I'm home, and I almost got through today without signing any books. But
there were some copies of Biting Dog Press's beautiful limited edition
MURDER MYSTERIES to be signed waiting for me at DreamHaven, so I went there
from the airport. (Link at
http://www3.sympatico.ca/george.walker/gaimanbkad.html although it displayed
rather oddly in Explorer for me.)
There were also two copies of Angels and Visitations to be signed, some WARNING:CONTAINS LANGUAGE sleeves. And, um, about 500 presold mail-order copies of American Gods. So my day of not siging anything rather failed to happen. Still, it's a genuine down day. And it was good to play with Maddy. The garden has erupted, there was an awful lot of waiting mail, and pretty soon I'll have a bath and go to bed and sleep like a dead person.
Starting to suspect that the Ebook REB 1100 is going to prove useless and frustrating unless Gemstar decides to allow it access to more content, and cheaper. I keep batting my head against the whole thing of price and convenience, and with access to Public Domain stuff cut off, no way of sending my own content to the thing (which would be genuinely useful), and no easily discernable way to access the kind of stuff I'd need -- most of which is out on project Gutenberg (nice people, who lost a page with some in-copyright stuff on it when I pointed it out to them.) Which is a pity, because as a delivery mechanism, it' s rather wonderful. But it's a bit like having a TV that will only play a handful of proprietory shows. Unless the content is easily available, and in quantity, and it's the content you want, then the delivery mechanism is almost beside the point.
I signed all those books last night, by the way. They were for Golden Apple and Dangerous Visions respectively, for any LA bookbuyers looking for a signed book. And I was at one point tired enough that I wrote the name of the person on the post-it note instead of my name on a copy I was just meant to sign. So I sighed and blinked and did a drawing of Mr Wednesday, hoping the person would forgive me.
The weirdest thing about the whole NY Times Bestseller thing, is that the rest of the worlld doesn't know, and won't till next Sunday -- when I shall be in the UK...
posted by Neil Gaiman 9:46 PM
Just posting this because there are still 6 boxes of books to be signed and
removed from my bed before I can go to sleep.
http://cbldf.safeshopper.com/13/cat13.htm?279 It's got a bunch of stuff you won't get anywhere else, and is, I think, the only place you can simply order one of the signed 5000 books online. And that's not all. It's all for a good cause. Check it out.
And here's a review: http://www.likesbooks.com/heidi23.html.
And this is for any of you who think that stories are universal. Read it and ponder.
I go home in a few hours. This makes me very happy. I like the idea of sleeping in my own bed. Maybe walking around the garden and saying hello to the pumpkins. Reading Maddy's bedtime story. Not travelling, for just a few days.
"How are you doing?" asked most of the last fifty people in the line at tonight's signing as they came up.
"I'm tired," I said. "But I'm pretty good."
"Get some rest," they said, one by one, concerned.
I have nice readers.
posted by Neil Gaiman 1:38 AM
Friday, June 29, 2001
And the FAQs aren't working because I haven't had a second to start work on
them. The questions are coming in just fine...
Still, until we get an FAQ working, let me point you to http://www.raintaxi.com/gaiman.html, an interview in RainTaxi, which may answer some American Gods questions. Or may not.
posted by Neil Gaiman 2:12 AM
You`re probably thinking to yourself, I wonder where he is now? That one's
easy. He's typing this in a train on the way from San Diego to Los Angeles.
Which means that by the time he posts this, he'll be in his room in his
hotel in LA.
And you may be wondering, I wonder how he's holding up? And the answer is, Okay, all things considered. Tired on a short of sleep sort of level, tired on a cellular level, much crankier than is my - his - sod it, we're back into the first person - my usual wont.
The hotel in San Francisco didn't help.
If they can, when travel agencies book authors into hotels, they put them into good, solid, businessy hotels, or sometimes into really good hotels. There are a couple of hotels (there's one in Portland for example) that are particularly keen on touring authors, and greet you with copies of your book to sign for their library.
And if you've got the kind of author who may not be eating until back in his hotel room very late, you make sure that the hotel has overnight room service.
For reasons no-one understands, I wound up in a little tourist hotel in the Japanese district of San Francisco. It wasn't the kind of place that had overnight room service. It wasn't the kind of place where the concierge would let you know that you had had six boxes of books to sign delivered to your room. For that matter, it wasn't the kind of place where, once they'd agreed that the books existed and would be delivered to your room, they actually bothered to deliver them to your room.
Also, it was an additional 15-25 minutes away from everywhere we needed to go, and when your day is running to the minute, the hour you can lose getting to and from the hotel comes out of sleep time.
This was particularly frustrating to Ellen Fishman, who was my author escort.
I know I meant to write about Author Escorts before, and have indeed mentioned them in passing. But I should probably explain them a bit more before continuing.
In the UK, if a publisher sends an author on tour, they often send a publicity person with them. Most of the publicity people are attractive young women, and there's not one of them that won't tell you horror stories of the time that author X or celebrity Y, who they were accompanying around the country at the time, decided that the real reason the publisher had sent an attractive young lady on tour with them was for purposes of sexual relief. After a glass or two of wine at the end of a long day's signing and interviewing, they'll even name names.
In the US, when a publisher sends an author on tour, they contract out their care to an Author Escort. Every city has one agency, some have more than one. Author escorts pick you up at the airport holding a copy of your book in their hands. (It's a good thing if you look like your author photo as that's how they recognise you.) They get you to your hotel, to the radio station or the TV studios. Every doorman and parking lot attendant in the city is their crony. They know the back ways. They will make things work and deliver you to wherever you are meant to be on time, guard you at the signing, get you back to your hotel.
Ellen has looked after me each time I've gone to San Francisco. Stephen King once said if he was having a heart attack and needed someone to get him into a hospital and treated he'd want Harlan Ellison by his side. I'd want Harlan too, but only if Ellen Fishman wasn't available.
Some of them are that good. Some of them aren't. I've only had maybe two who were useless in all the time I've done signing tours.
On my last tour I asked all the author escorts who the worst people they'd ever had were. (It wasn't for me. Jonathan Carroll asked.) They all declined to answer, and then I'd tell them who the others had said (luckily my first escort had a number of opinions, and one bookstore was particularly voluble about the worst person they'd ever has sign there) and they'd say "Oh let me tell you about her," or "I had him, he was a sweetie" and then they'd give me their lists.
At the time Brett Butler made number one, but only because Jeffrey Archer hadn't toured for a while. The ones who remembered him still looked nervous when his name was mentioned.
And sooner or later I'll finish talking about author escorts, Screen Savers, and survival tips for on the road.
There. Now we're three signings behind on the blogger. Cody's, Mysterious Galaxy and Vromans... maybe I'll get a chance to write about them tomorrow. Right now I just want to post this and sleep.
Oh, for all the people who have come up to me and asked why I call this journal a blogger - "Is it a British thing?" - you should go to www.blogger.com and find out...
Still. I'm now in a nice hotel in LA, and Holly's here, which made me a lot less cranky than I was. She was thrilled when we opened the door to the hotel room to find lots of people had sent flowers, champagne and faxes telling us that the New York Times List thing was a good thing, and she was astonished that journal-reading people came up to her at Vromans wishing her happy birthday and congratulating her on passing her driving test. (Her license has a photo of her with an ear to ear grin on it. It's astoundingly cute.)
I've put in a request to the powers that be to make this journal (a) easier to read. (I want larger type dammit.) And (b) to make the links visible without having to pass the mouse over them to reveal them (which seems to defeat the purpose of them being links). I hope we can make it happen soon...
posted by Neil Gaiman 2:08 AM
Thursday, June 28, 2001
There's nothing quite so unlikely as typing a blogger entry on a sofa in a
TV studio, but that's just what I seem to be doing right now.
And for that matter, I want to make a point of saying that I am now, as of twenty minutes ago, no longer an author. Nope. Now I am officially a New York Times Bestselling Author. And I've learned where the apostrophe is on the libretto. (It's just above the 7 key.) Two good things in one day.
...there. TV over and done with, and Amacker Bullwinkle is driving me from the Tech TV studios to a dinner with Charles Brown, editor and publisher of Locus, and I'm typing a little as I go.
Amacker drives a little like a Brazilian taxi driver who took me and my editor from the Rio book fair to the airport last month. The traffic speed was maybe 40. He never drove at less than 70, nipping into tiny spaces, lurching manically from lane to lane. As soon as I was sure I wasn't going to die, it was kind of fun. Amacker would like that taxi driver. I think they went to the same driving school.
So today I signed in Booksmith's on the Haight - like the lunchtime signing at Stars Our Destination in Chicago last week, this one was also a drop-in signing that became a real one, but without a reading, which is a pity as Shadow and Wednesday walk that street in American Gods. I'll read that section - the Easter bit - tonight, I think.
It was a good signing - my third at Booksmiths. The best thing about signing at Booksmiths is this: they do a trading card of the author. I think they have a web site where all the trading cards are listed.
After the signing we drove to the Tech TV offices. My cellphone rang as I was greeting Roger, the show`s producer. I've not been answering it much on this tour - it usually rings when I'm talking to people or signing or reading or something, and I just let it ring, but this time I answered it. It was Kathy Hemming of Harper Collins.
"I`ve got a fax in front of me," she said. "You`re at number 10 on the New York Times list!"
And I phumphed and goshed and grinned like a lunatic and said thank you a lot and she said no, thank you and all things considered it was a Very Good Thing.
Then I went on Screen Savers, walking two inches above the floor. Leo, the host, had been reading this blogger and he wanted to see the Libretto, so I pulled it out, and everyone gathered around and they all wanted to know the same thing.
"$2,200," I'd say. "600mhz. No it doesn't weigh anything." and I wound up taking it onto the show. And starting this entry there...
The first time I was ever interviewed on TV was in 1987. John Lloyd (eminent UK TV producer and writer and stuff) was presenting a show called South of Watford and he interviewed Dave McKean and me about Violent Cases, in a pub called the Café Munchen (now The Conservatory, unless it's something else).
We chatted before the interview, friendly and relaxed. And then it was time to turn on the TV cameras. They were turned on, and John turned to me and asked the first question.
I froze utterly and in every way. My mouth slowly opened and nothing came out. I forgot how to speak.
John said, "Stop rolling," to the camera people, and told me everything would be fine, and reminded me it wasn't live, and then he told them to turn on the cameras and asked me the question again.
I've never been nervous or tongue-tied on TV since, but I can't forget that time. It lurks in the back of my mind, a little adrenaline-kicker before every TV appearance.
(Sorry about that. I just fell asleep for twenty minutes. We must be nearly there...)
... and for the first time ever we're in Continued on Next Rock territory, as I'm going to have to post this so far and go to sleep. It's 1:30am and I' ve just spent an hour signing stuff back at the hotel room, after the Cody's signing... and I have to be out of here at 7.00 am and I am so tired you would not believe it, and I'm not sure I do. So I'll finish talking about Screen Savers (it's on until midafternoon on Thursday) and everything else, later.
posted by Neil Gaiman 1:35 AM
Wednesday, June 27, 2001
Lovely article about, well, mostly this blogger actually, along with the
very wonderful Lisa Gallagher of HarperCollins, at
/readingup/06/26/american.gods/index.html. And I'd say more about it, but at that point you start walking through a hall of infinite mirrors...
I'm pooped right now in San Francisco. Will try to grab some time in the car on the way to SCREEN SAVERS later today to write about the last few days....
posted by Neil Gaiman 10:22 AM
Tuesday, June 26, 2001
This Journal would officially like to extend a Happy Sixteenth Birthday to Holly Gaiman. Who also passed her driving test today. Just wish I was there to give her a hug. (But she's coming in to LA as a birthday present so I'll see her there...)
posted by Neil Gaiman 3:03 PM
M. J. Rose has done an article in Wired online about this very blogger. And
seeing that she has only a limited amount of space, and only quotes one
sentence from the e-mail I sent her, I thought I`d post the whole thing
here. The questions I was responding to were about marketing and the part an
author plays in it...
To be honest, I haven`t really thought of any of this as marketing. I`m not saying it`s not, and I`m not trying to be wilfully naive or disingenuous here, but I wouldn`t have done the journal if it was a marketing thing. I did it because I was really interested in the process of taking people behind the scenes in making a book. I`m the kind of person who never manages to keep a diary, but I enjoyed having a topic on Genie, when there was a Genie, where I could post what was happening. For the last year I`ve had a topic on the Well, again as a kind of diary and info and news source.
The Blogger seemed like a good way to take readers and the curious backstage. Part journal, part diary, part stream of consciousness. I really enjoyed the feeling of having someone to talk to.
I talked to Jennifer Hershey, my editor, about what I had in mind -- that I wanted americangods.com to be the most basic of sites, with nothing on it but the journal, tour info when we got it, a way to order the book, and that was all. And I didn`t want it to be publicised -- I liked the idea that anyone interested would hear about it and go and see it; it meant that I could start writing without any feeling that the world was looking over my shoulder. I think the first few posts may have been marketing posts, in that I was trying to announce and explain the book, but very quickly it turned into a way of explaining the process of taking a book from handing in the finished manuscript to the end of the author tour -- there`s even a kind of plot there, as the readers of the blog and I get to learn whether American Gods goes onto the bestseller lists or the remainder table.
I thought it astonishing how many unique hits we were getting and how "sticky" such a simple site was, and felt faintly justified in my theory that content is more important than delivery mechanisms.
I don`t think it takes time away from writing -- at least, not more than one normally winds up giving to the process of getting a book out there: it took a lot more time to write my name on 5000 pages (to be bound into the books) than it did to write a couple of blogger entries about signing 5000 pages. It was a good way to explain, to record what I thought, to let off steam.
As for surprises -- I think the biggest one was how many people were reading it. And how many of the people who were reading it weren`t necessarily Neil Gaiman fans or readers but were people who read and enjoyed the blogger - thjey read a little of it and got hooked. I liked that.I still do.
With neilgaiman.com I was a lot more nervous -- I`ve shied away from an official website for many years, feeling that fans did it much better than I ever could, and that they had a level of interest and curiousity in the author of Neverwhere and Sandman and his work that I could never aspire to. But HarperCollins wanted to do it, and I went and found a few things for them to put on there, and suggested some initial topics, areas and directions, and now it`s gone live I`m getting interested in it -- trying to make it cooler, better looking, containing more - I`m already starting to think about a few things I`ve written that that no-one`s ever seen that are sitting on a hard disk somewhere and might quite enjoy being read.And I`m trying to think of some ways of allowing the fans to contribute more -- given the volume of traffic on the message boards I think that may be a lot of fun.
Hope this is of use--
written in the car on the way to a signing in Champaign...
Am now kind of tired after Seattle... off to San Francisco in half an hour. Must... get... dressed.... must... pack.... must... eat nice breakfast room service person brought... must... do something about hair.... anything...
posted by Neil Gaiman 7:30 AM
Monday, June 25, 2001
Several hundred FAQ type e-mails waiting for me to look at, but I shall
answer the most frequently asked and burning one right now and right here...
It`s pronounced Gaym`n ... not Guy-man, or any of the other ways people pronounce it at each other. Honest.
On the run...
posted by Neil Gaiman 2:04 PM
Cheryl Morgan e-mailed me to tell me that her review in Emerald City is up.
This is a link to the review, but read the rest of it as well...
posted by Neil Gaiman 11:58 AM
Cleveland was hard -- left the hotel at 5.30 am, flew out from Dayton, slept
for 90 minutes on the store manager`s sofa, and then interviewed over
breakfast by Julie Washington from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, who remains
one of my favourite american journalists, mostly because I can make her
laugh, then signed for about 400 people at Joseph Beth in Shaker Square
(over 200 copies of AG signed) (great store, great people), ran for the
airport made the plane, slept like a dead thing... saw my family for maybe
ten minutes in Minneapolis airport, traded laundry (dirty for clean) (i got
the clean) hugged them and got onto the next plane...
Michael Dirda reviewed American Gods in the Washington Post at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A31265-2001Jun21.html
posted by Neil Gaiman 11:25 AM
Saturday, June 23, 2001
Ahoy shipmates. Belay there. Avast, and other nautical things.
So I`m in a car with Jennifer Hershey, on the way from Lexington to Dayton, being driven by the lovely and competent Gwenda Bond. Gwenda in her real life does something in the governor of Kentucky`s office, and she is an angel in human form. Well, more or less.
Last night I signed in the Barnes and Noble in Skokie - a huge store. I read some of Chapter Four, with Czernobog and the Zorya, answered questions and signed, signed, signed. About 150 books sold, for a total of 300-odd for the day in Chicago. My favourite present was a double CD of a 1996 Elvis Costello Chicago gig.
Somewhere a little before midnight Jennifer Hershey and I got into a car driven by Bill Young, the Author Escort, and we drove through the night to Lexington. Got to our hotel at 6:30 am to find that Gwenda had already checked us all in and set everything up, I went and found my room and went to sleep in a real bed. Woke up, showered, did a little e-mail (not much - I`m way behind right now, and probably will be for another month). It was around midday, and Gwenda turned up bearing sushi for us all for breakfast. (Really good, by the way. I never thought of Lexington as one of the great Sushi places in the world. Whodathunkit?) And then we drove to the signing.
Some time ago Gwenda used her mysterious influence to have me made a Kentucky Colonel. Now, to celebrate me actually turning up to sign books in the Commonwealth, she presented me with a certificate and a card proclaiming me an Admiral. I shall hope that Kentucky does not declare war on any other states during my lifetime or my lack of nautical knowledge will come out.
I read some of Chapters 7 and 8, up to the autopsy in Cairo scene , did a Q & A, then signed for a few hundred people - a real Head Down and Get On With It signing in order to be out on time. Strange and wonderful gifts. ("It`s wonderful. What is it?" `I`m not sure. But it`s small. You said on your journal you liked small.") Nice people - I say that every signing, but I`m always pleased and surprised by how very nice everyone is.
After the signing, I signed the pre-orders (books for people who had phoned the store and ordered copies but couldn`t be there) and a small amount of shop stock.
There`s an urban legend among authors that simply the act of signing a book that the store has in the back sells it. "A signed book is a sold book" they say. Actually this is tosh. Bookstores return books for credit, and signed hardbacks enter the system all the time; while the covers are ripped off signed paperbacks and the insides are thrown away (or walked off with). A signed book is just a book.
On this tour there`s not much stock being signed, mostly because there`s not been time, but if you`re hunting a signed book it`s always a good idea to call a bookstore after an author`s been there.
And now we`re driving to Dayton - it looks like we`ll be on time, which is a relief, as I`d not been certain it would be possible. (This was because someone had told us it was a certain 3 hour drive if we were lucky. Not the way Gwenda drives it wasn`t.)
Much later. We`re in a hotel room, waiting for room service. It`s 1:10 and we put in the order a bit before midnight. We`re hungry and we`re getting kind of sad. The hotel is filled with drunk Jaycees. A couple making love in one of the elevators asked me if I had a room free that they could use. On the good side, there`s a minibar in the room. On the downside, it`s completely empty. At 1.00 am we phoned down to the front desk and we told them that we didn`t had any food , and they said they`d tried to bring it and knocked on the door and we didn`t answer, and I said they hadn`t and they went off to investigate.
There. They investigated. They`re bringing it up to us. Really they are.
The food came at 1:30 am. It was cold where it should have been warm and warm where it should have been cold and tasted like they really had made it when we called down for it, ninety minutes before. We ate it anyway. We didn`t care. Then Jennifer and Gwenda said goodnight and went off to their room, and I sat here and typed this final entry.
Books and Co. in Dayton does wonderful signings, and this one was no exception. But I have to be up in a little under 4 hours time and on the plane to Cleveland, so details will have to wait for another time.
posted by Neil Gaiman 11:01 PM
Friday, June 22, 2001
This just in from Felicia Quon, HarperCollins Canada...
I know you are on tour (it sounds like it is going very well) , but I wanted to let you know that we have added a signing in Toronto. Here are the details:
Sunday July 22 at 4 pm.
Indigo Books & Music
2300 Yonge Stree
If this could be posted on americangods.com...
Her wish is our command. And Salon.com has a review up at http://www.salon.com/books/review/2001/06/22/gaiman/ which I really liked. It seemed to be writing about the book I`d written, and I was pretty conscious of the things she points to -- Jesus actually did turn up in a scene which I cut, as it just didn`t work, but I figured a book about American Religion was not the book I wanted to write, which was about American Belief, so I let some things go...
In Chicago. Did STARS OUR DESTINATION at Lunch time, (@200 people, @140 American Gods sold). And I have been assured by Jennifer Hershey that we have become the fastest ever selling american title in Oslo. Hurrah for Norway.
posted by Neil Gaiman 3:42 PM
In Chicago. Did a signing in Champaign this evening. Nice store, about 375
nice people, over 175 American Gods sold by the store, and they also had
some sushi around for a tired author at the end. In the car on the way home
I found myself unexpectedly doing a radio phone in with WGN`s Steve and
Johnnie. Then I slept in the car. Now I post this. Then I sleep some more.
Oddest interview was with a local paper today on the phone. "So," said the journalist. "I guess it must be a real rockstar life on the road. Do you travel with a full entourage? Like a chef and a hairdresser?"
Eagle-eyed readers of this journal may already have intuited that I was forced to disappoint him. For a moment I was tempted to start talking about Alyssa and Armando and Arnold (the butler) -- but in the end I told the truth. It`s me, a book escort, and -- for a couple of days, for her first time on the road -- my editor, Jennifer Hershey, getting a first-hand view of a signing tour.
I bet when she goes back to New York she`ll recommend the whole chefs and hairdressers bit to HarperCollins. But until then, I`m my own entourage.
posted by Neil Gaiman 1:50 AM
Thursday, June 21, 2001
Dateline American Gods plus one.
I'm in New York in a car on my way to the Huntingdon signing, with the libretto on my lap. So...
This is what happens two days before publication: you fly in to New York, and do a gig with the Magnetic Fields. Two sets. I did two completely different readings - lots of short stuff, some new stuff, some weird stuff. Afterward it occurred to me that I did the readings completely for Neil Gaiman fans, and that the people who were solely Magentic Feilds fans (Stephen Merrit says that's how their name is most often misspelled) were probably very puzzled and perplexed. The readings I'd do for an audience entirely consisting of people who have no idea who I am or what I do would be very different from one I'd do for people who want to hear B-sides and rarities...
And I got to watch both sets of the Magnetic Fields - who also did two very different sets early evening and late. Which made me astonishingly happy. It 's a very good thing to have your favourite band in the whole world be people you like to spend time with as well as people you like to watch. Highlights for me were Stephen`s performance of Papa Was a Rodeo (first set version) and Claudia's Acoustic Guitar (second set version) and the second set duet of Yeah, Oh Yeah.
Next morning - Monday - I slept in, for the last time for a long time, then went up to the Harper Collins office and Met People. Meeting People at your publishers is part of being an author they don't tell you much about. It's fun. People are in publishing because they love books. This is an important thing to remember. (a very few of them are in publishing because they once loved books. This is sad when it happens.) I met the e-book division. They love e-books, which is harder to do. Now, I have recently acquired an e-book and haven`t had much a chance to play with it - so far I think the best thing about it will probably prove to be that you can read in the dark without waking up the person next to you. I will report back on the crop of e\books by me, which come out next week, and which I will look at on my new toy. After I met the e-book people I met the people who run HarperCollins.
(It's now half a day later, and I'm typing on the way to Newark.)
Let`s see. Monday. Okay... so, I signed books for people at HarperCollins. I had dinner with people from HarperCollins. I went to bed. I went to sleep. After about half an hour I woke up completely and unexpectedly. As the e-book was by the bed, I read the instructions for the e-book in the dark, and practised the alphabet for making notes in the dark. If I had been someone in the bed next to me, I wouldn`t have woken up, if you see what I mean.
Breakfast with the Harper Children`s Publisher, my Harper Editor and my agent about Coraline. It'll be published in 2002 - they want to move it from Spring to Fall, to get more attention for it. I say okay. (American Gods will still come out in paperback in May of 2002) Then we run, my agent and I, to her office, to meet my UK editor on Coraline, who is in New York. She`s from Bloomsbury, and I like her immediately, and look forward to working with her.
The day spins and whirls and somewhere in there I eat lunch (Onigashima on 55th St., really really good sushi) and somewhere a bit later I turn up at Borders in the World Trade Centre for the reading and signing.
A host of friends turn up before the signing as I sit in a back room signing books for staff, and I say my hellos and check my pens... and by a little after 7.00pm I'm out there in front of the people.
It`s been years since I felt nervous at a signing. This time I feel nervous: it`s publication date. It`s the first signing. I don`t know.
Borders World Trade Center is a good store. I did a signing there for Neverwhere in 1997 and it was a tight squeeze then... and there are a lot more people there now. Over 500 of them, at a guess. Seating for about 80 people at the reading, which meant that three-quarters of the people couldn' t see what was going on. (My apologies if you were one of them.) Surprised, as I said, to find I was genuinely nervous. Read the opening of the book as the nerves slowly dissipated, answered audience questions about an odd assortment of things (including, rather to my surprise, pumpkin-growing) and off we go signing...
Finished around 11:30 with over 450 AMERICAN GODS signed. (Rule here - any copies of American Gods plus two other things.) Hurrah for Daryl and the staff...
Walk out of signing to find a few friends hanging around, including my friends writer Andy Heidel (former HarperCollins publicist, now sci-fi-channel man) and his fiancee Jen the Puppet Queen (Mama Lion on Between The Lions) and the wonderful Claudia Gonson (sings, plays keyboards for and manages the Magnetic Fields). They had been hanging around for hours to say hello and maybe even buy me a drink. I haven't eaten since lunchtime, and tell them so, and we wind up eating upstairs in a little Japanese place somewhere half a Manhattan away from Borders World Trade Centre. Where we immediately bump into someone who had been at the signing but had, after three hours, given up and wandered off...
Get back late to hotel. Bath. Sleep. It`s late. That was publication day.
Wake up rather in need of a shave to learn that I forgot to pack a razor. Right. I'll buy a razor. Run for breakfast with my agent, and from there to a meeting with a booking agency who want to represent me as a public speaker. Am kindly disposed to them because they represented Douglas Adams and had already approached me before he died - in fact I'd been ready to call him and find out whether he liked them... Not that I want a career as a public speaker I should add, but I need somewhere to send all the requests that are always coming in for me to go to universities and cutlural festivals and such, and these guys are probably going to be better at saying "No" than I am.
On the way out I learn how many copies of American Gods were sold on the first day of publication at Borders, at Barnes and Noble, at Waldenbooks. ("Is that good?" I ask. I'm told that, yes, it's good. It's bestseller numbers. Now we just have to hope it keeps up for the rest of the week.)
Lunch at Yamaguchi on 45th St (their prices are twice what Onigashima was for worse food.) An afternoon of drop-in signings.
Drop-ins are just that. Hit and run attacks by an author, where you go in, sign the shop stock, go away again. This can be an unpleasant experience, or a pleasant one. Ever since a store in San Francisco had a line of 60 people waiting for me at one of these, I've forbidden publishers to tell bookstores any more about drop-in times than than "He'll be in in the afternoon". But frankly, for as many places as you drop in and they're excited and have alerted their favourite customers to hang around the store all afternoon to meet you, there are as many stores that you get to be met by blank looks from store assistants and they explain that they aren't sure where Dave is, and Dave is the only person who knows where the single copy of your book that they are sure they have somewhere was put.
I sign a heap of American Gods at the Barnes and Nobles in Astor Place and Chelsea.(if you`re in New York and you want a signed copy, that might be the best way to go.) Realize I`m not going to have time to buy a razor before the signing.
Out to Huntingdon Long Island to Book Revue. Sign staff stuff. Eat a hasty tuna salad (I`d learned my lesson on not eating at all the night before). It 's a medium-sized signing in a thunderstorm, although lots more people can sit and see what's going on than at Borders. I read The I-Love-Lucy scene. It must have been a unique experience for the audience, hearing a bemused English author doing his Lucille Ball impression accompanied by ominous thundery rumbles. I'm not saying it was any good, mind you. Just that it's not an everyday occurrence.
(That last bit was typed in Newark airport. Now I'm writing sitting in Chicago O Hare airport, waiting for Jennifer Hershey, my editor, who is doing this leg with me.)
Book Revue was a pleasant signing - nice staff, nice store - huge as a Barnes and Noble superstore, but it smelled like books, like paper and wood and old binding glue - and, as always, the people in the line were nice people. Finished a little after eleven. 170+ copies of American Gods were sold, many hundreds of people were made happy.
In the car on the way there and on the way back I got to talk to the book`s publicity team, Jack and Dee Dee. It was good
Got back to my hotel by around 1.30 am. Put in for the 6.30 wake-up call, ate a banana, did some packing. Noticed a message on my phone and called and discovered a package of images had arrived for me from England, so called down for them, and waited.
Package arrived. It made me happy. I slept.
And the wake-up call stumbled me out of the hotel and there was the driver. "Off to Newark," I said. "No, to La Guardia," he said. I panicked. We checked our papers, and I was right and he`d been given the wrong information. And I started typing this.
They may have served breakfast on the plane. I don`t know. I was asleep. Now I`m in Chicago. A few minutes to post this and run. Then I really have to find a razor.
posted by Neil Gaiman 12:54 PM
Monday, June 18, 2001
I did a wonderful gig -- two sets -- with the Magnetic Fields. I had a busy day meeting people about the DAY I SWAPPED MY DAD FOR TWO GOLDFISH animated series, and then meeting HarperCollins people and getting to learn all sorts of cool stuff about e-books and soforth...
And in 50 minutes my book is officially published.
You probably won`t get a long and sensible entry here for a few more days, until I stop moving and can think or at least type in peace.
Scott McCloud sent me his Why I`m Not Neil Gaiman cartoon, and it made me laugh very loudly. You get it for free if you donate to his website. And his website is a wonderful thing.
See you at Borders World Trade Centre tomorrow, if you`re in the NY area. The Libretto is working fine but if the bloody thing has a real apostrophe I can`t find it. So I`m using these. ```
posted by Neil Gaiman 8:14 PM
Saturday, June 16, 2001
The Message board on neilgaiman.com should be working on Monday Morning.
Today's Mail brought a Dutch contract for American Gods (I'm always faintly pleased when the Dutch buy the rights to a book, as they all speak terrific English and import UK or US editions anyway).
Therese Littleton's review of American Gods is now up at Amazon.com ... someone else who understood it.
I'm on tour from tomorrow morning, for six weeks....
... wish me luck.
posted by Neil Gaiman 10:44 AM
So Neilgaiman.com went live and ate most of americangods.com. I miss the old-style front page -- I was rather hoping to see what happened to the AMERICAN GODS WILL BE PUBLISHED IN ... counter as soon as we got past midnight on monday the 18th.
So, right now, if you're reading this, you probably have this page bookmarked, because you can't get to the working bloggerjournalthing from the main site.
As the cover note says on the home page, neilgaiman.com is, right now, very much a work in progress. Given another week, everything should actually work. Over the following few weeks it'll become much prettier and better organised, I'll try to get a few more things written for it, find fun archived stuff, we'll have more links to things, all that -- but for right now what you see is more or less what you get.
The message boards look like they may be fun. Feel very free to chip in -- and to use the AMERICAN GODS TOUR section for everything from seeing if you can get a ride to a signing, to, um, meeting up at signings.
firstname.lastname@example.org is the webmaster, and email@example.com is the publisher's webperson. If something seems to be broken... tell them. They will want to know. They've moved mountains to get everything up before the 19th of June...
Let's see, what else...? Oh yes. My assistant, the Fabulous Lorraine, has a new CD out. She and writer Emma Bull are a band called The Flash Girls, and they've made their first new album in about five years. (They were geographically challenged.) It's called Play Each Morning, Wild Queen, and it's very cool. (Their last album, Maurice and I, was also very cool, is still available, and has Alan Moore's song "Me and Dorothy Parker" on it.) It has a cover by Michael Zulli, and three songs by me on. Please buy it and make her independently wealthy. You can order it from DreamHaven books in Minneapolis.
posted by Neil Gaiman 12:02 AM
Friday, June 15, 2001
So, just as everything gets REALLY exciting, and I have a day to finish organising everything for the next 6 weeks, do several interviews including an NPR one and an online chat at excite.com tonight...
...comes the news that this blogger may have to be frozen for a couple of days, as the changeover to the still-nascent neilgaiman.com happens behind the scenes. Keep checking in here, as I'll post as soon as it goes live again (and this page will automatically take you over to its new location).
Also just discovered that the old Avon neverwhere pages are completely lost, which is a pity, as they were lot of fun.
And Powells.com have put up that journal entry that got out of hand -- you'll find me talking about it in the archives, fairly early on. It was me trying to explain the book, and it just sort of grew. it's at http://www.powells.com/features/gaiman.html
posted by Neil Gaiman 11:24 AM
Thursday, June 14, 2001
There's a story on Inside.com about the Magnetic Fields gig on Sunday -- I've put a pile of stuff onto the Libretto. Now I need to print out everything I might want to read on Sunday night -- there are two different sets, and I'm very tempted to do two completely different readings.
I noticed today that I've suddenly and completely stopped worrying about the tour and the book and all that. It's too late: everything that is going to happen will happen, so I may as well get out there and have fun.
posted by Neil Gaiman 7:05 PM
Some days are instant Christmas. They put a smile on your face...
Tori's CD, Strange Little Girls. It's missing one track, but the other eleven are there. I knew what to expect this time, but my family are spellbound. It's just playing all the time in the background... as surprising and as wonderful the fifth time as it was the first...
The replacement Libretto. Working like a little dream -- I'm just transferring over files from my notebook, then I'll load up Word Perfect and Final Draft, and it'll be all ready for the road.
and... just as I thought the day had brought all the presents it could...
I opened an envelope to see the UK editions of American Gods.
So, first of all, I got to learn that there is indeed a huge trade paperback edition of American Gods in the UK, and a hardback. The hardback is seventeen pounds 99p, the paperback is 10 pounds. Amazon.co.uk has been erroneously listing it as hardback for 10 pounds... so if anyone out there thought that was they'd ordered, they may need to talk to Amazon, or to their local bookshop and make sure they are getting what they want.
(Incidentally, it's 500 pages long, not 352.)
The second thing I learned is that they're doing a very surprising promotion for the hardback, which caused me jaw to drop. I'm not sure I can say anything more about it until I've got an okay from Headline. It raised eyebrows and caused giggles in this house.
Normally the UK hardbacks wind up the most collectible of the editions, as they are printed in the smallest numbers. Looking at this edition, which is lovely, I suspect that may again be true, especially as people who think they've successfully ordered it may have problems getting it...
posted by Neil Gaiman 12:40 PM
There's a cartoon by the incredibly brilliant Gahan Wilson, from his book of the same name, in which a man stares around him at the people worshipping the signs saying "Nothing" and the cathedrals erected with the word "Nothing" on them, in glowing bright lights.
"Is Nothing sacred?" he asks.
The cover of the Hodder -Headline UK edition made me think of that.
posted by Neil Gaiman 9:37 AM
Wednesday, June 13, 2001
My daughter Holly just came charging in. "Hey Dad!" she said. "You're at 82 on Amazon.com!" She had a huge smile on her face. "That's the highest it's been so far! And it's not even out yet!"
Then her face fell. "I'm away next week," she said. "I won't be here to check for you, while you're off on tour. You could get up really high on Amazon, and you'd never know."
Someone would tell me, I assured her.
"Have you put me in your journal thing again, yet?" she asked. "You know I read it. So far you've only told about the time I made your journal entry vanish. You should say something nice about me."
She is pretty wonderful, actually. Hi, Holly.
posted by Neil Gaiman 10:34 PM
I got a lovely e-mail today from a friend in the UK who'd read American Gods (actually, I got quite a few lovely e-mails today from people who'd read American Gods). This was a lovely letter from someone who'd just devoured it and really enjoyed it (to the point where she seemed almost embarrassed about it -- she knew how long it had taken me to write, and how hard some of it had been to get to work, and she compared herself to someone who just finished off a huge meal that a chef had taken a long time and pains to compare.) I assured her that the main thing for me is just that people enjoy it.
This is from my reply to her:
Remember to tell people about it... I figure word of mouth is my biggest ally
on this one... Try and work it into casual conversation:
"Ooh, I'll have five of those Granny Smiths. And American Gods is a really good book."
"Of course I'd love to write an article for you on 'What the Modern Woman Really Wants'. Read American Gods. When's the deadline?"
"I'm saying that you shouldn't be charging me for a letter telling me that I have an overdraft when the account was actually well in the black. By the way, there's a brilliant book called American Gods you may want to check out."
Which, on a marginally more serious note, seeing the book will be out in five days, and some of you will actually get a chance to read it yourselves, is really my only request to any of you. If you like the book, tell people. Spread the word.
I am reminded of Geoff Ryman's lovely novel 253, which includes a woman whose job is to ride the tube train under london reading a paperback book with delight, occasionally exclaiming aloud on the brilliance and wonderfulness of the book she's reading. Cheap advertising.
posted by Neil Gaiman 9:11 PM
The Libretto L1 arrived today in my P.O. Box. (Express mail through the post office is astonishingly expensive, it turns out.) The Libretto L1 is an amazing, beautiful and magnificent piece of technology. It's like a children's toy: an almost full-size keyboard, a cinemascope screen, it weighs nothing and takes up almost no room.
Unfortunately, after half an hour, the screen light went off and didn't go back on again, just flickered sadly like an old-fashioned fluorescent tube trying to work. The manuals are all in Japanese, so they weren't much help, although they had drawings of smily people plugging their Librettos into things. I called technical support. They said not to worry, they'd send me a new computer.
I said, "Look, if I promise you I'm honestly not an international Libretto thief, would you please just fedex it to the house?"
"Are you... are you the Neil Gaiman who wrote Sandman?"
"Not a problem. You'll have it tomorrow morning."
So there. Big vote of thanks to Shane and Dave at Dynamism.com for all their help, and I'll let you all know what happens next.
(Fedex tomorrow will bring many cool things, including the new Tori Amos CD, for the booklet of which I have to find some words.)
Currently, behind the scenes on the signing tour, lots of logistical stuff is being worked out, last-minute problems are being solved, all that.
Today brought some good news about the Death movie -- with luck I'll have news I can announce before the tour starts.
posted by Neil Gaiman 4:06 PM
Monday, June 11, 2001
On the advice of Terry Pratchett, who is a wise road warrior and is the only person I know who has signed for more people, and in more countries, than me, and seeing it's going to be six weeks of living out of hand-luggage (for there may not be time to check luggage, and I can't risk losing all my socks and black tee shirts to the whims of Northwest Airlines), I decided to buy a Toshiba Libretto, for the road.
(That's a very small, full-featured notebook computer that weighs next to nothing, for the non-technically minded among us.)
I take Terry's advice on things like this. He's always right. I still have, and still (once in a blue moon) use, the Atari Portfolio he talked me into buying about 11 years ago. It runs on a cut-down DOS 2.1 -- I wrote MURDER MYSTERIES on it and THE GOLDFISH POOL & OTHER STORIES and more episodes of Sandman than I can count -- and I'd use it more except I feel faintly ashamed of being seen using such antedeluvian technology when in the company of all the cool geek people I know. They have transparent plastic things that are violently green at you, and which take photographs, order take-out, check for the nearest good sushi restaurant, download basketball scores and double as mobile phones, all at the same time. My Portfolio is only good for writing stuff and storing addresses and phone numbers. Which is all I ever use it for, not having much interest in basketball, and being a writer. I think I once managed to prove it was possible to get e-mail on it some time in 1992, and never tried again....
Sorry. Got a bit nostalgic there for a second.
So. Flash new Toshiba Libretto. It's not a palmtop, it's a subcompact notebook, which seemed closer to what I wanted. I checked the web...
They don't retail them anywhere but Japan any more. But there's a company that imports them. And the new Libretto L1 has just been released. Like, a few days ago.
I sent an e-mail to the sales guy at the company yesterday and asked if they could get me one before I left on tour. His e-mail arrived today. Absolutely. Just call and order and they'd overnight it to me.
It seemed so simple. I was thrilled. I called immediately...
Someone answered the phone.
I started to order a Libretto L1, using a corporate credit card.
If you write for Hollywood, you become a corporation whose sole asset is you and whose function consists of lending you out. (Honest. You think I could make that up?) Mine is called The Blank Corporation, because I went blank when they asked me what name I wanted it to be when they were filling in the corporate paperwork. I think the company logo is a blank sheet of paper, roughly 8" by 11". So there is a Blank Corporation credit card that I never use, and I thought, finally, I can buy something that's an honest to goodness business expense with the card.
I gave the guy on the other end of the phone the credit card number. He said they could only send it to the Card billing address. I said ow, that wasn't going to work, as that address was in LA, and I'm not, and getting the people who run the corporation in LA to authorise things might take a couple of days -- I wasn't even sure if I knew how to talk to the card issuers.... Still, not to worry. Plan B seemed straightforward enough. I put the card away (still, I think, unused), and pulled out my normal everyday not-corporate-at-all credit card.
Gave him the number of the new card. He asked for the Billing address, and I began "P.O. Box..."
"I'm sorry," he interrupted. "We don't deliver to PO Boxes."
"Not a problem," I said. "I'll give you the house address for FedEx to deliver to..."
"But it's not the billing address?"
"No, the bills go to the PO Box, but FedEx doesn't deliver to PO Boxes, so we get FedEx to deliver to..."
"I'm sorry. We can't do that. We can only send it to the billing address."
"But you've just told me you can't send it to the billing address."
"We don't deliver to PO Boxes."
"So you're saying you can't send me the computer."
"Um. If you don't mind me asking.... Does anyone else in America import Toshiba Librettos?" I figured, if someone else did, I'd call them instead.
"Nope. Just us." He didn't seem perturbed by the question. I guessed he heard it a lot.
"So you're telling me that you won't deliver to PO Boxes, and you can't deliver to the house?"
"Well, how do we know it's your house? You could have stolen a credit card, and this could be a deserted house down the block you want us to deliver to."
"Er, yes, but it's not. It's my house."
"People do it all the time. That's why we only ship to billing addresses."
"Yes, but you won't ship to my billing address, will you? Anyway, you'll have the phone number and the PO Box number. For heaven's sake, I've ordered a thousand things and this is the first time.."
"Hey, this is $3000 of computer equipment you're trying to order! People scam for a lot less than that. You can get phone numbers easy as anything, rent PO Boxes. We don't know this isn't a stolen card."
I thought about pointing out that, for $3000 of computer equipment, I was kind of expecting someone helpful on the other end of the phone. I thought about pointing out that, if it was a brilliant credit card fraud, and the card company approved the transaction, then they won't be out any money. I thought about dusting off the Atari Portfolio and pretending it was a grand retro gesture...
Instead I said "Look, I can't be the first person ever to try and order something who had a PO Box and wanted it shipped to a house address..."
"We can only ship it to a billing address," he said. He had that one down cold. "Or you could do a wire transfer."
I said that that wasn't going to happen. I was getting testy. I've been in the US too long, I suppose -- I'm sort of used to trying to buy goods and services from people who are actively trying to sell them to you. I said there had to be a way for him to sell me a computer and could we please resolve this...
There was a long pause. And then he said, doubtfully, "I guess we could send it by the postal service. They deliver to Post office boxes, don't they?"
I assured him that they did.
And he said, yes, they could do that, he guessed. They couldn't overnight it, but I'd get it by friday, with the US postal service. I said I hoped so. He took the details, said they'd fax me a bill for me to sign and send back to them.
The fax, when it arrived, included a charge for Fedexing the package. I carefully wrote on it "If sending by Fedex please deliver to ... " and the house address, before I faxed it back, not because I was trying to be clever, but because I had a sudden presentiment of the people at the company finding themselves suddenly and unexpectedly unable to get me a little computer, "because Fedex doesn't deliver to PO Boxes".
So I leave on tour in six days. Off to do the Magnetic Fields gigs and then to start signing my way across the States, the UK and Canada. With luck, I'll be keeping up this journal, typing on planes and in cars, and posting it from hotel room phone lines.
And with a lot of luck, I'll be typing it on a Toshiba Libretto L1, and not on an Atari Portfolio. Not even as a grand retro gesture.
posted by Neil Gaiman 10:30 PM
Sunday, June 10, 2001
Spent a good part of yesterday trying to compile a bibliography of Books Consulted for American Gods for the not-yet-online neilgaiman.com -- a sort of astonishingly incomplete bibliography, because otherwise I would have had to try and catalogue half a library, so I'm trying just to list the books in the boxes I'd put in the boot of the car (that's the trunk, for americans) when I drove down to Florida to work on the novel, and the ones I tried to make sure were on the shelves in the cabin as I wrote the rest of the book... and the ones I filled my suitcase with when I went to spend two weeks writing in Las Vegas (an anecdote, it occurs to me, that I've not mentioned yet on this blogger. Oh well. Feel free to ask me about it if you are at one of the Q & A sessions between the reading and the signing.) I got down a lot of the myth and folklore books. Lots of mini-capsule reviews.Cannot for the life of me find the box of books on confidence tricks or coin magic.
http://www.writerswrite.com/journal/jun01/fansf.htm has a review of American Gods up... (the version up earlier was an early draft of the review posted in error).
Spent a couple of hours today in the basement, pulling out foreign editions of books for neilgaiman.com. I'm not sure whether I was more amazed by the stuff I didn't know I had -- "Chivalry" and "Snow, Glass, Apples" in Japanese. A box of first editions of Angels and Visitations. A Large Print edition of Stardust. A folder of short stories and poems I wrote in my teens (didn't have the heart to burn them, but the idea of anyone ever actually reading them... ow!) -- or the stuff I knew I had but couldn't find -- The German Hardback of Good Omens, for example -- or the stuff I should have had but had never been sent -- like the swedish editions of Neverwhere, or the Spanish Smoke and Mirrors and Stardust.
posted by Neil Gaiman 8:25 PM
Saturday, June 09, 2001
Strangely enough, I just realised that the last two posts haven't published, although Blogger obviously thinks they did. (note added later. They have now.)
Up early this morning to put comments on a zip disk filled with photos, going off to the neilgaiman.com site people. I don't yet have much of a sense of what they're doing or putting up, but we can modify it as we go. Yes, this journal will stay alive through the tour (for a start, it may be the easiest way to let people know what's happening in case of any sudden changes), and I expect it'll stay here and we'll link to it from neilgaiman.com...
Cheryl Morgan, who does a zine called Emerald City, e-mailed me her review of American Gods, which made me very happy, not because it was a good review (which it was, in both senses, favourable and well-written) but because Cheryl had clearly read the same book that I was trying to write. (As perhaps opposed to a recent interviewer, who kicked off with "Well, I've read your book. You must really hate America, huh?")
To summarise yesterday's lost annotation blog -- I want to make a space on neilgaiman.com where there can be, if people have any interest in doing it, annotations of American Gods. Partly because I'm sure that people will enjoy sharing knowledge ("Actually, both the Burma Shave ads Gaiman quotes are invented, and the Largest Carousel in the World does not play the Blue Danube Waltz..."), partly to help the Casual Reader ("Czernobog, also spelled Chernobog or Tcharnobog, was a dualistic slavic winter god now remembered chiefly for his appearance as the black winged thingie who appears in 'A Night on Bald Mountain' in the original Fantasia...") and partly as a help to translators around the world, who are good people with a thankless task, but who can sometimes get the wrong end of a stick, or just not know where to look for information.
(I saw a recent edition of Stardust -- and I will not embarrass anyone by saying from which country -- where "Redcap" was annotated as "Bow Street Runner, an early policeman" and "Unseelie Court" was demonstrated to be a nonsense word derived from the three English Words "Un" "See" and "Lie"; which showed me that the translator lacked a dictionary of fairies -- for a redcap is a rather nasty goblinish fellow, with teeth, while the Unseelie Court is the Court of all creatures of Faerie who are actively antipathetic to people, all the ogres and suchlike.)
Don't know whether we'll do it with a message board, an e-mail list, or an e-mail to a central e-mail address yet. I'll probably keep half an eye on it -- not to censor it (I have no problem with the 'Gaiman clearly has no idea how the internal combustion engine actually works, as what he describes here is impossible...' type posts) but just to make sure it doesn't contain information that is simply wrong. (Such things have been known. See "unseelie" above.)
Now to post this... and to hope it publishes...
posted by Neil Gaiman 8:10 AM
Friday, June 08, 2001
When will I learn? Long blog about Annotations written. Pressed publish. It said it has done it... but instead it has sent it off into the space of dead words.
Lone and bereft I shall stop writing for a little and take small daughter for a walk instead.
Yes, I know. Copy it before posting or publishing. Or use a text editor. Don't just sit down and type. I know. I DO know that. Yes.
will write annotation thing again tonight probably
posted by Neil Gaiman 5:32 PM
Dianna Graf (a very nice Tasmanian lady who used to have fuchsia hair and
work as a fairy but currently doesn't) posted this on the Well today,
apropos of me coming to Australia to sign books...
Are the bookshops supposed to wait for the publisher to
contact them? Or are they supposed to contact the publisher first to
express interest? i debated this with my local friendly bookstore owner
yesterday and i hope i have convinced him to just take the plunge and
make the call rather than wait
And this was what I wrote in reply...
Dianna -- well, obviously any bookstore can sit back and wait for the
publisher to contact them.
But if the publisher has the budget to send me to (say) five cities,
and they've received enquiries from five cities, then a bookstore in
the sixth city may sit by the phone for a long time.
And it may be that the publisher might phone a different store in that
city. Or that another store in the same city has already phoned to
Publishers like to send authors to places that they know are
enthusiastic and interested. Unless your store owner is the *only*
bookstore in a city you know I *have* to go to then it's much smarter
for him to call the publisher...
I got some fanmail today grumbling about evil Harper Collins not
sending me to the US southeast on my tour; but I'm pretty sure that if
stores from the southeast -- from Florida say -- had made a noise about
how much they wanted me, I'd be signing there.
I'm going to be signing in Seattle mostly because Duane at the University
bookstore made sure that Harper Collins knew that he wanted me for this
signing two years ago, kept after them, pointed out how many books
he'd sold on my last signings there, and he'd book an auditorium for me
to speak and sign in... And so HarperCollins said yes. I'm going to San
Diego because the guys at Mysterious Galaxy were so keen on getting me
there, that, at a point where I wasn't going to go there, they offered
to fly me in to do a signing on their own dime, and the enthusiasm they
showed meant that Harper rejigged the schedule to send me.
I'd add to that that there are only so many places you can go on a tour,
and so many weeks on a tour, so you're never going to please everyone. And
just asking and being enthusiastic doesn't mean that a store will
definitely get a signing -- but it certainly increases the chances of me
turning up and sitting and defacing books...
I said here a while ago I'd post the advice to stores I wrote for Andy Heidel (who was
the publicist at Harper before Jack Womack) to send out to stores for the
Stardust tour in 1998. I cunningly wrote it in the third person so people
would think Andy wrote it. I don't think I fooled a soul.
(Anyway, I went and found it on the hard disk. Incidentally, if you're
planning to come to a signing, I already wrote a list of helpful things like this
for people attending the signings. It's in the archives.)
So you're hosting a Neil Gaiman signing...
Here are our suggestions for the Neil Gaiman signing tour. Many of them are
self-evident, but you never know...
Before the event:
Neil will sign books for any members of the staff who need them signed, and
any books that people have bought and left to be signed or phone-ordered,
before the reading and the signing.
Neil will use his own pen for signing most articles, but even so, have some
black felt tips, some silver and/or gold pens (thin felt-pen type), and a
Sharpie or so on hand. You never know what he'll need to sign.
Neil will do a 15-30 minute reading first, followed by a short Q & A
session. (He‚ll do a longer reading in those stores which are organising
events in auditoriums). Please do your best to ensure that there is space
enough that all attendees can hear the reading.
If your store needs to have a microphone for the reading, please have one.
We strongly suggest that if you‚re expecting a signing of over than 150
people that you issue numbers to the attendees. Blocks of numbers can then
be called to queue up as needed (ie. "Now signing for 75 and below...".
In the past this has proved the most successful way to run large signings,
as it allows those with higher numbers to browse the store (and, in the
case of a really big signing, even to go and get something to eat) while
waiting for their block of numbers to be called.
It helps prevent a stampede after the reading, keeps people good-tempered,
and allows you to sell merchandise to the people in your store for the
(Some stores would also use the numbers for a raffle, as well as for
gathering names and addresses for mailings.)
Some common questions:
Can people take photos of Neil?
Are there going to be limits on what can be signed?
Common sense is the watchword on this. Normally Neil will sign 3 items that
people bring, along with anything of his they buy in your store for the
signing. If 600 people show up however, that might well be cut to one item
plus what they buy, or something like that. It depends on how many people
show up, and how much time there is, and when your store closes.
He will also try to sign for everyone there for the signing.
If the line is short enough, people with extra things they want signed can
go round again. If the line is long, then they can't.
Will he personalise books?
Does he want little post-it notes with people's names written on
No, he figures asking people their names is an automatic icebreaker. But he
does want things out of plastic bags before he signs them.
How long will he sign for anyway?
As long as it takes. He'd like to take a break every 90 minutes or so, for
the bathroom, to snack, to flex his hand, or just to spend 5 minutes not
signing anything. Check if he needs a break, but don't push it if he says
Does he want someone with him at the signing table?
There should be someone around there to keep an eye on the line, to make
sure it keeps moving, and that if someone seems to be trying to make Neil
read their novel, look at their whole art portfolio, or discuss philosophy, to
move in and say "Sorry, there are lots of people waiting..."
By the way, no interviews during signings. Every now and then a journalist
or would-be journalist decides that the middle of a signing is the best
place to turn up and try to do an interview. It's not.
Incidentally, Neil says that if the Mad Fan with the Gun shows up he would
very much like it if a member of staff would take the bullet; but he
appreciates that this is a lot to ask.
Is that likely?
Not at all. It was a joke. Actually, on the whole, Neil's fans are
Would he like anything special to eat or drink?
Clearly Canadian (one of the berry flavours) to drink; no real preferences
as to snack food, but Neil still says nice things about the stores on the
last tour who had sushi rolls there to nibble on.
After the signing:
Neil's fans often give him gifts. Whoever is looking after him will
probably take care of posting them back to him; if not, he'll give you an
address to send them to.
After the signing is over, is the time to get shop stock signed, if there's
enough time, and he can still hold a pen. Reasonable quantities of stuff,
(I picked Clearly Canadian -- a bottled, fizzy, sweet water --
because I figured it was really easy to find, and it's not caffeinated,
which can be useful if you really have to sleep as soon as you'll get back
to the hotel at midnight, and have to be out of the hotel by 5:30am. I was
wrong -- there are lots of parts of the States where Clearly
Canadian is impossible to find, and there were indomitable booksellers
who worked miracles, or were broken hearted because they hadn't managed to
work miracles, to get me some sugary fizzy water. I didn't have the heart
to tell them that ginger ale would have been fine. I think on the current
version of the thing that Jack Womack actually did rewrite himself, it just
says something like fizzy water.)
And -- pretty obviously -- the above were guidelines for stores. They are
free to -- and can -- set their own rules about how the signing runs, what
gets signed and so on. If you have any queries, phone the store. If the
person answering the phone doesn't have a clue, ask to talk to someone who
And talking about Stardust, I saw the Harper Perennial edition
today, and it made me very happy. The mass market edition was kind of
unfortunate -- it tried very hard to look like a generic fantasy book,
which it really isn't. The trade paperback edition looks like a fairy tale
for adults -- the cover is a photograph of a wood, with something strange and glittery happening on it. It looks cool. More to the point, it looks appropriate.
posted by Neil Gaiman 12:40 AM
Wednesday, June 06, 2001
Let's see... First things first. The Beverly Hills Library just realised they'd double booked the evening of the 29th. So:
Due to scheduling conflicts at the Beverly Hills Library, the second of Neil Gaiman's two Los
Angeles-area events will be taking place at the originally-announced venue:
Friday, June 29, 2001 7:00 PM (PDT)
8818 Sunset Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90036
Also the Canadian signings at the bottom of the tour page are in Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria respectively.
And http://www.americangods.com/excerpt.html now has a real excerpt, with italics and everything.
The whole of Snow Glass Apples is now up at scifi.com -- http://www.scifi.com/set/playhouse/snowglassapples/ first and second parts...
Over at barnes and noble they've put up some very solid reviews, by Bill Sheehan and Sharon Bosley respectively.
"Like all such extravagant epics, American Gods is -- as Gaiman clearly acknowledges -- a vast, multi-colored metaphor that has much to say about our ongoing need for meaning and belief and about the astonishing creative power of the human imagination. The result is an elegant, important novel that illuminates our world -- and the various worlds that surround it -- with wit, style, and sympathetic intelligence, and stands as one of the benchmark achievements in a distinguished, constantly evolving career."
That's what Bill says. (He wrote a wonderful book about the fiction of Peter Straub, by the way.)
posted by Neil Gaiman 9:57 PM
Tuesday, June 05, 2001
Dropped out, with regret, from the Spanish convention in early August. I figure I'll have been on a pretty gruelling signing tour through three countries from June 17th to July 25th, with only a couple of days off, for a total of about 17 plane journeys including a transatlantic run to England and back; and that the last thing I needed immediately following that was a coach class flight to Spain, even for a con that sounds very relaxing and delightful.
So an apology to any Spanish people who were looking forward to getting things signed. Maybe next year.
posted by Neil Gaiman 11:26 PM
So I spent today, as I will spend tomorrow, working on writing a circus. Something I've always wanted to do, which is why I'm currently writing it. (The young lady who runs the circus in question spent a year or so not taking no for an answer from me, and her persistance seems to have paid off. I spent most of today saying things to her like "Can you do this...?" and "What about this...?" and at one point phoning an expert and getting a hasty lecture on the fluorescent qualities of laser beams for something I started wondering about.)
Seeing I plugged a lot of other people's stuff yesterday, I thought I'd point out that The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish makes a really cool Fathers Day present. (Yay! to Amazon.com for featuring it on their kids page.)
And yay! to Morrow for getting out the American Gods newsletter.
Incidentally, if you've received the newsletter with the extract from American Gods in it, I should point out that in that extract, in the phrase "the titter skin-crawling horror" the word "titter" should be "utter", and for that matter that the sentence "He practiced coin tricks from a book lie found in the wasteland of the prison library; and lie worked out;" reads better if you replace the word "lie" with the word "he".
(I hope when they put up the www.americangods.com/excerpt page that they'll put it up from a clean text.)
More reviews today -- an enthusiastic one from the Barnes and Noble Explorations magazine, a nice mention from the NY Post, and one from Booklist, where the reviewer, who had loved Neverwhere and Stardust, hated it -- the kind of complete and entire hate where the reviewer doesn't even stop to point out the things he liked about the book, if there were any. He just seemed to wish it was another book entirely, a kind of "this is spinach and I don't like spinach" review: I think Coraline (which comes out next May) will be to his taste.
Also brought home several boxes of books, notebooks and such from the office, to compile a sort of core of references I used writing American Gods for NeilGaiman.com. It'll be incomplete, but a good place to start. (The single most useful reference work was probably A Dictionary of Northern Mythology, by Rudolf Simek.)
And I copy-edited a poster of my poem INSTRUCTIONS with art by Brian and Wendy Froud, which will be coming out this summer in a signed, limited edition, as a benefit for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. I think it's going to be popular, on the basis that my assistant and my daughter have both extracted a promise from me that they can get one when they come out, from the proof knocking around the office.
(if it's sucessful, we might do a poem I wrote for my goddaughter, as a benefit for RAINN...)
Ah, the Chapter One excerpt is up at www.americangods.com/excerpt.html (they left off the html on the newsletter). It's kind of odd -- all the italics have fallen out as well. I'll see if we can get a cleaner copy up...
posted by Neil Gaiman 10:55 PM
Monday, June 04, 2001
This morning brought the new Locus magazine, which is not the same as the online Locus, and had two reviews of American Gods, one by Gary Wolfe, which I enjoyed -- lot of very interesting points -- and one by Jonathan Strahan, which was pretty solid. Both were very positive.
I'm still very tempted to review the reviews, though.
The Writers Write website also has a review up, at
My comment on hoping that they didn't dig out and print all the stuff Douglas Adams didn't want published while he was alive seems to have been an unfortunate foreshadowing of events to come. See this slashdot article and its referent.
I went browsing through my hard disk and found the last will I wrote -- which reminded me that I really need to write another will that reflects things like the country I currently live in and how many kids I have -- and checked what I'd written a decade ago on the subject of unfinished stuff etc.
At some point I'll need to figure out exactly what I want done with fragments, juvenilia, unpublished stuff, and so forth (when I do I'll codicil or amend this will). In the meantime on my death all computer back up tapes, disks, and hard disks are to be placed in a bank vault, along with any personal papers, letters, poems, and so forth; they aren't to be released for at least 50 years following my death, by which time I trust I'll be decently forgotten anyway. Anything recently completed should by assessed by my literary executors on its merits.
Which is more or less how I feel ten years on. Although I do need to get my finger out on assembling the material for Dreamhaven's "B-Sides and Rarities" book and the poetry collection. (Really, all I need is a week. Just a quiet week with nothing else to do. Maybe four days...?)
Still listening to American Gods the audio version. It's really good -- George Guidal manages an awesome array of voices, and is a magnificent reader. (I wish I could say that I''ve been listening with unmixed pride, but in fact a couple of times now I've pulled out a copy of the book and checked that a sentence was in fact that badly written, and have marked it to be fixed for the next edition.)
posted by Neil Gaiman 11:36 PM
Sunday, June 03, 2001
There's an e-mail interview about American Gods on the Barnes and Noble site here.
posted by Neil Gaiman 5:17 PM
Spoke to my friend Kelli Bickman about her book, What I thought I Saw. Kelli is an artist and a photographer. Currently she's the MTV featured artist for Spring/Summer 2001 -- you can read about her and see her art here and her paintings here (click on the little lightbulbs to move around) -- and some of her editorial/illustration work for magazines at here.
What I thought I Saw is a book of photos she took in London in 1996, on location of Neverwhere, the TV series, and of people behind the scenes, and in New York. Mostly people buy it because I wrote the introduction and it's got Neverwhere in it, then write to Kelli asking when her next book of art/photos is coming out, completely forgetting about me, as she's good.
She's moving out of New York soon. What I thought I Saw is almost sold out. Kelli has several boxes filled with copies though, and is very keen to get rid of them (as all her life's possessions have to be loaded onto a truck soon and driven thousands of miles) and wanted to know if I had any brilliant ideas. I'll try and come up with something. In the meantime I thought I'd put something up here with some links telling people to order copies.
I should probably warn you that there's some nudity in there. (But, as DreamHaven gleefully pointed out when they solicited it, not of me.)
Kelli's mum, the redoubtable Connie Bickman, has a new book out. Connie's a photojournalist, and the book is called Tribe of Women. Gorgeous photos of women around the world, wonderful text.
And while I'm plugging stuff, let me point out that you should buy Eddie Campbell's ALEC: HOW TO BE AN ARTIST. You need this book very badly. Go and look at Eddie's website...
posted by Neil Gaiman 5:10 PM
Got up this morning in a fine mood and wrote a 2,000 word blogger entry in this here journal. It was long, informative, useful and funny. I even wrote an impromptu essay on how to pronounce "Gaiman". I recommended books. I philosophised. It was one of the great Blogger entries.
I set it to post and publish and walked into the kitchen to grab something to eat. Then, like a character in a bad french farce, my daughter Holly (16 in three weeks) walked in to the office, carefully closed the on-screen window with the journal in it (but none of the other windows) -- before it had even posted, let alone published, the entry I'd just written -- and got offline. Then she wandered off, probably vaguely happy to have done something useful.
I ate, cheerfully, crossed the hall to the office, sat down at the computer, saw what had happened, and started to express my feelings.
"You shouldn't say things like that," said Holly, wandering back. "It sets a bad example."
Then we went and watched Mike graduate from High School. Very proud, even if I find something really weird about the spectacle of 17 year olds in caps and gowns. ("Well, you're English," said My Wife. "It's one of those things they don't have there.")
I'm going to have to repost all the useful stuff. The rest of it is going to have to wait until I have some time...
JUNE 17 MAGNETIC FIELDS
Author NEIL GAIMAN
Reading From His New Book: American Gods
**General admission tickets for both shows have been sold out. You can still purchase standing room only tickets for the shows right before showtime.**
Doors Open 6PM for 7:30 Show/10PM for 10:30 Show All Seats
(Although I probably won't read much from American Gods -- I'll do shorter things, I think.)
posted by Neil Gaiman 2:45 PM
Friday, June 01, 2001
Let's see. In no particular order...
1) Furball the cat is just fine. She turned out to have been asleep under my bed, and will be professionally shaved on Monday. Thank you for asking.
2) The second half of SNOW GLASS APPLES will go up on scifi.com on the 7th of June.
3) Today's mail brought the new paperback edition of Smoke and Mirrors, my short story collection. Which means it will turn up in the shops any time now.
4) Today also brought the audio book of American Gods. I started listening to it, as a quality check, and was swept up into it. George Guidal, who is one of the top people, if not the top person, in the world of audio books, reads it. it's a wonderful little package of about 14 cassettes. (The CD version will be out for the end of the year.) Harper Audio should be pleased with themselves. I'm thrilled... it's unabridged, and it made me very happy. It's not cheap, but I think I'll send some out as Xmas prezzies this year.
Now playing: I Am Kloot's "Natural History". Good band, but I keep thinking of John Clute, the preeminent SF critic, and wondering whether they're fans...
posted by Neil Gaiman 6:53 PM