Sooo, it's been a year.
Today KING OF ASSASSINS is released in the UK and Girton, Merela, Xus the warmount and Rufra's adventure comes to a close. I'd love to write a really long blogpost about the books and the characters and what I hoped to achieve with them but it would be hugely spoilerific. So I can't, not really. If that sort of thing is your bag then check out the back of King of Assassins where I talk a bit about that.
Instead I'm going to talk about success.
As a reader it's been a year, for me it has been much longer since the initial six week writing frenzy that gave birth to Age of Assassins. Then there was a lot of interminable waiting while I changed agents (for very dull reasons, nothing spicy, sorry) then a shorter but EVEN MORE interminable waiting time while we decided on a title and I couldn't tell anyone OH MY GOD I HAVE SIGNED A BOOK DEAL. Then waiting for release and waiting on tenterhooks for reviews. So much waiting, but the payoff was definitely worth it.
Something I've been asked a lot by people is 'is it successful?' Well, look at this list of award shortlists. (I'm not just bigging myself up, stick with me here.)
Kitschie Golden Tentacle.
British Fantasy Society – Best Newcomer
British Fantasy Society – Best Novel.
Guardian Not-The-Booker (longlist)
And the reviews for each book (so far) have been better than the last (mostly).
I guess, to an outsider that looks successful and, depending on your metric, it probably is. But that is not what people mean when they ask 'is it doing well' or whatever variant they use. They mean have you sold lots of books.
That is a harder question to answer. My friend, Nick Eames, wrote KINGS OF THE WYLD and that has been HUGELY successful, sold bucket loads of books and you can unequivocally say, 'yes, that has been a commercial success. But for most writers such lines are not so easily drawn. I have access to a thing that will tell me how many books I've sold but that sort of information is largely meaningless to me so I never look. I mean, I know Age of Assassins has gone into a second printing which is lovely. I think. Also, “success” is a word that really needs put into quotation makes. Different books can sell different amounts and still be successful depending on what your publisher expects. If you're not Nick then success is a bit like a wiggly, constantly moving line and you decide your place on it by trying to place a pin while blindfolded.
To really know how you're doing you need a lot of extraneous information to pin that line down, and then, when you have that information all you really have is a reason to get anxious about something that, in the end, you can do very little to control.
So I ignore it. My agent is happy and Orbit seem happy so that's good.
In the end I choose to measure success by the way I measure everything, am I happy? And the answer, of course, is yes, ecstatically happy. So I have been, to my way of thinking, wonderfully successful, beyond my wildest dreams if I am honest. Since Age of Assassins came out my wife and I have said all along it didn't matter if it bombed, we've just had an amazing time and made loads of great new friends. Being an author and meeting all the people involved, no matter how peripherally, has felt like coming home.
So this blogpost is really a thank you to all the people that have not only made my dream come true but made it such a wonderful experience, my agent, Ed Wilson at Johnson and Alcock, my editor, Jenni Hill, my publicist Nazia, everyone at Orbit, the book bloggers, reviewers and writers and all the people I have met along the way and, Every. Single. Person. that has read it and enjoyed it. Thank you all so very much. I am forever indebted to you all for the most wonderful year of my life.
RJ. 07 August 2018
Originally it was called The Uncrowned Heir, then All Deaths Well Intention'd (still my favourite) before Orbit suggested Age of Assassins and by that time I would have happily accepted Mr Stabby's Exceptionally Stabby Day as long as I got to tell people about it.
This was a bit cheeky actually.
Or not, sorry about that.
- And would encourage everyone to try.