A Trickle of News & A Bit on Reviews

Posted: May 13th, 2014 under Conventions, Marketing, the writing life.
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First US printing of Crown of Renewal  in hardcover is 12,000 copies.  WOW!   Should be plenty available from most places.   (I have no idea if all 12,000 selling in the first week would get me to a spot on the NYT list, but it couldn’t hurt.    However, with the cost of hardcovers these days and the general economy,  that’s not going to happen.   Absolutely no dark looks cast at anyone who’s waiting for their library to get a copy, or who will wait for the paperback.    Not into guilt-laying my readers!)   Editor let me know that today. She also reported checking on a potential situation with Amazon that appears not to affect Crown (at least not so far) but had affected other writers’ books (heard about it on a closed list, and let her know that, as well as the Book World problem Hawkman mentioned here.  

BTW, Hawkman, if you’re watching, I asked you in the “Arrivals” thread if you could find out who Book World uses as a distributor.  Same question here.  Editor doesn’t know but would like to.)

Editor also passed along two reviews (Publishers Weekly and Booklist) that perfectly illustrate the effect of individual preferences on book reviews and how books are perceived by venues that then affect reader choices.  Neither is bad–nothing to throw a fit about, not that authors are ever supposed to do that–but it’s clear that one reviewer would like a lot more action and the other is satisfied with a mix of psychological and physical stressors.   I would say that I didn’t write the kind of epic fantasy one reviewer wanted, and came closer to the other’s desire.     (And again–if you happen to read them and one or the other ruffles your feathers–this is how one person, who happens to be a reviewer, reacts to the book.   I react to books the same way–a good friend may rave over a book that I find distinctly blah, or hate a book I recommended to her/him.)

As most of you already know, the important thing is to read enough–and enough reviews–that you can use the reviews of a reviewer you don’t agree with as guidance (in reverse) for taking a look at new books.   Decades ago there was a reviewer whose tastes were predictably opposite mine…and that reviewer was useful to me.   He praised X to the skies–I didn’t bother to look at the first page, knowing I’d hate it.   He gave a lackluster or negative report on Y, and I’d be sure to take a look and see if I liked it.   (I don’t even remember who that was…back in the 70s or early 80s and I think in a non-genre venue.)

Bad reviews are scary for writers (not lackluster, but badly wrong–the kind that mislead readers about the book’s type, content, etc.) because they can affect sales, whether they’re positive or negative–most sales come through personal recs from friends & family, and if a review labels a book a cozy mystery when it’s really a down-and-dirty police procedural…the reader who buys it becuase of the review is not going to recommend it to friends who also like cozy mysteries….while the book’s real readership, searching for down-and-dirty police procedurals, will not find it until maybe years later in a box of discarded books outside a library, too late to help the writer’s career.

As always, the most help readers can be to a writer whose book they like is to talk it up among their reader friends.   If someone quotes a lackluster or negative or bad (misleading) review, then it’s possible to change the next reader’s mind–right there.  Without raising a stink anywhere.

And other news:  appearances at A-Kon, June 6-8  in Dallas, TX  and DragonCon (Labor Day weekend) in Atlanta, GA.   I also want to make ArmadilloCon, my nearest convention, in Austin, but that will depend on the results of eye exam and (if it happens this summer) cataract surgery.  I’m holding July and early August open for that until I find out.






  • Comment by Jonathan Schor — May 13, 2014 @ 5:14 pm


    I have it on epub order but it is still kind of expensive.

  • Comment by Sully — May 13, 2014 @ 9:49 pm


    It isn’t the book that’s expensive.

    It’s taking hone day off work so I can read it in one binge on release that’s expensive.

  • Comment by Celina — May 13, 2014 @ 11:10 pm


    I can’t wait to read Crown! I keep checking Adlibris (a swedish online bookstore) so I can be able to order it. After reading Crown, I will read all the books in one go. I’m so excited!

  • Comment by Sharidann — May 13, 2014 @ 11:38 pm


    My HC exemplar I already ordered at Moloch.de err Amazon.de to be sure to get it early.
    Can’t wait for it and I will probably do a reread – once again – after finishing it.

  • Comment by Richard — May 14, 2014 @ 2:27 am


    Elizabeth, great for you that A-Kon comes when people should just have received their copies of Crown; really hope you do make Austin too to bask in the local congrats. on the completed series.

    Since this is reread-the-series-in-preparation time, here is a recapitulation of Oath of Fealty from the children in the extras’ break-room. They wish to be remembered to “Aunty” Jenn.

    In a Stronghold, in the north lands,
    Never eating humble pie,
    Lived a warlord, former sell-sword,
    And his side-kick, Verrakai.

    Oh Aunt Dorrin, Auntie Dorrin,
    Auntie Dorrin Verrakai,
    You must live with us forever,
    We love Dorrin Verrakai.

    To elf kinship, he was lost heir,
    Proved by sword that could not lie;
    ‘Gainst all malice, won to palace,
    Aided by Aunt Verrakai.

    Long-time secret, dark proud magelords
    Suffered vengeance from on high.
    Only left then, little children,
    And their Auntie Verrakai.

    From vault taken, where been ‘prisoned
    Came a crown to head would fly,
    Tried to claim her, ruler name her –
    Will she be King Verrakai?

    By Gird’s Law was her life forfeit
    For a “crime” she’d not deny.
    In her favour spoke a saviour,
    “King’s Mercy for Verrakai”.

  • Comment by elizabeth — May 14, 2014 @ 7:46 am


    Richard: Those Verrakai children must have inherited a parrion of bardery (bardry? Is that even a word? Either of them?) from somewhere. Brilliant.

    Sharidann & Celina: I have my fingers crossed that you’ll like it.

    Sully: Oh, many’s the time I’ve been late to something when a new book grabbed me and I could not escape. (Speaking of which: Glenda Larke’s _The Lascar’s Dagger_.) I know whereof you speak, though I didn’t stay home…much…

  • Comment by Abigail Miller — May 14, 2014 @ 10:05 am


    Audible now offers pre-orders, so I did. They say it will magically appear (well, they don’t actually say “magically”) on May 27. Do you suppose they mean at midnight?


    two more weeks …

  • Comment by Abigail Miller — May 14, 2014 @ 10:10 am


    My sentence got too complex, so I forgot some of it, oops. I meant to say “magically appear in my Audible Library.”

    Love the song of Auntie Verrakai!

  • Comment by Douglas Helm — May 14, 2014 @ 11:03 am


    If my Audible pre-order is like my other pre-order,it’ll be available at midnight PST (+3 hours from my time zone.)

    I got into Paks from my brother, I borrowed his book and never returned it. Sadly after 23 reads I had to buy a new one.

  • Comment by kathleen — May 14, 2014 @ 11:27 am



    for Comment #2 by Sully

  • Comment by Margaret Middleton — May 14, 2014 @ 12:50 pm


    Richard: that looks like it is intended to be sung to “My Darling Clementine”, nu?

  • Comment by Margaret Middleton — May 14, 2014 @ 12:57 pm


    to Richard again: could you please message me [msminlr[at]gmail] so I can get more complete attribution on the lyric than “the kids in the break room at Verrakai, via Richard”? I’ve got waaay too few filks on Elizabeth’s books.

  • Comment by GinnyW — May 14, 2014 @ 4:55 pm


    I can see the children singing this to a clapping game. Its a good thing they restricted it to the extras breakroom – can you imagine the look on Dorrin’s face when she overhears it?

  • Comment by Daniel Glover — May 14, 2014 @ 7:50 pm



    I hope the children like where Auntie ends up at the end of Crown. They should have plenty to add to the song to get the whole pentology in the mix.

  • Comment by Daniel Glover — May 14, 2014 @ 7:52 pm


    I really do hope that wasn’t too spoilerish.

  • Comment by Sharidann — May 15, 2014 @ 12:00 am


    @ Daniel … The pentology ?


    Or am I lying totally wrong in my speculations ?

  • Comment by Naomi — May 15, 2014 @ 2:16 am


    Just to let you know, the CD/MP3 version of Crown is being delivered to me today or tomorrow! UK Amazon sending it out early… have to wait until first week in June to get the book…

  • Comment by Richard — May 15, 2014 @ 3:06 am


    Sharidann: OoF, KoN, EOB, LoP, CoR. I think your five make a pentatheon or something.

    Margaret (#10): yup. Once you get the flow of the song, Verrakai offers lots of good rhymes on which to base verses, so yes, Daniel, lets do Dorrin’s whole story arc. I’ve a gap at books 2 and 3 – anyone? Where she ends up – that is the question. I’ve some drafts both spoilerish and increasingly speculative but maybe you’ll get yours in first.

    This is where we are now (based on what characters have said in Limits – it should be easy enough to change Alured’s verse if he changes his plans):

    Prince and others, show old powers:
    Many guesses as to why.
    Plague of magic causes panic,
    And distrust of Verrakai.

    Into river, sails an army,
    Mighty fearsome to defy;
    Pirate stranger, bringing danger,
    Wants the crown from Verrakai.

    Thrice-spelled sleepers, time-locked mages
    Wait in cave ‘neath western sky.
    Who will wake them? and where take them?
    Can they save our Verrakai?

  • Comment by Sharidann — May 15, 2014 @ 7:33 am


    @ Richard, I see your Point, we indeed have five books in Paladin’s Legacy.

    Nice verse too. 🙂

  • Comment by Kevin Marsh — May 15, 2014 @ 9:59 am


    We have it pre-ordered through Ingram at the Copperas Cove Public Library. Looking forward to it!

  • Comment by Nadine Barter Bowlus — May 15, 2014 @ 11:23 am


    Elizabeth, good luck with the cataract surgery. My husband very pleased with his, both the process and the results. Same in my future. I’ll know its time when quilting friends look at colors I’ve put together and say, “Umm…Really?”

    Three cheers for the Verrakai children and their “tuning”. Thank you, Richard.

  • Comment by Richard — May 15, 2014 @ 12:06 pm


    (Just back from the riverside, watching the new cygnets again) Margaret (#11): if I’d known when I started viewing and commenting here – if I’d looked it up – that Richard Moon was Elizabeth’s husband, I’d have introduced myself as Richard S. For Simpkin.

    “Waaay too few filks”? Feel the quality, starting with @Iphinome’s stalwart Girdish paladin (August 2011). And all the other poetry and stories in these blog pages from so many people, including the contest entries this winter and last.

  • Comment by Abigail Miller — May 15, 2014 @ 5:01 pm


    I think Elizabeth’s “Chainsaw of Correction” needs a tune, myself. As well as close study by a few authors I could name.

  • Comment by Iphinome — May 15, 2014 @ 7:55 pm


    @Margaret Middleton I don’t know what Richard is talking about, this whole filk thing is his fault, I’m completely innocent here, really!

  • Comment by Fred — May 15, 2014 @ 11:11 pm



    “Chainsaw of Correction” – I seem to have missed that one. How can I find it – do you know which blog entry it was?

    Pomona last year?


  • Comment by Richard — May 16, 2014 @ 12:22 am



    One for the scrapsbook. Thank you Abigail.

  • Comment by Chris — May 16, 2014 @ 5:26 am


    I have never placed much faith in critics or their reviews. As someone who has been reading and appreciating Science-Ficton and Fantasy for almost 40 years now, I know what I like.

    For me, sitting down with these books has been (for me) akin to curling up in front of a fire with an old friend, and picking up our conversation where we left off 20 years before!

    When I arrived in Afghanistan in Feb of 2012, I remember one of my biggest worries was that I had no idea whether or not my Kindle would be able to download your new release while I was over there! Thankfully I was able to connect (if memory serves, it was a bit of a roundabout connection solution), and was able to curl up with my Kindle and those same “old friends” in that crappy little place that I had to call home for 9 months 🙂

  • Comment by Abigail Miller — May 16, 2014 @ 2:48 pm


    Will you be doing readings or signings at A-kon? Do you know your schedule?

  • Comment by Margaret Middleton — May 16, 2014 @ 3:47 pm


    Richard [#22] Thanks for the additional info on yourself, and I can see I need to scroll back a couple of years to find Iphinome’s lyric. Not to mention the additional Verrakai verses, that have duly been copied into my lead sheet.doc for the song. If it is going to eventually cover the whole story arc, what should I retitle that .doc, btw? Right now it is filed as OATH OF FEALTY.

  • Comment by Kathleen — May 16, 2014 @ 5:18 pm


    FYI — I’ll be buying two hardcopies. One for me and one for a friend. I’m also getting a kindle version for the first time. It’s coming JUST before a trip and I don’t want to shlep the hard copy and don’t want to wait till I get back to read it. That should help your numbers. 🙂

  • Comment by ellen — May 17, 2014 @ 3:02 am


    i got mine pre ordered from amazon, won’t get it until late afternoon our time, but if I see a hard copy in a bookstore before that, well of COURSE I need a paper version as well! I got electronic and paper versions of several of your books…thank goodness I’ve got my son’s wedding to distract me this week….it would be interesting if I got a copy before that: “MUM!! Step away from the book…slowly….this is my WEDDING!! Now CAN we continue this ceremony…:-P

  • Comment by elizabeth — May 17, 2014 @ 4:36 pm


    ellen: Hurray for a son’s wedding! Best wishes and hopes that everything goes very very well, not only on the day but for years after. The book will wait.

  • Comment by ellen — May 18, 2014 @ 1:46 am


    thank you Elizabeth

  • Comment by ellen — May 18, 2014 @ 1:49 am


    and yes, I’ll be good and give the book the full attention it deserves once I get home and all the hordes have left…

  • Comment by Richard — May 18, 2014 @ 7:21 am


    Bookshop chain and its local branch true to form – nay, surpassed themselves.

    I have a song to sing, O!

    “What is your song, O?”

    It is sung with a cheer to a loud “Hear! Hear!”
    For it tells of waiting done, O!
    It’s the song of an authoress, justly proud
    Of book released to an eager crowd
    Of friends of the winner who knew full well
    (From reading the ARC) but did not tell
    How she’d solved her riddles and won her prize
    ‘Gainst evil villains sprung last surprise
    To the joy of the merryman moping mum
    Whose soul was sad and whose glance was glum
    Who’d sipped no sup and who’d craved no crumb While waiting to read Crown of Renewal.

    Oodle, oodle, joy-bejewel, ding-doggerel
    His pains are o’er and he yearns no more
    As he sits reading Crown of Renewal.

    (For the last verse of his Merryman and Maid song, W.S.Gilbert changed his refrain’s second and third lines to fit his dénouement. I’ve gone one better and adjusted my first one too. Thanks to Elizabeth for suggesting “bejewel”, but don’t blame her for how I’ve used it!)

    (This was prepared in advance, so the middle lines aren’t spoilers.)

    Thank you Waterstones. Thank you. Thank you. Thak you Orbit. Thank you Elizabeth.

  • Comment by Abigail Miller — May 18, 2014 @ 9:31 am


    Delightful, Richard, and hurray, Waterstones! But it’s still nine more days here. WAAANH

  • Comment by Amanda — May 18, 2014 @ 10:28 pm


    I pre-ordered back in February. I have to own it in hardback to complete the collection and yes I did pay extra shipping from Amazon to get it here day of release. It has become a yearly tradition to take off work and read the new release and I love it. Will miss it when this series ends but alas it was worth it.

  • Comment by Tuppenny — May 19, 2014 @ 10:29 am


    Elle (31) A kindle could be discretely tucked into your lap.
    Perhaps muffs will come back- with a kindle window in them.
    (Family lore has it that my great grandmother carried a pistol in hers when she went to collect rents.)

  • Comment by Kathy_S — May 19, 2014 @ 3:17 pm


    I may be behind on innumerable other fronts, but have somehow finished the Paks-through-Limits reread that was supposed to lead directly in to ‘Crown of Renewal.’ I could really use one of those accidentally-shipped-too-early errors…

  • Comment by KatrinaK — May 19, 2014 @ 4:51 pm


    I manage to afford the hardcover books I really want by filling out online surveys to get points that I then redeem for Amazon gift cards. Amazon says I should get my copy of Crown of Renewal some time between June 2 and June 6. That’s going to try my patience if true.

  • Comment by Lise — May 19, 2014 @ 7:44 pm


    I got my “real” as in not ARC copy early too. The cover art looks amazing.

    Anyhow, my father was alternating between reading it and doing his tax return. I caught him wandering around saying “Tax Law is Tax Law”. I wish we had gnomes to help with our taxes. I can just imagine their reaction to us loosing receipts: “Is it that it is that you lost paper of Tax Law?”

  • Comment by Richard — May 21, 2014 @ 10:53 am


    “Enter Income in Tax Law”

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