Launch Day: THE PRETENDER’S CROWN
Well, if last month’s release, THE QUEEN’S BASTARD, was sex, politics, murder and betrayal, than its sequel, THE PRETENDER’S CROWN, is betrayal, murder, sex and politics, more or less in that order. :)
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Assassin. Seductress. Bastard.
Belinda Primrose has lied, murdered, and seduced her way through the deadly courts of Echon, all in the name of solidifying her queen mother’s power. Now war follows in her wake, and with it, the underpinnings that have held her in place for all of her life. She has trusted her father, been loyal to her mother, and waited patiently for answers that, once revealed, prove that those who should love her best see her as nothing more than an instrument to be played toward their own ends.
But Belinda has come into the strength of her witchpower, a magic she shares with Prince Javier, pretender to her mother’s throne, and with the sensual witchlord Dmitri, whose talent with the witchpower is beyond anything Belinda could imagine. Their craft has been used to manipulate, shape, and evolve the future of Echon…but even a power from beyond the stars cannot break the will of a daughter betrayed by everything she has ever known.
After a lifetime of service, Belinda will finally shape a future of her own…and change the destiny of a world with her choices.
A SECRET TRUTH about this book–about the Inheritors’ Cycle–is that I originally imagined TQB and TPC to be a single novel. I planned it to be Belinda’s Story, and the next two books were going to be someone else’s story.
Obviously that didn’t work out super well. QUEEN’S BASTARD weighed in at around…*laughs* I remember that the contract said “130K,” and I was like “It’s not going to be 130K. Maybe 150.” My editor said “We’ll put 130 in to keep you honest.” I just checked the original manuscript for TQB, which was 580 pages and 139,000 words. TPC was 717 pages and 180K, so we’re talking about a book that would have been the size of GRRM’s A CLASH OF KINGS if it had been published as one volume.
(That woulda been cool, huh? Maybe someday I’ll do a single edition hardback volume? :))
Anyway, I’m *ridiculously* pleased to be re-releasing this series, and I hope you all rush out and buy the books and enjoy them very much!
THE PRETENDER’S CROWN is available now!
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Launch Day: THE QUEEN’S BASTARD
Sex, politics, murder and betrayal arrive with this re-release of THE QUEEN’S BASTARD!
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Belinda Primrose deals in secrets.
Since childhood, Belinda has known she was the unacknowledged daughter of Lorraine, the unwed queen of Aulun, an island nation on the edge of the vast Echonian continent. Belinda is a spy, an assassin…and a danger to her mother, should she ever be discovered. She can be anyone, and will do anything, to cement Lorraine’s position of power within the treacherous Echonian courts.
But as she infiltrates the glamorous royal palaces where her mother’s rivals scheme, a new power awakens in Belinda. The witchlight she commands is a dangerous aphrodisiac—one that could bring down everything she’s worked for when she finds a teacher in the sensual prince of Gallin. Javier harbors secret witchbreed magic of his own…and a claim to the Aulunian throne that ranks him highly among Lorraine’s enemies.
Belinda has never wavered in her mission, but love and loyalty will collide as her secrets are revealed…
This is a re-release with new cover art (and a few spelling errors fixed) of a book I published through Del Rey in 2008 and which I got the rights back to last year. It’s the first of a duology that tell the story of Belinda Primrose, the Queen’s bastard. Between the two books, a complete story is told, although it’s clear to any reader that there’s more in the world to tell.
It is not like my other books. It is full of sex, murder, politics and betrayal, in more or less that order. Its voice is completely different. There is at least one scene of Extremely Questionable Consent.
I do not tell you this to scare you away. I tell you this because this book sold like hotcakes upon its original release, and sales on its sequel, THE PRETENDER’S CROWN (re-release out next month!), collapsed so hard they almost took my career with them. My wonderful, loyal urban fantasy readers all went out and bought THE QUEEN’S BASTARD, and two-thirds of them apparently went “oh my GOD what have I gotten myself INTO” and did not buy the second.
I have felt somewhat guilty about this for ten years. :) In retrospect (and frustratingly, we discussed it at the time and decided against it), it would have been wisest to publish THE QUEEN’S BASTARD under a related pseudonym, because it’s so different from the urban fantasy stuff. But, well, hindsight is 20/20.
The good thing is that the people who bought TQB for what it was really loved it. There is a small, passionate group of people who have been hoping for ten years that I might someday finish the story I was building for this world.
Now that I have the rights back, that’s a possibility. It’s not going to be for a long time. I have a lot of things I need to get written first. But I also have notes and titles for the rest of the books set in the Inheritors’ Cycle world, and I’ve always wanted the chance to tell the whole story.
(I feel like I must again emphasize that I absolutely do consider TQB & TPC to be a complete story unto themselves. They end where they were always intended to, and the next book was always intended to be someone else’s story.)
I tell you what, though. Putting this e-book together was almost a revelation. I knew TQB was well-written. It was—it is—a book I somewhat self-deprecatingly called a real book: it’s not set in the modern world; its has a cast of, if not thousands, at least several; it does not rely on quick patter and one-liners and blinding fast pacing in the way the Walker Papers, especially, do. It was meant to be something new, something that showed what else I could do. And it succeeded. I knew it did all of those things.
But it had been years since I’d looked at the book, and when I opened up the file to make the e-book, I read the first sentences and I thought, “Holy crap, this is really good!”
That was, I confess, a pretty great feeling. :)
So…well. There you go. THE QUEEN’S BASTARD, backstory and all!
THE QUEEN’S BASTARD is available now!
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Inheritors’ Cycle update
Further to this post, I have some things to report about the Inheritors’ Cycle.
Not irregularly, people ask me if I’ll be doing more of them. I’ve been seriously considering pursuing that, but I just got royalty statements on them, and it’s clear that unless I could be absolutely certain of getting the books into bookstores, it would be a waste of my time. THE QUEEN’S BASTARD has sold about 1800 copies in e-book and THE PRETENDER’S CROWN has sold about 1000. Assuming that at the best I’d match TPC’s e-sales, I’d be looking at maybe $6K in income, all of which would be eaten by cover art and editorial costs. Not worth it.
“But Kickstarter!” people say, which, yes, but perks! rewards! etc! are costly and it kind of appears from royalty statements that in e-book terms, the people who might support an Inheritors’ Cycle Kickstarter (ie, the ones who are aware of my internet presence and pay attention to it) are very possibly the ones who might also buy the e-book, which means I wouldn’t even have as many as 1K sales to count on. So running a Kickstarter just to cover, say, expenses like cover art and editing could very well leave me in a position of essentially writing the book for free with no especial hope of making enough money through later sales to make up for that. Running a Kickstarter to pay for expenses and to pay me for writing it would be in a region well above what NO DOMINION made, except for a series that hasn’t done nearly as well in general as the Walker Papers. The phrase “long shot” leaps to mind.
If I could Kickstart AND get books into the bookstores AND count on, say, the approximate number of sales TPC has seen in trade (about 6500, but given the time delay and the changes in bookstores since TPC’s publication, I suspect that’s pretty iffy), it would probably be worth it. (If I could get the 17K or so trade paperback sales that TQB did, it would be totally worth it–but if I could’ve gotten that many sales on book 2, Del Rey would’ve continued with the series.) So short of something extraordinary happening, this here is the final word on the Inheritors’ Cycle, and it will not be completed.
On that note, let me address something: although I gather that from many readers’ points-of-view, THE PRETENDER’S CROWN ended on a cliffhanger, I would like to say that from the author’s point of view, it did not. Belinda’s story is concluded at the end of THE PRETENDER’S CROWN; at the very most she might have been a supporting character in later books, but it was frankly my expectation that she would slip away completely, leaving the stage to other players. So while a new story is clearly begun in those final pages, I just wanted to let people know that Belinda’s is, in fact, done.
Right. So that’s the final word on the Inheritors’ Cycle, lads. Sorry it’s not what any of us hoped it would be.
Crowdfunding: What’s Up Next
I’ve ended up with some FAQs about what I’ll be doing next for crowdfunding/Kickstarter, so I thought to close this series out with a poll, which I’ll post shortly (ETA: I have posted it! It is here! You should be able to vote by logging in with FB, G+ or OpenID, I think, so if you don’t have an LJ account, fret not!), and a tackling of the FAQs. Surprisingly (or, y’know, not), the most common question is:
So will you be doing this again?
Um, yes. Yes I will. :) The next campaign will be the ElectriCity graphic novel, in fact, and you ought to start seeing some serious squee coming down the line about that in about a month. Because OMG. *OMG*, it’s going to be cool.
Will I eventually be able to buy “No Dominion” even if I didn’t get to participate in the Kickstarter campaign?
Yes. At some point it’ll be made available through Some Other Means. I don’t currently know what those means are, but will keep you posted.
Does this mean you might Kickstart the next book in The Inheritors’ Cycle (THE QUEEN’S BASTARD books)?
…I might. I really don’t know. The idea has obviously crossed my mind, but it’s also already been a loooong time since I wrote those books, so perhaps they’ve cooled off. Also, the price point for a novel would be a lot higher, and the number of copies of THE PRETENDER’S CROWN that sold (about 5,000) do not necessarily convince me that I have access to the right readers to make that particular project work. It’s a lovely idea, but I don’t think it’s reality-based.
How about “Take A Chance”? Is there any chance you might go back and do more of that comic?
Yes. Yes there is. A lot of things have to shake out first, and it’s not going to be a this-year (or possibly even next year) project, but it’s on the really short list of things I’m thinking about doing.
Oooh! What about the Strongbox Chronicles? Could you crowdfund some of those?
I could. I might even love to. There are literally *dozens* of Cate Dermody books I could potentially crowdfund, and the Strongbox Chronicles were huge fun to write. But it makes me utterly crazy that the first books are essentially lying fallow, and I don’t want to do anything with the rest of them until I have a definitive idea of the first 3’s eventual fate.
Okay, and what about HEAVEN CAN WAIT, that YA book you’re writing the first 3 chapters of as part of the “No Dominion” awards?
Do not tempt me. That way lies madness.
Or maybe your climate change trilogy?
Or perhaps Something Mysterious that is very close to your heart and has been on a back burner for (dear god) twelve or thirteen years now that we don’t actually know about?
Here’s the thing that’s really striking me about crowdfunding: it opens up the possibility of simply working on whatever I want to next, rather than necessarily working on something I’m absolutely certain is commercially viable.
I mean, don’t get me wrong: I will continue to publish traditionally and will be very happy to launch the projects I’ve got on proposal as commercial, traditional works. But for the side jobs, the things I just really want to do and don’t know if I can sell straight off? The idea of being able to see if I can get support to go ahead and do them is mind-blowing and wonderfully freeing.
Now, whether it’s actually *possible* remains to be seen. “No Dominion” was preposterously successful, but it was the Walker Papers universe, and it was Gary, who is possibly the most beloved character in that universe. (Seriously, my mother threatened to never speak to me again if I ever did anything really bad to Gary.) I have no idea if a new project would meet with such enthusiasm. Obviously it would be nice to *think* so, but I can’t really know without running it up the flagpole.
Still, the idea is pretty compelling, and it’ll be very interesting over the next few years to see how it all plays out. There are things I can’t or won’t do out of concern for pissing off my traditional publishers, but for projects that seem more of a long shot or which are more collaborative, like graphic novels, this is really a hugely exciting time to be a creator.
And to wrap this all up: thank you, everybody, for your patience with this series of blog posts, for your questions and comments, and for your astonishing support.
awesome & yet self-aggrandizing
Today’s awesome things are all about me (I swear this wasn’t the plan when I started this on Sunday). :)
First, today is the official release day for WALKING DEAD, book four of the Walker Papers! As far as I can tell, everybody I know bought it two weeks ago, but still, today is the official release day!
Seattle’s a great place to live…if it weren’t for the undead.
For once, Joanne Walker’s not out to save the world. She’s come to terms with the host of shamanic powers she’s been given, her job as a police detective has been relatively calm, and she’s got a love life for the first time in memory. Not bad for a woman who started out the year mostly dead.
But it’s Halloween, and the undead have just crashed Joanne’s party. Now she has to figure out how to break the spell that lets ghosts, zombies and even the Wild Hunt come back. Unfortunately, there’s no shamanic handbook explaining how to deal with the walking dead.
And if they have anything to say about it–which they do–
No one’s getting out of there alive.
Second, to go along with WALKING DEAD’s release, my web guru, Laura Denson, recently did a recording of “Rabbit Tricks”, the Walker Papers short story that fits chronologically between COYOTE DREAMS and WALKING DEAD.
Third, my longtime friend and writing partner Sarah Palmero did a two-minute voice recording from THE QUEEN’S BASTARD. I think both of these are pretty damned cool (if utterly bizarre, because wow, really weird to hear someone else reading my words!), and would like to thank them both profusely for doing these and letting me post them publicly!
Fourth, I just noticed several of my books have been nominated as contenders for 101 Best Fantasy novels. I have to admit that given some of the company (which ranges from Lloyd Alexander to Diana Wynne Jones with all points between), I feel my presence there is a bit ludicrous, but also quite wonderful and I wouldn’t mind making it onto somebody’s top 100 list, so if you wanted, you could go vote. :) And my thanks to whomever nominated me, how cool of you. :)
Fifth, I’m terribly smug to show off the (tiny–if you want to see it full sized you’ll have to buy the story) cover for “Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight”, which was painted by manga artist Lanny Liu.
Along those same lines, “Hot Time” has debuted amongst its patrons today. (I wasn’t thinking, when I changed its due date to September 1st, that that was also the release date for WALKING DEAD. Oh well, everybody got WD early anyway, so “Hot Time” still gets to be a little bit special.) For those who didn’t join the fundable commission the first time through, the novella will be available to purchase in February 2010, after which it’ll go off the market permanently until it finds a traditional publisher.
Also, it is possible I’m just flat-out taking the rest of this week off. I have one million things to do, but I’m not sure I care that much right now. A week of down time is not going to put me any more insurmountably behind than I am already. :)
(I’ll post real awesome things later, honest. :))