Message From The Author

John Scalzi

Genre: General Science Fiction, Science Fiction

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Author's Message

John Scalzi


In 2008, John Scalzi won the prestigious Hugo award for Best Fan Writing, the first time the award has been given for online writing.

About the award, he says, "So much of my career in fiction has been through my website, it's really in keeping with my career." In fact, his very first novel was published on his site, and it has enjoyed an unusual trajectory that lands it in readers' hands this month.

In 1997, Scalzi set out to write a "practice novel" -- what turned out to be Agent to the Stars, out in paperback this month from Tor -- and, never having done it before, he wanted to go through the process without the additional pressure of selling it when he was done.

But when he finished the tale of a Hollywood agent who's hired to introduce a race of intelligent and funny, but also ugly and smelly, space aliens to Earth, he realized that he really wanted people to see it. So he put it up on his website and asked anyone who read it to send him a dollar.

From 1999, when he put the book online, to 2004, when he asked people to stop sending him money for it, he made $4,000 in direct donations, proving, he says, that "people will, if you let them, compensate you for something you put up online."

In 2004, Subterranean Press produced a limited-edition hardcover. The 1,500 copies sold out within a few months and, subsequently, there was enough interest on online auction sites -- where the book has sold for anywhere from $200 to $1,200 -- that Tor decided to produce a full run.

Even though the electronic copy is still available for free through the website, Scalzi says that the additional interest proves that "people still want a physical copy" of books they love.

-- Stephanie Klose

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