Since I mainly planned to get the books as presents, and probably Christmas presents at that, I was not in a huge rush to order them. However, I read both sandratayler and howardtayler, and the Taylers were clearly in a huge rush to have the books ordered. When Howard Tayler posted on his site blog how much he wanted to pass the 1000 milestone, I went ahead and plunked down my order.
Since the Taylers were distributing all the books themselves, Howard Tayler was offering two incentives to pre-order: all pre-orders would be autographed. He also offered 300 "sketch editions", where he'd do an ink sketch inside the book before mailing it. By the time I ordered, it was too late to get a sketch edition, which made me sad. But didn't stop me from ordering five copies anyway.
For the next several weeks, I read with a kind of bemusement of the Tayler's breathless anticipation of the arrival of the books, and their determination to get all the preorders (some 1500 or so books) mailed within a few days of their receipt. This included Howard Tayler doing 300 sketches in the sketch editions. O_O I'm still not entirely sure why they felt the need for great speed in mailing them out -- I'm pretty sure most if not all of the recipients were willing to be patient another week or two -- but get them out they did.
So about two and a half weeks ago, my books showed up. I opened the package, and found a blank piece of paper marking one of the five books. Curious, I opened the book. Inside the front cover was a brief, hand-written message: "Thanks for being a friend, maybe we'll meet IRL someday. -- Howard". I gave a squeal of fangirlish glee and hugged the book to my chest. Okay, so I didn't get a sketch edition. I still got a personalized one! Obviously, this was the copy I'd keep for myself.
I put the book aside for the next couple of weeks, while I finished reading a couple of John Ringo novels (amusingly, John Ringo also wrote the introduction to the Schlock book). After I finished Against the Tide I picked up my own, personalized edition of Schlock Mercenary: Under New Management and started reading it. I started at the beginning -- I'd read all these strips online, of course, but (a) it had been a long time and they were well-worth re-reading plus (b) the book is peppered with brand-new footnotes and sketches that I'd not seen before. Then I read the bonus story, which only appears in the print edition and so was totally new to me. I was sorry to come to the end of it on page 79, especially since there was one more page left and I'd been hoping for more Schlock. "I wonder what's on the last page?"
I turned the page ...
And burst out laughing.
I got a sketch edition! I got sketch edition #31! And it took me two weeks to figure it out! I am so oblivious! But it hadn't occured to me that the books had been laid out with a full blank page for sketching. The page has a border around it, and just below the border the text reads, "This space intentionally left blank. If there is a picture in this space, it is possible that the author has vandalized your book. It is remotely possible this was done at your request. Please check your receipt."* Or that the sketch would be at the back -- I figured he'd be doing little doodles at the front, the way Ursula Vernon does if you ask her to do a signing in person. And of course I didn't think that I was supposed to get a sketch. That blank piece of paper probably marked this page -- I'll bet it was to protect the back cover from ink bleed. And I still didn't notice.
But that's okay; I noticed now and I couldn't be more pleased, or more surprised. Heeheehee! I love you too, Schlock! *mwah!*
And thank you, Mr. Tayler. I love it!
*hugs her copy of SM:UNM*
* Y'know, I'm not sure I have checked my receipt. Maybe I should.