Audio for the Powder Mage Novella Collection

Hey all! Remember when I took all the Powder Mage novellas and stuck them all in a bundle, so they're easier and cheaper to get a hold of? Well, the audio for that bundle is finally ready! It includes Forsworn, Servant of the Crown, Murder at the Kinnen Hotel, and Ghosts of the Tristan Basin, and all four stories are narrated by the wonderful Julie Hoverson. You can now pick up it up on Audible or iTunes. Enjoy!

Cover for Sins of Empire

Missed the cover launch last week? Have no fear! Here's the fantastic cover for the next powder mage novel, Sins of Empire.

The book is due out March 7th, 2017. Here's the cover copy:

A world on the cusp of a new age…
The young nation of Fatrasta is a turbulent place — a frontier destination for criminals, fortune-hunters, brave settlers, and sorcerers seeking relics of the past. Only the iron will of the lady chancellor and her secret police holds the capital city of Landfall together against the unrest of an oppressed population and the machinations of powerful empires.

Sedition is a dangerous word…
The insurrection that threatens Landfall must be purged with guile and force, a task which falls on the shoulders of a spy named Michel Bravis, convicted war hero Mad Ben Styke, and Lady Vlora Flint, a mercenary general with a past as turbulent as Landfall’s present.

The past haunts us all…
As loyalties are tested, revealed, and destroyed, a grim specter as old as time has been unearthed in this wild land, and the people of Landfall will soon discover that rebellion is the least of their worries.

You can order here:

Sins of Empire Cover Launch

We can finally show you the cover for Sins of Empire, the next powder mage book! The launch is being hosted by my favorite webcomic, Howard Tayler, over on Schlockmercenary.com. Head over and check it out! For those of you looking to pre-order, you can do so at any of the following links!

Upcoming Event: Salt Lake Comic Con

It's that time of year again: I'll be at Salt Lake Comic Con, September 1st-3rd.

I have a booth this year (Blue 13) where I should be set up most of the time, but I'll also be all over the place with panels and signings. So if you want to find me you'll need to keep an eye on my panel schedule (which is subject to change) or follow my Twitter where I'll announce where I'm going to be at any given time. Here's my panel schedule:

If you'd like to see me at a Badali Jewelry signing, be sure to drop by early to grab a ticket, so we don't have anyone standing in the aisle. Thanks!

Upcoming Event: Kansas City

If you're in the Kansas City area this week, I'll be participating in a live panel discussion at the Kansas City Public Library. The event is at 6PM this coming Tuesday (8/16) and is a kick-off to Worldcon, which takes place nearby over the weekend. Join the renowned Tamora Pierce and myself as we discuss the evolution of fantasy with the library's Director of Programming. There will be a Q&A and signing afterward. It should be a blast of a time. Look forward to seeing you there!

Event information can be found here. FYI, Brian will not be attending Worldcon, so this will be your chance to catch him in Kansas!

Donating Promise of Blood to Your Local Library

Last year I asked you guys to help me donate copies of Promise of Blood to your local library. It was a great success, with over 30 books requested, and I'd like to do it again this year! Here's the deal:

If your library is in the US and does not have a copy of Promise of Blood, let me know! I want to hear from either patrons or librarians, but librarians will know the details I need better. Send me an email at brian (at) brianmcclellan (dot) com with the header LIBRARY DONATION. Give me the name and address of the library, and (if you know) the name of the acquiring librarian. I'll send the books on my own dime, and even sign them to the collection of that library. If you're a big library, you can ask for two copies.

These books are freely given, and as long as they end up in the hands of a library I don't care what they do with them. Your libraries can put them in the collection or sell them in the next book sale to raise funds. So please, help me get these out!

Bookplates for Everyone!

Every so often I get an email from people asking if they can send me their Powder Mage books to get them signed. I always have to turn them down, because the logistics of mailing in both directions and the risk of damaging someone else's books are more than I'm willing to take on (on the other hand, if they order the books from me, pre-signed, I can always just replace the books if they're damaged in the mail).

The one thing I can offer is bookplates. Bookplates are these cool sticker things that I can sign in the comfort of my office and send to people around the world. Readers can stick them in the front of their own copies, or just have a signature for their collection. If you'd like to get free bookplates for your books, here's how:

Send a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) to the following address: Brian McClellan, PO Box 315, Pleasant Grove UT 84062. If you'd like the bookplate personalized or if you need more than one, please include a note letting me know.

The SASE means that I'm not spending all afternoon addressing envelopes or dropping a couple hundred bucks on stamps. However, I realize that if you live outside the US you might not be able to get US Global stamps. Just send me a self-addressed envelope and I'll take care of the stamp.

Sins of Empire Synopsis

Hey guys! I'm happy to report that I turned in the final edit of Sins of Empire this week and it's officially in production. It's currently slated for for a March 7th, 2017 release. I believe we'll have cover art to show you guys sometime soon, so stay tuned for that as well. You can add the book on Goodreads, and you can find the official synopsis below!

For an early look at Mad Ben Styke, one of the heroes of Sins of Empire, check out Ghosts of the Tristan Basin.


Sins of Empire

Gods of Blood and Powder

Book One

An epic new fantasy series from Brian McClellan, set in the same world as his wildly popular Powder Mage Trilogy.

The young nation of Fatrasta is a turbulent place - a frontier destination for criminals, fortune-hunters, brave settlers, and sorcerers seeking relics of the past. Only the iron will of the lady chancellor and her secret police holds the capital city of Landfall together against the unrest of a suppressed population and the machinations of powerful empires.

The insurrection that threatens Landfall must be purged with wile and force, a task which falls on the shoulders of a spy named Michel Bravis, convicted war hero Ben Styke, and Lady Vlora Flint, a mercenary general with a past as turbulent as Landfall's present.

As loyalties are tested, revealed, and destroyed, a grim specter as old as time has been unearthed in this wild land, and the people of Landfall will soon discover that rebellion is the least of their worries.

Powder Mage Novella Collection #1

Hey everyone! There have been a lot of requests lately from people hoping to get all the Powder Mage novellas in one go. I understand that, from a buyer's perspective, it can be difficult to figure out what all is available from your favorite author. What have you read? What haven't you? That sort of thing.

In response, I've put all four of the novellas into an single package, which is now available at all your favorite ebook stores and priced at $9.99. This'll save you a couple bucks, and is good for all parties involved. You won't miss out on stories, and I won't miss out on sales. Yay!

To catch you up, everything written in the Powder Mage Universe is now included in the Powder Mage Trilogy, the Powder Mage Novella Collection #1, and the short story collection In the Field Marshal's Shadow.

Links to the novella collection at your favorite vendor:

Phoenix Comicon and Poisoned Pen Signing

This coming weekend (June 2-5) I'll be attending Phoenix Comicon. I delayed confirming my attendance because of the move, and because of that I don't have any set programming. I may show up on a panel or two. I may hang around the bookstore. I may just wander around with a satchel full of novellas to sell if you want to get something signed from me. Regardless, if you see me feel free to say hi. It should be a hootenanny of a time. Here is my only confirmed schedule for the weekend:

Wednesday, June 1st, 7-8 PM: I'll be at the Elevengeddon mass author signing at the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, AZ.

Friday, June 3rd, 1-2 PM: I'll be signing at the Badali Jewelry booth #1396 at PHXCC.

Bookstore Closed (temporarily)

Just FYI: my spring sale is finished and I'm shutting down my bookstore until July 1st. I'll still be able to take orders (for the few things in stock), but nothing will ship until after I've finished my move and gotten all set up and am no longer frazzled by the huge number of personal and professional items on my plate.

Thanks again for ordering signed books directly from me. It really does make a difference!

Spring Cleaning Sale

Hello all! If you follow my twitter, you'll know that I plan on moving sometime this summer. In preparation for that, I'm trying to clean out extra inventory so I have to haul as few books as possible across the country. To do so I'm having a double sale: not only will all the signed books in my store be cheap from today until May 10th (especially the trilogy and novella bundles) but every order over $20 will come with a coupon code for the audiobook of Ghosts of the Tristan Basin, which is currently $14.95 on Audible.

I'm not ordering any new books until after the move, so it's first come, first serve. I'll email you your audible coupon code separately. The sale list is below:

 

Ebook Store

I've lately had a lot of people requesting to buy my older novella ebooks directly from me via my web store. I've only kept the most recent one up there because frankly, they don't get a ton of sales after the first two weeks, and the "commerce" feature in Squarespace (where I host this website) has pretty limited functionality. So organizing the store can be a pain.

I finally gave in, however, and created an ebook store. You can get all my novella ebooks there in epub, mobi, and PDF. Have at it!

Upcoming Event: Budapest

I will be in Budapest next week on Tuesday, March 29th. I'll have a Q&A session where I talk about writing, fantasy, and the Powder Mage Trilogy followed by a signing. The schedule is below:

- 29 March 5 pm: Panel and Q&A.

- 29 March 6-7 pm: book signing and meet and greet opportunity for fans.

Location: Rácskert pub, Budapest, VII., Dob street 40.-42.

Really excited to meet my Hungarian fans. Look forward to seeing you there!

Facebook Ads for Authors

This is the latest of my essays about being an author, brought to you by my Patreon page. If you'd like to get announcements, coupons, news, and more, sign up for the Powder Mage Newsletter!


For this essay, I've changed things up a bit by running an experiment in marketing. As far as the "behind the scenes of being an author" thing goes, you're watching me throw crap at the wall to see what sticks. Warning: there will be lots of numbers. Hope you find it interesting.

There's a lot of literature out there extolling the virtues (or more often, the lack thereof by companies like Priceline) of using Facebook ads to help grow your business. I've always wondered whether these ads could be used to help spread the word about my self-published novellas, and upon doing some research found that "Facebook ads for authors" have some very loud proponents out there. Being someone who likes to wade into the nitty gritty of the business of publishing when I can, I was intrigued.

One of the loudest of these proponents I found was an author named Mark Dawson. Mark is a self-pubber who has found great success writing mysteries and thrillers. In this interview, he attributes his success to leveraging a combination of newsletter lists and Facebook ads. His method is straight-forward: run FB ads promising a free book with a newsletter signup. Once you have that email address, tailor newsletters to that person offering to sell them more books in the series.

I'm always a skeptic. Mark claims that the ads way more than pay for themselves for him and several of his colleagues. He buys the ads, the ads bring him subscribers, the subscribers buy his subsequent books, he re-invests profits in ads to get more readers. It's a solid theory, but the success of it sounded suspect, and I figured if it worked as well as he said I would have heard of far more authors using Facebook ads. But I was willing to do a small-scale experiment.

Disclaimer that I'm not trained in marketing or a statistician or anything else. I'm just an author trying to figure out how to expand my audience.

My setup was this: using my Facebook Author Page, I purchased $10 worth of ads for each of seven days, for a total of $70. I targeted people who showed interest in Brandon Sanderson and Brent Weeks, two authors I share a lot of readers with, and offered a free powder mage novella to anyone who signed up for my newsletter. I don't have the newsletter-fu of a guy like Mark, but I set up a separate list on my Mail Chimp account to keep track of things. Here's my ad:

The results were... underwhelming? There are two different sets of numbers, one of which is "paid" and one "organic," meaning the people who would have seen the ad on my author page regardless of any money I spent on it. I'm going to just look at the "paid" results, which you can see below:

  • 67 link clicks (people who decided to take a look at my newsletter signup)
  • 29 page likes (people who now (might) see what I post to my author page in the future)
  • 57 post likes (which means pretty much nothing except that they clicked "like")

My new list wound up with 34 newsletter subscribers, roughly a 50% conversion from people who bothered to click on the link at all, which is pretty decent. It's hard to tell whether page and post likes are actually worth anything, but 29 and 57 weren't exactly thrilling numbers even if they are. (It should be mentioned here that FB has been accused in the past of farming out purchased likes to "clickers" in third-world countries)

Considering all that, let's focus on the newsletter subscribers. If you saw my essay on newsletters last month, you'd remember the subscriber-to-sale rate for that one particular email was .6%. I've had higher and lower, but let's run with that number and see where it gets us, assuming that those 34 people are the right audience for future novels and novellas.

A novella makes me $2.05. Those 34 people at .6% conversion made me 20% of a single sale. So $.41. That means I spent $70 to make $.41. I'm not great with math but that seems less than fantastic.

Some of you might point out (and I'm sure Mark Dawson would), I'm grabbing these subscribers so I can send them newsletters ad naseum, which is totally fair. Let's say that percentage holds true across every release-announcing newsletter I send for the rest of my career. It would take 170 releases for me to make back that $70.

As you saw in my newsletter essay, I'm pretty optimistic about the powers of "spreading the word" and recognize that there are impossible-to-measure factors when it comes to simply getting your books out there in front of people. Ten of those "page likes" I mentioned above could turn into wild fans that buy every one of my books and tell all of their friends and makes it so I can die happy in a pile of money. Statistically, however, that seems pretty unlikely.

Needless to say, I'm not thrilled with the results of my Facebook ad experiment. I was ready to follow the Mark Dawson technique and drop $100/day into FB ads. If they worked. Unfortunately, that won't be happening. I am willing to concede a few points: 1) that I just don't have right combination of mojo/genre/ad wording/etc to really make a FB ad succeed. 2) that a novella in an existing world might not be as tempting as a full-length first novel as a freebie. 3) That FB ads might work a lot better in scale, and that if I had the money to put $1000/day into them I might get amazing results.

Regardless, I'm not going to be advising my author friends to try out Facebook ads any time soon.

Upcoming Event: Dutch Comic Con

I'm going to be a guest at Dutch Comic Con this coming weekend (March 26th and 27th) in Utrecht in the Netherlands. How dang cool is that? This is going to be my first international trip as an author (AND as a civilian) and I'm very excited for it. Here's my schedule:

Saturday

  • 13:30 – 14:30 The Business of Writing – Fantasy & Horror Editie
  • 15:45 – 16:45 Worldbuilding – Making the Fantastic Realistic

Sunday

  • 11:00 – 12:00 Fantastic Action – Writing Action Scenes in Fantasy and Comics

I don't have any dedicated signings, but the convention bookstore will have my books for sale and a spot for me to sign and chat with fans. I'll probably try to be there as much as I can on both days, and tweet when you can find me.

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

Silicon Valley Comic Con Schedule

Hey Bay-area friends! My schedule for this weekend in San Jose is such:

The First Word: Getting Started as a Writer on Saturday at 11:00 AM

It's one thing to want to be a writer, but quite another to type out the first words. Our panel of published authors and seasoned editor will talk about strategies and ways to start a book, and more importantly, how to keep yourself going until the bitter end. Working with editors, coping with draft revisions, and how to know when it?s done and time to send out of the nest will all be discussed.

The Brave New World of Publishing on Saturday at 2:00 PM

The road to publishing has splintered into many twisty paths. Options have never been greater for aspiring authors, but navigating the choices has never been murkier. Where do you start? Indie? Traditional publishers? Or the bumper crop of small presses? What about Amazon and Kindle Unlimited? A panel of authors from indie to Big Five publishers and everything in between maps the routes and outlines the pros and cons of each path in the brave new world of publishing.

The best way to find me is to catch me after one of these panels. I don't have anything scheduled the rest of the weekend, or an official signing, but if you want to get something signed and drop me a message on Twitter Saturday or Sunday, I can try to meet up with you!

Tristan Basin Hardcovers

The hardcovers for the latest powder mage novella have arrived!

And I've got a special treat for those of you who order one! I've commissioned symbols to use in the next powder mage series from the talented Isaac Stewart. The first one arrived late last night, and I was able to get it turned into a stamp before the local office supply store closed. From here on out, I'll be stamping all signed books that take place in Fatrasta with the crest of the Mad Lancers.

The hardcovers will be shipping over the next couple of days. You can still order them here!