Genre, Merchandising, and Shameless Self-Promotion

Hey there, everyone.

I don’t know why you follow my blog–whether you’re frustrated writers, precarious academics, Tolkien geeks, or people who happened along and decided it was worth reading the stuff I write. I’ve just crossed 4,500 individual readers, plenty of whom have come back for seconds, and I thank you for that.

In a rare bid for shameless self-promotion, I’m going to plug a sale on this weekend. I run a miscellaneous swag shop over at Spreadshirt called Reality Jockey Designs, and the company that manufactures my stuff is letting me throw my readers & their friends a 15% off sale over the weekend. Use the coupon code 15OFF for your savings–and my American readers should keep in mind that my stuff is priced in Canadian dollars but ships from the US, all of which makes for absurdly low prices south of the border. With this weekend’s sale, it knocks a “$25 product” down to about $17 for you folks.

This is especially good for adjuncts who might like my Adjunct Office-In-A-Bag to get conversations started on their campus, especially since adjuncts in the US make even less to begin with.

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This infinitely-nested image of a sad adjunct with an Office-In-A-Bag belongs on a bag carried by a sad adjunct.

There’s plenty of other stuff. The rare “Tesla Mercury” shirt is back, for those of you who didn’t get one the first time around. It’ll only last as long as there are no trademark challenges, which so far seems to be holding out: the Freddie Mercury estate thinks it’s Nikola Tesla, and the Nikola Tesla estate thinks it’s Freddie Mercury.
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And, of course, for the D&D crew, there’s a lovely rulebook-sized messenger back with a “Natural 21” available in a couple of colours. Mine isn’t the only Natural 21 design out there, but I happen to think it’s the nicest. And it’s the only one available on a bag sized for RPG books and character sheets; so there.
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So what does it mean that I’m spamming my dear readers with this stuff? Am I leveraging my fame to help survive as my class winds down with no future academic work in sight? Of course I am. But the very act of being there, doing that, and selling the T-shirt is one that’s ripe for critical commentary.

Last year I finished a doctoral dissertation of over 140,000 words. I’m editing it down now and turning it into a book-like monograph that academics could read without choking on all the footnotes. I’ve finished a fantasy novel of 60,000 words that is in the manuscript-revision stage. I’ve submitted 14 different poems and short stories to various collections, small presses, and homes; my “3 for 14” success record sounds pretty dismal at  I’ve had a short story published in an anthology that hit #3 on its Amazon chart; I’ve done a number of worthwhile things in print — and yet, when you get right down to it, the humble T-shirt is the medium in which I’ve actually made the most money this year.

What does this tell us about the nature of publishing, or the attention span of the reader, or the practicality of words? A T-shirt is ultimately right up there with the Internet meme as one of the most concise forms of wit out there. They say quite regularly, and probably with accuracy, that ‘if Shakespeare were alive today, he’d be writing for television”—a quote attributed to Avengers archfoe Tom Hiddleston and certainly said by him, but one that definitely predates him.

Well, here’s a new quote for the ages: “If Mark Twain were alive today, he’d be writing T-shirts.” What other venue would better serve for the infinitely quotable humourist? Is “T-Shirt” a literary genre? Will there some day be a professor of T-shirt studies? (if so, my pioneering work in this field will make me a shoe-in).

Hmm, that Mark Twain fellow gives me an idea for another shirt. I’d best get on it; they seem to be selling better than the novels at present.

If you visit my store and see anything you like, or would make a good gift, the coupon code 15OFF will get you 15% off anything in-store from April 10 to April 14. But you didn’t hear it from me. 😉

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