Contest Results

April 22, 2014 in Contest, The Crimson Campaign

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

April 21, 2014 in Publishing, The Crimson Campaign

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

April 19, 2014 in 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.


Weekend Buys 4/18/14

April 18, 2014 in Weekly Inspiration

I missed another “Weekend Buys” post last week because I was out of town. Sorry about that.

“Each weekend I recommend three books. Some are books I’ve read and some are books I want to read. Some have been written by my friends. Or maybe I’ll just post a good deal I saw online. Just a little something to expose you to the kind of books that interest me.”


You might know the First Law Trilogy as a series I’ve raved about before. I first read it while I was writing the first draft of Promise of Blood, and to this day it’s one of my favorite trilogies. Book one, The Blade Itself, is currently on sale on Kindle for just $1.99. I highly recommend you grab it, with the caveat that it’s a darker fantasy world than those you may be familiar with. One of the main characters is an inquisitor and gifted torturer. His inner monologue makes the whole series worth reading. So grab The Blade Itself.


Honor Among Thieves. James S.A. Corey, author of Leviathan Wakes, is my favorite space opera writer these days, so I was pretty excited when I first heard he (Daniel Abraham and Ty Frank, the co-authors who are James S.A. Corey) was writing a Star Wars novel. I haven’t read a Star Wars novel in probably ten years or more but I will likely pick this one up soon. Whether you currently read, used to read, or want to read Star Wars novels, you should get Honor Among Thieves.


Laugh if you want to. I read Battlefield Earth when I was nineteen or so and I absolutely loved it. Yes, it brings to mind the ridiculous movie with John Travolta. Yes, it’s kind of huge and a bit hokey. But damn it I enjoyed this book. It balances that “bleak vision of the future” and “fun action vibe” really quite well. The ebook is just $4.61 right now on kindle, which isn’t a bad price at all.

A Little Rant

April 18, 2014 in Writing

Earlier today, I went on the following rant on Twitter (read it from bottom to top, because Twitter):



The full quote was “Don’t aspire to be a bestseller or to make a living from writing. Aspire to write.” It was attributed to self-publishing phenomenon Hugh Howey. Let’s get this out of the way first: I think I get what he’s saying. I think he’s saying that writing is the most important part of being an artist and that you need to be true to yourself first and foremost. And if that’s what he’s saying, then great. It’s not a bad way to look at things.

It’s the “don’t aspire” part of the quote that gets me. Why the hell shouldn’t I aspire to be a bestseller? Or to make a living writing? Back when I first decided I wanted to be a full time writer, I said I wanted to be the next Robert Jordan. Yes, that’s worth a good chuckle. Set the bar a little high, McClellan? Of course I did. Successful people in any industry tend to be the ones who look at the top of the totem pole and say “I want that guy’s job.”

That didn’t happen, obviously. Brandon Sanderson was the next Robert Jordan. In more ways than one. And I’m not the next Brandon Sanderson. But I can certainly try to be. There’s a horrible way of thinking that goes something like this: you can’t want to be an artist and want to make a good living at it. And god help you if you want to get rich doing it. I think this comes from a duel attitude among artist types. 1) “Be cavalier about your art. Take risks. Follow your heart.” 2) “Be smart. Don’t quit your day job. Have a backup plan.”

I think the problem comes from the fact that we tend to follow one of those pieces of advice and not the other, when success comes from walking the tightrope between the two. I’ve pulled a series of tweets from Delilah S. Dawson when we were talking about this on Twitter:

“For me, teachers told me I was a good writer, but I never thought I had it in me to write a book. I had no blueprint for “being a writer”. The first time I decided to write a book, it was after a move. I didn’t have a job, friends, anything. I blanked. Finished one chapter. The key for me was making writing my calm, my escape from the crippling pressure of new motherhood. It was MINE when nothing else was. I’m on the “keep your day job” side. Not because I don’t believe in you. Because insurance. And food. Writing doesn’t pay immediately. I married at 24. Worked FT to support my husband while he got his PhD. Once it started paying, I quit my job and had babies. Now I write. Every writer’s road is different. There is no one way. The movie Funny Farm is a great object lesson on starting a writing career. If you want to write, be flexible with who’s working and who’s pursuing a dream. Screw gender roles. Figure out how to make writing work.”

That’s how you balance. That’s how you walk the line between smart and cavalier.

It’s true that very few people are going to sell books. Fewer are going to make a living at it. Far, far fewer will become rich doing so. Don’t automatically assume you’re going to make Rowling amounts of cash as a writer. That’s just as foolish as assuming you’ll never make any money at all as a writer. But dude. Aspire. That’s how you get places in life.

I’ve edited Mr. Howey’s quote:

“Don’t assume you’ll be a bestseller or make a living from writing. But don’t be afraid to aspire to it.”

Contest Time!

April 17, 2014 in Contest, The Crimson Campaign

The Crimson Campaign

I have gotten my author copies of The Crimson Campaign, which means it’s time for a contest! I’m giving away one signed C-format copy (this is the large paperback sold by the UK to other countries). Entering is very straight-forward: Fill out the Google docs form here or below. CONTEST OVER.

If you haven’t read book one, Promise of Blood, you can see what it’s all about here.

This is an international contest. The contest will go until sometime next week or until I’m sick of hearing from you all.



April 16, 2014 in Promise of Blood

Hey guys. A lot of you have been emailing, messaging, tweeting, or what have you asking for ways to get your hands on signed copies of Promise of Blood. This coincides happily with me trying to clean out space for the arrival of my Crimson Campaign copies. I’ve made a number of different formats of book one available for purchase* (signed and dated). This includes just two copies of Promesse du Sang, the French language version.

Click here to find out how to get them.

If you’re looking for signed copies of The Crimson Campaign, you can order them from Goldsboro (UK) and VJ Books (US).

*These are only available in the US. International shipping is crazy expensive, as much as $30 per book. If you still want to get a copy from me and are willing to foot the bill for shipping drop me an email at brian (at) brianmcclellan (dot) com.

One Year

April 16, 2014 in Promise of Blood, The Autumn Republic, The Crimson Campaign

Three hundred and sixty five days ago, Promise of Blood hit shelves worldwide. I still have a hard time getting my head around it. My first novel. My book, something that came out of my brain, was released into a thousand or more bookstores all across the globe. It attracted some really great reviews (and some crumby ones). It was blurbed by multiple New York Times Bestselling authors. It broke the top ten in Fantasy on Amazon on several occasions.

It did quite well. Far beyond my expectations. I had help, of course. No matter what even the most successful self-published author will tell you, this kind of thing isn’t accomplished alone. My agent, editor, cover artist, and all the staff at Orbit. My wife and beta readers. If I’ve achieved any level of success it’s because of these people just as much as it is any effort of my own.

I continue to learn something new every day. I try to keep up with the industry, equipping myself to navigate the ins and outs of that crazy thing we call publishing. And it is crazy. Parts of the business still run like they did a hundred years ago which is absolutely nuts if you think about it. That’s a whole blog post (or twenty) all on its own. I’ve gotten two royalty statements now and I can only make sense of about 60% of them which, from what I can gather, is the norm.

I’ve made dozens of new friends in the industry. I’ve met my heroes and found out that they’re just regular people (who write incredible books). I’ve learned that neurosis describes most authors and not just me. I had this fear, and still do from time to time, that I’m a great big phony and that everyone will figure that out and my subsequent books will tank and no one will like me. Then I found out that “Impostor Syndrome” is a thing and just about every author has experienced it to some degree.

During this last year The Crimson Campaign, my second book, went through copy edits and production and will be out in just three weeks. It would have been out in February if Promise of Blood hadn’t done so well that Orbit wanted time to give it an extra push. That extra push was successful, by the way, if pre-orders are any indication. The Crimson Campaign has already gone back to a second printing.

I wrote book three, The Autumn Republic. The first draft was accepted and I’m working on edits. I signed a contract for three more books in the Powder Mage Universe, locking me into this world for another four years or more. I find that to be almost as amazing as the fact that I’ve written three whole novels now. I also wrote and self-published three pieces of Powder Mage short fiction (two short stories and a novella), which people really seem to enjoy. I plan to do several more of those this coming summer.

So that’s the last 365 days. It probably sounds like another round of self-congratulatory back-patting. It is. I spend enough days staring at the computer, locked in my office, getting nothing done and wondering what I’m doing with my life that sometimes I need to remind myself that I actually have a job where I’m supporting my family and accomplishing things. Even if people only see the fruits of my labor once every year or so. That might sound a little dark, but I really do love this job. I’m grateful to all the awesome people who buy my books and allow me to keep pursuing my dream every day.

Thank you. And I hope you all enjoy The Crimson Campaign.

The Time Grows Near…

April 9, 2014 in The Crimson Campaign

Got this in the mail today. Woo!

TCC in person


TCC Audiobook Preview

April 7, 2014 in audiobooks, The Crimson Campaign

Hachette Audio UK has put up the first seven minutes of The Crimson Campaign, narrated by Christian Rodska, for your listening pleasure. I’m delighted that Christian was able to come back for the second book, and am very pleased with how he’s done on it! Click here to give it a listen.

You can pre-order The Crimson Campaign on audio book by heading over to