Twelve months ago, I was practically unknown online, and I had this weird little novel that no one could pronounce properly. Now, people still can’t pronounce it right, but at least I’ve got a bit of a name for myself. This blog has gone from having a several hundred hits a month, to nearly ten thousand this month, although a little controversy has helped skew things recently. I’ve posed awkwardly (clothes on) for a double-page spread for SFX magazine, written little snippets for Sci Fi Now magazine, had my book reviewed in national newspapers, been drunk in front of celebrity-types at the Pan Macmillan party, and had a meal with my favourite author. What you need to understand is this: I’m a genre fan – just like most of you lot out there are fans – and I can’t quite believe that I’m now a part of the industry I once looked in on, tapping at the window. It could happen to any of you, too.
But here are a few points of interest.
Things I’ve learned #1 – The Internet Works. I got hyped – a bit of a holy grail in publishing terms. This was a very unusual experience. You can’t really make hype online (a lesson many publishers should take on board, rather than sounding like desperate ex-lovers in their marketing material). Hype just happens. And having spoken to my editor, who was armed with sales figures, the majority of my hardcover sales were online – which is actually quite rare. Being an old man trapped in a young man’s body, I was ever sceptical of the impact of the blogosphere on the industry – but this went to prove that online reviews actually make a difference. That’s a fact. So thank you to all those above reviewers, and remember to use your powers wisely in future.
Things I’ve learned #2 – The Public Eye. The internet runs away with things and Google allows the author to follow it all. But some people really don’t like other novels getting hyped – I’ve had a couple of very unsavoury emails from brave anonymous people saying Nasty Things simply because the novel got talked about a lot. I really can see how authors would tire very quickly of being in the public eye, because the internet allows Very Bitter People to have a public persona, where in a previous culture they’d probably be locked away safely. It’s almost as if they were angry about hype itself – which I find bizarre, because it means they’re not actually engaging with the book.
Things I’ve learned #3 – The View From The Skyscraper Window. Random House bought Nights of Villjamur for the US, and it’ll be published by Bantam Spectra (with the same editor, but not Del Rey – it’s a sister imprint, in the same building). There is nothing cooler than chatting to your American editor (Chris Schluep) as an innocent little Brit, staring out of the publisher’s skyscraper window across Central Park, thinking – How the hell did I even get here? I can’t wait to see how the book is received in the US.
Things I’ve learned #4 – People Love Pictures. I want apologise to the interwebs for there being so many versions of my cover art, but I’ve been astounded by just how many people love talking about artwork – whether or not they hate it, they love to give an opinion. I’ve had three covers for various editions of Nights of Villjamur. Tip to any new writers – make the most of your artwork.
Things I’ve learned #5 – Behind The Scenes none of this would be possible without help/guidance/slaps from the people at Pan Macmillan, especially Tor UK’s very own Boudica, Julie Crisp.
Things you should know for 2010 – In my opinion, City of Ruin is far darker, better written, more intense, more weird, more properly political than Nights of Villjamur. I’ve said before that this book is the one I wanted to write more so than Nights, on account that it’s more naturally me, but I’ll admit I was more conservative not to put off editors. In the same week, I have the US debut in hardcover, the UK paperback of Nights, and the hardcover of City. It’s going to be a busy summer.