World Fantasy Convention 2013

From Thursday, October 31st to Sunday, November 3rd I will be attending the 2013 World Fantasy Convention in Brighton.

There has been a lot of noise lately about the con, and I have to say that I’m neither pleased nor impressed with certain aspects of it. I’m confident the vast majority of the people running it are quietly excelling, in the usual fannish fashion, at pulling off complex, thankless tasks for no real compensation. Whoever has been responsible for the tone of the convention’s PR materials, however, has tarred the hard work and good faith of everyone else involved. As Patrick Nielsen Hayden says (and I heartily concur): “I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen a con whose communications were more hectoring, reproving, and admonitory.”

This bafflingly unfriendly tone has limned the con’s less sensible decisions with an aura of apparent malice, while complicating the acceptance of policies that should have been routine and uncontroversial (and doubtless would have been if they had simply been presented with less of a sneer). I readily understand the desire to be firm and clear in the presentation of convention policies, but the gap between clarity and tactless disdain is a pretty wide and well-lit space. Or so you’d think.

I have already publicly and privately expressed my distaste with the handling of the Kaffeeklatsch situation. All other considerations aside, what rankles most in the end is that ‘klatsching, which is a decades-old standard practice at fan-run conventions across the world, has been touted as some sort of bold new experiment allowing the great unwashed a rare chance to breathe the same air as the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. To which I say many impolite things… the point of Kaffeeklatsch culture is that it’s a chance to sit down and chat with someone in a relaxed, informal, and human fashion, not to be shocked and awed by design.

Far more serious than that excess of hyperbole is the con’s sluggish attitude toward accessibility issues; only in the very latest WFC Progress Report was the world treated to the admission that oh, by the way, the registration area was not actually wheelchair-accessible. Sweet Jesus in an interstellar battleship. I sincerely hope the con’s announced work-around of having a staff member specially in place to handle the paperwork for those that can’t make it into the room is a robust solution; it does however beg the question of whether this is a sensible allotment of staffing for a con that previously made such a big deal about being unable to eyeball the freaking sign-up lists for the Kaffeeklatsches.

Last and not least is the very real sense* that the con has responded to complaints with a pervasive habit of a) first ignoring them as long as possible before b) proclaiming that few, if any, corroborating complaints have been received. It’s almost as though whoever is responsible for this (and look, I honestly don’t know who to blame) keeps failing to realize that attendees are perfectly capable of comparing notes and communications among themselves and spotting the inconsistencies. This dovetails pretty neatly with the overall PR approach, which seems predicated on the presumption that attendees are something less than adults.

That said… I support the idea of WFC in general, even if it’s a con that has not one but several lingering identity crises it ought to eventually try to shake out. I’m doing my best to be a good con citizen by sitting on a panel (my first ever at a WFC) and performing a reading. I’ll be at the awards banquet, too. The heart and soul of any WFC is the fact that hundreds of really cool, personable folks, pro and fan alike, descend on the site and make the best of it regardless of circumstances. It’s important for my publishers and quite a few of my readers that I be in Brighton, so I’m going to be in Brighton, and I’m going to do my damnedest to make the shindig as cool as I can for those around me.

So, here’s my appearance schedule:

FRIDAY, 8 PM: Mass Signing

I will be at the mass signing starting at 8 PM and will make an effort to stay until at least 9:30. Please don’t be shy if you have stuff you want me to sign and don’t be put off by the tone of the con’s PR. I don’t bite. Often.

SATURDAY, 11:30 AM: Reading (Hall 8B)

I will be reading a great and secret something, possibly from THE THORN OF EMBERLAIN.

SATURDAY, 2:00 – 4:00 PM: RED ROASTER COFFEE SHOP

I will be hanging out at Red Roaster, 1d St. James’ Street, just over three-fourths of a mile from the con hotel, just off the Old Steine and opposite the Royal Pavilion. This is an off-site non-convention event for all Gentlemen Bastards appreciators. I’m not actually taking over the coffee shop or anything, just plunking myself down to chill with anyone who wants to drop by. I’ll chat, sketch stupid cartoons, and sign things. Coffee is on me unless an overwhelming number of people show up. Look for the big goofy-looking American with long blond hair.

SATURDAY, 5 PM: Elvish Has Left the Building (Oxford)

My panel! “Is traditional fantasy finally over? After all these years, could it be in danger of running out of imagination and becoming simply a parody of itself, or will there always be ways of re-inventing the genre for a new generation?” Naturally, I have some opinions…

PANELISTS: Joe Abercrombie, Trudi Canavan, Scott Lynch, Stan Nicholls (mod.), Adrian Stone, Tad Williams.

I will also be in the audience for Elizabeth Bear’s panel at 5 PM on Friday and I encourage you to do likewise.

*****

*This isn’t just loose hearsay. For the record, I believe the accounts of Kameron Hurley, Mari Ness, Farah Mendlesohn, and Amal El-Mohtar, and those are just the ones that I’ve seen in public.

The Right Way to Buy My Books is Your Way

I have received a number of Tweets and e-mails asking a very flattering question, namely: What version(s) of my books should someone buy if they wanted to maximize my royalty on that sale?

I appreciate this. I really, really appreciate this. It’s a kind and generous impulse and I want you to know it means a lot to me.

But.

Please don’t ever buy one of my books in a format you think will send me a maximal percentage of money. Please buy the format that is most desirable or convenient to you. Buy the format that will enable you to have the most enjoyable reading experience. After all, if I encourage you to buy an inconvenient or uncomfortable format for my own sake, I’m basically telling you to endure unnecessary bullshit for the sake of a few extra pennies or dimes in my pocket. I can’t stand that… no sane writer wants to achieve financial success by scraping it painfully out of their readers, one person at a time.

As I see it, I make my money in the aggregate. It’s why we’ve been doing these “get an e-book of The Lies of Locke Lamora for 99 cents/pence” promotions recently. I earned a respectable advance for a first-time novel on Lies, and it earned out before it was even published. Lies has been delivering regular royalties for seven years now. It’s sold about 300,000 copies in the US and UK/Commonwealth, and I don’t have up-to-date figures for the rest of the world. So… it’s done its job! It’s made its money! Everything since and henceforth is gravy… now the game, as I see it, is about trying to attract new readers and make them comfortable, not gouging them for every last possible penny.

So.

Buy my work in the format that works best for you. The format that will be least distracting. Buy it with yourself in mind, not me. I assure you I’ll be okay. The easier and more comfortable your reading experience is, the more okay I’ll be!

However.

If you are truly interested in seeing the Gentleman Bastard sequence kick in all the doors it can, and in rewarding my editors for their long-suffering patience and hard work, and in tickling the folks holding the purse strings at the various publishing HQs so they’ll cry “More! More Bastards! More Bastards for everybody!”… well, there is a thing you can do, if it’s all the same to you.

Buy a physical copy of The Republic of Thieves. Buy it soon.

There are these lists, you see. Amazon bestseller… NYT bestseller… Locus bestseller… Sunday Times… and so forth. Some of them are silly and archaic and incomplete and maddening, but some of them are worth the trouble to claw one’s way onto. And the more books are sold, and the sooner, and (sadly, for now) the more physical copies are moved… the greater the chance I have of finally nudging my way into the bottom rungs of some of those lists. And that will mean good things, if you want to see more books, and if you want to see them given decent marketing budgets, and pleasant quantities of Advance Reader Copies.

So if you have a mind to do something generous for me and my brain-droppings, don’t aim for getting me a few extra cents. Aim to bump these books up in the numbers game. Like I said, it’s silly. It’s an incomplete portrait of the bookselling market. It’s not something I would pursue for its own sake. But it can’t hurt the future of Locke and Jean one tiny bit. It can only help.

The Republic of Thieves is now available on store shelves (and in e-format) in the United States and the UK/Commonwealth. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you who’ve waited for this day, and to all who’ve pre-ordered or already purchased it. May the book deliver something you’re hoping for.

New York Comic Con

I will be appearing at the NYCC for one day (and one day only!), this Friday, October 11th.

Here are my public events, taken straight from my itinerary:

PANEL – The Wheel of Time Turns… and Epic Fantasy remains epic!
Time: 11:00am-12:00noon
Room 1A17

SIGNING (with Epic Fantasy panelists)
Time: 12:15-1:15pm
Autographing Table 21

SIGNING
Time: 3:00-4:00pm
Random House booth #2205

Hey, did anyone know there’s this book coming out next week?

The Republic of Thieves-ocalypse is nigh, and just one thin week (gulp!) separates the book from retailers’ shelves. I would characterize early reviews and reactions as gratifyingly and overwhelmingly positive. For your edification, I’ve rounded up the ones that have been called to my attention, including one or two that are not overwhelmingly positive, and listed them below:

SFX is extremely kind, granting it 5 out of 5 stars.

Over the Effing Rainbow recommends murdering all who stand between you and a copy of this book.

Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist is not pleased.

Little Red Reviewer is enthusiastic about nearly everything, with one quibble.

Alex Shepherd at Fantasy Faction calls it “…an excellent addition to a stimulating series.”

Neth Space feels the love.

Fixed on Fantasy finds much to appreciate but also has strong reservations.

Shorty Monster declares it “very much worth the wait.”

SFF Book Reviews has reservations, but gives it 8 out of 10.

Nerds of a Feather also gives it 8/10.

SFFWorld believes the novel could have used some trimming here and there but is otherwise quite successful.

Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, pronounces it “fast paced, fun, and impossible to put down.”

THE GREAT BIG APPEARANCE LIST FOR THE REST OF 2013

With the looming release of The Republic of Thieves, my schedule is set to go nuts. Although I’ve said several times that I’m not doing a formal book tour, enough things have changed in very recent days that I think we can call what’s coming a sort of accidental/inevitable mini-tour. Here’s where I’ll be:

Context 26
Worthington, Ohio
September 27-29

Elizabeth Bear and I will be teaching a two-hour workshop called “Worldbuilding 201,” where we’ll do our very best to rock the hell out of a subject that is often misunderstood. There’s still time to sign up…

THE REPUBLIC OF THIEVES RELEASE DAY LAUNCH PARTY
Pandemonium Books
Boston, Massachusetts
October 8
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

It seems I’ve written another book. Boston is where I’ll be the day it hits shelves in the US, so Boston is where the party is. Reading, signing, cookies!

New York Comic Con
Javits Center, Manhattan
October 11

I will, so far as I know, be doing a panel, a general signing, and then a signing at my publishers’ booth. More information forthcoming as soon as they give it to me. I will ONLY be appearing on Friday the 11th.

Joseph-Beth Booksellers
Lexington, Kentucky
October 24
7:00 PM

Reading, signing, blathering!

Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore
Minneapolis, Minnesota
October 26
1:00 PM

My first-ever signing at a landmark next door to my home town… I’ve been visiting Uncle Hugo’s since 1990 or so as a reader, and now I’ll be blocking an aisle as a writer and a fire hazard! Huzzah!

World Fantasy Convention
October 31 – November 3
Brighton, UK

I will be at the convention, available at the mass signing (I’m assuming they’re having one), and arranging some sort of get-together off-site in Brighton.

London Area
November 4 – ?
London, UK

I’ll be doing something, hopefully several somethings, in or around London after WFC, but they haven’t told me what yet. More news as soon as I have it.

Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore
San Diego, California
November ?

University Bookstore
Seattle, Washington
November ?

Bakka Phoenix Bookstore
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
November or December ?

I have solid plans to visit these three places, in some order, preferably as soon as possible after WFC, but the timing depends upon the end date of my London area engagements, and until I have that these cannot be officially scheduled. But know that they are coming and as soon as the arrangements are set in stone I’ll have an update.

Daisho Con
Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
November 22-24

I am a guest at Daisho Con, not to mention possibly the oldest person in attendance. I will be asking to do more programming than before! Daisho Con is big, colorful, friendly, cheap, and skews young, but if you want to hear an old man yammer about books, I am your old man!

Now, let’s go over two of the questions I most frequently get on Twitter and in e-mail:

Why don’t you come to {insert location HERE}?????

Chances are I would absolutely love to visit {insert location here}, but a couple things need to happen first! I don’t just pick the places I visit at random, and a great many of them involve travel arrangements made and paid for by my publishers (or shared with the sponsors of the event). So, to get me to {insert location here}, someone has to invite me, and contact my publicist (at Random House in the US or Gollancz in the UK) to discuss who pays for what. I’m not much of a diva as far as things go, but I do need to get to {insert location here} somehow, and I do generally need a place to sleep and clean myself up. Events that I can easily drive myself to (say, within a few hours of the Twin Cities) are a slightly different matter but the timing still has to be convenient for me and a hotel room may still need to be arranged.

If you want to make or facilitate a serious offer to have me visit somewhere to read/sign/speak, please feel free to e-mail me at any time. I can direct you to my publicists following that initial contact, if necessary.

Can I buy a book directly from you if I find you at a convention?

This seems to have become a more frequent question recently and the answer, in most cases, is absolutely going to be no. It’s not that I don’t want to be able to conjure books to sell you, it’s that a) I try to avoid undercutting the booksellers at any given convention, and b) I prefer to travel out of one suitcase. I spend an awful lot of time these days on planes and I don’t have room to carefully pack a pile of books in my luggage, much less carry them around on foot at a convention. Now, I’ll sign damn near anything at damn near any time, but in the vast majority of cases you’ll have to provide the book yourself.

On very rare occasions I might make arrangements to have a vendor already attending a given convention sell books that I’ve personally procured, but this is unlikely to happen anywhere I can’t drive to.

Karthain!

I promised that if the CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK VS. ALIENS Kickstarter broke $4,000 I’d offer up a copy of my official map of Karthain from The Republic of Thieves. And I do mean my map, since this time around I actually got out my technical pens and tried to re-conjure my old drafting skills. This is scanned from an original piece about 10.5 x 15.5 inches and I’m mostly very happy with it… not quite pleased with the fiddly bits at the edges and a few tiny details, but it does its job and it’ll be in the books on both sides of the Atlantic.

Click on the image to get a much larger version.

I have plans to redo my maps of Tal Verrar and Camorr by hand, taking what I’ve learned from this project to (hopefully!) improve significantly.