Theater of the Absurd

I was just sitting here thinking to myself, “Self, how could you make Spiderman weirder?” I mean, it’s your average ordinary story about a boy granted superpowers by a genetically modified spider who fights crazy people in elaborate costumes and tries to win the heart of the girl next door and respect his Aunt. But it’s just not weird enough. I know! Get Julie Taymor to direct Spiderman: The Musical with a score by U2!

Which is nto to say that I wouldn’t go see it. Oh, I would. But still.

Call Me SparticusLover626

I’ve been using Twitter and Facebook for a few months now and my general assessment is that these tools are useful for now. That’s about as good as it gets when evaluating technology, especially web apps that are doomed to obsolescence by the time you reach the end of this sentence. Do not misunderstand me: I’m not complaining. I like my shiny new web toys. They’ve allowed me to get back in touch with people I thought lost forever (hi, Joe and Amy!). They’ve even allowed me to find some of the people I tried to escape after High School and shown me that they turned out to be, 15 years later, fully grown adults who have mellowed and matured into interesting people with fully developed lives and hopes and dreams. Who knew?

As this blog approaches it’s sixth anniversary and it occurs to me that I’ve have had an online presence for more than a decade,[1] I look back and am amused and amazed at how things have changed. I’ve seen various incarnations of social networking come and go. Some new technology has truly revolutionized the way we communicate to the point where we no longer even realize how much they effect us or what the world was like before them.[2] Meanwhile, other pieces of tech have become momentary novelties that have eventually fallen away.[3] One thing I have recently realized is that, as these newish types of communication become more refined and their usefulness accepted by the general public, there is one problem that is becoming very apparent. I’m talking about those poor fools who still use Internet Handles.
Continue reading “Call Me SparticusLover626”

The Great Typo Hunt

I’ve just printed up the galley proof for my next novel, The Lives of Perfect Creatures. I’m looking for extra eyes to hunt for typos. So, if you’ve got a few hours and want to read the next bestseller before anyone else, you can email me and I’ll send you a PDF of the galley.

Volunteer eyeballs will get their name in the acknowledgments and a signed copy.

One More Reason To Cancel My Cable Subscription

The Sci-Fi channel is changing it’s name to the SyFy channel as a way to get away from all that weirdo geeky science fiction stuff. They aren’t changing the content any, which is ironic, since they’ve drifted away from the sci-fi content in favor of Ghost Hunters and wrestling, which is certainly fictional but not all that scientific. Or even Sciency. I’d rant about what an idiotic idea this is but frankly, come 11PM Friday night, I won’t have any reason to watch the channel ever again.

Mostly this has to do with the aforementioned Ghost Hunters and/or wrestlers but also due to changes in technology. I get 90% of my TV shows online now and soon, we’ll be setting up a home computer as our entertainment hub, which means 100% of our content will come form the Internet. And in 3 years when the SyFy channel, along with subscription cable goes the way of the newspaper world, I’ll hardly even notice. So, way to stay on the cutting edge there, SyFy guys.

In Which I confess My Geek Heresy

Elvira and I saw Watchmen this weekend. The short version of my review: What Scalzi said. It was good, though it did drag a little. Most of the graphic novel was there on the screen, which, while impressive, was unnecessary.

Now the long version (with spoilers, or as close as one can get to spoilers for a film slavishly based on a 20 year old Graphic novel):
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Say My Name

I was quoted in this WaPo article (bottom of the first page) about Facebook and their weird policy involving people with eccentric names.

how this came about: the article’s author saw my comment on a Boing Boing post a few months back, about a young woman with the family name Yoda who was denied a Facebook account. Facebook, in their pursuit of furthering genuine human interaction in an online setting, has an automated name filtering system that is designed to prevent people from signing up using pseudonyms. But as detailed in the article, this system can be punked in a number of ways. Never underestimate the creativity of people who want to lie. The problem is, being an automated system, it can’t compensate for the stranger-than-fiction names that mothers, fathers and the fine folks at Ellis Island have graced upon a surprising number of us.

I was eventually able to get onto Facebook (obviously, since the author contacted me via Facebook for the article). Interestingly, I was contacted this morning by a rep from ABC News who are thinking of doing a story on the subject as well.

So, everyone wants to talk to me about my wacky name, it seems. Now if I could just get someone interested in talkign about my book, I’d be a happy man.

A Message From Our Sponsor

Over at Locus, Cory  Doctorow has a column in which he praises the expertise of the professional sales force:

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t get an e-mail from someone who’s ready to reinvent publishing using the Internet, and the ideas are often good ones, but they lack a key element: a sales force. That is, a small army of motivated, personable, committed salespeople who are on a first-name basis with every single bookstore owner/buyer in the country, people who lay down a lot of shoe-leather as they slog from one shop to the next, clutching a case filled with advance reader copies, cover-flats, and catalogs. When I worked in bookstores, we had exceptional local reps, like Eric, the Bantam guy who knew that I was exactly the right clerk to give an advance copy of Snow Crash to if he wanted to ensure a big order and lots of hand-selling when the book came in (He also made sure that I got ARCs of every Kathe Koja and Ian McDonald novel — Eric, if you’re reading this, thanks!).

This matters. This is the kind of longitudinal, deep, expensive expertise that gets books onto shelves, into the minds of the clerks, onto the recommended tables at the front of the store. It’s labor-intensive and highly specialized, and without it, your book’s sales only come from people who’ve already heard of it (through word of mouth, advertising, a review, etc.) and who are either motivated enough to order it direct, or lucky enough to chance on a copy on a shelf at a store that ordered it based on reputation or sales literature alone, without any hand-holding or cajoling.

[…] This vision has captured the imagination of many of my fellow techno-utopians: a stake through the heart of the Big, Lumbering Entertainment Dinosaurs Who Put Short-Sighted Profits Ahead of Art. And there’s plenty of short-term thinking in the recent history of publishing and the rise of the mega-publishers. There are plenty of “little” publishers out there, dotted around the country, figuring out how to fill in the gaps that the big guys won’t stoop to conquer: short story collections, quirky titles, books of essays, art books, experimental titles, and anthologies. These are often fabulous books with somewhat respectable numbers, but they lag the majors in one key area: physical distribution.

[…] Here, then, is the major challenge and opportunity of networked, author-driven, revolutionary publishing for this century: how do you turn the Internet into a machine for introducing books to physical, real-world stores? How do you use the Internet to introduce books to online stores that don’t specialize in books, like ThinkGeek?

This is the big hurdle. I self published my first book and everything was done on the computer, from editing to layout to designing the cover. POD handled the manufacturing and distribution. I sold about 2 dozen copies just through word of mouth.But you see the hole in that pipe?

How do I sell more copies of my book? Conventions are great and all, but I can’t afford to fly my ass all over the country. Living on the West Coat, I can go to 3, maybe 4 of the regional cons a year but even that’s pushing it (I’d like to keep my day job since it’s the one paying the bills). I suppose I could hang out at Pioneer Square, handing out teaser chapters and selling copies form the trunk of my car. Sounds like a fun way to kill a weekend. There’s also sending out unsolicited advanced reader copies to websites and journals that may or may not review it. There’s still a lingering bias against self-publishing and POD and some of the bigger fish won’t bother looking at a book that doesn’t have some corporate logo on the spine.

What we self-publishers need is an Internet based method of duplicating what Eric the Bantam Guy used to do. Unfortunately, on the Internet, that’s called Spamming.

So, I encourage everyone to buy my book! It will make your penis bigger!