a couple of book-related things

Memories of the Future got a nice write up in the Toledo Free Press:

There’s one thing that Wil Wheaton wants to make very clear: “Memories of the Future” is not, repeat, NOT a “tell-all” book about his time working on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

“It was extraordinarily important to me that this was not some kind of stupid, gossipy book,” Wheaton said. “I despise that kind of thing. I just hate it. It’s the reality television of literature, and I absolutely cannot stand it.”

Indeed, “Memories of the Future” is instead a funny review of, and a loving tribute to, the first season of “Next Generation,” which began its television run in 1987.

I also saw that Happiest Days of Our Lives was used as an example of one of those new-fangled paper-style books:

Today I picked up a paper book to read just for fun — The Happiest Days of Our Lives by Wil Wheaton. Long-time (since this spring!) Kindle user that I am, I immediately noticed the dashing use of color on its front cover, but when I opened it, I was disappointed that I couldn’t scale the font size down from the default. It seems that paper books have only one font option — what are all these Kindle forum posters complaining about with its six sizes of a single font?

On the very first page, I encountered a word I wasn’t familiar with (Namaste). I thought I knew what it meant from the context clues, and even had the thought that on the Kindle, I could just highlight it and confirm my guess. But my paper dictionary was in the basement, so I didn’t bother looking it up until I wrote this post. (My hunch was reasonably correct.)

Interface-wise, the paper book is solid, and crashes, lockups, or other malfunctions are rare. I have, however, noted severe stability problems when attempting to read outdoors, especially when it’s windy (which, since I live in Kansas, is pretty much always). Pages start turning themselves, even without me making the “turn page” gesture. Sometimes the book will even lose its memory of my last page read. This is rather annoying, and might even involve a lengthy search for a suitable temporary replacement bookmark. Also, I haven’t tried it, but I suspect that the trick of putting a Kindle in a ziplock bag to read at the beach or in the tub without risk of getting it wet would be impractical with a paper book.

That entire post is really funny and clever, and I think you should read the whole thing. Go ahead, I'll wait.

See? Wasn't it funny? I like clever writing that is funny.

Speaking of The Happiest Days Of Our Lives, I know a non-zero number of people have been waiting very patiently for the special edition to be released by Subterranean Press. I wanted to explain, again, why it's been a year: After the book was announced, I spent almost two months digging through published and unpublished material for the expanded parts of the book, then I spent another month or so rewriting and polishing the stuff that made the cut. After that, I wrote additional introductions and notes to go with each chapter. That was the first delay (and, honestly, I thought it was entirely reasonable, since the book was announced as a pre-order) The biggest delay, and the first serious problem, though, was a software compatibility issue between me and the copy editor. OpenOffice and Word don't track notes the same way, but neither of us knew this until we'd both spent a lot of time working in our respective suites, completely oblivious to the work of the other. Finally, we realized what was wrong, and had to go all the way back to the beginning of the copy editing process the old way, printing the entire manuscript out on paper and making notes in the margins. It had a certain nostalgic value, but it took forever to get all that shit straightened out. 

So that process, which should have taken a couple weeks, took close to three months. Then, once we got that all squared away, I had to get a bunch of pictures together, caption them, fact-check the captions with my parents and siblings, then get all that stuff to Subterranean Press. I also held up this part of the process for a couple more weeks while I looked for even more unpublished pictures that neither me nor my mom could find. 

Finally, I asked my son Ryan (who is a creative writing student) if he wanted to write an afterword. He said he would, but it would take some time because he's in college and has his own responsibilities. I was willing to wait, because I thought it would be awesome to have his contribution to in the book, and I figured at this point (August) another couple weeks didn't make that big a difference. It ended up taking about 6 or 8 weeks, but I think it will ultimately be worth the delay (please note that I am not an objective source of information in this regard.)

Finally, the manuscript was turned in, the pictures were approved, the layout was all set … and then the signature pages arrived. I had to sign something like 2500 pages, and it was important to me that each one looked like it was the only one I'd signed. I could have blown through it, of course, and gotten it done in a couple of days, but that would have guaranteed disappointment to everyone who bought the book and waited almost a year to get it. So I limited myself to between 50 and 75 pages at a "session," and it took several weeks to work my way through them all.

Oh, also, keep in mind that during all of these months, I was working on other projects, including several television shows that took me away from the Happiest Days project for weeks at a time.

So all of those delays stacked up on top of each other, until everything was finally finished about six or eight weeks ago. I realize that this is a very long time to wait for something, and I also realize that I've probably killed any chance of doing other special editions with Subterranean Press because this one took so long, but I sincerely believe that it will be worth the wait, because I've seen it, and it's something very special.

28 thoughts on “a couple of book-related things”

  1. As one of the waiting, I just wanted to say that you’ve been really great at updating us on the various speed bumps along the way. While I’m on my tippy-toes with excitement to see what the finished product looks like, a goodly portion of that enthusiasm is grounded in the knowledge that you’ve been pouring every effort into making it something very special.

  2. Thank you very much for the update Wil. It’s been a long wait but I don’t mind. After all, looking forward to something special is a lot of fun too! :o)
    A Happy New Year to you and your family.
    Many greetings from Switzerland,

  3. I just placed my order. After receiving and reading both Sunken Treasure and Just a Geek within a few days around Christmas, I’ve been ordered to get both Dancing Barefoot and The Happiest Days of Our Lives… So I’d better get this one while I can. Wish I could afford the Lettered version, but I’ll be perfectly happy with signed.
    Wil: Sunday became a Wil Wheaton marathon yesterday. I read Sunken treasures to my fiance on our drive home after the holidays, then when we got home, we watched your Criminal Minds episode, CSI episode, and Family Guy episode :)

  4. Yep, well worth the wait! I can’t imagine how you do it. After all the time you spent on Star Trek, you mean you don’t have a robot Wil Wheaton to do the work for you?? :) Wouldn’t that be nice?!
    I will be adding Happiest Days and Dancing B. to my collection very soon.

  5. Greetings Wil!
    Amazing. I am a Star Trek fan from very very far back.
    since the very first Star Trek (in the 60’s) thru “Star Trek, The New Generation”, etc. Just found some TNG episodes on some funny cable network (WGN). I was amazed to see that some “star trek” fans were bad mouthing the Wesley Crusher character. I have always enjoyed that character, and the actor’s portrayal of that character (which would be You!). I was wondering what ever happened to Denise Crosby (oh my god!~, it must be love, I can feel it!), and Wil Wheaton! You both have very interesting web sites, and you seem quite alive an well. So nice to be able to watch those episodes, and see that you are doing well, etc.
    “Don’t be a Dick”
    great job! Me get your book about being a “Geek”

  6. Wil! I totally got your new book and the mug for Christmas! It was the best present I’ve gotten in years. Oh, and I got a ton of earl grey tea! It was wonderful. Thanks for existing.

  7. Holy shit, I ordered this so long ago I actually forgot about it. What should I do about address changes, contact the publisher? Props on getting it done though, Wil. I’m sure it will be great!

  8. Just send an email to [email protected] with your new contact details and they will respond to you fairly quickly (probably from William Schafer). The same thing happened to me while waiting for George Martin’s “Fevre Dream”. There were issues with the production of the leather case, and it took a long time to fix. I have to give them credit, after waiting so long for the book, they also sent me several other books – some autographed. They are a real class act publisher, and create some really beautiful books.

  9. And I can't stress this enough: none of these delays are Subterranean's fault. Please be polite to Bill and everyone there, and direct your rage cannon at me, if you need to point it somewhere.

  10. Correction: It wasn’t “Fevre Dream” that was late, it was Scalzi’s “Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded”. I was so grateful for all the free “apology” books, that I pledged to name my next dog after him. I think he took it for the compliment that I meant it to be :p

  11. Wil, speaking as someone who’s bought special edition books from SubPress before; it’s always worth the wait.
    I ordered a special edition book from them a couple of years ago and waited at least 15 months on it. Without doubt, it was worth the wait, and I’m sure Happiest Days is no exception.

  12. As one of the non-zero number who ordered as soon as I could, I’d like to say that I’m totally not stressed about this. Most of the time, I totally forget about it. Every now and then, I get a “hey, I wonder whatever happened to that” moment, but it’s rare, and frankly I’m looking forward to being surprised by this when it gets here – it’s like a mystery toy suprise! Thanks for keeping us posted, and honestly, as long as I get it eventually, it’s cool, man.

  13. As one of the non-zero number waiting on the lettered edition, it’ll be worth the wait. I wouldn’t have bought it if I didn’t think so. I am glad you have been updating us, it keeps it in the long term list of things to remember.
    It’s not like I haven’t been here before, for a game. The Fool and His Money… That has been years at this point. Three maybe, four. But from what I’ve seen that will be worth it too.
    Good things from creative people move at their own pace. Wil, since I never sent you that email that was sitting in my Saved file for ever: Thanks.
    No other words for it other than that.

  14. Hi Wil! Love your writing and have Just a Geek and Memories of the Future on paper. I linked to the site to get the audiobook of Happiest Days of Our LIves – paid with paypal, but then got an error and was not directed anywhere to download. I’m sad, to say the least! And wanted you to know that some folks might be having a problem…

  15. Wil, you gave me a big grin last night. It was late and I was a bit tired when I went here to link to your blog from my review of Happiest Days of Our Lives (which was excellent and great food for thought), and had a few seconds of cognitive dissonance when I saw my own words on your site. After that, a huge grin. Thanks for the link, but moreover for Just a Geek and The Happiest Days of Our Lives. They are touching books that I really identify with, and it feels that they’re not just telling your story, but mine too. I don’t think any author has ever evoked that feeling for me.
    John Goerzen

  16. Please stop tempting me. I seriously have NO MORE ROOM on the bookcases which is why I’ve been ordering books on audio lately. But this sounds awesome. Hmmm, maybe if I moved cookbooks to a kitchen cupboard.

  17. I’ve got my order in and now I have the issue that I’m craving that bit of info that things are actually rolling out the door. Wil, can we get an RSS feed strictly for Happiest Days updates? I think you should get on that.

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