I'm sure this has been answered in many places - it's such an easy hit - but I'll take my own swing at it.
Prince of Thorns was released in the same month as George Martin's very long awaited A Dance With Dragons. At the time ADWD was pretty much all anyone wanted to talk about. I did for a moment feel perhaps the same kind of trepidation expressed in Lynn Shepherd's blog ... but really it made no sense to feel that way.
George Martin wasn't 'stealing my readers' - what he was doing was turning hundreds of thousands of pairs of new eyes towards the Fantasy section of bookshops across the world. Sure for a few days those people were occupied with his latest doorstop - but then they wanted another book to read. They had a taste for fantasy and George wasn't going to give them a new volume for perhaps another five years.
Then along comes A Game of Thrones on TV, constituting one more big step in the recent advances toward making fantasy mainstream, toward making Joe and Josephine Public see it as something interesting and fun rather than the preserve of geeks, to be sneered at by 'normal' people. Fantasy has advanced hugely in the public perception over the past ten years, and its done so in large part due to the influence of the super-stars of the genre. They've called in the tide and I'm just one of many who have been surfing the waves toward minor success, very grateful for the whole thing.
The preserve of the Huffington Post blogger is crime fiction. She sees JK Rowling as an intruder who has crashed in and is using up all the air in that particular niche. This of course is the opposite of what's happening. Vast numbers of Rowling devotees, many of them now adults who read her children's books when they were kids, have followed her into this new adventure and many of them will be discovering to their surprise that they love crime fiction. When they've read her book many will look for another. The tide will rise - Lynn Shepherd's boat will be lifted with it, if she just lets it...
Selling books is a very non-linear business. Some soar, many crash. Many scrape a living whilst a handful make multi-millions. However, it is those chosen few, those authors whose success has made them celebrities, that command column inches in newspapers, mentions on the news, space in websites not dedicated to books. And that publicity constantly turns the public eye towards reading, towards fiction - constantly injects into their brain the idea that buying a book, reading a book, talking about a book are good things they will enjoy...
So I'll lift my coffee cup to the Rowlings, and the George Martins, to the Twilight and the Hunger Games, without sour grapes and with thanks.
(ordered by votes in the reddit r/fantasy poll) Competition Closed! Details at the end.
#8 Tara, horsing around... (21 votes)
#28 Malin (she's the one holding up the L) (10 votes)
#41 Ryan, a stellar effort (including 'in progress shots') apparently the beer and the key have my name on them (that's a bonus point right there). Sword? Check. And the artist in the mix too! (8 votes - even though it wasn't eligible for another prize!)
#13 Kareem, needed to get something off his chest! (6 votes)
#4 T.O. (5 votes)
Cutting wet grass in 2400 point Times New Roman font - easy.
Getting daughter 4 and 3 out of bed to pose and take pictures respectively - difficult.
Explaining to wife why the lawn is only half cut - impossible.
#26 Glen, Scrabbling for success (5 votes) just scraped the 3 by dint of all the fine books. Do like to see the reader too though.
#36 Anel. The Prince of Fools map as a playable RPG! (5 votes)
#31 David, with a rather fine tattoo! (4 votes) gotta give a bonus for the ink!
#2 Loki - Prints of Fools ... and there's footprints and hand prints in the dirt ... ah! Wordplay! (4 votes)
#22 Stephen, in his cups (all cleaned up and recycled after) (3 votes)
#40 Alice, with Prince of Fools in crochet ... which is apparently a real chore to do! (3 votes)
#32 Donna, Painted on the side of her house! (3 votes) That's going to take a few coats ... so just leave it :)
#42 Jesper (his day job is standing there holding the top of the runestone on). The bottom part, beneath the fool's cap, translates to Prince of Fools if you use the key. Quite what is going on here on this Swedish Viking-runed stone I'm not sure, but it's cool, especially given that such a stone features in the book. (3 votes)
#9 David - Print-Out of Fools! (3 votes)
Past this point the entries got (2,1 or 0 votes)
#1 Benjamin "not the car!" (3 points)
#3 Alicia, boxing clever! (4 points)
#5 Santiago - extra point for getting a fool-face on! (2 points)
#6 Christy (who owns a print center that does car vinyl) (3 points)
#7 Ryan - saying it with books! (2 points)
#10 Gillian - Trying to get ahead of the competition! (2 points)
#11 Paul - writing in the snow the nice way (1 point)
#12 Femke - a work of art with a message! (3 points)
#14 Moochy Mooch - being lazy and at work ... but still in with a chance! (1 point)
#15 Sean (baby Rhia was supposed to hold the kindle but wouldn't play ball - hence the stunt double) (2 points) (I can't give someone's baby 1 point!!)
#16 John, with Jacks ... Jacks being the Prince card ... also the Knave ... which can be taken for 'fool' ... though generally if you have to take this long explaining it... :) (2 points)
#17 Nadine, Queen of Photoshop, taunting us with her Caribbean winter adventure (3 points)
#18 Shane - going hard core, hoping to pip the opposition at the post with general appeal ... OK, OK, stopping now. (4 points)
#19 Neil, says it with soup! (1 point) cool but I know you just type it into a website :)
#20 Derek has Buckyballs! (1 point) - love Buckies, but show us the reader too! :)
#21 Michael facing down a humongous crocodile to bring you the news! (4 points) reader, check, exotic location check.
#23 Vivianne, takes the cake! (5 points)
#24 Scott, as he was last Halloween! (3 points)
#25 Mike, apparently this little girl wants daddy to read her Prince of Fools at bedtime (3 points)
#27 Konrad, getting his art on! (5 points)
#29 Scott, saying it with 75 books! (3 points)
#30 Dusty. (3 points)
#33 Tracey, Prince of Pies! +1 cute 2 year old ready to eat said pie! (4 points)
#34 Gottardo, Boldly Going! (1 point)
#35 Karla. (A rebus is an allusional device that uses pictures to represent words or parts of words.) I learn something every day! (2 points)
#37 Stuart. Prince of Fools on the TV! Maybe one day :) (2 points)
#38 Brandon - because Jorg would enjoy the Mardi Gras! (2 points)
#39 Crystal, hopping for success with this entry. (2 points)
#43 Joe, gives us the how to guide (2 points)
#44 Kathryn "Selfies; not as easy as half the Facebook population makes them look" - it does say 'Prince of Fools on the hat! (3 points)
#45 Doug & the artist formerly known as Prince of Fools (3 points)
#46 Wafer - titled "ok, my mom is going to kill me" (3 points)
#47 Christopher, with authentically aged banner & map! (4 points)
#48 Colin, with Prince & fool (3 points)
#49 RJ - perhaps more suited to Prince of Thorns! (4 points)
#50 Merrill, four hands are better than two! (5 points)
#51 Melissa and Rachel ABUSING the library system! (2 points)
#52 Travis drunkenly begging for an ARC - he's trying the puppy dog eyes, but little does he know there's a real dog in the very next entry! (2 points)
#53 Brandon, Brandon's dog, and a strategically placed Prince of Fools sign (2 points)
#54 Mart, giving Pennywise from IT a serious run for his money in scariest clown/fool ever! Also supplied photos demonstrating that this is his living room wall he's defaced... (6 points)
#55 Thomas (1 point)
#56 John, fool-face mode on! (2 points)
#57 Hilarycopter with another of her slightly distressing yoga moves! (3 points)
#58 Logan - the foolish cat's reading the wrong book... (2 points)
#59 James (2 points)
#60 Mathew (titled: Beauty of the Lightly Fingered) (1 point)
Give it a go!
Win you fools! Win!
The lucky winners were:
Scott #29 (signed edition)
Scott #46 (whole other Scott)
Hilary #61 (these guys aren't eligible for the voted prize - you can vote for them but they'll just get the honor of a win and I'll move the prize to the next highest)
(Details - competition closed!)
The winners of this contest were decided randomly (weighted by quality of entry) and it pained me that so many great entries didn't get a reward.
I opened this up for the folk on reddit r/fantasy to vote for the best.
The three entries with the most votes who didn't win in random draw now win signed hardback copies of Prince of Fools when it comes out in June, or signed hardback copies of Emperor of Thorns now.
I've ordered the list by number of votes received (if 3+). It's worth noting that of the 60 entries, 32 got at least 1 vote, indicating very diverse opinions out there!
The winners of the reddit draw are:
http://www.reddit.com/user/hersha (Signed Prince of Fools ARC)
http://www.reddit.com/user/bookbrahmin (Signed Emperor of Thorns hardback)
If you weren't lucky or want a back-up plan, you can always pre-order on Amazon: