Bound UK Release

Bound is out and available for sale in the UK!  I enjoyed writing this one – hope you guys like it as well.

Reviews and AMA updates will be posted tomorrow.

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Bound US Release

The eighth Alex Verus novel, Bound, is out in the US as of today!

You can find it on Amazon, or you can read the first chapter here on this site.  For those of you who prefer audiobooks, the Audible version will be coming out in the US a little later, on April 25.

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Bound on Audible

Just a note for those of you who want to get hold of Bound in audio format and are searching for it on Audible:  according to my publisher, the US Audible version of Bound is going to be on sale on April 25.  The UK Audible version is currently available, but for pre-order only.  

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Bound Release Week

And it’s finally here!  Bound, the eighth Alex Verus novel, will be released on Tuesday in the US, and Thursday in the UK.  For those who don’t mind spoilers, there’s another early review, this one from The Genre Minx.

In the meantime, I’m still working on Alex Verus #9.  About 60% done now, just need to keep going.

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Reddit AMA, The Sequel

I’m going to be doing another Reddit AMA to follow up on the release of Bound.  It’ll be three weeks from now on April 13th, about a week or so after the book’s release, so the early readers among you will have a chance to ask me stuff based on the book’s contents if you like!  For those of you wondering what a Reddit AMA is, here’s the one that I did last year:  I had a lot of fun doing it, so decided to give it another go this time around.  I’ll post the link when it goes live on the day and I’ll be around to answer questions for 24 hours or so.

We also have another early review of Bound, this one from One Book Two.  As always, be wary of reading it if you want to avoid spoilers!

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Bound – Starred Review from Publishers Weekly

A very nice first review from Publishers Weekly.  I’ve included an edited version of the review below – be warned, the full version contains mild spoilers, so don’t click on the link if you’re sensitive about such things!  

Once again, release date is April 6th UK, and April 4th US.  

The outstanding eighth Alex Verus urban fantasy (after Burned) begins with morally grey diviner Alex and his ally, life mage Anne, being forced to do the bidding of Dark mage master Richard Drakh and his crony Morden . . . whether the assignments are risky or trivial, all somehow aid the cause of evil. The distinction between the Dark and Light groups of mages has become thoroughly blurred . . . people and concerns from earlier novels are carried forward successfully as Alex tries to figure out what he can and should do with his life. Sustaining interest inside a long story line like this depends on maintaining action, developing characters, and intelligently extrapolating magical possibilities. Jacka is doing a splendid job in all respects, and this volume builds up to a jaw-dropping cliff-hanger climax. (Apr.)

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Bound Chapter 1 Online

The first chapter of Alex Verus #8, Bound, is online on this website now!  You can read it right here.  

Release date is April 6th UK, and April 4th US.  

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Alex Verus #8 and #9 Update

Alex Verus #9 has just hit around 50,000 words, which going by the average of my novels, puts it at a little over the halfway mark.  Of course, going by my last couple of novels, that word count would actually put it below the halfway mark.  We’ll see how it goes.  I’m currently aiming for a May completion, so fingers crossed.  

For you guys, though, the bigger news is probably Bound coming out next month.  I’ll post the first chapter online next Friday, so you can get an early look at it then!

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Ask Luna #79

From: Nick Stephenson

Hello Luna
I must ask can Arachne make Alex a fate weaver, she is at least as strong as a council white Mage and she spends all her time making things. she must have the power to make one for Alex and he also knows how to stablize it from book one.

Short answer: no. First, I don’t think Arachne could make one – they’re super powerful, created by some weird formula that was lost centuries ago, using a magic type that isn’t hers. She can make a lot of stuff, but that doesn’t mean she can make anything.

Second, Alex doesn’t actually know how to stabilise one as far as I know. The one guy we know of who did manage to stabilise one did it through being a mind mage, and asking him for the details of how he did it is not exactly an option.

From: Bruce Donohue

Hello Luna,

Hope all is well with you. Can you tell us a little bit of what went on with you while Alex and Anne were world hopping to avoid being caught and killed? Have Alex and Anne sat down with you and Sonder to explain the consequences of having to work with Morden and Richard and the full ramifications of how they both ended being in their employment and what being the ‘Liaison’ and Alex being a full status member Keeper mean?

In regards to shifters, always viewed that as being like a natural born condition like part of the DNA makeup, does that mean that shifters can also be or possess other type of magic or they can only be shifters? Of all the types of magic type that one can possess which one has the most wide/broad range of skills and abilities? Has it ever happened that naturally a mage has more than one type of magic example fire/energy/air and access to draw on all of them equally? Is their such a thing as a generalist mage where they can draw on any sphere/type of magic, only limit is the capacity to learn it?

You got your money’s worth out of that email bandwidth, didn’t you?

Yes, I can say a bit about what happened while Alex and Anne were off country hopping; no, I don’t want to. Let’s just say it wasn’t fun. We’ve had a bunch of discussions since then, and things are a little better, but I did not have a good January that year.

Shapeshift magic is a specific type of magic – have no idea whether it’s genetic, but it’s not an ‘extra’ on top of other abilities. You can have hybrids, but from what I understand shifters are LESS likely to be hybrids than other mage types, because shapeshifting is so crazy difficult that you really need to focus on it to do it well. It’s not like air magic where if you mess up, you make a whirlwind or something. If you mess up a shapeshift, you can have some really really unpleasant things happen to you – think about what happens if you’re trying to transplant your mind into a different-sized creature’s brain and get it wrong.

There aren’t really any ‘generalist’ mages in the sense that you’re asking for similar reasons. Magic is hard. Trying to be a high-level fire mage and air mage and force mage at the same time would be like trying to be a world-class mountain climber and a Nobel-prize-winning professor and an internationally famous musician all at once. I guess it’s possible, but where are you going to find the time? It’s not like some kind of gift where you just get handed your abilities and that’s it, you’re superhuman now, go have fun. The master mages have been training up and practising their spells for decades.

From: Xexas

Luna
When u give your curse to someone else temporarily, have you tried reversing it so that they attract all kinds of bad luck

Uh, that’s literally what happens whenever I touch someone. I don’t need to try to give someone bad luck. The hard part is not giving them bad luck.

From: Willow

Hey, Luna,

I was thinking about Chance magic and how it all worked for you. The way I understand, you can use your curse to make random bad things happen to people, but could you, or can you, decide what exactly it is that is happening to them? Could a chance mage?

Now that’s an interesting one. The answer is yes . . . but it’s difficult, and you need really fine control. Practising on people is a bad idea for obvious reasons, but I’ve spent a lot of time trying it on objects . . . the idea is that you deliver the effect, but then you try to ‘nudge’ it so that it goes in a certain direction. The trouble is that it keeps trying to follow the path of least resistance, which isn’t always the path you want, so keeping it there can be a real struggle. It’s actually one of the main things Chalice has been trying to teach me, and I’m a lot further along than I used to be, but I still haven’t mastered it.

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Advice for Writers IV

Part four in this series.

Rule Four: Sell

The fourth and final step to becoming a successful author: you have to sell what you publish.

This step is the one where you’re most likely to run up against the limits of your own capabilities. Writing, improving your writing, and publishing your writing can all be done by anyone with sufficient motivation: if you hit problems, you can get around them with sufficient time and effort. Selling can’t. If your book doesn’t have sufficient appeal to a wide enough audience, well, that’s that. That’s a hard thing to accept, so before we get into that, we’ll look at what most people think of when they hear ‘selling’, namely, publicity.

Publicity

Publicity and marketing is a big field, but the road for new authors is a well-trodden one and it’s not hard to find instructions on how to do it. The goal is to increase your recognition and visibility, so that people are more likely to be exposed to you in the first place and more likely to recognise your name when they do.

If you already have a good publisher, then you’ll get a certain amount of automatic exposure from their publication process: your book will be featured in their listings, pitched to booksellers and reviewers, etc. This will mostly happen behind the scenes with or without your help. You also may or may not get help from their marketing/digital media people for stuff like interviews, convention appearances, and so on. If you’re self-published, none of this applies and you’re on your own (good luck).

Next there’s personal publicity, which you’ll have to do yourself. This takes the form of having a website, social media accounts, personal advertising, and all of the other stuff that new authors do, which mostly takes the form of trying to get your name and book out there in the hope that someone will notice. There’s lots of advice out there for authors on this topic, usually along the lines of ‘you should do more publicity, here’s how’. I’m not going to give any advice of this kind, but I am going to talk a little about the types of publicity, specifically, the difference between additive and multiplicative. (These aren’t official names, just the terms I use for them, but that’s what I’ll stick with for this blog post).

Add or Multiply

Additive publicity adds to your readership, or at least to the category of people exposed to/familiar with you and your book. If you go to a convention and do a panel, that’s additive publicity. Everyone in the room listens to you talk and becomes that much more familiar with you and your writing. With additive publicity, you generally have a good idea from the start of the size of the audience. If you’re giving a talk to 200 people, that’s 200 people who might look you up afterwards. (In practice the number is far lower, but you get the idea.)

Multiplicative publicity multiplies your readership. If 20% of the people who buy your book recommend it to one other person each, then the number of people who might look you up afterwards is 1.2 times the number of people who bought the book in the first place. The main (and best) kind of multiplicative publicity for an author is word of mouth recommendation. One person reads your book and talks about it to someone else.

Basic arithmetic will tell you that additive boosts are better if your starting number is low, multiplicative ones better if your starting number is high. If you have 10 readers, adding 100 is great, multiplying by 1.2 not so much. If you have 10,000 readers, multiplying by 1.2 is amazing, adding 100 less so. Unsurprisingly, the two work best when used in sequence. First you build up a customer base, then you multiply it.

Comparing the Two

The main thing to understand here is that the majority of publicity work that most new authors do – and the kind that’s recommended for new authors to do – is additive publicity. And this is a problem, because additive publicity can easily become a trap.

The big problem with additive publicity is that it requires constant input: if your main way of getting new readers is to spend time on publicity, then to get more readers you have to keep spending more time. This can rapidly become overwhelming. The first interview or convention panel is exciting; the fifth is work; by the time you get up to the twentieth it’s starting to feel like a job. This is fine if your publicity work is producing results appropriate to that of a job, but in practice it’s usually very hard to tell whether this is true.

By contrast, word-of-mouth publicity has its own momentum. Once a book is out there with some legs and a sufficient starting base, it pretty much sells itself. In fact, given sufficient time, word-of-mouth will outperform almost any amount of additive publicity, just because of its viral nature. Yes, you get the odd edge case such as being on Oprah, but for the remaining ninety-nine point nine percent of authors out there, your best publicity tool is your book itself.

The Catch

So if word-of-mouth is so good, you should just rely on that, right? Well, that brings us back to your own capabilities. For word-of-mouth to work, readers have to enjoy and be enthusiastic about a book. Which means you have to make the book appeal to them. Which means this advice ultimately comes down to ‘write a good book’. Which isn’t very helpful, is it?

The answer to that is: no, it’s not. Unfortunately, it’s also true. Publicity can supply a boost, but ultimately, if your book can’t sell itself, then no amount of pushing will get it moving.

Which means that in the very long term, the best way to sell a book tends to be to go away and write a better book. Then repeat that process as many times as necessary. As I said at the beginning, simple things are usually hard.

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