Thursday, October 30, 2003

The Saga of Fred

So today I got woken up by Lorraine staggering up to the attic (where I am currently sleeping/looking after Fred the Cat) carrying the Complete Far Side Two Volume Boxed Monster Book Thing, which I ordered after reading Michael Dirda's review in the Washington Post. A lovely example of bookmaking, and unbelievably heavy.

Fascinating conversation about lettering over at (One thing that we did on Sandman: The Wake, dealing with lettering whle printing from Michael Zulli's pencils, was drop all the lettering back to about 80% of black, because otherwise it would have been the only pure black thing on the page...)

I just heard that Wolves in the Walls is going to be a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year (they pick ten each year).

Lots and lots of people have written in to point out that:

Regarding the recent question about intellectual copyrights and Dante... it might be worth reminding people that while Dante's copyright may have expired long ago, many of his translators' copyrights have NOT expired.


Which is true, and is worth bearing in mind, (but not necessarily relevant for the original question asked -- someone wanting, like Niven and Pournelle once did, to set a story in the world of Dante's Inferno).

Hey. This is an author question. What sort of print run does a book like, say, American Gods have? I'm assuming that the initial print runs of your books have gone up since the success of Coraline and American Gods, or did Neverwhere get a big push out of the gate? I'm endlessly curious about the inner workings of the publishing industry, but it's sort of a sealed case. Hard for an outsider to crack it open and see the fiddly bits.

Tim Akers

American Gods had an initial printing of around 70,000 in hardback in the US, if I remember correctly, and then went back to press several times for around 100,000 hardbacks. It's sold well over half a million mass-market paperbacks, continues to sell steadily, and recently came out in trade paperback, and I have no idea what it's sold in that format, other than Harper Perennial were terribly surprised and pleased by the orders for it and for Neverwhere in trade paperback.

I seem to remember Neverwhere did around 50,000 hardbacks over around 8 printings, and has probably done 400,000 copies in mass market so far.

(Both books continue to sell steadily, which isn't always the pattern for books.)

Coraline did around 130,000 hardbacks over the last year. No idea what the trade paperbacks have done so far.

So far over 106,000 DC copies of Sandman: Endless Night have gone out to the bookshops/comic stores (there was a certain amount of juggling going on while extra copies were being bound, and I don't know if this means that all the orders for them have been filled or not. I suspect it doesn't.)

Those are off-the-top-of-my-head numbers -- one of the inner workings/fiddly bits one has to learn about when one deals with publishers is the strangeness of royalty statements and the length of time between things coming out and royalty statements telling you what's actually been sold. DC Comics are actually much better at royalty statements than most mainstream publishers -- they do them quarterly, for the quarter that's just passed.

Hello Neil!
Just a quick question. I got some tickets for your talk for Foyles on November 14th yesterday, and it doesn't say on the Foyles website that Dave McKean is going to be there. I wondered if this is because plans have changed, or because Foyles are being a bit daft, and don't realise how overexcited art students are liable to get by the idea of both of you in the same building!

Oh, it's definitely me and Dave, and Jonathan Ross interviewing us, being funny and, knowing Jonathan, driving the crowd into a frenzy with one of his celebrated ecdysiastic dances.

Dear Mr. Gaiman:
Like every browser of this website, I love your work. And, living in Milwaukee, WI, I keep a keen eye on your signing/reading schedule, hoping that one day you'll jump a little eastward and grace the dairy state with your presence. So, when I read in your October 30th blog that you were in Milwaukee today, I was shocked. You were in Milwaukee on Tuesday, October 29? Please tell me you weren't. I read your site everyday and constantly keep an eye on Locus' author signing list and I can't believe that I missed you. Where did you sign in Milwaukee? I guess I'm hoping you tell me you signed in Milwaukee, OR, not WI, that way I won't have to feel terribly disappointed. Thanks for your time. And please write us another huge, beautiful novel!

I was in Milwaukee, where I was talking to the Wisconsin Library Association Annual Conference. But there wasn't a public signing or anything you missed. Unless you're a librarian.


Not content with reviewing Endless Nights in the Guardian, Iain Emsley now tackles The Wolves in the Walls, for January Magazine.


pigeons - quick question: trafalgar square, london - paying fine of �50. your opinion???

I think fining pigeons is always a doomed enterprise. Most of them have no fixed abode, and very few of them even have bank accounts.


I'm sticking this up just because I was pleased and relieved:

Neil, this isn't so much a question than a comment -
I was just recently on the Hill House Publishing website, and I got myself registered for those limited editions of American Gods and Neverwhere. All I wanted to say is that I am so absolutely impressed with the style and courtesy that Peter Schneider showed me while I was inquiring about the limited editions. I'm not sure if Hill House is an incredibly small publishing house or not, but it seems that the Peter's definately care a great deal in their customers.
I just wanted to extend my thanks to you for all of the wonderful books you've written, your words have touched both my mind and heart.

All the best to you and your family,

Will Rowan

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Oh, Hill House is as small as these things get. It's just Pete Schneider, except where it's Pete Atkins. Who, incidentally, sent me a manuscript of AMERICAN GODS the other day that I now need to settle down and read, and decide what I think of it, and make any final corrections to. And, I suppose, write an introduction to, or something.


In re: the bit about sticking a gun in the drawer during the first half of a novel, only to have it come in handy later on.

When you're writing comics, you need to plan ahead to accommodate page counts and put scene changes on the page turns and stuff. How do you let a comic surprise you while you're writing it?

I'm not sure, but they always seem to.

You mentioned a few weeks ago, I believe (it seems I am no longer able to keep track of time) that you suggested that DC make a boxed set of the Sandman graphic novels. I don't own them myself and would LOVE if they made this, as I am addicted to any sort of boxed set. Is there any news on this? Thanks for any info!


No news yet. Last thing I heard they were going to "cost it out". When I hear something I'll put it up here.


So. Fred the cat.

Fred turned up in the summer, shortly after Coconut and Captain Morgan arrived. He was a wild just-a-bit-more-than-a-kitten, black with a white chest. He spent about a month circling the house nervously, running away if we put food out for him. Then he suddenly decided that we were safe, and came to live under the back stairs. We'd've called him The Black Cat, except that then we would have confused him with the cat who got to be the star of my short story "The Price". So I called him Fred.

The day I set off to go on tour, I noticed he was limping, and mentioned it to my-assistant-Lorraine. I thought no more of it, until I got an e-mail from Lorraine, who had found him, several days later, on the point of death. Something had bitten him in the leg, and the wound had festered -- it had opened up all the way to the bone. "He looked like an anatomy lesson," said Lorraine.

He spent five weeks at the vet's.

Then he came home. He's healed remarkably -- he has a raw patch of flesh, the size of a quarter, on his rear right leg, but the bone is no longer visible, the flesh is still regrowing, and in a year it'll just be a scar.

He'd also doubled in size while at the vet. He went off a skinny black cat, came back a sleek black machine of muscle. Who, until his leg heals, is not meant to go outside.

We discovered very quickly that he couldn't be given the run of the house. He's a male (although now neutered) fighting machine, when he wants to be, who needs to demonstrate that he is top cat, and promptly started beating up all the other cats. Which wasn't good. He needed to be kept in a space in which other cats weren't.

He's really friendly. He likes company. He ought to be outside hunting for things, and spends most of his nights prowling for smaller things to kill. Things like, well, people's toes.

First off he stayed with Lorraine. But she was getting no sleep. So I, who have done practically nothing but sleep since I got back from touring, volunteered to look after him. Fred's now got the whole attic to prowl, along with the attic-bedroom-office that's really my son Mike's but he doesn't mind me using. And I can sleep through earthquakes, so even a black cat on the prowl launching himself at my toes with intent to kill is unlikely to wake me.

So I'll keep looking after him until I head off for the UK, by which time he may or may not be able to move out of the attic. I'm not yet quite at the point of putting out a "Does anyone with a garden in the Twin Cities area need a Fred" appeal. But I suspect it may come.


You mentioned The Hunger Site in your blog today. There is another similar site which was put together by friends of mine to help provide food to Argentine children after the last economic collapse. There were articles written about them on the BBC website some time ago, but the number of hits they have had of late has slowed. If you (and Holly) are still feeling benevolent, perhaps you could plug them too.




Now I have to stop typing and go and help Maddy to try on her Halloween costume. I am not going to tell you what she is going to be, although I am permitted to go on record as saying that a (rubber, lightweight) ball-and-chain, a black mask, a black and white stripy costume, and, quite possibly a bag filled with loot will all be used to create the overall effect...