So it’s release day for Patently Absurd, and that means
heavy drinking a release day race. Right?
Because even though A Day at the Races isn’t anybody’s favorite Marx Brothers film, it’s still a dang site easier to deal with on my blog than Duck Soup or Horse Feathers.
I mean, the last time I had Duck Soup over I had marching soldiers singing “Hail, Hail Freedonia” in here for days. Actual days.
So we’ll stick with the races this time.
Booklist was first past the post this time with their review:
It’s all lighthearted fun and wild invention, but Schenck takes a serious turn in the final story, which brings touching depth to his main characters. A great follow-up to Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom (2017).
But they were soon overtaken by SFRevu:
Patently Absurd may not be serious science fiction, but it’s great stuff, and it’s stuffed with the tropes that made the pulp era pulsate like a mutant alien squid, albeit with a nod towards modern sensibilities. Maybe, in its own way, it is serious science fiction, camouflaged as whimsy. No matter what you decide to call it, it’s fun.
And then, like a death ray out of nowhere, came Paul Semel’s interview with me:
I wanted to do something with ordinary people whose jobs made them interact with the mad scientists in the Experimental Research District. So I thought about accountants. I don’t think about accountants that often. I mean, you don’t, do you?
The field’s still wide open: it’s anybody’s race at this point. Look! There’s Utopia State of Mind, racing ’round the bend! And you can’t forget the Toronto Star, where they loved Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom; that review will be here on Saturday. (Hey, this is a marathon, not a sprint, okay?)
And of course the real main event on release day is that you can buy the book now in all of the usual places. And once you read it, don’t be shy: please, please, please review it at Amazon, and at Goodreads, and wherever else books are reviewed.
As always when it’s quiet around here, I’ve been busy. This time I’m working toward the book launch of Patently Absurd. And you can tell!
In fact you can tell all over the place: at Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, and at many of the places where books hang out. The print and eBook versions of Patently Absurd are available for pre-order in lots and lots of places, as you can see at right.
Review copies have gone out to those publications that have really long lead times, like Booklist and The Library Journal; I have two large piles of advance copies that are fated to go elsewhere (some to my Kickstarter backers, some to other reviewers, and some to booksellers). I have some smaller stacks of promotional materials and labels. Don’t even look at my dining room table. Please.
The rest of the world can see the book on March 13 of next year. But, like I mentioned, pre-orders are now a possibility.
For the print edition, I started out with a reduced price of $12.75 (that’s two dollars off the final price) but Barnes & Noble immediately marked it down again; so at the moment you can pre-order the book there for just $9.24. Don’t look at me: they’re wild and crazy over there.
The Ebook pre-order price isn’t discounted anywhere, to my knowledge, but I may run a special for my own pre-orders at Radio Planet Books. We’ll see.
Also, the book now has a presence at Goodreads for your adding and to-reading pleasure.
Radio Planet Books will be selling the eBook editions (you can pre-order there now!) and I’m working on a way to sell the printed edition there, too.
So these are exciting days for me and the UPS driver. I hope that yours are going well, too.
Well, it was uphill all the way for our first stretch goal, if by “uphill all the way” we mean up and down and up again; but we finally made it, and we’ve got just over a week left to hit the second stretch goal.
If we get there, this is what happens: I have the funds to arrange a Kirkus Indie review; and everybody who pledged over $50 will get a memo notebook with the Patently Absurd cover art on its own cover. These are nice little notebooks, as I can tell you from my personal scribbling experience.
It’s a harder goal to reach, at $1900, but we may have the urgency of the project’s end on our side. It’s coming up!
So if you have friends or if you see strangers who might like the book, this is the time to tell them all about it wherever you find them: on Facebook or Twitter, or at your own blog, or at GoodReads or LibraryThing or, in fact, anyplace at all.
It’s the larger pledges that will benefit from this stretch reward, so I’ve added a new set of ten “Collector II” rewards at $65. They’re just like the original Collector rewards except that they cost a bit more. That’s so you early adopters have a reason to look smug. If you need one, I mean.
(For the rest of you, that $65 gets you a signed, printed advance copy of Patently Absurd; a matching eBook of the same; an eBook edition of The Lair of the Clockwork Book; a pair of custom bookmarks; and a signed hardcover copy of Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom; plus a memo notebook, if we hit the second stretch goal.)
In other news, today I should see my third proof copy of the book. The last one was pretty great, but I’m still fiddling with color profiles for the cover.
First off, great news: the Patently Absurd fund drive met its primary goal on Day 3. That’s really unexpected, and welcome, believe me.
But it’s not over yet. In order to set an attainable goal for the project I moved some pretty important things out to stretch goals. We’re looking at the first of those right now.
What we’ve done
With the primary goal behind us I’ll be able to send advance copies off to book reviewers and the book buyers for some local bookstores. I’ll also be able to meet some other pre-production expenses, like ISBNs and some setup fees at Ingram. (Ingram Spark will be one of the two printers to produce the final books.) Review copies will be going out to trade publications like Booklist, The Library Journal, and Locus.
What we need to do
But there are a couple of other trade publications that are missing from that list. That’s because Publishers Weekly and Kirkus charge fees to review independently published books. They have their reasons. The barrier to self-publish a book is very low, now, and if they take everything… well, everything is a lot, these days. So one can see their point, even if it seems like there might be a better way to deal with what’s now a flood of indie books.
So, at the moment, we’re looking at the first stretch goal for Patently Absurd. At $1400 (just $200 more than the primary goal) I’ll be able to arrange a review for the book at Publishers Weekly. To celebrate, all Kickstarter backers who weren’t going to get a Lair of the Clockwork Book eBook will get one; and everybody who’s getting a print copy of the book will get a pair of custom bookmarks with art from my books.
Those are small bonuses, but it’s just another $200, right? And we have 27 days left to go.
The Kickstarter project for Patently Absurd is now live and it’s eager to talk to you. You can meet it here.
Tell your friends, your families, and strangers on the street.
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.