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PSA: New Book Deal

I'm still working on "Rule 34" (due from Ace in 2011), but as some of you probably noticed I've reached a stopping place in my Merchant Princes series (published by Tor) and need a break. More importantly, I've been ploughing a stony field for the past few years; writing the same stuff time and again is draining. So it should be no surprise to you to learn that I've been discussing possible new projects with my agent for the past year.

There are other factors at work besides a lack of fresh ideas, of course. We've been taking a hard look at the market realities; things have been particularly grim in SF/F publishing ever since November 2008, and it has become clear that in light of a downward spiral of diminishing sales things can't go on as before. The poor market conditions (Tim Holman of Little, Brown says the British publishing industry as a whole shipped 1% fewer books in 2009) are resulting in downward pressure on new book advances: as an agent of my acquaintance put it, with respect to advances, "five grand is the new twenty grand". Despite my editor's kind offer to increase my advance by 50% in real terms if I'd accept payment in repossessed Hummer H2's, I am afraid that for me, the opportunity cost of producing science fiction has become too high relative to the untapped revenue potential inherent in other genres. So it's time to branch out.

Late last year my agent and I conducted an exhaustive review of my skill-set and background, to the extent of commissioning a focus group to look into my work to date and suggest new directions. Readers commented favourably on the interpersonal romance subplots in the Merchant Princes series and the depiction of sexual relations in "Saturn's Children"; they also liked the paranormal elements in my Laundry novels, but expressed reservations about the tentacle count. A/B testing of a series of book proposals yielded some interesting insights into why people read books carrying the Charles Stross brand, and what could be done to improve their sell-through and market penetration. Finally, after a mammoth overnight brainstorming session, we put together a collection of new and extremely promising proposals for works that I feel are compatible with my interests and the reality of this age of changing market conditions we live in.

My agent issued a proposal package and deadline for auction among the most likely-to-be-interested New York publishing houses. One thing led to another, by way of one of those whirlwind romances for which the publishing industry is famous, and we're now engaged: I'm pleased to announce my new five book deal, for a very strong six-digit sum, with one of the largest publishers in the United States!

Harlequin Romance will publish my first paranormal romance, "Unicorn School™: The Sparkling", in Q1/2012. US:TS is the first book of the projected series, and introduces Avril Poisson, who moves with her family from Phoenix, Arizona, to Forks, Washington with her divorced father, and finds her life in danger when she falls in love with a Sparkly Unicorn™ called Bob. Stalked by and in fear of a mysterious horse-mutilator, Avril must practice her dressage skills with Bob and qualify her steed for a scholarship to the elite Unicorn School™, where he will be safe to grow (and sparkle) without fear of the vampires who infest the senior's common room. In the second book, "Unicorn School™: The Exsanguination" Bob and Avril must stalk a Vampire Unicorn™ who is draining her fellow pupils of the will to live back to the rocky outcrop where he lives. In book three, "Unicorn School™: The Deflowering", Bob and Avril confront their most ghastly foe yet, a moustache-twirling villain who is intent on seducing all the pupils (as we all know, unicorn/human relationships are only possible if the human party is a virgin) in order to sell their heart-broken steeds to evil French multinational meat conglomerate Hachette. In book four, "Unicorn School™: The Big Chill" the swindle that is global warming is exposed and, as glaciers pounce on the Louisiana Bayou, Avril and Bob are hunted by monstrous black-and-white swimming birds. And in book five, "Unicorn School™ Forever", our young lovers are going to get married — but not if the evil, bigoted anti-unicorn Sheriff Osama gets his anti-unicorn-marriage by-law passed first!

Editorial director Connie Cozened said, "we're delighted to have Stross on board, bringing his inimitable style and fizzing dialogue to the fastest growing sector of the romance market! (If only from a very small base.) His Sparkly Romance Unicorns™ marketing concept is sure to be a massive summer hit with immense spin-off marketing potential, and we've already been in discussions with Archie McPhee about co-branding. Movie rights are still available, but hurry! Stocks won't last!"

For further information relating to this press release, please contact Aprilsnar Maj-Kat, administrative assistant, Liza Dawson Associates.

124 Comments

1:

Mmmm... fish in the spring.

We're still finishing that 31-day march over here in California....

2:

It's 8:11am here in Tokyo. Also? I default to running on GMT back home, by which metric it's tomorrow already.

3:

You had me until "Unicorn School™: The Sparkling" and then it twigged.

4:

All I can say is that I am slow.

So very slow.

Good luck with the books. Make sure to have one reference about putting the horn where the sun doesn't shine.

5:

Ahem: spoilers will be held for moderation!

6:

I for one welcome our new unicorn overlords.

As for why people read Stross books: well, that post contains most of the major reasons.

7:

You do realize that, if you could actually stomach writing the books, they would probably sell *very* well?

8:

How about in book three, "The Deflowering", the moustache-twirling villain succeeds in selling the unicorns to the meat conglomerate Hachette. Then you could call book four "The Big Chili".

9:

<deadpan>
What makes you think I'm not going to write them?
</deadpan>

10:

This is fantastic news! Will you be partnering with McDonald's? I want a Sparkly UnicornTM Happy Meal!

11:

It's already April in the UK, isn't it? My, this day comes earlier every year doesn't it...

(for the record: not yet 5pm March 31, here on the Pacific coast of the US)

12:

I cheated.

I skipped to the bottom of the post as soon as I read "... the opportunity cost of producing science fiction has become too high ...".

Now, of course, my own plans for Shiny Horned Beast™ cannot be completed. There's no way I can go horn-to-horn against the Strossian Effect.

So good luck with your series, Mr. Stross, and thanks for ruining a wannabe-writer's dream.

*runs off to secretly create the Sparkly Uniform™ fan club*

13:

I want to know more about the dynamics of unifornication.

Is the unicorn still considered a virgin amongst other unicorns after engaging in a sex act with a human?

And what about protection? Is it acceptable to put a plastic baggie atop the unicorn's...uni?

These questions are all meant in the interest of science, of course.

14:

God dammit...
If you wrote them, I would read them...

15:

It took me until para 3, my excuse is that nearly all of my waking hours on this most excellent April 1st have been spent in transport infrastructure (Warbirds Over Wanaka starts tomorrow!). Best of luck Charlie, and have a good working break.

16:

You had me going up until the "A/B testing".

I hate April 1.

17:

It's not April 1st yet here!

18:

Sparkly Unicorns™ don't have sex as we know it. As one of the only two mono-horned land dwelling species we know of -- along with the hippopotamus (narwhals don't count) -- they leave the nasty to their hermaphrodite butt-leech passengers.

19:

I twigged after paragraph 2. And that's after a bottle of wine (bad day at work... It's a good thing I told my boss I'm looking for a new job today, where it's still Wednesday, than tomorrow!)

But, hey, with the new Obama oil drilling you might find the Hummer's go up in resell value!

20:

Thanks Charlie, that made my morning.

21:

You'd have done better if you said you'd agreed an exclusivity contract with Apple for delivery of your next 3 novels on the iPad only. You could then have said these included a follow-up to Iron Sunrise.

22:

I can only concur with your reasoning. After all, I don't know where you'd be able to park all those Hummers in Edinburgh....

23:

I figured that you must be leading up to a joke when tentacles and 'romance subplots' were mentioned in the same breath.

More seriously, I do wish someone would write some transhumanist or overclocked fiction for the US 13-18 market. All the wizards and vampires and such just seem.. dreary. Insipid, even. Westerfeld made a respectable job of it in Uglies, and Doctorow has "Little Brother". However, I'm sure that Mr. Stross can equal or exceed anything else in the field.

Jest if you like, Charlie, but there is a useful truth in it.

24:

Remember, The Fool card in a tarot deck is trump number 0.

Happy F### Day!

25:

I never thought I'd see the day that Charlie Stross wrote paranormal romance.

Luckily for all of us, that day is April 1st.

(You seriously had me up until the 5th paragraph. Now there's the mark of a good writer.

Also: the use of the name Avril is *inspired*.)

26:

Kewl!

27:

You know that by the rules of parasmut, you will have to change your name to Charlye Strosse?

Anyhow, two days ago I browsed books at ereader.com, and noticed that the last Merchant's Princes book was out, but too expensive. $32? For an e-book? What have those guys been imbibing?
Well, today I wanted to see if the price had gone down from the absurd to the merely expensive.
Yeah. It has. All novels by Charles Stross have now been excised from the store, and all that's left is the "Lobsters" novella. That saves me a boatload of money, I guess, so I won't have my five litre SUV repoed and given to Charlie. Sorry, Charlye.

28:

Well-played Mr. Stross.

29:

I have it on good authority that Barnum had a sample of a conjoined-twin unicorn specimen - 6 legs, two heads. There was some argument about the semantic correctness of calling it a unicorn given the two heads, but apparently that was settled with a midget, some rope, and a long ride on top of an elephant truck.

30:

I see the toy tie-in rights being particularly lucrative... and smelly!

I think you should write a book (not a series -- a book) about people who live in submarines. Or possibly whales who are really into the stock market.

31:

Sure, you joke about this sort of thing. That's understandable. Perhaps you wouldn't be so cavalier if you knew that "Stephenie Meyer" is just the pen name for none other than.... Ken Macleod! Don't you see the similarities in social critique inherent to both bodies of work?

32:

So good, but Harlequin was too obvious. You could have strung us out for at least one more paragraph.

Also, where are the vampire kittens?

33:

Oh hell yeah. It's about time you did some unicorn slash. People laugh, but it's a legitimate genre, and one that I really think would be improved by a Scottish invasion. Just make sure to throw Nessie into the mix as well, to keep your readers on their toes!

34:

Wow, well played. You had me right up to, but not including, "Forks, Washington."

I still want to know more about Avril Poisson. Can she have a quirky friend named Britney Gauss? How about Pam Dirac?

35:

If that doesn't work out -- Thomas Harris has proven there's a market for mysteries in which the protagonist is a cannibal, and culinary mysteries are an established subgenre.

36:

"Avril Poisson" was what notably twigged me to the Reality of Things.

What's remarkable is that quite a few of the ideas could almost work.

Sorta like the way they did "fake trailers" in the Grindhouse movie duo including one for a fake movie called "Machete," which, as it turns out, is actually getting made as a real movie. Likely to be awesomely bad.

If "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" can work, then then why not...

... No, there can be nothing good about Sparkling Unicorns(tm). Unless they turn into zombies and start Eating Twilighty Things.

But "Rule 34," the throw-away trailer, could entertain!

37:

I used to be a huge sucker for this sort of thing, but I have apparently gotten a lot better: this time I caught on when I read

Readers commented favourably on the interpersonal romance subplots in the Merchant Princes series


Also, I don't know about vampire unicorns, but here is a robot unicorn: http://games.adultswim.com/robot-unicorn-attack-twitchy-online-game.html

We're talking Game of the Year material here.

38:

I'm interested in seeing the full review product of the Charlie Stross brand. Are there spreadsheets? Personas?

Like so many others, I find that the end of the month sneaks up so quietly. And then boom.

39:

Have you optioned the movie rights yet? I can just imagine what Weta would be about to do with Bob - imagine all the shiny figurines...

40:

You are a sick, sick man.

41:

Oh thank god, I was so afraid that with the end of the Merchant Prince series you would be once again be reduced to selling books in the subway, having copied then yourself at home.

But, I think your focus group missed a few points. Have you considered the market possibilities of making it a Christian Unicorn™, bringing in the rest of the conservative market?

(Of course, making it a "Unicorn for Allah™" would just be wrong.

42:

You know that some people are going to be asking you all the time to actually write these don't you? Once you unleash thetype of people that like that kind of book they never give up.

43:

Though I'm guessing from previous blog posts that the "five grand is the new twenty grand" bit might be the kernel of truth that makes the joke work.

44:

And according to BBC news this morning, William Shakespeare was French.

Re unicorns:

http://www.puffin.co.uk/static/cs/uk/15/minisites/lindachapman/unicornschool/unicornschool.php

45:

Nothing says romance like a horse with a big horn.

Yay! Unicorns :)

46:

I wonder if those who buy these paranormal romance books from Amazon will also purchase tins of Uranium like buyers of your other books. Anyway I hope you are enjoying your time in Japan.

47:

"movie rights are still available, but hurry! Stocks won't last!"

What do I need to put up to get five points on the backside of that action?

48:

Ooh, ponies ! And pointy ones at that. Super. This will make Cory's day.
And can we have sharks with laser beams, and narwhals (to attract the reddit crowd?)

49:

Actually, I am (April Fools aside) planning on writing a unicorn story this year.

(But it won't be very sparkly. And Bob will be lucky to get out with his skin intact.)

In other industry news, via Locus: Doctorow and Stross to Write Authorized Sequel to 'Atlas Shrugged'.

The money shot:

Stross, author of the Prometheus Award-winning novel Glasshouse, said that he and Doctorow (author of the Prometheus Award-winning novel Little Brother) were hesitant at first. "But then we realized that both of us shared one important trait with Ayn Rand: all three of us really, really like money. That made it much easier for Cory and I to cash the seven figure check."

Ya know something? If somebody offered me a seven figure check I'd totally write a sequel to "Atlas Shrugged". (It'd subsidize an entire decade of funky experimental stuff like "Palimpsest" ...)

50:

Dear mr. Stross,

I am looking forward to your new book series. Your Merchant Princes opened the fantasy market a bit for me - until it turned out to not really be fantasy after all - and I am certain the Sparkly Unicorn-stuff will do the same for this subgenre.

I am most happy to see that you are going with the very well-renowned Harlequin imprint. Those fellas need a break and you may be the one to give it to them. I may, of course, be a tad partial, as it seems the administrative assistant at Liza Dawson Associates is a dane like me...

51:

You absolute *sod*. I got all the way to "Unicorn School™: The Sparkling" before starting to cry tears of laughter at my desk.

It should worry you, perhaps, that the words "paranormal romance" didn't trigger me. :-D

52:

Avril Poisson, chortle. There's no paper fish on my back today :)

I got it at the interpersonal relationships bit too. I agree with the poster who suggested that your write for older children/young adults. Apart from anything else I enjoy being able to share my favourite authors with my kids. My 15 year old has enjoyed Neil Gaiman, China Mieville and Charles De Lint so far.

53:

Mr. Doctorow's forthcoming "For The Win" is an amazing young adult novel.

In other news, I got as far as "Readers commented favourably on the interpersonal romance subplots in the Merchant Princes series and the depiction of sexual relations in "Saturn's Children";" before I wrote "It's April 1st. Trust no one. Especially not the Internet." on a bright orange post-it and stuck it to my screen.

Then I giggled my way through the synopsis of the Sparkly Unicorn series.

54:

sparkly unicorns? by themselves? preposterous! sparkly vampire dolphins that investigate paranormal with unicorns, dragons and teen aged magicians on the other hand... now that would be a story to warm the heart of any focus group.

55:

Given that Charlye has admitted to writing fantasy for, ahem, mercantile reasons, the paranormal romance angle was pretty believable until it went over the top.

56:

What, no sample passages? How are you going to win over your public without teaser fragments? Inquiring minds want to know!

57:

Sequel to Atlas Shrugged? You could call it "Telemacchus Sneezed" with a nod to R.A.Wilson

58:

Charlie, you and the unicorns have been mentioned in the Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2010/apr/01/literary-april-fool

59:

Unicorns eh? Now they're rather um, "bigger" than your average romance hero aren't they? I'm sure you'll explain this in great detail at some point in your series.

BTW, how could the British book market have shrunk by 1% last year? I bought at least 1% more books last year than the previous year, many of them from British publishers, so that can't possibly be correct.

60:

Ahhh, yes, the day of fools.

Side note...you're in Tokyo? Cool! You're considerably less far away than I thought (I'm down in Western Honshu, near Hiroshima).

61:

Unicorn School? That sounds lovely. Can't wait for the card game.

62:

Did someone ask for Sparkly Unicorn™ meat?

http://www.thinkgeek.com/stuff/41/unicorn-meat.shtml

63:

Okay. When Scalzi sends me over here to read about a Harlequin romance with Unicorns in the title it goes beyond an April Fools joke to downright cruel. Well written, though. And, yes, much fun. I particularly like the all night focus group to decide what direction to take your writing. Heh.

64:

When will they be available for preorders?

65:

if this is a April Fools jokes why is "http://www.UnicornSchool.com" redirecting here?

Going to check the whois now.

66:

your're kidding.....right?

No?

"And another one bites the dust....
(whump)
........another one bites.
(whump)
.........another one bites.
(whump)

Another one bites the dust.....

(whump).

Fantasy got another good SF writer....(sniff)

67:

I too am slow. In my defense, I've only had 3 sips of my morning coffee thus far.

68:

Have you considered an Objectivist tie-in angle, maybe a Unicorn Shrugged sort of thing to bring in young male hard-sf readers?

69:

Avril Poisson was a laying it on a bit thick! No reason this would not sell btw.

70:

My first reaction was NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Then I realized the date. Whew!

Must...lay...down...and...take...blood....pressure...pillss...

71:

You disregard the spending-power of the tentacle-loving market at your peril. No telling What, in their pique, they might conjure up to show you the error of your ways.

OTOH, slap a few tentacles on that sparkly sucker, and you've got a sure-fire New York Times bestseller.

72:

Proud to say I knew exactly where this was going when I read the part about how readers love your romantic subplots.

What I could not have predicted, however, was just how awesome your romance novel concept would be. I really really want to read Unicorn School! The snark potential would be immeasurable.

73:

This is a splendid job. The silliness builds up steadily, so no matter where you start realizing it's a joke, it becomes hilarious immediately after...

74:

Again I'd like to protest the phrase "rule 34" being anywhere near any of this...

75:

I hate to say how I caught on to the April foolish-ness: when you said your agent commissioned a focus group and my first thought was: how can that possibly be economically worthwhile for his agent?

76:

It was well, after 12:00 local when I read this. I was wondering for a bit, and preparing a post about how enjoying other works by the same author was a big part of why I'd buy new works in other genres. Then I got to Unicorn school!

77:

Some of you will know me better as Ken, or Ken O, but Charlie seems to use the Wordpress engine, which only lets me post as paws4thot (well except on the ICHC network, which is bizzare, because that's where the paws name came from)

78:

I would totally read this if written by you.

79:

mmmm unicorns.... All joking aside, I think it's pretty obvious that as titles go "Unicorn School™: The Sparkling" is full of win :)

80:

I caught on at the beginning of the second paragraph when it morphed into corporate-speak ("taking a hard look at the market realities").

81:

@James: but after the last peeks into the book market, that market realities language wasn't totally unbelievable. But Stross and a Sparkly TM ...

82:

On the one hand, you're an evil, evil man, Charlie Stross.

But ... on second thought ... if anybody could carry that off for purely cold-blooded marketing reasons, it would be you.

83:

Hmm, you know, I never thought about it before, but the unicorn/virgin connection actually forefronts the subtext of Twilight-esque teen abstinence porn rather beautifully...

84:

Chris: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is old hat. You want I Am Scrooge! A Zombie Story for Christmas.

Also, the whole theme of man/mythological horselike creature love has been covered in much too much detail by John Varley already.

85:

I'd just like to say that "exsanguination" is one of the greatest words in the English language.

(That and "incarnadine", but that is a bit too Shakespearean for most people).

86:

So....does that unicorn have a particularly tumescent horn?

Many thanks. I needed that.

87:

I bought the A/B testing. It was "what could be done to improve their sell-through and market penetration" that looped me in. I don't think that's how Stross rolls.

88:

As with many others... bought it until "Unicorn School." Perhaps something a little more subtle/believable next year (say, Star Wars or Warhammer tie-ins)?

89:

Co-written with Justine L'Arbalestier, of course.

90:

You had me _past the focus group_. I didn't see it until the 'six-figure advance' bit. I am ashamed. My only excuse is that it is late and I am also having a conversation with a 7-year-old.

91:

You had me until the "repossessed Hummer H2's", something went off then, and I fully realized what's going on before the end of that sentence, and the next few sentences were more and more delighful until I settled into it and just enjoyed the humour :)

92:

For some reason I got suspicious at mention of focus groups -don't think agents are in the habit of commissioning them.

Now, you know someone is going to have to write them, I'm thinking Venus on the Half-Shell here.

As for tentacle romance check out Sucker Love at Tor.

93:

Well played. The crazy thing is that I'd probably buy it.

94:

wow, was the third book proposal a dig at the novel Ariel? I hated the way that book ended.

95:

I'm honestly amazed this sort of book hasn't happened yet. One would think that the female children of the 80's would be lining up for anything that reminded them of The Last Unicorn.

96:

giggles does it have pony girls and pony boys in ?

97:

If you and Doctorow actually write that Atlas Shrugged sequel I will pre-order the hardcover.

98:

You sneaky son of bitch you had me going there until I read focus group.

99:

Needs more trademark symbols, you're not quite up to maximum tradmarkification yet...

100:

That was a nice prank, but I think that it NEEDS MORE PONIES! :)

101:

You are, of course, going to need a new name for these fine works of literature so they do not get tarnished with with science fiction (which as we all know is anathema to the sparklies and their readers).

Might I suggest Charlie Strossmeyer?

102:

Everybody thinks writing romance is easy, except romance writers, of course. For a moment, though, I thought the world as I know it was gone.

Much better than the Dear Author effort, however, which I thought was just Jane messing up her HTML again.

103:

David: Perhaps something a little more subtle/believable next year (say, Star Wars or Warhammer tie-ins)?

I've done Warhammer tie-ins. For real. No kidding.

104:

Throwmearope: Everybody thinks writing romance is easy, except romance writers, of course. For a moment, though, I thought the world as I know it was gone.

I can certainly believe romance is a lot harder than it looks to the uninitiated. Crime/police procedural certainly is, as I found out when I nearly broke my teeth on "Halting State" (and am wearing them down to the jawline on "Rule 34").

Similarly, writing Sparkly Unicorns™ properly would, I think, be rather challenging. Especially as I have a couple of decade's of experience at the New Space Opera and sod-all -- either as writer or reader -- at your classic girl's boarding school/riding school story.

I think this one goes on the shelf besides the alt-hist with William Burroughs and Philip K. Dick as a team of OSS agents, the third Eschaton novel, and the Israel-in-the-sea-of-time collaboration with Steve Stirling.

105:

The plot of UNICORN SCHOOL: THE SPARKLING sounds uncomfortably similiar to the plot of my current manuscript, THE WORST NOVEL. I begin this story with the line, "It's unfortunate that you are reading this book, which is my worst novel" and continue to tell a tale very similar to the one you describe. You will hear from my lawyers.

106:

(seriously though, i am pre-ordering my copy of US:TS on amazon right now)

107:

OK, unicorns may be a little over the top, but I think some of the hard-core geeks in your readership would appreciate ponies.

108:

I would have gone for it if I hadn't read the brief excerpt Randy Millholland did a couple of years ago featuring a sparkley vampire My Little Pony unicorn mashup...

109:

Good April Fool's joke. I twigged in the middle of paragraph 3. :)

However (ahem), if you were to write such things, I personally want Good Unicorns Gone Bad(TM) who take their beloved mistresses with them in a twisted cyberpunk world.

110:

A Charlie-trooper,
I had nothing to live for . . . before Charlie jumped headlong into the vampire book-selling biz. I'm absolutely stoked about this new series. Unicorns AND vampires?! That's like . . . mixing caramel and chocolate and pulpy paper. Edible books, yum yum! What mint profits! My only problem are the trademarks. Why? Because they have already been trademarked by me, Alfred E. Newman.
I actually self-published several unicorn novels in late 90s. They sold relatively well. If memory serves, not including the compulsory ARC (the shipping costing more than the book itself), I sold 47 copies to my relatives, and a good dozen to some seniors at the West Vancouver Library. The Unicorn from Outer Space has a 1997 copyright, Unicorn University with a 1999 copyright.
That said, if Charlie stays doesn't plagiarize anything from my best-selling (in the Newman household) unicorn novels, then I wish him all the best. If Charlie has any questions about my research, he can contact me in Seoul, South Korea. My consulting rates on unicorns are reasonable, more so in the winter months.
Kamsahamida,
Alfred

111:

Ah, but Mr. Stross - all you have to do is write it, and the unicorns will take you to Candy Mountain. Don't you hear them? "Candy Mountain, Charlie! Candy Mountain!"

Thanks, that was fun. :D

112:

Someone, I think it was JG Ballard, once wrote a book of reviews of all the crazy books he'd thought of but never written. A few more ideas like this, and you could do something similar...

113:

Let me guess: you're really doing this because you've always wanted to use the phrase, "gave me the horn" in one of your books.

114:

"Harlequin Romance will publish my first paranormal romance, "Unicorn School™: The Sparkling", in Q1/2012. US:TS is the first book of the projected series, and introduces Avril Poisson, who moves with her family from Phoenix, Arizona, to Forks, Washington with her divorced father, and finds her life in danger when she falls in love with a Sparkly Unicorn™ called Bob."

Eh, Steven Boyett got there first. We know you have to waste your time with this derivative rubbish because you don't have an orginal bone in your body, but do you have to be so blatant about it?

115:

You know, there's no real compulsion to write an April Fool post anymore. Unless you are under compulsion, then I believe there's treatment.

(I caught on with the "marketing speak".)

116:

Charles,
You are a great writer, I don't think any of you're stories are similar to each other. All are highly entertaining. Keep it up, friend!
SERPO

117:

Date of posting apart. . . .

Does the story-set include a "Purple Singing Dinosaur" ??

118:

Oh, I totally fell for this; reading it my RSS reader four days after April 1st it was like an abandoned IED going off in my brain. It was only when I got to Harlequin Romance and the Unicorn bit... D'oh!

119:

So...anyone have a torrent for US:TS yet? I couldn't find anything on teh googs.

TIA

120:

but weren't you and Doctorow enlisted by the Ayn Rand Estate for writing Atlas Rebound, the sequel of Atlas Shrugged? http://www.locusmag.com/2010/April1st_AtlasSequel.html

(btw, I know some bits of French, so I loved the in-joke about Hachette... )

Marino

121:

Well, I bit on the beginning:

"There are other factors at work besides a lack of fresh ideas, of course. We've been taking a hard look at the market realities; things have been particularly grim in SF/F publishing ever since November 2008, and it has become clear that in light of a downward spiral of diminishing sales things can't go on as before. The poor market conditions (Tim Holman of Little, Brown says the British publishing industry as a whole shipped 1% fewer books in 2009) are resulting in downward pressure on new book advances: as an agent of my acquaintance put it, with respect to advances, "five grand is the new twenty grand". Despite my editor's kind offer to increase my advance by 50% in real terms if I'd accept payment in repossessed Hummer H2's, I am afraid that for me, the opportunity cost of producing science fiction has become too high relative to the untapped revenue potential inherent in other genres. So it's time to branch out."


And it makes me wonder what I always wonder - at a certain point, assuming one can manage (relative) security without sacrificing (relative) ease, e-commerce is going to take off (even more than it already has). Will established writers such as yourself ever start putting books up on their websites - cutting out all the middle men? If you sold Accelrando II (I joke, I kid, I know) directly at $5 a shot, and had a hundred thousand people download it... would that be too far off what you'd make selling a twenty thousand hardcovers, and eighty thousand mass market paperbacks through more traditional routes?

I think it's been tried before, but you still had (and have) folks that aren't quite sure about shopping online, especially "off the beaten path" - and it still isn't easy enough (assuming your CCC/band keeps things safe) - but surely we aren't that far off from hitting some middle ground with those two measures, in spite of the fact that they seem locked together in some kind of steel cage death match.

I assume the downside is marketing (or lack thereof) - I guess there's an argument that once you start down this road, you better have a loyal group of fans, because you aren't exactly reaching the uninitiated.

Cheers.

122:

Derek, your estimates of my sales are wildly optimistic. Your estimates of my online sales are worse than optimistic.

If I thought I could sell 100,000 copies of anything at $5 a pop of course I'd do it! (For that matter, I'd love to sell 20,000 hardcovers and 80,000 paperbacks -- if I did that, I'd have "NY Times Bestseller" splashed all over my book covers.)

But 100,000 online sales of any ebook would be about two orders of magnitude more than the current headline figure for a #1 bestseller on the Kindle platform (the biggest single ebook storefront system). Simply put, it's not worth my while to even think about cutting loose until the potential ebook sales are around 25-30% of my dead-tree traditional-publishing sales, and right now they're down around 1% (5% for the folks who are published by Baen and who do Everything Right to boost ebook sales).

123:

Sorry about the overestimation - and also for misspelling the title of your book and "CCC/band" which should be "CCC/bank". The second is no big deal, but I'm red-faced over misspelling the book title (typing error, if that makes it any better).

Do you think that we'll ever get to a point where such direct to the 'net publishing becomes commonplace? Or is there too much downside - are the hurdles wrt marketing and introducing new authors too much to overcome?

I apologize if you've covered this topic before, I'm a relatively new subscriber/reader. Loved Accelerando and Glasshouse, by the way - you hit a topic briefly in Accelerando (namely, fears of virtual coexistence with other sentients in the specific context of data integrity) that I wish other authors (like, say, Egan in Diaspora) had addressed.

Cheers.

124:

Derek, I did a series of posts exhaustively anatomizing this stuff -- tagged CMAP, Common Misconceptions About Publishing. They've dropped off the front page (I did them in late January through March) and I really need to collect them and stick a link to them in the sidebar ... when I have time.

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on April 1, 2010 12:01 AM.

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