Humble eBook Bundle 2 has been in development since our first eBook bundle, almost one year ago, and we are very pleased to have brought together such a diverse and accomplished lineup. Yesterday’s Humble eBook Bundle AMA Part 1 featured Cory Doctorow, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Peter S. Beagle.

In attendance today:

  • cmpriest - Cherie Priest, author of twelve novels, including the steampunk pulp adventures Dreadnought and Boneshaker.
  • RobertCWilson - Robert Charles Wilson, author of the Hugo award winner Spin and the upcoming novel Burning Paradise. Machines of Death Team
  • qwantz - Ryan North, editor of Machine of Death, creator of Dinosaur Comics.
  • wondermark - David Malki, editor of Machine of Death, writer of the comic Wondermark.
  • thekitastrophe - Kit Yona, author of the story Fudge, in Machine of Death.
  • TwentySevenLetters - Alexander Danner, author of comics and fiction, including the graphic novel Gingerbread Houses.
  • jameslsutter - James L Sutter, author of short fiction and the novel Death’s Heretic.
  • Pentadact - Tom Francis, creator of the game Gunpoint that went so well he was able to quit his job!
  • alteredbeef - James Foreman, author and blogger.
  • shaenon - Shaenon K. Garrity, creator of the daily webstrips “Narbonic” and “Skin Horse.”
  • ampersandpaper - Erin McKean, lexicographer and founder of
  • kludgekml - Keith Lawrence, author of the story Despair, in Machine of Death.


Comments: 275 • Responses: 132  • Date: 

flikx7 karma

For Ryan and David and the Machine of Death team: Would you rather receive a paper from a MoD that says "one horse-sized duck", or "100 duck-sized horses"?

qwantz18 karma

Either way it results in death, so the only question is, which would be more pleasant? And I feel like duck-sized horses are adorable, so that's how I'm going out.

Pentadact10 karma

Horse sized duck - quicker.

qwantz9 karma

Tom I want to ask you a question about your awesome game Gunpoint! I love Gunpoint and here is my question about Gunpoint: when will there be a sequel to Gunpoint, and when you do a sequel to Gunpoint and maybe want someone to do some writing for it I THINK I KNOW A GUY

jameslsutter8 karma

I'm with Ryan--a thousand duck-sized horses would make my wife squee with delight as they delicately trampled me to death, which I feel would help her cope with the loss.

qwantz6 karma

James I think we just made a death pact

jameslsutter3 karma


thekitastrophe7 karma

So . . . many . . . tiny . . . hooves . . .

wondermark6 karma

100 of anything duck-sized is an awful lot of animal. I feel like that will be a more spectacular event when it happens. If I gotta die, I want to at least get on the news.

kludgekml4 karma

Your question rephrased: 1 of these: versus a herd of these:

The tiny horses are cute, but who doesn't want to see a big duck?

ronroninabox7 karma

Hey Ryan, if someone really really hurt your feelings, would you call yourself CRYIN' NORTH?

Also, if there's a T-rex squishable and a Utahraptor squishable, will there be a Dromiceiomimus squishable?

And I guess to stay on topic: most preferred death? cryin'?

qwantz14 karma

Question is impossible to answer as you presume a universe in which I do NOT introduce myself to everyone as Cryin' North

garybphillips7 karma

Cherie: Can you tease us with one of your favorite lines from your upcoming novel, Maplecroft? :)

Edit: I met you at Phoenix Comicon (the weird bearded fellow with the daughter that had "fangs"). Just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to speak with and encourage me.

cmpriest7 karma

She told me then, in that narrow window between fright and madness, “We’re done for, you know. Whatever happens now, we won’t be saved.” Then she backed away, nearly tripping over the top porch stair but catching herself at the last moment.

And it was very nice to meet you both!

sixthsmith6 karma

Thanks for doing this!

Hey Ryan! I've been a big fan of Dinosaur Comics for years. Do you envision an endpoint to the strip or have a closing arc planned out? Is there a long term plan? (please keep it going as long as possible)

Ryan and Malki: Any advice for developing a sustainable comic premise/concept?

Looking forward to the MoD sequel!

qwantz10 karma

DC recently turned 10 years old so OF COURSE I thought about how it was to end! But I didn't want to end it. And I still don't. I wrote out some "last comics ever" a few years back to see what they'd be like and I hated them all the next day, so now I don't know how it'd end. There is, and never was, a long-term plan!

In terms of premise: I think something flexible is what you want, because then you're not trapped. If you have a cast of characters, you can follow different ones as time goes on. Achewood's a great example of this with the growing focus on the cats, and QC's another good one too. It can help you from feeling trapped with a work.

sixthsmith3 karma

Thanks! At the 10 year mark I was nervous of a Watterson-esque exit.

I've got another if you don't mind*: How do you think your self-imposed constraints have impacted your ability to express everything you want with the strip? Do you ever feel compelled to significantly change (beyond party hats and batman) or add/remove panels?

*it exists even if you do, but pleasantries, etc.

qwantz3 karma

For a while I would try to cram them in, but now the advantage of doing things like the Adventure Time comic mean that ideas that wouldn't fit in the DC layout can still find expression!

I wouldn't want to change the layout. One, because it's amazingly flexible almost by pure chance, and two, because then there'd be two groups of DCs: "before" and "after" and I'd have to do 10 years of "after" before it became the new normal! That's a lot of comics to commit to in one go; I much prefer the "one new comic a day" technique I have now.

wondermark5 karma

I think everyone who's been doing comics for a long time finds that the thing they end up doing tends to evolve and change over time, as they discover what they like most about it! And I have known people who try so hard to develop something airtight at the outset that it just sucks all the energy out of it. It's a cliché, but I would recommend to just explore the ideas that interest you personally, and don't let that be hemmed in by arbitrary rules you erect around yourself!

"the personal is general" - ironically, when you try to do something that you think everybody will like, it's toothless. When you do something that speaks to a wildly specific point of view, it's much more interesting to read.

libraloco5 karma

@cmpriest: Do you have any plans to return to The Engines of Wrath or Heavy Lifting after your current slate of work? I think The Heavy would make a great series, and The Engines of Wrath always sounded awesome to me. :)

cmpriest3 karma

Actually, I've retooled the EoW a little - it's now a project called GODBOTHERING, and it's out with an editor or two at the moment. There's a non-zero chance (but nothing definite, let me be clear) that you'll hear about that one within the next few weeks.

As for the Heavy stories ... I have one coming up in the GRRM/Dozois anthology ROGUES, slated for later this year (I think?) called "Heavy Metal" (a little wokka wokka, but it's set at an abandoned copper mine, so ...), but otherwise, at this time, that franchise has to stay on the back burner. I have three books to write this year (and one in production for fall), and there are only so many hours in the day. That said, I still have a proposal for HEAVY ROTATION and a bunch of sample content sitting around, so it isn't dead by any means ... just biding its time.

libraloco5 karma

@cmpriest: Will the second novel in your two-book deal with Roc be a sequel to MAPLECROFT or a stand-alone?

cmpriest5 karma

Well ... let's see. I have some loose ideas for a direct sequel, but lately I've been hijacked by a much stronger idea for a book that is thematically/structurally/historically related, and I'm hoping to convince my editor to let me do that one, instead. We're planning to get together for drinks and business at DragonCon, so perhaps we'll work it out then.

queenofthedamnbirds5 karma

Cherie: I've got two questions for you. First, how much of the Clockwork Century did you have in mind when you started writing it? It's such a fully fleshed world in terms of locations, structures, details and people. I'm always impressed at how consistent things are -the mental maps given for Seattle Underground, for instance.

Second, did you meet with a lot of resistance in Boneshaker? It's got so many things that would seem to be a strike against -older female lead, no conventional love story or romance, it's got a lot of genres -steampunk obvs, but also zombie, urban dystopia, even a bit of a western feel at points. When my boyfriend got it and described it to me, I honestly did not expect to like it, even after his rave reviews.

And thank you so much to everyone in this AMA -I can't wait to get home and pick up the bundles! :)

cmpriest5 karma

1 - Not much, to be honest. I had this half-assed idea that if the Civil War had gone on longer, the tech would've become more advanced (since nothing spurs innovation quite like warfare) ... but hey, this was all set in Seattle, which let's be real: Not a lot of Civil War action. I didn't really sit down to flesh everything out until Dreadnought - and then, well. I'm from the southeast, where alternate theories of the Late Unpleasantness are kind of a regional pastime. I had a lot to draw from.

Bonus: You'll note there's no reference to the Republic of Texas in Boneshaker. Purely because it hadn't occurred to me yet.

2 - Most of the resistance Boneshaker received had to do with my "terrible historical accuracy." People still sometimes send me mail about how the Pike Place Market wasn't there in 1880, nor was the Smith Tower, etc. etc. etc. And I mean, I know. The book even has an afterward about it. I will never understand how people can read right past poison gas and zombie infestation ... and then get derailed by a little fudged geography.

queenofthedamnbirds4 karma

I'd love to say that it shocks me that people would complain about the historical accuracy of a book with freaking zombies and inexplicable poison gas, but well ... the part of me that has worked in customer service just goes "duh. of course they would"

But in terms of resistance, I meant more from a publication side of things -my apologies for not being specific enough. Did publishers think it would fail, or want a lot of changes?

(ps, I can't even begin to tell you how OMG OMG OMG SHE TALKED TO ME I feel right now, thank you for the reply!)

cmpriest5 karma

Aw, thank YOU for participating :)

As far as publishing goes ... no, no pushback at all, really. It's kind of a long story, but to try to sum up: I was under a multi-book contract with Tor, and my last book was supposed to be a vampire noir project. But when my editor read a sample of Boneshaker in progress [I'd been working on it, on the side], she urged me to swap the two - because she liked it better, and felt like the timing was good.

She really busted her ass to give it the best chance possible, and she did a wonderful job - likewise, the art department with the fabulous Jon Foster cover, and the interior people who added the maps and all the cool little details. From start to finish, the company really stood behind that one, and I remain forever grateful.

SalsaRice5 karma

Just saying hi Cherie. I've been slowing working through the steam punk series and loving it.

cmpriest2 karma

Hello! And thank you!

Mitchell_Hundred4 karma

I loved the illustrations that preceded each story in the Machine of Death anthology. Were the pairings random, or did you read a story and think "Jess Fink's (or whoever's) artwork would be a good complement to this?"

wondermark4 karma

Adding illustrations to the book at all was actually a suggestion from one of the agents we originally shared the manuscript with. At first we just had the set of stories, and our pitch was something along the lines of "We're in webcomics, so there are people who visit our sites, and hopefully that will make people want the book." Since these days in publishing it's all about your 'platform', or how popular you are going in.

One agent who liked the manuscript said "Wait, so the pitch is that you're in webcomics, but there's no art of any kind in here? That seems like a missed opportunity." So we thought about it and realized, hey, yeah, that would be pretty cool! Since we already had the stories, we figured we could commission illustrations from people we knew, and thus make the book even cooler.

At first I compiled a list of story synopses and sent it to a handful of artists. They could then choose which stories sounded interesting, I'd send the text of those over, and the artist could choose which one they preferred to illustrate. I'd say about half the stories were assigned that way.

Then, as I began to check off all the artists I knew personally, I looked at the list to see which stories were still unassigned, and tried to think of an artist whose style might go well with that particular story. I'd write to them and in some cases say "We have X story or Y story available, let me know if either interests you; or, there are others", and as the list of stories remaining got shorter, that became simply "I have this story, would you be interested?"

In truth it was a pretty time-consuming process! For the second book, using what I learned, I just set down a list of artists I wanted to work with, then tried to match them with stories at the outset. For stories I couldn't match right away, I'd ask for recommendations from friends of other artists they knew, and try to see if any of the stories we had left would fit their style. There's artists I'd like to work with that I just didn't feel like I had a fitting piece for, in the second book especially. But I'm really pleased with all the art we ended up with in both books!

alteredbeef2 karma

I'd like to know the answer to this, too! I was lucky to get paired with Ramon Perez, whose interpretation of the story was amazing.

Also, I now get to say that my work was illustrated by EISNER AWARD WINNER RAMON PEREZ.

thekitastrophe2 karma

Yeah, I have no idea either. When we saw the proofs and I realized I had Vera as my illustrator I may have swooned a bit. 'Return to Sender,' for fook's sake.

Pentadact2 karma

I don't know how they were chosen, but I didn't see the illustration for my story until it came out. It's a nice surprise, discovering someone else's specific vision of something that was only in your head until then.

TwentySevenLetters2 karma

Same here--I was a a comics show when I ran into David, and he had a stack of the illustrations with him that he was delightedly showing to any of the contributors who happened by, and that's when I found out I'd been paired with Dorothy Gambrell--so awesome!

epeen3 karma

Cherie: In the early-mid naughts, I interacted with you/wicked_wish occasionally on LJ. You had only recently published 4&20BB and were still trying to make a name for yourself. I remember you sharing your rejection letters as well (something about being a wanna-be JK Rowling?). We unfriended after some argument I forget about and I stopped using LJ. Years later, I walk into Powells and am surprised by a cap of your books, including one that was nominated for a Hugo(!). I see one of my co-workers reading you and she tells me she's a huge fan. I just wanted to say congratulations to you. I know how much work and energy you put into this and it's great to see it finally paying off.

If anyone's curious, it looks like she still maintains her LJ, which is here.

cmpriest2 karma

Hmm... well, let's see - that book came out (initially, with a micropress) while the journal was still "fourandtwenty" (very creative of me, yes, I know - alas) ... and I deleted that one in 2002. "wicked_wish" was the new one, undertaken in hopes of a fresh start; several years later, I changed it to the handle I'm using here (cmpriest). These days, I only use it to mirror content from my main website - - and to keep up with the small handful of people who still update over there.

Anyway, I'm going down a rabbit hole...

And I'm sorry about the falling out; those were my early years on the internet, and my digital manners weren't always the finest, I regret to admit. Thanks for the congratulatory message, of course - and best wishes to you, as well.

epeen2 karma

were my early years on the internet, and my digital manners weren't always the finest, I regret to admit

Nope, you were fine; pretty sure it was me. If you're still here, I'll tack on a question too since it's an AMA... Do you miss the PNW at all since moving back to TN? Do you see yourself coming back?

cmpriest2 karma

The PNW was very kind to me, but it's not home. I found the weather difficult (to put it mildly) ... I just need more sun in my life, and a little less crowding. In Seattle, I always felt like I was being squished on all sides by people, all the time. I do better in a smaller city, I think - for the sake of my own mental health.

If it were just me, I'd probably go back to the Gulf Coast of Florida, but my husband basically hates Florida ... and so TN is the compromise. He's from here, and I lived here a long time before that 6-year interlude in Seattle.

I really love it here, not gonna lie. Bought a lovely house, have a fenced yard and a fluffy dog to go with the fluffy cat, and my very own office. So while I do enjoy visiting Seattle when I get the chance - and I still have a number of ties there - I don't see myself relocating back.

kultakala3 karma

Cherie, is there a place you've visited that you haven't incorporated into a story, yet, but plan/hope to?

cmpriest5 karma

Oh, I'm always discovering fun new places ... and I very often work them in, but I don't have anything new on deck right this moment, I don't think. I'm sure that'll change soon.

(Most recently, I drove a couple hours east to Ducktown, to see the site of the old Burra Burra copper mines. It was fascinating, and I worked it into a short story that'll be coming out in the ROGUES anthology later this year. I think.)

jameslsutter3 karma

Hey MOD authors! If folks liked your stories, where can they find more of your work? What else have you done?

(Cherie and Robert--I figure everyone probably knows how to find you two, but feel free to chime in!)

thekitastrophe3 karma

I am in the esteemed Matthew Bennardo's One Sentence Story anthology found here and have a story coming out in a future issue of Stupefying Stories. I also have an incredible pile of rejection slips to peruse through although I wasn't as clever as Alexander to have one delivered during this. :) I try to keep updated at

TwentySevenLetters2 karma

Well, for more fiction, you can find my story "The Woman Who Could Smell the Future" in issue 70 of the audio literary magazine Bound Off. (

I also write comics, most of which can be found at, though my most recent work, a series of short pieces using formal structures (think Comics Poetry) can be found at The artist on "Two for No" is the wonderful Xeric-Award-winner, Tymothi Godek, whom I've wanted to work with for years.

And I also have a textbook, "Comics: A Modern History of a Global Art Form" forthcoming from Thames & Hudson next year, co-written with Dan Mazur.

And I collected a brand new rejection slip for one of my short stories LIVE in the course of this AMA!

kludgekml2 karma

"The Freedom" is at the Strange Horizons site: (

Less useful, but perhaps of passing interest to _Kalchio_, who asked the question about their "friend" who was too shy to show their writing to anyone, No Bits Per Second ( is where I put most of the writing I do every day to keep my hand in, and is therefore essentially the raw feed of my imagination. It's there because I have a lot of output that's not story-ish but I figure: "well, there's 7 billion humans and the cost is zero, so if one other person reads it..."

Pentadact2 karma

My second short story is also online, and also a Machine of Death one: it's in the big free sampler for the next collection, This Is How You Die:

The other fictiony thing I've done lately is a short sixties heist/caper movie script, based on some amazing concept art by Disney Animator James Lopez:

Lastly, here's the trailer and free demo of Gunpoint, the creative infiltration game I made recently:

Between missions it gives you dialogue options like an adventure game - here's a screenshot of what I mean by that:

jameslsutter1 karma

I write both fiction and game products, and my day job is actually being the Senior Editor and co-creator of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. (I am very lucky.)

My first novel, Death's Heretic, is a planes-hopping noir piece about an atheist forced to work for the goddess of death--kind of a Blade Runner meets Dante's Inferno thing. You can find it here.

I've also done a bunch of short fiction--if you go to and click on short fiction, there are a bunch of links to various stories available for free at online journals and podcasts, including "Beheaded by Peasants," a story inspired by Machine of Death!

TraviTheRabbi3 karma

No questions here. I just wanted to say that:

  • The Machine of Death was INCREDIBLE.
  • I will be purchasing Humble eBook Bundle 2.
  • This bullet has been modified to say that I will be purchasing TMOD2.
  • I found a coupon for buy three bullets, get one free.
  • Five is right out.

qwantz3 karma

Hey thanks!! I like points 1 and 2 quite a bit, and even have some room in my heart for point 3.

Pentadact3 karma

You only get point three if you beat the average Like amount for the others.

qwantz1 karma


thekitastrophe3 karma

thanks! And bullet three could be that you're going to buy the sequel THIS IS HOW YOU DIE

TraviTheRabbi1 karma

I'd like to buy an additional bullet, please.

thekitastrophe1 karma

What did your Machine of Death slip say? If it was 'RELOADING' you might want to request something else

[deleted]1 karma


TraviTheRabbi1 karma

As a MOD fan, I think that is an outstanding suggestion.

keepingthecommontone2 karma

And as someone who felt stupid after seeing that Kit posted the same suggestion five minutes earlier, and who then went back and deleted his comment thinking no one had seen it yet, I feel doubly stupid. But happy to know you'll be reading my story soon!

wondermark1 karma

Wait, are you one of our TIHYD authors? Could it be??

jameslsutter1 karma

Thanks! And if two bullets isn't enough, you might want to work on your aim--them zombies ain't just gonna sit there all day...

ednemo132 karma

Another quick question. Will we be seeing another book in the Cheshire Red series in the near future? It is the only vampire book that I like.

cmpriest2 karma

Thanks - and I wish I had a better answer for you, but right now there are no plans for any further Cheshire books. They just didn't sell well enough to warrant continuing, so far as the publisher was concerned; but then again, they were recently released in the UK, so if they knock it out of the park over there, well, anything's possible.

I'm more than willing to write more, and I'm even willing to write more in my spare time - maybe even self-produce a novella as an ebook or something ... but right now there's no such thing as spare time, so it'll have to wait. My apologies.

kieslowski2 karma

Machine of Death folks: Do you have any plans to produce an actual machine of death? I'd like to ask it a question.

benhayman2 karma


qwantz8 karma

As long as the ladies can still call me "Vitamin R", I'm down

benhayman2 karma


qwantz3 karma

Then we have an accord.

nickelundertone2 karma

Have any of you written, or been asked to write a narrative for a video game, or have any ideas for games?

cmpriest3 karma

I spent about 10 months working for EA, doing script work for a big game. Probably the less that's said about that experience, the better.

It's a pity, really - I believe (sincerely, mind you) that video games are the storytelling medium of our time, and of course I've got ideas for one or two, here or there. But now I've crossed "working on a video game" off my bucket list, and I can't see myself restoring it anytime soon.

TwentySevenLetters3 karma

That sounds like a disappointing, but not terribly surprising experience. I'd love to have a hand in writing a video game, but the friends of mine who've worked in the video game industry have never had very encouraging things to say about it.

That said, if the opportunity came, I'd certainly consider it, especially if it was from a reputable indie company.

cmpriest3 karma

Oh, I jumped at the opportunity.

And then I jumped as far away from the project as I could get. It really was a mess; frankly, I don't know how anything ever gets produced over there. Sheer magic, I suppose.

Pentadact4 karma

If you're still passionate about it in theory, you might consider trying something of your own with a small team. It's got much easier, much cheaper and much faster to make many kinds of games in the last decade, to the point where there's just no reason to struggle against creative restraints put on you by the clunkiness of a big corporation or team.

I made my game in my spare time, with a tool that cost $30, found amazing artists and musicians online, and it's done well enough that I'm completely independent now.

cmpriest2 karma

Oh, I'm still passionate about it - but I'm also lazy as hell and don't want to do all the work myself. Perhaps somewhat contradictorily ... I have 3 books to write this year, in addition to production on another one coming out this fall. I just don't have the time.

My innate laziness is always colliding with my ambition, I swear.

qwantz2 karma

I've never written a narrative for a game that's been produced, but I've done dialogue for one coming out soon, which was a fun experience! It was a puzzle game of "here is the situation, here's the gist of what we want them to say, now make it funny".

Pentadact2 karma

I was asked by Tom Francis to write the story for his game Gunpoint. He was a delight to work with.

The great thing about writing interactive narrative is that you get to describe a character from all sides. Not just "What should this character do?" but "What should this character do IF..."

Having to account for the player's actions, and respond to them differently, gives you a way to flesh out a character in a way a linear book never can. It's a real shame most games make their narrative completely non-interactive.

Ryan has written a choose-your-own-adventure style version of Hamlet, which I consider to be a game, and also consider to be awesome.

ednemo132 karma

Cherie, Thanks for doing this AMA! My wife met you when you visited Richmond, VA and got you to sign her HC copy of Clementine. (Awesome!) Any chance we will see Richmond appear again in any future books? Edit: Added the author's name to avoid confusion.

cmpriest3 karma

Hey, thanks for coming out to my event! And to answer your question, Richmond turns up in this fall's FIDDLEHEAD, when our heroes find their way back to Captain Sally's hospital. Shenanigans ensue, I promise.

CaptLaGrange2 karma

Cherie: Did you know I've had a crush on you since we met at Dragon*Con. ;)

cmpriest5 karma

Oh, I bet I know who this is :)

If so, I am terrifically flattered - but of course, am quite thoroughly taken. Still, I want you to know (assuming I'm correct about your identity) that I've kept one eye on what's happening with you these last few years, and it has made me sad, because I very much want you to be happy. You are a lovely soul, and you deserve to be happy.

You know what? Even if I'm wrong about who posted this, that is probably true anyway. Best wishes to you, all around.

Rock-Paper-Cynic2 karma

To the MOD crew: How do you think MOD would've been different if you'd had to work within the restrictions of traditional publishing/marketing when first getting things off the ground?

Also: Ryan, David, I'm a huge fan of your stuff!

jameslsutter3 karma

Honestly, I think the book wouldn't have been quite as much of a sensation, simply because people expect books from big publishers to succeed. Maybe my view is skewed from working within traditional publishing, but from my end, half of the media storm that arose around MOD wasn't really about the book's content, but about the fact that these dudes were doing it all on their own and winning. For a lot of people, MOD has become something you can hold up as proof of the power of self-publishing and audience mobilization.

qwantz2 karma

Probably a lot worse? We added pictures to the book after one publisher said "Hey, this would be an easier sell with pictures" and we said "That's a great idea!", commissioned them, and then the publisher was like "Hah hah rad but it's still not anything we're gonna touch" - so the book is objectively better because we got turned down for years and years.

wondermark2 karma

And yeah, we followed that rabbit trail of publishing as far as we could! I believe ultimately four different agents considered the book, and two of them actually tried to sell it to at least eight different publishers. We exhausted every opportunity we could, but by the time we had, we looked around and realized "Hey, the tools now exist for us to just do this ourselves."

kludgekml2 karma

Am I right in thinking that Matt deserves a lot of the props for this process by being the figurative Britain in the long battle to get MoD published, keeping the process going until the technology became available to nuke the traditional publishers? (I may be confused as to how publishing works).

redfoot802 karma

All: Thanks for doing the AMA! I am eagerly awaiting my "BOXED IN" version of the game and will happily show it off at my local game store.

I have a few questions:

David - I love the style of the Wondermark strips in "Beards of our Forefathers" that came with my pledge for Machine of Death: TGCA. How much of your style originated out of Terry Gilliam's work? Have you considered or been approached to take your style and make full animations either on a episodic or short (tied to another live action sketch show or web short) basis?

Cherie - If you could pick one of your works to highlight and suggest for a new potential reader, which would it be?

Robert - Several of your works have been nominated for or have won awards. Which is your favorite and which would you most like to seen made into a feature film?

Others - Was the success you have seen from MOD expected when you joined the team? How has that success spilled over into your other projects (increased traffic, more sales, etc)?

Oh, and for anyone...if the Machine of Death existed, would you use it? Would using it change your life (would you go all "Torn Apart and Devoured by Lions" crazy?)

jameslsutter5 karma

At least for me, the MOD success was totally unexpected! In fact, for a long time, it seemed like it might not come out at all--I think it was something like three years between the time the story was submitted/accepted and when the book actually came out. As a contributor, that sort of lag time with an anthology usually means the project is dead. Thankfully, that wasn't true this time!

When David/Ryan/Matt announced their plan to make the book a #1 Amazon bestseller, I was excited, but when it worked... well, I was at a science fiction and fantasy publishing industry conference when it happened (I work as one of the main creators for the Pathfinder RPG), and it seemed like everybody around me was talking about it. Here was this totally independent anthology that had come out of nowhere and taken the #1 spot through grass-roots organization--people were fascinated! (And of course, having Glenn Beck go off on us publicly for knocking him out of the top slot was pretty awesome as well.)

In terms of the success spilling over into other projects... it's really hard to tell, especially because I had only published short stories up until that point. I know I've definitely heard from people who've bought my novel (Death's Heretic) because they liked my MOD story, and vice versa. And being able to put #1 Amazon Bestseller on your resume certainly makes people take notice when you're trying to get work for hire.

Really, though, I think the biggest ramification of MOD for me has been social! I've always been a webcomics fan, but even though I work in the gaming/publishing industry, I didn't really get to interact with the comics crowd much. Getting to know David, Matt, and Ryan has been really cool--they really are just as nice as they seem on the internet--and through them I've also made a bunch of other awesome comics friends that I never would have met otherwise!

cmpriest5 karma

Honestly, it depends on the reader. BONESHAKER is the best known book, and it marks the start of the steampunk series ... but I've also written urban fantasies, southern gothics, and straightforward horror. So pick your poison, really.

wondermark4 karma

Terry Gilliam is a really flattering comparison that I don't think I'll ever win! Wondermark wasn't directly inspired by Gilliam, though of course I did see his work as a young'un so it may have been unconscious.

And even in recent years, there have been others who've done straight-up animation using Victorian illustrations, often for music videos -- this one by Dan Hillier strikes me as perhaps the most elaborate example, though there are others. I don't think I personally have the patience or skill set for animation, so I'm happy to leave it to others.

I have, however, done a lot of experiments with a sort of hybrid animation/puppet show type technique that I'm really fond of. Here's maybe most polished. There will likely be more of these in the future!

RobertCWilson3 karma

Hi redfoot -- It's always difficult to pick a favorite book (an act commonly compared to picking a favorite child). But I do have a soft spot for SPIN and JULIAN COMSTOCK. As for films, both SPIN and THE CHRONOLITHS are currently under option.

qwantz2 karma

I always hope that my projects go well, but I don't think anyone foresaw the success of Machine of Death. That success let us do other projects: most directly, the sequel This Is How You Die, coming out in... four days! :o

thekitastrophe2 karma

Hi, redfoot - I in no way expected MOD to succeed at the level it did, for which a great deal of credit should be given to the editors for all their hard work. It carries a nice bit of cache' and hey, thwarting Glen Beck. That's always a good thing.

redfoot802 karma

Oh hi Kit! You know, I was wondering what happened to Rick after FUDGE...I both love and hate stories that end with teasers like that.

thekitastrophe2 karma

I never thought about that while I was writing it, but you're not the first person to ask me. I'm going to suggest it ended poorly for him and leave it at that.

jameslsutter1 karma

Oh, and I would NEVER use the machine of death. I think I'd go insane pretty much immediately.

kludgekml1 karma

There are already a lot of situations in life where there's a fairly simple test that will tell you with a high degree of certainty (albeit not 100%) how you're going to die, and lots of people prefer not to take those tests even when something could be done about it.

Obviously if the MoD were real I'd be put to the test about this, but I suspect I would be one of those people, preferring to just deny the possibility of death rather than knowing. Difficult call, though.

TwentySevenLetters1 karma

I think one the big difference between current predictive technology and the MoD, is that real science allows for the possibility of doing something about it. You can seek treatment to change your fate.

MoD is not a tool of survival, just an inescapable oracle. So I'd be less tempted by it than by real medical science.

Of course, I say that now as a 37 year old. When I was younger, I'd have been all over knowing my future. Now I'm much more content to wait.

redfoot801 karma

This got me thinking...people are able to get tests and screenings done while their child is in the womb, somewhere around 20 weeks. So play the MoD technology forward and the same test emerges for your unborn infant.

I wonder if a birth mother would consider bringing a child into the world if they knew its fate. Would it change the child's rearing (think how Sarah Connor raised John Connor in between Terminator 1 and 2)?

Dibs on the story, editors.

jameslsutter1 karma

That's actually pretty much the idea beind "MISCARRIAGE," my story from the first MOD.


Pentadact1 karma

I figured MoD had enough famous webcomic people in it to do well, but when I saw the celebrity books debuting that day, I figured topping the Amazon charts was out of the question. I got to watch us beat each one in turn on other people's phones while we were out for celebratory drinks.

My other projects are writing about games for PC Gamer and making the game Gunpoint, so there probably aren't many people who know me from all three. But MoD's success definitely makes it easier to pursue any other literary stuff I want to do.

Thanks for backing the game!

SignZ2 karma

@RobertCWilson: THANK YOU for writing Chronos, it's my favorite book in my shelf. :) I'm a big fan of time travel stories, be it books, movies, games or TV shows. The great thing with books is that you can use your immagination. Anyway, thank you very much for your great books. Reading Spin for the first time now and loving it!

RobertCWilson3 karma

Thanks! I currently have another time-travel novel under contract, though it hasn't been written yet. It's called THE LAST YEAR. Can't say much about it yet, but I think it will be fun to write. Research-intensive, but fun.

cowboyjones922 karma

Hey Ryan,

How long does it take to finish one Adventure Time Comic?

Also, I'm a big fan.

qwantz3 karma

Hey thanks!

I just have to write 'em, so I've got the easy job. The outline usually takes about 2 weeks of off-and-on thinking and writing (you want the story to be awesome), and then each issue takes about two weeks too.

I generally can only write about 5 pages of comics a day until they start to get sucky, and it's nice to have some time off between pages to think about things, and to revisit the pages you've already written with a fresh eye.

FUN FACT: by the time the comics are done I have usually broken from my outline in at least three major ways. The current arc is a great example: it's about Ice King, Finn, and Jake on a dungeon crawl. The outline has Ice King staying behind and never entering a single dungeon, and to that I can only say, hah hah what was I even thinking?

yourperfectsunday2 karma


Your ebooks are amazing. Now if you could, please describe your perfect Sunday.

RobertCWilson2 karma

Not all of us are gentlemen, literally or figuratively... Perfect Sunday? Reading in a sunny spot by a window, writing longhand in a ruled notebook, watching other people go to church.

qwantz2 karma

Brunch with pals, then second brunch with pals.

cmpriest2 karma

A lot of sleep, daytime drinking, and video games.

Pentadact2 karma

This is making me realise I do not brunch enough.

jameslsutter1 karma

Brunch with friends, band practice with Brides of the Lizard God (my new hair metal group), then backyard pizza and cuddle piles.

thekitastrophe1 karma

2500 words before 7am, brisket and chicken in the smoker, games with my kids, and letting my wife have her way with me. Oh, and the Sox beating the Yankees, of course.

shen-an-doah2 karma

Cherie: Any current plans or just a slim possibility that you might visit the UK? And that you might visit somewhere near Leicester? ¬_¬

cmpriest3 karma

I would love to! I have many dear friends in the London area, in particular, but I'm happy to travel around if possible. At present, I have no plans to do so - mostly due to time and money constraints; but if the BONESHAKER movie ever gets made, the husband and I already have plans. (I don't get the big fat check unless things ever move into production, natch.)

We'll take a few weeks and head on over there, making the rounds and saying our hellos ... and if any bookstores are interested in hosting me, well heck - I'll be happy to show up.

andycyca2 karma

To the MOD guys: I just bought a book that is actually available for free in your website, so my sanity is questionable. Do you have any plans for continuing the MOD books or any other "crowdsourced" book? Would you ever write together? Also, thanks a lot for your answers in past AMAs, I love your work!

To all authors: what's your favorite book in the bundle? What non-bundle book would you recommend? Have you or would you participate in NaNoWriMo?

To Ryan: Who are your influences for the visual style in your comic? I just can't pinpoint it.

wondermark6 karma

I feel like this an the appropriate time to mention that there is indeed a second MOD book, and that you can order it right now! It was compiled from submissions that we received in the wake of the first volume.

If it does well, there may be more...WHO KNOWS??

Pentadact3 karma

If the Machine of Death series continues, I will probably always submit something. Writing a story to someone else's concept was an interesting challenge. Writing another story to the same concept that's not like yours or 30 other people's takes on it was an even more interesting challenge.

Carrying on after that would really test your ingenuity.

I did try Nanowrimo and gave up very early on. For a long time I tried to write novels and failed, which made me feel like a big failure who fails. Eventually I discovered, through Machine of Death, that novels just aren't a good format for me. I hate dragging things out, I want to get to the point. Short stories turned out to be perfect for that - I've only written two, really enjoyed the process, took very little time, very happy with the results, and they both got published.

qwantz3 karma

I believe the primary influence in the visual style for my comic is the clip-art package I got the dinosaurs from!

I've never done NaNoWriMo because it seems, like, crazy? Like, I need way more than a month to write a novel. But then people do it and I figure, maybe it's not crazy. Maybe I'M the crazy one?? Then I go lie down and nap for a bit.

thekitastrophe2 karma

Not a fan of NaNoWriMo. A one month deadlineis not going to help people produce their best work.

jameslsutter1 karma

But it will make them produce work, though! To me, that's the whole point of NaNoWriMo--just put words on the page. Too many people never get around to starting.

thekitastrophe2 karma

That's fair. I think the part of me that does editing work colors my opinion.

jameslsutter2 karma

I feel ya there. And I'd agree that nobody should finish NaNoWriMo and say, "It's done! Time to get it published!"

Perhaps we should start "National Polish Your Existing Novel Month." NaPYExNoM.

thekitastrophe2 karma

We are air high-fiving. RIGHT NOW.

andycyca1 karma

I do agree that a one month deadline won't produce the best results, but I see NaNo as the push I need to get a first draft. That said, I think it's best if we agree to disagree.

Thanks for your reply, congratulations!

thekitastrophe2 karma

agreed. My opinion is no more valid than yours, and it could indeed be a great source of inspiration. If you choose to do it I wish you the best of luck and promise to visit your AMA after your success!

alteredbeef2 karma

I think NaNoWriMo is great if you want to participate in a worldwide social event that celebrates fiction writing but it's terrible if you want to write a novel.

I think if you want to write a novel, you should write every day, at your own pace, and try to tell a good story. NaNoWriMo is more about racing to a word count. I've tried it in years past and it wasn't fun for me.

jameslsutter2 karma

Favorite book in the bundle: either XKCD or Cory's Little Brother.

As for a non-bundle book to recommend: Dan Simmons' Hyperion series has some of the best science fiction worldbuilding ever! Seriously, probably the biggest influence on my own writing and game design ever.

I've never done NaNoWriMo, but only because these days I do NaNoWriLife... the process never ends... I think the idea is super-cool, though, especially if it gets folks to set concrete goals and achieve them! That's the hardest part of being a writer.

andycyca1 karma

it gets folks to set concrete goals and achieve them! That's the hardest part of being a writer.

Thank you! For many, NaNo is a bad thing ("it's not about speed, you have to write something actually good") but hearing this from a published author is comforting. Good luck!

jameslsutter1 karma

Thanks! And personally, I've never understood the anti-NaNo folks. It doesn't matter if something is bad or good unless you finish it. Sure, maybe the book will seem rushed, or whatever, but you can go back and revise it. The biggest barrier to most people who want to write a book (myself included, once upon a time) is being overwhelmed--NaNo shows them that it's possible to write a book, which opens all sorts of doors.

kludgekml1 karma

I've done Nano for about a decade now - I think it's generally a positive thing, because although I agree with Kit that a month isn't going to result in people's best work, sometimes it's responsible for their only work.

I did find it used to burn me out, though - I would write things meaning to finish them and then just not writing for the rest of the year, almost. Now I have a deadline of writing 1250 words a day. I increase the daily word count every year by 250, so in three years time Novembers will be quite relaxing for me, since I'll actually have to write less than I would otherwise.

People can always enter and fail, of course. If they don't know any other writers local to them, it's a good way of meeting up (although they might meet mostly the odd ones).

TwentySevenLetters1 karma

You know, despite this bundle including some of my favorite authors, I haven't actually read any of the specific works included, save for xkcd and MoD. So I'm very excited for all of it!

As for NaNoWriMo--I've never tried it, but I'd like to some day. I think the key to doing it and enjoying it is to remember that the goal isn't to complete a finished novel, just a first draft. Sometimes getting a draft down fast is a great thing, so long as you're prepared to spend the next couple of years doing the hard work of revising. Which is a perfectly fine thing to do.

libraloco2 karma

@cmpriest: Are there any plans to release Those Who Went Remain There Still in paperback in the future? If asked, would you return for the next Wild Cards anthology?

cmpriest2 karma

None to my knowledge - though it's available as an ebook and an audiobook, I believe. That one was a limited run, my apologies.

As for the Wild Cards, I'm always happy to participate! I recently wrote a short/novelette(almost) for set in the WC universe - a noir piece about one of the Fort Freak characters. But I think...if I remember correctly...that I won't be in the next WC book. Back when solicitations for that one were going out, I was entirely too snowed under with a cross-country move and the purchase of our first house. So it's really a matter of timing, that's all. There's always next time, eh?

seventhmagpie2 karma

@RobertCWilson - Big fan of Spin, but for a long time ebooks of the sequels were not available in the UK. Even now Amazon UK indexing of them is a mess making them hard for fans to find. What are your thoughts on the way authors manage distribution of their work now and the rerelease of novels as ebooks? Were there difficulties taking part in something like a humblebundle?

RobertCWilson2 karma

I've been embarrassed by how badly some of my earlier books were rendered into digital formats, but I don't have any real control over that. I just keep my fingers crossed. (I have always depended on the kindness of strangers...) I didn't have any problem with participating in the Humble bundle, once it was explained to me.

LovesScience1 karma

What's it like?

jameslsutter5 karma

About two feet long, kind of dry and scaly. Its been in the backpack for a couple of days, but every time I try to get it out, it latches on with this toothy little snout. I... I think it's a dwarf caiman? Or something?

[deleted]1 karma

What has been the largest donation on Humble Bundle you have received? Big fan and proud buyer!

qwantz1 karma

We won't know until the eBook bundle has ended, and that's not for 5 days!

colorcollector1 karma

What are your favorite colors?

jameslsutter2 karma

Really bright green and blue. Unless it's for clothes, and then black.

[deleted]1 karma


TwentySevenLetters2 karma

My personal best trick for getting my work out there has been to jump head first into any project with the names North or Malki ! attached!

No, but seriously, I mean that. Some might call it coattail riding, and that's not unfair. But networking is a very real part of any creative person's life, if you want to find avenues for getting your work seen. And having success in projects with bigger names than your own attached can translate into increased credibility for your own personal projects that you're promoting.

Just make sure that when you go into those projects in collaborative environments, that you bring something worthwhile to the project yourself. It's arguably even more important that you do your hardest work there, to prove your professionalism so you can maintain those relationships.

kludgekml2 karma

Similar, but replace "North or Malki !" with dinosaurs. I've got paid for two published stories, both of them I found out about because of an unhealthy obsession with dinos (Dinosaur Comics for MoD, obviously, and I got published in Strange Horizons which I only knew about because of Leonard Richardson's story "Let Us Now Praise Awesome Dinosaurs".) I rode the feathered coat-tails of dinosaurs.

Seriously, I blame lack of any further success on the dearth of dinosaur-related sci-fi markets.

_Kalchio_1 karma

Hello all!

First off, Ryan -- I just wanted to pop in and thank you for being awesome. A few years ago you wrote a comic about T-Rex getting his Nintendo Wii's memory wiped which incidentally happened the SAME DAY I lost a few years of save data on mine. We e-mailed back and forth and yeah, you're a pretty cool guy. I appreciate that!

Also, I want to thank everyone who works on Machine of Death--it rapidly has become one of my favorite books! I recommend it to friends and they decide I am well-read--you fine people increase my street cred every day! I actually very much liked Kit Yona's "Fudge", so a personal thanks for you. :D

I guess my question for everyone is first off, why are you all so awesome? And secondly, what would you recommend to someone who wants to get into writing, but isn't confident enough in their stories to show anyone what they've been working on? I have a friend who really wants to get into writing for pleasure, but can't bring himself to show anyone what he's written. You can be at least 25% sure this friend is not me speaking about myself.

Edit: I'm also crazy excited for the MOD game when it comes out. :D

wondermark5 karma

Everyone else has offered a lot of really great writing advice so I'll just take the outlier position and say the best way to share your writing is to place it anonymously in newspaper vending machines and then hide in your car waiting to see how people react to it

Pentadact3 karma

My friend Nika is doing a series of vlogs to help new writers find their feet, experiment with forms they might not otherwise try, and see how other people get on with the same challenges. You can follow along and never share what you do, or post it on the forums for constructive feedback in a safe place.

Seeing other people take their tentative first stabs at this stuff might be reassuring and encourage your friend to get confident enough to share, if they want to.

qwantz3 karma

MY ADVICE FOR GETTING INTO WRITING: do it. You've been told "write every day" and also "read every day", which yeah, works, but I'll add another one: "post your writing at least every few days".

Nobody's gonna read it initially. THIS IS TOTALLY FINE. But if you're lucky people will find it and start reading it once it gets good. My first few years of DC are pretty cringe-inducing for me right now, but that's fine! When I was writing them I thought they were great. You get better with practice, and with the internet your practice can also work towards building an audience as you do it.

Not sharing your work with anyone is insane, I think. Put it online! Use a pseudonym if you're gonna be embarrassed, don't search for that psuedonym if you don't want to see feedback. Tada! At the very least you'll have an archive and YOU'LL be able to see how you improved.

thekitastrophe3 karma

Thank you for the kind words! They warm my little black heart. To reiterate what everyone else has said, WRITE WRITE WRITE and GET IT OUT THERE. Use a market search like Duotrope to find places to submit - there are a ton of small contests that are free to enter and some will even provide critique for the top ten entries.

kludgekml3 karma

...or The Submission Grinder, ( ), if the $60/yr cost of Duotrope is outside your budget.

kludgekml2 karma

What everyone else said, but also: don't let your (1/4 friend | 3/4 you) beat (1/4 themselves | 3/4 yourself) up about showing things to people if you're already getting something from writing. It's possible to write for your own purposes just like you can noodle on a guitar when no-one can hear.

I'm not trying to convince anyone not to show their writing to other people, you understand, just saying that there are a lot of things you can get from writing so don't get into too much of a tizzy about one particular aspect of it, even if it's the one aspect everyone else is interested in/talking about. Just like everything else in life.

jameslsutter2 karma

I'm gonna have to dogpile on with everyone else and say there's simply no substitute for sending your stuff out there. You just have to do it. I always tell people not to reject themselves--that's our jobs as editors. And you'll never know if there are editors who might not reject your story until you show it to them!

You have to have a certain amount of hubris to survive in the publishing industry, especially trad publishing. You need to believe that the stories you tell are worth reading, so that other people can believe as well. And there's going to be a LOT of rejection, but that's just part of the process. You really never know--the story I wrote that received the most rejections ("Overclocking") is also the one that's been reprinted the most times! (I was actually almost about to retire it when it sold the first time, because I thought it wasn't very good.)

As authors, we're really bad judges of which work will sell. So the answer is just to do the best you can, hang it all out there, and let folks pick out what they like!

alteredbeef2 karma

My advice would be this: hold your nose and jump in.

You have two options: 1) keep your writing to yourself or 2) send it out

I wasn't confident in the story I sent to MoD, but they picked it anyway.

You're going to be unsure of yourself in the beginning of any new experience. Acknowledge it, embrace it and then move past it.

TwentySevenLetters2 karma

As to authors afraid to show their work, that's a really hard one to answer. For me, and a lot of writers I know, the desire to write is largely about the desire to be in the spotlight and show off. So of course we want to show people our stuff.

But I guess I would suggest starting with a small supportive community of young writers. I've been fortunate to be a part of a number of good creative writing workshops through my schooling, and small writers' groups now. Being around other people who are sharing their work can help, so long as they're largely at your same level of development, so you don't feel overshadowed by them.

jonnoark1 karma

As someone who only recently discovered the Machine of Death, and thought it was a really fantastic book, I feel I must ask if there's a chance that one day submissions will open up again for any possible future book(s) in the series (2+ books make a series, right?). I've got one story I'm in the middle of writing down, and a few others floating around in the back of my head, which I'll probably write regardless of the answer. Then again, I doubt you'll announce anything with the second book only just about to come out, so... sorry if this is too soon, just wanted to ask.

A Question for Everyone: Are there any books in the Humble Bundle that you have not read yet, or didn't even hear of until now, which you plan to read now that the bundle has brought them to your attention (and probably to your eBook library)?

wondermark2 karma

We're really glad that the MOD premise makes you excited to write! That's been one of the coolest things about MOD, the way it's inspired so many people to be creative, which is a net gain for the world. We don't know what'll be next until we see how this second book does, though...we're trying to take it one step at a time!

qwantz1 karma

I've actually read very few of them! So I'm looking forward to sitting down and tearing through ALL the books.

jameslsutter1 karma

I'm always hearing good things about Holly Black, so I figure this is a good time to give her a shot!

mrmaxwellmusic1 karma

This is for Cherie Priest: Does Greyson help more with the editing/ ironing out plot points or do you just keep him around to collate? My dog would like to know how canines can actively help the creative process other than foot warming duties.

cmpriest2 karma

Mostly he hangs around, begging for cheese and tummy rubs. But you know what? Sometimes it's nice to take a cheese and tummy rub break. I find it therapeutic, anyway...

slanguage1 karma

hey ryan, i just want to let you know that all the art you make is super rad. what would you say are your comedic and philisophical influences in your work, childhood or otherwise

qwantz3 karma


PRIME INFLUENCES: Vonnegut, Hedberg (though I came to him super late) and Batman.

alliteratorsalmanac1 karma

@thekitastrophe FUDGE is a cool portrayal of relationship dread, is there some parallel to the dread presented in the story that can be realized in real life?

thekitastrophe3 karma

That's a perceptive question. Most of all I just wanted to tell a story, but I kept coming back to the idea that we as humans have this amazing ability/propensity to screw things up by our own hands. Rick has the person of his dreams and he can't leave well enough alone, and I think those parallels are easy to find in our own relationships. I can look at my own past and find plenty of those instances :)

abritinthebay1 karma

Cherie: As you are, according to Wil Wheaton at W00tstock, the "bestest and nicest person evar" - any chance of a writing collaboration?

(seriously, this just occurred to me and my brain imploded from the squee)

cmpriest5 karma

I am pretty sure that's not possible, since WIL HIMSELF is pretty much the bestest and nicest person ever. TAKE THAT, MR. WHEATON!

As for writing collab ... well, it's never come up - and I won't speak for him, of course, but I am kind of a control nut. I don't write well with others; I don't even do workshops. The only person I ever "collaborated" with was GRRM on Fort Freak, and really that was mostly him telling me what to do - and me doing it, because he is hella-wise and also in charge.

abritinthebay2 karma

When GRRM tells you to do something... YOU DO IT.. else he might kill you off.

cmpriest3 karma


ZServ1 karma

This is probably gonna get passed up, but oh well.

I don't by any means think that your work in any less valuable than anyone elses, but why, in your personal opinions, think that the average amount paid for the Humble Ebook Bundle is more than the average amount you see for the Humble Bundles for games? Would you say readers are more generous than gamers, or that the content is worth more? Or is it possibly the difference in target audience?

kludgekml3 karma

My gut feeling is that readers are more generous than gamers.

But obviously these are not two mutually-exclusive populations, so I suspect a slightly different reason. It's reasonably well-established that people are more generous to individuals than they are to groups (a charity that aims to vaccinate millions of children in rural Africa, for instance, would just put a picture of one child on their fundraising pamphlets). Because books are notionally the work of one person and are so publicly tied to that person, I think they might benefit from the same effect. When you buy an indie game bundle your thought process is "I'm buying these games, what are they worth to me?", whereas the book bundle has you thinking "I'm buying this book from Cory Doctorow". It's more human.

Obviously, this is all something of a convenient fiction. Machine of Death is the work of an ensemble cast, and even the individual novelists will have had a lot of help (from editors, agents, cover artists, etc). But they're still seen as individual artists, with their names on the covers. Conversely games can be largely written by one person, but they still usually open with a company logo.

The test of this theory, I suppose, would be to have a humble game bundle built up of mainly "single" creator games (to kick this off, let's say Minecraft, Gunpoint, Elite: Dangerous, for instance), and to market that fact in the same way the eBook bundle was marketed - by having the name of the game and then immediately under that a single creator's name. If I'm right, this would do better than the same games with the company names below the title.

My second gut feeling (I can have up to four gut feelings a time, like a cow), is that this bundle would be hard to organise because most of the game creators would recoil at the idea of taking credit away from their collaborating artists, musicians, etc. But it's interesting to speculate on.

redthoughtful1 karma

Cherie, when can I come snuggle Greyson again?

cmpriest2 karma


ThisRandomRedditor1 karma

For ALL authors: hypothetically speaking, what would the Machine of Death determine your cause of death to be?

TwentySevenLetters2 karma

At this point in my life? TRIPPING ON TOYS.

Actually, that's kind of been a likely one at most other points in my life as well.

amazing_rando1 karma

Ryan: I know you weren't the only writer on it, but Whispered Apologies had a really cool premise. It's been seven years but have you guys ever considered bringing it back?

qwantz2 karma

I think about it often. I just need more hours in the day!

TwentySevenLetters2 karma

Oh man, I wrote for Whispered Apologies, and that was one of my favorite things ever! If Ryan ever does bring it back, I'd be e-mailing him daily to ask if I could write for it again.

Actually, the first time I even met Ryan, when I was seated next to him at a con, I pretty much spent the whole morning plotting how to convince him to let me write for Whispered Apologies. But that worked out!

abritinthebay1 karma

Cherie: who is your favorite british guy? And why is it me? ;)

cmpriest2 karma

GRAAAAY-YUG ... you know you're always my main Englishman! Not least of all because you let me whine at you and pronounce your name like that, or because you have been such a hell of a webmaster all these years :-P

SpookyFrito1 karma

@cmpriest, why zombies and not vampires?

cmpriest2 karma

Why not both? I've written both, after all - my zombies are just better known.

benhayman1 karma


Will you and Andrew Hussie ever write the final entries for your credit card-swapping shenanigans blogs??

qwantz2 karma

YES. Probably this month, if all goes well! We have pulled off our last shenanigan.

libraloco1 karma

@cmpriest: Do you tend to do your writing mostly in the mornings or in the early afternoons? About how much time do you spend writing each day?

cmpriest1 karma

Depends on how much Writing Business there is to do. Typically, I try to clear all the business stuff out of the way before lunch - then write in the afternoons, usually until around 4 or 5 o'clock. (That's just all the creative stamina I can muster, typically.)

And by Writing Business I mean things like phone calls and emails between agents and editors, convention organizers, bookstore managers hosting events; printing out contracts and either scanning/faxing them back or running to the post office; doing production work on whatever's in process - line edits, copyedits, pass proofs, etc.; filing receipts, unpacking from work travel, going to the bank; yada yada yada.

If you'd told me five years ago that Writing Business could sometimes take up a whole day, I wouldn't have believed you ... but these days, it usually eats up at least one full day per week.

Sugarsammy1 karma

Just want to say I love the book Machine of Death!

qwantz2 karma

Hey thanks! :)

TwentySevenLetters2 karma

So do I!

shuzweet1 karma

Mr Qwantz: I also enjoy thinking about/reading about the use/abuse of language/ you have any neat-o links to blogs et al that you frequent that focus on the topic??

qwantz1 karma

Language Log is my favourite!

sixthsmith1 karma

What should I read first from the Bundle? Second?

kludgekml1 karma

Unless your Machine of Death note says "READING THIRD BOOK IN HUMBLE BUNDLE", any of them.