Question for Readers

As long-time readers of this site may remember, back in the early days of the Alex Verus series, I put up a series of articles that I called the Encyclopaedia Arcana:  a sequence of worldbuilding entries about the Alex Verus setting, detailing its society, magic system, and so on.  Encyclopaedia entries made up much of the blog around 2012-2013, but their frequency trailed off as more and more topics were covered, and they eventually ended up getting replaced by the Ask Luna column instead.  But the Encyclopaedia still ran pretty long – 62 entries, which is more than a year’s worth of posts.

I’m going to do a similar series of articles for my new Inheritance of Magic series this year, covering the world, politics, groups, magic, and history of the new setting.  What I haven’t yet decided is when to put them up.  Option one is to start doing them several months in advance of the book’s release;  option two is to start putting them up when the first book comes out in October.

I’m currently leaning towards option one (putting them up in advance) since it’ll give readers the chance to get used to the setting and give them some idea of what to expect from the story.  On the other hand, book 1 is specifically designed as an introduction to the world and explains everything from scratch.  Also, the main character starts out relatively ignorant of many aspects of the magical world, and the reader learns about it as he does, meaning that writing a detailed guide to the world might spoil the surprise a bit.

So I’ve decided to do an unscientific write-in poll on the subject.  Based on what I’ve said so far, leave a comment or Tweet telling me whether you think you’d prefer to have this kind of worldbuilding material available before the release of the book, or after.  I’ll listen to the responses and take it into account when I’m planning my posting schedule for the summer and autumn.

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44 Responses to Question for Readers

  1. James says:

    I think id prefer to read them in the book initially and then come here and read them up in detail. Not sure id resist reading them in advance though.
    It’s a tricky one for sure.

    Maybe write them in advance and stagger/delay their release? Gives you an opportunity to reorder them to any discussions as well.

  2. Gordon says:

    Personally, I’d prefer to learn about the world in real time (as it were), along with the protagonist. I’d agree that learning about the world in advance might be too much of a spoiler.

  3. Christine says:

    I agree with the two comments so far. It will be good to be able to “fill in the gaps” as we read the new material

  4. Ron says:

    Before the release, please.

  5. LarryK says:

    Option 2 for me as well for the reasons already stated.

  6. J says:

    Like others posting before me, I would rather encounter the worldbuilding articles as deeper dives following the first book rather than going in to the book “ahead” of the protagonist.

  7. Jack says:

    I’d personally prefer to read the world building articles in advance of the publication of the novel. Gives me something to look forward to each week as we wait for publication. I very much enjoyed reading each of the Encyclopaedia Arcana articles.

    If people would prefer to read the articles alongside or after the novel, there’s nothing stopping them refraining from reading the articles pre-publication.

  8. Jason Enberg says:

    You could post them here before the book and I would hold off reading them until after I’ve read the book.

  9. Hubert says:

    After release of the first book, please

  10. Alicia says:

    To spoil or not to spoil, that is the question?

    I realize we’re all adults here & can choose to read or not to read content that might spoil something in the books. So, reader beware? (caveat lector?)

    But (and this is a very big “but” from me), if the posts for the Encyclopaedia Arcana Mark 2 are posted in the form of weekly updates, it will be harder for regular readers of this site to avoid information/details about the magic system, society and characters they might consider spoilers (I’m sure I’m not the only one who checks this site regularly every Friday).

    I *hate* spoilers: I like to go into a series or book as unspoiled as possible because I want to discover the world along with the characters. So, my vote in this very unscientific poll is to wait until after the first book is released.

  11. Vadim Grinshpun says:

    after, please.

  12. Samuel says:

    I would prefer to discover the world with the characters, so as I’m reading the book. I wouldn’t read any encyclopedic entries until after I’d finished the book.

  13. Syzygy says:

    Before publication. It will whet my appetite for the book itself.

  14. Jonathan says:

    After please! I have zero willpower and always regret learning about the book’s world in advance.

  15. B. says:

    I’d prefer the second option, for reasons already stated.

  16. Mary Carter says:

    Option 2.

  17. someone says:

    After for sure! As the first of a series, will want details and something to fill the wait until the next book whereas reading something like a glossary beforehand would be both tempting and something of a chore without the excitement or context of a story to give the explanations like and meaningfulness.

  18. Dawn says:

    I’d prefer option 2 for the same reasons from other comments. Yes, I could just avoid the website until the book comes out, but it seems more enjoyable to find out more after experiencing the first book.

  19. Celia says:

    I vote for after publication as it would tempt our willpower too much. 😉 Also really hoping there will eventually be an Ask Luna equivalent. That has been so much fun!

  20. Danni says:

    I would be curious about the premise of the story world but largely agree with the previous comments that it’s more organic to discover the world as the story unfolds.

  21. Snackdaddie says:

    I vote for book first. With the blog entries trickling out over time.

  22. ShadowHunter says:

    If I were in your shoes, my trickster would be considering a third option: Releasing the articles before publication, but in redacted form – leaving in some juicy details as teasers, but blacking out other details and then revealing those only after the book is published. Readers could then revisit the articles and get that deeper dive then.

    That approach could help whet people’s appetite and raise anticipation for the book without spoiling much. But on the other hand, people might consider it gimmicky and manipulative. I’m not sure others would be as favorably entertained by that approach as I would be. I imagine you know the industry well enough to assess the likely impact. It’s probably a horrible idea, but I mention it in case I might be wrong.

  23. Nicola says:

    Option 2.

  24. Celia says:

    I love ShadowHunter’s idea 🙂

  25. Aaron says:

    I’m leaning the second option, as it’d allow me to learn about the world as the character does.

    That said, I can accomplish that by just not reading them if you put them up early, so I guess that’d be the best way – people who want to can read them, and people like me can just not?

  26. N says:

    I much prefer option 2, but ShadowHunter’s idea sounds super fun too

  27. Tony says:

    Before the release.

  28. Quaza says:

    I’d prefer after the release.

    One of the things about Encyclopedia Arcana is that this is information the protagonist knows. It may come up in the books, but mainly as a reminder – Alex doesn’t “mess up” because he didn’t know these things. From your description, this is absolutely a possibility with the new series.

    On the other hand, there’s clearly a split in the comments, and putting them up beforehand lets those who want to read them do so. The rest of us can just wait for the book, then read them.

  29. JamesRT says:

    Voting for “after”, thanks.

  30. Zen says:

    Generally I think I’d prefer to learn as the protagonist does, with the entries here by supplementary, or as reference material after the fact.

  31. Max says:

    My preference would be before release, but less than a week before release.

  32. JAMES says:

    I’ll read the articles after I finish book 1, but there’s no harm in releasing them early for those that prefer to read them before the novel.

  33. Step says:

    I woul rather read the book first, but it doesn’t hurt to have it published for those who want to read in advance. In any case could be helpful to have it available “during” the reading in case one needs a reminder about something

  34. Yana says:

    I’ll definitely read the book first. I like surprises and trying to understand concepts, why spoil the fun?

  35. Starknight says:

    I think you can do both.

    The articles before the book release should only contain knowledge the Protagonist already knows.

    The articles after book release can contain everything else

  36. Benedict says:

    Starknight: That’s the compromise I’m leaning towards.

  37. Justin says:

    Put them up before the release. I will actually look at them after i have read the book -BUT then if up its a simple choice for those who want to delve into world building first or wait until after.

  38. Kerrie says:

    Personally I would prefer it when/ after the book comes out, as I really wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise. I personally don’t like spoilers of any kind.

  39. Marty Tish says:

    I had read several of the Alex Verus books before I knew about the website, so I read the books fresh, which I prefer. I did enjoy the Encyclopedia later. But as long as we can choose not to read the background posts (no spoilers in the weekly mesage), then I don’t think it hurts to post them for the readers who want to see them.

  40. Bill says:

    I’d prefer these to follow publication (reasons as above) so as to flesh out ideas and concepts in the first book after we have read it.
    However, if you plan to offer the first chapter in August this year, then starting from then so that we can immerse ourself in the story with a deeper understanding of the background (as introduced in the first chapter only) from then onwards following publication of ideas etc.

  41. Carrie says:

    After the book launch, please! I want to learn with the progtagonist and also not prejudge the series by having access to information possibly without full context.

  42. Locnil says:

    I *would* have preferred to have them up in advance, almost like a trailer sort of thing, but if your book is already geared towards assuming the reader is going in blind then at this point it would ruin things to have them up in advance. Better to stick to the original plan I reckon, as the posts can be good for post-book reading as well.

  43. Dr Sarah says:

    Don’t know whether I’m too late for the poll (sorry, mad week, meant to post this earlier) but I vote for delaying them till after the book’s come out.

    I discovered the Alex Verus novels at Book 4, when I found it in the library and got caught up in it, so I missed out on a big chunk of ‘let’s see how this story develops from scratch’. For that reason, I’ve been looking forward to seeing how you develop a story from scratch for the reader. Posts in advance would spoil that. (And, yes, I could always just not read them, but that means missing out on threads on the Reddit forum that I’d otherwise enjoy!

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