Monday, May 28, 2007

Flying Pen Press Rocks the Tattered Cover

7:00pm, May 25, 2007

At the Tattered Cover, a well known regional independent book store, there is a back room where big name authors come to give signings and readings. Big name authors fill the space. So did we. There were over a hundred people in the room, and we sold out all the copies of the books we had with us. I'm still astonished at how many people were there for our little press's premier.

For the first time, I saw hardcopies of Looking Glass, the book. If you've looked at the about the author page on my website, you've seen what I look like, so keep that image in your mind's eye when I tell you I had to work very hard not to squeal like a little girl when I saw it. It's one thing to see the page proofs and the cover proof, it's quite enough to hold the book in hand, flip through the pages, and realize that yeah, the words in there really are the ones I wrote. It still makes the hair on the back of my neck prickle a little, even though we sold through. Even though I don't have a copy my own at the moment. This is my first time doing this. It's a feeling to remember, one that will carry me through the process of revising the next book, and the next one after that, and writing the ones to follow.

Having that moment as nearly a hundred people were filing into the room was a little surreal.

Having that moment with friends and family, some of whom I've not seen in decades, was wonderful. Am I gushing too much? Probably.


So. Events. Well, I got there at about 6:30pm, after a nice dinner with Marcia at Dixon's Downtown Grill, right next door to the Tattered Cover. Good food there, especially the chocolate bread pudding. When we got to the Tattered Cover, the Flying Pen Press gang was already there, setting up banners, putting out the cover-art cakes, setting up chairs, and of course taking pictures. Then the people started to arrive. And arrive. And arrive. Me, I worked the crowd as much as I could, talking to people, shaking hands, making sure my friends and family got welcomed. Marcia was a godsend for this, and she did more of it than I did.

Then, it was time, and David Rozansky, the publisher, got up to speak. I learned some new things about Flying Pen Press. Things like we have a bedtime stories imprint for stories to read to children. Not picture books, stories. Things like we have an imprint to give a voice to those who wouldn't have one, and the profits from those books go to charity. Who knew? The company's been changing so fast since I signed on that I certainly didn't know.

After that, it was Gaddy Bergman's turn to speak on Migration of the Kamishi, his novel. Then, it was my turn. Through the miracle of cut and paste, this is the speech:

Thank you all for coming, it’s great to see you all.

I’m here to introduce my book, Looking Glass, to the world. Looking Glass, World, World, Looking Glass.

Looking Glass is the story of Dr. Catherine Farro. She’s a network security specialist, and her team has just been murdered through the internet. The company she works for doesn’t seem to care. Cath Farro cares, and finding out what really happened takes her into the fuzzy space between the virtual and the real.

Looking Glass began life in the frantic November ritual of National Novel Writing month. 50,000 words, one month. Support group. Go. It’s evolved a lot since then. Doubled in length, added events, added characters, revised characters, changed characters. Looking Glass is all about the characters. They drive the story. They make the story. In some cases they took the story places I didn’t expect.
Take Brian. When I started writing the novel, he was just the boyfriend of one of the supporting characters. He didn’t even have a name. By the time I finished, Brian not only had a name, but he’d become one of the major supporting characters, and my main character, Catherine, had a thing for him. I was like, “Wait, what, what are you doing?” But you don’t argue with characters when they start making their own decisions like that. You run with it. He turned out to be a very important part of the story.
So when all was said and done, it was time to find a publisher. I went the usual route, got the Writer’s Market, made up a list of agents and publishers, and started sending this thing out. I don’t know if you’ve ever mailed a three hundred page, single sided document before, but it’s an awkward beast, especially when you add self addressed return packing, cover letters, and so forth and so on. If you’re lucky, you get a photocopied form letter that says “Sorry, not interested.” You read about new writers getting hundreds of these. Fortunately I didn’t have to send it that many times.

I went to a science fiction convention last year, here in Denver. Went to a panel. One of the topics was “How to get published.” There was one guy over on the end who pointed out that when you ask a published author how they found their publisher, what you get usually starts out, “You know, that’s a funny story.” Well, as of today, I am a published author. You know, it is a funny story. The guy who was speaking at that panel also had a sign in his hat that said, “I’m a publisher looking for manuscripts.” His name was David Rozansky, and the press was Flying Pen Press.

The rest, as they say, is history. Pitched the novel at a table outside the hotel bar. This led to a contract. Got an editor, and an art director, and a cover artist, an absolutely kick-butt cover, pricing, typesetting, ISBN number, advertising, distribution, printing (always important), a release party, and, well I guess that pretty much brings you folks up to speed.

So this is it. A book called Looking Glass. Available at fine bookstores like The Tattered Cover, although most of them have to wait until June first. This book is the result of all that work. To the good folks at Flying Pen Press, Thank you. To Marcia, my wife, for her support and enthusiasm, a heart-felt thank you. Thank you all very much. And to all of you folks, friends, family, strangers alike, who came to our premier party, thank you, too.



Well, that's the speech I set out to give. It came out something like that. It's pretty hard to remember. I find I'm very, very out of practice speaking in public. Must work on that. It's in my job description these days, I guess.

Apparently my speaking wasn't so bad as to drive away the audience, though. All the copies of the book, some twelve in all, sold, except for one that was reserved for someone who didn't show up. That became my copy, at least for a little while.

I actually enjoyed signing the books a great deal. Asking people their names, what they did, coming up with something amusing to put on the fly leaf of each copy. That was fun. There were moments I sure missed my spell checker during that process, though. My apologies to anyone who got egregious misspellings in the signing.

The next day, Saturday, we had a second, much more quiet premier party at the Opus Fantasy Arts Festival. The contrast couldn't have been more striking. Where Friday was all about working the crowd and giving speeches, Saturday was about talking to individuals, handing out the postcards, and more normal con stuff. I'm a lot more comfortable working a con, I find. Gaddy and I also wound up on a couple panels. Mine were on cross-genre fiction, and the sophomore slump - you've written/published your first novel, now what? I think I did okay for my first panels ever. Commentary is always welcome. Marcia and I even had a chance to actually do the con. We'd never been to that particular con before, even though it's in Denver like our usual con, Mile High con is. We had fun, bought some art, and generally had a good time. It was a good con, but we were completely exhausted by the time we went home.

So. It's been two days since then. Now what?

Now what? Now it's sell the books, over and over again. But there's been some motion in that department, even though the book's not yet released. I just got done updating my website to include links to places where you can pre-order my book. Places like Amazon and Barnes&Noble. After June 1, I expect that list will grow quite a bit.


ps: more pics from the Grand Premier below.

Gp-Lgcake Gp-Mkcake Gp-Bothcakes
Let them eat cake.

One of the cover art banners.

Gaddy and me at the Sophomore Slump panel.

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Anonymous said...

Saw your book reviewed in the POST/NEWS last weekend. Good ink. Good luck in '08.


JRS said...

Thank you very much. :)


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