UPDATE: Read the update to the whole thing here.
I've gotten a lot of inquiries about the sequel to The Mall of Cthulhu.
So here's the update: the sequel is partially written and completely plotted and is in limbo.
Basically, despite the great things Night Shade Books has done for this book, this is not a publisher I can do business with anymore. They are either unable or unwilling to honor their contracts.
Night Shade has stolen the ebook rights to The Mall of Cthulhu. They do not own them and are offering an electronic edition for sale through webscription.net, which is affiliated with Baen Books, a real publisher who should know better. Nine months ago, Night Shade made a verbal offer to pay me a small sum for the rights. I agreed. They've never paid me. They claimed their unauthorized edition was an oversight, and that was somewhat credible at the time. Nine months later, it's clear that this is not an oversight. It's a theft of my intellectual property.
I've given away the ebook of Mall of Cthulhu in hopes of cutting the legs out from Night Shade and webscription's piracy of my work. (Guess what, Cory Doctorow? My problem is piracy and obscurity!) If you'd like a free electronic copy, scroll down here, or go to scribd. If you like it, please consider buying the Kindle edition, published by me and sold by Amazon, who pay me regularly for the copies I sell through them. (It's only 3 bucks! Less than a latte!)
I was due a royalty statement from Night Shade Books on March 1. Some time in April, they sent an inaccurate royalty statement. It listed a smaller advance and a higher cover price than was accurate. My agent told them they had made errors in my favor, and they agreed to send a corrected statement. We're now staring down June, and I have no idea how many copies The Mall of Cthulhu has sold or if I'm owed any money. I would not be owed anything other than the revenue from the stolen ebook rights if the sales figures on the first royalty statement were accurate. But since none of the other numbers on that statement were accurate, I don't have any reason to trust the sales numbers.
I was paid my advance for this book, but I have no confidence that I'll ever know if I'm owed more money. If I were to be owed money, I have no confidence that I'll ever be paid. Night Shade's business model appears to be disappearing for months at a time, offering elaborate apologies, and then disappearing again.
In short, I can't do business with Night Shade Books anymore, and, despite the beautiful editions they put together, I strongly advise other writers and agents not to do business with these guys either. I would ask that anyone who hasn't yet bought a copy of Mall of Cthulhu please take the free copy and pay $2.99 for the Kindle Edition if you'd like to see me get paid for my work. Given Night Shade's unwillingness or inability to provide an accurate accounting of sales, I don't believe I'll see another dime from hardcopy sales.
(Liz Williams, author of the fantastic and wonderfully inventive Snake Agent, has been having similar problems with this publisher. Her comments are here. I know other people are having similar problems but have yet to take their complaints public. I hope they will. Night Shade has built their shaky business on producing beautiful books that they are able to place in Borders, but they've also gotten a lot of talented editors and writers to work for them, and all professional writers and editors need to understand that getting into business with this publisher is an incredibly risky proposition.)
So what about the sequel?
Well, as you can imagine, it's unlikely that another publisher would want to put out a sequel on its own. I may be able to wrest the rights back from Night Shade given their multiple breaches of contract, but who knows whether I could get Mall placed with another publisher anyway?
But I am thrilled beyond belief that people enjoyed this book enough to want more. I do write for money, but I also write for love. I wrote Mall mostly because I just wanted to read a book like that. It's the book I have wanted to write since I was twelve years old.
So I would like to make the sequel available. Knowing that I won't get paid for it, I'm going to have to make it a back burner project. (I've got 3 kids, a dog, and a mortgage, so the remunerative writing projects are going to have to wait).
So here's my current thought: I'm thinking I will put the sequel, entitled Dog Walk of The Dead, up in installments. I can do it both here and on scribd.com.
Here's what I need from you: since this project runs on love, not money, I'm gonna need people to show some love for the book. This can take the form of comments here, tweets, facebook posts, comments on scribd, emails to mallofcthulhu at gmail dot com, or pretty much anything that lets me know I'm actually writing for an audience and not just amusing myself.
I'll put the first installment up in the coming week and future installments pretty much as I get time. (I've got about 80 pages done so far, so that should hold us for the first 3 or 4 installments, I'm thinking)
A caveat: Night Shade did hook me up with a great editor, Janna Silverstein, and a great cover artist, Scott Altmann. I can't afford to pay either of them to work on this project, though of course I will welcome feedback on what's working and what's not as the project goes along. And I guess fan art would be cool too and would certainly be posted here.
So, whaddya think? Is this worth doing? I welcome your comments below, your twitter thoughts @seamuscooper, and your emails to mallofcthulhu at gmail dot com.