Thursday, May 11, 2006

Cleaning out the news Junk Drawer

Mechwarrior Update

Confirmed today that the deadline for my untitled third MechWarrior Dark Age novel is being moved (for reasons totally unrelated to me) forward to early next year, rather than this summer as had originally be contracted.

This is fine with me, as (thanks to deadlines) I've hardly seen a spring or summer day in the last two years due to deadlines. The warm weather here on the Oregon coast doesn't last long enough that you can afford to waste it. I'm looking forward to puttering around the house (doing long-neglected repairs, improvements, and redecorating), and working on some original novels for a change.

Meanwhile, my second MechWarrior novel, Trial by Chaos, is still scheduled for release next month. I'll have some more to say about the background on this one when it starts to hit the shelves.

More Reasons Why Authors Don't Hand Out Free Books...

There is a strange expectation when people meet an author that the author has books to give them. It happens to me all the time. I'll meet someone in town, and it will come up in casual conversation that I'm an author. They'll say something like, "well I love to read. Bring me a copy and I'll read yours." Uh-huh.

Today a box arrived which finally contained the author copies for the first book in my "Anok, Heretic of Stygia" trilogy. This book has been out since last fall, and I had long ago gotten author's copies on books two and three of the trilogy. But somewhere the books for volume one were either lost in transit, or never sent, and once things got off the rails, it was hell getting them back on. I don't blame the nice folks at Ace books for this. These things happen, and in the great scheme of publishing, sending out author copies just isn't a huge priority. That's as it should be.

But in those months, I have given away a few copies of book one, to friends, relatives, contest prizes, and promotional copies. I bought all those copies at retail. And mind you, when I say that I got "author's copies," I don't mean cases of books. On this book, I got fifteen copies of each volume, and that's only because we negotiated the contract up from the boiler-plate figure of ten copies of each.

So, let's say that I put one copy on my "brag shelf." I keep another as a "beater" copy to haul around with me to show off. I call it a "beater," as it's likely to take some wear-and-tear in the process. I put away three or so copies for file and future use, and a put one as a shelf-copy in my office for reference. I send two or three copies out to immediate family, and give a few more to close friends. So that leaves me five or less copies for more casual friends, more distant family, promotional use, and whatever else comes along.

So if you meet a writer, don't automatically expect that they'll give you free books, no matter how much they like you, and if they do, be flattered. And if they do offer you a book from their own stocks, it would be polite to offer to pay for it, even if they don't ask, and to expect to pay full retail (since they may have to go buy a replacement copy at that price) and not some discounted amount. And if they give you a book, and won't take money for it, you should be flattered and properly appreciative. Perhaps they have a large stock of that title for some reason, but assume they're being especially nice to you.

Minions Update

You wouldn't know it from reading the Minions for Hire blog, where only a few comments have been posted, but I've been getting (via email and posts on other groups and lists) a lot of positive feedback on the Minions toons posted there so-far. Just as importantly, the stats show that people are following the link from Minions back to our main web-page, so the viral marketing aspects of this will work, as long as people actually visit the Minions blog in sufficient numbers.

Again, I ask your assistance in that. If you like the Minions, spread the link around to friends, family, or post it on mailing lists where you think it might be appropriate and appreciated (please don't go spamming on my account).

We're up to seven toons posted so far, and I have several more done and sitting on the hard-disk ready to post. My goal is to post a new one every Monday on an ongoing basis, and we'll see how it goes. I'm also thinking of setting up a Cafe Press store to sell Minions tee-shirts, mugs, and the like. I've got what I think are some very clever designs and slogans in mind for these items. I'll start work on this, once I get around to shooting some nice, posed group-shots of the Minions to work with. My goal is to produce shirts that will be funny even if you've never heard of the Minions before.

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