Category Archives: the business of writing

The Dirty Streets of Heaven

One of the coolest things about being a published author is that I occasionally get sneak peaks of books before they’re officially released.

These books are called ARC’s. (Advanced Reading Copies) And publishers send them out to booksellers, reviewers, and authors with the hope of getting promotional blurbs.

This leads to one of the oddest things about being a reasonably popular author: getting asked to blurb books.

As I’ve talked about before on the blog, giving blurbs is something that doesn’t come easily to me. Talking about books is easy. But giving a short, snazzy statement that’s marketable while also being honest…. Well, I often make a mess of it. It’s only recently that I feel as if I have it even halfway figured out.

But in this last year or so, I’ve had to deal with another mind-bending permutation of it all. Getting asked to blurb books by authors I’ve admired my whole life.

For example:

Do you know how weird it is to have a promotional blurb on the front of your favorite book?

You know what my original blurb was for this book? The blurb that I had to get out of my system before I could write the civilized one up there?

It went something like this:

Are you fucking kidding me? You want *me* to tell you why this book is good? I’ve been published for, like, five years. This book has been shining like a pure white diamond of divine fire since 1968. It’s one of the cornerstones of modern fantasy. What is wrong with you? Do you need a blurb on a candy bar telling you it’s sugary and delicious? Jesus, Krishna, and Siddhartha, how can you even consider yourself a fantasy reader if you haven’t read The Last Unicorn? Seriously. Read it. Read it or I will kill you….

Yeah. Like I said. I’m not that good at writing promotional stuff.

And things have only gotten weirder. Earlier this year I burbled a reprint of a Terry Brooks novel. Terry Brooks. His books were some of the first serious fantasy I read back in high school.

Then now we come to this….

For those of you that don’t know, Tad Williams’ newest book just hit the shelves about a week ago. Two words: Angel Noir.

And on the back?

(Click to Embiggen.)

I’m up at the top there. Glibly blurbing away. As if I could somehow sum up how I feel about Tad Williams turning his hand to urban fantasy in 30-40 words.

Part of me wonders where this madness will end. Because honestly, this sort of escalation can only go on for so long….

Okay. Back to the point here. Tad’s book.

Here’s the short version: I really enjoyed it. It might be my favorite book of his to date, and that’s saying something.

Here’s the moderate-length version:

Back around Juneish, I went on a bit of a family vacation. I needed it, and I owed it to my family to get away from work for a while.

So went up north with Sarah and Oot to hang out with my dad. I left my work at home, but I did bring the ARC of Tad’s book. Because for it to really be a vacation for me, I have to have something to read.

I start to read it on the drive up into the north woods, and I got pulled into the story. So pulled in that I would rather read the book than sleep. So pulled in that I end up reading the book late, late into the night. So pulled in that I ended up sitting in a stairwell for hours and hours, until 4 AM, effectively hiding from my family, because I didn’t want to wake anyone up by having a light on. And also because I didn’t want my dad to wake up, see that I was still reading, and give me that look that says, “You know, we’ve got stuff to do tomorrow. You should really get to sleep.”

Yeah. So it was pretty much like high school all over again.

If you still need more encouragement than that, you can read the review I wrote over on Goodreads.

Later folks,

pat

Also posted in recommendations, the art of blurbing, Things I didn't know about publishing | By Pat50 Responses

Showtime

Okay folks. It took some doing, but I’ve finally got everything lined up for the first episode of my show on Geek and Sundry.

What’s that? You want to know what the name of the show is? The name we picked from thousands of suggestions?

After a lot of deliberation, we settled on The Story Board.

We’ve got a logo and everything.

It’s got Latin in it, so you know we’re all kinds of posh.

Our first show is going to be about Urban Fantasy and our guests are Emma Bull, Jim Butcher, and Diana Rowland.

Jim will be joining us from the deep woods, where he is tucked away, LARPing. He’s said he’s not responsible if a sudden zombie invasion erupts while he’s online. I said that sounds perfectly reasonable….

If you want to watch the show live, it’s tonight, August 7th, at 8:00 PM Pacific Time.

I’ll be putting up a link on my Google+ account when we launch.

And yes. I know that time is different than what I said on the blog before. That’s because I was wrong on the blog before. This is the right time. 8:00 Pacific.

If you can’t catch it live, rest assured we’ll be posting up the footage on youtube before too long.

You know what the weirdest thing about all of this is? I can’t get the opening theme from the Muppet Show out of my head….

It’s going to take an extreme effort for me *not* to sing that when we start the show tonight…

pat

Also posted in Geek and Sundry, the craft of writing, The Story Board | By Pat64 Responses

Beta Readers: Part II

First, a few excerpts from the many, many messages I’ve received recently.

  • “Do you need another Beta Reader? I’d be happy to help….”
  • “I read on one of your latest blogs something about beta readers. I had no clue there was such a thing, but now I know about it I want to be one.”
  • “I think beta-reading sounds like the best job in the world–next to testing the softness of puppy-tummy-fur with one’s face all day.”

People have given many credentials and uttered many a plaintive plea. There have even been blatant attempts at bribery. People have offered me cash, computers, and promises of their undying love. About the only thing people didn’t offer is livestock and sexually explicit pictures of themselves.

I should have seen it coming, but honestly, I didn’t.

I know a lot of people would love to help me out by giving a beta read…

Wait, that’s not entirely true, is it?

What I meant to say is that a lot of people would love to read an early copy of the book, and, largely by coincidence, help me out with a beta read.

But I just can’t feel good about it. ** [See edit below.]

  • “I’d like to volunteer.  I know there is probably some precautions you have to take to make sure it’s not leaked, but I’ll do whatever you need, sign a contract, send in a testicle, mail in a kid for collateral, whatever… seriously though I can keep my mouth shut.”

Ultimately, this strikes at the heart of the issue.

Back when I was working on The Name of the Wind, I would give a copy of the book to anyone who even hinted they wanted to read it.

Getting other people’s feedback on the book is a key element of my revision process. You see, I’ve read this book so many times in so many versions, that I need an external view of it. A triangulation point, if you will…

But these days, I can’t just hand it out all higgledy piggledy. Things are more complicated. These days I have to worry about people leaking early, crappy versions of the book onto the net months before the pub date.

I know, deep in my heart of hearts, that most people would never dream of doing such a thing. But all it takes is one jackass….

And yeah, I have a non-disclosure form. Everyone signs it before they get the book. Even Sarah signed it.

It’s a vicious fucking thing that goes something like this:

You, by signing below, agree that you’ll do everything in your power to protect this manuscript and keep its contents secret. If you fail in this, and are a big chatty Cathy about it, I, Patrick Rothfuss, will fuck you up.

I will do this on all possible levels: financially, socially, physically, and spiritually.

If you lend it to your girlfriend who leaves it on the bus and then some jackhole finds it and it ends up on the internet, I will de-corn your cob. Seriously. Your entire cob. Every single kernel of corn. I am not even fucking kidding….

It goes on like that for some time. It is so terrifying that one of my friends said he didn’t feel comfortable leaving the house with his copy of the book.

But really, the non-disclosure form isn’t going to help. If the book gets leaked, I’ll be pissed forever, and suing some daft bastard into the ground won’t fix that.

  • “Do i have to invade a small nation? Do I have to sing show tunes in Times Square? Or is it just one of those “inner sanctum of friends” kind of thing?”

Ultimately, yeah. At this point it is. I have to know you personally, so I can trust you. It’s also important for me to know you because that helps me put your comments in context.

The other problem is that for me to really get the most out of a beta reader, I like to be able to sit down with them over coffee and chat about the book. I like to be able to leaf through the manuscript, ask them questions about their comments, and pick their brains about certain key issues. And seeing how most of you don’t live here in Stevens Point, that’s kinda hard.

So this blog is to say thanks to everyone who offered to help. I’d love to be able to take you up on your offers, but I’m afraid I’ll have to pass.

More soon,

pat

** Edit – May 18th

When I looked at the comments today, I was surprised to see people offering hugs of consolation, and giving me support, and telling me not to let the messages get me down.

This was kind of a surprise to me, as the messages I got from people asking to be beta readers were, by and large, lovely, considerate, flattering things.

So I re-read the blog and found the problem. It’s the following line:

“But I just can’t feel good about it.”

What we have here is a classic case of unspecific pronoun. It seems like I’m saying that I can’t feel good about all the people asking to read book two. But that’s not the case. I’m cool with that. As I’ve said, it’s really rather flattering, and I wish I could take people up on their offers. Because, as I’ve said, I love feedback.

That sentence should read, “But I just can’t feel good about handing out copies of book two to strangers.”

This, my friends, is why I do a lot of revisions. One misused pronoun and the entire emphasis of a piece of writing gets fucked up.

Just wanted to clarify.

Love,

pat

Also posted in book two, the craft of writing | By Pat116 Responses
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