MY 100th POST

Have I really made it to a hundred posts to Fantasy Author’s Handbook? Can it be?

Well, WordPress’s stats don’t lie. This is really it, post #100. That number tends to bring out all sorts of strange feelings of nostalgia and significance in people, and I guess I’m no different. One of my most prized possessions is my copy of Fantastic Four #100. That counts.

For Fantasy Author’s Handbook’s 100th post, I thought I’d pull back the curtain on some of those stats that WordPress keeps for me, and give you, loyal readers (and those who made it here via bizarre search engine queries) a peek into what you’ve all been reading, and some of what you’ve all been missing.

My first post was WHO IS PHILIP ATHANS?, which went up on June 15, 2009. Basically this just introduces you to me. If you’re interested in who I am, you’re better off clicking on the Philip Athans page, which I actually occasionally think to update. I took the picture on that page myself. Okay, I should probably go get a real photo taken, but anyway, that’s me, in my living room, blotchy pink skin and all.

Since June 15, 2009, Fantasy Author’s Handbook has enjoyed 29,417 all time views, and since I’m currently averaging about 68 views per day, I should break the 30,000 mark around the middle of next week. That’ll be a nice milestone.

The busiest single day was 754 views on June 23, 2010, the day after I was laid off from Wizards of the Coast, though that post, END OF PART TWO, which was posted on the day I left Wizards, June 22, 2010, has the second highest single view rate at 1544.

I honestly find that a little ghoulish, but I get it. I was there for fifteen years, starting with TSR in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and it’s not at all surprising that I was best known for my work there, and people are going to be curious about why I left. I hope I disappointed anyone who came looking for disgruntled ex-employee flame-outs. That’s just not how I roll.

Setting aside the bigger stat for the “home page,” which is actually the highest number, the only other post with 4-digit views is A PRISONER OF THE PRISONER (November 18, 2009) at 1144, which I wrote while obsessively working my way through the original series on On Demand. For the record, I still have not seen the AMC reboot.

The biggest single month was July 2010, with 3155 views—likely still blow-back from my exit from Wizards.

In what is certainly a massive let-down for people running a Google search, the most-read single post is GALLEY SLAVE from February 9, 2010 with 1601 views, in which I bemoan having to proofread a galley and explain what (in publishing terms) a galley is. As I’ll get into later, some variation of “galley slave” is far and away the most common search engine term to bring people to Fantasy Author’s Handbook. I hope that most of those are coming from people who have an historical, and not sexual interest in the topic, but who are we kidding?

The sad, least-read single post, with only 20 page views, is JUDGING BY ITS COVER from December 22, 2009. This is when I finally got the okay from Adams Media to post the cover of The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction.

I love the series of interviews, and no offense to Jim, was a little surprised that the most-read interview was with Baen editor JIM MINZ with 476 views from only a couple weeks ago. It’s strange and surprising to me that uber-best-selling author TERRY BROOKS from June 29, 2010 has had only 94 views. Where are you, Brooks fans?

People have really responded to my favorite books lists, too, with 839 views of my ten favorite SF novels (February 16, 2010) and 576 views of my ten favorite fantasy novels (November 11, 2009).

What surprises me most, and confuses and delights me, too, are the strange things that people type into a search engine that actually somehow bring them to Fantasy Author’s Handbook. Some are obvious, some are just . . . what the . . . ?

The top five search engine terms are:

the prisoner (512)

galley slaves (377)

galley slave (252)

slave galley (108)

philip athans (108)

Whew, I was hoping I’d be in there someplace! If you combine the first three variations on galley slave (and there are many more variations on the full list, including “charleton heston rowing” and “fantasy slaves”) it looks more like this:

galley slave/slave galley (737)

the prisoner (512)

philip athans (108)

village (66)

dune book (63)

I suppose I could combine “the prisoner” and “village,” too, but I think you get the picture. No surprise, based on this list, that two of my biggest posts were GALLEY SLAVES and A PRISONER OF THE PRISONER.

But then there are the what the . . . ? search terms, like the creepier slave galley variants:

original slave fiction

shirtless slaves

slave fantasy

Apparently because of the still I used in the post EXCUSE ME, NUMBER ONE, I HAVE TO GO NUMBER TWO:

spock gay

gay spock

star trek is gay

gay star

My convention report on Sakura-Con 2010, SAKURA-CON 2010: WHERE MY NERDY SISTERS AT? brought in these precious jewels, some of which really make my skin crawl:

sakura sex with nerd

sex toast

sex with my nerdy sister

People . . . please.

But it wouldn’t be the internet without more fringe sex searches:

fabio on a horse

explicit sex in r a salvatore novels

As for that last one, I can give you that answer fast: There isn’t any.

And among those that seem appropriate, there are a few with funny, or unsettling logical strings:

it is difficult to be a fantasy author

what writer think about nervous

restroom science fiction

lousy fantasy authors

paragraph fantasy

having character while having fun

And last but not least, a sad one, probably from my having included Keith Donohue’s The Stolen Child on my ten favorite fantasy novels list:

my stolen son

However they found me, people have bothered to file 244 comments, which (as long as they’re positive, civil, and include no links to porn or spam sites) I’m delighted to host.

And there it is, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, 100 posts in. For the record I have no idea how this stacks up against other blogs. If I’m outing myself as some kind of poor, lonely looser with a crap blog no one ever visits, so be it. The people who come to Fantasy Author’s Handbook may be a minority, but the best people generally are.

See you here, next Tuesday, for #101.

—Philip Athans

About Philip Athans

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Writing Monsters. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, ( is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.
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