Dead Reign

Lady of Misrule Kickstarter

I'm running a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for my next Marla Mason novel, Lady of Misrule. A $10 donation gets you the e-book, and when you give more, you get... more!

There are nine days left on the campaign as I write this, and it's already funded, so the book's definitely going to happen. I'm so close to hitting the stretch goal that will allow me to hire Lindsey Look to paint original cover art!

If you can give, or spread the word, I'd appreciate it greatly. It's going to be a fun book, full of monsters and violence and banter.
Dead Reign

Big Book Sale 2013

Won't somebody rid me of these troublesome books? --King Henry II, probably


The time has come for my more-or-less annual book sale. I just got another box of author copies, and books are filling up my house and tottering in dangerous piles. I also have quarterly estimated taxes due in September so money is welcome.

Here’s where you come in: Buy my books! (They make great gifts. Even if just for yourself.)

You can get signed and/or inscribed copies for cover price (I’ll round up to destroy any stray pennies), plus $5 shipping per book for mass market paperbacks and $7 each for trade paperbacks/hardcovers. The listed price includes shipping costs for the US.

For shipping outside the US, add an extra $10 to the listed price. (Overseas shipping has gone way up this year. Sorry about that. It costs nearly $20 to send a one-pound package to, say, Spain.)

Write to timpratt@gmail.com or post in the comments here saying what you want and telling me if you want them signed and/or personalized. I’ll do the math and tell you what you owe me and where to send the PayPal money.

First-come, first-served, which is why you should comment or e-mail instead of just sending money — I’d hate for you to pay for something I already sold. (First-time comments are moderated here, so don’t worry if your comment doesn’t show up immediately.)

I’ll run the sale for a week and a bit, from now until midnight PST on Friday, August 23.

Here’s what’s available. First editions, unless otherwise noted.

Marla Mason series:


Mass-market paperback of Blood Engines, $12 (16 14 copies available)

Mass-market paperback of Dead Reign, $12 (6 copies)

Mass-market paperback of Spell Games, $12 (5 copies)

Trade Paperback of Bone Shop, $20 (This is the pretty edition with the Dan Dos Santos cover art) (2 1 copy) Sold out!

Trade Paperback of Broken Mirrors, $21 (2 1 copy) Sold out!

Trade Paperback of Grim Tides, $21 (3 1 copy)

Standalone novels:


Limited edition hardcover of Briarpatch (These are unnumbered author copies) $55 (3 1 copy)

Hardcover of The Constantine Affliction (as by T. Aaron Payton), $34 (15 14 copies)

Trade paperback of The Constantine Affliction (as by T. Aaron Payton), $20 (15 14 copies)

Trade paperback of The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl, $19 (7 copies)

Trade paperback of The Nex, $20 (1 copy)

Mass-market paperback of Forgotten Realms: Venom In Her Veins, $13 (20 16 copies)

Mass-market paperback of Pathfinder Tales: City of the Fallen Sky, $15 (12 11 copies)

Mass-market paperback of Pathfinder Tales: Liar's Blade, $15 (12 11 copies)

I'll do an RPG bundle, too: Venom In Her Veins, City of the Fallen Sky, and Liar's Blade for $40 if ordered all together.

Collections


Paperback of poetry collection If There Were Wolves, $15 (2 1 copy)

Trade paperback of collection Little Gods, $21 (Not the first edition that includes the poems, but the more attractive offset edition) (4 copies)

Trade paperback of collection Antiquities and Tangibles and Other Stories, $21 (4 1 copy) Sold out!

Anthologies I edited or have a story in


Trade paperback of Sympathy for the Devil (edited by me, Tim Pratt!), $23 (5 4 copies)

Trade paperback of Robots: The Recent A.I. edited by Rich Horton, $22 (1 copy)

Trade paperback of Witches: Wicked, Wild & Wonderful edited by Paula Guran, $23 (1 copy)

Trade paperback of New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird, edited by Paula Guran, $23 (1 copy)

Hardcover of Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron, edited by Jonathan Strahan, $24 (1 copy)

Inspired by Elizabeth Bear's book sale, I'll throw in a bonus chapbook or 'zine from my hoard with each order.

That’s it. Make your wishes known.
Dead Reign

Letter to an Aspiring Novelist

I've been corresponding a bit with an aspiring novelist who finished his first novel and is likely going to self publish it, after some frustration with trying to find an agent and publisher. He wants to be a professional writer and is very eager to get published; it's a feeling I remember well. He also feels a bit remote from the scene because he doesn't live in an English-speaking country.

I gave him some advice. I don't claim to be an expert, but this is based on my experience with traditional publishing, self publishing, working for an industry trade magazine, etc. This is pretty much practical publishing stuff, which is actually my least favorite kind of advice to give; I'd rather talk about writing better stories, but this stuff is important too.

Here's what I wrote him, with the identifying info stripped out (and some typos corrected and bits clarified):

Well, sure it could take several books until you write one good enough to sell. Some people sell the first book they write, but it's not common. You wouldn't open a restaurant the first time you cooked a recipe. You wouldn't buy a shiny new scalpel and declare yourself ready to perform brain surgery after perusing an anatomy textbook. Writing novels isn't easy. (That thing about how it takes 10,000 hours of dedicated practice to attain mastery of any subject is probably more or less correct. Writers also talk about the "million words of crap" -- until you've written a million words or so of fiction, you probably still have a lot of the basics left to master.)

What's your hurry? You want this to be your career, so do the work. I started writing seriously when I was 14 -- I mean, I was writing from age 7 or so, but I was submitting and revising and researching markets from age 14 on. I sold my first small-press stories when I was 19 or 20, and had my first pro sales in my early twenties. When I was 30, I won a Hugo and got reprinted in the Best American Short Stories and after that I could sell pretty much any story I finished (if I thought it was good enough to send out). Only took me 16 years of steady effort. And that's stories -- I'm still figuring out how to write novels, after selling about 20 of them, and writing about 25.

If you write in English and have a reliable internet connection, it doesn't matter if you live in [land far away from the US]. (I've met my agent maybe twice in person in the ten years we've been working together. I've met very few of my editors and publishers in person.) Everything is done via e-mail.

Since just looking at lists of agents can be intimidating, I recommend trying to find agents who've sold books similar to the ones you write. Find the websites of authors who are in the same genre you are and see if they mention who represents them. Look in the acknowledgments of books broadly similar to yours and see if the authors mention their agents. Or subscribe to Publishers Marketplace for a month and search in their deals database, to see which agents are selling novels in your genres -- especially first novels. (If they just sold a first novel, odds are good they're open to new clients.)

Then google their websites, which will almost always have submission guidelines. Some want a query and thirty pages, some want a query and two pages, some just want a query, some want attachments, some will reject submissions with attachments unread -- just follow the individual guidelines. A lot of people are lazy and send out mass e-mails that ignore individual guidelines and agents will mostly ignore those e-mails; who wants a client who can't follow even basic instructions? (A sufficiently brilliant book can trump everything else, of course... but I've never written a book so brilliant I could ignore the standards of professionalism.)

Yes, it's a lot of work. If it were easy, everyone would do it. The odds are probably better for a high school basketball player to be drafted to play professionally than for an aspiring writer to get signed by a major publisher. (There are a LOT of aspiring writers.) But then, most aspiring writers are not good enough to be published professionally, just as most high school basketball players aren't good enough to play professionally. If you're good, you're not competing with every writer that submits to an agent or a publisher -- because 90% of those submissions are simply not good enough. If you're good, you're competing with the 10% that are also good. And if you're in that 10%, you will eventually get a deal.

Your first novel is, frankly, probably not in that 10%. I know nothing at all about your work, and maybe you're the exception, but statistically, probably not. I was sure my first novel was brilliant when I wrote it, and looking back, I'm so glad the e-book/self-publishing revolution hadn't happened in 1996, or I would have published that disaster of a novel, because I truly believed the publishers who rejected me just weren't capable of understanding my genius. Nope. Turns out I was just suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect, and radically overestimating my own competence.

I've got nothing against self publishing, of course. I've done it, and it's great for some projects. But traditional publishers still have distribution on their side, and all the "e-book revolution!" stuff to the contrary, most people who buy books still buy actual printed books, and many of them buy those books in actual bookstores. (Hard to believe, I know. And in some genres, especially romance and thrillers, e-books are making up as much of half of sales -- but for most genres print still wins handily.) That may change, but for now, there are definite advantages to signing with a real publisher. Real editing. Good covers. Advances. And it's far easier to sell foreign and sub rights if you were published traditionally, and for many writers, that's where you make your real money.

Anyway. Do whatever feels right to you, of course. But that's what I think on the subject.
Dead Reign

More Flies with Money

The headline is: my wife and co-editor Heather Shaw and I are hoping to revive our 'zine Flytrap, this time paying professional rates, and are running a Kickstarter to raise money.

We're 41% funded with 24 days to go, so signs are promising, but we'd really love help spreading the word -- and, of course, if you'd like to give, we'd appreciate it (and you get magazines! and other goodies). We loved doing the 'zine, and published a lot of current and rising stars in our previous incarnation, so please help us do it again, and do it right.

Other things: my gonzo SF cross-dimensional story "The Retgun" sold to Unidentified Funny Objects 2. It was exactly the kind of sale I love: I submitted the story Sunday afternoon; it was accepted 50 minutes later; I signed and returned the contract by e-mail that evening; and got payment within minutes after that. (If we manage to revive Flytrap, I hope to pay on acceptance in the same way. I love markets that do that.)

I've had a couple of foreign sales finalized, which is always a treat. Feder & Schwert will be publishing a German edition of The Constantine Affliction at some point, and a Spanish language collection of my stories is coming from Fata Libelli. My slow and idiosyncratic plot for world domination continues.

Sold a couple of reprints to the good people at Podcastle, too -- they'll be doing audio versions of my stories "Right Turns" and "Ill Met in Ulthar."

Otherwise, life is pretty great, thanks. I mean, the IRS sent a letter saying we owe them many thousands of dollars,which is a trifle stressful (since we don't even have many hundreds of dollars to spare at the moment), but we're pretty sure we can straighten that out. (The revenuers seem to have misplaced a very large check, but our bank assures us the feds cashed it, so with luck we can explain that easily and they won't send agents to snatch our paychecks from our hands and confiscate our shoes.)
Dead Reign

Things! Of! Note!

First, there is now an audiobook of The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl available for your listenings! Narrated by Marguerite Croft, and with a great cover by Jenn Reese. Go, download, listen, enjoy. (And go ahead and get some of my other audiobooks while you're at it.)

I have begun a Tumblr to collect all the various Officebaby/Officeboy quotes that have appeared in scattered places online for years: The Officeboy Dialogues. I'll update it somewhat regularly with new and classic utterances until he stops saying cute things or gets old enough to be annoyed by the site, whichever comes first.

My Pathfinder Tales novel City of the Fallen Sky is a finalist for the Scribe Awards in the Original Novel category. Very cool, especially since I'm writing another book about those characters this summer.

In other news: I'm 65,000 words into Bride of Death, and expect to have a complete first draft by the end of the month. It's going really well now; I'd rather be writing it than doing most other things, including those actions necessary to maintain life. In June some other deadlines will begin racing rapidly toward me, so it will likely be September before I can revise the novel. Then there's copyediting and proofreading to do, so I'm planning for publication in November, most likely. The e-book at least will be out by year's end for sure, barring unforeseen catastrophes. Onward, ever onward!
Dead Reign

Kickstarter Wrap-Up and FreemadeSF

Well. That Kickstarter I did went pretty okay, didn't it?

Back in the day, Random House paid me $20K for each of the first four Marla Mason books. So... getting pretty close to that here. (Though not as close as it looks, once I deduct my costs for commissioning cover art and illustrations, shipping books to people, etc.) Plus, my single biggest backer (with a pledge that amounted to about 10% of my total) didn't actually fulfill their pledge, unfortunately, so my actual total is only a bit over $16,000 -- which doesn't change much, really. It just means I'll have a couple fewer interior illustrations than I'd expected. (The backer is apologetic and says they may be able to pay as promised in the near future; if that happens I'll add back the illos, but it's uncertain.) Still, though -- I've only sold one novel in the past few years that paid me more than this. It is a strange new world and I am living right in the middle of it.

The writing of the book is going well, too, and that's the best part of this, for me -- getting to continue developing this world and these characters at length, in a way that would have been impossible for financial reasons under other circumstances.

My hybrid approach to the business of writing -- small presses, big presses, weird passion projects, practical commercial projects, anthologies, short stories, crowdfunding, whatever else seems feasible and fun -- is working out. It keeps me busy, and I am seldom bored.

And if you want to stave off your own boredom: I'll be reading at the FreemadeSF Launch Party tonight in San Francisco, along with Nick Mamatas and Mark Pantoja and Cliff Winnig. There will be music and other delights as well. Should be fun. Come on out.

Dead Reign

Take It As Read

We're deep into the last day of my Kickstarter for Bride of Death, so if you were thinking of becoming a backer, now is the time. Every time I look at the Kickstarter page I am filled with joy and delight at the generosity of my readers -- and the power of crowdfunding to make art compatible with financial necessities. What I'm trying to say is, thank you, and hurray.

The new issue of Apex Magazine is out today, with my looong story "The Fairy Library" free to read, and an interview with me (mostly about my new collection), and also many good things by people who are not me, like the awesome Rachel Swirsky and the equally but differently awesome Will Alexander.

I am doing another Ask Me Anything at Reddit Fantasy this Thursday, with Richard Lee Byers -- we both write Pathfinder Tales fantasy novels, so I imagine there'll be a lot of questions and answers about those, but as the name implies, we can be Asked Anything. Do drop by. Speaking of Pathfinder Tales, here's a sample chapter for my new novel Liar's Blade, with a fantastic illustration of one of my favorite characters from the book.

Life is very very busy, with readings to do and stories to write (with deadlines that are nearly upon me) and Life Stuff and a very full calendar... but it's good. I am happy and productive.
Dead Reign

A Month of Marla: A Cloak of Many Worlds

Each Tuesday for the month of February I'm posting a different story about my character Marla Mason. This week we have "A Cloak of Many Worlds," written as a Kickstarter reward for one of my previous crowdfunded projects. This one's a bit unusual, in that Marla doesn't actually appear in the story, apart from a couple of mentions -- but it's about an old friend of hers dealing with a dangerous entity that used to belong to her.

(This is a transparent attempt to tempt people into supporting my Kickstarter for the new Marla novel Bride of Death.)

A Cloak of Many WorldsCollapse )
Dead Reign

A Month of Marla: Little Better than a Beast

Each Tuesday for the month of February I'm going to post a different story about my character Marla Mason. This week we have "Little Better than a Beast." It first appeared in anthology Those Who Fight Monsters in 2011, and is available in audio form at Podcastle.

(This is a transparent attempt to tempt people into supporting my Kickstarter for the new Marla novel Bride of Death.)

Here's the story! (Some people don't like this one because they find Marla too vicious and mean and unsympathetic. Which is... exactly the reason I like it.)

Little Better than a BeastCollapse )
Dead Reign

Regarding Certain Fictions

Here are some things:

I sold a story! "Ghostreaper, or, Life after Revenge" will appear in a future issue of Eclipse Online. I've admired the stories editor Jonathan Strahan has published in the magazine (and in the anthology series before that), so I'm pleased to be part of it. The story is a novelette about a modern guy who gets a magical spear from a trickster figure of uncertain intentions and proceeds to mess up his life in interesting ways.

I also sold a story, "Secret Storage," co-written with Greg van Eekhout, to a Lovecraftian anthology. About five years ago Greg wrote an opening and asked me if I could do anything with it. I added a bit, and we batted it back and forth, but it stalled out and never came to anything, sitting unloved and unread for years. Then, when I was asked to do a Lovecraftian story, I realize how Greg's opening could be a launching point for just such a piece, and dragged it out of cold storage, worked on it, made Greg make it better, and sent it off. A dead story, resurrected (but, of course, that is not dead which can eternal lie; that goes for old story fragments as well as elder gods).

We're down to the last few days for the Glitter and Madness Kickstarter. Take a look! It would be a fun anthology. My story will be set in the abandoned ice skating rink in Berkeley, a bit of decaying real estate called Iceland (which is also a portal to a Hell of ice, a la The Inferno), at a monster skate party, of sorts. Give 'em a little if you can. They're still a bit short of hitting their goal.

My own Kickstarter, for novel Bride of Death, is going beautifully -- it's nearly 150% funded with 20 days to go. Another $665 and we unlock original cover art by the great Lindsey Look, who did the cover for Grim Tides. And if it goes over that level, I'll come up with additional incentives. (And, you know, buy my kid extra souvenirs at Disneyland when we go for his spring break.)

I'm reading Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic: The Thirteenth Rib by David J. Schwartz (one of my favorite writers; hell, one of my favorite people). It's a serialized novel, and you get all the installments for a mere one-time $1.99 payment. Pretty sweet deal.

Lately I've ripped through the Spellman Files series by Lisa Lutz -- quirky mysteries (sort of) set in contemporary San Francisco. They're charming books, driven by a great narrative voice, that of thirtyish former juvenile delinquent Izzy Spellman, who works for the family business as a private investigator. The PI details are pretty realistic, which means the stakes are way lower than you find in most mysteries -- in reality, PIs don't investigate murders; mostly they follow cheating spouses and do background checks. So most of the drama comes from the interpersonal relationships, among a group of chronically nosy, secretive, suspicious people with boundary issues and a willingness to use blackmail and other means to achieve their goals -- but who nonetheless love one another very much. Not the sort of thing I usually read (I prefer my mysteries bleak and violent and hardboiled), but great comfort reading.