of human relations from erotica, pacing from suspense and the grasp of human society needed for a good historical, you can move from an okay writer to a good one...and even a great one.

And, besides, you might meet some very cool people from the other side of the genre fence.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Thoughts on health care reform...

Politics again! Sorry, guys.

But I've been thinking a lot about it. Obama's bill did not help, not at all. In fact, I've had more problems with my health insurance company pulling crap since it was passed than before it was...

The problem with a traditional national health service is that it ends up without enough money to care for all of the patients. Triage becomes inevitable, as does long waiting lists. People die.

The problem with the health insurance model is that the motivation of the health insurance companies is profits. They cut costs any way they can, and again, triage of sorts becomes inevitable as insurers try to stop their customers from actually using their insurance. People die.

It's clear that neither system is perfect, but what about this one.

What if health insurance could only be provided by a specific class of entity...a new form of non-profit corporation? No shareholders allowed. Bonuses to executives eliminated or strictly regulated. The insurance company would only be allowed to keep the money needed to deal with its overhead and pay its personnel. Everything else would have to go back to the patients, either in terms of lower premiums or in funding for medical research.

Or how about this one: What if the only entities allowed to provide insurance were health coops, that were owned by the patients or their employers?

Both of these take the *profit* out of health care. Nobody should be in the business of health care to make money. I don't begrudge doctors, nurses and other medical personnel a living appropriate to the level of skill they possess. I do begrudge people large profits while their so-called customers are jumping through red tape to get preventive care, going to the doctor more than is needed as a result, or just not going to the doctor at all...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Arrr, Me Hearties!

Let's haul in the fo'sail and heave-ho right here. And break out the grog!

(And I'm no good at talking like a pirate, but am having too much fun with


Friday, September 16, 2011

Thank you... the wonderful folks at Digital Science Fiction, who graciously offered to post an extended bio of yours truly to their web site. It can be found here:

Shameless co-promotion will now cease. For now.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


I have the strong desire to do something steampunkish. But what, is the question. Maybe I need to go read more steampunk.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Inspiration... at a low level today. Working on post outlining a novel that came out too short so I can hopefully fix it. At least I don't feel like I just plain need a drink any more.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


...with hub pages. I have some writing and publishing industry information posted there. I thought it might be worth a try and at least some people are already finding the articles useful. Here's the ones I have so far:

Monday, September 12, 2011

No longer...

...dancing in the rain. It finally stopped late on Friday and the weekend was pretty nice. Mostly spent it working on my personal database of literary agents (no, none of you get to see it).

Now working on editing stories and writing articles.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Things I won't do...

I do a lot of what I call 'sign painting'. Re-writing somebody's 'About Us' page for their web site isn't nearly as exciting as working on a novel, but it pays some of the bills.

Today, though, I saw a proposed gig that made me think of what I won't do. So, here's what I won't do for money:

1. Work for insulting rates. I know of one guy who has been trying to get 2,000 words for a dollar for, to my knowledge, the last year. Every time a writer accepts rates like that, it drags the price down for everyone else. I won't write non-fiction for less than a penny a word, and that's only if I don't have anything better. Fiction is a little different, but I generally only submit to places that pay less than 1 cent per word if I'm struggling to sell a piece. My goal is to try and sell all of my non-fiction for about 5 cents a word.

2. Promote illegal activities. I've seen people looking for writers for the bad kind of discount pharmacies and recently to write articles advising people on how to find prostitutes in an Islamic country (I'm not kidding...or touching that one with a pole of any length. There isn't a pole long enough).

3. Sell sleazy or scammy products like get rich quick ebooks or schemes. Will I help you sell boat trailers or tree cutting services? Sure.

4. Work for jerks. If I don't get on with a client, then goodbye. Fortunately, I've managed to mostly avoid people who treat writers like dirt (except in the area of pay).

5. Write erotica. I'm no good at it, I have no interest in it, and I'd rather leave it to the experts.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Rain, rain...

It has been raining since...before I got up.


This is so depressing.

Goodreads people, all of the unrated read books on my account are books I read too long ago to remember well enough to rate. Some of them will probably get ratings when and as I have time to re-read, but with my current to-read shelf...well...I may be some time.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A personal post.

I don't have huge inspiration for a detailed post today, so I'm going to be personal.

First of all, can we please send this rain to Texas. We don't need it (flash flood warnings) and they do (forest fires). Please? It's just grey, miserable and depressing. Although I have gotten a nice amount written over the last couple of days.

Mostly, I'm writing fiction, writing articles and waiting on editors. Such is life. Now if I could just get my neighbor to put her obese chihuahua on a diet. I flinch every time I see it.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

(Not) Ready For Primetime

Over the last few years, I've been quite a few places. I've also attended two motor racing events. The first was the Grand Prix of DC, an ALMS event. (This is an endurance series intended to prepare drivers and cars for the 24 Hours of Le Mans). The second was the newest addition to the Indy circuit, the Grand Prix of Baltimore.

The first race was a disaster. Neither the drivers nor the fans wanted to come back to the venue. The second was the most successful launch of a new temporary street circuit in thirty years.

What made the difference? Preparation. Not on the part of the series, but on the part of the venue. But, this has nothing to do with writing...

...sure it does.

The DC race was not ready for prime time, and the ways in which it was are paralleled by the efforts of too many debut writers.

1. They did not have a solid foundation. The track was a temporary street circuit set up in the soccer stadium parking lot. The surface was not what it could be. Furthermore, the drivers hated the track. Just to add insult to injury, one of the two temporary bridges set up for access to the infield was ruled unsafe and could not be used.

They did not actually have a good product. A writer's product is the book itself. If it is not solid, if it is riddled with typos, if the story has holes you can drive an Indy car through, then there will not be success. And you can't trust editors to catch all of your mistakes. They're only human and things slip through.

2. They pissed off the neighbors. The soccer stadium is in a residential neighborhood. As a condition of running the race, they were supposed to set up a noise proof fence around the track so the sound of the cars would not disturb the people who weren't at all interested in a motor race. Which they did. Then they let the press knock holes in it to get better camera angles. As a result, the fence was useless. Oh, and during the race, they towed a stalled car into the wall.

Promotion needs to be targeted. If you're spamming people who may or may not be interested, you're knocking holes in your noise fence. That will only piss people off and earn you a bad reputation. Even more than that, you don't want to piss off your 'drivers' - your reviewers. If a reviewer writes a bad review and you attack them, you're towing their car into the wall. Not only will that reviewer never want to review your book again, none of the others will. Yes, writers do this. They do it a lot.

3. They did not prepare for success. On the day of the race, they ran out of cheap beer. (They still had expensive beer, but that's not what the average race fan drinks). They put out insufficient trash cans, which were not emptied all day, resulting in stacks of beer cans and, worse, empty food containers all over the infield and the viewing areas next to the race.

I have heard more than one horror story of a writer who went with a very small press or, worse, a vanity press. Then the book started to sell - and their publisher dropped them, because they didn't have the infrastructure to print enough copies.

But the more important lesson about preparing for success is that if you are not prepared for success, you are set up for failure.

I may well be going back to the Baltimore race next year. I wouldn't have anything to do with another race promoted by those people in DC. Moot point; the series broke the contract because none of the drivers wanted to go back...

Always make sure you are ready for prime time...and prepared for both success and failure.

Monday, September 5, 2011

More on Neanderthals

So, I got a response to my last blog post on species hybridization that got me thinking. I was informed that some scientists believe that Neanderthals had a different number of chromosomes. This caused me to do more research. One of the things I discovered is that none of the surviving Neanderthal markers happens to be on the Y chromosome.

Now, normally, when two species with different numbers of chromosomes cross, almost none of the offspring are fertile. For this reason, I'm skeptical of the chromosome number thing. However, it led me to another line of thought. Some cat breeders produce what are called 'exotic' breeds. The best known of these is the Bengal cat. The Bengal cat is an unusual breed. It was created by deliberately crossing two species; the ordinary domestic cat and the Asian spotted cat. Bengal breeders know well that when you breed an F1 litter, only the females are fertile.

Only the females. That would certainly explain why the Neanderthal Y chromosome has gone away. Here, though, I'm going to go out on a speculative fiction limb. As the Neanderthal numbers diminished, so the numbers seeking homo sapiens mates would have increased. If the male offspring of such matings are infertile (and fertility amongst the females potentially compromised), then I can see two scenarios. These are not all of the scenarios, but two plausible situations that could result from having heavily hybridized populations with very limited male fertility.

Scenario #1: Females, aware that their mates are unlikely to produce children, would go outside the marriage to find fertile males. Eventually, they would go outside the tribe. Given many of these females would have preferred (infertile) mates, they would likely seek temporary liaisons, designed entirely to produce a child. They might even inform the male they choose of their reasons, either out of honesty or as part of getting him to cooperate. Likely, they would seduce a male and then abandon him to return to their tribe; possibly after a series of very wild nights. Also, some females might resort to stealing children from other tribes. In some cases, they might leave a stone or a bit of wood in the crib, in order to delay discovery.

Oh, hey! That's what female fairies do in the legends...steal human males for wild one night stands (it's not that much of an exaggeration from 'Well, by the time she was done with him he couldn't get it up for a week' to 'By the time she was done with him he'd aged 100 years'). And rob cradles.

Scenario #2: A heavily hybridized tribe realizes that their males are not fertile. There is some evidence that Neanderthal females routinely, rather than occasionally, hunted and fought alongside their men. The proportion of Neanderthal female skeletons with hunting injuries is very high. If you don't need males to hunt or fight and they can't put babies in you (contrary to what most people believe, I truly doubt that most 'primitive' people didn't understand that penis + vagina + 9 months = baby with traits from both parents), then what use are they. It would not be too much of a stretch for such a tribe to start resorting to male infanticide and then capturing males from other tribes. This might continue long after the fertility-compromised generations, possibly terrifying the surrounding tribes, especially any that were patriarchal.

Oh, hey! We got ourselves some Amazons here.

Of course, there's a flaw here. Both fairies and Amazons are supposed to be extremely beautiful. Well, so was Cleopatra, and the surviving images of her indicate that she was, in repose, rather plain. And not all fairies are beautiful.

Besides. I'm taking stuff and galloping off with it as usual, although I may well use #2 in something. Hrm...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Homo interbreeding?

I've always been a believer in interbreeding between Cro Magnon man and Neanderthals. Even when the scientific establishment insisted it didn't (and in some cases couldn't) happen. Now we have evidence that it did, and also evidence that anatomically modern humans in Asia interbred with another related species, called Denisovans.

Shock, horror! The common belief is that Neanderthals would have been unattractive...short, stocky and with weird faces. And, of course, that belief can be reversed, with an argument that they would not have found us attractive either. And yet, it happened. In fact, it may have brought with it distinct benefits for the descendants of those crosses.

So. How did it happen? I'm going to bring together two things here.

First, genetic studies have indicated that human biodiversity in Africa is considerably greater than outside Africa. This is evidence of a genetic bottleneck. A bottleneck occurs either when a species is dramatically reduced in numbers or when a relatively small population is isolated. In this case, we're dealing with the latter. The vast majority of humans stayed in Africa. Only a relatively small number, fueled perhaps by population pressure, perhaps by curiosity, came up through the Middle East to be the ancestors of all non-Africans. The common theory is that all of the differences are adaptations; pale skin to absorb more vitamin D, slanted eyes in plains dwellers might allow for better vision of objects coming over the horizon.

Hold that thought for a second. Because the second thing I would bring up is a social science study done a few years ago in Washington, D.C. Through anonymous questionnaires and also some face to face interviews, social scientists did an intensive study of mate choice amongst teenagers in the city. One of their more interesting results was a significant minority of young people preferentially choosing to date outside their ethnicity. This is despite lingering stigmas against mix-raced relationships, although the miscegenation taboo has faded, it is not completely gone. If they were just looking for more choice, then that would explain not caring. But what explains a sixteen year old Caucasian male who will only date African American girls?

The answer is, of course, instinct. A lot of people would like to think we freely choose our mates, in a society in which most marriage taboos have broken down. But falling in love generally makes little conscious sense. Cupid has a bow...and a blindfold. Studies have indicated that chemistry has a strong impact, and one of the most striking results was that humans tend to choose mates with different MHC genes. These effect the immune system, and being heterozygous for these genes is a definite advantage in terms of not getting sick.

Is that white kid in Washington instinctively looking for a mate with a lot of different genes for some reason? Is he part of a mechanism designed to increase biodiversity in the species by pushing individuals who pass a certain point of homozygosity into choosing a mate from an outcross line?

If that is true, and here we are in speculation, we have a population of homo sapiens coming out of Africa. This is a relatively small population that has now become isolated from other tribes. Homozygosity, therefore, increases. As it does, so do individuals affected by the drive to find an outcross.

This, surely, would have resulted in at least some of these affected individuals selecting mates outside their species. As the numbers of Neanderthals declined thanks to climate change and competition from us, then their homozygosity would also have increased. Interbreeding would have increased and eventually sealed the death knell of the less numerous species, leaving only a few marker genes.

Maybe. We still don't know exactly what effects that ancient outcrossing had on modern man. But for those interested in science fiction, there are all kinds of ways you can go with the outcrossing instinct. For example, would it drive people on an isolated colony to leave to seek a mate? Would it have an effect on interstellar trade?

All food for thought.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Read carefully

Just a note to new writers. Read everything a publisher says carefully. Traps for the unwary may lie in submission guidelines as well as in contracts.

Here are a few red flags to look for:

1. Contests that ask for rights to all entries, not just the winner. Newspapers are commonly guilty of this. It's a scam; they get all the content provided and only have to pay out one, often relatively small prize. Also, nobody should get your rights without a contract. Even if they promise to give them back.

2. Publishers who talk about how hard it is to be published. Note, this is a different thing from a publisher saying they are selective, or releasing their acceptance statistics. This is 'We know how hard it is to be published. Let us help.' Behind this language lurks, most of the time, a predator. That predator is the vanity publisher in real publisher clothing. Often their victims do not know they are going to be charged to be published until they see the contract. Alternatively, publishers or agents who admit to being failed writers. They often don't intend to rip off their clients, but seldom know what they are doing. (Agents who also write? That's a different matter).

3. Publishers that seem to lack basic knowledge. For example, it is generally considered bad form to register copyright on work before submitting it. Therefore, a publisher that advises you to do so, may not know what they are doing. Many, many authors have fallen into the trap of signing with a promising new publisher that then promptly went out of business...tying their rights up for months, if not years. Sometimes, it can be hard to avoid this one, but think very hard before entrusting your novel to a publisher that has no track record.

4. Never let your friend publish your book. You're likely to end up with no book...and no friend.