The Witch Watch: Release Date

By Shamus
on Feb 21, 2012
Filed under:
Projects

We finally have a tentative release date for my upcoming novel. It should go on sale on Friday, March 2nd. We’re just waiting on the arrival of the proof copies. If those are good, we can throw the switch and you can finally get your hands on this thing.

witch_watch_cover.jpg
Over the next week or so I’ll be posting bits of artwork and the first couple of sections. The back of the book reads, “A young lady with a head for invention, a boy with a gift for sorcery, and a rotting corpse with a dry sense of humor all find themselves fighting against a strange new threat in Victorian-era London.”

I will say it’s murderously difficult to come up with blurbs that aren’t spoilers. I mean, what constitutes a spoiler? That the droids are carrying secret plans? That Luke ends up with the droids? That Obi-Wan knew Luke’s father? That the secret plans are for the Death Star? That Vader and Obi-Wan duel? If you’re cutting a trailer, how much do you give away? You need to explain what the story is about without giving away any details. The blurb above is nominally a spoiler for the first section of the book. (The book is divided into six sections. Is that a spoiler? Is it a spoiler that “six sections” itself could be a spoiler? Am I over thinking this?)

To answer the basic questions I’ve been getting in email:

  • Will the book be available in print? 

    Yes, the book will be available in both digital and softcover. We MIGHT do hardcover if there’s some unexpected demand for it. If we do, we’ll try to throw in some extra illustration content to make it worth the cost. (Hardcover print-on-demand can get pretty steep.)

  • How much will it cost?I haven’t chosen the exact prices yet, but the digital version will be somewhere around $5. The softcover will be around $25.
  • Will the book be available in my country?It will be available through Smashwords, Amazon, and CreateSpace. If you can shop on those sites, then you should be good. Obviously I want it to reach as many people as possible.
  • What sort of restrictions will the digital version have?There are various rights linked to digital books regarding lending & having them read aloud by the computer. We’ve made these as open as the system allows, so if you have accessibility issues or need to move the book between devices, hopefully it won’t be a headache for you.
  • How big is the book?The 6″ x 9″ softcover is just short of 400 pages. The book weighs in at around 120,000 words. That’s a good medium-sized novel. It’s bigger than your early Harry Potter books, but it’s not a huge back-breaking tome like, say, Cryptonomicon.
  • The book is illustrated now? What? I thought this was a book for grown-ups!It’s sparsely illustrated. There are six major illustrations in total. I can make no promises as to whether grown-ups will enjoy it.

This is the end of a long road for me. Here’s hoping it pays off. Thanks for your patience. Be sure to buy eleven copies for everyone you know. You know, for good luck.

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is a programmer, an author, and nearly a composer. He works on this site full time. If you’d like to support him, you can do so via Patreon or PayPal.


A Hundred!A Hundred!202013253. There are now n+1 comments, where n is a big-ish sort of number.

From the Archives:

  1. Robyrt says:

    Congratulations! Glad to hear the digital sharing bits are cranked up to “generous”, as I tend to hop devices and find my content has a deep sentimental attachment to the one I don’t want to use.

  2. Andrew B says:

    Yay! Hurry up the 2nd of March so I can spend my money!

  3. Matthias says:

    Awesome, really looking forward to this!
    Can you tell us which method of obtainment gives you the biggest share of the price?

    • Shamus says:

      Not sure yet. Really, my focus isn’t on making money on individual sales, but on penetrating the best-seller charts. A burst of sales can get you into the charts and on the “what’s popular right now” lists, where the work can spread to new readers.

      So, for people who don’t care where they get it, I’ll suggest Amazon.

  4. epopisces says:

    Congratulations Shamus!

    After following this blog for as long as I have, it’ll be like having a book on the shelf that one of my friends wrote (if any of my friends could write heheh :)

  5. Dasick says:

    Will buy. Enjoy your writing style, expect this to be good. :) Even if mediocre, will recommend to friends. If good or above, will recommend to everyone I know.

    P.S.
    hardcoverDemand++;

  6. Hitch says:

    I’m very much looking forward to The Witch Watch, but since you mentioned Cryptonomicon I have a slightly off-topic question. Did you ever read Reamde?

    I read everything from by Stephenson from Cryptonomicon to Anathem and thoroughly enjoyed them despite, or maybe even because of, the fact they were huge slabs of book. Reamde, on the other hand, made me think the whole time I was reading it, and even after I finished, that it would have benefited greatly from a really ruthless editor.

    • Shamus says:

      I’ve felt the same way about his writing for some time. In fact, Quicksilver was the last thing of his that I read. I still list him as one of my favorite writers, but dang if his books aren’t a major investment of time.

      • The Unforgiven says:

        Pffft! I’ve never read any of his books, but according to Wikipedia it’s only 918 pages. I read The Wheel of Time by (the late) Robert Jordan. The series is currently 14 books long (if you include the prologue book), and the books average at 800 pages long, with a few hitting 1000 pages, and one hitting 1200. 918 pages is nothing to me. :P

      • Samopsa says:

        Anathem is a really solid book, and I think you’ll enjoy it’s viewpoint on storytelling. I really recommend it. Reamde & the Baroque Cycle can be skipped if you’re not interested in the basic premise of the books.

        • Nick says:

          Yeah, though with Anathem be prepared to be hit with a barrage of new words for the first hundred pages or so before it calms down. Just plough through and it gets good

      • Piflik says:

        I only read Snow Crash and its quasi-sequel The Diamond Age. I really liked them, but I am a sucker for cyberpunk.

        • Loved both of those plus Crypto but Quicksilver tried to kill me. With 3 kids demanding my attention it was jsut too big and heavy and took too much time– even in audiobook (plus couldn’t listen with them around.) We now own Crypto on Kindle which makes life much simpler– that is a heavy book for my small hands.

          • Dave B says:

            I enjoyed Quicksilver, and I didn’t really find it to be boring or tedious or anything like that, but I sometimes felt like the book was actively resisting my efforts to read it. It’s hard to explain, but I would pick it up, and say, “Ugh, only 1/3 of the way through? This book is LONG!”

      • Ragnar says:

        Haven’t read Cryptonomicon. But Diamond Age and Anathem are both *really* great in my opinion. I greatly enjoyed The Baroque Cycle (all three) too, but they are a notch below. Reamde was a bit disappointing though.

  7. krellen says:

    Shut up and take my money.

  8. Pentangled says:

    Just bought the Kindle version through Amazon. It transferred to my Kindle immediately and I can read it now. Not sure if this early release was intentional, but I can see I won’t be sleeping tonight!

    • Releasing as an indie publisher works opposite from the way big time publishers release and it is all rather complicated and convoluted to explain. Yes, it is up on Amazon for Kindle. It is also up at Smashwords but not in the premium catalog yet (another whole story) but it will then be available on all the other ebook retailers.

  9. Zombie Pete says:

    Congratulations and good luck! It’ll be the first ebook I put on my ipad when I get it next month.

    You could even look into doing an OOTS-style Kickstarter thing for hardcover runs. It seems to have worked out very well for Rich Burlew!!!

  10. Infinitron says:

    I gotta say, between the bright red cover and the name, it kinda reminds me of The Witcher (the first one). Even the font is sort of similar.

  11. DrKultra says:

    Congrats Shamus! I’m sorry to say I can only buy it through amazon on the old fashioned way, here goes to it being as succesful as you deserve!

  12. Jeremiah says:

    You had me at “rotting corpse.”

    Seriously, looking forward to this. If your past work is anything to go by (and I say it is) then this will be an entertaining read. Can’t wait to check it out.

    Question: since there are some illustrations are they color or black & white? If color how do they look in black & white? I’ll probably get the Kindle version.

  13. blue_painted says:

    Got my copy … and if there are any formatting errors (a pet peeve of mine on eBooks) then I will be harsh! ;-)

  14. Mechakisc says:

    Shamus, I haven’t been paying that much attention to the book up until now, as I just planned to buy it in support. But now you’ve got me nervous. Is this a YA novel, or do you simply lack confidence?

    For example, I couldn’t get through more than half of the first Harry Potter book, and that was even reading with my dyslexic wife to help her with the big words. YA stuff mostly falls flat for me these days.

    I didn’t make it through more than a book and a half of game of thrones, and two and a half of Jordon, if that means anything to anyone. Obv for different reasons than Potter…

    Don’t get me wrong… I’m still buying. I just need to know whether I am buying this for my precocious 11 yr old or for myself.

    • Shamus says:

      I didn’t AIM it at young people, although I’d let my 12 year old read it if she wanted. (She’s read Hunger Games, which can get pretty dark.)

      It’s certainly not a “young people” book where the good guys never kill anyone. There’s blood, death, allusions to prostitution, and a few instances of “damn” and “ass”.

      I’m not sure what you mean by “confidence”. I didn’t design the tone of the book with sales in mind, and I honestly don’t know if Potter or Thrones is the bigger audience. I just wrote the story I wanted to write.

      • Vlad says:

        You had me at blood, death, allusions to prostitution, and a few instances of “damn” and “ass”.

        • Pete says:

          …those are what sold the book for you? Im not so sure that is in any way healthy.

          PS: If this is anywhere near as good as Free Radical, Im going to be buying it whenever I first remember and have money.

          • Ringwraith says:

            I dunno, donkeys can be pretty funny at least.

          • Newbie says:

            Is Free Radical that good? I can’t read things on my computer… I need paper. (That’s 1 vote for a Free Radical Book Release, if you weren’t thinking about it).

            • epopisces says:

              Sadly because it’s based on another ip (intellectual property), including characters and a significant chunk of storyline, I don’t think Shamus can legally put it up for sale. Releasing it free on the net as a fanmade work may be the only option.

              EDIT: Correction, Heather posted a ways down with a link http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/free-radical/18836044?productTrackingContext=author_spotlight_3596988_

              So looks like you can get your hands on a print version after all!

            • krellen says:

              Free Radical is really really good. It has the best description of realistic AI I’ve ever seen and is one of my top 5 books of all time.

              • Dys says:

                I beg you to read more.

                • krellen says:

                  I read plenty, thanks. Quite an arrogant and ignorant statement on your part, in fact. You have no idea how large my library is (hint: very,) nor of my reading habits. Did it occur to you that someone that’s been a fan of Shamus for years might enjoy his writing style?

                  • Dys says:

                    While personal preference is always unquantifiable, I find it inconceivable that you cannot, in the entire field of literature, find five books more worthy than Free Radical.

                    You are essentially claiming Shamus is the best author in human history, in your opinion. That seems, to me, to be an extreme and insupportable claim.

                    I like Shamus, I like this blog. I have purchased WW and will commit myself to reading the entirety of FR. I still think placing it in your ‘top five books of all time’ is either seriously hyperbolic or terribly, terribly sad.

                    • krellen says:

                      What, should I place some “Classic” trite in my list instead?

                      I do count Lord of the Rings as one book, not three or six, so that narrows the list somewhat. My favourite books are books I enjoy reading, and enjoy rereading, not books that are “epic” or “profound” or anything else. And it’s not like “Top 5” means I’m claiming anyone as the best (Lord of the Rings is my top book, but I don’t think J.R.R. Tolkien is the best author in human history. I just like his books.)

                      You’re like one of those guys that goes around insulting people’s top film lists because it includes things like Star Wars and Die Hard instead of Citizen Kane or Schindler’s List.

                    • Dys says:

                      I don’t want to argue with you, not least because arguments like this make me feel terrible. I don’t want to critique Free Radical in the comments on Shamus’ own blog, either, because that seems downright rude.

                      Suffice to say if you cannot find five books which you enjoy more, I cannot even begin to understand your perspective. Which is a shame.

                      I am not advocating Proust or Dostoyevski here. There is no elitism involved, perhaps I’ve misstated myself in my attempt to avoid causing offence. Your initial statement read, to me, like someone saying their friend’s high school media project was one of the best five films they’d ever seen.

                    • krellen says:

                      If you want to stop an argument, you need to let the other person have the last word.

                      You also probably think it’s sad that Flash Gordon is my favourite movie.

      • Mechakisc says:

        It’s sparsely illustrated. There are six major illustrations in total. I can make no promises as to whether grown-ups will enjoy it.

        One of my very favorite authors is Scott Westerfeld. Sadly – to my mind – he only writes YA fiction, with the exception of two really excellent books, (spoiler alerts if you read the book pages) The Risen Empire, and The Killing of Worlds, a two part story set in a future as imaginative and awesome as anything else you’ve ever read.

        Beyond those two books, he’s stated that he isn’t going to write a lot of adult fiction, because adults don’t share their books with their friends and such the way kids do.

        Thus, I have a terrible fear of people writing YA novels, and I asked that question is a poor fashion. But it sounds like it wasn’t written as young adult fiction, so I got my answer. Thanks :)

        • Think of it this way– Lord of the Rings wasn’t written as “YA fiction” yet most young adults read and love it.

          • Oh and I think by the “grownups will enjoy it” thing he meant having illustrations.

          • krellen says:

            You know, considering that J.R.R. started the Lord of the Rings as stories for his son, it’s possible it actually was.

            • According to Tolkien they certainly weren’t– he wrote what he wanted essentially for himself. In fact he deeply regretted “dumbing down” The Hobbit for kids according to his letters.

              Had a copy of his letters which I read as often as LotR — which was several times yearly from when I first read it at 13 until I lent it out never to see it again. He talked a great deal about writing for kids versus writing for adults and answered quite a few of that sort of question straight out in letters to fans.

              • krellen says:

                I always meant to find and read the letters. Never got around to it.

              • Atarlost says:

                The concept of YA fiction is really quite sad. Young adults are reading Hamlet and Macbeth and Romeo&Juliet as assigned school work and yet people are writing dumbed down stuff because they’re allegedly not mature enough to handle stuff that’s not a tenth as bloody?

                Seriously, what’s the point of having cotton candy novels to keep the moral guardians happy when kids are being exposed to Elizabethan drama in school?

                • I personally prefer reading sci-fi and fantasy from the YA section, mostly because they are more likely to contain at least a modicum of art and the cover designs are much fresher and more interesting and tend to cover topics I find more interesting. (Fantasy and sci-fi for adults tends to have ugly people doing ugly things and I prefer less ugliness in my books since I read for fun and mean and ugly is not fun to me.)

                  More often than not what is considered YA is only so because the protagonist is in that age group rather than for any other reason. There is QUITE a bit of content in YA fiction that I actually prefer to avoid and I have to read it before my 12 year old bibliophile gets a hold of it because it is NOT appropriate for a 12 year old. The issues aren’t dumbed down at all in YA fiction, though there tends to be at least a little less sex (though the stuff I got a hold of at 14 when I read straight through the YA section at our local library had quite a bit.)

                  I find it offensive when writers attempt to dumb down their language for YA fiction– which is really the issue with it and those authors tend to get skipped over anymore with so much other content available to read. That is also something both Tolkien and C.s. Lewis discuss in their letters as well as a few essays by C.S. Lewis (mostly– don’t do that, it is a bad idea because kids are way smarter than you think they are.)

                  • MichaelG says:

                    I’m amused that books like Terry Pratchett’s “Wee Free Men” get rated as YA because they have a young protagonist. They are identical to the rest of his books in tone and style.

                    • Rosseloh says:

                      I was just going to post about that. The Tiffany Aching set is just as good as everything else from Prachett, despite being marked “YA”.

        • DirigibleHate says:

          Why do you have a fear of people writing YA because of Westerfield? The Leviathan trilogy is YA, but it was almost the best read I’d had in years (Almost because right after that I read some Pratchett).

          Which reminds me, I need to go pick up the third book, assuming it’s been released in Australia yet.

        • Kayle says:

          I’ve only read his first three novels, which were very much not YA. I was pretty surprised when I stumbled over his recent YA novels awhile ago, I had wondered where he’d disappeared to.

          Polymorph, Fine Prey, and Evolution’s Darling

    • Mari says:

      I’ll put it this way. I’ve read it and thoroughly enjoyed it. My 12-year-old is currently reading it (by which I mean, refusing sleep because she can’t put it down). I wouldn’t call it young adult literature but it’s clean enough that young adults could certainly enjoy it, damn and ass and hookers aside ;-) I believe what Shamus was referring to above was more the misconception popular today that “real” books for “mature” people don’t have pictures so any book with illustrations “must” be for children.

  15. rayen says:

    oooh, yay. will buy. actually can we preorder it right now? and i will be buying hardcover. not a fan of ebooks.

  16. DreadedTuesday says:

    I can confirm that the book is currently available on amazon.co.uk – looks like they have released it early?

    EDIT: Not that I mind…

    • Shamus says:

      Hm. Looks like it’s on Amazon in the US as well. Technically it was supposed to go live with the print version, but there it is. Doesn’t seem to make sense to take it down now.

      • Piflik says:

        Same for Amazon.de. Have to finish another book first, but I am looking forward to reading it.

        By the way, Shamus, did you ever read ‘The Gone-Away World’ by Nick Harkaway? I recently re-read it (for the third time…my favorite book) and especially the early chapters describing the protagonist’s youth and education reminded me of your Auto-Blogography…the same dry, witty humor…you might enjoy it ;)

      • Alex the Too Old says:

        Waitwaitwait – you started your post by saying you were reviewing the proofs. Did the sellers and publisher just flagrantly break the street date before the book was even done, or had you already reviewed and approved the ebook proofs? Does it even work that way with ebooks?

        • Shamus says:

          You know what? I don’t even know.

          Heather is handling the formatting & uploading, and so I’m getting this second-hand from her. But if you want to download your work and review it, then you apparently have to upload, publish, and then UN-publish. Of course the procedures vary from site to site, along with their input formats and eccentricities. (Oh the misery of getting the book to look the same when everyone has their own ideas about page breaks, images, indexing, page numbering, fonts, and cover pages.)

          So, they didn’t really break the street date, they’re just convoluted and hard to use and we probably made a mistake somewhere.

          • No mistake except mis-communication on my part. In indie publishing ebooks pretty much have to go first, then print. (Backwards from how traditional publishers do and part of the reason ebooks from traditional publishers tend to be horrible messes as far as formatting goes.) So they were posted because they had to go first.

            Print editions take longer to get out there because you proof the copy before posting it– otherwise I COULD post it for sale today, but then we might find some crazy mistakes that need fixed when we get the proof so would rather wait.

          • Alex the Too Old says:

            So the final “authoring” (to format the actual, finished pages as they appear in the book or ebook) is done by Amazon or Smashwords or whoever, rather than by the author? I guess that makes sense, since that’s been traditionally done by the publishing house, but I can’t imagine a non-stupid reason why they couldn’t offer the author the choice to do it themselves (and would be interested to hear if there is one).

            At any rate, I went ahead and bought a Kindle copy, and I’ll happily buy a “revised definitive edition” as well if necessary. :-)

            • No, we formatted for each version (and part of the problem is that all have different sets of rules for formatting and each even has to be in a different format for upload.) The thing is because of that it works best to work ton the Smashwords copy first, then Kindle, then Createspace for print BECAUSE of the formatting styles. Then because of the way uploading and review works on each site THAT dictates when release actually occurs, but with Smashwords you have to make it live to test and see if actually WORKED.

          • Strangeite says:

            Shamus, you should edit the original post specifying that the Ebook is available now. There are many of us that are going to be purchasing it today because of reading that is available, but others might not read the comments.

            I imagine that you will want to maximize the number of purchases in the shortest possible window of time in order to break the best selling lists.

            p.s. For the last month, every comment I post seems to take over 24 hours to post due to moderation. Not sure what I did to offend your spam filter, but would you apologize to it for me.

  17. Jamfalcon says:

    I can’t wait! I’ll definitely be buying the ebook when it launches, and if it turns out to be something I’ll want to reread often or lend I’ll probably get a paper one too. I find everything you write engaging regardless of whether or not it’s a subject that interests me, so considering the fact that I’d be interested in this book regardless of who wrote it means that I am very excited to get it.

  18. I will definitely pick this up on my Kindle as soon as it is released! I always admired your ability to talk about storytelling elements in things such as games, so it would be great to see what you do with this!

  19. Smejki says:

    Could you publish at least one of the pictures? Just to bring up the atmosphere of the book?

    EDIT – O, I found it.

  20. somebodys_kid says:

    Shamus, will you be offering a version of this that will be autographed by both author and illustrator? This genre of literature isn’t my cup of tea, but I would be interested in a “collector’s version” if you will. I’d be willing to drop a little extra $$ on it of course.

  21. I’m already excited about “…a young lady with a head for invention.”

    Long I’ve lamented about the fact that in fiction, the tinkerer/mad scientist/inventor types are ALWAYS men.

    How are young women ever to become scientists or engineers if they have so few role models – even fictional ones?

    So… YAY for a lady inventor! Can’t wait to read the book.

    Leslee

    • noahpocalypse says:

      Don’t forget about Violet from ‘Series of Unfortunate Events’. Klaus is the geek who knows everything about everything, but Violet is the creative one.

    • Sydney says:

      Chrono Trigger, too. And I guess Velma, if she counts?

    • Dasick says:

      How are young women ever to become scientists or engineers if they have so few role models – even fictional ones?

      By being genuinely interested in science and/or engineering?

      I know this kind of attitude is supposed to be supportive of “breaking down gender stereotypes”, whatever that means, but IMHO, women that had genuine talent and interest in the “guy stuff” have always found a way to contribute to their area of interest.

      There are many guys in sciences and engineering for whom it is merely a socially acceptable way of making a living, and their priority is just to “get by”. People of talent and passion are very rare in both genders, and it’s hard to distinguish between the workers and the innovators on a glance.

      However, having more role models like you describe would lead to “101 dalmatians” effect, where girls will want to become scientists and engineers not because they are genuinely interested in those fields, but because they want to be like their favourite character. And there are many ways to make a character likeable, not just because you have shared interests.

      • lasslisa says:

        Speaking as an engineer who works with engineers across a range of interest levels and skill, people who are engineers ‘just to get by’ can also do good (and well-compensated) work. It doesn’t have to be your deep life passion in order for you to make a valuable contribution.

        At present, women who are interested in science and engineering do fine… as long as they are either so deeply interested that they ignore the naysayers, or have a family background that pushes them toward engineering/science and counteracts those cultural messages, or have a solid streak of ‘eff you’ through their personality that makes them want to succeed just to prove that they’re better and smarter than those sexist bastards will ever be.

        But many women who are interested both in science and in, say, history, are going to find themselves pushed more towards history. Sometimes without ever giving science a real try, or ever really considering that they could be a scientist.

      • MPR says:

        Women have been actively suppressed for the entirety of history, relegated to roles of property, and prohibited from any notable personal achievement. You might say that today is different, and that is true. But you cannot argue that it is now perfectly even, either. Consider the cultural influences imposed upon them at the earliest ages. Boys get toys that encourage construction, invention, and experimentation. Girls get dolls and ovens, and are taught that being pretty is more important than being smart. Such cultural messages of gender roles permeate our society.

        The “101 dalmations” comment is the most ignorant and asinine thing I’ve read all day. Why is the alleged effect bad if it applies to girls, but okay that boys have had such role models forever?

  22. noahpocalypse says:

    You had me at “rotting corpse with a dry sense of humor”. Awesome.

    Also, it seems to be available via Kindle already. Is this an error of some sort? And would buying via Kindle help you much?

  23. Shinjin says:

    Awesome. After reading your System Shock fanfic Free Radical, I am planning to pick this up in one form or another. I just have to decide on digital vs physical copy. I love the visceral feel of holding and paging through a book, but digital sure seems more economical.

  24. Meredith says:

    Congrats on getting it finished. :) I have a Kindle now, so I’ll definitely be grabbing a copy. Looking forward to it!

  25. delve says:

    “Am I over thinking this?”

    Yes.

  26. Maldeus says:

    Concerning spoilers, as a consumer I don’t mind if Act I gets spoiled. It’s important that the setup happens for pacing reasons (otherwise everyone would skip it on repeat readings), but it’s not the reason you read the work.

    If I had to sell Episode IV without spoiling it, I’d go ahead and use as many plot points from before the Millenium Falcon docks in the Death Star as I wanted, but use footage after that purely for action sequences (Luke and Leia swinging across the chasm is an awesome shot for a trailer, for example, and you’d want to have a few shots from the climactic dog fights and trench run).

    • Michael says:

      Considering how most people view spoilers, I’m surprised anyone plays games more than once, or rewatches movies. You’ve seen/read/played it already, and thus know the spoily bits. Why re-experience it?

      I also never understood aversion to spoilers. Knowing more about a material actually makes me want to experience it for myself.

      In the ME2 season of Spoiler Warning Josh off-handedly mentions that he’ll never play Jade Empire because Shamus has spoiled it for him. What fuels this insane troll logic? Oh, you know the twist? Go see how it’s planned out. Go experience the gameplay. Go marvel at the scenery. Go listen to and think about all the dialog. Go struggle with the choices your character is forced to make.

      The plot is not the only thing in a piece of media.

      • Reet says:

        I think it comes from the idea of experiencing it the way the creator intended. If you see or hear a spoiler for it, that will change your expectations for it and will alter your experience. That coupled with the fact that you can go in to something unspoiled once means that people tend to want to avoid knowing this stuff.

  27. AngyPanda says:

    Well I’ll buy one. Considering I’ve enjoyed reading this blog for years it’s the least I can do.
    I knew I’d have to get a bloody ebook reader someday…

  28. RedOktober says:

    Oh lordy, This sounds sweet!
    I must’ve read your System shock Online novel maybe six times, So I shalt most definitely be buying this day one.

  29. Alex the Too Old says:

    “a rotting corpse with a dry sense of humor”… “a strange new threat in Victorian-era London”… did Rutskarn have anything to do with the novel’s basic concept? :-)

  30. rofltehcat says:

    Nice :D
    I bought it on Amazon. Viewing the Kindle version right now on my 3.2″, 320×480 Samsung Galaxy Gio. Looks good. I’d probably prefer a slightly larger letter size but I guess I’m just not finding the option in the android kindle software.

    Also looks good on PC, though I most won’t read it on my flatscreen. Also no time to read it right now… or else I’d probably have it finished somewhen tomorrow :/

  31. SolkaTruesilver says:

    And now we need to design a game based on the novel!!!

    • Alex the Too Old says:

      Woohoo, let’s get cracking on the official cover-based shooter with a moral choice system and inventory management and vehicle sections and stealth sections and hacking puzzles and resource gathering and invisibly-walled-off playable areas and 28,000 hours of voice acting and-

      /selffaceslap

      Sorry, don’t know what came over me there.

  32. Rosseloh says:

    Thanks for the update! And if what people are saying is true, and it’s available for Kindle already…..well, I’m buying two copies. One to read now, and one to get signed if I run into you at PAX East. That is, if I can get it in somehow without losing it.

    • I think we are going to try and get some and take them with us to PAX East to sell signed there (maybe I need to invest in a little suitcase on wheels. :))

    • Rosseloh says:

      Got through 3/4ths of it last night before I really had to go to bed for work in the morning. Very good so far. Only problem is that it’s not long enough! But I say that about pretty much every book I read that’s a page-turner. And I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times already.

  33. Jeremiah says:

    On the one hand: yay I can buy this now for my Kindle!

    On the other hand: boo, I’m right in the middle of The Hunger Games trilogy and can’t read it right away.

  34. Aanok says:

    Best of luck, Heather and Shamus. I’ll buy a softcover as soon as possible :)

  35. Scott M says:

    I’ve picked it up for Kindle. Bravo! You’re the first indie writer that’s coaxed me into laying down actual money for a self-pub book. I’ve enjoyed your blog for several years now, so I’m looking forward to reading your fiction too.

    BTW, Shamus, you ought to add a note to the original post that the ebook is available now. You’re 100% right about rankings and bestseller lists being invaluable, and the best bet is to get a surge of sales right away rather than letting them get spread out. (Says a writer who has followed e-publishing very closely but not taken the plunge himself.)

    – A frequent reader and infrequent commenter

  36. Mari says:

    So, yeah, I’ve already put in my Amazon review and linked it all on my Facebook. Younger girl’s reading it right now which means it will most likely be introduced at our next co-op meeting (where about half the adults and several of the teens are into this exact sort of literature). Debating which version to pick up for a couple of friends as gifts. So what’s next to spread the word? I want this novel to be a rip-roaring success so that maybe, just maybe, in some not-too-distant future there will be a sequel because it seems to me that this band of characters has more stories to tell. (Argh! Stupid collective nouns – I just spent two minutes and a Google search to make sure I got the verb right in that sentence.)

    • rofltehcat says:

      Nice review. (I guess the one available is yours ;) )
      Though I had to go to Amazon.co.uk and amazon.com to see it… somehow, when buying English books on amazon.de, I can’t see English reviews O.o

    • A smashwords review would be good and then on Createspace once it is up.

      • Mari says:

        Smashwords accomplished. LOL

        Also, .de is German, right? It would be a stupid assumption but maybe Amazon assumes that English-language reviews aren’t likely to be understood by Germans?

        And yes, yes, the one review is mine although technically RB is the hubs. Since his name is on the card and the mailbox it seems easiest for his name to be on the Amazon account as well. For the record, he’s not a transvestite (you’ll notice when digging that most of the other Amazon reviews with that account are for women’s clothing.)

        • rofltehcat says:

          Hm… kind of. Still, if I’m in the section for English books, I’d probably understand an English review… or at least I should.

          • Mari says:

            I still suspect it’s bad assumption and laziness on Amazon’s part. Yes, logically if you’re shopping for an English book you would presumably at least read English but I’m not entirely sure mega-stores like Amazon put that much thought into it. I suspect their thought process ends at .de = German so no English. I could be wrong, but that’s at least my suspicion.

        • Mari says:

          And the hubs has now reviewed it on his blog here http://www.midnitetease.com/ He’s less glowing than me, but it’s a favorable review nonetheless.

  37. Tuck says:

    “…all find themselves fighting against a strange new threat in Victorian-era London.”

    I think that would read much better as “in Queen Victoria’s London.”

    I wish I could promise to buy it. So many things on my list to buy, and so few can make the budget. :(

  38. Without wanting to be That Guy, 25 dollars seems unusually high for a softcover, even a large one. I usually expect to pay north of 20 for a hardcover, and south of ten for a softcover. Are there special printing considerations that make it so expensive – maybe the illustrations? Or am I perhaps being fooled by a habit of mainly buying ‘mass market paperbacks’ and this is a different kind of soft cover? I’m not criticising, I’m just curious about how the price is arrived at.

    • It has to do with the base cost due to the distributor channel set up. Because we self-publish the costs are higher. Would LOVE to do cheaper but the base price set by the printer is too high for us to go much lower. In fact, we literally aren’t allowed to go too much lower.

      • Dys says:

        Ah, I thought it would have to be something like that. It’s fortunate that the e-pub means you have an alternative, because that price will probably hold the hardcopy back.

        Incidentally, did you consider sending it out to agents, or was self-pub the preferred route?

    • DirigibleHate says:

      Try living in Australia – there’s a book import tax designed to “protect Australian Authors”, which makes $25 about the right price for a softcover. In practice Australian publishers set their prices at this point too, making the whole thing rather pointless.

      Oh, and roleplaying sourcebooks fall under the same category, which makes them often cost upwards of $100.

      • epopisces says:

        These prices would make me cry. Are digital versions taxed in the same way? If not then they are probably driving readers to eBooks. . .

        • Chargone says:

          heh. here they cost about the same (though are we using US dollars, Australian dollars or, in my case, NZ dollars? who knows?) and we have no such tax to the best of my knowledge.

          what we DO have is the old tyranny of distance. the books are no more expensive… but the Shipping will kill you. (if i buy a book from an NZ based online shop it looks like i’m paying a lot more than if i buy from a US based online shop. until you calculate it out and realise that i’m actually paying less because the Reasonable part of the shipping is in the base cost and the unreasonable part is non-existant. also, i Know i’m paying GST on NZ based stuff, and i’ve never been able to figure out what the hell happens with the taxes when i import books.)

      • Chargone says:

        actually, if that ‘book tax’ is a standard import tariff (though i must admit, BOOKS are a stupid thing to put an import tariff on, and it doesn’t protect authors, just publishers.) then the entire POINT is that the imported product cannot be cheaper than the local product.

        which Should mean, if it’s being applied correctly, that, provided the local product is actually of superior quality, it is what shall be bought so long as demand does not outstrip supply.

        (of course, that assumes that the tariff is set such that the resulting price is based on a Reasonable cost for the local product, not a rip-off cost. again, the people managing the tariffs have to apply them sensibly, and having a tariff on Books is not that sensible.)

        • Squash says:

          You are right. It is designed to support publishers rather than authors. Australia has a whole lot of other bizarre import restrictions too that are too complex to go into which really just end up screwing over readers. i rarely buy books new , and almost never for the exorbitant full retail price.

    • Chargone says:

      you think that’s bad: consider that Amazon will then charge me that much again to have it shipped to New Zealand.

      or THREE TIMES that much if i want it to show up here in less than three months.

      just…

      think about that.

      (oh, it gets better: paperback books usually cost 20-30 dollars NZ. the exchange rate’s been a bit all over the map for a while and i’ve not checked the current rates, but last i looked that 25USD is going to cost me 30-40NZD Before shipping. … for a while there it would have been 50NZD, but fortunately that’s not been the case for a while.)

      i would LOVE to buy this book… … but once you stack up all those prices may well not. (I’d say i’m kidding and that i know i will and it’s just a matter of time, but like others i have Many things demanding my money, so i can’t really guarantee anything. most likely i’ll wait until the Language Construction Kit 2 (or Advanced Language Construction, as it seems to be entitled) comes out, then buy a bunch of things all at once, including this. i tend to make my purchases from amazon as large as possible all at once so as to waste as little as possibly on their INSANE shpping costs. (noteably: it costs maybe 3 dollars to send a book from Australia to NZ. it costs, apparantly, less than 20 to ship from the USA to australia. how then, does it cost closer to SEVENTY DOLLARS to ship to NZ by any method other than, you know, on an actual ship (by which method the delivery date can be anything from 3 weeks if you’re insanely lucky, to 5 MONTHS.) ) )

      (please don’t let me have left any open parenthasies…)

  39. rrgg says:

    “A young lady with a head for invention, a boy with a gift for sorcery, and a rotting corpse with a dry sense of humor all find themselves fighting against a strange new threat in Victorian-era London.”

    This made me laugh out loud. Sadly, the book doesn’t really sound like my thing, but I’m sure it’s good and I wish you the best of luck anyways.

  40. Amstrad says:

    Perfect timing on this, I just finished up reading Pratchett & Gaiman’s Good Omens last night so I’m all set to start reading something new. If this is at least as good as Free Radical was I doubt I’ll be disappointed.

    • Zeta Kai says:

      Speaking of Free Radical, I have a question about that book, although I’ll bet that it’s been answered before:

      Why can’t you just change the names & a few minor details so it can be published? I’m sure it’s more complicated than that, but surely it could be reworked with a small modicum of effort into a publishable work. File off the serial numbers & sell it for cheap. Maybe include it as an incentive for buying TWW. It’s a finished piece of work, & I’m sure that you could make something off of it for your trouble. Just a thought.

      • krellen says:

        I think that would take a more massive rewrite than you think. The “crazy AI on an orbital research station” bit, for instance, is more than you can just file serial numbers off, and the descriptions of said station are actually a pretty good match for the in-game map and level design, so he’d basically have to redo the entire Citadel section.

        • MichaelG says:

          I think he’s being ridiculously cautious. There are other books in that theme. Read “Two Faces of Tomorrow” by James P. Hogan, for example.

          He would just have to change a few names here and there and it would be no problem. Just my opinion of course — copyright law is insane.

          • krellen says:

            I’m not saying “crazy AI on a space station” needs to be redone, but Shamus’s descriptions in that part of Free Radical, plus the circumstances themselves (destroy antenna, the biodomes, jettisoning a biodome) all tie the story very closely to System Shock and would need to be redone.

      • Lisa says:

        I just went to the Amazon store (through Kindle on my Android) and found Free Radical already there for buying.

        Am I hallucinating?

  41. Mark says:

    Well, now I can’t wait to read the thing, so good job on the blurb and congrats!

    Out of curiosity, do you prefer that we buy one version over the other? $25 does seem a bit steep, but I get that it’s independently published and I want to maximize your profit. I may end up buying the Kindle version just to get it early, but I was curious…

  42. “I will say it’s murderously difficult to come up with blurbs that aren’t spoilers.”

    Though I’ll admit I’ve never published a novel, I’d recommend focusing on the main character(s) and what makes them interesting, as it would negate the spoiler issue.

  43. Mr Charles says:

    Just picked up a copy on Amazon after reading, and liking, the sample. Good luck, and thanks for providing us with so much free, high quality entertainment over the years.

  44. James says:

    just been over to Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com, and i cant find any softcover copies only kindle ones, considering i don’t own or want a kindle, or any other ebook for that matter, im quiet old fashioned in that i want an actual book, with paper pages and ink, is there anywhere that i can find an actual printed version?

  45. Even says:

    Looks like the softcover for “How I Learned” made it to CDON.com so I’d recommend anyone living in Scandinavia or Finland to be on the lookout if you can’t get “The Witch Watch” through any other means. I’m thinking of picking up both at the same time from there, should this one pop up as well.

    Edit: Linking just for clarity, not sure if you can see the “Book” section if you’re on a proxy or live outside the mentioned areas. The “EU” language option shows only some of the selection at the site.

    http://cdon.fi/kirjat/young%2c_shamus/how_i_learned-17466869

  46. Nikos Saripoulos says:

    Yeah… yeahhhhh… I won’t read anything you have to say for the book… i’ve already read about the part of the rotting corpse in a previous post, and i’m sold… this the only thing i needed to know… i’ll just buy it and read the rest first hand! :D

    btw. if it’s useful info… Softcover from Amazon for me

  47. chabuhi says:

    Shamus, sign me up for a couple of hard covers if you decide to go that route.

  48. Steve C says:

    There are various rights linked to digital books regarding lending & having them read aloud by the computer. We’ve made these as open as the system allows, so if you have accessibility issues or need to move the book between devices, hopefully it won’t be a headache for you.

    Can you go into more details about this? As it is now, it sounds a lot like DRM.

    • Mari says:

      I can only speak from my experience, but I own a Smashwords version of the novel. It has so far been downloaded on two PCs and from there loaded onto 2 eReader devices and 1 smart phone. None of which have run into any DRM issues. And yes, that is an excessive amount of devices :-P Partly I was checking out how the formatting “traveled” between devices and partly three members of my household have read the novel, each on a different device.

  49. ClearWater says:

    so if you have accessibility issues or need to move the book between devices, hopefully it won’t be a headache for you

    So the e-books are going to have DRM?

    • I have it turned off everywhere it is possible. Definitely off on Amazon and I believe it is turned off on Smashwords (can’t remember now what options I had and if there is any to begin with– seem to me there isn’t.)

      • ClearWater says:

        That’s awesome! I was kind of expecting something along the lines of “<insert publisher> won’t allow you to publish without DRM”, but it’s good to know you can turn it off.

        That said, I’ll probably order the paperback. I don’t have any e-readers and don’t really like e-reading on a PC. (Also, I much prefer paperbacks over hard covers.)

      • Vlad says:

        Somewhat related to this, what does it mean on Amazon when it says the eBook is the “Kindle Edition”? I don’t have a Kindle Reader or anything with the Amazon brand, but I do have an Android phone. Will I be able to put it up there for any generic reader app (like I did for How I Learned when bought from Smashwords, which were very transparent on what formats they were offering)? The Amazon thing is a little confusing, especially since it’s up early.

        Also, what’s better for exposure? Buying the eBook now or after it’s officially released on March 2nd?

        • Alex the Too Old says:

          The Kindle has its own file format, but you can get software to read it on other physical platforms besides an actual Kindle. There’s a free iOS app, for instance, using which I’m going to be reading it on my iPad.

          • Nick Bell says:

            The Android App is good too, as are the PC and Mac versions.

            Best of all, Amazon will sync between the devices, letting you keep your place regardless of where you are reading.

            • Vlad says:

              Thanks for both of your responses, but I actually already have a preferred eReader app. I really like the feel of HTC’s default app simply called Reader which just scans the phone’s memory for .epub files and adds them to my library.

              I downloaded the Kindle app for Android, and it doesn’t do that. It seems to only want to sync books bought off Amazon, and not the free ones that came with my phone or the ones I’ve otherwise bought (like How I Learned).

              Moreover, from what I’ve read, if I buy off Amazon it will give it to me in their proprietary format which may or may not be read by my app (I also use Aldiko, although I haven’t yet found proof that it reads Kindle formats either).

              So… I actually never thought there would be eBook platform wars and that I’d be proliferating them, but here we are.

              • Amstrad says:

                For what it’s worth, although the Kindle edition of this book is in a Kindle specific filetype there is software that can readily convert this filetype to many other popular e-reader filetypes, remove any DRM that may be present, as well as manage your entire library of ebooks, for free! Check out: Calibre

              • ClearWater says:

                I tried downloading the Kindle app to my Android phone once but it said my phone (Samsung Galaxy Beam) is not supported so there’s that.

  50. Narretei says:

    I love how the price of the digital version actually feels appropriate for the price of a digital version. I’ll definitely get it.

  51. Benjamin says:

    I’m looking forward to another novel I can hopefully place in the same tier as Free Radical re: my enjoyment.

  52. Rodyle says:

    Hi Shamus and Co,

    I have a question: is this book going to be buyable with a debit card? Because your last book required me to have a credit card, which I do not have (it’s not that common to have one here in the Netherlands). I really want to buy it, so I’ll find my way to do so, but it’d be nice to do it the easy way.

    Also: congratulations!

    • Sumanai says:

      I would think that ordering from Amazon would result in all the payment options provided, and I’ve been able to order from there with a debit card. But I might’ve had to use it as a credit card. I had to allow “web payment” or something for the bank account and then chose credit card as a payment method on Amazon. Note that not all banks in Finland require a change of settings for online payments with a debit card, so I don’t know how universal it is.

      I suggest trying out Amazon.co.uk first. Order something, check the payment methods, if there’s no debit card use credit card payment. If it fails, visit your bank account online and look around for a setting that sounds like it could be what you want. The one I had wasn’t too obvious, and I don’t expect it to be any better elsewhere.

      Of course if you’re tight on cash or don’t find anything you’d like to order you’ll have to wait until the book is out.

  53. Simon Buchan says:

    Woo! Just finished the first section, and it’s better even than my already high expectations! When reading with the online Kindle (cloud) reader there are some minor but obvious formatting issues, I can fairly easily list them if it would help. (Though I’d prefer to finish it first!)

  54. Dmatix says:

    Hopefully the Book Depository will get it too. They do have your other book, so I guess it’s not impossible. It’s just that getting a print book from Amazon where I live is quite difficult.

  55. some random dood says:

    Just noticed that according to Amazon UK that the “Free Radical” fanfic on System Shock is available for Kindle. I thought you said previously that you were not going to release for sale that as there were serious risks on copyright issues, so bringing it to your intention in case someone else is trying to cash in. Free Radical
    (Also, it appears that The Witch Watch is supposed to be on sale for Kindle right now too The Witch Watch
    Disclaimer: Didn’t read any of the above, so if mention of this was in that wall of messages, my apologies.

    • Shamus says:

      Yeah. We decided we wanted to GIVE the book away through all the channels where I SELL my other books, as a sort of promotion-type thing. And then Amazon will not let us set the price below $0.99. I don’t understand why. (I KNOW it’s possible to give away free books, but I can’t get Amazon to let me do it.) It’s been on my to-do list for a while now. I comfort myself with the fact that so far, nobody’s bought it. :)

  56. Stratigo says:

    Very nice! I’m kind of sad that I can’t get this in a brick and mortar shop, though at the rate B&M shops are going out of business I may be out of options there in the near future.

    I tend to buy book in bulk (20 at a time) from a store. I’m a bit old fashioned in both my book buying and book reading.

    Still, I’ll probably pick this up since it is the sort of thing that appeals, and I trust your writing skills enough just from the content on this blog that I am sure it will be a highly entertaining story.

  57. Simplex says:

    I live in Poland so Amazon adds some kind of tariff/tax/whatever to the price and Witch Watch on Amazon would set me back 8 bucks – luckily SmashWords does no such thing so I bought it there for an awesome price of $5. I am pleasantly surprised at the price – I it was $10, I’d think twice before making a purchase, but at $5 it was a no-brainer.

    BTW. “Free Radical” is available for free in a plethora of formats on SmashWords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/124443

  58. Darkness says:

    Congrats on the books at Amazon. Did my part, bought all three. My iPad now has a Shamus section.

  59. Scerro says:

    There’s something about the blurb saying “A corpse with a dry sense of humor” that seems to get me every time. I think it’s because my brain mixes up the adjectives and thinks of a dry corpse that’s humorous. Which is funny in itself.

    I may try and pick it up. It depends if I find anything else to bundle it with. I don’t like to order single things at a time. :/

  60. Kaeltik says:

    About 60% through it. Really like it so far.

    This is the first e-book that I’ve read on both my Android and my Kindle. When I made the first device switch and was popped to the last page I’d read on the other device, there was a little burst of endorphins indistinguishable from joy. I love living in the future.

  61. Astor says:

    Whoa, wasn’t this a sci-fi novel? or was that just my mind being my mind? I wants your scifi novel, man!

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