Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Special: INTERN's Guide to Royalty Statements

This morning, INTERN found a blood-stained envelope stuffed under the door of her cabin. When she opened it, a royalty statement tumbled out, accompanied by a frantic note:


When INTERN inspected the royalty statement more closely (as you can do by clicking on it), she began to see why...

The royalty statement contained all the usual contents (a quick glossary is included below to jog your minds). But how to explain the sinister royalty rate of 6.66%? Or the curious use of the number 8 in the word "St8tement?"

INTERN wanted to believe that this chilling royalty statement was the work of a psychopath...but alas, it was practically indistinguishable from pretty much EVERY royalty statement INTERN has seen, right down to the blood stains.

Confused? Here's how to decipher the statement:

Royalty Statement Glossary

Regular sales – Low Discount: The number of books sold at a "low discount" to bookstores etc.

Regular sales -High Discount: The number of books sold at a bigger discount to
chains, book clubs, etc.

Regular sales – Five Finger Discount: The number of books stolen by local hoodlums

Reserve Against Returns: Amount of $ your publisher is witholding in case bookstores send back unsold boxes of books.

Reserve Against Martinis: Amount of $ your publisher is witholding for Happy Hour.

Total Copies Sold: The number of books your adoring readership has shelled out for.

Total Copies Sold To Your Mom: The number of books your mother has secretly stockpiled in the basement.

$100,000,000,000: The amount of money you figured your book would probably make in its first year.

$40,000: The amount of money you WOULD be making per year if you had chosen a reasonable profession like teaching or dental hygiene.

3.14159: Pi.

1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21: Fibbonaci sequence.

14, 6, 22, 31, 5): Your lucky numbers as revealed by a fortune cookie the accountant was munching on while preparing your royalty statement.


INTERN wishes you a happy Halloween—trade you snickers for reeses...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

don't shoot the acquisitions editor: a traveler's guide to rejection

When traveling in places like India and Nepal, you are quickly and quite against your will forced into the role of a Rejector (unless you want to come home with six dozen sarees, an altar's worth of Ganesh figurines, three or four dubious musical instruments and a pound of hashish). This gave INTERN new sympathy for the Rejectors in publishing, whose experience, INTERN imagines, must be something similar...

Imagine yourself in a crowded marketplace where you are shopping for shoes. Spread out before you are dozens of stalls where local cobblers are hard at work, surrounded by heaps of colorful shoes in all different sizes and styles.

"Oh man!" you think to yourself, your heart tingling with anticipation. "This is going to be the BEST DAY!"

You LOVE shoes. Nothing makes you happier than finding the perfect pair. You take shoe shopping so seriously it's practically your job. You stride towards the first stall, drawn at once towards towards a leather sandal in a style you haven't seen before.

Noting your interest, the cobbler immediately begins pitching his ware.

"This is the most beautiful sandal!" he sings. "Made with the finest leather! Ostrich leather, extremely rare!"

You turn the sandals over in your hands, inspecting the workmanship. You're a little dubious about the cobbler's claim about ostrich leather, but the leather is quite lovely. As you run your fingers over the stitchwork, the cobbler continues his stream of talk.

"You are most beautiful lady!" he says. "I give you good price! Unbelievable price! You try them on, beautiful lady!"

Charmed in spite of yourself by the cobbler's flattery, you sit down on the low wooden stool and slip the sandals on. Or rather, you try to slip them on. It turns out they're two sizes too small.

Giving the cobbler an apologetic smile, you put the sandals back on the pile.

"Too small," you say.

"Too small?" he says. "OK beautiful lady. Come again tomorrow, I'll have sandals two sizes bigger ready for you."

"That's OK," you say.

"You come back tomorrow! I work all night to make bigger size for you! I won't sleep until they are ready! Beautiful lady!"

"Really, I don't think I want—"

"Beautiful lady!"

You scurry off and try to melt into the crowd before he can make any more promises for things you didn't even ask for.


At the next stall, an irate cobbler chases you all the way down the block waving a pair of dilapidated plastic Dora the Explorer thongs in your face, despite your repeated shouts that you are NOT in the market for children's shoes.

At the next stall, you spot a pair of heart-stopping red stilettos. But they're just too similar to a pair you bought last month, and there's only so much room in your closet. You force yourself to put them back on the shelf, giving the cobbler your highest compliments.

At the next stall, you find some amazing clogs carved out of local wood. The cobbler is a genius, a craftsman of the highest order. But when you call up Harry at your personal Shoe Approval Panel to tell him all about them, he cuts you off mid-gush. "You've already blown the budget on clogs this season," he snaps. "You're supposed to be looking for running shoes with decent arch support."

At the next stall, you try on a pair of alpaca boots decorated with sea shells. Harry at the Shoe Approval Panel gives you the go-ahead to make an offer, but just when you're laying your rupees on the table, a rich New Yorker appears out of nowhere and throws down a stack of hundred dollars bills. The cobbler's eyes bulge out of his head. You frantically dial Harry. "I need more money! This New Yorker's trying to steal my sea shell boots!"

You appeal to the cobbler. "I can't offer you more money, but I really CARE about these boots. I'll wear them every day!" But the cobbler is already bagging up the boots. The rich New Yorker sniggers at you and swaggers away, boots in hand. Your sense of loss and disappointment is so acute you start to cry right there in the marketplace. The cobbler looks away in embarrassment. You slink off for a restorative cup of chai.

Once you've pulled yourself together, you head back into the marketplace to look at more shoes.

At one stall, you really hit it off with the cobbler, who is smart and friendly and gives you a fascinating history of shoe-making while you're browsing. You really WANT to buy shoes from this person. You could see yourself becoming good friends, and visiting her in her workshop, and making her shoes famous all over the world. But when it comes right down to it, you're just not a platform heels kind of person. They make you look ridiculous. You make THEM look ridiculous. And doesn't this extremely talented cobbler deserve to sell her shoes to a person who can do them justice?

The next few stalls contain shoes that are fake versions of brand-name shoes, shoes that are hopelessly overpriced, and shoes that look neat but just don't fit your feet. You chat with dozens of cobblers, most of them delightful people who are devoted to their craft. Every time you walk away from such a cobbler without buying anything, you feel a little twinge of guilt—but what are you supposed to do? If the shoe doesn't fit, it doesn't fit. And if you bought shoes from every cobbler who came along, you'd end up with a closet full of shoes you never wear.


By the end of the day, you've "rejected" countless pairs of shoes. It feels like half the cobblers in the marketplace are mad at you. Even the monkeys swinging in the treetops bare their teeth and hiss when you walk by. You try to remember where you saw that pharmacy. You could use some tylenol. And possibly a Valium.

Why do cobblers need to take everything so personally? If you were an octopus hat vendor and you went around to the cobblers' stalls trying to sell them octopus hats, most of them would almost certainly reject you. Nobody OWES it to you to buy an octopus hat, no matter how frustrated you feel.

You start to fantasize about becoming an octopus hat vendor, just to show all those cobblers what it's like to have to turn someone down.

"Beautiful octopus hat!" you would say, slapping the octopus onto their heads. "Made with finest tentacles!"

You wonder if you are becoming delirious.

You wonder if you have malaria.

You hail an autorickshaw and head back to your room for a nap.

The next morning, you head to another shoe market, where another crowd of cobblers are waiting to woo, frustrate, and enchant you with their infinite piles of shoes...

Monday, October 24, 2011

the real actual truth about traveling in India

INTERN is back!

INTERN is back!

*hands out packets of incense and yak cheese*
*inquires as to whether or not postcards mailed three weeks ago have arrived*
*makes elliptical references to someone called Guru G. without explaining who this person is or why it is suddenly necessary for INTERN to dress in orange robes and eat only "high-vibrational" foods*

INTERN missed you all very, very much. She is delighted to be back and spent the entire plane ride home composing all sorts of posts in her head. But before she returns to things writing and publishing-related, she wanted to share a few insights gleaned on her travels, just in case you yourself are planning a trip to India or thereabouts.

The Real Truth About Traveling in India

When you tell a veteran traveler that you are going to South Asia for the first time, they will invariably tell you two things:

1. The roads are c-r-a-a-a-a-a-z-y.

2. You are going to get the trots like you wouldn't believe.

These two claims are followed by a knowing chuckle, and perhaps an anecdote involving crazy drivers and/or gastric distress, often both at the same time.

However, after spending roughly a month and a half in the subcontinent herself, INTERN found that the picture her informants painted wasn't entirely accurate. Here are some slight corrections:

Old Claim #2: You are going to get the trots like you wouldn't believe.

Real Actual Truth:

Over the course of your time in India, you will experience fever, headache, insomnia, loss of appetite, minor cuts and bruises, sunburn, upper respiratory infection, delusions, hallucinations, and temporary deafness.

You will not, however, get the trots.

Your host's family will include one retired medical doctor whom INTERN will refer to as Dr. Sandesh. Noting your shivers at the breakfast table one morning, Dr. Sandesh (who speaks no English) will slip you a small white pill, which you will gulp down with your chai. A little while later, you will start to feel sort of--better.

The next morning, you will be reading Rabindranath Tagore poems on the couch when white-haired Dr. Sandesh will shuffle in and press two more little white pills into your palm, giving you a magnanimous smile as he does so. Although your fever went away in the night, you have a bit of a headache, so you thank him profusely and take them right away.

A little while later, you feel--like--totally better, and you go wander around the neighborhood sniffing the tropical flowers by yourself and have a very good time.

Over the next few days, you and Dr. Sandesh establish a friendly routine. You try refusing the pills 'cause you're really not sick anymore, but he's so sweet and it's so nice of him to reach out like that, across the language barrier, so you always end up taking them.

In the afternoons, you go out by yourself and splash around in the Ganges, drink chai from little clay cups, and gaze at temples until the monks shuffle you out. You never thought India would be this mellow. You never thought you'd FEEL this mellow in such a new and overstimulating environment. But it's like everything is soft and rosy and OK, even when you get caught in some kind of protest and your Metro station gets shut down and there are police shouting into loudspeakers and you can't's like, just roll with it, man.

You start to wonder if India really does cause spiritual transformation like your friend who's into meditation claims.

Then one day Techie Boyfriend will leave for work a little late, and he'll witness your morning ritual with Dr. Sandesh.

"What are those pills?" he'll ask. Several younger members of your host family will be called in to confer.

It will emerge that Dr. Sandesh is slightly senile and that you have in fact been taking a high dose of Valium every morning for the past week and a half and not cold medication as you had presumed.

You will be mildly disappointed that your rosy outlook is not, in fact, due to a spiritual transformation.

You will feel mildly depressed for the next few days.

You will not, however, get the trots.

Old Claim #1: The roads are c-r-a-a-a-a-a-z-y.

Real Actual Truth:

Yes, the roads are cr-a-a-a-a-zy. The drivers honk once, then put the pedal to the floor.

However, you will have taken so many of Dr. Sandesh's little white pills that here's the thing: you don't give a flying $@%#.
You're so mellow you could be thrown out the front seat of an autorickshaw when it takes a corner too fast, and instead of feeling upset or shaken or at all ruffled, you will pick yourself up, smile dozily at the wide-eyed autorickshaw driver, and wander away to find some of those nice Bengali sweets before it gets too hot.

That is the Real Actual Truth about traveling in India, and now you know.


What have you all been up to while INTERN was away? Who's working on a new manuscript? Who got an agent? Who found some interesting mushrooms in the forest? Let's catch up! INTERN wants to know!