All posts by wil

Hunter – a short pay-what-you-want SciFi tale

Hunter is a short Sci-Fi story set in a dark and desperate world. Here’s a small preview:

Pyke chased the girl down a street still wet with the afternoon’s rainfall. A thin sliver of moon was glowing behind the thinning clouds, but it wasn’t bright enough to pierce the darkness between thefew street lamps that still worked. The girl was fast. He had to stay close, or she’d escape. 

Pyke had let the girl put about 500 feet between them when she ranthrough a bright pool of light and was swallowed by darkness. When she didn’t reappear, Pyke knew he had her, for there was only one place she could have gone. He followed her through a once-ornate gateway into the old city, where the colony had been founded a century before.

Her footfalls echoed off rows of empty windows down narrow streets that seemed to turn back on themselves, an ancient trick intended to confuse invaders. When the Gan arrived, they solved this puzzle by simply bombarding most of the buildings and walls from low orbit until there weren’t many places left to hide. Hunters like Pyke—a second-generation Goa colonist who’d grown up in the old city—knew every twist, every turn, every blind alley and every hidden basement.

It wasn’t the first time Pyke had pushed a rebel into the avenues. In the six months he’d been working for the Gan, he’d let dozens of terrified patriots think they were making their escape into the old city’s maze-like streets, only to trap them in one of its countless dead ends, where he’d have a little fun before turning them over to his masters.

He heard a splash just down the block, followed by a yelp. She must have fallen in a puddle, Pyke thought. Shallow craters were everywhere in these streets; filled with water, they made quite effective traps. Pyke slowed to a jog and grinned. It was only a matter of time now.

Hunter is a short story, just about 2500 words. I figure that’s about the length of a story you’d read in a magazine, but I’m not really sure what the appropriate cost is, so I’m experimenting with the Pay What You Want model that seems to be working really well for a lot of artists I respect and admire.

If I sold it to a magazine, I’d probably get around $125 or so (assuming I could get the SFWA professional rate of five cents a word. I figure that at least 125 people will want to read this, so if all of them donated a dollar, I’d feel really good about this, and I’d be able to do it again in the future.

So here’s what you do: click this big ugly button and decide what you want to pay for this story. Then, choose your format and download it. Or, download it, read it, and then decide what you want to pay; it’s entirely up to you. I just ask that, if you like it, you tell your friends about it.

If you prefer to use Google Checkout, you can do that, but it won’t let me set up a pay-what-you-want button, so I set it at $2.00, which is right in the middle of what people seem to be paying for this story.

READ THIS BECAUSE IT’S IMPORTANT: After you’ve decided what you wish to pay (from the low, low price of FREE to one billion dollars in pure diamonds), choose the format you want by clicking on one of the links below. Your download should begin automatically. Some mobile users may have trouble. I’m trying to fix the issue, but until it’s resolved, you should be able to get a copy from any non-mobile browser. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Hunter is available in DRM-free .mobi format for Kindle, .epub for other eReaders, and .pdf format for printing.

Hunter is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license.

I’d love to hear your feedback. If you’d like to comment about Hunter, you can do that on the Hunter post at my blog.

The Day After and Other Stories – eBook

Day_after_ebook_cover tl;dr: The Day After And Other Stories is once again available for download. It's $4.99 at Lulu. Yay!

In December of last year, I released a very short collection of very short stories for a very short time – just ten days, actually – as an experiment in releasing short fiction. It sold fairly well, wildly exceeding my expectations. I got very good feedback from readers, but I'd committed to pulling it off the shelf in its print version at the end of ten days, so that's what I did. I'd always planned to keep the eBook version on sale, but I got busy after I pulled the print version offline, and didn't get around to republishing just the e-version until today.

So, for those of you who want to read a very short collection of very short stories for a very small price ($4.99! Cheap!), now you can.

If you're wondering what this is all about, here's what I wrote back in December:

Last year, I collected a few short stories I'd written and sold them as a chapbook at PAX. It was a scary thing for me to do, because while I feel confident as a narrative non-fiction writer, I am paralyzed with terror whenever I think about releasing something I invented out of nothing more than an idea to the public, and before I actually release it, I hear Carrie's mother screaming at me, "THEY'RE ALL GOING TO LAUGH AT YOU!"

A couple of things have happened recently, though, that gave me the courage to actually release this short collection of short stories to anyone who wants to buy it. First, Project Do Something Creative Every Day is making me feel less and less afraid of sucking. Like I said recently, the goal isn't to be perfect; the goal is to be creative. I don't think The Day After and Other Stories is perfect, but it is creative, and the few people I have shown it to told me they liked it.

Second, over 400 people expressed an interest in buying an autographed copy of The Happiest Days of Our Lives over the last couple of days. That really blew me away, and made me think, "Well, maybe there aren't as many people out there waiting for an excuse to laugh at you as you think. Also? It's adorable that you think you're that important to anyone, jackass."  

I've had these files ready to put on LuLu for over a year, and it wasn't until this morning that I screwed up the courage to actually do it. I'm sticking to my original plan, which is to sell the paperback for a limited time (10 days) and then just offer the PDF version. I'm not quite sure why I wanted to do it that way, but it's nontraditional, and a little weird, so there you go.

Here's the introduction:

Every year, before the summer convention season gets underway, I pull a few excerpts from whatever I plan to release in the fall, take them to my local print shop, and make a deliberately lo-fi, limited edition chapbook to take with me on the obligatory summer convention circuit.

I’ve done previews of Dancing Barefoot, The Happiest Days of Our Lives, Memories of the Future, and in 2008, I pulled together a sampler that eventually became Sunken Treasure.

While Memories of the Future is 2009’s “big” fall release, it didn’t make sense to me to release a Memories– based chapbook this summer, because one already exists.

It looked like there wasn’t going to be a 2009 entry in the traditional Wil Wheaton Zine-like Chapbook Extravaganza, until I realized that I have several pieces of unpublished fiction sitting in my office, just waiting to be published.

“Hey,” I said to myself, “people keep asking me to write and release fiction, and I’ve been waiting until I have an actual novel to give them. But these things totally don’t suck, and I bet readers would enjoy them.”

“That is an excellent idea, me,” I said. “And have I mentioned how smart and pretty you are?”

“Oh, stop it. You’re embarrassing me,” I said.

Together, myself and I collected some of my (mostly unpublished) fiction and put it into this chapbook, for safe keeping.

Even though this is limited to just 200 copies, it represents a significant step for me in my life as a writer, because it’s the first time I’ve collected and published stories that I made up. (You know, like a writer does.) I hope you enjoy it, and thanks for your support!

The more astute among you may have noticed that this says it's limited to 200 copies; that's because this was originally offered as a limited chapbook at PAX, and we're using the same files. Think of it as a delightful legacy issue, or something like that, if you must. I don't know how many of these books I'll actually sell, but I doubt the number will be exactly 200. When the paperback goes to the Land of Wind And Ghosts, though, I suppose I can check to see how many were sold, and you can use your very own Red Pen of Doom to put the actual number into your copy. Hey! Look! It's interactive!

I hope I can get this available in .mobi and .epub sooner than later, but I don't have conversion software at the moment (Clibre and Sigil barf on the .pdf, so I have to start over with a .rtf file when I have the free time).

Also, because it's a FAQ: If you want to print it out and make your own book from it for your personal, non-commercial use, you have my permission to do that.

Memories of the Future, Volume One (paperback)

Memories_of_the_Future_by_Wil_WheatonI am beyond excited to announce the release of my newest book, Memories of the Future, Volume One.

I worked harder on this book than anything since Just a Geek, and it wouldn't have been possible without a bunch of people who I thank in the book, but wanted to thank here, as well:

Andrew Hackard, Brent Spiner, David Gerrold, Jamais Cascio, John Rogers, Keith McDuffee, Memory Alpha, Phil Plait, Will Hindmarch, .tws, everyone who read and commented on my original posts at TV Squad, and especially to my wife and kids, who watched more TNG than they ever thought possible while I was working on this.

If you've just heard about Memories of the Future for the first time, and are wondering what it is, I'd like to share the introduction with you, which I think explains the whole thing rather well:

Introduction to Memories of the Future

In August 2006, Brad Hill, an editor at Weblogs, Inc., hired me to write humorous reviews of Star Trek: The Next Generation from my unique point of view as an actor and a fan of the show.

I started at the beginning of the first season, re-watching episodes that I hadn’t seen in a decade or longer, faithfully recording and sharing the memories they released. Along the way, I came up with some silly episode recaps, and an interesting perspective on the first season, twenty years after we brought it to life. The columns were very well-received, and tons of readers asked me if they’d be collected into a book. I didn’t plan on it originally, but AOL cut TV Squad’s budget before I’d even made it to the halfway point of the first year, and I decided that putting the entire season into a book wasn’t just a good way to finish the season, it was a moral imperative.

A few months after I began working on this book in earnest, at the 2009 Nebula awards dinner, I sat at a table with David Gerrold, who is best-known for writing the original series classic The Trouble With Tribbles. (Fun fact: David wrote and sold The Trouble with Tribbles when he was 19. My wife Anne asked him how he had the courage to do that, and David told her, "Because nobody told me I couldn't." That's so awesome, and everyone who is creative should commit that to memory.)

We were talking about all kinds of writerly stuff, and I mentioned to David that I was working on this book. As I started to describe it to him, I could see that he wasn't into it, but was too polite to tell me why.

After a minute, he said, "You have to be careful with your tell-all book…"

"Ah, that's why he wasn't into it." I thought.

"It's not a tell-all book. I hate those things," I said. "It's more like you're flipping through your high school yearbook with your friends."

I called on all my improv skills and held an imaginary book in my hands.

"It's like, 'Hey! I remember this, and I remember that, and did you know that this funny thing happened there, and … oh God … I can't believe I thought that was cool…'"

His face lit up. "That sounds like a book I'd like to read."

Here it is, David. I hope you enjoy it. (Additional fun fact: David Gerrold suggested me for the role of Wesley. If he hadn't done that, I don't know that I'd have ever voluntarily worn a pumpkin-colored sweater.

Despite that, though, I'm extremely grateful to David for convincing Bob Justman and Gene Roddenberry to take a chance on me.)

Volume One takes you from the pilot to Datalore. Volume Two will take you from Angel One to The Neutral Zone. During our journey together, we’ll certainly be going where no one has gone before, except those times when we go 20% to the left of where the original series went and talk about stuff a whole bunch without actually doing anything … but that’s part of what makes the first season so much fun to watch, especially knowing how greatThe Next Generation eventually became.

Put on your shoulder pads, set a course for 1987, emit an inverse-tacyon pulse into the heart of the anomaly, and engage! By Riker’s beard, you shall be avenged! (Um, as soon as Riker’s beard shows up, next season.)

Namaste,

Wil Wheaton
Pasadena
June 2009

Man, I can't believe I wrote that all the way back in June. This really has taken a long time to get across the finish line, hasn't it?

For the last six weeks, I've been doing podcast previews from the book. I think they're pretty amusing, and they're also a pretty good way to figure out if this book is something you'll enjoy:

I've also put up an extensive preview on the book's product page at Lulu, so you can take a look inside the book and read the chapters that cover Encounter at Farpoint Part 1 and Justice. If you have this thing called The Internet, you can also read the chapters in their original, unedited form at TV Squad.

There are bound to be some FAQS about this book, so let me attempt to answer a few of them now:

Q: Will there be an audiobook?

A: Maybe. I'm hopeful that this book sells well enough to justify the amount of time and energy that goes into creating an audio version.

Q: Will there be a digital version, a version for my Kindle, or [my electronic reading device]?

A: Probably.

Q: When?

A: Soon. 

Q: Why not now?

A: Because I haven't decided how I want to release a digital version (how to make different formats available or just do the PDF that is easy at Lulu) and what a fair price for it will be.

New Answer: Yes! You can get a PDF from Lulu for $10. It's on the same page where you can order the print version.

Q: Can I buy a signed copy?

A: Well, you can buy a copy and bring it to a con or something, and I'll be happy to sign it for you there, but since this is printed on-demand, when you order it, there's no way for me to sign it before it makes its way into your hands, tentacles, clamps, or whatever you use to hold a book.

Q: Will there be a 300 like you did for The Happiest Days of Our Lives?

A: I hope I can do that; it's just a matter of making the economics work.

Q: Will this be in regular bookstores?

A: Probably not. I'm an indie publisher with razor-thin margins, and since the vast majority of my customers are online, it just doesn't make sense to end up with a few cents on the dollar per sale, which is what would happen if I were to get this distributed into bookstores. I've blogged extensively about how and why I publish the way that I do. If I can find the links to those posts, I'll add them here.

Q: What about Amazon? Can I get it at Amazon?

A: Sometimes Lulu sells books through Amazon. If this is one of the titles they choose, then you'll be able to get it there. If you can, I'll update this post. I think it ends up costing the same whether you get it from Amazon or Lulu, though.

Q: Why is shipping so expensive?

A: That's a Lulu question, not a me question.

Q: So why did you put it here?

A: Because it's frequently asked.

Q: I'm not in the US. Do I need to wait for a World edition?

A: No. One of the many cool things about using print on demand from Lulu is that the book will be printed in whatever country you place your order, which keeps jobs closer to home, limits delivery and shipping fees and time, and makes everyone happy. Yay!

So there you go. As always, thank you for your support. I hope you enjoy my Memories of the Future.  

This is the cover for Memories of the Future, Volume One

Memories_of_the_Future_by_Wil_Wheaton

This is the cover for Memories of the Future, Volume One.

I looked at a bunch of different designs (and at least one of them may be a variant cover at some point) but when I saw the comp that ended up leading to this cover, I knew that this was the one I'd want to use, because I just love 1950s and 1960s pulp Sci-Fi covers. For me, they evoke a unique sense of nostalgia that is strangely timeless, and that's something I hope to do with the text in these books.

I asked my friend Will Hindmarch, who did the interior and cover design, to talk about the process a little bit, and here's what he had to say:

We went through a few cover designs before settling on this one. I see it as a mix between classic, pulpy Penguin covers and a bit of modern texture-driven design. The decision not to do an actual fake distressed cover, here, with ragged edges and all that, was deliberate. So it has some of that distressed texture, but it's cleaner than a beat-up, hand-me-down copy pulled out of an attic somewhere. This is some remarkably clean copy you found in a second-hand shop somewhere.

The thing also needed to intuitively evoke Star Trek memories without being too on-the-nose. I immediately latched on to that familiar uniform shape and did two or three variations on that idea. This is the one that Wil grabbed out of my various sketches. We wanted something that sort of looked back but was also sort of about the future, but we needed something that we could riff on for a series of books. So it's got a formula that we can tweak and alter as we move forward. I think, once we have two or three of these covers sitting next to each other, they'll interact in fun ways.

I'm already looking ahead to the imagery for volume two. 

Memories of the Future, Volume One will be released next month. I will announce the exact date soon. A little more information about Memories of the Future, Volume One can be found here.

This is the Introduction to Memories of the Future, Volume One

Memories of the Future should have been released already, but it was significantly delayed when I did a whole bunch of the "acting" part of the "Writer/Actor" multiclassing I've been doing for the last few levels. However, I took a giant leap toward release (wow, that sounds dirty) about 40 minutes ago, when I e-mailed the final bit of text off to the people who need it for the damn book to actually be published. (Yes, I have been the one log holding up this whole logjam. That's usually the way it works out around here.)

One of the things I needed to write and send was the introduction, which I thought I'd share here, now, because I think it's a great way to, you know, introduce the book. So when all your friends want to know what Memories of the Future is about (You have been relentlessly telling all of your friends about it several times a day, haven't you? That MAME cabinet Daddy needs for his office isn't going to buy itself, you know) you can point them to this post.

Introduction to Memories of the Future

In August 2006, Brad Hill, an editor at Weblogs, Inc., hired me to write humorous reviews of Star Trek: The Next Generation from my unique point of view as an actor and a fan of the show.

I started at the beginning of the first season, re-watching episodes that I hadn’t seen in a decade or longer, faithfully recording and sharing the memories they released. Along the way, I came up with some silly episode recaps, and an interesting perspective on the first season, twenty years after we brought it to life. The columns were very well-received, and tons of readers asked me if they’d be collected into a book. I didn’t plan on it originally, but AOL cut TV Squad’s budget before I’d even made it to the halfway point of the first year, and I decided that putting the entire season into a book wasn’t just a good way to finish the season, it was a moral imperative.

A few months after I began working on this book in earnest, at the 2009 Nebula awards dinner, I sat at a table with David Gerrold, who is best-known for writing the original series classic The Trouble With Tribbles. (Fun fact: David wrote and sold The Trouble with Tribbles when he was 19. My wife Anne asked him how he had the courage to do that, and David told her, "Because nobody told me I couldn't." That's so awesome, and everyone who is creative should commit that to memory.)

We were talking about all kinds of writerly stuff, and I mentioned to David that I was working on this book. As I started to describe it to him, I could see that he wasn't into it, but was too polite to tell me why.

After a minute, he said, "You have to be careful with your tell-all book…"

"Ah, that's why he wasn't into it." I thought.

"It's not a tell-all book. I hate those things," I said. "It's more like you're flipping through your high school yearbook with your friends."

I called on all my improv skills and held an imaginary book in my hands.

"It's like, 'Hey! I remember this, and I remember that, and did you know that this funny thing happened there, and … oh God … I can't believe I thought that was cool…'"

His face lit up. "That sounds like a book I'd like to read."

Here it is, David. I hope you enjoy it. (Additional fun fact: David Gerrold suggested me for the role of Wesley. If he hadn't done that, I don't know that I'd have ever voluntarily worn a pumpkin-colored sweater.

Despite that, though, I'm extremely grateful to David for convincing Bob Justman and Gene Roddenberry to take a chance on me.)

Volume One takes you from the pilot to Datalore. Volume Two will take you from Angel One to The Neutral Zone. During our journey together, we’ll certainly be going where no one has gone before, except those times when we go 20% to the left of where the original series went and talk about stuff a whole bunch without actually doing anything … but that’s part of what makes the first season so much fun to watch, especially knowing how greatThe Next Generation eventually became.

Put on your shoulder pads, set a course for 1987, emit an inverse-tacyon pulse into the heart of the anomaly, and engage! By Riker’s beard, you shall be avenged! (Um, as soon as Riker’s beard shows up, next season.)

Namaste,

Wil Wheaton
Pasadena
June 2009

Memories of the Future will be available very, very, very soon. I am doing everything I possibly can to ensure that it is worth the wait.

sunken treasure is revised for a second edition

There's a brand new layout of Sunken Treasure, which looks beautiful and has earned the Second Edition designation.

A ton of readers have sent feedback about Sunken Treasure, and some common themes have emerged:

1. You like the stories. This makes me so happy I want to do the Snoopy dance.
2. The layout needs work. This makes me realize my own limitations.
3.
You really want a digital version that's native to the Kindle, or other
eReaders. This makes me wish my eReader-Fu was stronger.
4. You want an audio version of the whole book.

I
took this feedback to heart, and over the next few weeks I will address
every request. Today, I wanted to announce that I took some of the
earnings from the first month's sales, and reinvested them into making
the book even better: the US edition has been revised and redesigned by my friend Will Hindmarch,
with a beautiful new layout and gorgeous new fonts. Will is a
honest-to-goodness professional designer, and he made the gutters
deeper, fixed some of the typos that eluded both me and Andrew (curse
you, signing! You kept looking like singing!) and improved the overall flow of the whole book. (Note: The World edition has not been changed; we're working on it, and it'll be updated soon.)

Here, take a look at this comparison, starting with the original:

Original Sunken Design

And now, the new design:

New Sunken Design

I'm
not sure if the change comes across on the screen, but it looks
beautiful on paper. Also, the margins are vastly improved since I did
them myself, which will address the number one complaint from
customers.

Whenever I revise and update my books, some people
who've purchased the first printing get upset with me. If you're one of
them, I hope you'll understand that I always want to make my work
better, and now your first edition just became limited. Yay!

Now, about the other points people have raised:

At
the moment, Lulu only supports PDF for downloadable eBooks, but I think
they will let me sell other types of digital files if I don't put it
into their eBook category. If I understand it correctly, I could make a
.zip file that has html, .rtf, .txt, and as many native formats as I
can successfully create (or pay others to create for me). If I'm right
about that, expect to see that kind of offering – still for just $5 and
still without DRM – as soon as I can pull it all together.

There's an audio version on the way, as well. I just haven't had time to record it.

Criminal Minds Production Diary (audiobook)

I spent much of today recording and mixing an audio version of my Criminal Minds production diary. It's available as a DRM-free MP3 for just $5.

The fundamental concept behind Operation Crazy Idea is to publish more
things, more often, at lower price points. The simplicity and immediacy
of POD technology, the Long Tail, and Kevin Kelly's 1000 True Fans
Model (I hate that term, but I love the idea behind it) have all worked
together to make the first effort in Operation Crazy Idea, Sunken Treasure, a huge success.

This
morning, I got a genuinely Crazy Idea that I've spent much of today
creating: An audio version of my Criminal Minds production diary.

"Why aren't you just doing an audio version of the whole book?" You may ask.

"Well," I would say, "because that wouldn't be a Crazy Idea."

What
is a Crazy Idea, though, is recording the whole production diary,
adding in the usual asides and extras, ending up with something that's
about 118 minutes long, and selling it on Lulu for $5.

"Why $5?" You say.

You ask a lot of good questions, person-who-I-made-up-who-is-different-from-the-person-I-made-up-yesterday.

It's probably worth more than that, but since the audio quality isn't as produced as the Happiest Days or Just A Geek audiobooks, I thought it was a fair price. Besides, I've learned from the PDF sales of Sunken Treasure
that it's possible to reach a lot of people at a very affordable price
point and still get a decent return on my investment. I'm not getting
rich off of this stuff, but I'm hopeful that if I do enough projects
like this, that are affordable and easy to purchase, over the course of
a year it will add up to me supporting my family. If that happens, this
officially becomes Operation Awesome Idea. If I earn enough to buy some
toys, it's Crazy Awesome.

I decided to do this particular
project today (total time from inception to completion: about 5 hours)
because my episode of Criminal Minds is airing tonight, and I thought
it would be cool to do this version right now, instead of waiting until
I could book studio time for the full audiobook.

If you're interested, you can head over to my Lulu storefront to pick it up right now. If you're not convinced, and would like to hear a preview, you can download this excerpt, which tells the story of the audition.

Sunken Treasure (Downloadable PDF version)

Note: I'm not going to bury the lede: If you have $5 and want a non-DRM PDF copy of Sunken Treasure, you can buy it here and have it in just a few minutes.

Now, here's the story behind my decision to offer this format…

I
took some time on Saturday afternoon to answer a bunch of e-mail,
including a brief interview about my experience with Lulu and the
release of Sunken Treasure (short version: it's been awesome. Longer
version coming later this week.)

While I did this, I had
Twitteriffic open, and was doing my silly Twitter thing, which, as many
of you know, was the style at the time.

At 1:38pm, I sent the following message to Twitter: "Hey Twitterverse: how would you feel about a digital version of Sunken Treasure for about $5?"

I
expected that a dozen or so people would be interested, but I hoped for
more. Within ten minutes, over 100 different people said they were not
only interested, but wanted it RIGHT NOW PLZ KTHX.

"Wow," I thought. "That was a more positive and emphatic response than I was expecting!"

I told Twitter: "Wow, so it
appears that quite a lot of you want PDF versions of this book for $5.
I didn't think it would be so many, honestly. Hmmm…
"

Responses continued to pour in. I started making hash marks on a note pad.

A
lot of people were asking about Kindle versions, Sony eReader versions,
and other versions. I made a lot more hash marks on my note pad, and
noticed that the page was almost filled.

I looked around the Lulu publishing options and told Twitter: "Many questions
about other formats for digital versions of my books. Short answer: all
I can do at the moment on my own is PDF. Still want?"

Short answer: Yes. A whole lot of people wanted it, even if it was in a PDF format.

I've
always wanted to do digital versions of my books, but I've never
had a way to do it that doesn't involve me manually accepting payments
and sending out links or something equally complicated. My POD
experience with Lulu has completely changed that. I logged into my Lulu
account, clicked a couple of buttons, filled in one box with $5.00, and
I was done.

I took a deep breath and told Twitter: "Okay, Twitterverse! You asked for it, so here it is. Sunken Treasure in DRM-free PDF for $5: http://tinyurl.com/sunkenpdf"

I admit that I had a brief flash of doubt. "Did I just screw myself? Did I just sell one and end up giving away a hundred?"

"No," I reminded myself. "People
who will steal from me were never going to support my work, anyway.
You're doing the right thing. You're making it available to people at a
really fair price, in a super portable format. And maybe people will
like it and want a paper copy for themselves or to give as gifts."

I
hoped that PDF sales would be solid … well, they were solid, for
about ten minutes, and then they exploded. In less than an hour, the
total PDFs sold exceed 1/5 of the total print copies sold. People were
e-mailing positive feedback, people were Twittering positive feedback,
and people were starting to talk about it on their blogs.

"Okay, this is awesome," I thought. "I definitely did the right thing."

Over
the next 24 hours, I checked sales every hour or so (hey, can you blame
me?) and I watched total PDF sales close the gap with print sales, but
something really awesome was also happening: the print sales, which had
slowed to about 2 a day a month after release, suddenly picked up! It
wasn't a ton, and I'm still not getting rich off of this effort, but it
was still pretty remarkable. Feedback from buyers suggested that a lot
of people read the PDF, liked it, and wanted a physical copy of their
own as a result. Any doubts I had about the demand for this format, or
the wisdom of trusting my instincts and releasing a DRM-free PDF at a
reasonable price point vanished. I started thinking about other work of
mine, and how cool it would be to offer digital versions in a similar
manner.

I noticed that, coincidentally, Just A Geek had become
available on O'Reilly's Safari Bookshelf. I also noticed that Just A
Geek and Dancing Barefoot's sales rankings on Amazon had climbed by
several thousand points in just a day. Also a coincidence? I'm not
sure, but I'd like to believe it wasn't.

I just checked, and as
of 10:00 this morning, not quite 48 hours after I announced it, PDF
sales of Sunken Treasure have nearly caught 4 weeks of print sales (PDF
is 17 sales short of overtaking print sales, so if you get it now, you
could be part of, um, history!) Print sales in the last 48 hours have
been better than print sales in the last 5 days. I'm not getting rich
off of this, but it's certainly answered any questions I had about
publishing this way.

The best part of all of this (well, other
than the surprisingly enthusiastic response) is how easy it was for me
to do it. Because I already had the PDF uploaded for printing, making
the PDF itself available was simply a matter of making a choice and
investing about 40 seconds of effort to throw the switch.

Let me
close by answering a few FAQs (which I'm going to update throughout the
day, so check back if I don't answer you in comments):

Q: I have all your other stuff already because I'm awesome like that. Is there enough new stuff in this to justify the purchase?

A:
Dude, thank you for supporting my work! That is totally awesome, and so
are you. Now, someone who is not me is probably more qualified to
answer this, but here's what I think: there are some small excerpts
from Just a Geek and Dancing Barefoot, but that only makes up a tiny
portion of the book. It's mostly outtakes from Happiest Days (that may
or may not make it into the Subterranean Press edition), various things
that I've written in my blog, and an unreleased sketch that I wrote for
a show at ACME. I also reformatted and rewrote my Criminal Minds
production diary.

If I paid five bucks for this, and I'd already
read Just a Geek and Dancing Barefoot, I don't think I'd be unhappy
about it, but I'm not as objective as I'd like to be. Hopefully,
someone will address this in comments, and I can link to it.

Q: I see there's a World and a US edition. What's the difference?
A: The World edition is a slightly larger format, due to legacy printing issues. There is no difference in content.

Q: So why did you make two different digital editions available?
A: So people who use direct links instead of visiting the storefront would see that there's a $5 PDF available.

Q: Oh, that's nice of you.
A: That wasn't a question, but thanks.

Q: Can I even read it on my iPhone?
A: Yeah, it's a regular old PDF file, so it will totally work on your iPhone.

Q:How will it look on my iPhone, though?
A:
I don't own an iPhone, so I can't say from firsthand experience, but
I've heard from a lot of people who have read it on their iPhones, and
they were very happy with the experience.

Q: What about other formats?
A:
I'm looking into it. I know lots of people want it for [DEVICE THEY
OWN] and I'm working on making those formats available. I can't tell
for sure if Lulu makes it possible for me to sell a digital version in
a non-PDF format, though, so that may be a non-starter.

Q: Why not just sell it through Amazon for the Kindle?

A:
I may eventually do that, but right now I don't know if I can sell
enough copies to make up for the massive cut of revenue I'd have to
give Amazon. I'm happy as hell to be selling in the hundreds, but if I
went that way, I'd have to either increase the price significantly, or
hope to sell in the thousands. I'm not sure that there are thousands of
people who a) want to read this and b) also own Kindles.

Q: If I buy this, can I convert it to a different format?

A: Sure. You can use calibre
to convert it to a ton of different formats. Calibre is free (speech
and beer) by the way. Incidentally, if you're one of the Kindle owners,
you can use calibre to convert the PDF to a Kindle format. I've seen
screenshots from some people who have done that, and it looks cool.

Q: I already bought the print version. Can I get a copy of the digital version?
A: Sure you can. It's just five bucks.

Q: I see what you did there.
A: Again, not a question, but thanks.

Q: Can I give this to my friend/husband/wife/mom/girl or boy I'm trying to impress?
A:
Once you have it, I can't stop you from doing whatever you want with
it, and I certainly wouldn't expect you to treat it any differently
than you would a paper book. However, I hope that we all understand the
difference between sharing with our friends/spouses/famies and
"sharing" with an entire forum, or hundreds of people simultaneously.
I'm not trying to be a dick about this, and I'd rather people read it
than not, but it's only $5, you know?

Q: If I buy this, can I make my own print copy?

A:
As long as you don't sell it, absolutely. If a print shop doesn't want
to print it for you, show them this: I give you permission to make a
print copy of this book for personal, non-commercial use.

Q: If I make my own print copy and bring it to a con, will you sign it for me?

A: Hells yes I will. That'd be pretty cool, actually.

Q:
So, this is awesome and I want it now, but I'm not interested in
scrolling back to the top of this entry. How do I get it again?

A: I'm so glad you asked. If you have $5 and want a non-DRM PDF copy of Sunken Treasure, you can buy it here and have it in just a few minutes.

Sunken Treasure

Sunkentreasure_by_wil_wheatonEvery year, before the summer convention season gets underway, I pull some excerpts from whatever I plan to release in the fall, take them to my local print shop, and make a deliberately lo-fi, limited edition chapbook to take with me on the obligatory summer convention circuit.

I’ve done previews of Dancing Barefoot, The Happiest Days of Our Lives, and Memories of the Future*, but in 2008, I couldn’t excerpt my planned fall release, because it was so top secret, I would have had to print it on self-destructing paper, and while that would have made it a very limited edition, the costs associated were … prohibitive.**

The thing about these chapbooks is that you can only get them from me if you come see me at a convention. Since I don't do many conventions, this leaves a lot of you — Europe, Canada, and the East Coast, I'm looking in your direction*** — without a chance to get your hands on one. Later this week, I will correct this glaring error, by releasing last year's chapbook, Sunken Treasure, via a print on demand system that works like this: you place an order, they print your book, and the service I use ships it to you. A couple of my friends have used the same service I'm using, and they're super happy with the quality of their books, the customer service, and everything about the whole process. Print on demand services used to be kind of sketchy, but they've grown up a lot recently, and I'm willing to give this particular one a try.

If this works the way I think it will, it's going to be super awesome for all of us as I release books in the future: You don't have to worry about me screwing up your order, I don't have to invest in a thousand books at a time, you get your book in a few days instead of a few weeks because I'm not shipping it myself, and I can spend more time creating new stories while remaining independent. Best of all, I'll have the time to write and release more than one or two books a year.

I'm proud of Sunken Treasure, and people who read it seemed to really like it. But if you were wondering what you're getting into, here's part of the introduction I wrote for this release:

With the help of my editor Andrew, who is a former ninja warrior and recreational time traveler, I pulled together things I liked from all three of my books, my blog, and this groovy collaborative fiction project I played with called Ficlets. I also included, for the first time anywhere, one of the scripts I wrote for a sketch comedy show at the ACME Comedy Theater.

When we printed out the resulting chapbook so we could proof it, Andrew and I both noticed that without really trying, we’d managed to put together something that was a lot cooler than we’d expected.

“This is a great way to introduce people to my writing,” I said.

“Maybe we should consider making it a more substantial release,” Andrew said. “So more than 200 people can have a chance to read it.”

I thought that was an excellent idea. It was such an excellent idea, I completely forgot about it until the beginning of 2009, when I found six unsold copies in my office. I took them with me to a convention in Phoenix, sold them all, and began thinking about putting together the book that you have in your hands right now.

I’ve expanded this version from the original just a little bit, and included the production diary I wrote about my experiences working on Criminal Minds last year, because of everything I wrote in 2008, that was what people seemed to like the most, and I’m all about making the people happy.

I hope you enjoy this little collection, and I hope you’ll share it with your friends.

Unlike the autographed limited edition I took to cons last year, it's, um, not limited, and not autographed, but it is expanded a little bit, and it's not deliberately lo-fi. It won't feel like a 'zine at all. My friend Matt did a beautiful cover for it, and if enough people ask, I can easily offer a hardcover version with just a few clicks.

I hope it will find its way to all the people who wanted to read it, but couldn't make it out to any of the very few conventions I attended last year. I'm working out the final details of publishing it right now, and I'll have all that information available in a day or so.

I have created two editions, a US Edition and a World Edition.
They are identical in content, but the World Edition is in a slightly
larger format, so it's $2.00 more. The trade off is that you don't have
to spend a million dollars on shipping if you're not in the US. Yay!

Here's the book's description at Lulu:

Sunken Treasure is a short collection of my favorite
pieces from my books and blog, including a production diary from my
2008 role in Criminal Minds, and excerpts from a collaborative fiction
I took part in called Ficlets. As a bonus feature, it also includes the
never-before-seen script to a sketch I wrote and performed at the ACME
Comedy Theater.

If you ever wanted to know where to start with all my writing, Sunken Treasure is the book for you.

The book is 90 pages long. The US edition is $13 + shipping, and the world edition is $15 +shipping.

*Watch how I bury this in the footnote: Memories of the Future is what I'm calling the book of TNG reviews.

**As it turns out, that project self-destructed, so it worked out that I didn't risk releasing excerpts.

***Nearly all the e-mails I've gotten from people who can't come to my conventions are from these places. Obviously, you will be able to purchase this book from anywhere in the world.


The Happiest Days of Our Lives (audio)

The Audio Version of The Happiest Days of Our Lives

SPECIAL NOTE: THIS AUDIO VERSION IS CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE, DUE TO LULU.COM ENDING THE SALE OF AUDIOBOOKS. I'M SEARCHING FOR ALTERNATIVE DISTRIBUTION.

You can buy the audio version of The Happiest Days of Our Lives right here, for just $19.72. "Why $19.72?" You ask? Because that's the year I was born, and since nobody else is the boss of me, I can do that sort of thing. "How long is it?" You say? "That's what she said!" I reply. Then I tell you that it's about three and a-half hours long, and we laugh and laugh before the episode ends with a hilarious freeze frame.

Like the audio version of Just A Geek, this is a super-annotated edition, filled with tons of what I call "audio footnotes" for lack of a less stupid-sounding term. I hope we've created something that's more like sitting down in a room with me while I tell you stories, than it is a typical audiobook. I don't think a traditional publisher would let me get away with doing it this way, which is a big reason I do these things on my own. If you've ever heard me perform my work at a show, or listened to any of my podcasts, you should have some idea of what you're getting into.

Unlike the audio version of Just A Geek, the audio performance of The Happiest Days of Our Lives will only be available as a download. We found that the costs associated with creating and shipping physical media for JAG:tA vastly outweighed the benefits, and most people just rip the CDs to their favorite digital format, anyway.

Now, I'm sure most of you reading this don't need to hear it, but I'm a dad, and that means I often say things at great length that don't need to be said, so I'd appreciate it if you pretended to listen. I've made it really clear that I despise DRM and think it's stupid, and I will never willingly infect something you buy from me with DRM. In accordance with my philosophy, there is no DRM or restriction of any kind on this audiobook. I don't think I'll lose any sales of The Happiest Days audiobook to piracy, because people who would steal from me aren't people who wouldn't buy it, anyway, but I need to say this. If you're considering trying to steal it in some way, there's very little I can do to stop you – it's a game of whack-a-mole that I don't have the time or resources to play – but I hope you'll consider that when you steal from me, you're not sticking it to a giant company with millions of dollars in annual revenue. When you steal from me, you're directly hurting my family, because this is how I support the four of us (and our dogs, who say that they love you no matter what, because they're dogs and that's what they do.)

I hope everyone who wants to hear me perform The Happiest Days of Our Lives will get a chance to enjoy to it, and I think that I've chosen a price point that's fair, reasonable, and affordable. I know the economy isn't great, so if you're looking to hear me perform my work for free, you can find stuff in my podcasts, listen to me perform Blue Light Special at the 2008 Phoenix Comicon or wait until early next year when I'm releasing, for free, performances of all the extra material I'm adding into Subterranean Press' special expanded edition of The Happiest Days of Our Lives.

Okay, end of dad voice. Thanks for listening. I hope you enjoy my performance of The Happiest Days of Our Lives. Let me know if you review it, because I'll be compiling a page of stuff like that. You know, for kids.

(Epic thanks to Val for the incredibly cool graphic. Wait until you see the flyers and banner images she made!)