9.13.2007

And now, it's official -- FINALLY.

As all seven of you who read this journal know, the final, final, FINAL contract finally arrived from Penguin last week. And today, I finally signed it and send it back to the mothership.

I've had some people ask me why the deal that I announced back in April is only now finalizing and going through. Well, it's interesting. I didn't realize it at the time, but I've apparently completely destroyed the traditional method of putting out a book... At least as far as Penguin's legal department is concerned.

I'm going to try to keep this short, but essentially, the major points of the contract negotiation centered around the way I compile and produce my stories, and then arrange the book. Now, internet-based books aren't a new thing at all. Maddox put out The Alphabet of Manliness, and John Hargrave put out Prank the Monkey - and most recently, Drew Curtis's Fark book (which is a fantastic read, by the way) just came out. And these books did their fair share of changing some of the perspective of how the internet plays into the publishing and bookwriting business.

However, none of them (or any other book that we could find in our research) has ever started out with the intention of posting all of the material to a publically-accessible and eternal network that will forever distribute all of the work that will eventually end up in the book.

Sure, books have ended up online after they've been published. And certainly, there is material from the websites of Hargrave, Curtis and Maddox in their books. But my book is more than 85% composed of material I'm posting to MI, which will immediately be indexed by Google Cache and Archive.org.

That means that more than 85% of the material that Penguin just purchased the publishing rights for will be published elsewhere. And that is a very new and very interesting concept to them - because they're making the decision up front to purchase this material knowing this fact.

Now, the actual "we're going to buy your book" thing was never in debate. Once they made the offer and I realized that they haven't yet figured out I don't know how to write my way out of a paper... Um... What's that thing called? Anyway, once I realized that happened, we had a done deal. From April onward (actually, it was agreed to in late February, but I couldn't say nothin' to you chaps at that point), we had a deal. The only thing that had to be hammered out was the terms of the final wording of the contract.

And that took until last week.

First, I had to make sure that I wasn't going to end up inadvertently screwing my publisher by putting stuff up on MI which would be cached. So the language regarding distribution and whatnot had to be visited and revisited.

Next, there are some projects and plans in the works that would see me making audio and possibly video productions of some of the stories that end up on MI (and have previously been in my first book). These count as forms of digital distribution - which means that I might record a story that ends up in the 2nd book, put it out there, and voila - I just screwed my publisher again.

After that, all of the international pieces of those two things had to be figured out and written correctly. Because the intertubes are global, the full text of all this nifty crap I'm writing will be available in, say, Swaziland to anyone who wants it. And Penguin doesn't own the distribution rights in Swaziland - but they do own first right to acquire them.

There were some other things as well, such as deadlines (HAHAHHAHAH! What are THOSE???), editorial schedules and which stories will be edited when, and who gets final say on editorial on a story (this was VITAL to me - if people read a story, then vote on it, then I have to go substantively change what goes into the story, not only am I kinda rewriting my own past, but I'm also violating an agreement you guys have with me, which is I put in the book what you say to put in the book). Some of these things went my way, and some didn't... But I've been assured by my editor and by the publisher dudes that they will not force me to alter the "artistic integrity and intent" of anything I turn over to them.

And why would they? They bought my book, right? And the reason they did is because they somehow decided that they like how I tell the stories I tell, and they like what the stories are about. I mean, if I were doing books about a race of evil beings called the Harinauts and they wanted me to make them more cozy and nice, that'd be one thing... But there's nothing really to be gained to ask me to rewrite a story where I DON'T try to kiss my student teacher, you know?

At any rate, now that this is done, my brain has been freed of one major, major hurdle - one which sat squarely on the paths I use when I'm trying to write stories. And now that it's gone, I honestly believe there will be far more content coming out of me far faster (also, it's now official - I can be sued for not writing).

So like... That's what goes on.