June 6

Next update June 27

This week: book sales and a contest for my fans!

Summer is here in Texas! The temp is cracking 90 on a regular basis and I’m slaving away on book 3 of the Chaos Born trilogy (when I’m not golfing or watching the NBA playoffs – go, Spurs, go!) I’m sure many of you were sucked in by the contest tag line, but you’ll have to wait until the end of this post (or just scroll down) to get the details. Until then, let’s talk about stuff and things!

As I mentioned last update we are in the final stages of getting the manuscript for The Scorched Earth ready to hit the shelves! The North American release date is August 19, but you can already get your pre-orders in if you can’t wait to give me money! The UK release date hasn’t been locked down yet, but we’re getting close; close enough that I’ve been reviewing the artwork for the UK cover. (Sorry, it’s not ready to go public quite yet, but it looks AWESOME!)

We’re so close to the final version of The Scorched Earth that they’ve already started sending out the Advance Reader Copies. (Hint: there’s a good chance the ARCs have something to do with the contest.) I’ve already had some e-mails from folks who got their hands on a sneak peek telling me how much they loved it. They’re saying it’s even better than Children of Fire! (Hard to believe, but I’ve topped myself yet again!) We still have a few final touches for both the US and UK releases that we’re hoping to add: I can’t say anything officially yet, but if you’re one of those readers who wanted a map… okay, I’ve already said too much.  

As for Children of Fire, the paperback has been out for a month now, so I’m able to get a rough idea of what the sales have been like. I say rough idea because it’s amazing how difficult it is to get sales data in the publishing industry. Random House has set up a great website for authors where we can get weekly updates on the copies shipped and sold, but these numbers aren’t complete. They only include stores that have signed into the early reporting program, and I’ve learned that the actual sales numbers usually turn out to be quite different.

As an author, you only get real numbers every six months when you get a royalty statement. But, as I’ve said many times before, the publishing industry moves slowly. The royalty statements are published every six months, but they only give you the results from the previous six months, if that makes sense. Let me see if I can give you an example. The hardcover version of Children of Fire was released in North America on August 27, 2013. My first royalty statement for this title arrived in early February… but the reporting period was from April 1, 2013 to September 30, 2013. So by the time I get my hands on the numbers, they’re roughly 4 months old. And in this case, they only included the sales from the August release date to the end of September: basically only the first month of release. Comparing that first month to the automated reporting data shows the e-book sales are pretty close (no surprise) but the physical copies are off by quite a bit.

So, even though the paperback is out and the hardcover has been available for 10 months, I really only have one month of solid sales numbers. And reading the royalty statements is an art unto itself: between special promo rates, various domestic and foreign sales, retailer returns and publisher reserves held you need a degree in literary economics to truly wrap your head around what those numbers mean. (Another great reason to have an agent, by the way: make sure you don’t get accounted to death!)

The next royalty statement for Children of Fire won’t be in my hands until August, and that will only show sales up to the end of March 2014… so no numbers on the paperback yet. I won’t get those until Feb 2015. It can be frustrating as an author, because you want to know how your book is doing. Sure, you can look at things like Amazon ranking, or the number of reviews at various online retailers, but these numbers are even more cryptic than the royalty statements, and they still don’t capture the entire story.

That’s why it’s nice to have the (incomplete) automated system; at least you can get some idea of where the books are trending. Right now I’m happy to say that Children of Fire seems to be selling at or slightly above the level of my Mass Effect novels; it’s nice to know there are readers out there who are willing to take a chance on my non-video game stuff. But I still have a long way to go before I reach the sales of my Star Wars books. (Seeing the sales of my SW novels really drives home how massively popular Star Wars is!)

Of course, I’m hoping that the release of the second book in the Chaos Born trilogy will help drive sales of the first book even higher; that’s kind of the point of a trilogy. But since The Scorched Earth doesn’t come out until August, I won’t get any info on it until February 2015… and again, I’ll only see that first month or so of sales in that first royalty statement. It’s a bizarre industry in many ways: I’m working on a book fans won’t see for a year, you lucky fans are stuck in the present, and I’m getting sales data from almost a year ago.

Okay, enough about the sales. I know why you’re really here: free swag! So here’s the deal – I’ve got one spare ARC copy of The Scorched Earth, and I’m going to sign it and give it away to one lucky fan! But here’s the deal: you have to have purchased Children of Fire if you want a chance to win an early, signed ARC edition of The Scorched Earth. Here’s how this will work:

Between now and June 20, send a picture of you holding your copy of Children of Fire to my Twitter feed or to the e-mail address on my CONTACT page. If you purchased an electronic version, just hold up your e-reader and smile. (I’m using the honor system here, folks – don’t abuse it!)

For Twitter, be sure to include the #ChaosBornContest hashtag with the photo.
For e-mail, use the subject line Chaos Born Contest.
If you don’t use the right hashtag or subject line, I can’t track your entry and you’re SOL!

On June 20 I will randomly choose one winner from all the entries. I will contact you via DM on Twitter or through your e-mail to get all the deets of where to send your book. Then, I will announce the winner on my Twitter feed and here on my blog and I will post the picture! So don’t enter if you don’t want your picture shared with my adoring fans! (I will also post your Twitter handle or your first name with the pic, but NOT your e-mail address or contact info.)

One entry per person, people. Don’t spam me. Serious about this one. If you send multiple entries, I will DQ all of them!

Okay, that’s it. I have no idea how many entries I’m going to get on this. Dozens? Hundreds? Billions? Guess we’re going to find out.

Okay, that’s it for this update. Go, Spurs, go!

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