The Translated Man, Redux

Posted: February 12, 2009 in Threat Quality

the-translated-man-cover-picBehold!  A positive review of my novel, The Translated Man, at io9.  It is pretty keen!  Of course, the more people that read it, the more likely someone’s going to hate it, and that’s going to make me feel horribly guilty.  But whatever.

One of our readers suggested that I do some kind of post specifically on the book.  A kind of a talk-back session, or something like it, where we could discuss it and I could field (I assume) questions on the subject.  And since there are basically five of you, I figure we ought to be obliging.


What I’ve learned:  the most significant obstacle to self-publishing right now is the production costs.  Also, Lulu I think heinously overcharges for mailing things.  The cost of The Translated Man is right now much, much higher than I would prefer it to be, and I still make about a dollar on the hard copies.  I’d be 100% willing to take an even smaller commission if I could sell this sucker for five bucks out in the world, but there’s costs and infrastructure and &c. to consider.  Maybe this price will come down if more people do it, I don’t know.  Before anyone asks, Lulu is still cheaper than Amazon’s CreateSpace, and dealing with Ingram’s Lightning Source is kind of more complicated than I’m ready to do, just yet.

There was also a lot of experimenting with formatting; all of these Print-On-Demand places charge per page, so I spent a lot of time tinkering with spacing, margins, and font size so that the book ended up being reasonably cheap while still feeling like an actual book.  I probably could have squeezed the whole thing down to 100 pages, but then I’d feel bad about charging ANY money for it.

Aaaand, what else, to kick things off?  There are three more books planned after The Translated Man, and they also intersect with a short story that is soon to be published by Black Gate Fantasy Magazine.  Practically everything mentioned in the book is going to be relevant at some other point, or connected to some other story.  I have no idea how that happened.

  1. Zak says:

    I am currently reading the book.

    At first, I did not like it, and I said “Damn you Braak for making me read your book which I do not like”

    Then I kept reading and started to like it. I said “Damn you Braak, I am enjoying your book but this in no way makes up for past sins. Damn you”

    Now I am quite enjoying the book. Damn you Braak

  2. Erin says:

    Any idea when Black Gate’s putting out your story: I want to make sure I pick up a copy.

    More importantly, that’s going to give you some real exposure, not to mention a pool of potential fans. And, what’s this? You’ve a book in print in the same world!

    If I were you, I’d finish the sequel, then try your hand at getting an agent again. If you can demonstrate a sizable fan base (which you could well pick up after Black Gate hits), you might actually convince an agent to READ one of your books.

    It’s still a long shot, but I think this is kind of how it happens.

  3. V.I.P. Referee says:

    I’m less than a quarter in—-pleasure reading having been interrupted by a stack of (less exciting) reference reads I must zip through in a short span of time. Can say this: Being partial to characters like “Arsene Lupin” and hazy, leaky settings, the mood generated in the opening chapter grabbed me. To be continued…

  4. threatqualitypress says:

    @Erin: I don’t know for sure, exactly. My story is due out in their Spring issue, which I think hits in March or April. So, not long. I also want to recommend Black Gate, and not just because my story is in it–for the cost, you get a big fat book full of new work, by authors that I’m coming to quite like: Judith Berman, Martha Wells, James Enge, Iain Rowan. So, go Black Gate, and all.

    @VIP: That is good, I like that. Sam Anderson called it “Black lung steampunk,” which I also like. I was really digging on those late 19th, early 20th century novels that were this bizarre mishmash of the high-minded Dickensian literary style with just the dirtiest, grittiest, pulpiest topics you can think of.

  5. Roland Dobbins says:

    Why don’t you make your work available through Amazon for the Kindle and/or via Baen’s (will work on Kindle, various Mobi readers, etc.)?

  6. threatqualitypress says:

    This is a good question. Right now, there are some complications with that; if I use Amazon’s POD system, then I can’t charge less than 15 bucks for the book, not counting shipping–and if I use Lulu’s retail listings (i.e., having Lulu list the book on Amazon), they make me do a 100% markup, so I can’t sell the thing for less than $20. Frankly, I don’t consider either of these to be fair prices for the work, and I’m considering that they might price out my potential readers.

    That said, the Kindle actually does support PDF files–and Amazon will convert PDF to PRC (the Kindle format) for ten cents, I think, if you just e-mail it to them. So, a Kindle reader would have to take one or two extra steps to get it, but could still easily read The Translated Man on their e-reader.

    It’s what I would do, if my Kindle wasn’t broken. A coincidence that it stopped working the day that Amazon announced the release of the Kindle 2? I am calling them, and you an bet I am going to complain the shit out of those suckers.

  7. Roland Dobbins says:

    Actually, neither Amazon themselves nor the Mobipocket ebook publishing software (I run it under VMWare on my MacBook) can make heads nor tails of the .pdf of your book -it comes out gibberish once converted to .pdf, files. As I’ve successfully converted dozens of .pdfs to non-DRM .prc files and viewed them just fine on the Kindle, it’s quite surprising.

    Right now, I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to read it, heh.

  8. Roland Dobbins says:

    The other thing to note is that you can publish the book in Kindle format for whatever price you like, and you get a 35% cut – and if Amazon decide to discount it, you still get 35% of whatever you set your original retail price to be.

    I strongly urge you to make the book available either via Amazon directly via the Kindle store (this is quite separate from PoD), or in non-DRMed .prc on Then I might actually have a chance of reading the book, heh.


  9. threatqualitypress says:

    Oh! Hmm, I didn’t realize that. I will then definitely look at Amazon for just the Kindle store, thanks.

  10. threatqualitypress says:

    Also, since you’ve already bought a copy, you can send me your e-mail address and I’ll send you a word-format copy of the book. Amazon should have zero problems converting that to Kindle format.

    Send it over to, and I’ll see about getting you hooked up.

  11. rc6750 says:

    Finished the book last night. Excellent.

    Looking forward to more.

  12. threatqualitypress says:

    Oh ho, hooray! You will be pleased, then, when I finish (start) the sequel.

  13. V.I.P. Referee says:

    (Don’t read this comment if you’re someone bothered by “spoilers” and story giveaways…)

    This was very good. You developed a unique brand of Gothic atmosphere…which leads me to the question that many writers despise, but Hell, I’m asking it anyway: Have you considered developing a screenplay of this? There’s so much potential for visual interpretation in it. Plus–this will sound odd–it’s like a darkly romantic, frankenstein-esque morality play. You feel desensitized to beings fashioned from carved blocks of dead people and by the end, become comfortable with their gooeyness, finally develop genuine interest in their motives.

    Did I miss the origin of Skinner’s blindness? I understood this condition only heightened her awareness of the stimuli registered by other senses, but was it a condition tied to her ancestry, associated with the nature of her abilities or the result of messy circumstances?

  14. threatqualitypress says:

    @VIP: I have considered this, though I get the feeling that the niche-market of Translated Man would be a hard sell. Also, I would need to get Guillermo Del Toro or that Russian guy who did Night Watch to direct it.

    Th origin of Skinner’s blindness is only discussed obliquely in the book, since knockers and their particular characteristics are a relatively ordinary fact of life in Trowth. It’s basically a natural mutant condition, though, that gives her psychic hearing powers, but makes her vision unbearably, painfully acute. Anyway, I’m probably going to get more into that in the second novel, in which Skinner is going to have a more substantial part.

  15. Kirk Whitham says:

    I am a regular visitor to Ectoplasmosis and I saw your book there. Very promising. I noticed that you wanted a way to print and ship your books more cheaply. Please excuse my gratuitous plug, but I make a little perfect binding gizmo that might help you out. I have sold hundreds of them worldwide. I’m just a guy who builds these things, not some uber corporation. You can check it out at Feel free to drop me a line if you have any publishing questions (even if you aren’t interested in my binder).

  16. threatqualitypress says:

    @Kirk: This is pretty interesting, actually.


  17. Kirk Whitham says:

    I can send you a sample book made with my machine if you like. You can send your address to me via my website if you are interested in seeing one.


  18. […] for a drawing book on a self-publishing website, and ran across someone’s recommendation of The Translated Man by Chris Braak.  It was referred to as steampunk, and I thought I’d give it a try.  Worst case, […]

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