The Big Meow: completion
This is to let the world in general know that the final chapters of The Big Meow, third and last in the Feline Wizards sequence, are now going online for the subscribers to the project. Beyond that bald fact, there’s a whole lot more to be said.
First of all, let me apologize. (And there will be apologies at the end of this, too, and some in the middle.) This project will doubtless be the strongest candidate in any possible contest for the worst-managed online novel publication project in history. If there’s any way to mess up such a proceeding that I’ve missed, even the kindest observer would have to be tempted to suggest that it wasn’t for lack of trying.
In particular, the lack of communication on my part was a major failing, and for this I’m particularly sorry. I just kept thinking that soon things would start to go right again, and I’d come out from under the rock and deal with it all then. But things didn’t… and the habit of being too embarrassed to tell anybody what was going on just got more and more ingrained until I didn't notice it was now running my life.
I don’t want to get too much into what my mother used to call “the organ recital” here – the story of what’s going wrong or what went wrong with me, physically, mentally, or emotionally, along the way during the last half-decade. Five years’ worth of recital would try anyone’s patience at this point. (Even mine, and I’m the one the stuff in question happened to.) All I can say here in my defense is that these last five/six years have been terribly trying in terms of physical health, mental health, emotional and work issues, and much else. It’s frustrating, when the crises start to hit one after another, to be weighed in the balance and found so very wanting, especially as regards what used to be the fairly straightforward business of getting work done. This is a situation I’m going to have to spend the next five years at least dealing with and trying to repair – if indeed it can be repaired. But I hope everyone will believe me when I say that had I had even an inkling of what was about to start happening to me, I would never, never have begun such a project as this at all. Or if I had… I would have written the book first and then serialized it. (And these words are now more or less branded on the inside of my skull: WRITE THE DAMN BOOK FIRST, DUMMY. SRSLY.)
Nonetheless there comes a time when more than apologies are needed, and you have to pull up your socks and try to get things straightened out. This is it.
A surprising number of people forked out seed funding for this project, either as challenge grants or in the form of straightforward subscriptions to the book proper. As regards the grants and donations: I will be refunding them all. I’ll be contacting all the people who made them, and we’ll privately sort out the associated details of hows, whens and wherefores.
As regards the subscribers: it’s been incredibly heartening how very few people have ever asked for a refund in the face of these terribly long delays. And subscribers who want their subscriptions refunded at this point will naturally get them. Again, when those folks hear from me over the next couple / few days as we kick the new subscriber mailing list into shape (the old one was based on one of those well-intentioned pieces of software that sounds like a good idea but in fact is almost impossible to operate without screwing everything up: we’re moving everything into MailChimp instead), I will sort the details out with them. For all the rest of you, who gave me the benefit of the doubt… you have no idea how much your trust has meant, and I thank you. You have been one of the bright spots in a long difficult period, though until now you might not have heard me say so.
For subscribers who want to continue being part of the project as it was originally planned: herewith a timetable.*
First of all: how to get at the final chapters of the book. Everyone will have been mailed a username and password at subscription time. There has been a change to the passwords that originally went out, as the YoungWizards.com hosting provider has changed its password protocols slightly. Emails will be going out to you soon to clarify the change: or if you’re in a rush, use the contact form at the-big-meow.com to get in touch with staff, who will mail back the new info to you.
Once the subscribers have seen the material, in line with the way we’ve always done it on this book, all the final material will go “free range” at the the-big-meow.com website for anyone to look at. This will happen ten days from now, on Feb. 12th.
After that, before it goes between covers, the book has to undergo a professional edit. I have the good fortune to have worked with a number of excellent freelance editors over the years, and I’ll be contacting one of these shortly to hire him/her and sort out schedules and so forth. It would be unwise to assume that this process would take less than a few months.
Once the edit is handled, the new draft of the book will go out to the subscribers again – this time in a single file package. (Yes, we’ll be doing it as an ebook in multiple formats, as well as hard copies, for those who want them. There’ll also be an omnibus ebook of all three of the FW novels, but that’s something to think about later.) Once the revised draft is out, it becomes time to go to print. Over the spring I’ll be looking into what artist will have the time (and affordability) to get involved in a cover – ideally a wraparound, to make the best of the dust jacket that will go with the hardcovers.
And after that, the books will be typeset, and will ship. So in terms of the timeline, we’re talking about late summer for the printed books that come with everybody’s subscriptions.
What happens to The Big Meow after that is still way up in the air. I’m going to be listening with some interest to the subscribers’ opinions of what the work is worth. Certainly it provides a satisfactory wrap-up as regards the main continuity line for the major feline YW characters. I doubt I’ll be coming back to them on their own recognizance, though they will (as previously) continue to turn up now and again in the main Young Wizards books.
To finish for the moment: again, everybody, I’m incredibly sorry for the all the trouble and annoyance that the delays in finishing this book have caused. I’m seriously looking forward now to getting it out there into the hands of those who made it possible.
My apologies again, all… and thanks to all those whose understanding has made this outcome possible.
All the best -- Diane
ETA 1: Some folks have been asking about ebook availability of the first two novels in the series. For US / North American buyers, they're here: The Book of Night with Moon | To Visit the Queen (aka On Her Majesty's Wizardly Service in the UK)
I had thought the ebook editions of these weren't available in the UK, but Ebook.com seems to be suggesting that only Australia is out of bounds. (bemused look) Anyway, I'm following this up and will issue the first two for UK readers as ebooks myself at a later date, assuming that territorial rights permit.)
ETA 2: People have been asking whether it's still possible to subscribe. At the moment, subsciptions are still welcome, as long as people understand that print copies will be fulfilled on a first-in-first-out basis, and there's a lot of first-in to handle. Thanks for asking!
*I almost typed “Herewiss” there. Just a note: if I hear the phrase “The Door into Starlight” in any correspondence relating to this, I’ll probably run around the house for a while screaming. Just so you know.