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.

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.