Here we are a week into the launch of Putting the Fact in Fantasy. It’s been three and a half years since Putting the Science in Fiction came out, and I’d forgotten how much fun it is to publish a book for SF/F writers. It’s not so much a story of mine I hope people will read, it’s a resource that can help any writer at any level. Plus, the book isn’t just mine — it’s the work of more than thirty expert contributors, compiled and edited over a year and a half. They not only helped write the thing, but have been telling their friends/family/followers about it which is incredibly valuable.
I’ve done my part, of course. In the last week, I shared the Big Idea on John Scalzi’s Whatever, did a podcast interview with Mindy McGinnis, and wrote a Fact versus Fantasy essay for Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds. My own brushes with fame, if you will. That’s not even counting the established authors who contributed to the anthology — people like Marie Brennan, Kate Heartfield, and Michael Mammay. Two other contributors, Graeme Talboys and Terry Newman, are brothers-in-arms published through the ill-fated Harper Voyager Impulse imprint. I’d estimate that more than half of my co-authors have published at least one book.
Bookstore and Library Outreach
Although online promotion is important, I’ve been working hard to reach out to bookstores and libraries about the print edition. It’s a lovely trade paperback, it stands out on the shelf, and if the previous volume was any indication, it’s going to be a popular format. That’s probably because many readers are like me: they want a reference that they can come back to time and time again. So naturally, I’m doing my best to cajole bookstores into carrying it.
The Book Loft of German Village had copies before I did, so I got to hold (and autograph) them a few days before the book’s release. They’re my local indie and have been wonderful supporters of my books since I moved to Ohio. We’re talking about doing an in-person event at their lovely store, probably in June, which I’m really looking forward to. Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting Prologue Bookshop, which is Columbus’s newest independent bookstore. The manager, Gary, is a friend and generously offered to stock the book so now they’ve got autographed copies, too.
I also paid a visit to Barnes & Noble at Polaris Mall, a huge two-story outlet (with escalators) attached to a very nice shopping mall. It’s a different type of shopping experience from an indie bookshop, but sweet Perelandro, I love a massive bookstore. They have a fantastic section dedicated to books about writing where I recently spotted PSIF shelved beside Stephen King’s On Writing. That, honestly, was a top-ten thrill of my author career. Amusingly enough, they stocked Putting the Fact in Fantasy in a different part of the shelf (red circle at right), but it was face-out, and for that I’m grateful.
I think this book is an excellent reference for writers, but I understand that not all of them can afford to buy it. So I’ve also been contacting dozens of libraries in Ohio and surrounding states in hopes of putting it on librarians’ radar. With luck, some of them will add it to their catalogs and then the book will be accessible to even more people.
Forewords by Famous Authors
Last but not least, since the book is out I now thought I’d share the answer to what I considered the burning question about Putting the Fact in Fantasy. A question, in fact, that I’m surprised no one has asked me before now. How in the hell did I land Scott Lynch to write the foreword? For that matter, how did I get Chuck Wendig to write the foreword for Putting the Science in Fiction?
In my opinion, both of the foreword authors were major coups. Scott Lynch is one of the best world-builders in modern fantasy, full stop. And Chuck Wendig is, well, Chuck Wendig. Both are NYT-bestselling authors. Household names in the SF/F genre. So how did I get them?
It’s hard to believe, and I’ve kept this a secret for as long as I can, but the answer is pretty simple. I asked them.
For Chuck Wendig, I was lucky that my agent (Paul Stevens) has a good relationship with his agent (Stacia Decker), so I made the request through them. This is arguably the most polite and professional way to make such a request, because it insulates both parties from any uncomfortable feelings (especially if the answer is no, which it could have been). Chuck agreed, and as anyone who’s read the book knows, his foreword was outstanding. WD Books, which was then owned by F+W Media, handled his contract/payment for it. Which I very much appreciated.
For Scott Lynch, the situation was very different. After its parent company filed for bankruptcy, WD Books was sold to Penguin Random House and became a different entity with different staff. Don’t get me wrong; they’ve been wonderful champions for the book, but we disagreed about the foreword’s importance. Although they refused to pay for a foreword, their book contract obligated me to secure one. So it was on me to find (and pay for) someone to write the thing.
I went out on a limb and asked Scott myself. We aren’t total strangers; I’d corresponded with him a couple of times before. I couched it as an invitation for a paid gig that I fully expected him to decline. No hard feelings. To my surprise and delight, he agreed. I was over the moon that this incredible fantasy author would introduce our book.
Then something funny happened. He had a delivery date, and after it had passed, I had to nudge him to ask when to expect it. Then I was up against the publisher’s final deadline. Scott was in the middle of dealing with a personal emergency, so I felt terrible bothering him and saying I have to have this thing today or it’s not happening. But I felt even worse when he replied and gently pointed out that he’d sent it three days before. Somehow I’d missed it. So yeah, that was embarrassing. On the bright side, the foreword made it in and it’s Scott Lynch gold. Easily worth the cost of the book.
What Lies Ahead
So, now that the book is out, what’s next? I have two major things on the radar. First of of all, events. I’m hoping to do at least one local event in the Columbus area, and possibly go to a convention in a couple of months where I can meet a lot of fellow SF/F writers. While that’s in the works my other main focus is on garnering reviews.
Book reviews and ratings are really important. These provide key “social proof” for would-be book buyers, and they influence things like whether libraries and schools will decide to buy copies of a book. However, book reviews are also hard to get. The problem is only getting worse as time goes on, because most readers have even less time than they used to, many book blogs have gone away, and even when you want to post a review of a book you love, sometimes a massive e-commerce juggenaut won’t let you. It’s frustrating, but we have to fight the good fight.
If you’ve read this far, it means you’re probably invested in the book. Please, please, please go leave us a review at your favorite online retailer. It really means a lot. Thank you!
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