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ARCs of Unfettered

ARC-unfetteredLife creates purpose.

I have always felt this way. There are moments in every life that define the future. For instance, when I was diagnosed with cancer, I was forced to start a publishing press and essentially self-publish The Dark Thorn. I had thought about it for years but up until that diagnosis, The Dark Thorn was making the rounds at publishers in NYC like the industry said it should. My, how life changes. The Dark Thorn is published by my own hand, and both sales and reviews have been unbelievably strong.

Unfettered would not exist without that nudge cancer made as well. When I think about that, it makes me sad. Now that the anthology is basically finished and publishing late next month, I find it inconceivable it might never have existed. I think it’s that worthy to be on your bookshelves forever.

So, in a way, it’s a good thing I got cancer.

Life pushed me in another way recently. I had no plans to produce an Advanced Reader Copy of Unfettered. ARCs are trade paperbacks largely used for review purposes to grow excitement before publication. They also cost money to produce and publishers don’t take money for them. They are given freely. But Grim Oak Press doesn’t have an operating budget for ARCs like major NYC publishers do. Producing and giving them for free would, in a way, only deepen my debt.

Then two things happened, one a long-running conversation and the other a sad moment for another writer:

  • I have received hundreds and hundreds of emails from fantasy fans upset they missed out on the Signed & Numbered edition of Unfettered. Most if not all feel cheated because they didn’t know the book existed. And since the book sold out basically overnight, they missed out completely.
  • Author David Wolverton’s son Ben fell into a long coma after a horrible longboarding accident. Like myself, Dave and his family do not have health insurance, the bane of freelance writers. The Wolverton family has already accrued a debt quadrupling my own with more on the way.

The first point doesn’t bother me too much, to be honest. I know. I’m a bastard. I feel badly for those readers who missed out but it’s difficult making everyone happy all the time.

Then Ben Wolverton had his accident. You can learn more about it HERE. Sorrow entered my heart for Dave—someone I’ve known for years—and then anger took sorrow’s place. It is the righteous anger that comes with trying to set right a wrong I feel strongly about. I realized I could do something special with an ARC. I could wipe out my own debt with these last few sales. I could aid Dave and his family in some way. And I could create something special for those people who didn’t get a chance at the Signed & Numbered edition of Unfettered.

The ARC of Unfettered is $100. Yes, expensive, but also rare at 250 copies produced and released early. The book will only be signed by the four of us that live in Seattle: Terry Brooks, Peter Orullian, Todd Lockwood, and myself. It will be a hardcover and technically an uncorrected edition since the final editorial pass has not happened yet. All twenty-three stories are present and they are edited. The ARC will not have the Todd Lockwood interior artwork. It also will lack the gilt pages, the ribbon, and the leather that makes the Signed & Numbered edition of Unfettered truly special.

But it’s the best I can do, given the circumstances. And I’m already at work trying to figure out a much larger project that I can use to help Dave further. More on that when I know something.

Proceeds from the first 50 copies sold go to Dave Wolverton’s family. It’s a tiny dent in their debt but maybe they will be able to use the money for travel expenses to and from the hospital where Ben is recovering. Or maybe they can put it toward that debt. It’s entirely up to Dave.

To order, click HERE.

As I’ve said before, the generosity that you all harness and display is overwhelming. It’s a spirit that drives me and it will long into the future. If I can help others as I’ve been helped, I will live a long and happy life.

I hope you feel the same.

Best Wishes,
Shawn Speakman

17 thoughts on “ARCs of Unfettered

  1. Shawn,
    Sometimes life-changing events teach you what is really important in your life. I was lucky that my big events weren’t potentially fatal, so I have a lot of admiration for what you’ve been through and how you’ve overcome it. I’ve only ever known you with cancer so I don’t know how it might have changed you, but I have enjoyed being your (cyber)friend. I’ve also appreciated the opportunity to help out where I could. Keep up the good work!


  2. Shawn, I have bought a copy of Unfettered and would buy a copy of the “ARC”. But, don’t know if I should as it would make one less available to those readers that might want a copy. If you would let me know later on if you have copies that are left and need to sell, I will buy one at that time. I wish your friend and his family the best. Wayne Palmer in sunny South Dakota…

    1. Thank you, Wayne. That’s the exact spirit I love about all of you. I will definitely let you know if there are any left. I think if people don’t visit the website in the next week, then you are safe.

  3. I was thinking the same thing. I bought a copy of Unfettered (but I also have The dark Thorn) so I thought that maybe I shouldn’t get the ARC but the I thought nah F-it. Not my fault it people don’t keep up with the news 🙂 I do have one question Shawn – are you going to number them? If not what about numbering the first fifty so people know if their copy has helped the Wolverton’s family. Just a thought 🙂

    1. You know what, Courtney? I like that idea. A lot. I’ll hand number the first 50 books that I sign.

      1. Nice! Although I do hope I am one of the first fifty lol.

          1. Out of curiosity… well… and for other obvious reasons… Can you give us a hint as to whether we’ve past the magical 50 mark yet? 🙂

          2. So now I’m on pins and needles (sort of) wondering if my May 23 order made the 1st fifty. Ah, well, it’s for a great cause regardless of the outcome. I will assume “no” so I won’t be disappointed, and perhaps pleasantly surprised.

          3. I’m sure it did.

  4. I just placed my order for the ARC! I do like the idea of numbering the first 50 if you have tie and are so inclined.
    Have a fantastic day and thank you for your willingness to help other out!

  5. While I would love an ARC, especially one of those first 50, I too will leave this for those who missed the signed and numbered edition. I plan on getting a second copy in the Trade Edition anyway as a reader.

  6. Just placed my order. As a fellow Fantasy author on the verge of entering the market myself, and as a fellow Self-Publisher, well-experienced in the difficulties in garnering support from the traditional publishing universe, and also someone dealing with his own set of life-threatening maladies that have in the past brought me to the edge of bankruptcy, how could I not participate in this? I’m a tad bit more fortunate, in that I’m able to fall back on some technical skills for food, sustenance and medical support, but that blessing only makes it more imperative to help when I can. This is a noble cause, and I am happy to support it with enthusiasm. I can also do a blog post on my site, if that is acceptable. Let me know.

    Oh… and also, as an aside the content looks awesome as well LOL

    All the best,
    Steven M. Booth

  7. […] fellow fantasy author, Shawn Speakman, has an opportunity available over on his web site, that all Fantasy fans should consider.  He’s selling rare, Advanced Reader Copies of an […]

  8. […] “Unfettered: Tales From The Masters Of Fantasy,” an anthology of fantasy works that is offering ARCs right now.  Proceeds from the first fifty books sold will help Ben Wolverton recover, and the books will be autographed by some big names in fantasy including Terry Brooks and Shawn Speakman, so click this link to go buy your ADVANCED COPY of this awesome-sounding book. […]

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