Penumbra has a posse

So! My first novel, Mr. Penum­bra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, is going to be pub­lished by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Now obviously, I have a lot I want to say about this, but first … let’s med­i­tate on Mr. Tyn­dall for a moment.

Okay. Now, let’s review what has transpired:

So what happened then?

But there’s another char­ac­ter in this story, too. In truth, there should be about twice as many bul­lets in the list above, because after each step — the first Kin­dle story, the Kick­starter project — I’d get a mes­sage from Sean McDonald.

Sean is an edi­tor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux. He’s worked with writ­ers as diverse as Junot Díaz, John Hodgman, and the RZA. He’s also a Snarkmarket reader (!) and he’s been an impor­tant vec­tor of enthu­si­asm and encour­age­ment for me. That’s because his mes­sages have always been two-fold. First: this is so cool. Then: it can be even bet­ter.

And that gets exactly to the heart of why I’m work­ing with Sarah and Sean to pub­lish Penum­bra. You know me: I am a cham­pion of new modes and methods. I love Kick­starter projects and remix contests. And I’m not going to stop doing any of that stuff.

But when Sarah and I were shop­ping the Penum­bra man­u­script around, and I was talk­ing to pub­lishers, I told them all the same thing: I’m looking for a posse. I’m look­ing for a smart, cre­ative crew who will help me make this book bet­ter than I could make it on my own.

Because impor­tantly, “this book” isn’t just text on a screen, right? It’s the design, the phys­i­cal artifact. It’s the press we’ll do when it comes out, the events we’ll dream up. It’s real books in real bookstores! And all of that together will help push Penum­bra beyond our little corner of the web here (and make no mistake, it is a tiny lit­tle cor­ner)—help push him, and us, out into the wider world.

Let me put it another way. You know those heist movies, where half the fun is watch­ing the team come together — the mastermind, the mas­ter of disguise, the demo­li­tions expert? Well, that’s what this past year has been. It’s been that scene.

And now we’ve all found each other. It’s me and my clos­est readers, the mys­te­ri­ous inner cir­cle of the Moon Yeti. It’s my Kick­starter crew, the Com­mit­tee to Find and Res­cue Annabel Scheme. It’s Sarah Burnes and her col­leagues at The Gern­ert Company. It’s my new allies at FSG, and it’s Sean McDonald, who’s been an ally for some time. It’s Matt and Tim and the assem­bled might of the Snarkmatrix. And maybe it’s you, too.

This next year is going to be an excit­ing one. If you’d like to fol­low Penum­bra’s jour­ney from the inside, and help steer it a lit­tle, too, drop your email address in the box down below. Friends on the list already can tell you that it’s very low-volume; like, one mes­sage so far this year, right? And I try my best to make it worth your time. I’ll be shar­ing sto­ries and pos­ing ques­tions and, eventually, ask­ing for help. There’s a lot of work ahead.

After all: we’ve still got to meet old Mr. Penum­bra for dinner.

June 2011, San Francisco