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!
It’s true: now, in this brief moment before you start wishing they were sweaters, you can get a 15% discount on all my t-shirts from Retropolis and The Celtic Art Works.
The sale lasts through Monday, September 18th, and all you need to do is to enter the coupon code 150917 while you check out online. Save 15%!
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.
Until the end of July you can buy the eBook edition of The Lair of the Clockwork Book for just $1.45, only at Radio Planet Books. That’s less than half the usual price of $3.99.
The Clockwork Book’s lair lies far beneath the city of Retropolis, in the world of the Future That Never Was. As far as anybody knows, it’s always been there – slowly collecting the stories, the ideas, and the secrets of its visitors, and then sharing them with those who come after.
If you were to visit the Book yourself, you might realize that in its own retro-futuristic world the Book serves the purpose of a social network – a mechanical social network. With that in mind, you could hardly be surprised at the misadventures its clients seem to have.
And what is the Book, really, and who constructed it, and why? That’s one of the few stories that the Book is not allowed to tell.
On the other hand… the Book has learned how to bend the rules.
The Lair of the Clockwork Book, with over 120 illustrations, began its life as a serial that ran from February of 2011 to April of 2012 at the Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual web site.
The eBook edition, in greyscale, is usually priced at $3.99. But at Radio Planet Books you can get it for $1.45 through the end of July. (Both mobi and ePub versions are available.)
It’s been five years since I started working on Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom. Even though a lot of that time was spent not working on the book it’s been a great pleasure to see it out in the wild at last.
There’s been a flurry of reviews. They started with book bloggers whose Netgalley copies didn’t even include the book’s illustrations, and then this week we saw the very favorable review at the Barnes & Noble Science Fiction and Fantasy blog. (Barnes & Noble has done a stellar job of promoting the book online, by the way. It’s really gratifying.)
And I’ve done some guest posts and interviews at blogs, not all of which are live as I write.
But we’re closing in on the end of the book’s launch week. It’s time to round up this coverage and pack it up for you into a single, easily digestible package. There are three raisins in every paragraph!
Luxuriating in a retro sensibility that evokes the Art Deco designs of classic SF like Metropolis and old Buck Rogers serials, Schenck combines his iconic artwork with a rousingly old-school adventure set in the city of Retropolis, filled with pneumatic tubes and flying cars, rayguns and not-so-giant robots.
― Barnes & Noble Bookseller’s Picks: The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of June 2017
Guest Posts and Interviews
Lawrence M. Schoen (of Barsk:The Elephants’ Graveyard) decided that instead of questioning me about my book, he’d ask me to tell him about my most memorable meal. This was a terrible, terrible mistake.
For the Tor/Forge blog I revealed horrifying secrets about my hair and issued some timely warnings in The Truth About Mad Science.
Paul Semel, on the other hand, was far more sensible. He asked me a bunch of questions about
Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom and I managed to sound pretty smart, the way you do when you have days to compose your answers.
Soon after I posted this, Fantasy Literature published my guest post The Accidental Novel, and Other Surprises. It sort of explains my writing process. Bonus! They’re giving away a copy of the book, plus a mug from Retropolis.
And then there’s this interview at The Quillery, where I answer some of The Usual Questions and do my best to sound smart again.
Juggling so many narrative threads is difficult work that can easily go awry, but Schenck holds them all together, creating a high-energy, ridiculously fun read from start to finish.
― Review at the Barnes & Noble blog
If you’ve read reviews of books after you’ve read the books themselves, you’ll have noticed that readers always bring something to the table. Now and then they seem to have read a completely different book from the one you remember.
And that’s the way it should be. No book is complete until a reader reads it.
Still, you can be surprised by the book a reviewer read; sometimes it sounds like a completely different book. Happily I haven’t seen much of that yet.
- Publishers Weekly says “A genuine love for the material makes this a strong and entertaining debut.”
- The Barnes & Noble Science Fiction and Fantasy blog observes that “In a period of relative angst about the future, Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom feels positively wholesome, dastardly hijinks and all…”
- Fantasy Literature calls the book “a sleek and shiny illustrated novel… that pays homage to the much-venerated Golden Age of science fiction while slipping a fair amount of modern social commentary beneath the chromed and bubble-helmeted exterior, and imparting the lesson that a well-equipped backpack will get you through most situations.”
- And although Avalinah of Avalinah’s Books hates my cover with the white-hot fury of a thousand suns, she loves, loves, loves everything else about the book.
- Bookwraiths tells us that Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom is “Fast-paced, hilarious, lavishly illustrated and optimistic sci-fi.”
But wait! There’s more!
… and Your Reviews, Please!
People often wonder what they can do to help a creator whose work they like. And the answer is twofold.
First, buy something!
And second, talk about how much you liked it, and why. I mean, if you liked it, there’s a pretty good chance that some people you know will like it too. And in these days of social media that means posting and tweeting about it, saying why you enjoyed it.
Is this threefold? I think we’re still in the second fold.
Post reviews at retailer sites.
This is important first because those reviews influence customers. But just as important is the fact that the software behind the scene is watching the number of reviews a book or other product has. Lots of reviews? This is a thing that many people are interested in. Therefore, promote the thing.
At Amazon (and probably elsewhere) promoting the thing makes it appear in recommendations, in “Customers who bought this also bought…” lists, and on the prominent pages of the site. Promoting the thing promotes the thing.
So if you’ve read and enjoyed Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom, please review it so that other readers can find out about it. Review it; post, tweet, and share it. Promote the thing.