Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Make me look stupid and win an ARC!

It is true that people love giveaways. Several great nations have been founded on the very concept, with "giveaways" being the number two reason behind national identity behind "What Independence Means to Me" essays.

It is also true that the only thing that people love more than giveaways is making other people depressed. And here, my friends, is an insider secret: no tears are thicker or sweeter than those of authors. They are bottled to make perfume, slathered on like fine oils and if you need a quick burst of energy, just licking them straight off the cheek of an author whose received a bad review, well...there's just nothing like it. I, too, indulge in this practice, having long committed an anonymous, passive-aggressive hatemail campaign against fellow Gollancz author Alex Bell while masquerading under the guise of Jericho Mtumbe, Zimbabwean Mormon attorney.

But enough about my pending lawsuits. The purpose of this blog is to provide you with both a giveaway and an opportunity to make me look dumb, with the arrival of Mr. Sykes' Fantasmagorical Extraoracle Stupidifferic Betting Contest!

You see, just yesterday, I received the final proofs for Tome of the Undergates. Some of you may be familiar with the editing process already, but let me enlighten those of you who aren't.

Step 1: Line editing. This is basically the "meat" of the process, in which the editor who proclaimed to like your book enough to buy it now proceeds to point out how stupid you were when you wrote it. I kid, of course, they don't actually use words as nice as "stupid." Rather, they go line by line and find what works and what doesn't. This is where plot holes are filled, characters are refined, and sweeping changes are made. Frequently, this happens more than once! But when it's done, you go to...

Step 2: Copy editing. This is where a copy-editor, a fine man or woman in the employ of your publisher, goes balls-deep into your writing and starts picking out the sentence fragments, poor word choices, illogical fallacies and just general stupidity. This is also the point where authors and editors both look the most foolish. How foolish, you might ask? As an example: throughout the many, many read-throughs my editor and I did of Tome, neither of us realized that wheel could only spin two ways and it took a copy-editor to catch it. Once they're done with that, though, you reach this part...

Step 3: Final editing. This is basically where it's your last possible chance to change anything at all. This is also when you go the most nuts, because there's a lot to change and you can, usually, only change less than 10% or you wind up having to pay for it.

My friends, it is in this moment, this Final Edit, that Tome of the Undergates finds itself and we find ourselves in a contest of excellent portents.

The Lowdown: We have three (3, III), Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) to give away (bribe) to those interested. The contest is pretty simple, in that it only has one rule.

Guess How Many Mistakes I've Made: You read it correctly! All you have to do is guess how many mistakes I've missed through the editing and, if you're closest to the actual number, you could win one of these fine-ass ARCs!

The Nitty: The book is close to 600 pages long and we can't make more than 10% of an actual change to it, so that would put your odds of finding a mistake at about between 1 and 60? Sounds right, right? So, make your best guess, based on how well you know me or my editor (if you don't know either of us, remember the wheel story).

The Gritty: So, once you've made your guess please send an email (FROM AN ADDRESS YOU CHECK FREQUENTLY; NO THROWAWAY ACCOUNTS, PLEASE) to sam.sykes66@gmail.com with your guess! Corrections are due back by January 13th, so you have until midnight (Arizona time, my time; eff all y'all in other, lamer time zones) on that day to turn in your guess! If you win, we'll send you an email asking for your shipping address and slap it on out to you, personally signed and possibly with an insulting message inside!





  1. Woo! Contest! Can Canadians enter? Should we err on the side of caution/friendliness/sucking up and guess between 1 and 10? :-)

  2. Sure thing! I'm footing the bill for the shipping this round, so it looks like I'll be able to ship pretty much anywhere.

    Only one guess so far, people! Let's make it interesting, at least!

  3. Hey dude, if you want me to spread the word to my friends, let me know. I know some heavy readers that are into the fantasy scene.

  4. Aw. I can't just point and laugh while questioning your choice of footwear and possibly your bathing habits? (Y'know, the usual?)


  5. So the villainouse Mr Mtumbe was really YOU all along! Well, the joke is on you, my friend, because I have, myself, been indulging in a secret smear campaign of hate using my Japanese business man alter ego, Hideki Sushi. And I should warn you that my petty spite towards fellow authors of the successful ilk knows no bounds.