A Note

Dearest Steven,

I write to you in the form of a draft blog post as a reminder to us both that we ought to be publicizing your upcoming convention and festival appearances, and further, that such public-facing mentions of same should be cheery, perhaps even excited, in tone–though it wouldn’t do to be crass–and must additionally give all relevant details and links for the appearances in question.

I am certain that your mind, which, being fair, nimble, and concise enough to amass the many fans who at this time are doubtless waiting with bated breath for news of your public appearances, could produce a note which accomplishes the goals outlined above with the effort of a mere moment.

Until such time as we can enjoy the satisfaction of pressing “Publish” on that happy post, I remain your affectionate,



I cannot but admit to the extreme justice of your observation. As my plans for travel come close, it may be that someone who reads this would be interested in learning where I intend to be, and, just as much, when I intend to be there.

Believe me when I say that your kindness in taking on the burden of disseminating the details of these plans is not unappreciated.



I would be rather more a poor than a humble servant were I to balk at such a pleasurable task as delineating a schedule, but I fear I must dare so far as to disagree with you on one point, and that solitary point is, as you must have already guessed, the word ‘burden’. Such a word, applied in this instance, implies that it would be weighty or difficult to do so. Yet, merely by working through the night shifting data, crafting links, and dyeing pixels to your usual specifications, I have already queued the relevant information and appended it to this very missive.

  • Boskone, February 13-15 in Boston, MA. [link] Take note that Friday afternoon program items are open to the public.
  • Minicon 50 & Cats Laughing Reunion, April 2-5, in Bloomington, MN. [link] [Cats link] Concert is planned for Friday.
  • Fox Cities Book Festival, April 20-26, 2015, Appleton, WI. [link] Steve is currently scheduled for Thursday evening.

Now I must beg you not to waste a moment of your precious time or energy in any unnecessary displays of gratitude, as I assure you, it was no trouble whatsoever.



The Horse! This is astonishing! And only your remonstrance–to ignore which would, under the circumstances, be the height of inconsideration–prevents me from using all of my hard-won, long-practiced, and well-cherished eloquence to express the profound degree of gratitude, and, moreover, admiration, that the splendid, timely, and elegant completion of this task has inspired in me.


Reflections on The Incrementalists, Publicity, Self-promotion, and Stuff

I just finished signing books at Uncle Hugo’s (and thanks to you who showed up, especially Deane from Kansas), which marks the official end of my first-ever book tour. That makes this a good time for some thoughts on publicity and self-promotion.

“…I have been astonished at the readiness with which everything asked for has been yielded, without even an explanation being asked. Should my success be less than I desire and expect, the least I can say is, the fault is not with you.”
–U.S. Grant to Abraham Lincoln, April, 1864

It has been a remarkable couple of months. I’ve spoken before of how The Incrementalists holds a special place in my heart. This has been reflected in a couple of things, the first is my only effort to date to actively promote a book I’ve written, and, related to that, it is the only time I have asked a publisher to do more to promote one of my books.

As to the latter, I can only say that they exceeded my expectations. And for those ready to accuse me of kissing ass, I’ll point out that I don’t have any reason to do so: they already like me, and, moreover, I don’t believe any of the people involved are likely to make business decisions based on whether I say mean or nice things about them.

The fact is, they gave me (us) a book tour, my first ever. And a book trailer. And they advertised it. And they had us working with a publicist. And did posts on Tor.com. In short, they did everything I could imagine, and more (I never imagined a book trailer, for example).  It is also worth taking a moment to comment on the cover blurb by John Scalzi.  I don’t know, in general, how much good blurbs do, but I have heard (or overheard) several people saying that they bought the book because of the blurb.  Impressive.

The book tour: God it was fun!  For one thing, it was book tour “light”–the high-stress aspects of touring were, for the most part, missing.  What we had was joint readings (Skyler and I just never get tired of doing those!) before appreciative audiences, questions and answers from Smart People, and then signing books and meeting folks.  What is there not to like?

As for self-promotion, well, I tweeted more reviews than I ever have, I blogged and tweeted about signings, and I actively sought out interviews with blogs, zines, and everything else.  I even had, for the first time, a web site devoted to promoting the book (thanks to Adam Stemple, who created and maintains it).

So, now that that’s all done, there are a couple of obvious questions: 1) How much good did some or all of that do in terms of sales, and 2) How do I feel about it all?

As to the first, I don’t know. I think those in what I suppose I should call my “fan base” (folks who will buy my books because they’ve come to trust me to tell a good story) were going to buy the book anyway. I’m pretty sure that the effort at getting interviews and reviews &c succeeded in reaching some number of people who otherwise wouldn’t have been aware of the book; my impression, however, is not that many. Not enough, in other words, to turn it from a failure to a success, or from a success to a hit, or whatever.

What I know for certain is that the trailer, the tour, and a lot of the other stuff was an amazing amount of fun. I got to travel on someone else’s dime, meet old friends, make new ones, and do those readings and Q&As with Skyler which never stop being delightful. It also involved a lot of hanging out in Austin with Skyler, Scott, Egan, and Jen. We had a blast. Seriously, this last two months has been an utter delight, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat if I had the chance.

But, as expected, the self-promotion made me very, very uncomfortable. This shouldn’t be construed as an attack on those who do promote themselves, I’m only talking about how I feel, and tweeting and blogging about myself and my work makes me feel kind of dirty.

So, all of that said, before I move on and put the book behind me, I want to say a little bit about how it’s been received.

Not that I would ever stoop to the level of looking at my Amazon rankings, but if I did, I would find that it hasn’t been received as well as I’d hoped. Also, from the little I can tell, the sales aren’t as good as I’d hoped. These are two things, by the way, that I’ve never paid much attention to before; but I already mentioned that bizaare thing in a previous post.

But given the nature of the book, the reaction it’s gotten is exactly what I ought to have predicted. To some, it is a good read, to others it just doesn’t work, but for some . . . .

At the end of the book, we (to quote a reviewer) rap at the fourth wall. What we’re playing with is the idea that this book is intended to go find it’s people. In other words, there are some people who will get exactly what we’re doing. We play with that in the book, and that seems to be exactly what happens. How can I complain about that? And it is worth noting that, so far as I know, everyone has thought the original idea that Tappan King gave us is Really Cool, so he should feel proud.

Below, I’m listing my favorite stuff–the reviews and interviews and so on that I like best; not that I expect you guys to read them, but mostly so that I have them organized in one place so I can use them to cheer myself up on cold lonely nights in the wordmines. Then I’ll be done with this, put it out of my head (like I should have done a long time ago), and get on with Writing the Next Thing. But before I do, I have two last things to say:

1. A sincere thank you to you, who’ve listened to me, encouraged me, and, in general, put up with me during this strange interlude when I was someone else.

2. I need to quote my favorite comment on the book. It was a tweet from someone named @cabridges. He wrote: “Reading #TheIncrementalists by @StevenBrust & @skylerwhitesuth, hit the Firefly reference, smiled, frowned. They’re meddling with me…”

Yes we are. Thank you for noticing.

Links to stuff I loved:

First and foremost, the book trailer.

A kind review in SF Signal.

Cory Doctorow saying nice things about it? Yes please!

A review from Fantasy Book Critic.

A Starred Review from Booklist? Well, that doesn’t suck.

I think this may be my favorite review of anything of mine, ever; from Little Red Reviewer.

Bookworm Blues had nice things to say.

And this from Bibliosanctum

This seems to be from Christasbooks, and says nice things, and includes an interview.

A video review with a great name.

I’m not familiar with untitled.united, but I like what they say about the book.

This is from Summer Reading Project.

Robert M. Tilendis of Green Man Review seemed to like it.

Steven Halter, in a very brief review at Interesting Things seemed to really get it.

Carol at Bitten By Books had nice stuff to say.

Disclaimer: Marissa Lingen is a friend and helped with an early version. That said, I loved her review.

Finally, there is this one, which I include just because it appeared in the Wall Street Journal.  No, really.  It did.

Tom Whitmore said kind things about us in Locus, but, alas, I couldn’t find an online version.

Then there were the interviews and Q & As:

We’ll start with an actual, real, TV appearance on a show called Good Morning New Mexico.

Here is a Library Journal interview with Skyler and me by Eric Norton.

We did this really fun one for Tor.com, focusing mainly on the audio book.

Also at Tor.com, we did this fun “pop quiz.”

John Scalzi, not content with the wonderful blurb, was kind enough to give us a platform in the Big Idea section of his blog.

Paul Weimer at SF Signal, in addition to the review, did this interview with us.

This interview from Christasbooks was fun.

Little Red Reviewer interviewed me, and also Skyler.

We answered these questions from Matt Doyle.

The Tor/Forge blog had us ask each other questions, and it came out like this.

This one, with Mythic Scribes, isn’t about The Incrementalists in particular, but it went to some interesting places.

The AMA I did with Redit/Fantasy is here.

This one is on LJ with C.D. Lewis, who asked some fun questions.

Audible Authors did like a 40-minute podcast interview with us that went to some places.

And that’s all I can think of for now.






Signing Tour Update: San Diego and San Fransisco

I’m now in Virginia, on my way to New York.  It’s been a blast so far.  The release party at Book People was more fun than I’d have thought possible–thank you all who showed up.


On Friday the 11th we’ll be at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego (or see the event page on facebook, if you prefer).

On Saturday the 12th, at Borderlands Books in San Francisco. [Note from jenphalian: the events page of their site isn’t as up to date as possible, but the event is at 3 pm, and you can see details if you scroll down to their calendar.]


I’d love to see some of you there.


Signing in Houston Tomorrow, 9/26

In this part of the country, it is pronounced with a long u, like hYOUstun. I won’t get into the religious issues between how Texans and New Yorkers say the name.

However you pronounce it, Skyler White and I will be in that city tomorrow, reading from and signing copies of The Incrementalists, at a place called Murder By The Book.

Details can be found here.

It would be lovely to meet those of you I’ve annoyed but never yet met; and to annoy those of you I’ve met but never yet annoyed. Please swing by and say hello.

Also, watch this space for me jumping cartwheels and turning up and down raving about the awesomeness that is the audiobook. I’ll have some copies of it to give away. There will be a contest.


Worldcon–a Vague Gesture Toward a Report

Only my second ever Worldcon.  It was hot, and stepping outside to smoke was no more pleasant than you’d think; but I had my e-cigarette, which helped.  Parking was a pain in the arse, and food was way too expensive.  Okay, that about concludes my bitching.

It was great seeing old friends, and meeting people I only knew from online.  And sorry to those of you I omit from the following; I’m just hitting a few things.

Friday Aug. 30, noon, Autographing session (Convention Center)

This is the first time I’ve ever filled out the whole hour without running out of people wanting things signed.  And everyone was really nice.  It was fun.

Friday Aug. 30, 3pm, Steven Brust concert (Ballroom A, Convention Center)

Better than expected; I think I pleased the audience.  Turn-out was fair, though the room was so big it didn’t necessarily feel like it.  But I didn’t horribly blow it.

Later, I sat in for a couple of songs on drum with my old friend John Purcell; had a good time with that, then dashed out for a smoke.

Friday Aug. 30 9PM Control of a long series. 106B Convention Center

The best of the three panels I was on. I think we all had interesting things to say, and there was even some mild disagreement here and there, which always adds spice (strong disagreement adds even more spice, but you can’t have everything).  Everyone was smart, and useful things were discussed.  Bear kept good control of the panel, and never had to clobber me.  Very hard.

Tor Party Friday Night.

Fun, but didn’t stay long.  The high point was Mary Robinette Kowal doing a private reading of part of The Incrementalists.  SO GOOD! SO GEEKED.  SQUEEEEEE.

Saturday Aug. 31, 5pm, Panel “The Enduring Popularity of Firefly” (006CD Convention Center)

About what you’d expect: We love Firefly, we hate that it was cancelled, it’ll probably never be back, but let’s not give up hope.  Same as every other Firefly panel.  But it was okay, because, well, I love Firefly, and the other panelists were fun.

Saturday Aug. 31, 7pm?-? Drinks With Authors (Ernie’s Bar, behind Rivercenter)

Long, long lines to get a drink.  I don’t think the organizers expected the turnout.  Went with Jen, and Skyler, and her friend Karen, and I looked pretty good surrounded by hot babes.  I could get used to this.

Jo Walton’s party Saturday Night

Small, but a hoot.  Great music by PNH and Sassafrass.

Sunday Sept. 1, noon, Panel “Space is Really the Old West” (101B Convention Center)

One of the panels where the moderator has a list of questions and is by God going to stay on track with them no matter how interesting the discussion that she has to cut off.  Still, smart people on that panel, and I enjoyed exchanging thoughts with them.

Sunday Sept. 1, 2pm, Koffeeklatsch (Riverview Room, Riverwalk)

Really, really fun.  A small group of Smart People, and I got to hold court (I have a terrible weakness for that, but I feel like with something like this I can indulge it without guilt).  One brought 41-year-old single malt that was amazing.  The low point was when I wanted to try adding a couple of drops of water to it and I got sloppy and added too much, ruining that glass.  Sad.  But there were more glasses of it, so all was well in the end.  Really, really fun time.

Sunday Sept. 1, 4pm, Reading with Skyler White (002A Convention Center)

High point of the convention, I think–I just LOVE reading from The Incrementalists with Skyler.  We started at the beginning and got into the third chapter.  Then we went to the bar where Jeff Lowrey kindly bought us a pitcher of sangria and we read some more.  Fun, fun.


We went back to our hotel to enjoy air conditioning and followed the twitter feed, and Elizabeth Bear, Mary Robinette Kowal,  PNH, and Scalzi won Hugos, so, like, what can be bad about that?


Hung out with PNH and TNH and L. E. Modesitt, Jr. and John Chu.  Got to congratulate Sczali in person, and tell Robert Silverberg my Robert Silverberg story.  Then we drove to Austin.