Alex Verus: The Future (Continued)

taken comp.inddAbout this time last year, I was writing a post about the future of the Alex Verus series.  Taken had just been released, I was 90% of the way through the as-yet-untitled manuscript for Alex Verus #4, and I’d just got home from my second convention.  The big news I had to share was that yes, there were going to be more Alex Verus novels after Taken, two of them in fact.  It was big news for me, and still is – getting a new series established is a nerve-racking business.  For every Sookie Stackhouse or Dresden Files, there are twenty or thirty urban fantasy series that fizzle out.  They don’t make a splash, not enough copies get sold, and when contract renewal time comes around the publishers say no.  The books fall off the end of the conveyor belt and everyone forgets about them as new releases come along.

So for me, getting that contract for Verus #4 and #5 was a really big deal.  It wasn’t just that my publishers and readers liked the books (although that mattered a lot), it also meant my series was past the most common point of failure.  It’s very common for SF/F publishers to contract for two or three books in a series, but most of those series don’t get beyond number three.  From an author’s point of view, this is actually a pretty good argument for trilogies.  Not only does it stop series bloat, it means you can be sure you’ll actually get to finish your story.

But no-one ever said authors were 100% rational, and while it might have made sense for me to design the Alex Verus series as a trilogy, that wasn’t what I did. The story I wanted to tell was much more episodic and uneven;  I didn’t have a middle and an end in mind, and at the time of writing Fated I wasn’t even very sure about the beginning (in fact, I wasn’t expecting it to turn into a series at all).  During Cursed and Taken I was still finding my feet in a lot of ways – I’d never written a series with any kind of real length to it before, and so I experimented, trying different things to see if they worked.

chosenUS100It wasn’t until Chosen that I started really thinking about the Alex Verus books as a series, a continuing story rather than separate episodes.  This is probably fairly obvious if you’ve read the book – the past and future figure into it much more strongly than in the previous two.  During Chosen I had to think about Alex’s past and the kind of person he was, which in turn led me into thinking about where the story was going.  And as a part of that, I started to get my first ideas about what the major plot of the series was going to be.

Chosen’s reception made me very, very happy.  I’d had the feeling at the time I was writing it that it might be the best of the series so far, but it was very satisfying to see that so many people agreed.  Sales have been great and I don’t think I’ve read a single bad review for it yet – now that I’ve said that I’ve probably jinxed it and I’ll get a bunch of people tomorrow telling me that they hate it, but whatever.  Important part is that I was happy with it and you were too, and that’s what counts.

Which brings us up to the present!  As of right now I’ve just finished the rewrite of Alex Verus #5, provisionally titled Hidden.  I’ll write more about that later, but for now the big news is that there are going to be more Alex Verus books afterwards, too!  We’ve got draft contracts in from both Penguin US and Orbit UK for Alex Verus #6 and #7.  The timeline is still very much up in the air at the moment, but here’s my (hopeful) schedule.  (Do note before you go writing these in that this is when I’d like things to happen, not when I know they’ll happen.)

• November 2013:  Start work on Alex Verus #6.
• May 2014:  Finish first draft of Alex Verus #6.
• September 2014:  Publication date of Alex Verus #5, Hidden.

So that’s where things stand right now!  There are various other bits of news, but none that are remotely as important as the new contracts.  It means I can get going on Alex Verus #6 without having to worry about whether it’ll be published, which is a weight off my shoulders.

Well, back to work.  I’ve got a series to write!

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18 Responses to Alex Verus: The Future (Continued)

  1. Serack says:

    Heh Shecky won’t get a betaing break.

  2. Shecky says:

    That’s the way I like it, Serack; I get a “break” by shifting from one author to another. :)

  3. Robert Mandell says:

    I was wondering, how many of your readers heard of the Alex Verus series due to the shout out given you by Jim Butcher on youtube’s “Urban Fantasy, Threat or Menace” by Geek and Sundry. I noticed the posting has over 700,000 subscribers which can translate into many sales. The endorsement by Butcher encouraged me to check out your novels. Of course, I was hooked after reading your first novel! Interesting , Mr. Butcher also endorsed The Twenty Palaces series which unfortunately died after the third novel of the series.

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  5. Locnil says:

    Robert Mandell: Yeah, got into the series due to Butcher’s recommendation as well. I was somewhat bemused to find I’d actually known Jacka (kinda) from the GITP forums years before.

  6. Robert Mandell says:

    Locnil: Interesting to compare the two endorsements Butcher made. Alec Verus vs. 20 Palaces series. The 20 Palaces series died after three novels and the Alec Verus series continues, why? To me it has to do with the like ability of the two main characters, as well as the optimism Alex portrays ( even though he is a realist) vs. the darker feel and pessimism from the 20 Palaces novels. What do others think? I did enjoy the 20 Palaces series but it is a very dark series. Also, the world building of Alex Verus is much more believable than the 20 Palaces series.

    P.S just re-read Chosen and Taken. Enjoyed them both a second time. Loved Taken as Alex’s enemys list continues to grow. At the end of Taken, Alex has added a few more folks: Jagadev, Crystal, to his existing enemys list. Ann’s response to Alex is a little puzzling at the end of Chosen considering what she underwent in Taken. It would be nice if Mr. Jacka started a fan section of this site, so fans could discuss some of these issues. Are you listening Luna?

  7. Benedict says:

    Robert: The issue with a fan section (aka a forum) is that it requires tech and admin work, along with moderation. The writing end of my job is a one-man operation, and time I’m spending administering this site is time I’m not spending writing the next book. I’ve also got no idea if there are enough fans out there to make a dedicated forum worth it – I’m still a pretty new author in the urban fantasy world!

    If you do want to do discussion threads on the Alex Verus books, I’d recommend the Media Discussions section of the Giant in the Playground Forums. There are a good few of my readers there, plus I hang out and post there myself.

  8. Robert Mandell says:

    Thanks, I will take a look at it. Do not take any time from your writing! I can only wait a year for the next novel! Also, Goodreads maybe a good place for fan discussion as well. I will see If I can start an Alex Verus area there if it doesn’t exist.

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  10. Tina henry says:

    Just finished Chosen and have read all the previous Alex Verus novels too. I wanted to let you know that I have enjoyed them all immensely and I was really pleased that many more are coming. Even if/when the story arc for Richard ends, there are just so many more stories that can be written. As an American, I enjoy the British setting and descriptions of London. I visited once and it is an amazing city and like “visiting” it again in your books. Thank you for writing an engaging series with interesting and magical people. Love Arachne too.

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  12. Chris J says:

    I,as well, am pleased that the series is doing well, as we get more of the characters in the book, and it’s always a pleasant read. Not overly surprised by the last few pages of #4 I admit, but pleased regardless.

    My biggest concern about series is that they can often become potboilers– not moving characters forward in growth, as publishers realize that the readership likes how things are and just want the same– case in point might be any well known character like Conan the barbarian, Spider-man! or Dracula. I’d hate to see Verus go that route, but we will see.

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