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When the first novel came out, there WAS a giveaway of ARCs. All that was handled by Tor. So a little bit of learning curve, and voila, I figured out how to get one going myself. :::pats himself on the back:::

Yep, I’ve got some new hats to wear this time around. I have to do things that pro publishers like Tor, Del Rey, Daw, Baen, etc, usually do for you or help you with.

So THREE advance reader copies (uncorrected proofs) are up for giveaway! It’s so easy. Just gotta click a few times, and you’ll be entered. However, I’ve kept the timeline short. It’s only open from May 3rd through May 10th. One week!

If you don’t win an ARC, look for a giveaway of the FINAL book as well as we head through the next three months.  But even better: Why not buy yourself (and a loved one) a copy?

Here’s the entry widget (but it’s also on the front page):

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Ultra Big Sleep by Patrick Swenson

The Ultra Big Sleep

by Patrick Swenson

Giveaway ends May 10, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway


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My small press, Fairwood Press, will be hosting a release party at the Spokane Worldcon, now less than 2 weeks away. It’s to celebrate the release of four new titles by four authors who will be in attendance. It’s open to all! Here’s the info poster below:

FP poster test 2


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It’s  release day for the trade paperback version of The Ultra Thin Man!

That’s it.  Really. All I got. Except the graphic of the trade cover flat below. Beauty.

Move along [to a bookstore and buy a book].

utm scan1



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Has it really been since the end of November when I posted last? Hurray, holiday season, and all that.

I’m prompted to write this post because of a certain paranoia about book sales of The Ultra Thin Man. Oh yeah, Swenson, how’s that going? Well, in reality, authors don’t really know for quite some time. My book’s only been out about five months. The reporting period for Tor that I’ve fallen into is July – Dec, and I’m told that actual royalty reports for that time period don’t go out until late April. It’s a long time to suffer in silence.nielsen1

To be honest, I’ve been mostly nervous because of a sales bellwether that’s become fairly well known since Amazon started allowing its authors access to it: BookScan. It’s owned by those folks with the television ratings, the Neilsen Brothers. No, wait, that’s a carpet and flooring company. Well, Neilsen, the TV people. They did a SoundScan, too, for music sales, and its success lead to BookScan. BookScan relies on point of sale data from a number of major book sellers. According to Wikipedia, in 2009 Nielsen BookScan’s US Consumer Market Panel covered 75% of retail sales. (Having added Walmart recently, they say it’s now 80%.)

So if I go to my Amazon account and look at my BookScan account, it should be showing me 75% of my actual number of sales. Well, no. Well, maybe. Truth to tell, the number is all over the map. I’ve heard 50%, I’ve heard 30%. I’ve heard lower.  I stare at that number on my account, the number of hardcover copies sold (and remember, the data for this is coming from most high street booksellers, but not from every book store) and I despair. Oh my god, this is horrible. That’s it?  This number does not include ebook sales, by the way, but still…   It also doesn’t include library sales, and my book was listed twice in Publishers Weekly as a book receiving a starred review, and often that means extra library orders. Nor does it count international sales (not a factor for me, as of yet, with no foreign edition forthcoming). It also doesn’t include independents. Really, it’s just trade sales, point of sale.

Well, it was time to bite the bullet. A fellow Tor author said, “Call your editor and talk to him. You can discuss numbers.”  And earlier this week, I did, catching him in his New York office. First, right up front, I’ll tell you that the ebook sales are pretty low. I was surprised at the number, actually. It’s not unheard of for this to be the case, while the ebook is priced at $12.99 and the hardcover is out. It will probably sell 2 – 4 times as many copies when the price drops (when the trade paperback is out later this year).

Then I heard the hardcover numbers. My body relaxed instantly. Nutshell? A better than average debut, at least at this point in the game. But then again, still not stellar, and maybe I’m still on the edge as far as them taking on book two, because these don’t necessarily mean point of sale numbers. Because, returns. So book two may be dependent on trade paperback sales, library sales and ebook sales continuing forward. Returns have come in, although relatively low at the moment. If there’s to be really yucky news, it would make itself known in the next month or so when stores are doing their post-Christmas returns.

But the point of all this….my Neilsen BookScan number?  Turns out it is only THIRTEEN PERCENT of actual hardcover sales. [Edit: Thanks to some in-the-know information from publisher Sean Wallace of Prime Books, note: returns don’t factor in to this number. The number my editor gave me are what’s out there in distribution, and so the sales number may actually be lower. And a rough estimate there, based on what can be seen from library holdings of my book so far, brings that number Bookscan is reporting closer to THIRTY percent. And remember, this is just my scenario.]

There are many who say BookScan is fast becoming irrelevant, particularly in today’s shifting book market. Me, I just would love for this book to do well so I can sell the next one! Have you been waiting to buy that ebook or take the plunge and fork over the bucks for that spendy hardcover? Wait no longer! If nothing else, BookScan numbers remind me that sales could be a lot better.


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Just over a year ago (August 15, 2013), this personal author site went live. Thanks again to the fine folks at Clockpunk Studios, and in particular, Jeremy Tolbert, for the wonderful work. I couldn’t be happier with the look and feel. If you’re a writer and looking for a drop-dead awesome site, check them out.

Now, a year later, the debut novel is out.















What an absolute thrill it has been! I’ve had three book signings thus far, and I’ve written 9 guest blog posts, with a few more to do. I’ve had several interviews, and I still have a couple of signings and readings coming up in the next few weeks. This Thursday I’ll be in California: San Diego and San Francisco. And then I’ll be back home the first few days of September, with several other book events on the horizon.

At the same time I get to start up the new school year and prepare myself for teaching: my 30th year on the job! I started off teaching a combination of high school band and English. Here I am standing in the back of some of my high school band members in 1989 at Disneyland during a day off from a tour. (Future so bright I had to wear shades.)














I’ve been teaching full-time English for the last 22 years. Here’s a stand-on-my-desk moment from two years ago. I’m not sure what I was thinking of saying!















So bring it on, new school year, and bring it on, book two. I’m trying like mad to get the sequel to The Ultra Thin Man done before too long (meaning, before the school year totally sucks me in), and, hopefully, someday within the next year or so, have some spiffy new book cover to put on the front page!




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August 12.

A day that will live … well, at least in my memory. It started with well wishes from friends and family. I could hardly keep up with tweets and posts and emails!

On the horizon was the debut signing at the University Bookstore, to be followed by a release party at the District Lounge a few blocks away. I had already ordered a cake, because what would a book release party be without a cake with the book cover on it? I picked it up in the afternoon and put it in my fridge until it was time to get a head start to North Seattle for the signing. Traffic ensued, by I had time. I stopped at The District Lounge and dropped off the cake and my vinyl sign of the book cover, which I set up on its stand before heading to the bookstore. I was there about an hour early. A few attendees of the reading were already milling around the signing area. And I saw that the store was ready for me:















I had also brought some treats for the reading itself and set up a platter. Dang! Forgot to take a picture of said platter. But here’s a picture of the treats. Yes: ULTRA THIN cookies and ULTRA THIN pretzels.















It became evident early on that the crowd would be pretty decent. Events personnel were moving more tables out of the way and setting up more chairs. At 7:00 I was introduced by SF buyer Duane Wilkins, and I went on up with my camera video rolling. It was my Comic-Con moment, taking video of the awesome crowd. I took a few pictures of the crowd, but I had them pretend they were on a rollercoaster ride at an exciting part and act accordingly:














I took some time to thank my family (my mom and one of my sisters flew in from Montana to be there, for example), and past students of mine who were also there, and maybe I told a few jokes. It’s a bit of a blur now. Soon enough it was time to read. I wowed them (I hope) with Chapter 1 of The Ultra Thin Man, and left them with a cliff hanger. (Or was that a tower diver?)













Q&A was next, and I answered some good questions. Luckily, I wasn’t stumped.  I was asked about my influences, about what writers I liked right now, about my writing process, and other questions I’ve forgotten.














Then it was time to sign books! This young lady I didn’t even know (Pepper Jean!) came up to me as I started to sign her dad’s book, and said, “I’m getting my picture with you!” And she grabbed my arm, put her other arm around my shoulders, and leaned in for the photo op. SOOO cute.














Also, I found that as a lefty, my method for signing kept flashing that lovely book cover to the front all night!















I used this student’s last name for a side character in chapter 1. He thought it was pretty cool, once I pronounced the name correctly.














Folks started to go over to the afterparty when they had their books signed. I was, of course, about the last one out of there. But when I arrived at the District Lounge, the cake was waiting for me, uncut, people having some dinner and drinks, waiting patiently for me to arrive. Then it was down to the last handful of us.















Today I spent more time with my mom and sister at my townhouse, and my sister gave me an appropriate gift:














Several guest blog posts I wrote went live, and a few new good reviews popped up, and later in the evening I had a Twitter interview.  And now I’m typing this, sort of caught up with everything. Tomorrow I have a signing at Third Place books in North Seattle.

The dream continues.







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….bookstore. Well, okay. Just a few that I’ve heard about with the book out on the shelves JUST a bit early, including this one I found tonight.

Tomorrow I’m official!



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I’ve known two writers very well that I’ve worked closely with and become good friends with who have been taken from the world all too soon. One was Ken Rand, an amazing writer, teacher, and friend, who passed away in 2009.

Today, I say goodbye to Jay Lake, who passed away this morning at 5:45. I’d not been online until a bit ago, and didn’t find out until good friend John Pitts texted and let me know. It was a blow, even though I’ve known it was coming. It is hard to put into words everything that Jay was to me. I worked with Jay, through Fairwood, to publish his first novel Rocket Science. We also put out a chapbook called Green Grow the Rushes-O. And finally, his metafiction novelette The Specific Gravity of Grief, where he talked about his cancer. Proceeds from this book go to the Clayton Memorial Medical Fund (you can still make donations there in his name).

He was a Talebones alum, a frequent guest at conventions, and of course he attended some of the earliest Rainforest retreats, including the very first one in 2007, where he infamously “walked on water,” due to the constant rainfall during the weekend flooding the lower area of the resort. He made the trek to his last retreat a few years back, even though his health was deteriorating.

I will miss you, Jay. We all will. Miss your self-assured, fight-and-take-no-prisoners mentality, your gregarious spirit, your wild, thoughtful writing, your steadfast friendship, and your commitment to LIFE. Even in death, you’ve inspired us to be kinder to one another, to love better, to write more, and to dream big.

Fuck cancer.

Jay has passed away. Long live Jay Lake.



Jay Lake at the first Rainforest Writers Village, 2007. Photo courtesy Bob Brown.