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Sunday, April 29, 2001

American Gods Blog, Post 40

So here's the speech I made tonight, introducing the Nebula Awards. This was the text I went from, and I sort of smoothed it up as I went. 'Black Pudding' was changed to 'blood sausage' because few people knew what a black pudding was. [Note -- the 'Harper Collins Royalty Statements' is just a cheap laugh line, and not intended as a slur or commentary in any way on Harper Collins royalty statements; and anyway, I have been assured that Simon and Schuster's royalty statements are worse.]

And as soon as Avalon is done then I'll write about American Gods again. Maybe even... well, we'll see.

..........................................................................................................................................................
It occurred to me recently that if I were now to meet myself at the age of 12 – the age, as all of you here know well, that has been called the Golden Age of Science Fiction – I would, I have no doubt, be an extreme disappointment to my twelve year old self.

He might be impressed by the fact that I’m a writer – but then, he knew he was going to be a writer. That I’m that one of a relatively rare clan, a writer who makes his living writing, would make no difference to my 12 year old self. He is, after all, convinced that the simple action of writing a short story and getting it published is like winning the grand prize at the end of the Quiz Show: the roof opens up and goods and money tumble down. He also has a strong suspicion that supermarkets, bank managers, and car lots will, on production of a book with an author’s name on the spine, allow the author the pick of the best of what they have, and never charge him a penny.

(My 12 year old self has not met any authors.)

As I said, he knows he wants to be a writer. And, with a 12 year old arrogance that is utter and absolute, he knows what kind of an author he wants to be. He wants to be the kind of author who wins Nebula Awards.

Which is to say he wants to grow up to be an SF writer, and an SF writer of a particular kind. He wants to grow up to write the kind of SF that changes how people see the world. He knows there’s a difference between the Hugos and the Nebulas, and he likes the way that some books have won both of them. He wants to be a Delany, or a Zelazny or an Ellison. He wouldn’t mind being a Heinlein or a Niven or a LeGuin. He wants to write SF.

And I would have disappointed him. I didn’t grow up to be an SF writer, except possibly in the loosest most “SF doesn;t stand for science fiction, it stands for anything we damn well please” sense of the word.

Understand, this came as an enormous surprise to me. My first book was a collection of SF quotes, after all. (I wrote it with Kim Newman, it was called GHASTLY BEYOND BELIEF, and it contained a raft of quotes from SF books and movies. My favourite was from Guy N Smith’s seminal giant crabs novel NIGHT OF THE CRABS “He wasn’t going to leave her alone that night, crabs or no crabs”.)

I was sure I was going to be an SF writer, as sure as anyone can be of anything. I just didn’t turn out that way.

Most writers of fiction are autodidacts, to some degree or another. We learn to teach ourselves what we need. We get in there fast and shallow and we suck the life and the juice from the subject in our own way. Then we manage to give the impression that we know everything about the subject in our writing.

I feel sorry for all the teachers who attempted to teach me the rudiments of subjects that I had no interest in. If I’d known that I’d need history and geography to write with, I would have studied much harder, just as I would have paid more attention in Maths if I’d known that one day I was going to have to make sense of Harper Collins royalty statements.

The subject I paid most attention to in school was SF. That they didn’t teach it made no difference. It was what I was studying. I was reading all the SF that was published and available, and, having finished that, I was reading everything I could find that was out of print, dusty, forgotten.

I enjoyed the good books, and I enjoyed the bad books. I read everything.

But most of all I looked out for and hunted down and read things that had won the Nebula. Because I knew it was going to be good. Not just popular good, but well-written, and wise, and that it would stretch my head into places it had not been before.

I am almost 30 years older than that boy, and I have become both more blase and more cynical about awards. I’ve won more than my share of awards. I’ve been an awards judge, and have learned that awards judges, like the makers of black pudding, do their business behind closed doors for a reason. I’ve learned that popular and democratic awards are too often fickle, and easily manipulated, and no guarantee of lasting worth.

Still, as individuals and as a group, the Nebulas are wonderful things. It’s a fine thing to be nominated for an award. It’s a finer thing to win an award – at least until the next morning, when you have to face a blank sheet of paper, and you find the writing no easier than it ever was – and, often, it’s harder.

But the real importance of awards like the Nebula, I like to think, is in telling us, and, more importantly, telling the next generations of SF writers, where to look, where to go, where the best writing and the coolest ideas are to be found. And this, after all, is what we are here for tonight.

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Friday, April 27, 2001

American Gods Blog, Post 39

Also today I read Henry Selick's first draft of the CORALINE movie, which was really cool (and really faithful to the book, sometimes almost disconcertingly so).

And because I have this power (apparently there are currently about 19,000 of you reading this thing) I'll recommend a few things: while I was travelling I read and enjoyed Nalo Hopkinson's yummy MIDNIGHT ROBBER, M. John Harrison's magnificent short stories TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS, and the History of the Basque people by the guy that wrote COD. Also read Geoff Ryman's LUST on the plane home -- a powerful and odd book, about, it seemed to me, everything except lust.

And am currently playing Hamell on Trial's lovely CHOOCHTOWN a great deal, and because my assistant Lorraine left Lorraine Bowen's Bossy Nova CD in the car, I was getting very fond of the Bombay remix of the Crumble song before I came out to LA, bringing with me no music.

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American Gods Blog, Post 38

Went to England for four days. Heard some wonderful music. Came back. Spent a day at home (a whole day!) and then flew to LA where I am to be Master of Ceremonies at the Nebula Award banquet Saturday night.

I’ll be doing a signing Saturday 28th of April (tomorrow, or later today, depending on when you read this) (unless you read this after Saturday, of course), at the LA book fair at UCLA at 1:00pm, at the Dangerous Visions/SFWA area. Come and say hullo if you’re in the area.

Lots of interesting things happening – the permissions were all gathered in in a manic last-minute flurry which owed an awful lot to Kelly Notaras at Harper Collins US; the Canadian signings seem to have edged earlier and the UK signings have continued later and I’m not sure at this point I get a single day off (excluding transatlantic travel days) between June 18th and July 20th; I may be doing a reading in tandem with a Magnetic Fields concert in June in New York; various interesting media things happening – lots of magazines and periodicals doing reviews and features on the book.

And I am not writing about any of these things because, with the writers strike looming, I am madly trying to finish writing some additional material for a very cool Polish/Japanese film called AVALON, so am spending all my time in my hotel room playing and replaying the video of the film and making notes and writing bits.

The best bit about the writer’s strike is a bunch of contracts that have been being negotiated with various studios' business affairs departments for the last 18-months-to-a- year were messengered over to my hotel today, and I sat and signed, and signed, and signed. Obviously a strike, like a hanging, concentrates the mind wonderfully.

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Friday, April 20, 2001

American Gods Blog, Post 37

Off to the UK for a few days to see some people and listen to some music. Am in an airport, and have just discovered that the modem was inadvertantly removed from my computer, so I'll a) be offline for a few days and b) have to disappoint all the people I'd promised I'd finally tell the story of the day I got the jacket photo taken -- I was planning to write it on the plane and post it this weekend. You may have to wait until next week. (No, it's not a cruel joke by an evil author -- and I'm mostly grumpy right now as I'm going to have to lug a notebook computer and bag around England for four days and it'll be about as useful as hauling a paving stone). (Well, I also have a speech to write and a few other things, but really on the road it's an e-mail machine.)

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Monday, April 16, 2001

American Gods Blog, Post 36

The whole process of getting and giving blurbs is an odd one.

(Minor side note. If memory serves, BLURB as a word was created by American humorist Gelett Burgess (who also wrote the 'Purple Cow' poem). It means, basically, the puff stuff on the back of a book that tells you you ought to read it. The other word Gelett Burgess tried to introduce was "huzzlecoo" meaning, I think, to schmooze. It failed to catch on.)

I've met people who assumed that the whole blurb-giving process was one that authors were paid to do. Not so.

Generally blurbs mean one of two things; either the person giving the blurb really liked the book, or that complex networks of favour and obligation have been called into play.

It's seldom simple logrolling -- normally the reason why two authors say nice things about each other's stuff is that they like each other's stuff. But the process of getting something read, and of getting a quote can mean anything. It could mean that you have the same editor or agent or film producer as the book author, and they pressed you to read it. It could mean that the author is somone who did you a good turn once. And normally the favour is in getting the book read -- anything after that depends mostly on whether or not the reader liked the book.

A very few blurbs make a difference. Clive Barker's career was given a huge leg up by Stephen King's "I have seen the future of horror and it is Clive Barker" , and I think Sandman was given a huger boost than I ever realised from the Norman Mailer quote (although, oddly enough, DC has never run that on anything except SEASON OF MISTS). I doubt that they actually changed anything for either of us; they might have sped up processes that would have happened anyway, though.

Most of them probably don't do a thing. But in book publishing (as with movies) nobody knows anything. So they put them on the book jackets anyway and they hope.

Most successful authors could make a life's profession simply reading books and giving blurbs -- in any given week I get two or three books arriving with nice pleas from editors to read their book and say nice things about it. Also I get a couple of things from authors.

As to what I blurb... It depends a lot on what gets read, what I have time to read, whether it's something portable and booksized or a huge heap of paper, sometimes even if there's anything I have to say after reading something. It also depends a lot on whether or not I liked it once I have read it, if I did read it.

Sometimes I wind up reading something long after it's come out in paperback and just feeling faintly guilty, especially if I did like it a lot. But there is only so much time, and there's stuff I buy to read I never get time to settle down with...

It is good blurb etiquette, as an author, to say, if you cannot give a blurb, "I am sorry, I am too busy." This could mean that you are too busy to look at it, or that you looked at it and wish you hadn't.

It is not good blurb etiquette to do as an unnamed comics genius -- oh, what the hell, it was R. Crumb -- did when sent a reading copy of GOOD OMENS, over a decade ago, which is to write a several page letter to the publisher telling them not only how much you hated it but also imploring them not to publish it. (Or so my editor said. She didn't send me the letter, which I thought a pity, nor did she run it on the back cover, which I thought might have been fun.)

It is good blurb etiquette if you're hoping someone will blurb your book to send it to them (or have your editor send it to them) and then not to bug them, unless you're heading for the deadline and you want to politely point out to them that unless you get a blurb from them soon it won't be used even if they did like it.

It's lousy blurb etiquette to bug an author. Saying things like "Well, why don't you read a chapter and if that's okay write something nice -- one chapter, one lousy solitary chapter, is that asking so much?," and "Hey, no problem, if you're that busy I'll write the blurb, you can just put your name to it" are not usually ways to endear yourself to an author. (And yes, I've had both of them, and yes, I said no thank you.)

Because you're asking for two things -- you're asking for time, and you're asking for some kind of endorsement. Mostly in an attempt to try and tell people what kind of book something is, in a kind of abbreviated word of mouth -- "Gee. Maurice X. Boggs thinks this is an amazing book and Maurice X. Boggs is my favourite author, I should pick it up". This works best, I think, as a kind of positioning -- Stephen King tends mostly to give blurbs to things that adjectives like "Gripping. Relentless" can be applied to. He might enjoy reading a heartwarming novel about a funny skunk named Zonko and how he melts the heart of a crusty old widower... but publishers are unlikely to send him that book with a begging letter asking him to read it and to say something nice about it.

Some authors stop giving blurbs. Every now and again, I stop doing blurbs, and every now and again I stop writing introductions. (And last year I was extremely unimpressed when a blurb I had written was actually printed by someone as an introduction.) The hiatus lasts for a year or two, and then I feel guilty or someone asks me at the right time, and I relent.

Some authors don't relent. Harlan Ellison stopped doing blurbs years ago. If publishers start dunning him for blurbs he lets them know how much he charges by the hour as a readers fee to read the books, and makes sure they understand that there is no guarantee at the end of the reading he will feel moved to say anything at all, and in fact, he probably won't. I don't think any publishers have taken him up on this, which means that Harlan, as he takes great pleasure in telling people, doesn't give blurbs.

There are other problems with the whole blurb thing....

Once I was given a book by an editor I liked, by an author I liked. it was the editor's first major book. It was the author's first book in some years. It was a big deal for both of them. I didn't like the book. I wanted to, but I didn't. But I didn't want to let them down. So I wrote "When Thaddeus Q. Bliggins (not his real name) is writing at his best there's no-one in the field that can touch him" and felt that honour was satisfied.

My favourite how to blurb a book you don't like story was one my agent told me, about a writer she had at the start of her career, who was a good friend of A Famous Author, and was confident of his ability to get a blurb for his book -- and certain that with a blurb from a famous author his manuscript would immediately be snapped up by a publisher after a franzied auction. He handed over the manuscript to his friend, and the blurb came in. It was short, effective, enthusiastic... and entirely unusable, this being the early 80s, and the blurb being entirely composed of profanities, as enthusiastic as they were obscene. The book was never published.

For AMERICAN GODS, the books for blurbs went out to a fairly select band. Authors I thought would like it or respond to it who somehow seemed to map onto parts of the book.

For some of them I wrote personal notes to go with them. Partly because I know I respond well to notes from the author, and partly because it was fun to say some hellos. (In a couple of cases I even got to cheat and write a fan letter, or an "I've not seen you for ten years -- howthefuckareyou?" letter). For some I didn't. For a few people I sent e-mails. The others went out from Jennifer Hershey, my editor, or Jack Womack, the book's publicist at harpercollins (and a wonderful author in his own right).

And, as you've already seen if you're reading this journal, blurbs came in -- most of them accompanied by letters saying that they really really liked the book (just in case I was worried that they were only saying nice things about it from a sense of duty).

As the deadline for the book jacket to be finalised approached, we made a few calls to remind people. (I phoned Terry Gilliam, mostly because I like talking to Terry Gilliam, to discover that he was on holiday for two weeks somewhere far away from a telephone. So no luck there.)

(A minor anecdotal interruption here: in 1989 Gollancz sent Terry Gilliam a copy of Good Omens for a blurb. Somewhere the letter and the book got separated and Terry read the book assuming it was something he'd been sent as a possible movie... and now, twelve years later, he's gone on holiday having just finished the second draft of the Good Omens movie script. Proving that the world is an odd place, but not unpleasant.)

The blurb deadline has pretty much, I think, come and gone on American Gods -- if people say nice things about it now we can use it in the advertising, but they may have to wait for the paperback until people know that they liked it. However, one that I'll really try to get onto the hardback cover arrived out of the blue today, entirely unsolicited. Not just unsolicited but accompanied by a phone call reminding me that the party in question does not give blurbs.

"Gaiman's new novel walked in the door on Friday afternoon. By Saturday
evening I had eaten it in one gulp. AMERICAN GODS: alarming, charming,
even winsome; Gaiman: serially inventive, surprising, purely remarkable.
And, oh, is it well-written."

Harlan Ellison
16 April 2001

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I signed the sheets of paper for the limited edition from the box of 750 sheets. I signed and I signed. Eventually I asked my poor assistant if she wouldn't mind counting them, because I was sure I'd signed a lot more than 750 sheets. Turns out the box contained 2,500 of the things. Mostly I'm just signing them. Sometimes I'm drawing eyes, too. Very occasionally I've started doodling and drawing, mostly so far drawings of a very crusty Uncle Sam. And most of the time I'm using other colour inks than black, so that the people who pick them up don't go "Oh, they just print those signatures". They don't. It's me.

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Friday, April 13, 2001

American Gods Blog, Post 35

"What's in that box you just opened?" asked my daughter.

"Pieces of paper," I said.

"It says American Gods on the box. I thought it was books."

"No. They're just title pages. 5000 of them."

"5000 in that box?"

"750 in that box. 4,250 still to come."

"Why are they sending them to you?"

"Because I have to write my name on them?"

"On all of them?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"Because America is a very big place, and not everyone can get to a book signing. This way stores who order them will be able to sell a signed, limited edition for the same price as the regular ones, and so people in Texas or Florida or Utah will be able to buy signed books. See down at the bottom where it says 'This is a signed first edition of a limited number of 5000 copies.'? I'll sign above there, like this."

"Does that say 'Neil Gaiman?' It looks more like 'Nel Gurgle.'"

"It's how I sign my name."

"Will they take a long time to sign?"

"I expect so."

"When will you do it?"

"When I'm on the telephone. Or watching TV. Or listening to music. Or travelling."

"Can I sign some for you, to help?"

"I'm afraid not."

"I could write Nel Gurgle as good as you can."

"It has to be me."

"Oh. Okay then. Have fun. I'm going to ride my bike."

...

First sunny, spring-like day of the year, and I'm writing Neil Gaiman on 750 pieces of paper. And I make a mental note to make sure that I don't sign more than 5000 and a few for spoilage -- it's not at all unknown for people who ask you to sign 500 or 5000 sheets of paper to send you an extra thousand or so to sign, in case of spoilage, and they then destroy the remainder. Which is fair enough, except for my wrist and how fast the spring goes in this part of the world.

Lots more wonderful blurbs from authors I respect came in on the book, which made me very happy. (Including William Gibson, Jonathan Carroll, Chris Carter, Diana Gabaldon and Tim Powers). I'll post them if I get a second. Meanwhile I'm going to carry on signing things.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2001

American Gods Blog, Post 34

I have been asked to give some dos and don’ts for people coming to signings. And although I’ve written do’s and don’t’s and suggestions for stores before (and may possibly reprint them here, for contrast), I don’t think I’ve ever written any suggestions for the people who actually make the signings possible.

If you’ve never been to any kind of signing with me, the first thing you should know is, wherever possible it’ll start with a reading and a question and answer session. Then you’ll be herded into lines (or, the first 50 people will be called, just like at a deli counter) and I’ll start signing stuff for people. And that will go on until everyone’s done, and happy, and out the door.

So here you go... Some dos and don’ts in no particular order...

1) It can be a good idea to call the store first and find out if they have any specific ground rules. Some do, some don’t. Will they be handing out numbers? Will you have to buy a copy of American Gods from them in hardback to get prime place in the line or will it be first come first served? What about books you bought somewhere else? Can you bring your ferret?

2) Get there reasonably early if you can. I’ll always try and make sure that anyone in line during the posted signing times gets stuff signed. At evening signings I’ll always stay and make sure everyone goes away happy, but on this tour there will be several places where I’ll need to go from a signing to another signing, so don’t cut it fine.

3) You may own everything I’ve ever written. I’m very grateful. I’m probably not going to sign it all, so you had better simply pick out your favourite thing and bring that along.

4) As a rule, I tend to tell stores I’ll sign 3 things people bring with them – plus any copies of the new book you buy (if you have six brothers or sisters and buy one each, I’ll sign them all). But stores may have their own policies – and we may wind up changing the rules as we go in order to make sure that everyone gets stuff signed.

5) Eat first. I’m not kidding. If it’s a night-time signing of the kind that can go on for a long time, bring sandwiches or something to nibble (some signings with numbers handed out may make it possible for you to go out and eat and come back. Or you may be first in line. But plan for a worst case scenario of several hours of standing and shuffling your way slowly around a store). (If it’s a daytime signing somewhere that a line may snake out of a store into the hot sun, bring something to drink. I always feel guilty when people pass out.)

6) You may be in that line for a while, so talk to the people around you. You never know, you could make a new friend. I’ve signed books for kids whose parents met in signing lines (although to the best of my knowledge none of them were actually conceived there). And while we’re on the subject, bring something to read while waiting. Or buy something to read – you’ll be in a book shop, after all.

7) Don’t worry. You won’t say anything stupid. It’ll be fine. My heart tends to go out to people who’ve stood in line for hours trying to think of the single brilliant witty erudite thing that they can say when they get to the front of the line, and when it finally happens they put their books in front of me and go blank, or make a complete mess of whatever they were trying to say. If you have anything you want to ask or say, just ask, or say it, and if you get a blank look from me it’s probably because I’m slightly brain dead after signing several thousand things that day.

8) The only people who ever get short shrift from me are the people who turn up with tape recorders who try and tape interviews during signings. I won’t do them – it’s unfair on the other people in the line, and unfair on me (and I was as curt with the guy from the LA Times who tried it as I am to people who decide on the spur of the moment to try and tape something for their college paper). If you want to do an interview, ask the bookstore who you should talk to in order to set it up.

9) Take things out of plastic bags before you reach me. Firstly, it speeds things up. Secondly, I once ripped the back off a $200 comic taking it out of a plastic bag, when the back of the comic caught on the tape. The person who owned it was very sweet about it, but tears glistened in his eyes as I signed, and I could hear him wailing softly as he walked away.

10) Yes, I’ll happily personalize the stuff I sign, to you, or to friends. If it’s a birthday or wedding present, tell me.

11) Remember your name. Know how to spell it, even under pressure, such as being asked.

[If you have a nice simple name, like Bob or Dave or Jennifer, don't be surprised if I ask you how to spell it. I've encountered too many Bhob's, Daev's and even, once, a Jeniffer to take any spelling for granted.]

12) No, I probably won’t do a drawing for you, because there are 300 people behind you, and if I had to draw for everyone we’d be finishing at 4.00am – on the other hand, if you’re prepared to wait patiently until the end, I may do it then, if my hand still works.

13) If it means a lot to you, yes, I’ll sign your lunchbox/skin/guitar/leather jacket/wings – but if it’s something strange you may want to make sure you have a pen that writes on strange surfaces legibly. I'll have lots of pens, but they may not write on feathers.

14) At the start of the tour the answer to “Doesn’t your hand hurt?” Is “No.”

By the end of the tour, it’s probably going to be “Yes.”

15) Yes, you can take my picture, and yes, of course you can be in the photo, that’s the point isn’t it? There’s always someone near the front of the line who will take your photo.

16) I do my best to read all the letters I’m given and not lose all the presents I’m given. Sometimes I’ll read letters on the plane to the next place. But given the sheer volume of letters and gifts, you probably won’t get a reply, unless you do. (On one previous tour I tried to write postcards to everyone who gave me something at the last stop on postcards at the next hotel. Never again.) If you’re after a reply or to have me read something, you’re much better off not giving it to me on a tour. Post it to me care of DreamHaven books in Minneapolis.

(And although things people give me get posted back, on the last tour FedEx lost one box of notes and gifts, and on the tour before that hotel staff lost or stole another box. So smaller things I can put into a suitcase are going to be more popular than four-foot high paintings done on slabs of beechwood.)

17) No, I probably won’t have dinner/a beer/sushi with you after the signing. If it’s a daytime signing I’ll be on my way to the next signing; and if it’s an evening signing I’ll be heading back to my hotel room because I’ll be getting up at six a.m. to fly to the next city. If there actually is any spare time on the tour it’ll’ve been given to journalists, and if there’s any time on top of that old friends will have started e-mailing me two or three months before the tour started to say “You’ll be in the Paphlagonian Barnes and Noble on the 23rd. That’s just a short yak-hop from my yurt. We must get together,” and would have got themselves put on the schedule. (Still, it never hurts to ask.)

18) If you can’t read what I wrote, just ask me. After a couple of hours of signing my handwriting can get pretty weird.

19) If I sign it in silver or gold, give it a minute or so to dry before putting it back in its bag or closing the cover, otherwise you’ll soon have a gold or silver smudge and nothing more.

If I think of anything else, I'll mention it as I go -- or expand this one...

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Saturday, April 07, 2001

American Gods Blog, Post 33

Oops. Thursday's not Mardi. Mardi is Tue's Day. Tew (also known as Tyr) is an almost forgotten god of war and justice, and a much nicer guy than Odin. His hand was bitten off by Fenris Wolf.

I'm off for a few days, taking my son to see the various colleges that have accepted him, to see which one he wants to attend.

And a photocopy of the American Gods book cover arrived this morning. And it has the photo of me, large on the back, which was going to be my cue to tell you all the story of the photo day, but I'm running for a plane, so you are just going to have to be patient a little longer.

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Friday, April 06, 2001

American Gods Blog, Post 32

And the question comes in from places as far away and as far apart (except of course alphabetically) as France and Finland, “What is happening with foreign editions of American Gods? When will it come out in my country?” And the answer is...

It’ll be a while. (Except in Australia, where they’ll be importing the Headline edition from the UK.)

My literary agents, Writers House, are waiting for the bound galleys to come in from Harper Collins – they should be around any moment now. Then they will send out copies of those galleys to their sub-agents in various countries all around the world, who will show them to the publishers who will offer them money for the rights to publish the book.

(It’s probably worth mentioning here that at last year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, the foreign publishers were all told that American Gods was coming. Really it was. So they are all prepared to read it. And, with luck, to like it and offer lots of yen, francs, marks, zloties and crumbulae.)

And then the foreign publishers will get translators in, who will try and figure out how to translate some things and still keep the spirit of the book, something that I do not envy them on. (A French example from Patrick Marcel, who translated Neverwhere and Smoke and Mirrors into French: Thursday in English translates as Thor’s Day, in French it’s Mardi – Mars’s Day. This apparently trivial fact can be quite important in a book with gods in it.)

And then, probably sometime in the following 12 - 24 months, the book will come out. Sometimes I get sent copies. Often I find out about them only when I sign one for someone, or hear about them from people who grumble about the Serbian translations of my books, and I say “I didn’t know I’d written any Serbian books”.

Sometimes the publishers bring me in to do signings for them, and sometimes they don’t (mostly they don’t, but it’s fun when they do). Sometimes the translations are good, and sometimes they aren’t (I normally find out from people telling me how much better it is to read the book in English). (I’m still waiting for someone to come up and tell me how much improved the book was by being translated into Japanese or Greek; it’s only a matter of time.)

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Thursday, April 05, 2001

American Gods Blog, Post 31

Sorry about the delay on these. Harper Collins were waiting for the last couple to be finalised. These are all the US signings from the June-July tour. They don't include the Canadian signings, or the UK signings. (If your city, or state, or area of the country isn't on here, it's not my fault. I don't pick 'em. If you can get your local bookstore to wail piteously enough to Harper Collins, we might be able to get them on the American Gods in Paperback/Coraline tour next May, if there is one.)

...

NEIL GAIMAN’S TOUR DATES

6/19/01 6:00 PM New York, NY
Border’s World Trade Center
Church & Vesey Sts.
New York City 10048
(212) 839-8049

6/20/01 8:00 PM Huntington, NY
Book Revue
313 New York Avenue
Huntington, NY 11743
(631) 271-1442

6/21/01 7:00 PM Champaign/Savoy, IL
Pages For All Ages
1201 Savoy Plaza
Savoy, IL 61874
(217) 351-7243

6/22/01 1:00 PM Evanston, IL
Stars Our Destination
705 Main St.
Evanston, IL 60202
(847) 570-5925

6/22/01 8:00 PM Skokie, IL
Barnes & Noble
55 Old Orchard Center,
Skokie, IL 60077
(847) 676-2230

6/23/01 1:00 PM Lexington, KY
Joseph-Beth Booksellers
Lexington Green
161 Lexington Green Circle
Lexington, KY 40503
(859) 271-5330

6/23/01 7:00 PM Dayton, OH
Books & Co.
350 E. Stroop St.
Dayton, OH 45429
(937) 297-6356

6/24/01 1:00 PM Cleveland, OH
Joseph-Beth Booksellers
The Shops at Shaker Square
13217 Shaker Square
Cleveland, OH 44120
(216) 751-3300

6/25/01 4:00 PM Seattle, WA
Third Place Booksellers
17171 Bothell Way N.E.
Lake Forest Park, WA 98155
(206)366-3333

6/25/01 7:00 PM Seattle, WA
University Booksellers
Keane Hall, Room 130
University of Washington Campus
Seattle, WA 98155
(206) 545-4363

6/26/01 7:30 PM Menlo Park, CA
Kepler’s Books
1010 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA 94025
(650) 324-4321

6/27/01 1:00 PM San Francisco, CA
The Booksmith
1644 Haight St.
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 863-8688

6/27/01 7:30 PM Berkeley, CA
Cody’s Booksellers
2454 Telegraph Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94704
1-800-704-4336

6/28/01 12:30 PM San Diego, CA
Mysterious Galaxy
7051 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92111
1-800-704-4336

6/28/01 7:00 PM Los Angeles, CA
Vroman’s Books
3405 Lake Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91101
1-800-769-BOOK

6/29/01 8:00 PM Los Angeles, CA
Book Soup
8818 Sunset Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 659-3110
1-800-764-BOOK

7/1/01 2:00 PM Minneapolis, MN
DreamHaven
912 W. Lake St.
Minneapolis, MN 55408
(612) 823-6161

7/2/01 7:00 PM Rosedale, MN
Barnes & Noble
2100 N. Snelling Ave.
Rosedale, MN 55113
(651) 639-9256

Feel very free to cut out the above and repost it anywhere you feel potentially interested people would like to see it. Tell the world. Go on...

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Tuesday, April 03, 2001

American Gods Blog, Post 31

Steve Erickson is one of my favorite authors, and he's one of those people whose opinions matter to me. We just got a blurb in from him. It's as beautifully written as anything by Steve... (Read Days Between Stations. Read Tours of the Black Clock. Read Arc d'X. Read the one about the 1996 election, the title of which I've forgotten.) [American Nomad, I think.] He says...

Oh yeah, I know this place: the four-in-the-morning Hollywood where you wake in the dark from a dream of paradise, with the sinking feeling you've been had. Piercingly observed, jaggedly poetic, ruthlessly cutting a path through graveyards of dead stars and dead money and dead feelings, this novel is the map back to dawn.

Steve Erickson

Which thrilled me, more than I can easily say.

The Death movie script has been handed in. Lots more movie stuff to do this month, before the Writers Strike starts. (Next stop, Ramayana treatment. Then The Confessions of William Henry Ireland treatment.)

But today is a sort of day off. At any rate, I went for a walk in the woods, and everything felt like Spring in a Disney nature movie, as the snow, which has been there since mid-November, has finally started to melt.

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Sunday, April 01, 2001

American Gods Blog, Post 30

So this evening was the convocation of Borders Books general managers. Borders Books managers are very nice people who come up to you and say “I’ve never read anything you’ve written, but there’s a girl in our accounts department who will kill me if I don’t come back with your signature.” I think tonight I must have saved several hundred Borders books managers from sudden employee-related death on their return home.

So, apart from the disaster, it was a great evening.

(“What was the disaster?” I hear you cry.)

450 American Gods proofs were shipped to the Las Vegas hotel where the event is taking place. The Morrow rep picked me up, and drove me to the event. We walked in, and were met by two beautiful and radiant but troubled young ladies from Borders, who wanted to know if there were meant to be any books...

The boxes of books had arrived (according to an invoice) at the hotel some days ago, but nobody had actually seen them.

We hunted for them. People talked to other people on walkie talkies. Other people took to drink. I went and nibbled some salad at the buffet. Nope. No books.

Then I got up to make a speech. It was a fun speech. I apologised for the lack of books. Then I told them why I am currently breaking in a new leather jacket: Jonathan Carroll knew that I’d donated my old leather jacket to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (it raised over $6000 on E-bay), and had, out of the blue, sent me a wonderful leather jacket he’d bought before deciding he was not a leather jacket person. I told them that, since he was in Vienna and wasn't going to be here talking to them, that they should all make an effort to handsell Jonathan Carroll books in their stores, and they should read him too. (And enough of them came up to me after the speech and asked for titles that I figure some of them were paying attention.)

And then I told them about American Gods, and answered a couple of questions, and then...

Lacking copies of American Gods, I signed pieces of paper. Also signed tote bags, tee shirts, and large fuzzy snakes. And many books brought along by people for themselves or other people.

Borders books people are very nice people, and I had a great time. Except for the disaster, of course.

(I’ve told them that if they find the books before I leave Las Vegas, I’ll sign them for the managers.)

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