Imagination Sinkhole

Behind the Bobo

Following in the tradition of behind-the-scenes posts like The Making of Idiot’s Mask, I invite you now to take a look at the genesis of my most recent serialization effort, Bobo, in which I will share my originating ideas, my thoughts on the themes in the story, and even some “deleted scenes” that didn’t end up in the final novella.

Also: Bobo is available right now in every e-book flavour under the sun, including but not limited to Kindle and Nook or Kobo or iOS or Sony and Palm, and even as a good old fashioned PDF. ($3)

Bobo for President

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My Thoughts Exactly

When Flounders Unite, or I’m a “well-known author”

Got this note a few days ago from a friend  — the fan of my books I mentioned in a recent post who treated me to dinner in St. Louis:

My grandfather defined “well known” as meaning that everyone who knows you, knows you well…

I was talking to a colleague in my latest venture, the other day, while we were both in Boston for a meeting.  Somehow it came up that I’d worked at the Mill.  She said “Oh!  If you’ve worked there, there’s a book you should read!”.  I said: “I’ve read it”.  She said, “Oh, no, this one is hard to find”.  I said: “… and it was written by my pal John Sundman,  late of D.G., now a fireman”.  Good fun watching the jaw drop.

Apparently she knows you too: $reader2.  Best wishes from both of us.

[signed]-$reader1

In fact, I’ve also been to dinner with $reader2 –in Menlo Park, California, six years ago. Our dinner party included Dear Wife, $reader2’s husband, and KFJC disc jockey Ann Arbor, who has read portions of my novels on her legendary radio show “Dancing in the Fast Lane.”  (I got in touch with $reader1 after she sent me a check in the mail for 9 autographed copies of Acts of the Apostles to give to her friends — that’s how much she liked it.  (Buy ten books from me, and I’ll get in touch with you, too! Maybe we can go out for dinner sometime!) I don’t recall how Ann Arbor & $reader2 became friends.  I vaguely recall that my books were the catalyst, but I’m not sure about that.)

It is nice to be “well known” as a writer, to have passionate fans who become my friends. And it’s fun when people meet & randomly discover they share an interest in my books. I kinda wish the fan club had a few more members, but hey, as Ray Davies murmurs on “Muswell Hillbillies”, the best Kinks album ever, “it’s so lovely to be wanted. . .”

(In preparing this little post I wasted an hour trying to find a youtube clip of Rocky & Bullwinkle where Rocky finds a message in a bottle and Bullwinkle says “Fan mail from some flounder?” and Rocky says, “No, this is something really important!” before they cut to a commercial. Anyway, that’s it for me in this sketch. For something really important you’ll probably have to wait for the next post from Stearns or Harold.)

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My Thoughts Exactly

Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist Geraldine Brooks talks with Wetmachine about the future of publishing

Today Wetmachine talks with Geraldine Brooks, whose novel March won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2006, about trends in publishing. She joins the roster of Wetmachine “Whither Publishing?” interviewees including Writer’s Digest impresaria Jane Friedman,  ebook pioneer Mark Coker of Smashwords.com, and book designer extraordinaire Joel Friedlander.

I met Geraldine Brooks when we were seated next to each other at a small dinner party about two months ago. (Geraldine and her husband Tony Horwitz (also a recipient of the Pulitzer Prize — his is for journalism) and I have many mutual friends, including my wife Betty, who directs the lecture series at the Vineyard Haven Public Library, where Tony has been a speaker and Geraldine is on the hook for a talk next year.)

At that dinner party Geraldine and I discovered that we had many similar interests, including a shared taste for dystopian science fiction novels — the very kind of book I write. I offered to drop off a few copies of my books at her house and she said, “Oh, please do.” So the next day I hoped on my bicycle and rode to the address she had given me, and that’s how I discovered where she lived and that I had met her young son Bizu some 9 months earlier, when the fire truck to which I’m assigned, T___ 651, was parked in front of their house during a routine “furnace backfire” call. When I got home from dropping off my books I sent Geraldine the write-up in my diary about that fire call, and she was thrilled to get it, saying “That’s fantastic.  Thank you so much for sending this. I remember that day quite vividly.  I thought, that’s a very nice man out there, letting Bizu ramble away at him..”

Since then Geraldine & I have become  pals. I think the moral of the story is, if you want to get on the good side of a famous writer and get her to answer questions for your insignificant little blog, let her observe you being nice to her child without having any idea who he is or that she’s observing you through the window.

I’ve attached that diary entry at the end of the interview. Read More »

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My Thoughts Exactly

Guest Post: Chris Kelly on Putting the “punk” into Steampunk

Recently Chris Kelly (@indiechris on twitter) interviewed me on his site Dun Scaith about so-called “biopunk” fiction. Today I’ve invited Chris to tell us a bit about one of the genres he writes in–Steampunk.  This is a genre that, it seems to me, erupted after the publication of The Difference Engine, by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. It’s a kind of alternate history generally set in Victorian times, when steam engines were a dominant technology –before the widespread adoption of, for example, internal combustion engines, telephones, or electricity. It imagines what might have happened if technologies had evolved differently — say, if computers had developed without electricity. I don’t have too much familiarity with this genre, myself, but I do usually attend the Arisia SF convention each year, and I can tell you that as a subject area for discussion, and as an influence on fashion and so forth, Steampunk has a greater influence in some parts of SF fandom than does futurism or “outer space”. It really does get you to wondering, “what if?”.

Below the fold, Chris talks about a particular aspect of the steampunk aesthetic: what makes it “punk”. So without further ado, take it away, Chris!

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My Thoughts Exactly

Self-Publisher Sells Out! How and Why I sold the Rights to my Self-published Novel “Acts of the Apostles” to Underland Press

I recently signed deal with Underland Press, a new, indie publisher founded and led by  Victoria Blake, to give Underland the worldwide rights, electronic and print, to publish my novel Acts of the Apostles in any and all languages in basically any format (printed book, ebook, audiobook, etc).

I’ve been the publisher of this book for eleven years. It has sold pretty well as far as first novels (self- or traditionally published) go, and I have gotten a fair amount of attention for being an innovative self-publishing novelist.

I’ve written that as a self-publisher I get to keep the publisher’s cut as well as the writer’s cut, which means that any publisher would have to offer me a pretty sweet deal before I would consider giving my publisher’s cut to them. And I’ve noted (as have many other people) that in an age when more and more book sales are digital (that is, internet downloads of ebooks), the role of the publisher is less and less relevant.

In fact, over the last six weeks, sales of digital versions of my books have outnumbered sales of printed copies by about 60-1.

So why have I sold my rights to Underland?

Because I want Acts of the Apostles to become a worldwide bestseller. I want sales numbers in the millions. Failing that, it would be at least nice to make some money. I’m gambling that Underland offers the best opportunity for that to happen. Read More »

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My Thoughts Exactly

Turnabout is fair play: Jane Friedman interviews me

A few weeks ago I published a Q&A with Jane Friedman, long-time publisher of Writer’s Digest. Today she returns the favor, posting an interview with me on her Writer’s Digest blog. The topic is Building and Enthusiastic Fan Base as a Self-Publishing Author.

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My Thoughts Exactly

Jane Friedman, long-time publisher of Writer’s Digest, talks with Wetmachine

I first met Jane Friedman sometime around June, 2001, when she called to tell me that my novel Acts of the Apostles had won the Writer’s Digest National Self-Published Book Award for that year (in the “genre” category:  a juried competition with 324 entrants, ahem; I digress).

That call took place pretty early in Jane’s 12 year career at F+W Media (and pretty early in my self-publishing career, now that you mention it.) Her talent was obvious and she rose quickly. In 2008 she was named the publisher of Writer’s Digest, the No. 1 resource for working writers. In her varied roles at F+W, she was responsible for the management and growth of multiple book lines, annual directories, newsstand and subscriber-driven magazines, online education and services, e-commerce, print and online advertising, as well as national writing events and competitions.

Jane recently left WD to take a position as assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati, and she now teaches full-time in the e-media department of CCM. She’s a frequent speaker at writing and publishing events; her focus is on helping writers understand the transformation underway in the media and publishing industries, and how they can be successful and in control of their careers.

I recently asked Jane if she would like to be interviewed for Wetmachine and SelfPublishing Review. She said yes, and I sent her some questions; her answers appear below the fold (and will appear in SPR tomorrow). If you read my recent interview with Mark Coker of Smashwords, you’ll notice some overlap in my questions. I think it’s interesting to see where Jane agrees with Mark and where she differs. But all of her answers are thoughtful and some of them are quite intriguing.
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My Thoughts Exactly

Smashwords founder Mark Coker talks to Wetmachine about the future of publishing

Smashwords is a service for helping small and self-publishers format ebooks in diverse formats (for example: kindle, epub, PDF, Palm) and distribute them through diverse retail channels (for example Amazon, Apple, BN, Kobo, and Smashwords itself). A few weeks ago I sent Smashwords founder Mark Coker a note asking if I could interview him for Wetmachine & SelfPublishing Review. He said yes; I sent him some questions about the current & future state of book publishing, and he answered. His replies appear below the fold.

I found his answers interesting and direct, and I think you’ll enjoy reading what he had to say.
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My Thoughts Exactly

SXSW Dreaming

The deadline for submitting panel proposals for South by Southwest Interactive kind of snuck up on me. I learned just before midnight last Friday that the deadline was midnight on Sunday. It turned out that I had a bunch of stuff to do on Saturday and Sunday, so only spent a few hours Sat & Sun evening working on my panel proposal. The hard limit for the proposal was 1,500 characters. My first draft was twice as long. So as the clock ticked towards midnight Sunday I took out my trusty machete and started hacking.

I’m not really happy with the final proposal I submitted, but I thought the 3,000 character draft wasn’t that bad. In any event, it’s a panel that I would like to be on, or, failing that, attend.

So anyway, below you’ll find longer draft, the “before machete” version. Soon enough, I hope, you’ll see my “after machete” version on the SXSW website & I’ll bug yzall for your votes. Thanks.

Self-Publishing Novelists 2011: A Report from the Trenches.

We’ve been hearing for a while that new technologies for authoring, designing, printing, publishing, marketing, distributing and consuming books will disrupt the traditional book publishing business model and empower the everyman self-publisher.
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My Thoughts Exactly

Ass over teakettle and a farewell to free ebooks

About three weeks ago I had freak accident on my bicycle. My chain froze as I was pedalling up a hill. I went ass over teakettle and performed a lovely three-point faceplant in the weeds (2 hands + 1 face = 3 ), spraining eight fingers & two thumbs and bloodying up my left cheek, which led to two visits to the emergency room and one to my doctor who told me that much of the symptoms in my hand were coming from my neck, where CT scans revealed “moderate to severe arthritis.”

As I picked myself up off the ground, in shock at the gross betrayal of me by my insubordinate bicycle and angry at gravity, and with my hands hurting ferociously and tingling in equal measure, and later, after calling my daughter, who was off in our family’s only working car, to ask her to come drive me to the hospital, I realized that I was not Cory Doctorow. Even after my daughter had picked up my wife who took me to the emergency room at Martha’s Vineyard hospital & I had heavenly dilaudid pumping into my vein I still was not Cory.

I’m mostly all better now. I even rode my bike a lot yesterday, despite the heat, right down to the Tisbury Street Fair, where I served strawberry shortcake with the guys in the Firefighters Association. It’s been three weeks since my bike mishap & I’m still not Cory. Consequently, I’ve stopped giving my books away for free.
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