Monthly Archives: May 2013

Moar Kinslayer

OK, as promised to certain folks, I’ve got some moar KINSLAYER artwork for you – desktops and iPhone backgrounds and whatnot. But, before you lunge into the bloody-knuckled, death-glarey goodness:

Some of you might be aware that we have a pre-order giveaway going for KINSLAYER. If you pre-order the book and live in the USA/Canada, you’ll get a free copy (like, an actual printed copy) of THE LAST STORMDANCER. Set a hundred years before the events of STORMDANCER, LSD is a prequel novella for The Lotus War. Here’s the jacket copy:

_____

Your blood-red skies are filled with smoke. Your bleach-white histories with lies. You walk sleeping. Wake senseless. Breathing deep of toxic blooms and forgetting all that has gone before.

But I remember.

I remember when two brothers waged bloody war over the right to sit in their father’s empty chair. I remember when orphaned twins faced each other across a field of crimson and steel, the fate of the Shima Shōgunate hanging in the poisoned sky between them.

I remember when a blind boy stood before a court of storms and talons, armed only with a thin sword and a muttered prophecy and a desperate dream of saving the world.

I remember when the skies above Shima were not red, but blue. Filled with thunder tigers.

I remember when they left you.

And I remember why.

Let me tell you, monkey-child.

_____

ALL details about the giveaway can be found HERE.

ALL the links for preordering, and relevant info can be found on the KINSLAYER FACEBOOK PAGE.

And here are individual pre-order retailer links:

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

BooksaMillion

Indiebound

Ebook:

B&N Nook

Kindle

iBooks

NOTE: If you’re not from the US/Canada but still want a copy of LSD, fear not. I’ll be giving away a bunch on the blog closer to release, so HANG ONTO YOUR PRE-ORDER INFO!

REMEMBER

The KINSLAYER uber giveaway is happening until the end of May!

And now, KINSLAYER goodies. iPhone, iPad and desktop sizes below:

Kinslayer iPhoneKinslayer iPadKinslayer iPad2

Kinslayer desktop

Kinslayer Desktop 2

Advertisements

KINSLAYERRRRRRRREVEAL

Hands and feet inside the cockpit

.

Note: GIVEAWAYS BELOW RUN UNTIL SUNDAY MAY 31. THEY ARE OPEN INTERNATIONALLY. PLEAAAZZZE READ INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY.

Hello and welcome to the US & UK cover reveals for KINSLAYER!!!one! We did this in two stages last year, but we’ve decided to streamline things for you a little this time, which means you get both covers on the same day. BUT, more blogs are participating, which means you have more chances to win booty (not what you think). Like last year, we have some giveaways to celebrate the awesomosity (totally a word) that are the covers. How much you want to win depends entirely on how much effort you want to go to – if ARCs are all you want to lay your sticky hands on, all good, if you want something a little more uber, you’ll have to try a little harder. Read on, McDuff.

KINSLAYER’s cover is launching on ten sites today.

But firstly:

THE ARC OF PIMP

To kick things off, I’m giving away an annotated/scribbled on/illustrated ARC of KINSLAYER. All you need to do is PIMP MY RIDE COVER

Talk about it on facebook (make sure you tag my author page) or tweet about it. Sample tweet below if you cbf’ed making up your own (if you do make up your own, just make sure you tweet my handle, but not FIRST in the tweet, or only I’ll see it, yo).

The cover for KINSLAYER is here. The awesome will send you blind. Giveaways on @misterkristoff ‘s blog. www.misterkristoff.wordpress.com

A winning pimp will be picked at the end of May. BAM.

OK, THE REVEAL

The following book blogs are also hosting the cover reveal:

YABC

Jean BookNerd

Presenting Lenore

Mundie Moms

Badass Bookie

Book Nerd CA

The Midnight Garden

Book Probe

Bookalicious

Cuddlebuggery

If you click on the above links and the cover isn’t up there yet, just be patient, they’ll be there soon!

Ok, those of you lovely folks who did this last year will understand, but for the padawans amongst us, an all important question is no doubt burning in your brainmeats: Why should you visit those blogs when the covers are the same on every one?

Excellent question. I have two excellent answers:

First – EVERY ONE of the above book blogs is hosting an ARC giveaway. That’s TEN ARCs of Kinslayer up for grabs. Each site has details on how to enter their own giveaway. Some may require pacts with unspeakable be-tentacled monstrosities from beyond the reaches of space and sanity, others might just have Rafflecopter.

Second…

The KINSLAYER uber giveaway

Each of those ten blogs contains a quiz question. They’re pretty easy – you’ll find the answers in the Kinslayer synopsis, or in the pages of Stormdancer. Follow these three steps:

  1. Get the ten answers
  2. Mail them to me at stormdancergiveaway@gmail.com
  3. Win (hopefully)

Now, what do you win in the uber giveaway?

  • A signed, annotated ARC of KINSLAYER. This ARC contains a bunch of little factoids and musings from me, scribbled in my near-illegible handwriting. You will find it ideal for throwing at reprobate significant others, setting ablaze and hurling at tools of the fascist state, or brandishing in a threatening manner at small children loitering on your front lawn.
  • A signed print of Jason Chan’s 100% awesome cover illustration (just the artwork, no type to get in the way of the awesome). Hang it on the wall and bathe in the aura of badassery.
  • A signed copy of THE LITTLE STORMDANCER. This was a picture book I did for my UK editor when she had her first baby. It’s like an MG version of Stormdancer, with far less death and sex. A signed copy of this went up on Ebay for Pat Rothfuss’ WORLDBUILDERS charity last year and sold for near 400 bucks. I’m not sure what kind of a world we live in where shit like that can happen, but yeah, there it is.
  • A signed copy of the Lotus War novella THE LAST STORMDANCER. This is a novella I wrote for release with KINSLAYER – you get a copy free with every pre-order (US & Canada only I’m afraid). It’s set 100 years before the events of SD and tells the story of why the Thunder Tigers left Shima. The only way to actually get a physical copy of this thing will be to pre-order KINSLAYER, so they’ll be hard to come by.
  • The vague promise of a Big Scary hug is we ever meet in person. THIS ALONE is worth a King’s ransom. I give the greatest hugs in the Seven Isles. If you’re a dude and not into the whole hugging thing, we can fistbump and talk about sports or something (this conversation will be brief, and involve me staring at you blankly a lot)

That’s it. Answer 10 questions, mail them to me at stormdancergiveaway@gmail.com, and you’re done. This giveaway will run until the end of May. It is open internationally and indeed, interstellarly.

Also, Tor are hosting an “Evolution of a cover” style article from myself and our amazeballs US cover illustrator Jason Chan. If you want to read about how the awesome was born, that’s where to do it.

If the awesome has filled you with an aching, all-consuming lust and you must have KINSLAYER now, you can pre-order at B&N here or Amazon here. Remember, US & Canada pre-orders all get a physical copy of the THE LAST STORMDANCER. This pre-order offer is the ONLY TIME THIS NOVELLA WILL SEE PRINT.

If you want to keep up with news about THE LOTUS WAR series, follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

That’s it. Comments welcome below. Thanks for visiting!


To Pimp or not to pimp

99 problems, I have.

.

Firstly let me acknowledge the obvious:

This blog is an ad for my books.

My twitter feed? An ad. FB page? Ad. All of this stuff, websites and guest posts and cover reveals – all of my spandex-clad online wordery exists for a singular purpose: To Sell My Books. This is not to say I don’t like blogging about sloth pee-pee and tweeting pictures of Night’s Watch members chatting with jawas, or best of all, engaging with readers and being exposed to cool ideas and all the wondrous things that comes of swimming in the sticky pedo-slick murk of the internet. Because I sincerely do. But I want you to buy my book, too. And everything I do online is, if not motivated by this notion, at least informed by this notion – the sexing of your sweet, sweet monies.

I blog and I tweet and generally faff about on the internet in the vague hope of being entertaining, in the even vaguer hope that people will assume that, because I can be entertaining online, I can entertain you with a novel too. It’s a strange kind of pseudo-math, but it’s a math that often works. (I was terrible at maths fyi – memories of the 17% I scored on a high school trigonometry test haunt me to this day)

I am not alone in this (the self-pimping thing, not the Fear of Trig). Every author out there on social media is out there first and foremost as a product. Persona as commodity. Do not be fooled. Anyone who tells you different is selling you something (probably books). Anyone who says “I tweet because it’s fun” may very well be telling you the truth – because tweeting SHOULD BE fun – but they’re not telling you the whole truth. The whole truth is “I tweet because it’s fun and I’m hoping you’ll buy my shit”.

I think most people are cool with this notion. Most people are aware of the concept of author-as-pimp. And as a form of advertising, blogging about what interests me or tweeting random thoughts about STAR TREK is a hell of a lot more genuine that traditional forms of advertising. I like the notion of persona as brand. I like the notion that as an author, I can reach new readers just by having some vaguely amusing bullshit about hobbit sex being RT’ed all over the world. And I like the notion that actions on the internet have consequences – that, if you, as an artist act like a complete douche online, you can and will lose sales because of it. Of course, this notion can lead to a kind of paralysis in artists –  the unwillingness to say or do anything save the sickly sweet, for fear of alienating Those Who Hold The Dollars. But that’s okay too. Vanilla is the most popular flavour of ice cream, after all (fuck vanilla, seriously).

BUT

I’ve been pondering a particular form of self-pimpage I see other authors doing lately. I see it more often than ever, and I’m wondering why I can’t come at it, and why I won’t participate in it.

I’m talking about the RTpimp.

For those who’re squinting at the screen with WTF slapped all over your Chevvy Chases, the RT pimp is when some lovely, awesome, super-cool person takes the time out of their day to tweet me with a compliment about the book – “I love STORMDANCER more than my children” or “holy shit, STORMDANCER made me pop, like seventeen boners, brah”, etc – and then I go and RETWEET that compliment into my feed. ie

“RT @ladyawesomesauce87 STORMDANCER is the greatest thing since jesus. U r my saviour, Jay, yea, glory unto thee and death to the non-believer” *

Now, I don’t do this. I did it once, just to see what it would feel like (it felt like puppy-molestation) and never again shall I descend into that dank pit of danky dankness. But why? Because this stuff happens ALL THE TIME (RTpimping, not puppy molestation)

Having thought about this for a while now, my reasons for refusing to engage in the RTpimp are as follows:

  1. It seems illogical to me.
    The only people who generally see my RTs are people who follow me on twitter (science!). To give enough of a shit about me to put up with my inane dribbling, you must a) have already read my book and thought it didn’t suck, or b) at least be planning to read it in the very near future. Given these two possibilities, it seems odd for me to RT tweets telling you how fantabulously awesome my warez are because a) you’ve already read it, and so are aware how fantabulously awesome I am (har har ego joke) or b) you’re pretty much there anyway, and the probability of you being swayed to read it any faster because of the opinion of a total stranger seems remote.
    I mean, if it’s the Queen of England I’m retweeting? (“RT @QueenLizzieII dis kirstoff shit wuz teh awesumsauce”**) Yeah maybe. But a (lovely, awesome, super-cool) person you’ve never met? How many fucks do you not give?
  2. It’s feels like actual prostitution.
    When a lovely, awesome, super-cool person takes the time to tweet me about how much they liked STORMDANCER (and if I might be serious for a moment, it really does make my day), they tweeted me. If they wanted the world to know how much they loved the book, they could have done any number of things – written a review, or done a blog post, made a Buruu plushie from the plundered remnants of their dead grandmother’s quilt, written “STORMDANCER RULEZ” on their stomach in large red lettering and streaked naked through a football game, etc. And they’re still free to do all this stuff (don’t get arrested, pls). But when they take the time to tweet me, that feels like a message for me. And me jacking that message and pushing it out there into the world in the hope that somebody computes “because this complete and total stranger enjoyed this product and/or service, I too will be stimulated by it” seems disingenuous to me. It feels like I’m selling their feels.
    I don’t mind selling myself – I’m cool with the notion of being up on this stage. But dragging you up here with me without permission? That seems a little . . . Creepy Uncle™ to me.
  3. It seems wanker-ish.
    The RTpimp seems more than slightly self-congratulatory to me. It seems like a “hey, look at me” move. And while, as previously discussed, everything content-producers do online generally equates to “hey, look at me” it seems less in the “walk into the party dressed nice and tell an amusing anecdote about a puppy-molester” ballpark and more in the “walk into the party naked, stand in the middle of the room and start doing ‘the helicopter’ with my dick” league (DO NOT google that turn of phrase, for the love of god).
    It goes beyond the point of no return for me.
    It goes beyond self-promoting and into self-pleasuring.

This is not to say I think authors who do engage in the Rtpimp are wankers – far from it. This is not science, and nobody knows how this whole book promo in the internet age thing works, and though there are many wrong paths to walk online, I’m not sure the RTpimp will land you in virtual purgatory. I personally just don’t get it. And this is not to say seeing an RTpimp is an auto unfollow for me (although if it happens too often, I will most assuredly release the hounds). If I can deal with people tweeting about their fucking cats, I can deal with the occasional helicopter weiner. It all comes down to a question of personal taste – how far you’re willing to go to make a buck. How much you’re willing to sell to make the rent. And I totally take on board that everyone is going to draw that line in the sand in a different place.

Now what I’m wondering is if I’m alone in this? Do folks have rules for this kind of thing? What are your limits? And most importantly, how would you feel if your tweet to author X got RT’ed by them out into the world? Used? Or pleased?

KINSLAYER COVER REVEAL NEXT WEEK.

YOU BET YOUR ASS I WANT YOU TO RT THAT SHIT.

*Dramatization. May not have happened.

**Dramatization. Most definitely did NOT happen.


The hittable reflex

Objection!

.

So most of may not know this, but waaaaay back in the day, typography and photography and the sweet sexing thereof was a large part of my day. So beyond the notion that some of them are MINE, book covers hold a kind of arty-nerdy-cravat-wearing-Merlot-spitting fascination for me. I’m not saying I’d rather read a book on typography than go joyriding in a time travel hovercar with the ghost of John Belushi or anything, but if I could bring the book with me, that’d be awesome.

Looking at their own cover, every author wonders the same thing – whether people will like it, whether it says enough about their book, whether their author blurb is from someone famous enough for people to give a solitary fuck about, etc. I’ve done a couple of Supanovas now, and Manifest last year, and I’ve been watching the way people (sometimes dressed as Cybermen or Black Starrrrrr, but people nonetheless) interact with books  – my book in particular, but also books in general. While the sample size might be small (around about 60,000 people attended these events, and most wandered/shuffled/moonwalked past my booth at some point) I’ve drawn some conclusions about book covers and readers that I’m gonna dribble about here. I don’t claim this as the gospel of book covery to be carved into the skin of dead librarians and stitched into the pages of the necronomicon – these are just conclusions I’ve drawn from the expos my sorry ass has been lucky enough to get invited to.

Do covers matter?

The first and most important question. I mean, look at the original Harry Potter covers. They blew goat, man – huge, angry, horny goat – and they sold enough copies for their author to buy a castle in fucking Scotland. So authors, I guess what I’m saying is first and foremost, don’t break out the AR-10 if you’ve landed a cover that sits on the wrong side of suckitude. But do covers matter? Are they really all that important?

Oh mighty betentacled Cthulu, yes. Yes, they are.

A cover is basically an ad for the book it’s hugging. In a very short amount of time, it has to convey a sense of what the book is about – if the wordery inside will make you happy or mopey or all tingly in your naughty bits, whether you can own up to reading it at (s)wanky dinner parties, whether the protagonist is a three-schlonged sloth with mommy issues, etc.

A cover has to tell the potential reader “this is a book for you”. You read books about kung fu girls who kick ass in sailor outfits? This book is for you. You read books about angry circus midgets and rubbing the lotion on its skin OR ELSE IT GETS THE HOSE AGAIN? This book is for you! You read books about three-schlonged sloths? So you’re the one. . . BUDDY THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU. And the thing is? A cover has a remarkably short period of time to convey this all important consumer motivating information. How long you ask, young droogie?

About two seconds.

This is literally the time the average nerd punter, who more than likely reads books, indeed, has come to a geek expo with a fistful of greasy dollars LOOKING TO SPEND THEM will give your book. If it’s an office drone on their lunchbreak with a coffee in one hand and an electronic peepee iPhone in the other? Even less.

Two.

Seconds.

It’s kinda the library equivalent of speed dating (takes hair out of ponytail, whips off glasses, “why Miss Jones . . . you’re beautiful. . .”). Two seconds is about the time certain scientists say a person will judge whether somebody they’ve just met is desirable or not (aka, the “hittable” reflex). With people, as with books, in those two seconds, one of two switches will trigger in their little consumer head-things. Either the “I would totally hit that am intrigued” trigger or the “aw hellllll naw” trigger.

If your cover tripped the “hell naw” switch, sheeeeet partner, you’re SoL, because unlike the dating game, your book can’t fall back on a funny one-liner or a Porsche Boxster to drag it’s sorry ass over the line. But just like that first encounter in the dimly lit nightclub with the <insert gender appropriate descriptor of hittableness here>™, if you tripped the intrigue button, you can’t immediately carve a notch on your bedpost  – you just haven’t fucked things up yet. The POTENTIAL for sauciness is there, but victory is by no means assured. Thereafter commences what I came to refer to as “the courting dance”, and of the thousand odd people I saw picking up my book over the course of these expos, the steps are almost universal.

The Courting Dance (commences only after the “hittable reflex” has been triggered)

Step 1: Pick up book. Look harder at cover. Does this really look like a book about something I’d enjoy, or have I accidently picked up a book about three-schlonged sloths? If yes, go to Step 2. If no, go to Step 8. This decision takes around 2 seconds to reach.

Step 2: Flip book over. Skim jacket copy. And I mean SKIM. “I didn’t ask for your fucking life story, just gimme the gist of it, oh look, it’s a dude dressed as Tifa Lockheart and now I’m wandering away…”

After watching these thousand odd people read book covers, was I glad I wrote big bullet points like “A DYING LAND” and “AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST” in my jacket copy so the story can be covered off in a handful of seconds? Droogs, if I was any happier I’d have puked rainbow-colored puppies.

Is the book still hittable? If so, got to step 3. If not, step 8. Duration: 2 seconds (no, I’m not kidding, people can, will and do flip over a book and put it down again after reading half a dozen words of jacket copy)

Step 3: (step three is often preceded by a quick flip over to the front of the book again, just to check it hasn’t magically become about sloth peen in the meantime) Read jacket copy carefully. Would I actually read this? Because I can get sexual favors in the right part of town for $20, so this book had wanna be better than a wino hummer™.

Is the book still hittable? If so, got to step 4. If not, step 8. Duration: 10-30 seconds.

Step 4: Notice author blurb. Is this a person I’ve read before? Did I like their book? Even if I liked their book, do I honestly believe these nepotistic writerly tossers don’t just sit around and swap blurbs with each other without even actually reading the book they’re blurbing?

(The Aus edition of STORMDANCER has a Patrick Rothfuss blurb on the back. Pat is one of the most well-known authors in modern fantasy. I have had exactly one person act like he gave a shit that Pat blurbed it. He said “ooh, Patrick Rothfuss!” and then didn’t buy the book. True story. So yeah, maybe don’t get too bent out of shape about blurbs, peoples. Some readers are swayed by them, no doubt. The vast majority of folks I watched, however, could count the fucks they gave on no hands)

Is the book still hittable? If so, got to step 5. If not, step 8. Duration: 2-3 seconds.

Step 5: Open book at random page. Start reading. I’m not sure what folks expect to see in there, but everybody does this. They never start reading from the opening page, either. It’s always some random page in the middle. So I guess make the middle of your book awesome? If you’re gonna throw in boobs or six-packs abs, I’d recommend the middle. Maybe some kind of centrefold would work . . . actually, that’s an awesome idea NOBODY FUCKING STEAL IT IT’S MINE

Is the book still hittable? If so, got to step 6. If not, step 8. Duration: 10-20 seconds.

Step 6: Check cover again. Still no sloth dick? Gooooood, got to step 7. If you somehow missed the sloth phallus, step 8. Duration: 2 seconds.

Step 7: Check price, or ask someone for the price. (at this point, it’s very hard to fuck things up, the fish is in the boat, just don’t charge $70 for a B paperback or tell him/her you can’t become aroused unless he/she dresses in a pink koala bear outfit)

Is the book still hittable? SALE. If not, step 8. Duration: 3-4 seconds.

Step 8. Aw hellllll naw. Put book down, shuffle away without making eye contact with ANYONE. Spend money on plastic sword/amusing geek t-shirt/someone else’s book instead.

That’s pretty much how it works. Almost every single time.

Other things I learned about these expos:

1. High Concept

Being able to drop a two second high-concept elevator pitch like “Romeo and Juliet with zombies” (NOBODY FUCKING STEAL IT IT’S MINE) is a major boon. Everything you heard about high concept is true, people. If someone asks you “what’s your book about?” and all you’ve got is “well, there’s this group of heroes and they go on this quest to find this magic thing and save this kingdom and zzzzzzzzzzzz” then you’re probably screwed. I watched one of the Dymocks guys trying to on-sell my book to people at the counter with limited success until he hit on describing it as “Samurai Champloo meets Eragon” (or something like that) and bam, people started buying it from him. (I haven’t read Eragon. I stopped watching Samurai Champloo mid season. So I have nfi is this is an accurate riff)

Keep it simple. Comparison to concepts they’re already familiar with is golden.

2. Boys do not buy books

This is not a myth. I’m sorry to say it. But most dudes couldn’t give a hairy tinker’s cuss about books if the audience of 60,000 geeks I just watched is any indicator. Of the sales I made at SN Melbourne and Gold Costs (sold out of STORMDANCER both weekends, huzzaaaah) I’d guess about 5% were to guys. And it wasn’t because I have a girl on the cover of my book, it’s because 95% of guys would not even PAUSE as they walked by the Dymocks booth. If they were forced to stop near the booth (for example, waiting on their gf who WAS buying a book, and seriously, hooray for all the ladies), they’d be texting or crowd watching. The only books I saw guys (young or old) stop off and look at with any consistency were books about comic books (like THE AVENGERS ENCYCLOPEDIAAAA) books about video games (THE COMPLETE HALOOOOOO GUIDE, I mean wtf gentlemen) or Lord of the Rings/Game of Thrones.

Books are like kryptonite to dudes, apparently.

3. People don’t read horror.

No, really. They just don’t.

I’ll continue to monitor behaviors at these expos as time goes on, just to see if the patterns stick. So if you see some tall beardy dude watching you from behind the racks like a honey badger stalking prey, just ignore it, it’s all above board I assure you.

KINSLAYER Cover reveal on May 17th! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA