Witch Watch: Proofs

By Shamus Posted Friday Feb 24, 2012

Filed under: Projects 88 comments

It’s here. It’s been printed out and everything. I’m publishing a book. This is a thing that is happening. It’s one thing to hear people say they want to read it, or have them read it and pretend to enjoy it because they like me. It’s another thing to hold the completed product in my hands and realize, “Wow. If this doesn’t pan out I’ve wasted an amazing amount of time. This is terrifying. But these illustrations sure are nice.”


These are the proof copies. I’ve gotta flip through one and look for errors. Then we apply the changes to the print copy. Then it goes up for sale, for real, and we’ll finally get to see if all of this pans out. If you’re one of my proofreaders, you’re getting one of the volumes you see above. I’ll be signing them and dropping them in the mail right away eventually.

Already a few early readers have found some mistakes. This is unfortunate. There is one serious mistake that can lead to confusion. (A chapter division happens one line of dialog too late.) There are a few instances where the character Moxley is written as “Moxely”. There’s a missing w in the word “with”. The rest of the mistakes are very minor and limited to some spacing issues that only appear in certain digital formats. Some chapter titles have their first letter on one line, with the rest of the word on the next line. This happens on Kindle for PC, but not on an actual Kindle. Awesome. You know, this is exactly the sort of technological clusterfarg I was happy to escape when I left behind PC software development to become a writer.


For those of you who are finding problems with the e-book version, feel free to send me your corrections if you like. We will be patching the digital version, possibly later today.

Sadly, there is no longer a single “master” copy of the book. There’s the print copy for CreateSpace, the digital version for Smashwords, the Kindle version, and the print copy for Lulu. Typographical edits must be made in all versions, while formatting changes must be made to the print / digital versions as needed. It’s a mess, it’s confusing, and if we rush it we run the risk of introducing new problems when fixing the old.

I am looking forward to the day when the digital bookstores get their collective act together and settle on some neutral format. The conversion the book had to go through was ridiculous. It’s not like you can just save it as a PDF and expect things to work.

I’m still aiming for Friday March 2nd as the official release date for the print version.

Thanks so much to the readers who took the time to post reviews to Amazon. Thanks to the people who donated at such a fortunate time. Thanks for your continued support.


From The Archives:

88 thoughts on “Witch Watch: Proofs

  1. Luke says:

    Oh boy! That’s the day my wisdom teeth are coming out, so I’ll be sitting in bed all weekend!

  2. You say March 2nd as release date for the print version, what about the digital version? (In particular Kindle since that’s my household’s reading format, hehe)

    1. Strangeite says:

      Already available. I bought the Kindle version for my iPad on the 21st, you won’t be disappointed.

      BTW, the Kindle version on the iPad also has the same formatting issue that the Kindle for PC has.

      To make you feel better, the formatting mistakes are FAR less than almost any other book I have read from Amazon, including ones from the mega-publishers.

      1. Dys says:

        Personally I caught a few bad chapter headings on my kindle, no idea why. Perhaps there’s some difference between kindle versions?

    2. Mari says:

      As Shamus mentioned in the post and as was discussed in the comments of the last post about the book, digital editions are already available. You can go to Amazon right now and buy a copy of the book for Kindle.

  3. DaveMc says:

    “… you're getting one of the volumes you see above. I'll be singing them and dropping them in the mail …”

    That sounds fantastic, but I suspect it’s probably a typo. Alas.

    1. Jace911 says:

      He’s going to drive to your house and hand-deliver the copy while performing “Modern Major-General” on your porch.

      1. Michael says:

        He’s not going to perform Mordin’s “Scientist Salarian”?

        I liked that version better.

        1. Veloxyll says:

          He has, in fact, written a book themed version of the song that he will be performing when the print copies arrive.

  4. stebbi says:

    With the endless hours of entertainment you’ve provided (not to mention boring lectures you’ve helped me suffer through ;ྠ) the least I can do is buy your book, in fact I’m getting three. One for me and two for my best friends since they enjoy a good book as much as I.

    March 2nd + shipping time can’t come soon enough.

  5. TraderRager says:

    For your next book, write a horror story about someone who uses HTML PARSERS in their comment section.

    Seriously, install a PHPBB parser or something. This could be a major security hole.

    1. Simon Buchan says:

      It’s standard WordPress HTML sanitization, based on a syntactic white-list, and when written by a quarter-sane programmer is no less safe than BBcodes – just replace [] with <> in your BBcode parser and you’re 90% of the way there.

      You might have a point if your argument was that asking his commentors to write HTML for simple formatting is mean, and that he should be supporting markdown, I’d agree.

      It’s simple to:
      * *italicize* and **bold**
      * Make lists!
      * and [links are easy](http://google.com) and [readable], even with [long urls][1]

      [readable]: http://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/
      [1]: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/markdown-for-wordpress-and-bbpress/

  6. Matthias says:

    “I'll be singing them”
    Awesome, a musical audio book! When will it be released? ;-)

    1. TehShrike says:

      YES! That’s exactly what I thought! I definitely want to hear it sung :-D

  7. Meredith says:

    Well, that sounds like fun. I’ve been finding interesting mistakes all over my Kindle books lately. They’re much more fun than the usual paperback typos as you sometimes get symbols mixed up in the words. I assume it’s due to the conversion process. Good luck getting all the versions up to your standards.

    1. Mari says:

      I’m willing to forgive those unless they render the thing virtually unreadable. I’m also willing to forgive typos and such in first edition books. What really annoys me is a book that’s been out for nine or ten years across multiple editions and still has not only typos but atrocious grammar mistakes. I mean, really, publishers? Really?

  8. StranaMente says:

    I’ve already bought the book from Amazon (even thought it will be for my pc, because I don’t have an ereader), but I still have to begin reading it (since I have a high fever that doesn’t work well with translating text from foreign languages) and now I’d really like to buy the softcover one.
    I hope you’ll make a new post about it when they’re ready so that we can buy it!
    Best of luck!

    p.s. just a question, but can you submit changes to the original file at amazon etc? If you change that, can we download it again in the most correct version?

    1. Shamus says:

      Yes, I believe that Kindle books are automatically “patched” when you sync them. Not sure how it works, but that’s what I’ve been led to believe.

      1. Factoid says:

        I have no idea what the mechanism is, but this is true, I’ve had a Kindle purchase patched before and I just had to sync to get it.

        Amazon had one hilariously ironic situation where they accidentally sold ebooks of 1984 without the publisher’s permission and “patched” the book out of existence.

        1. Simulated Knave says:

          …Did they patch people’s money back?

  9. Friend of Dragons says:

    Hmm… I don’t suppose it’s also available for nook?

  10. 13 CBS says:

    Congratulations, Shamus and Heather! As someone who’s been following your blog for more than 4 years, this is a wonderful thing to see.

  11. Mari says:

    May I ask a favor? Could the illustrator also sign (or sing, whatever) my copy? I already have a spot reserved for it on the signed edition shelf, right beside another alt-history favorite of mine, “A Southern Yarn” and two down from my signed set of Bill Bennett’s two-volume history of America. Squeeeeeeeeee! /fangirl

    And for the record, I’m not praising the book because I like *you.* I’m praising the book because I love *it.*

  12. bassdrum says:

    Will the print copy be available in any physical bookstores/how long will it take to arrive at a given location if ordered online? I’ll be doing a great deal of travelling in the near future, and having this book along to read seems like it wouldn’t be such a bad idea–I just need to decide between print and electronic.

    1. Heather says:

      It will be available if you order it– since it is by an indie publisher you have to request it in stores to get it in stores. So if enough readers ask for it in a given store then they will choose to keep some in stock. Otherwise, it will be like every other less popular than the New York Times Best Seller books and will have to be ordered, whether online or through a book store.

      1. Michael says:

        Which is what’s going on with hardcover, right? Overwhelming demand and it happens?

        (I’m holding out for hardcover, myself. My softcover books end up ‘loved’ to death in as little as two years.)

        1. krellen says:

          I’m going to buy it soft cover, but if it’s as good as I expect, I will likely be sorely tempted to buy it AGAIN if hardcover becomes available.

          1. Sumanai says:

            My plan is to purchase softcover, if I like it enough to push on friends or family I’ll buy hardcover and force borrow/gift the softcover version on to a friend or family member.

  13. Doug Brown says:

    Are there stat blocks in an appendix in the back? Because that would be super sweet.

  14. Hitch says:

    Oh, perhaps the least significant aspect of a Kindle book, but the cover is really drab and almost unseeable on a black and white Kindle display.

    1. Heather says:

      I know, I tried various things to make it work both on the website AND look nice in the Kindle but to no avail. So I gave up and went for “looks nice in print and is eye-catching when small”– albeit jpegged. The funny thing is it didn’t matter HOW much contrast it had, for some reason it just looks bleh on the Kindle (I think it has to do with tone on tone.)

      1. Simon Buchan says:

        If I’ve managed to sponge the right knowledge from my designer co-workers, I believe that irregular shading is just a bad idea for grayscale: using flat tones, patterns or pencil seems OK, but for your title I’d just use straight black and white

  15. Jace911 says:

    Arrgh, I’m seriously considering postponing buying Mass Effect 3 so I can get this. Curse you for being the most interesting man on the internet, Shamus! *shakes fist*

    1. krellen says:

      “I don’t always play video games, but when I do, I prefer DRM-less.”

      1. Jace911 says:

        “Stay frosty my friends.”

  16. SolkaTruesilver says:

    The cover is sure sexy. A very well mix of bland but… I don’t know, “Authentic”?

    Who picked it up?

    (“bland” in the good sense. Like, I don’t like book covers who have a thousand motifs on it, they are too busy and less memorable)

    1. Michael says:

      Responded to wrong comment. Ignore.

    2. Heather says:

      Not “picked up” but rather we went ahead and self-published. So thank you on the cover– that was my work (and based on a 1890-something book of around the world photos I own.) I hate fussy covers preferring plain and simple and to the point. :)

  17. Eärlindor says:

    Aaauugh! I am so giddy for a physical copy of this book! :D

    We wants it, preciousss!

  18. MikeSSJ says:

    Got the Kindle-version, and I’m looking forward to reading it once I’ve finished “Free Radical” (which I got along with it).

    And even though I’m a bit late with this, I have to say “Free Radical” is a pretty good story, even though I’m only up to chapter 9 so far :)

  19. Factoid says:

    You’re catching me at a great time. I am 3-4 days away from wrapping up the Hunger Games trilogy, and I haven’t picked out a next book yet. I signed up for my local library’s ebook program only to discover that it is a wasteland of 99% worthless crap and 4 books by Neil Gaiman, 3 of which I’ve already read.

    So Witch Watch for my Kindle it shall be! Is there a “preferred” way for me to buy the book so that you make more money off of it? I know amazon probably takes a pretty big chunk of your sale if I just buy it through them. I’m happy enough to buy an ebook somewhere else and just put it on my kindle manually if it nets you a couple extra bucks.

    1. Heather says:

      Amazon is nice just because it moves us up on the sales and makes it so others see it and buy. We get a tiny bit more from Smashwords but the marketing aspect of Amazon makes it more valuable.

  20. Victor says:

    I’ve been a fan of your blog for a while, along with Spoiler Warning. It’s my first or second time actually posting anything, but I wanted to add my congratulations to the list. I kind of jumped the gun and already bought the Kindle edition, but I have to say, the softcover looks very nice.

  21. WWWebb says:

    I love that my sidebar ad on the page is “Feel the PRIDE of becoming a PUBLISHED AUTHOR”. Whether or not you actually used iUniverse, they seem to have bought the right keywords. It’s also interesting that the Google ads are aware of the page content and not just assigning you ads based on the overall content of your domain.

    Now I want to go back and pull up some of the more random posts to see what Google thinks…

  22. Dourhands says:

    there is no doubt i’ll be getting one, heading over to amazon tonight actually to see about pre-ordering, but i wanted to find out if there’s anyway i could request a signed copy?

    Edit: 5 mins later and back from amazon with no luck, no worries though ill just doggedly watch the website on the 2nd. still though, really would love a signed copy if thats at all possible.

    1. Heather says:

      IF I can manage to get the publishing “company” set up then we will be able to handle pre-orders down the road (have the application for the printing company I want to use sitting in my inbox) but for now, no pre-orders. We will have to order copies and sign them so we would kind of need to set up some sort of pre-order for signed copies (probably on Shamus’ author page which is still in the works though it is up and running– too much in my head right now) then send them out from here.

      1. Thom Mollinga says:

        Well, I got your game (or at leas the one you drew the illustrations for) quite fast, but that was done by some publisher as well, right?
        If international shipping is going to be an option for signed copies, let me know. I read the reviews on Amazon, and they are promising!

      2. Bubble181 says:

        Just to add to your troubles in favout of end-user comfort: it’d be nice if signed and non-signed copies can be ordered together. It’s complicated sometimes, since one has to pass through your hand while the other doesn’t, but I think I’ll be buying one signed (for me) and a few non-signed ones (for relatives/friends/random passers-by); bundling them together will save me some shipping :-P

  23. The Rocketeer says:

    Shamus, would you be interested to know that the description of Spoiler Warning on your main index page describes it as a ‘CONCERSATION with friends?’

    It’s been like that since… well, it’s always been like that, but you seem to like to fix these things, so I thought I’d point it out already.

    1. Josh says:

      You know, I even complained about this to him a while back…

      1. Michael says:

        It’s funny we’re bringing this up now; someone mentioned it during the ME2 season. Comment was in December, I think.

    2. Simon Buchan says:

      Sound’s like he can’t decide whether it’s a conversation or a consternation :)

      1. The Rocketeer says:

        Along that vein, how about this ‘with FRIENDS’ dreck? Has Shamus never SEEN an episode of Spoiler Warning?

      2. Eärlindor says:

        You know what’s funny? I’ve read it as “consternation” this entire time.

      3. krellen says:

        A concersation is when a group of friends communicates entirely via concertos.

    3. george says:

      I told him about it around mid 2011 through email as well.

      In other news, I wonder if any Australian bookstores would get this through their own choice, as we don’t exactly stock mostly new york times bestsellers (they generally have 50-50 of something popular and something not, I picked up a copy of Ender’s Game at my local bookstore and that’s over 20 years old), or libraries (which don’t have Ender’s Game yet would have something like Iain M Banks).

      Paperback ftw too, it’s nice to know you have the book in 10 years time in case the book supplier ever went defunct and you lost your digital copy, or if the Mayan Calender ending somehow signals the apocalypse.

      I’d also like to point out that Metro 2033 had at least 2 dozen errors that I spotted whilst reading it, repeat words, missing words (sometimes the wording is a bit… weird and acceptable, but other times you know there’s something missing), let alone the missing letters (or a ‘w’ in the middle of a word which i found once).

      That’s a big title too, although Game of Thrones I recall encountering 6 I think, I never marked any though as I had run out of post-its at the time.

  24. Lunok says:

    will it be available to those of us who own a nook as well?

  25. rofltehcat says:

    Somehow, this blog post sounds a bit like you are too sceptical (maybe a bit of stage fright?).

    I’m 71% (according to the kindle software) through the book now (their return to London after their “big trip”) and I am really enjoying it.

    The “mistakes” I found weren’t that much of a problem, imo. I’ve seen much worse in relatively successful print books. Furthermore, I guess the people who already bought the ebook won’t mind doing some final “beta testing”. As long as you don’t try to sell us the “patches” as “DLC”, that is ;)

    Chin up, Shamus! (heads up…? argh somehow I can’t translate it really in the sense I mean it…)

    1. krellen says:

      “Chin up” generally means “be positive/encouraged” in American English. “Heads up” is a “look out!” sort of warning.

      1. rofltehcat says:

        Yeah, I meant “be positive!”

    2. Dys says:

      Along these lines, yes. It is good, and you can be quite certain I’d tell you if it wasn’t. In detail, at length.

      I always remember this quote from Ira Glass. It’s like a reverse Dunning-Kruger effect. Maybe a decade of blogging has moved you past that, but it sounds like there’s still a little apprehension left.

      I’m still deeply mired in it, and therefore horribly jealous, so you can guarantee I’m not sugar coating when I say good job. I only hope it sells, which is going to be more about word of mouth than anything else.

  26. ALex says:

    Hey i live in norway and would love to get a softcopy or hardcopy of that book. i dont have kindle as its not really easy to come by here. how do i proceed?

    1. MichaelG says:

      Kindle for the PC (or iPad, or Mac, I think) is free. You can read the book that way.

    2. Sumanai says:

      Amazon.co.uk sells to Finland, I expect them to sell to Norway. I don’t know if they will sell this particular book to the north, but I’ll be sorely disappointed if they don’t.

      Note that if you have debit card you should be able to use it with the credit card payment method. You might have to enable web payments (or something similarly titled) in your bank account settings from the bank’s website. I don’t know how many banks have that setting, but I know Nordea does.

  27. CheddarTheKnight says:

    March 2nd? Such a wonderful birthday gift for me!

  28. Jokerman says:

    Someone is gonna wanna get Shamus to write there games if this book is really well received :O

  29. seodoth says:

    As soon as I got money again, this is the first thing im buying :D

    1. hevis says:

      This. I’ll get the paperback ASAP.

  30. Mrs. Peel says:

    Got it last night. Enjoying it so far. Review will be posted many places when it’s done.

    Shamus, I review most of my reads on goodreads, and there are authors on there as well. One author actually offered me a free copy of his book. I don’t know how well that worked for additional sales, but word of mouth is king, right? Anyway, just thought I’d mention the site in case you weren’t familiar with it.

  31. arthurbu says:

    Will definitely be picking this up. I’ll be waiting for March 2nd though because I’m still behind the times on this whole ebook business.

  32. Katesickle says:

    Just picked it up for Kindle. According to Amazon, people who like your book also like Terry Pratchet and Brandon Sanderson. So you’re in excellent company :)

  33. Kaeltik says:

    Completed last night. Excellent. Very enjoyable.

    Is there any way that we could get a spoiler thread going so that we can discuss it amongst ourselves and with you, Shamus, without walls of spoiler-strike grey?

    1. Shamus says:

      Good idea. I’ll get a thread going this week.

    2. Bubble181 says:

      Grey? It’s always been orange for me o_O

  34. Simplex says:

    I’ve bought it on Smashbooks, but did not start reading yet. When will the corrected version be available? It would be nice if Smashbooks could send me an email notification, that a new version was uploaded.

  35. Caffiene says:

    I havent managed to find it in the posts or a semi-extensive search in the comments – Where is the print version going to be available from?

    Is it going to be through Amazon, or just CreateSpace? If its through Amazon, is there any chance it will be available on Amazon.co.uk as well as .com?

    1. Sumanai says:

      I really hope Amazon.co.uk will have it and that it will ship it around Europe. I really, really hope that. I dread to think the costs for postage from Amazon.com, assuming it won’t decide that I’m supposed to purchase from .co.uk despite it not being available there.

  36. Christian Severin says:

    Nice title, BTW — but that kind of word play is hard to keep up for the sequels, isn’t it? “Mage Rage” comes to mind, but other than that…

    Or aren’t you doing a series? You have started on the sequel already, haven’t you???

  37. susie day says:

    I’m super excited! Good luck, and I hope you’ll find that it was worth all the time and effort!

    Also … does this mean that we’ll finally find out about those clouds in Project Frontier? :p

  38. Zak McKracken says:

    Not saying you should leave all you know behind and switch right now … but I’m almost sure there’s a solution that involves a few scripts and writing the original in LaTeX. I’ve got pdfs and html pages automatically derived from the same tex document, and damned if there’s no tried-and tested conversion tool for all the other formats out there… come on, you’re a nerd. geek. thing. This is technology! … next book?

  39. Pingback: Book
  40. Siliconscout says:

    So I bought the Kindle version on Amazon… AND finished it .. AND reviewed it … AND loved it … AND WOW great work.

    I am thinking that I have a couple of friends who need a copy of the book. Will you have a higher profit margin on the Print copy or on the digital copy? I want to make sure I help your pocket book!

  41. Bryan says:

    I bought the kindle version on Amazon, sorry about the fact you get payed less Shamus. I will buy the print version when it comes out.

  42. Scott says:

    Hey Shamus,

    Picked the book up from Smashwords, a really, really great read.

    I also must say that Heather’s drawings (which are fantastico) captured the Vigor of the book (I was going to write essence but hey Vigor is in line with the book).

    When I am no longer poor, I’ll have to order a signed (singed) copy of the paperback, hopefully I can get this delivered to the a*** end of Oz :)

  43. Scott says:

    Woops, forgot to add, I’ll pay moar money for a signed copy, even if I have to order it, post it to you and pay for you to post it to me, it was that great of a read (I need to add to my collection of signed books, and this one is definately worth the extra cost to do so)

  44. Hawk says:

    Hey Shamus — Been a long time reader, congratulations on publishing the book! Your posts on it actually motivated me to go out and look into self-publishing my own (non-fiction) eBook. Thanks for turning me on to Smashwords — I wish I’d found it before working on Kindle since it would have been easier to do Smashwords formatting first and then create the Kindle edition. (For any interested, the book is Soldier/Geek: An Army Science Advisor’s Journal of the War in Afghanistan.)

    I’m considering looking in to the print-on-demand route, too. Do you have any thoughts on Createspace versus Lulu? Since you’re pursuing both, are you finding it a lot of work to format for both? Is one or the other better to start with?

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