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October 04, 2006

A Significant Event in the "Last Colony" Auction

As those of you who are participating in the Last Colony auction know, one of the rules I've set for the auction is that no bid can exceed a previous bid by more than $20. The reason for this is simple: This keeps the fakers from bidding up the price to unreasonable levels they never intend to pay, thus messing with the people who making legitimate bids. I thought putting a cap on each maximum bid would keep the auction on an even keel, and so far it has -- we're at $520 dollars in the bidding, which is really far beyond what I expected. I am humbled and gratified. Thank you.

Here's the thing: The limit was set to make sure there would be only legitimate bids. And now I have I have someone who I know is a legitimate bidder, who wants to raise the bid to $5,000. The bidder is Bill Schafer, who is the publisher of Subterranean Press. I've done quite a lot of business with Bill over the last couple of years, so I know he's good for the bid.

After much thought on the subject, I'm going to allow this bid. The goal here is to raise money for the John M. Ford Book Endowment, after all. $5,000 will go a long way in allowing the endowment to get where it needs to start buying books. For me to ignore a bid that does that, and that I know is legitimate, would make me, well, kind of stupid.

So: The current bid in the auction for The Last Colony is now $5,000. If anyone cares to bid above that amount, you can improve on it (and subsequent amounts) by up to $250 each turn. All other previous rules apply. Bid in the auction thread, not here. Again, please don't bid unless it's a serious bid; don't waste my time, or the time of the other bidders. Thanks!

Posted by john at October 4, 2006 07:20 AM

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Steve Buchheit | October 4, 2006 08:52 AM

Wow, congrats, John. That's one heck of a way to start up a fund. And a big thanks to Bill Schafer for stepping up to the plate and knocking it out of the park.

John Scalzi | October 4, 2006 09:05 AM

Indeed, I'm very pleased to have the bidding up to this point.

Chang who lives on Bagels | October 4, 2006 09:11 AM

I wish I could make it $10,000! I am so happy this plan worked far better than you imagined! This is really wonderful.

Dan | October 4, 2006 09:18 AM

I have to tip my hat to Bill Schafer. If this wasn't going to a good cause, I'd be bellowing "foul," but, as it stands, I think it feels pretty good to lose this one.

Congrats on a great idea and job well done John. And, way to go Bill.

John Scalzi | October 4, 2006 09:21 AM

Thanks, Dan.

I should note that the auction is still open; people can still bid if they'd like.

Lauren Uroff | October 4, 2006 09:39 AM

I'm sad because of my own greedy desire to read "The Last Colony", but I'm happy for the Libraries! Go, Bill Schafer!

Chris the Red | October 4, 2006 09:42 AM

What about if I just bid my firstborn?
If the bidding goes up in increments of one child and/or pet each time, you could have an instant Scalzi clan!

Janiece | October 4, 2006 09:44 AM

Three Cheers for Bill! And hurray for shiney literacy!

fishbane | October 4, 2006 09:45 AM

I shudder to think what will happen when John starts getting interested in organ donation.

robert | October 4, 2006 10:03 AM

Dude - the things publishers have to do nowadays to get a short story from an author....

Mark DF | October 4, 2006 10:17 AM

Wow. Impressive. This was originally a cool thing to do and now it's way beyond that. I didn't know Mike, but I sure wish I did meet someone who generates this much honor.

Beth Meacham | October 4, 2006 10:20 AM

Wow. That's utterly amazing.

But folks, remember: you can donate to the John M. Ford Memorial Book Endowment in any amount, at any time. It's a good cause, and you should consider it even if you aren't going to get a premium from Mr. Scalzi.

John Scalzi | October 4, 2006 10:23 AM

Beth is absolutely correct.

Bill Schafer | October 4, 2006 10:25 AM

Hey all.

If the $5k ends up winning this auction, look for the looonng short story (set in the universe of OMW) to come out from SubPress as a hardcover chapbook in the not too distant future.

Again, assuming the $5k bid holds, John and I will have some really cool plans to announce shortly.

All best,


John Scalzi | October 4, 2006 10:36 AM

So, yes, Robert, your intuition about publishers going to weird lengths for a new short story was absolutely spot on.

The conversation went something like this:

Bill: So, were you serious about writing a story for $5K?

Me: Totally.

Bill: And it can be about anything the winner wants.

Me: Yes.

Bill: Hmmmmm.

And here we are.

Mind you, if someone wants to top Bill's bid, they can have me write a short story for them on whatever they want. The auction is still on.

Anne C. | October 4, 2006 10:49 AM

Three cheers for Bill Schafer!

Not only will a great contribution go to the library, but we will also have an opportunity to get another short story written by John and published by Bill.
Everybody wins!

Deanna Hoak | October 4, 2006 11:05 AM

That's absolutely wonderful, John. Congratulations. Now that the bidding has gone as high as you ever thought it might (based on what you offered), you should consider offering another prize if it goes to 10K. Just in keeping with the original spirit, you know. :-)

John Scalzi | October 4, 2006 11:06 AM

For $10K, I do my one-man musical revue, "Things I've Found in My Bellybutton: A Love Story."

Chang who lives on Bagels | October 4, 2006 11:10 AM

For $10K I'd pay for Karl Rove to make up stories about you.

Nathan | October 4, 2006 11:23 AM

That's just so freakin' cool!

Howard | October 4, 2006 12:02 PM

Not only does Bill put out some of the coolest books, he seems to be a real mensch, too.

I've had warm fuzzy feelings about Sub Press ever since I spoke to one of the guys from Night Shade a couple years back. I hope they don't mind my mentioning it here, but the person I was speaking to (I can't remember if it was Jason or Jeremy) couldn't say enough good things about how helpful Bill was when they were starting Night Shade.

Now I've just got another reason to feel good about ordering more Sub Press books :)

Enjoyed OMW and Questions for a Soldier a lot, btw, and I can't wait to see what Bill gets you to write.

Josh Jasper | October 4, 2006 12:30 PM

Wow! OK. I'll donate my $50 directly to the fund.

Also looking forward to the OMW chapbook.

Adam Rakunas | October 4, 2006 01:26 PM

That's it. We need to get a pool of 100 Whatever commenters together to pony up $100 each in order to bring Bacon Cat: The Musical to life.

Nathan | October 4, 2006 01:54 PM


That's some of the "deeply disturbed" that I like so much. Does BaconCat have a headless, handless corpse in the opening scene?

Christopher Davis | October 4, 2006 02:22 PM

Nathan: of course it does. Nobody said that the bacon couldn't be Long Pig brand, after all....

PixelFish | October 4, 2006 02:30 PM

I think BaconCat: The Musical should feature a cameo by Wilbur.

I'm planning on donating to the endowment myself. I love a good library. (I have a pretty cool looking library right now--the San Francisco public main branch was so nifty, it was used in that City of Angels movie. At first though, I thought it had a crappy science fiction section, but that's because for some reason, they split up a lot of the paperbacks and put them on spin-racks down in a reading room, and so for two whole weeks, I thought that was the entirety of the main branchs SF/F collection.)

Carol Elaine | October 4, 2006 02:49 PM

That is FABulous, John!

Josh Jasper | October 4, 2006 04:16 PM

Don't look now, but someone just told Gaiman about the auction.

*ominous music*

John Scalzi | October 4, 2006 04:21 PM

Well, excellent. Maybe he'll do an auction of his own for the fund. I bet that would be madly successful.

Ron | October 4, 2006 06:11 PM

What a great idea.

I came to your site a while ago, from Instapundit, for the motivational poster with your wife. Then I saw Bacon Cat. So I came back. Read some other, previous posts, including Being Poor. I thought, hey, this guy is not a bad writer.

Then I read some comment threads. And I thought, no, this guy is a great writer. Anybody who can argue like that, on subjects varying from poverty to bar fights to bacon, is worth reading. So I will soon be on my way to the library, to renew my library card, so I can read one of your books. If I like it, I promise I'll buy some.

So. Which book should I read first? Which one will convince me that you are my new favourite authour?


esp | October 4, 2006 06:53 PM

In the spirit of doing good things, I saw this link:


Perhaps the crossover is similar.

I have no connection with either Robert Anton Wilson nor Douglas Rushkoff.

John Scalzi | October 4, 2006 07:15 PM

Ron, probably the one you'll have the best luck finding is Old Man's War. It's a pretty good intro to me, novel-wise.

Clearmoon | October 4, 2006 07:38 PM

Bill Schafer:
"If the $5k ends up winning this auction, look for the looonng short story (set in the universe of OMW) to come out from SubPress as a hardcover chapbook in the not too distant future."

Mr. Schafer, An idea in the vein of "the gift that keeps giving": How about SubPress donating a portion of the sales proceeds from the chapbook to the Ford Endowment as well? It would allow those of us who love libraries (and Scalzi's books) -- but aren't in a financial position yet to compete with you in the auction -- to still be a part of this excellent endeavor?

Just a thought -- I'll still buy both books when they hit Amazon, either way!!

Major kudos to Scalzi and everyone who is bidding on this book!! Our 1905 Carnegie library here in rural southwest Missouri is in the process of getting a much-needed rehab, plus an addition that will more than double its size. Exciting stuff, and it happens because of folks like "Friends of the Library" and the generosity of regular people like us!!

John Scalzi | October 4, 2006 07:49 PM


"How about SubPress donating a portion of the sales proceeds from the chapbook to the Ford Endowment as well?"

Guys, if he wins, he'll be donating a pretty damn big chunk of cash up front. Bill has shown himself no stranger to charitable impulses before (some of you will recall he donated 10% of the cover price of Agent to the Stars to the Child's Play charity), but I think $5k in a straight shot is pretty generous as is.

In any event, you don't need to go through us in order to be a part of it. You can very easily donate to the John M. Ford Book Endowment yourself, directly. And indeed I encourage it. Here's the link.

Geri Sullivan | October 5, 2006 03:41 AM

You're making a pretty damn big contribution yourself, writing a story and all. Plus there's the part about how you've added so much joyful excitment to recent days; it's a welcome counterbalance.

Thank you!

grhm | October 6, 2006 03:42 AM


"Guys, if he wins, he'll be donating a pretty damn big chunk of cash up front."

Not wishing to rain on anyone's parade here (and I'll be delighted to be shown how wrong I am) but Mr. Schafer is not donating any money at all. A shrewd publisher saw a chance to get a bespoke short story from an award winning author for a small amount of money. He can then publish said story and make money should it sell in sufficient quantities. He does not have to pay the author any commission on each book sold because he bought the story outright.

I'm not saying Mr Schafer is a bad man or doing anything wrong, I'm maybe trying to say that the proposal to add to the charity pot from the sales is a real contribution from Mr Schafer.

The true generosity is from Mr. Scalzi - he is giving away his $5000 "fee" to the charity, along with his time and effort writing the story, plus the copy of The Last Colony.

Like I said, I hope I'm wrong. I am speaking from a position of ignorance - I've no idea how much an author would get from selling a short story; Mr Scalzi may be sending a single printed copy to Mr Schafer and keeping the copyright so it cannot be reproduced. If I had $5250 to outbid Mr Schafer then I would so the altruistic dream would come true, but I haven't, so there you go.

Bill Schafer | October 6, 2006 04:33 AM

Sorry grhm, but you're wrong.

John did indeed offer ALL rights to the story, meaning I could publish as many copies as I want, in as many editions as I want, for as long as I want, without giving him a dime. And, as any working sf writer will tell you, $5000 is well above market value for a short story.

Further, just to bust you a bit more, I made it clear to John that if the story makes its $5000 back, which is by no means a given, we'll be splitting any profits from the project equally.

Bill Schafer

grhm | October 6, 2006 04:50 AM

Mr Schafer,

Thank you for putting me right. I'm glad things are not as my cynical mind would have it. I am truly pleased to be wrong.

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