Win-Win: How To Sign An Ebook

It’s so simple, it’s genius.

Removable, collectable vinyl covers – plain, a selection of colours, maybe they can be stylised by your favourite art toy designer – but ultimately, they’re there to collect signatures. Take one to a Convention, keep it on you, it protects your Kindle, it looks cool – and you get to show off all the autographs/sketches you’ve collected.

It’s a talking point in the bar – a great way to chat up fanboys/girls and a lovely excuse to approach your favourite writer. Plus the authors get to keep up with their public appearances – hell, if this is marketed right and catches on, it could be a new and different lease of eventing life… bigger multi-author signings will surely become more popular, and (we’re back to this again) everybody wins.

And how can you lose?

• People love to collect stuff – toys, stickers, hardware.
• People love to show stuff off – particularly in this industry.
• How many geeks have covers for their laptops – collect a year’s worth of stickers then change for a new one?
• How many fans have signing books – a new page for every author and/or artist they’ve met?
• How many people collect art toys, blind-boxed or otherwise?

As my boss would say, this fucking writes itself.

Art toys have invaded every level of the geek lifestyle – from iPhones to USB keys to every kind of ‘streetgeek’ fashion… the MonQee was a groundbreaker – the first cross-over of art toy and speculative fiction.

He proved that it works.

Let’s do this again – focused and saleable, an industry revolution. Vinyl designers to produce signable, collectable covers for eBooks. Don’t even get me started on rare versions and limited editions and yadda yadda…

It’s so simple, it’s genius.

So – who’s going to manufacture me a prototype?

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Gorilla Marketing: Measuring the MonQee’s Success

We know the Litany: spam bad, personality good, front your Brand with your face and you’ll win friends and influence people… far more than if you blindly blanket-bomb with endless crap.

Putting a simian in the rocket’s pilot-seat at EasterCon was both whim and gamble, lunacy born from Bart’s breakdown. Fearing a rerun of Curious George, I sat myself in the co-pilot’s chair… we had a blast at the Con – and then had to dodge the incoming missiles on the flight home.

The first salvo: ‘How much money will it make?’ Accounts don’t want long-term Brand visibility; they want pound coins. Sod idealism, how many woman-hours equal how much cold cash? If that’s your criteria for judging the project, then the MonQee didn’t raise as much as I’d hoped.

The second salvo: solid traditionalism. Flyers have design costs and print runs; you can measure the return of ‘money-off’ vouchers or count up new victims on your email list. Solid, easy-to-comprehend numbers calculating investment versus effectiveness; why take a chance on something wacky when we can do stuff with a reliable return?

The MonQee was wacky – but how good were his piloting skills?

At the Con, he was a magnet. His arrival on the Forbidden Planet Vinylsplatter website rippled out through the Art Toy world generating links and interest from here to New York to Singapore. Raymond Choi at Toy2R got behind the project personally – as did the Urban Vinyl guru himself, Toysrevil, and many of my Twitter friends – thank you to @linksmonkey, @Herne, @digitalmaverick, @loudmouthman, @deCabbit, @lproven, and @Loaf.

He crept out through LiveJournal, springing at me from fandom’s random blogs. He turned up in the Discworld newsletter and in the Orbital post-Con write-up. He was tracked, listed and reposted by over a dozen aggregator sites. And the authors and artists I’d shamelessly shanghaied were there for him as well –throwing their own blog support behind his success.

Watching the MonQee’s viral spread has been an exercise in astonishment. Some of science fiction’s leading lights now remember me because of him – (did I have to be MonQee girl?) – and he’s proclaimed both FP and the Alzheimer’s Research Trust wherever he’s seen been.

The MonQee, it seems, is a good enough pilot to land the rocket safely. I genuinely wish he’d raised a little more for the Trust – but I feel his ROI is off the scale. Should I ever be crazy enough to attempt this again, I’ll know what to change.

A final word – after his adventures, he was actually bought by someone who’d been at EasterCon and had watched him change from virgin whiteness to the character he became. My friend Zoe is his guardian now; she’ll be carrying him to more Cons and more fan-gatherings, continuing to get him signed – and continuing to tell his story.

Which benefits the Trust in its own simian way.

MonQee MagiQ: may his legend long continue.
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MonQee Business: An Hour with Terry Pratchett

A confession of Heresy: I’m not a Discworld fan.

Don’t get me wrong, The Colour of Magic put fantasy on the UK best-seller lists, gave the genre a massive kick up the credibility ladder… With much respect to the man who penned it, it just never floated my turtle.

Meeting him, though, has made me wonder if I still have a copy.

Funnier than his fiction, sharper than his bright brown gaze – bandy words with this man at your extreme peril. Five minutes in his company and I’m not engaging in repartee, his (what else?) rapier wit is straight under my guard and curling me round jabs of laughter in my stomach.

His energy is palpable; his insight unparalleled – he challenges with the bifurcation of science fiction from fantasy. Even as I answer, he’s there before me – with how sf is mainstream, time-travel is current. I counter with the popularity of post-Cyberpunk; he turns my riposte with an image of a vacuum cleaner whooshing from a wall-slot – his description reducing the office to hilarity.

His family weave through his wit – his daughter who, unsurprisingly, ‘can write a mean plot’ and his approval of her bloodgore-writing boyfriend – a father to be proud of, I think.

He talks about Spaced like he’s lived it, about the new Star Trek like he fears it and about a random plug-in for Oblivion whereby an adventurer can take his mother Questing. The concept that Mum is always one level up is hilariously astute – I mean, who ever gets the better of their mother?

The thing that disarms me, though, is his comprehension of the nature of geekdom – his experience and insight paint word-sketches that are caricatures in accuracy. From the fandom’s stalwart ‘comic book guy’ to the shapely ladies with the echo-chamber cleavages; from the families that love Discworld to his immediate identification of me as ‘geekarina’ (as oppose to ‘geekette’), nothing misses him.

In his hour in the office at the London Megastore, he signed some five hundred copies of ‘Nation’ while he kept up the barb of his badinage – and he signed one more thing.

The MonQee has been waiting for the pen of his master, and now, secure with his final signature, the auction is going ahead here.

Sunday is World Alzheimers Day.

Please don’t forget.

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Show Me The MonQee

He’s met some top talent, been through twenty-two episodes of adventures and has had every part of his anatomy scribbled on… hey, hey he’s the MonQee, and he’s finally come to rest in the art toy cabinet at the Forbidden Planet London Megastore.

In addition to the host of names from the previous MonQee post, a thank you to the kings of UK space opera, Neal Asher and Alastair Reynolds. And a huge thank you, too, to Terry Pratchett himself for his approval for and support of the project: the fact that his email arrived on my birthday had to be a coincidence!

The MonQee Project is now live here. This completely unique piece of urban vinyl will be auctioned through MissionFish on eBay as part of the Forbidden Planet’s thirtieth anniversary celebrations. To find out more: watch this space!

All proceeds, of course, go to the Alzheimer’s Research Trust. The MonQee, we hope, will go to a very good home – he deserves nothing less.


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MonQee MagiQ

And then, there are the times when it works.

Even at an EasterCon, a six-foot woman with a wacky plastic MonQee draws attention.

Spending his days at the front of the Forbidden Planet stand and his evenings escorting me to bars and parties, MonQee rapidly became a vortex of attention. Creepy-cute and sinister with his white body and featureless face, everyone wanted to know what he was, and why I was carrying him. I found myself being smiled at, stopped and spoken to all over the hotel.

After I’d shamelessly accosted the first few authors, the snowslide rapidly became an avalanche. Saturday morning, Loudmouthman took some MonQee footage in the Dealers’ Room – and we gathered quite an audience. Saturday night, the rumour went round the Scandinavian Party that ‘you were no-one at EasterCon unless you’d signed the MonQee’… and then the authors and artists started looking for me.

MonQee was in the Con newsletter; they gave him his own membership. MonQee was in control tower central to meet the Guests of Honour before the Opening Ceremony. As MonQee continued his tour, he gained more fans, more signatures and more credibility.

And more humour.

Charlie Stross – quite unashamedly – signed MonQee’s arse. China Mieville sewed his lips together; Neil Gaiman gave him an eye – which freaked fans out for the rest of the Con. Bryan Talbot drew him a full back patch and Dave Devereux went where no pen had dared go before and signed his groin.

A full set of MonQee pictures can be seen on my Flickr page.

Exhausted from partying, MonQee is home, safely tucked up in his box awaiting forthcoming FP signings and his invite to the Arthur C Clarke Awards. More of his adventures will come.

For now, I would like to thank: –

Chris ‘Fangorn’ Baker

Tony Ballantyne

Chaz Brenchley

Holly Black

Ed Buckley

Paul Cornell

David Devereux

Brianna Flynt

Neil Gaiman

Amanda Hemingway

Tanith Lee

Tom Lloyd

Kari Maund

China Mieville

Andy Remic

Justina Robson

Mark Robson

Geoff Ryman

Sarah Singleton

Charles Stross

James Swallow

Bryan Talbot

Freda Warrington

Liz Williams


Frank Wu

MonQee’s travels continue: there will be more!

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