Tag Archives: business of publishing

A Quick-Tip Tuesday Post About Deadlines

“But,” you say, “what if an editor asks me to make that two month deadline?”

Be honest with her. Tell her that two months won’t work, but you can get it done in three, or three and a half. When it comes down to it, the editor is going to get the book at the same time no matter what. You can only write so fast. Faced with the choice between A) an honest assessment of your writing pace and a book handed in when she expects it, or B) a book promised on an unattainable schedule and then handed in a month late, just about every editor will choose A.

Today’s Quick-Tip Tuesday post is up at the Magical Words blog site. Todays topic: Deadlines! We writers hate them, but meeting deadlines is part of being a professional. My post offers a few tips for setting realistic deadlines and sticking to them. You can read the post here. I hope you find it helpful.

Keep writing!

Then and Now in Publishing: A New Blog Tour Post

Children of Amarid was first published in 1997, which is a really, really long time ago. The person who wrote that book must be, you know, old. Not “Rime-of-the-Ancient-Mariner” old, but at least venerable. Perhaps even vintage. Certainly grizzled.

I’m not sure I was ever the Hot New Thing in Fantasy, but if I was, I’m definitely not anymore, and haven’t been for a while. On the other hand, at this point I’m a Survivor, someone who’s Been Around Forever and Seen It All. And I suppose that’s kind of cool.

Today the Summer/Fall 2016 Blog Tour stops by the site of my wonderful friend and fabulous agent, Lucienne Diver. In my post, I use the recent release of the Author’s Edit of Children of Amarid, my first novel, as a jumping off point for a discussion of changes I’ve seen in publishing over the course of my nearly 20 years in the business.

You can find the post here. Please feel free to leave a comment or question. I’ll be checking in during the course of the day. Thanks!

It’s Quick-Tip Tuesday: Take the Challenge!

Quite often, what separates the professionals from those who only aspire to the profession is not talent or even luck, but rather the willingness to risk rejection. If you send out a story it might be sent back, or it might be published. But you will never, ever publish anything that you don’t submit.

Today’s Quick-tip post is up at Magical Words. In it I issue a challenge to the aspiring writers who visit the site. Don’t allow the pursuit of perfection be the enemy of your success. Finish polishing your manuscripts and send them out, sooner rather than later. You can read the post here.

I hope you enjoy it. And I hope you’ll accept the challenge.

A Plunder of Souls Paperback Release

200PlunderofSoulsTomorrow will see the trade paperback release of A Plunder of Souls, the third book in my Thieftaker Chronicles (written under the D.B. Jackson pseudonym). For those of you who read that and feel as though you’re caught in a time-warp, yes, I understand. The hardcover edition of the book came out sixteen months ago. The FOURTH Thieftaker book, Dead Man’s Reach came out this past summer. So why would the trade paper of A Plunder of Souls come out now? It’s a good question, and all I can say is that this is a strange business.

Dead Man's Reach, by David B. Coe (Jacket art by Chris McGrath)Here’s the thing, though: Currently Tor Books has no plans to come out with a paperback version of Dead Man’s Reach — not in mass market (the small format), not in trade. The only way we’re going to convince them to change their minds is through sales of the paperback of A Plunder of Souls. If you have been a fan of the series, but have not yet read that third volume, this would be a great time to pick up a copy. If you have read it already in hardcover, thank you so much. Maybe you have a friend or a relative, someone you think would enjoy the series — the holidays are coming up and books make great gifts. You get the point. I’m asking for help here. I want the series to go on, but for that to happen, the publisher has to believe that the books are going to sell well enough to justify more volumes. And we need to start proving that to them right now.

Thank you.

A Plea For Calm, Today on the Blog Tour

Today on the 2015 Summer-of-Two-Releases Virtual Tour, I am posting over at Black Gate Magazine. This is a different sort of post for me. I have, thus far, avoided any comment on the Sad/Rabid Puppies-Hugo controversy, believing that I would be best off staying out of it. I write for both Tor Books and Baen Books, two publishers at the center of the matter, and I didn’t want to draw fire from either side. In this post, though, I break my silence. It’s time we recognized that we have far more in common with one another than not. It’s time for an end to this mess. Read the post here.

A New Post About Publishing With Two Houses

Today the 2015 Summer-of-Two-Releases Virtual Tour returns to Magical Words with a post about what it’s like to publish two series, under two different names, with two different publishers. We are a little under two weeks away from the July 21 release of Dead Man’s Reach, book 4 in the Thieftaker Chronicles, which I publish with Tor Books under the name D.B. Jackson. And we’re a little under a month away from the August 4 release of His Father’s Eyes, book 2 in The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, which I publish with Baen Books under my own name, David B. Coe. Hence the post, which you can find here. I hope you enjoy it.

Harry Connolly: It’s Dangerous To Go Alone

Today, I welcome author Harry Connolly to my site for a guest post about writing, publishing, and the power of perseverance. Good to see you here, Harry!


Great Way Final Cover eBook 3 copySo, I wrote a series and it flopped commercially.

Twenty Palaces, the series was called. Del Rey was the publisher. I was a noob who got to work with their amazing editor-in-chief, Betsy Mitchell, and my covers were done by Chris McGrath. I saw my books in bookstores (even better, my in-laws saw them), plus reviews in Publishers Weekly, the whole thing.

Honestly, it was a dream come true.

… right up to the point where sales were amazingly mediocre, then became less mediocre with each book, and then finally sorry, we can’t publish any more of these books oh sorry no we will not be exercising the option on something else. It was three books and out for me.

Obviously, it was time to move on to other projects. Again. The only problem was that the other times I’d moved on was because I couldn’t get something published. Now I had; I’d even found a small fan base. It wasn’t enough to sustain Del Rey’s interest in Twenty Palaces, but it was still a whole bunch of people.

And they had my email address.

I’d discovered a new kind of rejection. Suddenly, I wasn’t operating in total obscurity any more. I certainly hadn’t become famous, but I did have readers contacting me to tell me they loved my work.

That’s an amazing thing, and I love when it happens. I love hearing from readers. But what those readers wanted was more Twenty Palaces, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to give it to them.

Each Twenty Palaces novel sold about two-thirds of what the previous book had sold. I did not want to chase a shrinking readership. Could I have made some money self-publishing? Absolutely. Would it be a viable long-term career? I wasn’t so sure.

So I wrote a post about the end of the series, and why I probably wouldn’t be returning to it for a long time, if at all. Then I sat down to figure out how I was going to create something new that my current readers would enjoy but that would also draw in new readers. I knew I was going to write an epic fantasy. I knew it was going to be full of action but not nearly as dark as the current fashion. But how was I going to keep the old readers while bringing in new?

I needed to figure out what the fans had loved and what the non-fans had hated. To do that, I did something many writers advise that we should never do: I read my reviews.

As far as I can tell, more authors avoid their reviews than read them, and this isn’t really the place to go into all the reasons why. Let’s just say they can be upsetting.

Me, I grew up in a household where we said horrible things to each other all the time. We called it “joking.” So when a reader writes something like “The villain is a child-killing monster and he’s still more likable than the protagonists,” my first instinct is to laugh aloud.

Online reviews are where you find the most honest appraisals of a book, because they’re not concerned with the author at all. They aren’t giving notes. They aren’t trying to encourage anyone. They’re speaking directly to other readers, saying “Here’s why you will love/hate this book.” So what did I learn?

Things people liked:
• Mysteries
• Monsters they’d never seen before
• Fast pace
• Flawed, active characters.

That was the list of things to keep.

Things readers didn’t like:
• Secrets
• Lack of context for the characters’ actions (when the plot question is: “What’s going on here?”)
• Too-fast pace
• Scenes where the tone veered into horror
• Violence.

Once glance told me this was not a list of things to ditch. Frankly, I like action thrillers and fight scenes, so I had no plans to leave out the violence. Not every reader can be won over, and it would be self-defeating to try.

Taking out the secrets, though? That I could do. It meant creating a story where none of the characters were in a superior position, and where no one was invested in hiding information. To me, that suggested a common enemy introduced to the setting for the first time.

Also, by taking out the secrets, I gave the characters a chance to come together and discuss their situation. That slowed the pace for readers who felt things were too frenetic, and it provided a chance to portray a larger context.

The real question is whether any of this truly matters. The Great Way turned out to be over 374K words long, and even if you don’t count individual words, it’s full of thousands of creative choices, large and small. On one hand, you have something as overarching as the concept: “a sentient curse causes the collapse of an empire.” On the other, you have choices as small as a line of dialog, or a name for a walk-on character. Amidst all those decisions, what difference does the choice between, say, mysteries and secrets make?

I think it’s a powerful difference. We’ve all had the experience of reading a wonderful book that felt just a little “off.” Maybe it was the names, or maybe it was a character who didn’t seem quite real enough. At a certain level, if almost everything is great, those few shortcomings can dampen the readers’ enthusiasm.

The trick is to understand why, and it was impossible for me to do that on my own. I had to venture out into reader-review land, where people called me a hack or thought I was ridiculous. That was where I found the answers I needed.

If you’re wondering whether this new trilogy actually works, you can always see for yourself. The story is described in greater detail here, and I have sample chapters on my blog.

Finally, I’d like to express my gratitude to everyone who takes the trouble to review a writer’s work in a thoughtful, intelligent way, even if they’re also being mean or snarky. All those opinions were valuable to me, and I could never have made this journey on my own. Thank you.


BIO: Harry Connolly’s debut novel, Child Of Fire, was named to Publishers Weekly’s Best 100 Novels of 2009. For his epic fantasy series The Great Way, he turned to Kickstarter; currently, it’s the ninth-most-funded Fiction campaign ever. Book one of The Great Way, The Way Into Chaos was published in December, 2014. Book two, The Way Into Magic, was published in January, 2015. The third and final book, The Way Into Darkness, was released on February 3rd, 2015. Harry lives in Seattle with his beloved wife, beloved son, and beloved library system.

Moving on From MarsCon

I’m exhausted after a great weekend at MarsCon. Tomorrow I leave Williamsburg to do a few stock signings in North Carolina and then two bookstore events later in the week: a signing at the Books-A-Million in Gastonia, North Carolina on Tuesday (4-6) and then a signing at the BooKnack in Rock Hill, South Carolina with Faith Hunter on Wednesday (5:30-8:00). I’ll be signing copies of Spell Blind, the first book in my new series from Baen, The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, and also copies of my Thieftaker books (Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, and A Plunder of Souls) which I write as D.B. Jackson.  Hope to see many of you along the way.

From the Road . . .

I have arrived in Williamsburg, Virginia for MarsCon 25, which begins tomorrow. I was literary Guest of Honor at MarsCon back in 2013, or maybe it was 2012. Whichever it was, I had a great time here, and when the folks who run the convention decided to invite back some of their former GoHs for this silver anniversary con, I was delighted to accept. Some of my favorite people will be here this weekend, and I’m looking forward to catching up with them, as well as meeting some new folks.

I spent the day driving from Richmond to the Virginia Beach-Hampton Roads-Newport News-Norfolk area, where I stopped in at several bookstores to sign stock. This after a wonderful signing last night with Bishop O’Connell at the fabulous Fountain Bookstore in downtown Richmond. The stock signings I did today went well — every store I visited had multiple copies of Spell Blind as well as copies of my Thieftaker books. And all the staff workers I met were friendly and professional.

The drive east from Richmond was beautiful. This entire area was hit by an ice storm yesterday, and this morning, with the sun struggling to break through a blanket of high clouds, the trees lining the highway were still glazed, so that their branches seemed to glow in the silver light. Gorgeous. Later, nearer to the ocean, I saw a Bald Eagle circling over the road, and then a Peregrine Falcon diving for pigeons just outside of Norfolk.

A good day, and, I’m sure, the prelude to a great weekend.