Far As You Can Publish

FarAsYouCanGo

Cover by Jenn Reese at Tiger Bright Studios

So I’m dipping my toes into the pond of self-publishing, or independent publishing, or indie writering, or whatever we’re calling it these days. (I call it consignment selling primarily through the systems and controls of the giant, powerful corporation, Amazon.) And I’m doing it with a short story, “Far As You Can Go,” which previously appeared in my chapbook from my friends at Tropism Press, in Gardner Dozois’ Year’s Best Science Fiction (24th Annual Collection), in podcast form at Podcastle, and on various illegal download sites.

Here’s why I’m doing it: Because self-publishing is not going away, and I imagine at some point in the future I’ll be self-publishing novels either out of choice or necessity. Ideally, it’ll be out of choice, and it will be in conjunction with traditional publishing, and I’ll be a happy hybrid author. Or I’ll be self-publishing because traditional publishers will no longer be interested in my books, and self-publishing will then be my only viable option. I hope that situation never arises, of course, but a smart writer prepares for more than one eventuality. In any case, I want to start accumulating self-publishing experience now, with low-stakes projects, so that I know more or less what I’m doing if I need to or want to self-publish higher-stakes projects.

Right now the story is available (with an awesome cover from Jenn Reese’s Tiger Bright Studios, whom I can’t recommend highly enough) on Kobo, Nook, and Kindle. I’m pricing the Kobo version the lowest ($1.00), since Kobo partners with independent bookstores, and I like to encourage readers to shop at independent bookstores whenever possible. As I write this, the Nook and Kindle versions are at the same price ($1.99), but that’s only until Amazon processes the pending price change I made to make the Kindle version the most expensive ($2.99).

I also want to sell through Apple on iTunes, but they’re taking a long time to authorize my vendor account (they say it takes an average of seven days, while the other services did it in a couple of hours or less). So, whenever Apple gets around to that, I’ll make the story available there as well.

Again, I’m doing this as a learning experience, and any money I make is swell, but right now it’s not my primary motivation. If it goes well (meaning I make some money from it and don’t find it to be a colossal pain in my butt), I’ll probably start putting up other previously printed stories. And my main short-term goal is to write a long-ish short story or novella that serves as a sequel to The Boy at the End of the World. I get a lot of email asking when/if there’ll be a sequel, and self-publishing seems like the ideal venue to make that happen.

So, please don’t look at this blog entry as an exhortation to buy my stuff, but rather as me chronicling my first foray into indiehugecopororationconsignmentwritering.

 

 

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Letters from Lincoln Elementary School

Yesterday I got a pack of letters from fourth graders at Lincoln Elementary School in Ellensburg, Washington. They were awesome, each and every one. They told me about their favorite books and their favorite sports and asked me questions about The Boy at the End of the World, and many of them included illustrations of robots and last boys and mammoths and gadgets and weaponized prairie dogs. Getting letters like this is one of the very best things about being a middle-grade writer.

Here are just two of my favorites, each by a different Dylan.

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Pacific Fire – Cover Reveal

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Here’s the cover Pacific Fire, the second book in the California Bones trilogy, due out January 27, 2015. Isn’t it swell? The art is by Cliff Nielsen, also responsible for the cover of California Bones and, incidentally, Norse Code. And here’s the cover copy penned by my publisher, Tor Books:

I’m Sam. I’m just this guy. 

Okay, yeah, I’m a golem created from the substance of his own magic by the late Hierarch of Southern California. With a lot of work, I might be able to wield magic myself. I kind of doubt it, though. Not like Daniel Blackland can. 

Daniel’s the reason the Hierarch’s gone and I’m still alive. He’s also the reason I’ve lived my entire life on the run. Ten years of never, ever going back to Los Angeles. Daniel’s determined to protect me. To teach me. 

But it gets old. I’ve got nobody but Daniel. I’ll never do anything normal. Like attend school. Or date a girl.

Now it’s worse. Because things are happening back in LA. Very bad people are building a Pacific firedrake, a kind of ultimate weapon of mass magical destruction.  Daniel seemed to think only he could stop them. Now Daniel’s been hurt. I managed to get us to the place run by the Emmas. (Many of them. All named Emma. It’s a long story.) They seem to be healing him, but he isn’t going anyplace soon.

Do I even have a reason for existing, if it isn’t to prevent this firedrake from happening? I’m good at escaping from things. Now I’ve escaped from Daniel and the Emmas, and I’m on my way to LA. 

This may be the worst idea I ever had.

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Some Recent Guest Blogs & Interviews

Here’s some recent blathering I’ve done in various places about California Bones and a little bit of other stuff:

The Middle-Grade Question at Locus Online, in which I talk about writing for adult audiences versus middle-grade audiences.

You Are the Magic You Eat at Fantasy Book Critic

Interview with Paul Weimer at SF Signal

Interview at My Bookish Ways

Ask the Author at Goodreads, an ongoing thing in which questions are asked of me and I answer them with varying degrees of seriousness.

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Planned Parenthood Giveaway

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Update: 

I just notified the winner of the signed book plus other stuff, which I determined by assigning each donator a number in the order in which they donated and then used a random number generator to select the winning number.

I don’t know how much was raised total, because not every donator revealed the amount of their donation (which I’m totally fine with, it was not a requirement), but I know we raised a minimum of $250. The money was donated directly to Planned Parenthood, and everyone who entered forwarded me verification.

I had originally planned just to give stuff away randomly, and I’m really happy folks chose to participate.

So, thank you very much!

How’d you like to enter a drawing for some stuff and donate to an important cause at the same time?

Here’s what it’s for: Planned Parenthood, a key provider of reproductive healthcare, education, and information.

Here’s what I’m giving away: A signed copy of California Bones, a Tor.com tote bag, a complete set of four character coasters, and a cool round card thing with the manhole cover derived from the dust jacket art.

Here’s how to enter: Make a donation to the Planned Parenthood U.S. national organization or a local chapter. Email (gregvan@gmail.com) to tell me (not Facebook or Twitter, because having everything in my email inbox will help me keep track of entrants). I’d love to see a screenshot of the donation verification screen, or a photo of your addressed and stamped envelope, but it’s not required. I want to make this easy. I would, however, like to know how much you donated so I can tally it all at the end.

I’ll choose one donator at random who’ll get the signed book and related swag.

I’ll keep the identities of all entrants and winner private unless the winner wants me to say who they are.

I will ship the stuff to you. Since I don’t want to have to pay a bunch for postage, I’m limiting it to addresses within the United States.

All donators will be entered into the drive up until Wednesday, July 9, 12:00 P.M. EDT. I’ll also retroactively count any donations made starting from Monday, June 30, 12:01 A.M.

I think that should cover it. Let me know if you have any questions.

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Tour Book

Last week I asked people who came to my signings to sign my reading copy, and now I have a cool souvenir from my tour.
reading copy souvenir

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California Bones West Coast Book Tour

I got back from my West Coast tour for California Bones late Saturday night, and I would like to tell you about it, because I am all about the sharing. I didn’t take many pictures myself, but I stole some from Todd Young, Jenn Reese, Heather Shaw, Sunil Patel, and Jason Hough.

I started off at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, the store I consider home base because they are always so awesome to me. This was my launch and I brought pizza.

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From there I headed up to Borderlands Books in San Francisco, where I jabbered and read and signed.

Here I am, doing some jabbering.

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I got to meet people I knew only from the internets, like Sunil Patel. I think we look like brothers.

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And in one of the highlights of the whole tour, I got to hang out with my dear friend, Heather Shaw.

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The next day, I drove up the 101, stopping at a few bookstores along the way to sign stock, and ended up in Petaluma, California. I took time for a sandwich and a pint at Lagunitas Brewpub, which was just what the beer doctor ordered. Touring can be a bit tiring, and it’s important to feed and nourish oneself to maintain tiptop author shape.

The bookstore was the wonderful Copperfield’s, and within minutes of walking through the door they one of my favorite shops in the world. If you can get to Copperfield’s in Petaluma or one of their other locations, go. It’ll be worth it. This signing was particularly nice because a big contingent of my wife’s side of the family showed up. They bought an embarrassing number of books to support me. I think they made up relatives to buy books for.

From there, southward to the Los Angeles area for Mysterious Galaxy‘s Redondo Beach store. A bunch of my LA friends came out for the signing, which I really appreciated.

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Finally, I headed up to University Book Store in Seattle. Again, I got support from friends and family. Touring is a weird thing, hoping people show up, hoping seats are filled, and seeing friendly and familiar faces just can’t be beat.

Here I am saying something or other.

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I’m grateful to my publisher, Tor Books, for arranging the tour and sending me out. I’m grateful to friends and family and even readers who didn’t know me who came out. And I’m super-grateful to the great bookstores who hosted me. Big shout outs to the brilliant and dedicated booksellers who welcomed me. I feel lucky that I got to step into their shops, let alone speak and sign there. Thanks to Patrick at Mysterious Galaxy, Jude at Borderlands, Amber at Copperfield’s, and Duane at University Bookstore. You folks are among the best at what you do, and what you do is important.

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My hopes for the California Bones book tour

So, tomorrow I start my book tour. I mean, my first stop is only 20 minutes from my home, but that’s just because I was smart when I chose where to live. But after the first stop there’ll be airplanes and things. I’ll be reading and signing at bookstores in San Diego, San Francisco, Petaluma, Los Angeles, and Seattle. Here’s the schedule.

I’m a realistic person, and though this is my first tour, this book is not my first rodeo, and I’ve done enough bookstore signings and gone to enough authors’ bookstore signings to have realistic expectations for what it’s going to be like. At the same time, I am an optimistic person, so I do have some hopes for how things go. Here are some of my hopes.

I hope people show up.
I hope the people who show up have fun.
I hope people buy the book.
I hope the bookstores hosting me are happy with the number of books they sell.
I hope people like me.
I hope my pants do not smell unless it is a pleasant smell.
I hope I am not descended upon by a flock of parakeets whose claws have been replaced by razor sharp surgical steel.
I hope I get to eat lunch.
I hope my travels are smooth and that I get to my destinations with time to spare.
I hope I do not get a urethral infection.
I hope I have fun.
And, of course, I hope to see some of you this week.

Remember, the San Diego stop at Mysterious Galaxy features free pizza. No purchase necessary.

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Definitive California Bones Tour Schedule (including Phoenix Comicon)

 

Here’s my final California Bones tour schedule, including Phoenix Comicon. I hope to see some of you!

Phoenix Comicon – June 5 – June 8
California Bones‘ official release date is June 10, but copies for purchase will be available early at the Mysterious Galaxy booth. In addition to the scheduled signing at the Tor booth (see below) I’ll also be hanging out quite a bit at my table in the author’s alley.

And then, my official tour. It’s my first ever!

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Jay Lake

We all lost Jay Lake this morning, and I am so sad for his daughter and partner and family and close friends, and for all of us who were friends with Jay or knew him or were touched by his life and words. There are an awful lot of us.

Several years back Jay told me he had a short story that was giving him trouble and he wondered if I might take a crack at it. Sounded like an adventure, so I agreed to it, and he sent me the story. It was a full, complete draft with a strange setting and colorful characters and a complex backstory and redolent with Jay’s rich prose. I said, “This story is done, Jay. All I can do is mess it up.” And Jay said he wanted me to mess it up. That’s what he felt the story needed. So I messed it up. I think his draft was better, but I was honored he chose to collaborate with me.

The last time I saw Jay was at San Diego Comic-Con last year. We had lunch, and on the way back to the convention center Jay submitted himself to the ministrations of a street hypnotist. The guy looked a little seedy, but Jay said he was terminally ill, so what’s the worst that could happen? The hypnotist did his thing, and he made Jay feel as if he were being tickled. Jay giggled uncontrollably, and his face was a delight to behold. Then we made our way back to the convention center, and we shared a big hug. I wish it hadn’t been the last time I saw him. I wish he’d gotten better and was still alive. But I’m grateful that he left me with a memory of smiles and laughter.

Thanks for everything, Jay. You were a very good man.

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