The Files of the Retropolis Registry of Patents
Well, Patently Absurd is very nearly a book. A few days ago I finished the last illustration for The Enigma of the Unseen Doctor, the final story in my series about The Retropolis Registry of Patents, and after that I completed the layout for the print book.
But just having all the stuff for a book isn’t quite the same as finishing a book. Very soon I’ll set up the first proof for the print edition, and that’ll show me all the things that weren’t actually done even though they seemed to be; mainly, that means some adjustments to the illustrations so that they print better. And then there’s the layout for the eBook edition, which is more complicated than usual when you’re dealing with illustrations.
Oh, and those illustrations? There are forty of them. Forty, in a book of about 260 pages.
The first five stories in the volume were serialized at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual, and I wanted an illustration in every page update: that meant an illustration for every 1000 words. I backed that off a little bit for The Enigma of the Unseen Doctor, but it’s the longest story of the bunch by far. So, forty illustrations, plus the title page.
No more serials for me, probably. That’s a lot of illustrations.
Next step: Kickstarter
The rest of the work you have to do to have an actual book, rather than all the stuff you need for one, is to launch it.
This time I plan to do that in pretty much the way that any publisher would. So there will be review copies, copies sent to bookstore buyers, and other expenses. And to meet those expenses I hope to enlist you in the launch through a Kickstarter project that will put an ARC (or advance copy) right in your own hands while funding the distribution of a lot more copies to places where they’ll do the book some good. And once you get your own copy – right about the time that the book bloggers and buyers get theirs – I hope that you’ll review it, and post about it, and tell everyone you meet on a street corner about Patently Absurd. Because grass roots promotion is the key.
It’ll be a pretty tight schedule, for me: I want to start the Kickstarter project during the first half of October. So I’ve started the pitch video and the project itself, and there isn’t a heck of a lot of time to get it all done. Believe me, you’ll hear about it when I kick the thing off.
It shouldn’t be long!
As I said in my last post, I’ve been busy; I still am. I’m working on my tenth illustration for Patently Absurd since the end of June.
It’s not a bad average when you do the arithmetic, but I spent twenty days on the picture we see here. That’s slowed me way down since the beginning (the first five pictures went very quickly) but I knew what I wanted here, and it was obvious that it would take a bit of time.
Sometimes what you need is a little, cluttered shop filled with the things that clutter little shops, and if all those things are unique and new then your next twenty days are pretty well spoken for.
I kind of expected it to take twenty-one days. So if you squint a bit and tilt your head just right, it looks like I’m ahead of schedule.
That’s why I look a little squinty and twitchy just now.
It’s not working, though. When I lose the squint and straighten up my head I can see that I’m far behind where I’d hoped to be by now. So it’s likely that the blog will remain quiet for awhile longer.
I think it was one of Tim Powers’ characters who once said “If it was easy, they’d have got someone else to do it.”
Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom
I was pretty happy to see this latecomer of Switchboard reviews at Sci-Fi Fan Letter. Among other things, there’s this:
I loved the characters in this. Dash is so much fun, and Nola’s got a good mix of spunk and intelligence. The Campbell kids are… something. They were both great and terrifying to follow.
The world-building was great. The switchboard is sort of an internet, if history had taken a different path. The priests of the spider god were fun, and kept the old school pulp feel. The robot League and the interactions between robot and human people show a positive future that’s often lacking in modern SF and something I enjoyed seeing.
The book’s done very well over at Goodreads, with forty ratings and twenty-six reviews; at Amazon it has a good, solid rating, but only twelve reviews.
Hint: those Amazon reviews are really helpful at the Amazon site. So if you’ve read Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom, consider adding a review at Amazon. Thanks!
The Lair of the Clockwork Book
I’ll close with a reminder that you can get an eBook copy of The Lair of the Clockwork Book for $2.99 (a dollar below list price!) at Radio Planet Books.
If I was quiet in here during July, that was for the usual reason: I was doing stuff. Not all of that stuff is done, which means that I’m still doing it. Because you do it till it’s done, right?
But in the midst of doing (some) stuff, other stuff happens anyway. There’s the stuff that happened, and then there’s the stuff I’m doing. So this post is about All That Stuff.
More reviews for ‘Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom’
Today’s Toronto Star features a terrific review of Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom in their round-up of The latest new books for science-fiction lovers.
Spoiler: they really like it. The review ends on this blurb-worthy note:
“Fans of the comic novels of Jasper Fforde will feel right at home, and the wonderful illustrations by Schenck add to the fun, making this one of the real treats of the year.”
…which was awfully nice of them. And Jasper Fforde? Yes, please.
Then – at both File770 and at her own Lis Carey’s Library – Lis Carey has posted her review of the book.
Illustrations for ‘Patently Absurd’
And this is about The Stuff I’m Doing.
I’m working on the last illustrations for Patently Absurd, my collection of the Retropolis Registry of Patents stories (including their conclusion!)
That new, final story is the longest of the bunch. And even though I reduced the frequency of its illustrations compared to the stories that ran as serials, there’s still a big pile of ’em to do. The good news? Most of them are done. I think you can figure out the other kind of news just by looking at that sentence.
Still, it won’t be too long before I’m ready to start my plans for the book’s release. That will start with a Kickstarter project to fund my Johnny Appleseed inspired distribution of pre-release copies.
And I’ve done a new cover layout for the book. At the moment it looks like this:
Still a pretty good price for ‘The Lair of the Clockwork Book’ at Radio Planet
It’s hard to beat last month’s sale price for The Lair of the Clockwork Book at the Radio Planet Books site. But even though that sale is over Radio Planet still offers the eBook for just $2.99, a dollar below its list price.
For the first Wednesday in more than six months, there’s no update today for a story at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual. And that’s not an accident: it’s all part of my nefarious plan for the Files of the Retropolis Registry of Patents.
Yes, Mister Bond: you just sit there in those nearly unbreakable chains, and I will tell you everything.
We’ve seen some major changes for Ben and Violet after the events of Professor Wilcox and the Floating Laboratory and Ben Bowman in the Vault of Terror. Those changes lead us into the conclusion of the series, which will appear for the first time in a collection called Patently Absurd.
That will collect the entire series together in one illustrated book in print and digital formats. The launch for the book and its new imprint will be fueled by a Kickstarter project during the summer, following the release of Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom.
I’ve had a lot of fun with this series of stories. They follow the everyday lives of ordinary people, both human and mechanical, in a place that’s extraordinary… to us. But it’s just home to them, of course. They take its mad science and its unique difficulties in stride because, at the end of the day, the thing that really interests and worries them is office politics. Like I said: ordinary people.
My plan for the series has always been to collect it, and that’s the reason why the stories have departed from the format I set for The Lair of the Clockwork Book. There’s more text to go with each illustration, for one thing. That makes the print layout a lot simpler than it was for the earlier book.
And the black-and-white illustrations for Patently Absurd, because they cost less to print, will make it possible for me to sell the book in more markets.
So those of you who’ve been following the stories can look forward to their conclusion later this year or early in 2018. We won’t talk too much about Patently Absurd until after Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom is released. (That’s on June 13!) But it’s out there. Or it will be, anyway.
Also, I’ve added preorder links for Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom in several places, like this one, even though the retailers’ cover thumbnails are (still) pretty awful. I continue to hope that we’ll get that straightened out.