Five Years On
Posted on December 28, 2007 Posted by John Scalzi 29 Comments
Did you know (and before you say “yes,” I should warn you that the answer here will almost certainly be “no,” so don’t try to be all cool about it) that today marks the fifth anniversary of what I consider my official entrance into science fiction?
No? Huh. Surprising.
Well, it is. Five years ago today, Patrick Nielsen Hayden asked if Tor could publish Old Man’s War, and I said “sure,” and then we were off the proverbial races. From that point it took another two years for the novel to actually get published; January 1, 2005 was the official publication date. So while I peg today as the anniversary date for my pro SF career, I’ve technically been a published science fiction novelist (or, indeed, a published novelist of any stripe) for just not quite three years now. Seems like it should be longer, doesn’t it.
However you want to slice it, it’s certainly been an interesting half of a decade. Here’s hoping it all continues to be fun as I start doing the book writing thing full time.
Speaking of which, back to it.
Jeez, it’s been out for three years. And I only read it in April. (bows head in shame) But getting to read all three OMW books consecutively within a month’s time was a blast. Now I have to wait. Patiently….wait…for…the…next…book. Damn you Scalzi for writing such great stuff! :-)
Excellent. Congrats on how far you’ve gone in the SF world in only that time, John. Patrick sure knows how to pick ’em.
I remember paying you a dollar to read Old Man’s War, and I remember you selling it to Tor. That was five years ago? Count me as surprised.
I remember paying you $10 so I could feel fine about passing OMW along to my friends and family. Never actually did that, but it was worth every dollar. So was the book itself when it came out, and each one since. So here’s to the next five years! I’ve still got the OMW Word file somewhere …
Breaking through off the blog, that’s impressive. You must have been amongst the first to do that?
Wow! Only three years? You seemed like an old pro when I first met you at Philcon 2006.
How long after OMW was PNH’d did you start writing The Ghost Brigades? (I couldn’t use an acronym for three in a row, I might have had to punch myself)
YES, I didn’t know. Can I still be cool?
Out of curiousity, what was the Whatever daily hit count when you sold OMW?
Yes, one of the first.
I started writing Ghost Brigades in early 2005, when the first sales of OMW started coming in. Before that I wrote and completed Android’s Dream.
I got a couple thousand visitors a day back then.
Well, not knowingly, I helped you celebrate last night. .I got a Books-A-Million gift card for Christmas, and went last night to redeem it for both OMW and Ghost Brigades. Congrats! You got a new reader for your your fifth anniversary!
That’s a pretty short time for 4 excellent books and one good one. I look forward to many more.
Speaking of which, how is that deadline coming?
Wow, we’re just overflowing with Nathans today, aren’t we?
Yep. .a couple members more and we can start the official NFS Society! (Nathans for Scalzi! YAY!)
I knew, but don’t feel any the better for it.
Ok – you were the first SF novel published online and subsequently picked up for publication. As an added bonus, that publication was hugely successful and richly deserving of the praise it gained.
However, I’ve not heard of other writers being picked up like this. Maybe it is just that I’m not in the publishing world loop, but was your route to publication a fluke or was it the vanguard of changes? That may be the important question. Is independently released fiction viable or is it, with a few notable exceptions, the “Loser Box”?
There have been other authors whose work has been picked up this way, both in genre and out of it. However, the vast majority of books are still acquired the old-fashioned way.
I tell people not to put anything online that they don’t want to live there; i.e., don’t put anything online with either the hope or expectation that it will get picked up anywhere else. Certainly I didn’t expect OMW to be acquired; I expected it to stay online forever.
I could have told you that it happened around Christmas time, because I remember getting as far as Chapter 10 or so, going home to useless dialup, and coming back to find that the book had been taken down. Oh, the pain.
That was a quick 5 years, though.
Happy 5th, JS! And many more.
Was PNH a Whatever reader prior to the acquisition and if so, were you aware of that fact?
I was an sometime Whatever reader; we were aware of one another’s existence. I didn’t realize John wrote fiction until I saw OMW on his website.
Happy anniversary, John, and congratulations on all your success. As someone who hopes to follow in your footsteps, it’s awesome to mark this milestone with you.
And thanks for all the great work over the years, too!
I still have the phone that I took the picture of hardcover OMW with when you asked if anybody had seen it in the wild. (Man, I lived in North Carolina then. It’s been TWO and a half moves since then.)
I’ve had OMW on the “to read” shelf for a few months now. Well okay, since the UK paperback release. But it will be read early next year, and hopefully by then TorUK will have the next one out.
Congrats on the five years. Earlier this year I stumbled upon this website, read “Agent to the Stars” online, then proceeded to read all of your novels to date. I enjoyed them all. Thanks for all the entertainment. Keep it coming!
Congratulations on the twentieth of a century.
“you were the first SF novel published online and subsequently picked up for publication. ”
The process was beta-tested by short stories appearing first online, and then being requested by editors for hard-copy publication.
It feels so good to have a story “pulled” from the web by an editor, rather than the usual “pushed” by author via snailmail.
And, forever after, snailmail seems so very slow.
So how did you deal with the two-year wait? Did it seem like forever? Did you ever wonder if it would ever actually see the light of day (or the relative dim of bookstore)? Have subsequent intervals between contract signing and publication been comfortingly shorter? How long was it between publication and the day you first visited a bookstore to go see your Very Own Book there on the shelves?
Here’s to many more!
Well, I had non-fiction books coming out in the interim, so it wasn’t too bad.
Did they send you on a book Tor?