Servant of the Crown now on Audio

Happy Monday everyone!

The news today is that the latest Powder Mage novella, Servant of the Crown, is now available as an audiobook! It's narrated by Daniel Dorse, who I think did a great job. You can pick it up over on Audible or iTunes.

You'll note that I didn't go with Julie Hoverson on this one or "Face in the Window". No complaints at all about Julie, but I wanted a male narrator because the viewpoints in both these last two stories have been male.

Hope you enjoy!

 

Giveaway Results

Sorry I'm a bit late on this! I've been working on copy edits for The Autumn Republic like a madman. But now the results of the giveaway are in!

Congratulations to the winners of the international Audible portion of the giveaway: Oskar Karlsson, Jeremy Hughes, Darren Pries, Keelyn Wright, and Jamie Smith. You'll all be recieving Audible codes for the Powder Mage novella Forsworn.

And the winner of the US-only ARC giveaway for Promise of Blood is Monica Mileti of Caramel Valley, CA.

The Cost of a Good Book

The first thing that hit my eyes this morning upon jumping on the internet was this petition that's going around. Reportedly written by self-publishing cheerleader Hugh Howey, it's the biggest crock I've seen in a while. If you want to be very confused and misled for the next twenty minutes, go read it. My beard-brother Chuck Wendig has a great response over on his blog.

In his argument that Amazon is the best thing since sliced bread, Mr. Howey goes after my publisher, Hachette. The publisher that took a wild chance on my first book. The publisher who has treated me fantastically from start to (as of February 2015) finish on my first trilogy and has me under contract for another trilogy. Mr. Howey spends a lot of time talking about how horribly publishers treat their authors and how little they pay us and why Amazon is so much better. Because I don't have time to say all the things I want to about that petition, I'll just address the one complaint: payment.

Let's take a quick moment and note that, like Howey, I am a hybrid author. I publish my novels with Orbit and I self-publish my expanded universe short fiction via Amazon, Kobo, Nook, etc. You can read more about that on a guest post I did just last week. I do this because diversity is good and I have rent to pay.

But maybe Howey has a point. Maybe Orbit (imprint of Hachette) should be paying me more than industry standard 10% on hardcover and 25% of net on ebooks and audio. So I thought it would be a fun thought experiment to figure out how much it would have cost me to produce my first novel, Promise of Blood, all on my own.

Let's say that Promise of Blood, as it is on shelves now, sprang fully formed into my brain and I was to put it into motion exactly as Orbit had done (which it wouldn't have, because Orbit employs amazing creative minds to help it become what it is). Here's our breakdown, all of which I've tried to be conservative on:

I spoke to a couple freelance copy-editors and looked at this handy guide here, and am guessing around $4000 for three rounds of editing: copy editing, substantive, and typesetting.

A source within the industry which would like to remain anonymous has guessed my cover, with photography, digital art, model, props, etc, would cost between $4000 and $6000.

The audiobook of Servant of the Crown (my self-published Powder Mage novella) cost me $145 per finished hour to do through ACX, and the excellent reader gently told me he was working cheap because I happened to catch him at a lull. So for 19 hours of Promise of Blood: $2800.

Printing costs is where it gets tricky. My book is a hardcover. Self-publishers will go for Print on Demand because it's free, with Amazon or whoever just taking their cut when the book is ordered. But POD books can be of dubious quality. Let's say I ordered a print run of 8500. At a professional printers, the estimate is about $2.50 a unit. That's $21,250 right there.

We're looking at somewhere around $32-34K to produce Promise of Blood, and we haven't even included marketing, ads, ARCs, ebook production, mailing to reviewers, placement in Barnes and Noble, nor even the cost of the UK printing or the paperback in either country. I'd be shocked if it was made for less than $60K.

You know how much money I made the year Orbit picked up Promise of Blood? About $13,000 with months unemployed and three different crappy jobs. Let's just say I didn't have $60,000 laying around to produce a novel that wasn't just a fun read but a tightly-finished experience. Hell, I didn't have $12,800 it would have cost just to do the ebook and audiobook right.

"Brian!" you protest. "You're a smart, thrifty guy. Surely you would have gotten it done for less than that!"

Probably. Servant of the Crown was my last self-published novella. It cost me $420 for art, $200 for copy-editing, $25 for the ebook layout, and $430 for the audiobook. And I got all of that dirt cheap. I got friends to do beta-reading and cover layout stuff. Let's say I do Promise of Blood to my standards rather than Orbit's. It'll still cost me $1000 for the art, $2800 for the audiobook, and $4000 for the copy-editing. That's $7800.

So, to recap, Orbit pays me the traditional industry standard on my novels because they invested between $34K and $60K into each of my novels. NOT INCLUDING MY ADVANCE.

Sure, my self-published short stories and novellas pay me between 35% and 70%. But do you know how much Amazon has invested in me? $0.

Would I love for the industry standard to be higher? Of course I would! But I understand why it's not, and I'm learning to diversify because this is what I do for a living.

New Giveaway!

To celebrate the release of the the new Powder Mage novella, Servant of the Crown, I've decided to have another giveaway! Or rather, two giveaways. Given the expense of international shipping, I'm going to have one giveaway for USA readers and another of a digital item for the rest of the world. That might ruffle some feathers, but hey. It's free stuff. Winners will be chosen at random and will go for a week or until I'm sick of getting emails from you all.

 

USA Only:

I'll be giving away a signed advanced reading copy (ARC) of Promise of Blood. This may not sound that cool, but it's a rather rare item that usually only booksellers and reviewers are able to get their hands on. And I just so happen to have some left of my own.

To enter, email contest@brianmcclellan.com with the subject line "ARC Giveaway". Include your name and mailing address in the body of the email so that I don't have to track you down later (this won't be used for anything else).

Outside USA Only:

I'll be giving away Audible codes for the Powder Mage novella Forsworn to five lucky winners.

To enter, email contest@brianmcclellan.com with the subject line "Audible Giveaway." Include your name and country of residence. If you live in a country where Audible won't let you download it, I'll provide you with an epub, mobi, or pdf of Forsworn or Servant of the Crown.

 

If you want to check out the new novella, go here to find a link to your favorite ebookstore.

Servant of the Crown

Servant_of_the_Crown_01.jpg

The new Powder Mage novella is here!

Picking up between the last chapter and the epilogue of Forsworn, the new Servant of the Crown follows Captain Tamas in his struggles with the Adran royal cabal, his superiors within the army, and the nobility of Adro. It also explores his early relationship with the old Iron King and a certain half-Adran powder mage by the name of Erika...

It's available for early access from my own bookstore here (this allows you to get every format DRM-free as well as puts a little extra money in my pocket). I'll be uploading the files to Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and iBooks tonight and will add them to the list below as they go live.

Enjoy the read!

 

United States

United Kingdom

Other

Audio

  • Audible
  • iTunes

Gemmell Morningstar Award

Morningstar.jpg

I was delighted and honored Friday afternoon to find out that Promise of Blood had won the David Gemmell Morningstar Award for best debut novel. I was totally blown away by the news. I was up against some really cool books and to come away with the win was amazing. After all, a fantasy author is eligible for the David Gemmell Legend Award every year they've put out a book, but you only get a shot at the Morningstar Award once. So how cool is it that I get to put this awesome trophy on my shelf?

Congratulations to Mark Lawrence for winning the Legend Award for best novel for the excellent Emperor of Thorns, and for his artist Jason Chan for taking home the Ravenheart Award for best cover art. Very well deserved on both accounts.

Cover Reveal: Servant of the Crown

Art by Rene Aigner. Type by Isaac Stewart.

The new Powder Mage novella, Servant of the Crown, is almost ready. I’m giving it an official release date of June 24th, though it’s likely it’ll be available mid-next week direct from this website, after which the various other platforms will go up as they are approved.

The novella picks up right after the end (but before the epilogue) of Forsworn, and shows us a very different Adro from the point of view of a young Captain Tamas.

Bonus: the two novellas side-by-side:


"The Face in the Window"

"Taniel is a powder mage, a flintlock marksman with the ability to imbibe common black powder to strengthen his mind, body, and senses, as well as shoot over long distances. Sent into short-term exile by his father, he’s supposed to see some of the world and cool his head, to learn something besides life in the Adran army. His arrival in exile, however, coincides with the eruption of a bloody new conflict as the colony of Fatrasta rises up against its Kez suppressers.

Taniel has certain talents that the Fatrastan militia could very well use, and he just can’t help but get involved…"

I hate to say that I have a new short story out, because "Face in the Window" isn't actually new. It came out in the February 6th issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, an online magazine dedicated to adventure fantasy and the erights have just recently reverted back to me. I have decided to repackage and sell it myself because so many people seem to have missed it, and because Amazon won't let me turn it into an audiobook unless I have it under my own name.

I want to make something very clear. The story is still available for free from Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and I encourage you to download it from them, or to purchase the issue of the magazine where it was first published.

If you'd like to get a copy from me, however, it is (or shortly will be) available from your favorite ebookstore. A comprehensive list with links can be found here.

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In other news, the new Powder Mage novella is looking great and will hopefully be out by mid to late June. I have a cover artist (the talented Rene Aigner, who did the cover of Forsworn) and a copy editor all lined up. It's going through the third group of beta-readers right now. If you're not familiar with the Powder Mage short fiction, you can check out all the others in Forsworn, "Hope's End," and "The Girl of Hrusch Avenue."

Amazon and Hachette

A brief comment on the Amazon/Hachette debacle:

As some of you may have caught previously, my publisher Hachette is currently in a dispute with Amazon. Amazon, like a petulant child, has thrown a fit. They've raised prices on Hachette books, are shipping them late (even the ones marked Prime that should arrive in two days), and are making pre-orders "unavailable." My own books have suffered from the first two items but I have no idea how long until they take the "buy" buttons off my books. Many authors who depend on their books to provide a portion or all of their income are hanging on by a thread, and this kind of behavior by a distributor as big as Amazon is enough to destroy careers.

Please share this information with your friends and family and encourage them to purchase their books from Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, their local independent bookstores, or even directly from the author.

You can find out more following this link.

Update

Hey guys! I turned in the edits for Autumn Republic on Monday! And that means that every sentence this week will end in an exclamation point! Yay! Okay, that's enough of that. Book three edits are turned in, about which I'm extremely happy. The next step is going to be copy edits. I'm not quite sure when I'll be getting those back, so to fill the time I'm going to work on another bit of Powder Mage short fiction. My plan is for this to be a novella that starts off about where Forsworn ends, picking up with Tamas' point of view. I've got most of the novella outlined and I hope to start writing it either today or tomorrow. The working title is Servant of the Crown.

Other than that, not much going on. I got most of my garden in yesterday. I ordered a new package of bees to start a second honeybee hive because the first one isn't doing so hot and it's going to take all summer to nurse it back to health.

RocketTalk

I'm over on Tor.com's Rocket Talk podcast chatting with Delilah Dawson and Justin Landon about genre terms, short fiction, and all sorts of other fun stuff.

More reviews are coming in for Crimson Campaign. They are predominantly positive, which delights me to no end. Right now all the Amazon reviews are either 4 or 5 star, although I'm sure that will change sooner or later. Over on SFF World, Rob Bedford compares the writing to both Joe Abercrombie and Glen Cook, which I'm sure does the both of them great disservice.

Signed Copies of Crimson Campaign

Most of you know that I sell signed copies of Promise of Blood through my website. I had held off selling copies of Crimson Campaign myself for a couple of reasons, but in light of this whole Amazon-Hachette kerfuffle and the uncertainty and unreliability of getting the hardcover from Amazon, I've decided to go ahead and put them up.  To start off I'll have some US and UK hardcovers as well as some C-Format paperbacks. The sales will be via Paypal and include media mail shipping. You can get them by clicking here. Don't have Paypal? You can get signed copies of Crimson Campaign from Goldsboro (UK), VJ Books (US), or order one directly from my local Barnes and Noble (US).

Bees

To step away from my books for a moment, I took a short video of my beehive entrance this afternoon and thought you guys might like to see it. I've opened the entrance reducer (the little wooden bar whose name I forgot in the video). The entrance reducer allows me to adjust the size of the entrance which makes it easier for the bees to keep warm during cool days and guard the hive from robbers. I've been quite worried about the hive all spring. I took two supers (wooden boxes where the comb is) off the top at the end of winter and there was evidence of starvation. But after a diet of sugar water the last couple weeks, and a smaller hive to protect and keep warm, the bees seem to be rebounding. It'll be 80 degrees tomorrow and I might put a super back on the top so they have room to expand.

You can watch the video below or directly on Youtube.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDE_PRz-xTQ

Contest. With a Twist!

I have twenty free download codes from Audible.com for the audiobook of my Powder Mage short story "Hope's End." I've been trying to figure out how the heck to use them and I finally have it! crimson cover proof_RP

To celebrate this week's launch of The Crimson Campaign, I'll be giving away those twenty free "Hope's End" download codes to the first twenty people who send me a picture of The Crimson Campaign on the shelves of their local bookstore. You can tweet it to me, tag me on Facebook, or email it to brian (at) brianmcclellan (dot) com. Be sure to include the name and location of the store! If you Twitter/Facebook it, send me an email to make sure I noted your entry!

The official launch date of The Crimson Campaign is May 6th (tomorrow) but there have been several reports of it being on shelves already. Get out there and find it! I'll be posting the pictures as well as their locations as they come in.

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Forsworn Now in Audio!

As some of you may have noticed over the last few months, I've been having my Powder Mage short fiction turned into audiobooks. The final one, Forsworn, is now finished! You can pick it up on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes, narrated by the excellent Julie Hoverson. Forsworn 1.5 mb

I'm very pleased with how they all came out and listeners seem to really like them. The process was far easier than I had thought it would be (I went through ACX), though some of that may be because I had a great reader to work with.

You can get the other two stories, "The Girl of Hrusch Avenue" and "Hope's End" via audiobook as well, not to mention Promise of Blood and The Crimson Campaign as narrated by the fantastic Christian Rodska.

Catch Up

A few items that may interest you all as we grow nearer to the launch of The Crimson Campaign. I apologize in advance for the slew of links. First, to celebrate my book launch the Powder Mage short story "The Girl of Hrusch Avenue" is a free download over on A Dribble of Ink for the next ten days. You can head over and check that out if you'd like.

Second, there's an interview up over on SFF World where Rob Bedford asks me about my writing process, distractions, and Muppets.

For those of you in the Cleveland area, the book launch party for Crimson Campaign will be held at the Barnes and Noble in Mentor on Saturday, May 10th from 1-3PM. Hope to see you there.

Lastly, but not least, Orbit Books will be hosting a Google Hangout tomorrow (May 1st) with yours truly and rockstar epic fantasy author Brandon Sanderson. Don't worry if you miss it, because the Hangout will go on Youtube afterwards and you'll be able to thoroughly examine me tripping over my own words again and again.

Contest Results

I have picked the winner of last week's review contest for an early copy of The Crimson Campaign. Congratulations to Jason Montgomery for his review of Daniel Abraham's Long Price Quartet (a series that I also greatly enjoyed). Jason, I'll put your book in the mail in the next day or two and send you a tracking number. Thank you everyone else for your entries. They were varied and fun with a ton of reviews for Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, Fargo (TV show), Game of Thrones (TV show), Winter Soldier, and Daniel Abraham. The contest had 208 entries. Really fantastic.

You can still try to win a copy of my next book by jumping over to Goodreads, where Orbit is giving away five copies within the US, Canada, and Great Britain.

You can pre-order The Crimson Campaign anywhere fine books are sold.

The Importance of Pre-orders

We all know that sales are good for an author. I mean, of course we do. Sales get money to the bookstores, the bookstores pay the publisher, the publisher pays the author. Or in the case of self-pubbed authors, sales get money to the distribution channel (Amazon, Kobo, etc) and then the distribution channel pays the author. The former is how it works for my Powder Mage novels. The latter is how it works for my Powder Mage short fiction. How those two benefit me in different ways is a whole new blog post. Some of you know that my second book, The Crimson Campaign, is coming out in two weeks. That means that sales are on my mind a bit lately.

What most people don't know, and what I certainly didn't know before getting into the industry, is that even with all other things being equal some sales are more important than others. Pre-orders land in this "more important" category. These are any purchases made before the official release date of a book and can be made for ebooks, hard copies, and sometimes (but not always) audiobooks from major publishers.

Why are pre-orders important? The most obvious reason would be bestseller lists. Pre-orders count toward first week sales that often determine whether a book winds up on a bestselling list, a possibility that can be huge for any author. Aside: first week sales also land in the "more important sales" category for this same reason.

Pre-orders also affect what happens behind the scenes. A large number of pre-orders can cause a vendor (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million) to go back to my publisher and ask for another order of books. That's before the book is even out. How cool is that? That order could be 200. It could be 2000. Doesn't matter how small it is, another order is fantastic. In addition, notes will be made about how well these books seem to be selling. My publisher can go to their other vendors and say "Hey, X just ordered another 300 copies of Y, which means you'll probably have a high demand as well. Can we send you more?"

It's a snowball effect. It can cause sales to grow and as we established before, sales are good for an author. And remember that we're still only talking about pre-orders. The book hasn't hit shelves yet and it's already gotten both booksellers and publishers excited for it, and when booksellers and publishers get excited about a book they will push it all the more to the book-buying public.

If one or more vendors order more books this can cause a novel to get a large first printing or to go back to a second printing. This means that the book has sold better than expected even before it comes out and guess what? Both publishers and booksellers take note of this as well. I was told last week that The Crimson Campaign has already gone to a second printing, and I walked around all day with a grin on my face.

All of these facets spin together to make pre-orders a huge part of the business. They're good for bookstores, publishers, and most especially for the authors whose living depends on their books selling well.

If you have an author whose book you're planning on buying and you can afford to put the money down ahead of time, please pre-order their book. This could be one of my books or books by any author you would like to give an extra boost. Here are the books that I've pre-ordered this summer: Sworn in Steel by Douglas Hulick, The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin, City Stained Red by Sam Sykes, and The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler.

If you want to read a bit more about this, Kevin Hearne talks about pre-orders over on his site as well!

SFF World and Gemmell Awards

A couple of cool items this morning. First is that Promise of Blood was voted by the fans of SFF World (a reasonably large online fantasy community) as their fourth favorite book of 2013, behind big names Mark Lawrence, Scott Lynch, and Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson. Pretty dang cool. Thanks to all the fans who voted, and congratulations to all the other names on the top ten list. Truly some fantastic writers and I'm a little baffled that I've been listed with them. The second piece of news is that the short lists for the David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy were announced. Promise of Blood finds itself not on one, but two of the three short lists. The Ravenheart Award for Best Cover Art, for the cover by Gene Mollica and Michael Frost. And the Morningstar Award for Best Debut Novel.

Congratulations to all the other nominees. Certainly some stiff competition on those lists. The final winners will be announced on June 13th.

VOTING ON THE SHORT LIST FOR THE GEMMELLS IS NOW OPEN.