Tag Archives: indie publishing

In which the audio versions of Happiest Days and Just A Geek get a new home

I've had such a great experience using Lulu to sell Sunken Treasure and Memories of the Future, Volume One, I have decided to start out 2010 by moving the audio versions of The Happiest Days of Our Lives and Just A Geek to Lulu. It made a lot of sense to me to keep all of my self-published work together in one place, and hopefully this will make ordering even faster and easier than it already was.

Now, for the sake of completeness and making a post that's more than 70 words, here's a little bit about my audiobooks, which I yanked from the Audiobooks tag on Wil Wheaton Books dot Com:

The Happiest Days of Our Lives

You can buy the audio version of The Happiest Days of Our Lives right here, for just $19.72. "Why $19.72?" You ask? Because that's the year I was born, and since nobody else is the boss of me, I can do that sort of thing. "How long is it?" You say? "That's what she said!" I reply. Then I tell you that it's about three and a-half hours long, and we laugh and laugh before the episode ends with a hilarious freeze frame.

Like the audio version of Just A Geek, this is a super-annotated edition, filled with tons of what I call "audio footnotes" for lack of a less stupid-sounding term. I hope we've created something that's more like sitting down in a room with me while I tell you stories, than it is a typical audiobook. I don't think a traditional publisher would let me get away with doing it this way, which is a big reason I do these things on my own. If you've ever heard meperform my work at a show, or listened to any of my podcasts, you should have some idea of what you're getting into.

Just A Geek

I'm very proud of this, my first audio book. I've talked in the past about what a huge letdown my experience wih O'Reilly was on the print version of the book, and much of the joy I'd hoped to feel with its release has instead come from the recording of the audio version, which ended up being a performance, with asides, commentary, and reflections on the material that aren't in the print version of the book. I guess it's like I'm reading the book to you, and occasionally setting it down to give some meta-commentary on various passages.

So if you liked the print book, my PAX keynotemy performance of The Trade, or if you like my podcasts, I'm pretty sure you'll dig the audiobook.

For the Lulu release of Just A Geek: The Audiobook, I was able to include a PDF scan of the booklet I created for its previous release, which I think is pretty cool. (If you already own the audio version of JAG and would like a copy of the PDF booklet, just e-mail me and I'll get it to you as quickly as I can.)

My audiobooks are quite different from traditional audiobooks. Rather than create a dramatic interpretation of the literal text, which is what I do when I voice another author's book (Like Peter & Max: A Fables Novel, which I did for Bill Willingham), I am able to use my experience as an actor to bring the words and characters to life while adding my own commentary. The result is much closer to hearing or seeing me perform my material live than getting an audio version of the text.

For both of these books, I worked with my friend David Lawrence, who in addition to producing them, participated in some interesting conversations along the way. In fact, we added so much material through our conversations and my additional commentary, we only half-jokingly call them superannotated versions of the books. It's the sort of thing that I doubt I'd be able to get away with if I wasn't doing this entirely on my own, and I'm really glad that we did the books this way, because I think it makes them special and unique. The feedback I've gotten from customers is overwhelmingly positive, and it appears that my goal of making the listener feel like we're sitting down together while I read to them has been successfully achieved.

Okay, before I sign off, I'm going to address a couple of FAQs that usually come up when my aubiobooks are mentioned:

Q: How about some stats, man?

A: Happiest Days is $19.72, about 3.5 hours long, and is about a 200MB download. Just A Geek is $20.00, about 9 hours long, and is about a 400MB download.

Q: Why is Just a Geek only 28 cents more if it's so much longer?

A: That's what she said! Oh, um. Sorry. Because it's been available for so long, and the old pricing model we used when it was originally released needed to be updated. Look, I know that people can just steal it if they want to, so I figured it was better to make it more affordable for people who want to be honest.

Q: How about a discount if I get them together?

A: I wish I could do that, but I'd have to make a whole new project at Lulu, and I don't think there's enough market demand for that.

Q: Can I get this from Audible?

A: Not right now.

Q: Why not?

A: Two main reasons: Audible takes a huge cut of the purchase price, and for an indie guy like me it's not worth it. Audible also requires DRM, which I'd like to avoid as long as possible. Now, to be super-clear: if Audible could somehow open up my work to tens of thousands of new customers, I think it would be a fair trade off. However, my experience in traditional publishing leads me to believe that that isn't going to happen. I think I can reach 

Q: So why not do it anyway? Why not sell them directly yourself and also use Audible?

A: Hurm. That's a good question, and I can't come up with a very good reason that's more comprehensive than, "because I don't want to deal with the hassle and potential rejection from Audible." 

Q: So you're going to eventually do that?

A: Well … it seems silly not to, now, doesn't it? Tell you what: once I get everything I need to do under control and I'm not behind on a crapton of deadlines, I'll look into Audible, assuming that they'll even be interested in having me.

Q: So should I just wait, then?

A: Facepalm.

Q: Are you going to do audio versions of your other books?

A: I've meant to do a Dancing Barefoot for years, and just never got around to it. If enough people are interested, though, I will. I bet I could give Barefoot a really neat superannotated treatment, especially since I've leveled up so much since I wrote it.

Q: What about Memories of the Future?

A: I really don't know. It takes a lot of time and energy to produce an audiobook, and I don't know if there are enough buyers to make it worth the time it would take to create a Memories audiobook all at once. I've thought about doing it episodically, so if only 20 people are interested, I've only wasted two hours instead of forty, but I'm not sure that would work. But there's always the Memories of the Futurecast, guys.

Q: Hey, is it weird to essentially have a conversation with yourself and present it as a FAQ?

A: Keep your questions on-topic, please.

Q: It's just that, I think it's kind of weird.

A: That isn't a question.

Q: Oh, so the voice in your head can say you're awesome and you'll let that slip by, but if I point out that it's a little weird, you're just going to blow me off?

A: Pretty much. Yes. Okay, um … you in the back?

Q: Hey, I don't have a question, but I just wanted to say that you're awesome.

A: Why thank you. That's very kind of you.

Q: And tell us, once again, where we can get these fabulous audiobooks, please?

A: Great question. You can go to my storefront at Lulu to find just about everything I've recently published, or you can go directly to Just A Geek: The Audiobook or The Happiest Days of Our Lives: The Audiobook.

Annnd, scene. Thanks for reading and (hopefully) listening. Remember to tell all your friends, and be sure to drink your Ovaltine.

…and the livin’ is easy.

Hey, remember when I posted stuff in my blog every day and we all had a good time while learning? It's a distant memory, but if you squint, you may be able to pick it up.

Anyway. It's summer, I've been working on awesome projects that I can't talk about, finishing up awesome projects that I've talked about a lot already (Memories of the Future, special edition of Happiest Days, etc.), and since Ryan came home from school and I have my whole family together under one roof again, I'm not especially motivated to stay at my computer after I'm done working, you know?

To close some tabs, though, please enjoy these things that are all related:

Indie Kindle Author lands book deal

Author Boyd Morrison sold two books, the first one called The Ark, to Simon & Schuster. Boyd uploaded and sold the books himself and raised awareness for his novels by being a member of Kindle Boards and generally self-promoting.

He will be published in hardcover in 2010 and is working on his next book featuring swashbuckling adventurer Tyler Locke.

Kick ass, Boyd Morrison! I hope your experience in traditional publishing is better than mine was, and I hope you'll keep your fellow authors informed about your experience.

Author Michael Stackpole: "I don't worry about pirates."

Bestselling novelist Michael Stackpole says he's making great money
selling fiction directly off his site; he doesn't worry about pirates,
"People downloading my stories from the big torrent sites were never
going to buy them anyway. It's no money out of my pocket."

I have a similar philosophy, and I consider myself tremendously lucky to have the kind of relationship with my customers that I do.

Sunken Treasure has gotten some incredible reviews at Lulu:

I hadn't read any of Wil's books, and "Sunken Treasure" seemed like a
good place to sample his writing. My favorite chapters were those about
his childhood – the bad Star Wars trade, the arcade games, auditions.
There's something about the way he captures the true sense of those
times and weaves in pop cultural references so naturally. In those
chapters, I forgot I was reading and was totally drawn into the
storytelling. It felt like being there. I also liked the chapter which
was an on-set diary about a recent acting job – a very open and
engaging account of how it happens and what it's like.

Wil's writing is very honest, clever, vulnerable, raw, and
unprocessed. He's not afraid to show his doubts or fears, and he's not
embarrassed to share his highs. It makes him very real and very
likeable. After reading this sampler, I wanted to know more about him.

Finally, I simply appreciate the fact that this is an independently
published work. I think a lot of people shy away from self-published
books because they're concerned about unchecked quality. The writing
here is terrific and there is a feel of integrity and control in
presenting it.

So…yeah, that's pretty awesome. I love it that so many readers enjoy
Sunken Treasure, and the biggest complaint is that it leaves people
wanting to read more (kind of the idea, but don't tell anyone I said
that, okay?)

This morning, Twitter user @KenMcConnell said: "Wil (@wilw) Wheaton's Sunken Treasure used on Scribd page for ad copy. Cool for him! http://bit.ly/19Y18W" I grabbed a screenshot, because it's one of those things I kind of want to remember when I'm in the adult diapers stage of my life. If I haven't kicked the everlivingshit out of this dead horse, allow me to take a few more whacks (slow, then fast): publishing with Lulu has been a fantastic experience for me. It's easy, the quality of the final product is fantastic, and it frees me up to do the creative stuff I couldn't do when I was fulfilling orders in my living room with the occasional help from my friends and family. If you're considering publishing, I suggest you give Lulu serious consideration.

When I was in Portland, working on Leverage, I spent all of my non-acting time writing stories. When I wasn't writing, I hung out with John Rogers and talked about writing stories. I'm not sure if I grew a level, but definitely gained a whole lot of XP: I wrote a short story that I love (to be released in the near future after I give it a second draft and Andrew applies the Red Pen of Doom) and began work on another that shows at least some promise.

Ryan just wandered out of his room and sat down next to me on the couch with his laptop.

"Dude, you have to see this!" He said, pointing to something on the screen.

"Who is this is?" I said, glancing up from my own laptop.

"Check it out!" He clicked the mouse and flipped the screen toward me. This is what he showed me.

"Dude…" I shook my head.

He giggled. "I totally got you."

"You totally did."

It's really great to have him home.