Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Grim Gathering II


So, this is happening again!

I will be there barring medical emergencies with my daughter (85%), and with or without me you'll be in the culpable hands of Joe Abercrombie & Peter V Brett, along with new man, Peter Newman.

There now follow photos from last year to enthuse you to ditch work early on a Friday and get your arse down to Bristol.

Less huggy on the British side...

There was beer!

My impression of Kermit the Frog went down well...

Lots of people came ... we think someone told them Pat Rothfuss was talking...

Two great nations divided by a common cover

I'm pleased to present the full version of The Liar's Key cover for the UK, Voyager, edition. Also by Jason Chan. The US one is presented next, then both together with a poll so you can register your opinion. The art without the title/author is presented at the bottom.

Why are there two covers?

Voyager / UK cover

Ace / US cover



After 143 votes 81% of Brits, 59% of Americans, and 72% of everyone else prefers the UK cover.
(36% of voters were Brits(&Australians&NewZealanders), 34% Americans(&Canadians), and 30% 'others')


The rough versions.


The Liar's Key, UK (no lettering)
 

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Bloggers: wind or windsock?

Given that I've instigated a blog-off to find and give visibility to the best of self-published fantasy in which the grand prize is to be reviewed on 10 top fantasy book blogs it's probably worth considering how big a prize that is.

Common-sense tells us that it's better to be reviewed on blogs than not to be. It's hard to sell a book that nobody is talking about.

The question is: in general do blogs review books that are already being driven forward by word-of-mouth, that vast off-line network of one friend to another, conversations around the water-cooler or lunch table? Or do blogs initiate and drive forward that larger conversation?

A gratuitous picture of a windsock.

So - how do we know? I mean, obviously the answer is 'a bit of both' but which end of that spectrum is it?

All I have to offer is anecdote, but it's anecdote coupled to some figures.

If you look at the List of Lists I made, showing the Best of 2014 lists that featured Prince of Fools a little clicking around will show that a lot of those lists also include three other titles:

Veil of the Deserters - by Jeff Salyards
City of Stairs - by Robert Jackson Bennett
Mirror Empire - by Kameron Hurley

I'm going by memory here, but I just clicked the first four links on the list and three of them featured Veil of the Deserters.



Bloggers, at least the ones that seem to like my work, love Jeff Salyards. The blog-o-sphere as a whole seemed to catch RJB fever for the last quarter of 2014, and certain high-traffic parts of the blogging world literally ripped themselves asunder in their orgasmic rapture over Mirror Empire.

So how did these books fare?

I'm pretty damn convinced that the number of Goodreads ratings a book gets correlate to sales. If you want to compare two books, then if they are from the same year and same genre the relative number of Goodreads ratings is a half-decent indicator of their relative sales.

Veil of the Deserters - 216 (since May)
City of Stairs - 3725 (since September)
Mirror Empire - 1189 (since August)

For comparison a fair number of popular fantasy books released in 2014 have around 10,000 ratings.

Kameron Hurley reported being pleased with her sales of Mirror Empire, 10,000 copies sold after 4 months is very good going. On the other hand we can see that all of that blog activity (and there was a LOT of it) didn't turn her into a best-seller overnight, or over 4 months.

The real interest for me here is Veil of the Deserters. I've read and enjoyed the book and spoken with Jeff online quite a bit. He readily acknowledges that the book and its predecessor (also lauded on many blogs) have not sold spectacularly.

One obvious reason that the books haven't sold in great numbers is that the publisher, Night Shade Books, collapsed during the release and had to be rescued by selling their titles to another publisher - in the meantime being unable to perform many of the fundamental tasks of a publisher, such as getting copies on shelves.

 Random people excited to be drinking water.

This lack of visibility out in the real world obviously had an impact on those off-line word-of-mouth conversations so vital to selling books. We still had the on-line excitement over electronic copies supplied to blogs - but there was no corresponding drive in any of the other places where books get their boost from. This was a book that was really only seen by bloggers. Many of them loved it (as evidenced by its prominence in so many Best of 2014 list) and yet it seems to have sold only a fraction of the copies of some of its peers which got similar levels of love.

The conclusion then? Well, there's no firm conclusion. But as a single observation, gifted to us by a the combination of blogger love and publisher fail. It seems to push us some of the way toward the windsock theory. A blog-gasm alone cannot assure great sales.

I'm still sure great blog reviews are a very definite help though :)













Saturday, 7 March 2015

The Liar's Key writing contest!

Over on my unofficial website (yeah, I have one of those now!) there's a flash fiction writing contest.

The prize is a rare (possibly unique) signed Advance Review Copy of The Liar's Key from Ace Books - but there's also feedback from a panel of authors if your piece of flash fiction wins (or some words from your particular judge if you're one of the pieces they put through to the final).

The contest details are HERE.



Friday, 6 March 2015

The Great Self-published Fantasy Blog-off!

This is a page I will update with links as and when news, blogs, and reviews relevant to the blog-off emerge.

I'm hoping the bloggers will use #SelfPubFantasyBlogOff or #SPFBO tags to make it easier for everyone to find articles/reviews via Google.

The bloggers each have one of these now:
http://mark---lawrence.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/book-tower.html


First let me say thank you to all the authors who sent their work in. You were so numerous I wasn't able to respond individually but at the end of this post is a list of all the entries I received, which blogger they went to, and whether they were in the 25 for that blogger that will definitely be considered (1-25), or in the excess that may be considered if the blogger is feeling extra energetic.

Almost everyone who sent in thanked me for taking the time to do this - of course I've spent only a modest amount of time on the project and it is the bloggers who are going to put in the real hours.

Almost everyone who sent in thanked me for the opportunity. And it is a great opportunity - but let's take a moment to keep expectations real here. We have over 250 entries. Each blogger is going to select the book they feel is best from the 25+ entries sent to them. That means that 96%+ of you will fail at the first hurdle. That's just the unforgiving mathematics of the thing.

You may have written a great book, but there may be one in that 25+ that the blogger likes better.

Here are my views on 'failure'.

And here is a post about this effort on Fantasy-Faction full of interesting statistics about famous authors and rejection.

I sent Prince of Thorns to 4 agents. The first didn't reply. The second didn't reply. The third sent a cut&paste rejection.  You're only getting one chance here.

The deadline for bloggers selecting their champion who they will 'publish' into the final round is September 1st. I will link their decisions and reviews here as and when they are made. If all 10 bloggers turn in their decisions early we will move into round 2 early.

Good luck everyone!

I must put in an extra word of thanks here for Sarah Chorn of Bookworm Blues who helped me refine the format.


By my count 80 of the 260 entries (31%) passed to the bloggers are from female authors - a slight underestimate no doubt as I assumed the owners of names like Alex and Andy to be male.

Blog posts:

Bob Milne of Beauty in Ruins on blurbs, covers, and titles.
Lynn Williams of Lynn's Books reviews His Own Good Sword by Amanda McCrina.
Ria of Bibliotropic on titles, covers, and blurbs.
Sarah Chorn of Bookworm Blues divides to conquer!
Elitist Book Reviews outline their slush-strategy.
An update from Lynn's Books.
Here an 11th man has a sift through the slush.
On The Fictional Hangout Milo reviews Fire and Ice by Patty Jansen.
Ria of Bibliotropic reviews Son of a Dark Wizard.
Ria of Bibliotropic starts an update list.
Elitist Book Reviews like The Thief Who Pulled On Trouble's Braids.


Here's a wordle made on the all the titles!


It appears that the ideal ... or at least mode ... title would be "Dark Black City of Blood"



Entrants:

1. Sarah Chorn of Bookworm Blues

1.    Tony Barrett – Stranger’s Descent
2.    Ben Galley – Blood Rush
3.    Jesse Jack Jones – The Darkness Undivided
4.    Sean Rodden – Whispers of War
5.    Scott Marlowe – The Five Elements
6.    Matt Waldram – Monsters of Elsewhere
7.    Eve Peters – Children of the Fallen
8.    Kip Manley – City of Roses: Autumn into Winter
9.    Jeff Haas – Searching for Nada 
10. Paul Kleynhans – Dark Legion
11. Ioana Visan – The Impaler Legacy Omnibus
12. Jay Flynn – The Fivefold Prophecy
13. Pauline M Ross – The Plains of Kallanash
14. Greg Mahan – A Touch of Magic
15. Matt Karlov – The Unbound Man
16. Ted Cross – The Shard
17.  S.M. White – The Lonely Man : The Witch’s Price
18. Diana Peach – The Bone Wall
19. Felix Hartmann – Dark Age
20. Bryan Henderson – Tales of Ordegron
21. G. R. Matthews – The Stone Road
22. Jonathan Ashman – Black Cross
23. Claire Frank – To Whatever End (withdrawn owing to book deal!)
24. M.S Verish – Dawning
25. Emily McNeely – Leaving Bisht
26. Luke Matthews – Construct
27. Patricia Burroughs – The Crumbling Pageant
Holly Blackstone - A World Away


2. Steve Diamond &co at the twice Hugo nominated Elitist Book Reviews

1.    Stephanie Caine – Storm Shadow
2.    D. Moonfire – Sand and Blood
3.    Joe Donahue – The Final Requiem
4.    Christopher Kellen – The Elements of Sorcery
5.    Heidi Collotzi – The Secret of Avonoa
6.    Terry Green – Shaman, Healer, Heretic
7.    Tony Healey – The Bloody North
8.    Tom Wright – Apex Rising
9.    Callista Hunter – Goddess
10. Tristan Gregory – The Swordsman of Carn Nebeth
11. JP Lantern – Up the Tower
12. Jeff Morin – Fire Hurler
13. Sean Froyd – Inanis the Hooded
14. Melisa McPhail – Cephrael’s Hand
15. Michael Watson – Valkwitch
16. Robert Dahlen – Of Introductions and Abductions 
17. Matt Forbeck – Hard Times in Dragon City
18. Michael Karner – Red Axe, Black Sun
19. Timothy Bond – The Watcher’s Keep
20. Martin Owton – The Exile of Darien
21. Christopher Hayhurst – Metal, Salt, and Sand
22. Michael McClung – The thief who pulled on trouble’s braids
23. Christian Freed – Hammers in the Wind
24. Jacob Cooper – Circle of Reign
25. Jack Newhouse – Journey
26. Brian Kramer – Godhede
27. Salvador Mercer – The Black Dragon


3. Mark Aplin &co of the award winning Fantasy-Faction

1.    Tristan J Tarwater – The Self-Made Scoundrel
2.    J. Daniel Batt - Keaghan in the tales of Dreamside
3.    Christopher MacDonald – The Dreaded
4.    Dan Hupalo – The String Quartet
5.    Matthew Colville – Priest
6.    Sever Bronny – Arcane
7.    D.P Brown – A Fairie’s Tear
8.    Gregory Close – In Siege of Daylight
9.    Landon Portor – A girl and her monster
10. Tom Wright – Blood for Blood
11. Elizabeth McCoy – Queen of Roses
12. Casey Peter – After the Burning
13. Jonathan Moeller – Frostborn
14. John Dodds – The Mechanikals
15. Jenn Gott – The Lady of Souls
16. Sena Bryer – Dreambound
17. M. Edward McNally – The Sable City
18. James Cormier – Exile
19. Mark Gardner – Champion Standing
20. Thaddeus White – Journey to Altmortis
21. Shauna Granger – World of Ash
22. James Islington – The shadow of what was lost
23. Magnus von Black – The Song and the Pendant
24. Luke Spry – This Grave Kingdom
25. Davis Ashura – The Castes and the Outcastes
26. Daniel Eavenson – Dave Woke Up
27.  Joe Bailey – Shadow’s Rise

4. Mihir Wanchoo of Fantasy Book Critic

1.    Corey Bryers - Scrapper
2.    Alex Ziebart – Blood and Masks
3.    Beth Lyons – The Soul Thief
4.    Scott Warren – Sorcerous Crimes Division: Devil Bone
5.    Domino Finn – Shade City
6.    David Tatum – The Kitsune Stratagem
7.    Charlotte Cyprus – Kiss of the Fae
8.    Scott McGowan – Bjorn and Bread
9.    Greg James – Under a colder sun
10. Andy Crawford – The Pen is Mightier
11. Brian Lynch – King Callie
12. Christopher Ruz – Century of Sand
13. Anthony Lowe – City of Blades
14. Eric Knight – Wreckers Gate
15. Melissa Porter – Purple
16. Rachel Bowden – Artisan
17. Annika Howells – How to disappear completely
18. Wilf Jones – The Best of Men
19. Robert Mullin – Bid the gods arise
20. Sean Moran – A Time of Kings
21. Rob Donovan – Ritual of the Stones
22. Randall Fitzgerald – No One’s Chosen
23. Nat Russo – Necromancer Awakening
24. A. Murtagh – Soldiers 
25. Jenny Watson – Spirit’s Mage
26. Ken Lim – The Starfall Knight
27.  Victor Salinas – The Sword and its Servant


5. Lynn Williams of Lynn's Books

1.    Noel Coughlan – A Bright Power Rising
2.    R.P Rigoli – Red 
3.    Jennifer Bell – A warrior’s legacy: Jamie
4.    Andrew Rowe – Forging Divinity
5.    Melody Taylor – In the Dark
6.    Tavish Kaeden – The Weight of a Crown
7.    David Pedersen – Angst
8.    Adam Lee – Dark Heart
9.    Kal S Davian – Naming the Bane
10. Patrick J Loller – Forged by Battle
11. T.C Pearce – Into the Aether 
12. Will Kay – Requiem of Innocence
13. Benny Hinrichs – The Oneironauts
14. Neil McGarry & Daniel Ravipinto – The Duchess of the Shallows
15. Nick Marsden – The Light of Theolan
16. Janice McKonly – Welcome to Mystery Interior
17. Steve Thomas – Klondaeg the Monster Hunter
18. Wayne Miller – The Dung Ball Chronicle
19. Amanda McCrina - His Own Good Sword
20. Jack Kerr – Tommy Black and the Staff of Light
21. Scott Decker – Gemstone Wyverns
22. Terry Simpson – Game of Souls
23. Cindy Young-Turner – Thief of Hope
24. Ruairi Cinead Ducantlin – Verum – Exercitum ex Nihilo
25. Jake Scholl – Blade of the Broken
26. JR Karlsson – Escana 
27.  Maya Michaels - Iduna



1.    Karen de Lange – Beneath Starlight
2.    LJ Cohen – Time and Tithe
3.    SM Barrett – The Halloween Host
4.    Patty Jansen – Fire and Ice
5.    KJ Tantardini – God Striker
6.    William Dickstein – A Tale of Gems
7.    Jeff Goelz – The Rightful Queen
8.    Daniel Aspden – Hero the Killer
9.    Robert Courtland – Jack of Troubles
10. Daniel Quigley – Thunder Struck
11. Violet Patterson – Emerald Seer
12. Mary C Moore – Angelus
13. Milo Woods – Rupture
14. Seth Lindberg – Spawn of Dyscrasia
15. Robert Luis Rabello – Ceremonies and Celebrations
16. T.O Munro – Lady of the Helm
17. Brad Carsten – Riftwalkers
18. Jack Thane – Forsaken
19. Jonathan Walles – The little girl and the shadow
20. Plague Jack – Sins of Sovereignty
21. Trip Ellington – Game Alive
22. Daniel Ionson – After Life
23. David Moton – Chama
24. Peter Fugazzotto – Black River
25. Ellis L Knox – The Garden of Hugo Vuerloz
26. JM McDermott – Straggletaggle
27. Astra Crompton – Firstborn


7. Bob Milne of Beauty in Ruins

1.    Stoo Goff – Knights of Elevar
2.    Blair MacGregor – Sand of Bone 
3.    Rick Chiantaretto – Death of the Body
4.    Steve Muse – Heir of Nostalgia
5.    Lila Lestrange – Black Silk
6.    VJ Lakshman – Mythborn
7.    EJ Stevens – Burning Bright 
8.    Anthony Stevens – Shifter Shadows
9.    Rob Vitaro – By the light of the moons
10. Claude Blakhen – Osterode
11.  Andy Grinsfelder – Soulraker
12.  JL Doty – Child of the Sword 
13.  JD Brink – Tarnish 
14.  William G Saraband – Shattered Sands
15.  Craig Saunders – The Outlaw King
16.  Kevin Butterfield – Stormwalkers
17.  James Latimer – The Winter Warrior
18.  Brad Williams – Chadwick Yates and the Cannibal Shrine
19. CV Dreesman – The Marksmith
20.  Jay Swanson – Into the Nanten
21. Annie Bellet – Avarice
22. Kelly Russo – Dreamweavers
23. JD Hallowell – Dragon Fate
24.  James Gawley – Legionnaire
25.  Siana Wineland – Emergence
26.  Greg Dragon – Re-wired


8. Ria of Bibliotropic

1.    A.E Marling – Chisel and Frost
2.    . Edward Richie – Fall from Grace
3.     Peyton Reynolds – The Auguries of Dawn
4.     William D Richards – The Aggadeh Chronicles
5.     Shiriluna Nott – A Call to Arms
6.     Barbara Webb – City of Burning Shadows
7.     Amelia Smith – Scrapplings
8.     Erin Snyder – A Court of Five
9.     Irina Rempt – Terms of Service
10.  M. Todd Gallowglas – Dead Weight
11. TL Morganfield – The Bone Flower Queen
12.  Karen Gellender – The Problem With Black Magic
13.  Vanna Smythe – Protector
14.  Annette Gisby – The Chosen
15.  Sean Hannifin – Son of a Dark Wizard
16.  Robyn Wideman – Son of Thoron
17.  Lori Alden Holuta – The flight to Brassbright
18.  Chris Northern – The Last King’s Amulet
19.  Marc Johnson – Catalyst
20.  JK  Swift – Altdorf 
21.  Randall Boleyn – Wave Links to the Gods
22.  Nathan Boyce – Chronicle of Unfortunate Heroes
23.  Olga Godim – Squirrel of Magic
24.  GB Wren – The Silvering of Loran
25.  Alan Zendell – The Portal
26.  Mark Tyson – Defenders of the Sacred Land


9. Tyson Mauermann of The Speculative Book Review

1.     AJ Colby – Hunted 
2.    Tyler Danann – The Way Captain 
3.    Lisa Hayward – Blood Work
4.    Nicholas R Andrews – Secrets of the Stonechaser
5.    Susan D Kalior – Warriors in the Mist
6.    Lianne Miller – Nights of Shadow
7.    Crista McHugh – A Soul for Trouble
8.    Sara C Roethle – Tree of Ages
9.    Jonathan Crocker – A Dream of Hope and Sorrow
10. Kirby Moore – Starfall City
11.  CG Garcia – Old Souls 
12.  Michele Amitrani - Omnilogos
13.  NM Sotzek – Revealing the Revolution 
14.  Eliza Marie Jones – Rynlee’s Song
15.  Philip R Hall – Memories of the Dead
16.  SA Hunter – Unicorn Bait 
17.  L Blankenship – Disciple 
18.  Mark Maxwell – The London Project
19.  Frances Pauli – Blame the Bearer 
20.  William Dooling – Synchronicity
21.  Clare C Marshall – The Violet Fox
22.  Stephen Roy – Black Redneck vs The Space Zombies
23.  Robert Michael – Stone and Blood
24.  Masha du Toit – Crooks and Straights
25.  Nicholas Mena – Cayuye
26.  Steve S Grant  - Conqueror’s Law


10. The guys at Fantasy Book Review

1.    Nate Jones – Undying Heights
2.    Rinelle Grey – Twin Curse
3.    TR Goodman – My Name is Michael Bishop
4.    Henry Lion Oldie – ShMagic
5.    Christina Ochs – Prophet of Ruin
6.    Marilyn Peake – Shade
7.    Charlie Ward – The Unseelie Court
8.    Victoria Jeffrey – Schisms
9.    Graham Austin-King – Fae - The Wild Hunt
10.  Kade Derricks – Paladin’s Redemption
11.  Anastasia Marie – Binding Power
12.  Melanie Nilles – Spirit Blade
13.  Ashley Nixon – Cutlass 
14.  Jack Connor – The Atomic Sea
15.  Kenton Crowther – A Prince in Gangland
16.  David Kowert – What Remains of Heroes
17.  Nick Moseley – Location, Location, Damnation
18.  Tom Fallwell – Dragon Rising
19.  SB Jones – Skymages and the Gateway of Time
20.  Jaleta Clegg – Dark Dancer
21.  Michael Ploof – The Whill of Agora
22.  J Niomi Ay – The boy who lit up the sky
23.  T Lynne Tolle – Hades’ Revenge
24.  Shawn Wickersheim –The Penitent Assassin
25.  John Patrick Kennedy – The Descended
26.  CM Cox – Sortilege
27. Scarlett Dawn – Valan Playboys