Monday, March 8, 2010

Charlatans and Thieves

Here's the truth about truth: you'll never get the "real" story about anything that's ever happened.


Human beings have a propensity for skewing reality toward their own point of view.

Take my lies last Friday. Several people identified #6, When I was twelve, my mother took me on a cross-country camping trip in search of dinosaurs, sulfurous hot springs, and giant stone men, as the truth. Yes, we took a trip (in a camper) to see Dinosaur National Monument in Utah, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, and Mt. Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota. True.

But, all of the others held an element of truth:

1. The least true of them all, although I do have a score of unusual birthmarks and one sort of looks like Texas.

2. I did have a cat named MacArthur (General MacArthur was his full name). The others...not so much.

3. I didn't write the story, but I had plenty of nightmares and trouble sleeping after that funeral.

4. I dated a pre-med student once. (at least she said she was pre-med...) We did look at cadavers. She wouldn't let me snip an ear, though.

5. Oh, you know I will. I just can't keep doing it every week. (too many irons in the fire)

7. Totally true except for the part about stabbing the other kid. What did I offer for the exchange that year? Two Star Wars action figures from Return of the Jedi. What did I get? Lifesafers. Suckage.

So I lie. And I lie well enough to hide the truth some of the time. Do you feel robbed? Am I a thief of the first order?

Hope not.

But Robert Swartwood has a nice post today about a different kind of thief, and he raises questions that bear serious discussion. As to the New York Times article about e-book prices, just remember that stakeholders (editors and their ilk), have a stake or investment (hence the name "stakeholder") in keeping themselves relevant. And they are relevant. For now.

Me? I'm done giving away my work for nothing. Meaning, I will still give away my work to venues which increase my audience (I told you I was a liar), charities, and direct-to-my readers. Me to you. Free doesn't need a middle-man unless that middle-man brings something to the table (e.g., bigger audience).

I've got something free to offer in the next couple of weeks. Me to you. We only have to invite a middle man if you want.

Edited to add: You can preview a bit of "Empty Vessels" a short forthcoming in Morpheus Tales #8, here.


Jamie Eyberg said...

You mean middle men have to earn their keep? What a concept.

Rebecca Nazar said...

I agree with you. Sometimes exposure is more valuable than the semi-pro rate of $10-15/lower circulation.

Livesafers, if butterscotch, are priceless. ; )

Katey said...

Phew! For a minute I was really worried there'd be no more free stuff on Fridays! But MORE free stuff, well, I'm on board. ;)

And yay for lies. What would we do with ourselves without them?

Jeremy D Brooks said...

That's how I figger it, too...I've "sold" to FTL markets that have such low viewership that I would have been better off putting the story on my blog.

Aaron Polson said...

Jamie - Being irrelevant is death.

Becca - I've found Every Day Fiction lands me the most blog/website hits on publication day, and I gladly let them keep the $3.

Katey - I'm okay with free. Mom always told me to share my toys.

Jeremy - True. It took me a good long time to understand the lesson, though.

Cate Gardner said...

I languished in FTL for a long, long time - you're so right about the free/middle-man business, especially as most FTL are only read by the contributors.

Fox Lee said...

Ugh, birthmarks. I see a dermatologist once a year just to keep track of them. If I see an unusual one, I freak right the f*ck out.

Aaron Polson said...

Cate - I've had more rejections since trying better markets, but the acceptances are that much sweeter.

Natalie - I had one removed from the bottom of my foot once. And, of course, they had to do a biopsy.

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

I see you have your dander up, Mr. Polson.
There is shampoo for that.
Oh, and I love rum and butter Lifesavers.
Just saying.

Aaron Polson said...

Cathy - Okay, the butter-rum lifesavers are tasty, but we're talking vintage Star Wars here...of course, the kid me didn't get it. I'm all dandery today, aren't I?

Andrea Allison said...

Sorry no middle man to speak of. Can't contribute any further to the audience than myself.

I try to shoot for the better markets, but for now exposure is all I'm getting. For what it's worth, I do agree with you about FTL.

Aaron Polson said...

Andrea - it took me three years to get to this decision, and I still (occasionally) sub to FTL. My criteria is just different than it used to be. If it's more of a literary piece, FTL is okay. For example, Smokelong Quarterly is a hard flash market to break (literary), but they pay nothing. Huge exposure, though.