We’ve come a long way.

It was a lark, to begin with. A Dinosaur Comic, a few messageboard posts, and all of a sudden so many people had so many good ideas that it seemed natural to put a book together. It started small, but everyone we pitched the idea to was as fascinated as we were. So naturally, we ratcheted up our ambition — let’s make it a big book, get everybody involved, open submissions to the world, pay people…

We had no idea how big this would be. About 700 submissions in just a few months. We read every story, loving some, setting them aside, arguing among ourselves, wishing we could publish more, and finally, agonizingly, whittling it down to 30. We peppered the mix with some original work of our own as well, hired a ton of our friends and folks we admired from the world of comics and webcomics to illustrate the book, and we had a manuscript all set to shop to publishers.

Then we learned a little something about the anthology market. Stephen King isn’t in this book. Neither is Dave Eggers or Neil Gaiman or Nick Hornby. Nobody would buy this little book full of stories from nobody famous, we were told. We talked with six different agents who fell in love with this book; one even fell deeply in love and tried her hardest to sell it to anybody who would listen. One editor at a publishing house told us “Let me be blunt: I love this premise; I love this project; I want to read this book […] the sample stories included in the proposal are really very strong, and if they’re all that good, then this is a genre anthology of high literary quality.”

But it was 2008, 2009. “The economy,” we were told. “And it’s an anthology.”

During that time between when we opened submissions in 2007 and now, a funny thing happened. We learned a lot about how publishing works, but the most important thing we learned was that big trade publishing is like a train. Big trade publishing runs on tracks. Big trade publishing can’t turn on a dime; big trade publishing desperately needs all the coal it can find to run — meaning licensing rights. Audio rights. Electronic rights. Foreign rights and movie rights. They sell all those rights separately and hopefully make enough money from it all to pay the rent on the New York office and the salary of all the staffers in that office.

We didn’t want to sell ebook rights; we wanted to release the ebook for free as a PDF. We didn’t want to sell audio rights; we wanted to record the audiobook ourselves, and release it for free as a podcast. Movie rights remain with the authors — if you love one of the stories in this book and want to make a blockbuster film from it, contact the author and give them the money. We’re not in the middle.

And we live on the internet enough that we knew we could sell this book.

This isn’t some vanity-press sour-grapes effort. The simple truth is that we probably can’t compete on the shelves at Barnes & Noble alongside every other book in the world. The agents and the publishers are right; it might not work for a mass market. That’s okay. We don’t need to sell it to everyone. We don’t need to sell 100,000 copies; we don’t have the rent on a New York office to pay for.

We only need to sell it to you.

On October 26, we want to send a message that a little project dragged kicking and screaming from “crazy idea” past “it’ll never work” all the way to “By God, they actually did it” can make a big splash. We’re internet people; you are too. We want to prove to all the people who said “this will never sell” that internet people make things happen.

Did you know that on any given day, an Amazon.com bestseller only sells a few hundred copies? Sure, they sell a few hundred copies a day for weeks and months on end, but what we’ve learned is that it only takes a few hundred sales on a single day to become an Amazon.com bestseller.

We want Machine of Death to become a Number One bestseller for exactly one day — October 26.

Here is our book’s listing on Amazon: machineofdeath.net/oct26/ — blog it, retweet it, add your affiliate link, post it on your bulletin board at work, shout it from the rooftops, tattoo it on your dog. (Note: the title may not have populated through all of Amazon’s search databases yet. Use the direct link whenever you can, so people can find it.)

Now, if you are morally opposed to patronizing Amazon for any reason, that’s totally fine. The book will be available online in our own e-store in early November, and (hopefully) through regular bookstore distribution sometime after that. If you’re international and can’t patronize Amazon.com, you can watch for it in our own store later and help us spread the word in the meantime. Individual contributors may be retailing it themselves through various means as well, at their discretion. The ebook and audiobook are coming soon, and both of those will be free.

But if you can help us become a bestseller for a day, October 26 is that day. Here are some link banners you can use if you like — point them to this post, or to the Amazon link, or to your own affiliate-laden Amazon link, or to your elaborate MOD fanfic, or whatever. Blog, tweet, or join our Facebook event and invite your friends. Every bit of promotion helps. Let’s see if we can do this.

More posts throughout the week with more details!

P.S. Camron Miller or William Grallo, if you see this, please email us: info [at] machineofdeath.net. Thanks!