Saturday, December 19, 2015

Saturday, December 19th, 2015: Bookmarks, Black Marks and Landmarks

Book Marks!
 I took the advice I got at Orycon37 to heart and had some bookmarks printed up (as well as a couple of other things, like the socks, and some things that haven't arrived yet). The bookmarks just came in from the printer last week and the socks arrived on Friday. I had the bookmarks done at so that I'd be able to give some away at NewCon, in January. Unfortunately, NewCon informed me (after the bookmarks arrived) that they are all sold out of vendor space. Their artists' alley is also closed, so I guess I won't be giving anything away at NewCon. Dang. I know it's not a personal rejection, but it still feels like a black mark on the month. With that denial still stinging, I immediately went to the Wizard World Con website and booked a table in the artists' alley. Surprisingly, they not only had room, I even got a corner table. Wizard World Con will be February 19-21st, 2016, and I've asked my friend (and the artist who drew the cover illustration for Fish Wielder) Herb Apon, if he will join me at my table. He has tentatively agreed and thinks he may be able to get another extra special guest to join us as well. I'll hold off on the name until I hear whether he'll come or not.

I am also going to send off my application for a table at Westercon 69 today, but that one's not until July. The book won't be ready in July, but I'm hoping I may have some advanced copies or something. I should also have lots of other goodies to hand out, in addition to the posters, buttons, stickers, tattoos and bookmarks.

In Blurbquest news, I haven't heard anything back from either They Might Be Giants (whom I reached out to through their management group), or from author Nick Harkaway (whom I contacted through Facebook). TMBG hasn't responded in any way, which is sad, but at least they haven't read the book and then decided not to write a blurb. Mr. Harkaway, on the other hand, has been sent a copy of the the fact that I haven't heard anything back could be bad. I know he is very busy writing his own book at the moment, so I don't want to bother him by checking in, but it is a bit agonizing waiting to hear back and worrying that if he has decided not to blurb Fish Wielder, I may never hear anything. I suppose not knowing is slightly better than being rejected definitively, but not by much. In other Blurbquest news, I also wrote to Cressida Cowell, who wrote the excellent "How to Train Your Dragon" series. I contacted her through her website and asked if she'd consider writing a blurb for the book. She wrote me a lovely email back this morning, but declined to do a blurb. She told me she never writes blurbs for anyone because she gets requests all the time, often from people she knows, and it's awkward to have to decline anyone because she doesn't like their book, so she just doesn't write them for anyone. I totally understand that position. She was very nice about it and even said, "If it's any consolation, I've never had a quote from another writer on the covers of any of my books, and they still did well, even before the movies came although it might be a nice thing to have, it isn't essential." Then she wished me luck with my book. Nice lady and a very engaging writer. I just finished reading the last of the "How to Train Your Dragon" books with my ten year old and we found it both very entertaining and even moving. I'd recommend them to anyone with kids.

On to the "landmarks" bit. I signed a contract with Fiery Seas Publishing on November 10th, 2015. That makes things officially official now! WHOOT. And after that, I got assigned my very own editor. I am waiting to hear her thoughts on the manuscript. Rest assured, I will keep you all posted on how that process goes. So far, I have only had great experiences with my editors, so I'm hoping to continue the streak.

Oh, and I am investigating having socks made.

That's all for now. I hope everyone is having an excellent holiday season so far.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Monday, November 23rd, 2015: Fish Wielders of OryCon37!

At OryCon 37! My first table at a con!
Well! I just closed out my first experience running a table at a science fiction and fantasy convention. What an awesome event, and what fun and interesting people! I've done several signing events for my graphic novel at comicons before, but those were organized and run by Dark Horse comics, so I didn't really have to do anything but show up. This was very different. I was running a table in the "fan" section because, of course, Fish Wielder isn't actually out yet, so I didn't have any books to sign or sell. Instead, I did a promotional blitz. I gave out almost 200 buttons (mostly of Brad), tons of stickers and temporary tattoos, and dozens of Fish Wielder posters. I also gave out a bunch of copies of my graphic novel, The Helm, so that folks who couldn't see my book yet could get a taste of my writing style to see if they might be interested in the book when it comes out in August of 2016.

Overall, I'd have to say that the event felt pretty successful. Lots of folks seemed intrigued by the book, dozens of people gave me their emails for a Fish Wielder newsletter and I had a lot of fascinating conversations with warm and generous people. And a few delightfully odd ones! I also got to try out potential elevator pitches of the book, and I was given some excellent advice to help me do even better next time.

For those of you considering doing something like this in the future, here were some of my learnings:

1. Bring a big roll of painters' tape. You just never know what you might need to tape, but believe me, there will be things.

2. Bring a bowl of candy to give away! Lots of people stopped by to snag a snack and stayed to chat about the book.

3. At least at this kind of con, most people didn't want to have to lug posters around--so smaller, easier to carry swag might be better. It did help that I brought a big supply of rubber bands to keep the posters rolled.

4. Buttons seem to trump everything else (even free graphic novels).

5. Small cards--or better yet, book marks--with all the important details about release date, publisher, publisher website, my website, etc. would have been very helpful. Several people in the book selling business stopped by the table and gave me this bit of useful advice.

6. Everybody at the con seemed to be collecting ribbons to stick on their badges--so ribbons might have been good too.

7. Put out a pad of paper for people to write down their email addresses. I had intended to do that on my computer, but there was no power available. And make sure you have a pen right beside your pad, and a spare pen in case your first pen mysteriously vanishes.

I also applied a bunch of temporary tattoos at the table, so that there was an army of fish wielders walking the con. Here are a few of the brave folks who will be wearing Brad for the next week or two:

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Saturday, November 7th, 2015: BlurbQuest Score! Piers Anthony Blurb and New Shirt

A Spell for Chameleon, A Blurb for Jim!
After 16 days of waiting (way sooner than I expected), Piers Anthony, New York Times Bestselling author (21 times over) wrote back and sent me a review of Fish Wielder for blurbing purposes. Here's the blurb:

"This is one wild romp! I suspect some smarter reader than I could do a doctoral dissertation just fathoming the fantasy genre's famous legends that are parodied here. I'm not sure I've seen such preposterously determined critic-baiting parody since Xanth or Asprin's Myth-begotten series. I recommend it to anyone."

Here's the longer version from the email I received on Halloween morning:

"I read Fish Wielder, by Jim Hardison. This is one wild romp! It's a deliberate parody of heroic fantasy that reminds me obscurely of the wrestler Gorgeous George. He was one who found a way to make his fame, distinguishing himself from all the other pro wrestlers in a genre noted for its flair and fakery, by getting a permanent done on his long blond hair. Fans noticed that. I remember a review that remarked that underneath all the wild showmanship was actually a pretty good wrestler. Okay, underneath layer on layer of highly unlikely characterization and adventure is actually a pretty good story, told by a writer who has a pretty fair knowledge of his craft. I suspect some smarter reader than I could do a doctoral dissertation just fathoming the Fantasy genre's famous legends that are parodied here. Just when you think that the final twisted thread has been unraveled, a whole nother level of ludicrous coincidence is unveiled. I'm not sure I've seen such preposterously determined critic-baiting parody since Xanth or Asprin's Myth-begotten series. I recommend it to anyone.

Piers Anthony

I wish I could use more of what he said on the cover of Fish Wielder, but we'll probably wind up shortening it to "This is one wild romp! I'm not sure I've seen such preposterously determined critic-baiting parody since Xanth or Asprin's Myth-begotten series. I recommend it to anyone," because, you know, shortness. Shortness is good when it comes to blurbs.

In other BlurbQuest news, I have also finally sent the Fish Wielder manuscript off to Nick Harkaway. This makes me more than a little nervous. You'll remember that his qualifiers when agreeing to look at my manuscript were, "I blurb if something is awesome, within one of the areas where someone might give a damn what I think, and (more tricky) if I get to it in a timely fashion. I say the last one's tricky because I'm wrestling my own book atm and it's putting up a hell of a fight..." So, that's fairly stiff criteria--starting with "if it's awesome". Will he think it's awesome? Will he feel like it's in an area where people would care what he thinks? I just don't know. While all of Nick's books have a wicked sense of humor to them, they are not really comedies by any stretch. He is a serious writer and has been one of my favorites ever since I read his debut novel, "The Gone Away World". That's part of what makes me nervous. Not only is he a great writer, his work is much more serious than mine. Fish Wielder is really a very ridiculous book. While I feel that it has some serious themes (and some genuine merits, I hope), they lie deeply burried under layers and layers of silliness. Silliness, as I have learned over the years, is not to everyone's taste. Some people just don't like it. So, there is a very real possibility that Nick won't like Fish Wielder because of that--or for a dozen other potential reasons--like maybe he'll just think it sucks. And then, of course, he may think that it's not really in his genre of writing and therefore not something he should blurb about.

I wonder if other authors get this nervous when they send their work off to be read by writers they admire and respect? That's kind of a funny thing with writing--there is no objective way to qualify that something is actually, definitively good, so it opens up a lot of room for self doubt and second guessing. My graphic novel, "The Helm" was pretty well received, but there were some folks who really hated it, too.

Oh well, I guess I was pretty nervous when I sent the book off to Piers Anthony too, and that has worked out very nicely. I'll just have to wait and see...and I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

In other news, I got another test T-shirt back from the printers. This one is of the Princess Nalweegie and the image is taken from Herb Apon's excellent cover art. Here it is:

Friday, October 23, 2015

Friday, October 23rd, 2015: Odds and Ends and T-Shirts and Things

More Test T-Shirts!
Got a few more test shirts in yesterday. There were even some women's black T-shirts in the shipment, like the one on the screen right side of this picture. I'm pretty happy with the quality and look, but they are fairly expensive to make, especially because they have printing on both the front and the back. Turns out, all the dark shirts are expensive, although they are also the most popular whenever I ask for people's opinions. If I'm going to make a decent number of shirts for promotional give-aways, I've realized I will most likely have to create a one-sided white shirt option. So, I put this one together:

I've ordered two of these in different price brackets to see which one works out the best. The cheaper of the two is about half the price of a dark t-shirt, which would mean I could print double the number. Of course, double the number of shirts doesn't help if people don't want to wear them, so there's that. I still think it would be ideal to find some local t-shirt printing shop where I could check the quality of a single shirt without having to wait a couple of weeks in between ordering and getting the shirt. I hate waiting for the shirts to show up--especially when they don't turn out well. Then it's a waste of both time and money. Oh well, time to do some more T-shirt research.

In other news, I haven't heard back from anyone else on the Blurbquest front. Bruce Campbell and Eric Idle haven't responded yet. I didn't really expect to hear anything back so quickly, but that doesn't make waiting any easier. I'm not very good at waiting. I find it tiring and depressing. As I think about it now, I guess maybe I should have picked a different theater of endeavor. Being a writer generally seems to involve a lot of waiting.

I still haven't managed to find contact info for Terry Jones yet, and I haven't gotten my act together enough to get the snail mail requests written and sent off to They Might Be Giants and Kurt Russell, or to draft up a blurb request for David Wong. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Monday, October 19th, 2015: Blurbquest Operation Python Failures! And also Reddit...

I woke up to a couple of Blurbquest fails this morning:

"Dear Jim

Thanks for your message via Michael’s website.

Michael is asked possibly 6 to 10 times a week to read a manuscript or book, then either comment on it, or write a foreword – as you can imagine, it’s impossible for him to do this. Therefore, I’m sorry, he’s unable to comment on Fish Wielder.

Good luck with the book.

Best wishes


That was the rejection from Michael Palin's people. Not a bad reason to be turned down, I suppose. Just in case you're curious, here's what I wrote him:

"I'm a huge fan. I've written a book. The sense of humor is inspired by Mr. Palin's work with Monty Python. Would love, beyond my ability to express, an author blurb...if he does that sort of thing...or would consider doing that sort of thing. Probably no chance, probably right out, but had to try. One of my comedy heroes. The book is called "Fish Wielder" and is coming out in August of 2016. I'd be very happy to send the manuscript in any format Mr. Palin desires. Well, within reason. Here's a link:

Thank you, in advance, for your consideration. Even if there is some kind of standing "under no circumstances" policy, please pass along my regards. The man is a genius.


Jim Hardison

Normally, I would have started with a "hello" or a person's name, but I was submitting through an on-line form and couldn't track down a name, so I went with the more direct approach. Tried to add a tiny bit of humor there toward the end. Oh well. But, right after that rejection came this one:

"Dear Jim,

Thanks for getting in touch. Unfortunately Terry doesn’t have the time to take any new projects.
I’m sorry to have to disappoint you in this but we wish you the best of luck with your book.

Best Wishes,


So, that was from Terry Gilliam's agent's assistant. Kind of a more personable tone to that one than the one from Mr. Palin's helper, but I didn't try to be overtly funny in the letter to Millie. Again, for those of you who may eventually be writing your own blurb request letters and can benefit from my failures, here's what I wrote to Terry Gilliam's agent:

"Hello, Ms. Hoskins,

I hope you are well. I’m writing to you to inquire as to whether Terry Gilliam ever writes “blurbs” in support of other authors. I have written an epically ridiculous epic fantasy novel (Fish Wielder) being published in August of 2016 and I would be giddy with delight if Mr. Gilliam would consider writing a blurb for it. I’m sure he is insanely busy and probably does not have time for this sort of thing, but his work and humor have been deeply influential of my own, so I thought I would at least make the request. I am a previously published graphic novel author and produced screenwriter, but this will be my first novel novel.

Here is a link to my author website:

Thank you for your consideration,

J.R.R.R. (Jim) Hardison

In case you are wondering how I got Ms. Hoskins (not a daughter of Bob, by the way...I checked) name and email address, it was pretty straight forward and the same method I've used to get contact info for almost everyone I've written so far. I just opened up Google and typed "Contact information for..." and filled in the name of the person I was looking for. In most instances, within a few clicks, I wound up with an email address for someone connected with the person I was trying to reach. Except Piers Anthony (I already knew about his website) and Nick Harkaway (I reached out to him on Facebook, believe it or not.)

And now it occurs to me that I haven't yet mentioned Nick Harkaway in the tale of my Blurbquest. Mr. Harkaway is a brilliat writer of fantastic works of fiction--meaning they are fantastical in nature as well as excellent reads. He wrote the very funny serious-science-fiction-apocalypse-war-fantasy-with-ninjas, The Gone Away World and the amazing steampunk-adventure-mystery, Anglemaker and the highly entertaining super-hero-action-parenting-thriller Tigerman. I have loved his books ever since I was attending the 2008 San Diego ComicCon in support of my graphic novel, The Helm, and I happened to walk past the Random House table where the lady asked me if I liked "crazy science-fiction with ninjas" and gave me a proof copy of The Gone Away World. Anyway, I've been thinking how cool it would be to get a blurb from Mr. Harkaway, so I reached out to him on Facebook, like this:

"Hello Nick, sorry to bother you with something non-social on social media, but I was wondering if you ever blurb books for other authors. I understand completely if you don't, and I hope I haven't offended you or put you in an awkward position by asking, but I've really enjoyed your books and I have a ridiculous epic fantasy that's going to be published in August and I thought I would ask."

And then, he wrote me back this:

"I absolutely do - and this is why I'm on Facebook: to be reachable smile emoticon

Basically, I blurb if something is awesome, within one of the areas where someone might give a damn what I think, and (more tricky) if I get to it in a timely fashion. I say the last one's tricky because I'm wrestling my own book atm and it's putting up a hell of a fight...

Do you want to send a hard copy? Or digi?

Which was totally awesome of him, but now I'm conflicted and nervous. I personally like Fish Wielder quite a lot and I'd like to believe that it is awesome...but is it awesome enough for Nick Harkaway?!?! I mean, his books are truly awesome. And, assuming he likes it enough to think it is awesome, will he feel like the book falls within an area where someone might give a damn about what he has to say? Fish Wielder is very much a comedy and very much an epic fantasy. Neither of those are exactly his genre. On the other hand, Fish Wielder is also a bit of odd riffing on a lot of different genres, themes and ideas, and as you may have noticed from my brief descriptions of his books, Nick's books are also difficult to describe briefly.

So, as noted, I'm conflicted. Fortunately, Mr. Harkaway hasn't sent me any instructions for how to get the manuscript to him, so... I haven't had to make a decision yet.

So, here is my updated Blurb list:

Jim's Blurbquest List

Logan Hunder HE BLURBED ME!

They Might Be Giants (looks like I may have to write to them via snail mail)

John Cleese DENIED!

Terry Gilliam DENIED!

Eric Idle (request sent...waiting)

Terry Jones (can't find contact info)

Michael Palin DENIED!

Piers Anthony ACCEPTED! He's going to read it!

Lev Grossman

David Wong

Nick Harkaway ACCEPTED (if I turn out to be brave enough to send it)

Bruce Campbell (request sent...waiting)

Kurt Russell

In other promotional news, my awesome agent, Mark, dropped me an email last night suggesting that I look into setting up an AMA on Reddit for Fish Wielder. Of course, until that moment, I didn't know what an AMA was or have anything more than a background awareness that Reddit was a useful thing for writers who wanted to interact with potential readers. Now, because Mark was kind enough to include a bunch of background in his email, I know better.

For those of you who may be as ignorant as I, an AMA is an "Ask Me Anything" subreddit--in other words, a forum for people to ask an author (or I guess any kind of person who can type on the internet) whatever questions they want.

For more info on AMA's check out this link that Mark sent me: AMA

And for more info on Author Spotlights on Reddit (which are kind of the same thing but for new authors) check out this link: AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT

After looking into it a little, the whole thing seems really cool, so I reached out to Reddit this morning. They are receptive to an AMA for Fish Wielder, but they need to know what date the book will be available for pre-order first. Seeing as I don't know that, I've put in a note to my lovely publisher, Fiery Seas, and I'm waiting to hear back! More on this breaking story as it develops.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday, October 16th, 2015: T-shirts and BLURBQUEST

The Official T-shirt Front and Back
The Thoral and Brad T-shirt Design
Test T-shirts came in from today! The colors are bright and crisp, the text is clear and legible! This is me wearing the Brad-style T. I think this design is working pretty well. I wore it around a bit and four people asked me about it. I also got a Thoral and Brad T, which I did not get an opportunity to model, but here it is without a human in it:

Yes, I have begun the quest for author blurbs for Fish Wielder in earnest. Not that I was kidding around before, but now I'm really serious. I already have one great author blurb. It's from Logan J. Hunder, author of the hilarious Witches Be Crazy. Logan was kind enough to read Fish Wielder and say about it, "Fast, fun, fantastic! Fish Wielder is hilarious and unpredictable, like a drunk bear playing whack-a-mole." It is always awesome to have your writing compared to a drunk bear.

Of course, I didn't get that blurb on my own, though. My excellent agent, Mark, sent my manuscript to Logan and requested a blurb. Now, it's my turn to begin my own blurbquest. I enter this quest as a complete novice. I don't actually know anything about how this kind of thing is done, how many blurbs I should try to get or how you even find out if an author writes blurbs. What I do know is that I'm going to start by trying to reach some key folks who have influenced my writing in deep and mysterious ways.

For example, I sent an email to John Cleese the day before yesterday. I figured it was kind of a long shot, but Monty Python's Flying Circus and Monty Python and the Holy Grail were kind of formative of my sense of humor and consequently impacted the writing of Fish Wielder, so I felt like I had to try. I actually found the email address right on John Cleese's website, So, I wrote him the following:

"Hello. I have been a big (if not all that tall) fan of yours since infancy (born 1968). Forgive me if this is the wrong venue for such a request, but I'm wondering if you ever write author blurbs for books, as I have written a book deeply influenced by your particular kind of lunacy and I would love to have you blurb it. I'm a previously published author and produced screenwriter. Thank you for your time, and thank you especially for the years of laughter."

Honestly, I didn't really expect a response, especially given that incredibly cheesy last line...but the very next day (less than 24 hours later) I got this reply:

"Jim, I am John's PA. Thank you for your request. John is currently touring the US and Europe until the Spring. I am afraid John only considers endorsing books for persons he knows personally.

Best regards, Pat

So, BAM! My first failure. At least it was a rejection because Mr. Cleese doesn't do that kind of thing--not because he hated the book.

I also wrote to Piers Anthony yesterday because his Xanth series was my first exposure to the idea that fantasy could be funny. Bink, from A Spell for Chameleon, was a major hero of mine. Anyway, I emailed this to Mr. Anthony, through his website:

"Hello, Mr. Anthony,

I want to start by thanking you for the countless hours of fun and pleasure your books have brought me over the years. I have been a fan since 1977, when I was 13 and read “A Spell for Chameleon” for the first time. The Xanth series was a major influence on my sense of humor, taste in fantasy, and my own writing. You helped make my awkward teenage years a lot more enjoyable.

I don’t know if you ever write book blurbs for authors you don’t know personally, but I would be deeply honored if you would consider writing a blurb for my epically silly epic fantasy “Fish Wielder”. I am a previously published author of comics and a produced screenwriter, but “Fish Wielder” is my first novel. It is slated for release in August of 2016 and my publisher and I are just beginning promotional efforts. I will understand completely if you are not interested, but would be happy to send you the manuscript in whatever format you’d like if blurbing the book is something you might consider. I’ve attached a series of links to the end of this email in case you would like to check out any of my previous works.

Thank you again for Xanth, Bink and stories that engaged my sense of wonder, sense of humor and common sense, all at the same time.


Jim Hardison

Again, I wasn't really expecting a response, but just a few hours later, I got this email back:

"I do read, review, and blurb novels when I have time. I have time this year, before I start writing Xanth #42 Fire Sale in January. I don't guarantee a positive review or blurb, as I give my honest opinion, but I do try to understand what the author is doing. So if you care to send Fish Wielder in .docx, .odt, or .pdf or .mobi, I can handle those and should be able to read it next month.

Piers Anthony

I sent him off the manuscript last night! No telling if he will like it or not, but it makes me a little giddy knowing that an author whose books I've loved since I was a kid is going to read my book. Sorry...geeking out.

So, who else is on my list? Well, here's where it stands at the moment:

Jim's Blurbquest List

Logan Hunder HE BLURBED ME!

They Might Be Giants

John Cleese DENIED!

Terry Gilliam

Eric Idle

Terry Jones

Michael Palin

Piers Anthony ACCEPTED! He's going to read it!

Lev Grossman

David Wong

Nick Harkaway

Bruce Campbell

Kurt Russell

Is that too many people to ask for blurbs? Do these people even give blurbs? Are they the right people? Will the readers care? I DON'T HAVE ANY IDEA! That's the magic of it! I'm just totally winging it here and reaching out to these people because their work influenced me, it would make me happy to know they read the book, and if I saw any of these people had blurbed a book, I'd at least pick it up to see what was going on. I have no idea how this will turn out, but I'll keep you posted on my progress, good or bad.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Monday, October 12th, 2015: YAY! Stickers!

Stickers, Buttons and Temporary Tattoos!
The New Fish Wielder Banner!
I got back to my office today, after a week of travel for work, to find that my test order of stickers for Fish Wielder had arrived! YAY! STICKERS! The stickers are of Brad, the talking Koi fish. I'm working with a place called to print them. So far, I'm very happy with the results. I've already had a test run of tattoos made with the same design (also through and a test run of 1.5" buttons made with Thoral on them through a place called All are looking pretty good so far--at least in my opinion. These tests are for promotional items that I'm intending to give away at book conventions and things in order to let people know that Fish Wielder is coming out next August and to get them excited so that they'll keep an eye out for the book as it gets closer to the publication date. I've never tried promoting something before it exists yet, so this is new to me. The owner of my publisher, Misty, of Fiery Seas, has been awesome about brain storming ideas with me, including things like "character cards" that will describe the central heroes and villains, and even a possible book trailer. Actually, one of my main "to dos" on my to do list for the week is to work on a script for the potential book trailer. In addition to the stickers, tattoos and buttons, I've also had a large format test poster run at that I'm very happy with and a banner. The banner is for use at my first public appearance in support of the book. It looks gorgeous and I had it printed at a place called

I'm going to share a booth with the Oregon Writer's Colony at OryCon 37, November 20-22nd in Portland, Oregon. This was set up by my sister-in-law, Rachelle, who is also a writer and works with the OWC. I am lucky to have a sister-in-law who pushes me to do things related to my book--like going to conventions and getting a publisher.

Actually, I'm starting to put together a small list of conventions and things I might be able to promote the book at. Here's what I've got so far:

I'll have a table here from Nov 20th through 22nd , 2015

Newcon PDX (A convention for every flavor of nerd)
Still looking into whether or not I can do a panel or something--January 15th through January 17th, 2016.

Wizard World Comic Con Portland 2016
I'll probably just go to this. Not sure if there's a public appearance opportunity--February 19-20-21, 2016

2016 Northwest Publishing Conference
I've been invited to speak about the marketing plan and my relationship with my publisher on March 5th, 2016

Norwescon Seatac, WA
Again, not sure there's an appearance opportunity here, but it's from March 24-27th , 2016

Emerald City Comic Con (Seattle, WA)
Same again--this is a big one. Not sure if there's an appearance opportunity--April 7th through the 10th

One item I haven't found a good supplier for yet is T-shirts. I was working with a place called for some Ts to promote my graphic novel The Helm. The ones they printed on white shirts worked out great, but I've been very unhappy with their work on dark and colored shirts. I ordered a couple of test prints of Fish Wielder T-shirts more than a month ago and they have yet to even send them. Meanwhile, dark shirts I've run for The Helm have been a disaster. I can't recommend Ooshirts unless you are working on white shirts, so I'm not even posting their link here.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sunday, October 11th, 2015: The Catchup!

I've got a little bit of catch up to play here. I finished the final draft of Fish Wielder on February 1st of 2015 and sent it off to an agent. Well, first, I sent it off to the publisher DAW, because I read that they accept unsolicited submissions. But they rejected it. The bastards. The process wasn't quite as fast as all that. It took them several months to reject it, during which time I just got to sit around wondering what was happening. When they finally did reject it, I not only got a nice form letter, I also got a little depressed. It didn't matter how many accounts I'd read about famous writers of books I love getting rejected enough times to wallpaper their rooms with the letters. It was a bummer. It was like that time when my ice cream fell off my cone onto the pavement and my friend said he could sympathize because that happened to him once, but he was still eating his ice cream.

So then I got all whiny and thought for sure Fish Wielder would never get published and I moped around talking in an Eeyore voice about just self publishing my book. Not long after that, my sister-in-law, Rachelle, who is also a writer (and who must have been tired of the Eeyore voice) advised me that I should really try to find an agent. I objected. I've written a few things before--a movie, a TV special, a graphic novel, an episode of a kids' PBS series--and never needed an agent to get them published and produced, so why should I get an agent for this? She was polite enough not to point out the whining and moping while she patiently explained the value of an agent and insisted that I should find a publisher rather than publish the book myself. She even went so far as to send me a list of agents.

I combed through the list until I found a few agents who specialized in fantasy books. Then I googled them and checked out the kind of fantasy books they represented until I found one agent who seemed to favor comedic fantasy: Mark Gottlieb at Trident Media Group. Trident is kind enough to provide an online submission form so that you can submit your manuscript electronically. DAW should really talk to Trident about stepping into the modern age. Anyway, I submitted the manuscript on April 17th, 2015. If you want to see what I included in my submission letter, click HERE. Then, I sat around waiting.

With publisher submissions, you kind of know what you're in for. They generally say that you won't hear back from them for months and that you're not allowed to ask them about it and they won't send you any kind of confirmation to let you know your manuscript even got there. And that pretty much sucks. But once I'd sent Fish Wielder off to Trident, I realized that I had no idea what to expect in terms of the potential wait. Like everything else I don't know these days, I tried googling the answer, but there were no useful results. So I just resigned myself to an indeterminate period of sitting around glumly.

Eleven days of glumness dripped slowly by. And then, early in the morning on the eleventh day, I got an email from Mark! I opened it with the kind of intense trepidation Schrodinger might feel when checking on his cat, only to find that it was simply a request that I re-email the manuscript in a different format. I had sent an .rtf and he was requesting a .doc. I immediately sent off the new version, sighed my best Eeyore sigh, and then headed off for work, wondering whether the amount of time one had to wait to hear back from an agent would now include an extra eleven days.

But, by the time I got in to work, there was another email from Mark! Again, I opened it with mixed feelings. It was clearly too little time for him to have read the whole thing. Did that mean he was already rejecting it? Here's what Mark wrote:

Jim, I'm loving this manuscript! More to come soon...

All the best,


Later that afternoon, he called me and agreed to represent Fish Wielder. I was ecstatic! Being accepted by somebody, even if it wasn't a publisher, felt really good! Better than really good! It felt great! For at least a week, I didn't feel like I needed to accomplish anything else. Just finding someone who said yes was enough. Predictably, however, that didn't last. Now that I had an agent, it was time to find a publisher. Again, there's not a really good definitive answer on how long something like that takes--at least not one that I could google up. Mark warned me that it might take some time he shopped the book around. And there I got to see the benefit of having an agent first hand. Mark was able to get the book in front of all kinds of publishers, including DAW, and they were actually eager to see the manuscript. Again, I was very excited.

But that's when the difficult bits caught up to me and I got to go through another agonizing waiting period. Mark had cautioned me, early on (I think it was actually during that first phone conversation), that my book would seem a bit odd in publishing terms. It was a comedic epic fantasy novel, aimed at both young adults and regular adult adults. That meant that it was both a genre oddball and required an audience crossover. Mark was fairly frank about the potential difficulty we were facing. He told me that YA publishers generally want the main character to be about the age of the target reader. My main character is 43. And, he spends a fair amount of the story drunk. That detail was one of the key reasons Scholastic Books sited when they passed on the book.

It took more than two months to find a publisher (Fiery Seas Publishing) who was willing to take a gamble on the book and able to offer an actual print run rather than just ebooks with print on demand. Why is having an actual print version important to me? My wife says it's probably because I'm a book snob with hoarder impulses, but I prefer to frame the same general concepts in ways that don't make me sound quite so jerky. I like print books because I collect them and I love the physical editions I can hold in my hands and put on my shelves. I actually generally buy two versions of good books--a paperback version for reading and lending to people like my wife (who dog-ears the pages to mark her place! Villain!)--and a hard back version to put on the shelf and keep forever like a wizard's grimoire. I don't hate ebooks, mind you. I know that they're convenient--I've got tons of them on my various electronic devices--but there is something comforting and magical about having a physical book that makes it irreplaceable.

So, that's the catchup material! On to the stuff that's going on now!