Agent to the Stars: Sold

So, I sold Agent to the Stars to a publisher.

But wait, I hear you say. Didn’t you say recently that you weren’t going to sell Agent to the Stars to a publisher? And now you have? Doesn’t that make you a dirty, dirty liar?

Well, no. I said I wouldn’t actively try to sell Agent to publishers — which is to say, have my own agent push the novel. Because, among other things, I wanted to be able to have it on the site for people to check out my writing style. But if a publisher came by and was okay with me keeping the novel on the site, I would be happy to listen. And one did, and was, and so here we are.

Yes, that means that once again I’ve sold a book with no real effort on my part. I’m sorry.

The publisher? Subterranean Press, who specialize in really excellent special editions by some very intimidating authors, including Dan Simmons, Robert Silverberg, Poppy Z. Brite, Charles de Lint and Richard Matheson. It’s nice to be in the same room as these folks. We’re still working on the details, but the general idea is to give Agent a nice limited-run hardback edition for collectors and fans of the novel. I’ve heard from a number of people about the general excellence of Subterranean Press, and so I’m happy to give Agent a home there. It seems like a pretty good fit all the way around. I’m very excited.

I’ll have more details for you, including release dates, when I know about them. In the meantime, let’s open the floor to some questions:

So will you keep Agent available online?

Yes. I’ll be retaining most rights to the book, including electronic rights, and as I’ve mentioned, I think having Agent on the site is a real bonus. I am of course not the first person to do this; Cory Doctorow famously has had downloadable editions of his published work available online. He believes — and I suspect it’s true — that letting people sample the complete work leads to more sales, not less. Now, the dynamic with Agent will be slightly different in that the hardback will probably be a limited edition, not a mass-market edition of the book, as Cory’s books were with Tor. But the concept should be the same. I know many people have told me over the years how they’d love to have an actual hard copy of Agent, including Krissy (Agent is her favorite book of mine); now they’ll have that chance, and I’m delighted about that.

So, this is twice you’ve sold a novel you’ve put up online. What, are you too stinkin’ proud to sell a novel like a normal human being?

Hey, I already said I was sorry. I can’t explain it either. I have sold two other novels the old-fashioned way, and I expect I will sell any additional novels the old-fashioned way as well, if for no other reason than that I have no other completed novels to put up online.

Let me be clear: I don’t pretend that I’ve not been in fact incredibly lucky to have sold novels online, with minimal effort on my part. At this point I’m getting a little twitchy recommending to other people that they continue to submit their work the old-fashioned way, since I think the more suspicious could suggest that I’m just trying to keep the “toss your stuff on your Web site” method of selling a novel to my greedy little self. But I swear to you, it’s not that. I sold OMW to Tor at the end of 2002; I’m selling this one to Subterranean Press now. In those 25 months, I don’t know of anyone else who has sold a complete SF novel they’ve posted on their Web site; meanwhile, hundreds of novels were sold to SF publishers the old-fashioned way. Entertain the notion that I’m some hideous freak of nature, and give your novel the best chance of being published by submitting it the way publishing houses ask you to.

Having said that, this goes to show that a well-stocked, well-maintained personal Web site is indeed an excellent thing for a writer to have; of the seven(!) books I’ve written and/or am writing, four can now be traced back to writing on this Web site (OMW, Agent and the Books of the Dumb). Having this site has had other, less directly tangible benefits as well: For example, I note Instapundit mentioned Old Man’s War again yesterday (as commentary about a mention from Professor Bainbridge), and between Glenn and Prof. Bainbridge, the book’s Amazon ranking went from about 8,000 yesterday to over 300 today.

Glenn and Prof. Bainbridge mention the book because they like it, which I am very glad for, but part of the reason it’s on their radar screen is because we are fellow denizens of that nation known as the blogosphere, where the rule of thumb is “help out the other guy.” I know I’ve promoted the works of people I’ve met as part of this online community (which reminds me: Ms. Bear, I’m really enjoying Hammered so far), and the impetus there has simply been to help friends and people who I see as being part of my tribe.

So, if you’re a writer, you could do worse than to be part of what’s going on online. Clearly, it’s worked for me.

How are you going to celebrate?

Are you kidding? I’ve got deadlines. I’ll celebrate in a week. But I will say this: Mmmmmm…. mini Mac. I was just thinking to myself, I kinda want one, but how can I justify what is essentially a pointless expense? Bwa ha ha ha ha! If there is a God, clearly he wants me to have my toys. Of course, I still need approval from the finance department, i.e., my wife. So Steve Jobs may have to line his pockets with other people’s money first. But still!

Any other comments or questions, drop ’em in the comment thread.

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