POD: If you’re not Warren Ellis.

Posted on November 17th, 2009 in making things

Oh, I spent some time trying to craft the single most condescending post title I could think of, yes.  I also considered “for the common man” and “little guy” and — my personal favorite abandoned only because it was a touch too long — “for all those losers who really have no right even trying.”

Turns out, I only had to hit up the internet comments buzzing around the release of Shivering Sands to find the most patronizing qualifier.  Because all sorts of people, it turns out, would just love to try out POD, except they just “aren’t Warren Ellis.”

If you haven’t guessed yet, this post is going to be a little bit mean.  But, see above: people were asking for it.

So, okay, yes — let’s go ahead and talk about this terrifying and insurmountable hurdle to publishing/creating/selling through an online Print on Demand service: Let’s brainstorm and try to find some solution to our pitiful state of not being Ellis.  We can do it together, I think, if we try really hard — we can shut our leaking cry-holes for a second and consider a kinder world, with possibilities even for us.

All right.  Here we go.

We have already, I assume, ruled out the possibility of going back in time to before Warren started his writing career and attempting to become Warren Ellis before he can get there.  Time travel is, after all, fiddly business.  And, frankly, if any of us had already built a time machine, I’d imagine that using it to get a book published wouldn’t be our top priority.  Except maybe for you, over there  in the back — I see you’d like to make a DINOSAUR PHOTOS coffee-table book, so yeah, you’re going to need to work on a time machine.  And best of luck to you, I’m ready to buy your book if you’re not torn apart by raptors on your way back to the console.

But the rest of us are going to have to think outside the temporal displacement box, bah.

Well, there’s the fake it ’til we make it option, I suppose — which I’d certainly usually advocate… except I’ve been modding Warren’s forums for a lot of years now, and I gotta tell you: there’s few things that annoy me more than people putting on a lo-fi Ellis-lite persona to get attention.  In fact, it’s one of those things that makes me hit the ignore/ban button faster than almost anything — and I’ve got a pretty high internet-nutter tolerance, so that might just end up losing you those imaginary book sales you haven’t even made yet.

Oh this is just looking hopeless, isn’t it?  I mean, clearly the steps to POD success are as follows:

  1. Be Warren Ellis
  2. Have a hugenormous audience
  3. Sell them all your book
  4. Profit

But what, oh what can we do if we’re not Warren Ellis?

… no.  That… that couldn’t work.

It’s too crazy.  I don’t even want to say it.

What if, what if step one is… be [your name here]?

I mean, that’s just crazy-talk, innit?  I mean,, there’s a long list we haven’t exhausted yet.  I mean, we could try being Wil Wheaton, or Jamais Cascio, or Lee Barnett, or our next-door neighbors, or that guy at the bus stop.  Surely we’re not to the point of desperation that leads to trying to make a go of it ourselves.


What if the steps were:

  1. Be [your name here]
  2. Write a bloody book instead of whining about what you’ll do with it when you’re done
  3. Get an audience
  4. Profit

Now, I know that mixing up steps 2 and 3 like that just FLIES in the face of internet logic, but I might be on to something here.  Because now we’re talking about a fantastic world where, when you introduce yourself to people, you can actually say you’re a writer — and be telling the truth — instead of your usual “And I’ve got a bunch of clever ideas I’m going to write someday as soon as I get an agent and/or wake up one morning in an alternate reality where I’m Warren Ellis.”

How mad is THAT?  I mean, the possibilities get really wild after that!  When people ask you what your book’s about, you can actually tell them, instead of hinting about how you don’t really want to get into it because they might steal your idea!  And then, OH MY GOD, you could — oh this is incredible — you could direct them to the site where your book is ready to be printed and mailed off!  Do you realize what this means? They might buy your book!  This could… my god this could actually work!!

Yes, I am the biggest bitch you’re going to read today.

I’m also right. And if one person reading this finally got the shake they need to stop talking and start doing, then the massive traffic drop-off I’m going to get now is completely worth it.

And if one person did finally get it, you should come back tomorrow when I’m going to have some not-so-bitchy advice about the POD system I’ve picked up in the past little while.  Because if you’re going to actually use it instead of making excuses, then I’ve got time for you.

November 30, 2020 via Cherie Priest

Monday November, 30 2009 04:56 PM PST

Hey. Guess how many words I wrote today? NONE! HAHAHA! THAT’S RIGHT, NARY A SINGLE SYLLABLE OF FICTION, SO THERE. Ladies and gents and everyone else, I’ll have you to know that every single Draft Zero in my queue has officially been composed. And this morning I sent “Reluctance” off to its editor (squeaking in under deadline, BOOYAH), which means that my deadline list is looking MIGHTY FINE.

Of course, any minute now editorial feedback and rewrites are going to come down the pike for Dreadnought, Clementine, and Fort Freak … but please — let me enjoy the moment while it lasts. I can scarcely tell you what a leisurely day this has been, with no obligations except my day-job work. This must be what it’s like to only have one job! It’s been so long, I’d nearly forgotten the sensation.

To celebrate the occasion, I shall give you links!

  • First up! Mark Henry - As you know Bob, Mark is our Chief Male Member of Team Seattle (which somehow sounds filthy, but ’tis only fitting). In short, his books are absurdly awesome — irreverent, hilarious, disgusting, and intensely perverted. Something for everyone! I swear, his Amanda Feral stories are a guaranteed recto-stick-ectomy. So please click the link and go show him some love … some dirty, dirty love …

  • Because Subterranean Press is evil - Bill is offering 50% off preorder titles. This is your chance to pick up some great reading material at unbelievable prices - just click that-there link and follow the directions to textual bliss. Offer lasts until end-of-day Friday, December 4th. Merry Christmas, y’all! (Sorry — Clementine isn’t available for preorder yet, so there’s nothing of mine to be nabbed. But I’m sure that even the most casual browser among you will find something of interest.)

  • Kyle Cassidy and Crew - Yesterday, Kyle and his lovely wife (plus two lovely guests) came to visit, and it was just plain amazing. He even took some shots for the Where I Write series, of which you can see an iPhone outtake right here. I don’t know why I look a little pissy, staring off like that. I was listening to/looking at Trillian over on the couch. It’s hard not to look at her. She’s really pretty. Anyway, I know for a fact that Kyle has about a jillion pictures of me laughing and looking like my usual cheerful dork self, on account of how he had me laughing most of the time he was holding the camera :)

  • Steampunk Exhibition Ball — Right here in Seattle, at the Museum of History and Industry, Saturday night. I SHALL BE THERE. I won’t have any books for sale, I’m afraid; but if you bring me yours, I’ll be happy to scribble all over ‘em for you, at your discretion. I believe I’ll be reading a bit? Details remain a little fuzzy. But trust me to be there, bedecked as a shipwrecked steampunk pirate — via a costume I’m building around this gob-smackingly lovely corset (which is even more gob-smackingly lovely in person, believe it or not). Anyway, if you’re also at this event — do stomp up and say hello! I love meeting new people, and will talk your ears off if you give me half a chance.

SUPERGOD #2: Preview via Warren Ellis

Monday November, 30 2009 03:50 PM PST

Out from this Wednesday, several pages up for your inspection at this link.

Music I Liked In 2009 [3] via Warren Ellis

Monday November, 30 2009 01:32 PM PST

Third in a possibly infinite list of music wot I liked this year:

"Love Is A Wave," Crystal Stilts: I don’t care what it’s derivative of, I don’t care what you think, I loved this and I consider it one of the great pop records of the year. You can disagree with me, but at the end of the argument I will be Right and you will be Severely Bruised. There is a Narrative Purity to this record. It says: what if the Libertines, that great music-press delusion of the 00s, that band that only made one great single and it was their last one, that band who became invited into the Rock Canon because they had a great story… what if they had, one time, tried to get the rush they gave people down onto a bloody record. Then it would have been this one. But ultimately they were a bit shit at being a band, so the Crystal Stilts did it instead.

THE TRANSACTIONAL DHARMA OF ROJ, Roj: you really need the CD of this, not least because of the gorgeous booklet written by Ken Hollings and designed by Julian House. This is a Ghost Box record, and as such has its roots in the cosmic hauntological weird. DHARMA, however, is a lot more about rhythm than most Ghost Box records. And it’s frequently absolutely gorgeous. It’s still coming out of that box of strangeness, don’t get me wrong. But it’s less concerned with building a sonic friction and weirding you out than it is with conjuring an interplanetary drum seance. And an interplanetary drum seance should first be beautiful.

he strikes like thunderball, because it's not unusual that she's a lady via Wil Wheaton

Monday November, 30 2009 12:40 PM PST

I heard a Tom Jones song yesterday, and resolved to spend some time listening to his catalog today while I worked. This lead me to discover two really great albums on Rhapsody that I probably never would have found otherwise. The first is called James Bond 007 13 Original Themes which is exactly what it sounds like. The second is called The Mod Scene, which is this sensational collection of British Invasion Modsound from the 60s that, unlike most compilations, doesn't seem to have a single lousy track on it (provided, of course, that you enjoy the Mod sound of the 60s as much as I do.) The two Tom Jones tracks which lead me to these albums, for the sake of completeness, were the theme to Thunderball and Dr. Love.

This reminds me of the time I saw a Tom Jones billboard on the way down to San Diego for Book and a Beer this summer, which prompted me to say to Anne (in what I decided is my Tom Jones voice): "I may be old enough to be your grandfather, but I'll still eat your panties for breakfast andlunch, baby!" It was, as most things are, much funnier in context and more amusing to me than it ever will be to anyone else. Oh well.

I can't record a Memories of the Futurecast today, because there's fifteen thousand pounds of giant crane parked in front of my house, making thirty thousand pounds of noise. When it goes away, though, I'll get to recording, and the Futurecast will post sometime tonight.

The good news, though, is that I'm able to make good progress on Memories Volume Two. I'm already behind schedule (because I stupidly gave myself a deadline last week, forgetting about Thanksgiving) but I think I'll be able to catch up by the end of this week. So far, it's been a lot of fun and tremendously amusing, which is always a good sign.

Speaking of things that are fun and tremendously amusing, here's a Twitter exchange that made me laugh quite a bit:

theelkmechanic: I love living in the future. Sitting in Charlotte airport using my machine in Troy to update 4 servers in Phoenix. Beat that, @wilw

wilw: @theelkmechanic I drove the Starship Enterprise. [::dramatic pause::] Your move.

theelkmechanic: @wilw

I'm not going to lie to you, Marge, that made me gigglesnort, and I was relieved that @theelkmechanic took my joke in the spirit it was intended.

Well, the power just went out, so it's time for me to pack up my Mac and head out to a cafe with WiFi where I can work on my novel in front of people and get this posted. The weird thing is, while it's likely going to take an hour at least from the time I finish writing this paragraph until it actually posts on the internet, there is no perceived delay from whoever reads this, because as far as you're concerned, the post didn't exist until it was published, though it already existed for me.

Um. Yeah. I'm sure someone who's actually studied physics is going to knock me around for that, but since my knowledge of the field is limited to what I've picked up on my own, it's a fun thought exercise.

Okay, little post, go sit in an eigenstate for the nice people.

McCubbin?s Holiday Print Sale ? $20! via Kelly Sue DeConnick

Monday November, 30 2009 12:17 PM PST

pinkillo1sm, originally uploaded by Laurenn.

Hey, so, this is usually not my style-calling attention to my, erm, “modeling” such as it is-but if you know me at all you know that Laurenn McCubbin is one of my nearest and very dearest and she has a tendency to inspire me to behave out of character. (Like, sing on the treadmill or choreograph drill-team-esque dance numbers in the weight room.) (It’s horrifying really, but I can’t stop myself.)

SO. Anyway.

Here’s the deal: McCubbin’s in grad school and she’s got a crazy-fascinating art show* to put up in February of next year. In order for said show to happen, she needs to put out about a grand in early January. Wanna guess when her school loans come through? That’s right: MID-January. Which puts her in the position of needing to raise about a grand in… the month of December. During a recession. Not exactly the time when people are dying to make donations to art projects, you know?

To that end, Laurenn’s putting up some small, affordable prints of her work on Etsy. If you’ve ever looked at her stuff before, you know it’s generally available as larger prints in the $50-$150 range. Right now, because of these very special circumstances, you can purchase small prints IN TIME FOR HOLIDAY GIFT-GIVING for $20 orTHREE FOR $40.

That pretty much just doesn’t happen.

If you’ve ever coveted one of Laurenn’s prints before, THIS IS YOUR CHANCE. If you don’t want one of the images she’s posted, YOU CAN REQUEST ANYTHING FROM HER PORTFOLIO. If she can make it happen for you, she absolutely will.

Peruse her illustrations right here. Then contact her through her Etsy shop to let her know which image you favor.

If, for some reason your wiring is screwy and you would be further enticed to make this purchase by the fact that I modeled for some of these drawings… well, there’s no accounting for taste. But to nudge you into parting with your monies, I tried to group together all the illos featuring my mug — even the cowgirl one that I despise. (Do you see? Do you see my love and sacrifice?) I think I got them all. After trying various Flickr grouping methods, I found the easiest was to put them in this gallery.

*When Laurenn puts details about the show up on the web somewhere, I’ll link.

On Whitechapel This Evening (30nov09) via Warren Ellis

Monday November, 30 2009 10:10 AM PST

On my internet shithole today:

* REMAKE/REMODEL: Mysta Of The Moon - return of the artist game thread, all are welcome

* Changing SF Magazines’ Business Theory - I didn’t start this, I swear

* 2009 Music Retrospective - your favourites, this year?


* Johnston & Mitten’s WASTELAND: #1 Free Online

* The Starry Wisdom Of Warren 30nov09

New Fast Company: Futures Thinking: Scanning the World via Jamais Cascio

Monday November, 30 2009 09:00 AM PST

...And just now my latest Fast Company piece popped up on the site. "Futures Thinking: Scanning the World" is the third in the occasional series on thinking like a futurist.

In my opinion, it may actually be the hardest step of all, because you have to navigate two seemingly contradictory demands:
  • You need to expand the horizons of your exploration, because the factors shaping how the future of the dilemma in question will manifest go far beyond the narrow confines of that issue.
  • You need to focus your attention on the elements critical to the dilemma, and not get lost in the overwhelming amount of information out there.

You should recognize up front that the first few times you do this, you'll miss quite a few of the key drivers; even experienced futurists end up missing some important aspects of a dilemma. It's the nature of the endeavor: We can't predict the future, but we can try to spot important signifiers of changes that will affect the future. We won't spot them all, but the more we catch, the more useful our forecasts.

It boils down to this: keep reading, keep asking questions, keeping looking for outliers... and if you think you have enough, you don't.

Foreign Policy 100 Top Global Thinkers via Jamais Cascio

Monday November, 30 2009 08:47 AM PST

About two months ago, I was notified by the editors at Foreign Policy magazine that they had selected me as one of their "top global thinkers," to be announced on November 30. I was asked to not say anything about it until then, and, frankly, I wouldn't have had much to say. A search of the FP archives showed no previous iteration of this list, so I had no idea if it was just a list of people who had interesting articles in an issue over the last year or some such.

So when the new issue of Foreign Policy went live on the web on Sunday Nov 29, I was stunned to discover that it was a list of the 100 "most influential" thought leaders shaping 2009... and that I was #72. Even more surreal was what they said:

72. Jamais Cascio

for being our moral guide to the future.


Climate change is coming, and geoengineering -- the prospect of artificially manipulating the world's climate -- may seem like an easy save. But in fact it's threatening and ethically complex, putting a literally earth-shaking power in the hands of a few, says Cascio in his new book, Hacking the Earth, the most subtle analysis so far on the subject. This year, Cascio, guru of all things on the horizon and founder of the website Open the Future, agitated to strengthen the global financial system through decentralization; argued passionately that resilience, not sustainability, must be the new goal of environmentalists; and has become a leading thinker on robot ethics.

"Our moral guide to the future." No pressure.

It's a very odd list, mixing the usual institutional suspects (e.g., Bernanke, Obama, the Clintons, Cheney(!), Petraeus, Friedman) with a much more interesting (to me) group of more obscure scientists, writers, activists and thinkers. It's a list of "most influential," not "best," so there's a healthy mix of "yay!" and "no way!"

As part of the process, FP asked the listed folks to answer a set of questions about the world; about half did so (you can do it, too). The more personal items show up with the entries (and you can read mine there), but the more global issues got added up as survey results. But in the spirit of full disclosure, my answers to those questions can be found the extended entry.

But thank you to the editors at Foreign Policy for putting me on your list. I'll try to live up to those expectations.

In your opinion, is the worst over for the global economy?

b) No

If no, how long will it take for the global recession to end?
a) Less than a year b) 1-2 years c) 2-5 years

Global recession: (a) Less than a year (technically)
Structural weakness, leading to further problems: (c) 2-5 years (or more)

2) What is the most significant underreported story from 2009?

Somali pirates consider themselves a “coast guard,” to defend against illegal fishing by non-African states and illegal dumping of toxic wastes in Somali coastal waters. It’s not just a “piracy” story - or, rather, there are two piracy stories there, but only one is being reported.

3) What will be 2010’s “unknown unknown” - in other words, a global game-changer such as the September 11, 2020 terrorist attacks or Iran acquiring nuclear weapons?

It’s rarely possible to predict these, but a few plausible candidates:

  • major (and unusual) weather event in densely-populated area crystallizes public demand for action on global warming;
  • another pandemic flu, this one hitting even harder than H1N1
  • violent unrest in China

    4) Who are the three most influential global leaders outside the United States?

    1. Hu Jintao
    2. Kofi Annan
    3. Whoever is running Pakistan ISI’s Taliban desk.

    5) On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 signifying the highest rating), how would you rate U.S. President Barack Obama as a leader after one year in office?


    How would you describe Obama’s contribution to the global marketplace of ideas?

    I believe that Obama has been more effective internationally than domestically; he has returned subtlety and strategic thinking to the world of US-led diplomacy. On international issues, he clearly seems to be thinking several moves ahead of most observers (still accustomed to the more blustery Bush admin practices).

    6) The future of the world will be better if we listen to what one person's ideas?

    Dr. James Hansen, NASA

    7) Did anything happen in 2009 that caused you to fundamentally change how you think about the world? If yes, what was it?

    Not in 2009, no.

    8) What is the most dangerous country in the world? (Pakistan, Somalia, other)

    Neither Pakistan nor Somalia can actually threaten the survival of the Earth’s civilization. However, the United States and China each produce enough anthropogenic greenhouse gases individually to tip the planet into a climate catastrophe. India is heading up there, too.

    9) Which country will emerge as the world's next powerhouse:

    b) India (Arguably, China is already a global powerhouse.)

    10) What is the world's most serious military conflict right now:

    a) Afghanistan/Pakistan

  • T-Shirt Of The Week #006: STAB&STAB; via Warren Ellis

    Monday November, 30 2009 08:13 AM PST

    TOTW is basically a joke that Ariana and I pull each week in our joint guise as the International Electrophonic Unit. Basically, we take some of the stupider things I’ve said on Twitter and elsewhere, often in a state of extreme alcoholic refreshment or severe sleep deprivation, and put them on a t-shirt. Ariana set up a Cafe Press store (because this is a joke and engaging with a serious maker of t-shirts would be less funny to us), and… well, once a week, here we are.

    Through this website and this Cafe Press store, we’re going to release one t-shirt a week. It’ll go live on Monday… and it’ll die Sunday night — midnight UK time, more often than not. Each one lives for a week, and then it’s replaced by the next week’s shirt. Until I either run out of dumb ideas or Ariana’s brain explodes.

    So, every Monday, I’ll post the new shirt here, and you can peer at it more at http://www.cafepress.com/electrophonic.

    Anyway. I present to you T-Shirt Of The Week #006: STAB&STAB:


    (remember those band "anti-tshirts" of a while back? Well, I had a shit week, and this is the only music I was interested in hearing.)

    We also offer a couple of perennial items. Mostly because I wanted one of these for myself:


    (And also a MAN COOK MEAT WITH FIRE "splatter-shield", because Ariana’s crazy)

    Thank you for your kind attention.


    Comments: Dragon Heir - Chapter #8 via Emma Vieceli

    Monday November, 30 2009 06:21 AM PST

    Chapter 8! Uploaded a little late this week, sorry guys! Blame the Grand Cosplay Ball last night - which was a blast and a half! Anyways, back to Spiratu's domain....Enjoy, spread the word and, as always, any comments are very appreciated ^_^

    Been away... via Lee Barnett

    Monday November, 30 2009 04:53 AM PST

    With the exception of the recent pic posted, I've been away from Livejournal for a couple of weeks - the few months leading up to my trip to New York were a bit stressful at work, and then coming back from the US, plunging straight into work, and a few things going on meant that I didn't have time (nor, to be honest, the inclination) to post on Livejournal.

    OK, head extracted from orifice, words starting to make sense again.

    Let's see what happens now.

    Better Than Coffee: 5 Octaves via Meredith Yayanos

    Monday November, 30 2009 01:49 AM PST

    We can’t all be Freddie or Klaus or Alfred.

    Still, ain’t no harm in tryin’, is there?

    Well, is there?

    Take a listen to these gents before you decide.

    Read the rest of Better Than Coffee: 5 Octaves

    Post tags: Better than coffee, Crackpot Visionary, Music, Silly-looking types

    (Untitled) via Trixie Bedlam

    Sunday November, 29 2009 08:55 PM PST

    trixiebedlam posted a photo:

    enjoy it via Trixie Bedlam

    Sunday November, 29 2009 08:53 PM PST

    trixiebedlam posted a photo:

    enjoy it

    second job via Trixie Bedlam

    Sunday November, 29 2009 08:52 PM PST

    trixiebedlam posted a photo:

    second job

    if it looks to you like a guy dressed as Spiderman is doing a flip over the bar of his rickshaw in the middle of the street, it's because that's exactly what's going on here.