Pen & Platen by Mike Speegle and entrepreneurship in the typosphere

Hope everyone out there in the typosphere is enjoying their Nanowrimo hangover, otherwise known as Christmas. Have been remiss in updates due to various factors, but just checking in to congratulate Mike Speegle on the publication of his book of short stories, Pen & Platen (cover designed by Typewriter Heaven‘s Rob Bowker? Do I have this detail correctly? Love that cover). Did you know that you can give Kindle books as gifts? And Pen & Platen is currently available for the outrageously affordable price of $1?

Now you know.

Mike Speegle is ahead of the curve here in terms of the way publishing works now; moping around the mailbox waiting for rejection letters is not the way it’s done by forward-thinking writers. I just finished a class on managing your digital presence (otherwise known by the distasteful term “personal branding”), and realized that typospherians already do quite a bit of this, and well enough to have built a lively community around it. Speegle here has raised the bar by not just talking about writing, but using digital tools to get himself published, and I admire him for it.

Anyone else out there have a New Years goal of publishing, launching a business (applause also for Type-o-Matic‘s launch!) or otherwise turning their love for writing and writing tools into a creative enterprise? For my class in grad school I merely did some sprucing up of my resume-type web site, but still haven’t thought my goals through like Bowker and Speegle (now, doesn’t that sound like a law firm straight out of Harry Potter?)

In the New Year, I aspire to be more like these guys. What about you?


  1. One Last Quest should be hitting the virtual shelves come early 2012, if my beta-readers cooperate. Hoping for another winning design from Mr. Bowker as well.

    “Personal branding?” We’ve already got a name for that: shameless whoring. And proud of it, too.

  2. Woot! Thanks for the bump, Strikethru!

    I am still, weeks later, completely flattered and amazed at the outpouring of support from the good people of the ‘sphere, especially from such talented luminaries as Mr. Bowker. Without them, I may well have spent the last few weeks curled under my desk, whimpering abjectly. Which is the best way to whimper.

    In other news, I actually just finished draft 1.0 of my two-year project, Good Friday, so like it or not the world is going to be seeing more of my work sooner than later. Look for review copies to go out sometime in late January/early February.

    Last but not least, if you out there are lovers of well-crafted literature, you could do a lot worse than Mr. Clemens’ One Last Quest. I for one have been saving my rubles for the day it hits the (virtual) shelves.

  3. Your line — “moping around the mailbox waiting for rejection letters is not the way it’s done by forward-thinking writers” — is the best summary ever of the indie publishing movement.

    I’m intrigued by Mr Speegle’s collection. Bookmarked!

    In terms of retro-tech, I found my way to typewriters as part of my ongoing exploration of ways to publish without asking anyone’s permission or needing to engage (sometimes predatory) “author services”.

    For several years I’ve been publishing my novels entirely from home, designing, printing, and binding them as paperbacks myself.

    E-books are usually presented as the only alternative to people without a commercial publishing arrangement with a third party — either with a traditional publisher or a print-on-demand company — but I wanted to be able to do exactly what I wanted and not have to spend a fortune if I could learn to do each part of the process myself.

    That’s exactly what I did, but I got to a point where it only seemed right to spare other people having to figure all this out from first principles, so I made a podcast, “DIY Book”, about how to write, make, and sell your own novels.

    Forgive me if it sounds like I’m hijacking the conversation to promote myself. I’m really not, I’ve just been really moved and inspired by the people I’ve met through this project who had the inclination to do this but just didn’t quite believe they were allowed, or simply didn’t know how to go about it. Some of them have gone on to make “real books”, and it’s been so exciting to see the results!

    I hope this strikes the right note with someone out there who has the craftsy, independent, entrepreneurial spirit to get away with making their own books in a world that generally doesn’t acknowledge that we’re allowed to do our own thing without corporate intervention.

    So check out the podcast URL above if you’re interested and feel free to ask any questions. I don’t make money from this, I just love doing my own thing and seeing other people do theirs.


  4. Thanks for the shout, Cheryl. Type-O-Matic is very much peaks and troughs. Two of the former, three of the latter, to be precise. Each peak benefiting from online syndicated news items. How to keep THAT ball rolling? By the way, heard of the Bumbys? Writing and typing – love it!

  5. I think I’m going to try submitting a couple of my short stories through traditional print magazines in 2012, just to get the experience of a rejection letter.

    And I also want to get a couple out there self-published, again, to get some experience.

    I know Rino got the typopshere ball rolling with his book, Song Logic, and Speegle has a great followup, so the typosphere is building a lot of great practical experience getting words out!

    Keep it up!

  6. Saw a link to Pen & Platen’s kindle page even before this post somewhere, and had a copy sent to my iPad. =) Can’t wait to read it.

    I think it’s very admirable of Speegle to get himself published in the digital form. I’d like to try and be more active in my writing as well in the new year. NaNoWriMo is too hectic for me, and even can be too much. In 2012, I’m hoping to write 300 words of fiction every day, and see if I can maybe have a novel or book of short stories finished by the end of the year. I think 300 is a do-able number, don’t you?

  7. Looking forward to OLQ, MPC. Where/how do you plan to publish?

    Speegle, I would entirely expect, with a profile photo like that, to be seeing more of your work coming out, being that you exude authorality.

    Hamish, I actually read about your end to end publishing process on your blog somewhere awhile back, and remember thinking “that’s what I want to do,” not that I am ever likely to get there myself, but you’re doing an amazing job. It’s the exact embodiment of writing and publishing as a total art form.

    Type O Matic needs a social media strategy, that’s my 2 cents. Now that’s a totally overplayed concept, this idea of a social media strategy, I realize. And being Rob Bowker you are already kind of on this, in a general sense. I just think if Type O Matic somehow had some ongoing content, like a new sample letter every week, or videos, or something that you could shop around on the twitters, well, that would be awesome. Probably something you are already doing though, since you seem to be doing everything else!

    Deek, so long as you aren’t moping by the mailbox! Ya hear!?? I went through a submitting and getting rejected phase, and did a fair amount of moping some time ago, in the distant fog of my youth.

    And Crystal, I like the 300 word idea. I am going to say something bold and that is, this is a better idea, and in fact more writerly, than nanowrimo. It’s more like what real authors do– every day of the year.

  8. @Cheryl: I’d be a fool not to make it available at Amazon given the market share, but it’s not going to be exclusively so. Current plan right now is to distribute via Smashwords to all the major outlets, and Amazon on its own. I already set up my draft through CreateSpace ages ago (an Amazon subsidiary for those not in the know), so it should just be a matter of uploading the new text and a better cover, and waiting for it to be re-approved.

    For the record, though, I’m very disappointed with the recent “exclusive” deal Amazon appears to be dangling in front of indie authors. I intend to keep my right to distribute anywhere I choose.

  9. 1) Welcome back, Cheryl. (Did you happen upon Monda during your exile? Her typospherical seat is getting cold.)

    2) Does “just running out the clock” count as a New Year’s goal?

  10. @Strikethru Thanks so much for your very kind comments!

    I realise creating physical books can easily fall into the daunting “one day I mean to do that” file, but it’s easy to cultivate the craft. For instance, I make print editions (just for myself) of the e-books I buy. When people see that I’ve done that, they often treat it like a kind of perversion, but I don’t want my nose in a little plastic box all the time (was there for years, am happily free now), yet I do want to read that material on the go. So with a little bit of imposition software (which can be found for free) and a long-reach stapler or even a needle and thread – hey, presto!

    Type-O-Matic is a beautiful idea! I like the idea of working in a steno sweatshop for a bit. My typing’s still rubbish, though.

    @Crystal I love your 300 words idea. That pace seems less like self-punishment and more likely to engage the subconscious throughout the year, making room all the insights and twists and “Oh YES!” moments it can supply.

    I’ve never liked the notion of just crapping out any old first draft then rewriting the book several times. I’d rather work steadily with care, finish the story, polish it, then move on to another one. Completing a manuscript in a month is noble and perhaps useful, but how many of those rushed drafts are a Brundlefly that just can’t be worked into a book?

  11. bikethru

    Congratulations and literary best wishes to Mr Speegle, and a big phat Happy Christmas and New Year to Ms Lowry and all in the typosphere.