Big show in Austin
HOW BIG WILL THIS BIG SHOW BE?
Two whole guys! That’s DOUBLE the number of guys we had before!
Let me back up: For the Austin stop of the STAKED tour on Jan. 27 at Book People, it was originally gonna be just me showing up with my beard and a hankering for barbecue. But then a series of happy coincidences said howdy:
1. Robert Jackson Bennett has an amazing book coming out on the same day as STAKED and it’s called CITY OF BLADES. I know it’s amazing because I’ve read it already—I got to take a peek at an early copy.
2. Robert Jackson Bennett lives in Austin.
3. Robert Jackson Bennett is also published by Random Penguin House.
4. Robert Jackson Bennett is aware of my existence.
So considering all that, I just had to invite him to Book People with me! And holy frosted yeti balls, he said yes! So lookit, here’s a linky-poo for the event!
It’s pretty fun to say “frosted yeti balls” and “linky-poo” but I did not realize how fun it was to say “blogs” until Robert shared this Vine of just a few ways to say it, which of course I needed to include on my blog:
Some more about why I’m excited to appear with Robert:
- I thought CITY OF STAIRS was brilliant (one of my top books for 2014) and if you haven’t read it yet you totally should before you read CITY OF BLADES. Get to know the joy of Sigrud in a story that starts with a slow burn and builds to an inferno.
- Robert has serious literature cred. He wins awards and stuff—I think he has three fancy trophies for his earlier books? And the aforementioned CITY OF STAIRS was a finalist for the World Fantasy Award.
- His Twitter feed (@robertjbennett) is six parts hilarious batshit, three parts trolling author Myke Cole, and one part renewable energy science. Quite fun to follow.
- He knows where the margaritas are in Austin.
So anyway, we’ll talk a bit about fantasy and Druids and Sigrud and even frosted yeti balls if you want—there will be some time for Q&A. We hope to see you there if you can make it! If you can’t, you can always call Book People and ask them to have us sign some books and ship them to you!
Peace, love, & tacos—
Delay for tech
Today I was supposed to send out my first newsletter, called Oberon’s Shenanigans. It’s all ready to go with Oberon’s first “Meat of the Month” column. And a big honkin’ bunch of you signed up for it, for which I am very grateful! But I’m going to wait two months to send it out for two very good reasons (one of which has a lot of smaller reasons nested inside).
- Tech! There’s a lot to it, apparently, and I learned some kinda neato stuff so I’m going to share. First is a term I’d never heard before: List health.
- My publisher told me about list health and convinced me to wait a couple months for its sake. The list in question is the subscriber list, and one measures its health in both its size and its open rate. The open rate is the percentage of subscribers who actually open your newsletter when it gets to their inbox. And there are limiting tech factors that can depress your open rate from day one, and then your list health will get progressively worse each month.
- Primarily there is the tendency of some email clients—gmail, yahoo, hotmail, whatever—to automatically shove your newsletter into the spam or junk folder without it ever appearing in the inbox. People who never see your newsletter won’t be opening it. And this happens despite the fact that in order for me to send it to peeps, they have to sign up by volunteering their email address and then confirm that signup by replying to a confirmation email.
- There’s some coding going on behind the scenes in your emails. The email clients look at that as well as content to determine whether your email is spam. We’re trying to improve the coding to make sure we get through the spam filters and into the inboxes of people who requested the newsletter, and that’s going to take the most time.
- Replying to a confirmation email helps a lot, but it doesn’t guarantee you’ll see the newsletter. What helps even more and practically guarantees you’ll see it is adding the origin sender to your contacts. In this case, it would be me—kevin (at thingie) kevinhearne dot com. If you’ve subscribed, please add me?
- List health deteriorates each succeeding month regardless, but it will deteriorate at a much slower rate if you take care to do as much as you can before sending out the first one. Once you’re labeled as spam by email clients it’s tough to overcome, so I’m going to do what I can to make sure you actually see what you signed up to see. I can give you some numbers from the Holy Taco Church newsletter as an example. The first issue of the Holy Taco Church newsletter had a 76% open rate. On the one hand—fantastic! But on the other—why did 24% of the people who signed up never even click on the newsletter? Most likely they never saw it. And then after that first month we never hit the 70s again. Months in the 60s, and now, about 18 months in, we’re in the 50s. Industry-wise, that’s still really good. We’re producing good content and people are enjoying it. But a large percentage of our subscribers never even see what they subscribed to. So it’s worth it to take some extra time before sending out that first newsletter.
- Holiday stuff. Right now inboxes (and spam filters) are getting a workout as retailers try to shout for dollars. I’d rather not get lost in all of that. So the first newsletter will go out in mid-January. In the meantime, if you’d like to sign up, here’s the link for it, and please remember to add me to your contacts!
Many thanks. Peace, tacos, & beer—
O come, all ye subscribers
What’s old is new again. But it’s not fashion! It’s not Star Wars! Well, maybe it’s Star Wars. But I’m talking about newsletters.
ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?
I’ll give you a minute to calm down from the sheer adrenaline high that the word “newsletter” inspires. And I will give you a serene picture of BB-8 and a goldfish from the Telegraph.
Gonna talk a while about the why below, but here’s the quick version: I’m starting up a newsletter that’ll go out mid-month starting soon, on Nov. 16. If you sign up here I’d be turbo grateful, and you’ll get to enjoy Oberon’s “Meat of the Month” column that I’ll be including each, uh…issue, I guess you’d call it? No: Volume. That sounds bulky and nutritious, like maybe it even has fiber.
So why a newsletter? Because publishers are pushing the idea to authors again. And that’s because social media has become rather poor at doing what it’s supposed to do for authors, which is just let people know we’ve written some new stuff and that we still exist. There’s so much noise out there and it’s tough to cut through it. Long, long ago, when the Internet was wee and before all the social media thingies arose, publishers told authors to have a newsletter. Then the shiny things happened, and the advice to authors changed: Thou Shalt Write a Blog and then use social media to link to it. Be on all the things all the time and somehow it will all work out. And oh, don’t miss your deadline, heh. I got published during that time.
For a while that was working: If you had 10K followers on Facebook and posted something then all 10K followers would see it. Yay! But then, a couple years ago, Facebook decided to apply algorithms to determine what people saw in their feeds. Now if you post a link to your blog, they squash it and only let maybe 1K of your 10K followers see it. Post text only but put a link in the comments, then maybe 3 or 4K people would see the post, but they probably wouldn’t click on the link or even realize it was in the comments. Post a picture of a cat licking itself that will absolutely not help you pay your mortgage, though, and Facebook will send that to everybody. Basically, if they smell that someone is going to make money because of your post, they want their cut first. BOOST POST, they say. Pay us to reach all the people who clicked “Like” on your page and thereby said they want to see what you’re doing, and then actually thought they would see it. “Nnnnnope,” Facebook says. “Maybe we’ll let them see your stuff if you pay us.” Well, nnnnope. Not gonna do it.
So an author can spend his/her time building up a bunch of followers and Facebook will basically take them away until you pay them for each post. And if you check out Twitter analytics, any single tweet of yours that doesn’t go viral is seen by maybe 20-30% of your followers, often less. (Hint: the kind of thing that goes viral is not your announcement of your next book’s release date. Mostly it’s cats again, especially in Vines.)
So the two largest social media platforms are ineffective at driving traffic to your blog now, and the lesser platforms? Well, they’re lesser. Which kind of makes having a blog a Sisyphean task. This post will most likely not be read by even half of my followers on social media because I won’t be able to notify them that it’s here.
Folks can subscribe to your blog, sure. There are some seriously awesome blogs out there and talented people writing them, and they deservedly get buttloads of traffic. They’re rare birds, though. So we’re back to the old wisdom that’s new again: Newsletters are great! If (and yep, it’s a big if) people subscribe to yours, and if you have neato stuff in it worth reading, then hey, it goes directly into peeps’ inboxes, circumventing the social networks. It would work a bit like the way Facebook used to: If you post something, it will at least reach the people who said they wanted to see it.
And for me, anyway, writing something fun once a month is much more manageable than trying to come up with “fresh content” multiple times a week for the blog anyway. So I’m fine with this old idea, which is a new thing for me. By all means: Let us do this. I’ll let Oberon off the leash every month and hopefully both you and I will be amused by his silliness. And I’ll also include what I’m reading each month in case you’re lookin’ for something new, and then let you know what I’m up to bookwise. If there’s something else you’d like to see in the newsletter, let me know. I’m easy to reach. And here’s that signup link again.
Peace & tacos & cat Vines,
The Tour Sweepstakes
So this idea was a new one to me. I think it’s kind of a new one for everybody, to be honest. We’re trying A Very Different Thing here, and since it sounded like it couldn’t hurt and in fact some of my readers would score a good time, I said let’s do it.
The basic deal is this: Enter the #StakedTourSweepstakes on Twitter and you can win a free night at Country Inns at one of the cities & dates listed below on the STAKED tour.
They’re picking nine winners on November 13, and if you’re one of them, you get to choose which city you go to. You have to get yourself there, mind, but the room’s on Country Inns. Entering is easy and you can do it once a day until the 13th. You just compose a tweet or retweet one that includes both @countryinns and #StakedTourSweepstakes. I took a couple of screenshots from Twitter to show you the sort of thing that would count:
If you win, Country Inns will notify you via Twitter Direct Message and ask for an email address to send you the rest of the details and arrange your stay. This does mean that you’ll need to follow @CountryInns for a couple o’ months. That’s the short version: the long, legal version of the sweepstakes, chock full o’ rules, can be found right here. It’s super official looking.
So how did this happen? Basically my publisher called me up one day and asked if I’d like to do this. I had questions, they answered them, and here we are. It’s unusual and I don’t think Country Inns or Del Rey has any clue if it will “work” in terms of selling more stuff. Will Country Inns sell more nights in their beds? Will I sell a few extra copies? We truly have no idea. This is experimental all around. But I liked it because my readers would win stuff for sure. Full disclosure:
- Country Inns isn’t paying me, but they are comping me (or rather, my publisher) a few hotel rooms on my tour. (Some nights I’ll be in other hotels.) I will tweet that I’m staying in them. Nothing like, “OMG they gave me a UNICORN in my JACUZZI!”—they’re not that kind of chain. (I always forget the name of the chain that does that.) Nah, I’ll just be tweeting stuff like “I’m at the @countryinns in Scottsdale and the room is nice” with a pic of my room. Nothing untrue. No hyperbole. Pretty simple. Thing is, whenever I go out on the road I have to lay my wee brain down to rest somewhere anyway, and I usually wind up tweeting some scenery wherever I am. Often there’s a drink involved and I don’t think that’s going to change.
- Country Inns is supposed to have little libraries in their hotels. (I haven’t seen them yet, but that sounds cool.) Anyway, they said they’d have HOUNDED in all their libraries for the fall. So that’s what they’re doing for me in terms of attracting new readers. There’s no way for me to know if I’ll get a single new reader as a result of it but that’s fine: I’m in this because of number 3.
- The sweepstakes means that nine readers (and their significant homies) who might not have been able to come see me on tour can do so if they wanna. Since I can’t make it everywhere and sometimes people drive (or even fly) an awful long way to say hello, how cool would it be if they got a free night’s hotel stay for taking the trouble? My readers are going to win regardless of whether Country Inns or I make a cent. That’s good.
I was surprised at first that they’re running this contest on Twitter only, but then I thought it was pretty smart. While the sweepstakes is open to everyone, you’re probably not going to hear about it unless you’re already a fan of my books. That also means your odds of winning are going to be pretty decent. And I like that they won’t ask for any of your information (like your name and address and stuff) unless you actually win.
So please tweet or retweet away—best of luck!—and I hope to see you somewhere on the tour if you can make it! If you can’t make it, you can always give any one of the bookstores listed a call in advance and they’ll have me sign a copy and ship it to you!
Peace, tacos & beer—and thank you for reading!
Wake of Vultures
It’s out today. I’m going to buy it and read it again because I want a finished copy to keep forever, and it will most likely be the best thing I read in 2015 as well.
I wrote a blurb for it: “I don’t care what else you’ve seen in the bookstore today. Buy this book because it’s the thrilling, delightfully written, and important one you’ve always wanted to read.” —Me
Here’s the thing: I’d really, really like for you to buy it this week (or request it at your library) for THREE SUPER DUPER GOOD REASONS: 1) You’re gonna like it and I want you to be happy 2) The world needs more books like it and we only get them if we show publishers there is a demand for books like this 3) I specifically want more stories about Nettie Lonesome and that will only happen if people buy WAKE OF VULTURES and go “Holy buttered balls, Batman, that was awesome!” and tell their friends about it and so on. I have provided spiffy links here to let you snag it online, though of course your indie bookstore would love to see you as well:
Amazon • B&N • iTunes
Please to read and enjoy and then let’s talk about it together because yes it is fun and has monsters and stuff, but there are juicy important things in there too.
Answering a tour FAQ
Q: Why don’t you come to my town? We have tacos and beer.
An excellent, fair, and frequently asked question that I often don’t have the time or ability to answer in social media! Going to take the time now and refer to this post as needed, because there’s a lot to it and this is a question many authors get asked.
First: It is not because I don’t love you or tacos or beer. People come at me sometimes with “Why don’t you love the place I live?” as if that’s my only criteria for choosing tour stops. The very short answer—the answer to so many things, alas—is math. Mostly the fact that I can only visit ten or fewer places and there are many more places than that out there. Math says I’m most likely not going to visit your town, or even your state. But it’s never because I don’t want to, so please don’t be upset with me. Be upset with math. I’m gonna explain further below because I get the feeling most folks don’t understand how the tour ecology works. (I didn’t understand until I started doing tours so don’t feel bad, this is not common knowledge!)
Stuff authors & publicists look at when arranging tours (not a comprehensive list but these are the biggies):
1. Population density. The cold, hard fact of the business is that a hell of a lot of people on the earth do not read for pleasure. And the ones that do in any given city might not read urban fantasy or whatever an author’s genre happens to be. So we have to go where the largest pools of potential readers are living and hope there are enough of ours there who a) actually hear about us coming and b) care enough to come see us. All of which usually means authors visit the really big cities and their sprawling metropolitan areas.
a. Getting the word out about appearances is surprisingly difficult. I can’t tell you how often I go somewhere with full social media and website blitz and even publisher help, then announce the next day I will be in town X, and someone from the city I was just in says “Come to my city!” And I’m like aww…dude. I did everything I could to publicize my appearance in your city and yet the appearance you heard about was some other one…? It’s baffling and frustrating for both authors and readers, believe me. Which leads me to the next bit and the importance of community outreach.
2. A thriving independent bookstore that welcomes events. This is, quite frankly, a major consideration. Hold on, lots of points and examples ahead.
a. For stores like The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale and Powell’s in Portland (and many others!) holding events is a vital part of their business plan. It brings readers into their store that might not otherwise stroll in. It helps them keep the lights on. It makes their store a center of culture in their city.
b. The Poisoned Pen (and others on the ball) have a customer email/postcard list to which people voluntarily subscribe. I subscribe to theirs and every month I get a list of the author events scheduled at the store. They hold 250+ events a year! And when I know about those events I try to get there so I can satisfy my inner fanboy. Which means The Poisoned Pen is very good for authors and readers, and almost every major mystery book that gets released in the US also means an author appearance at their store. But they do other genre stuff too: Diana Gabaldon works with them. So do I. Jim Butcher stops there, and so do other genre authors. And the publicists in New York know that The Poisoned Pen does a great job with events so they schedule tours to go through Phoenix/Scottsdale. The other big indie that’s great at events in the Phoenix area is Changing Hands (and they also have an email list). Which means that if you’re an author ready to do a big tour, Phoenix will probably be a stop because 1) It’s the sixth largest metro area in the US, so it’s got the population density thing nailed, and 2) there are two excellent indie stores there that regularly hold events and have a great relationship with the reading community. But stores like that just can’t be found everywhere. If you would like one to be near you, then it is in fact up to you.
c. Visit your indie store instead of ordering online. Keep your local business in business! Subscribe to their email list so that you know who’s coming and when. Attend their events. Start a book club at the store or join one! Bring your friends and have them subscribe to the list too. Community outreach is just huge because as I mentioned above, authors’ and publishers’ attempts to publicize an appearance often don’t reach readers who’d like to know about it. And when authors have events at your store and do well, then word will filter through to other authors and their publicists. I’m going to be visiting an indie store that’s in a midsize city for the Staked tour—Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville, NC—because I keep hearing what a great store it is and how dialed in it is to the reading community. Plus it’s well located regionally so people from several other cities can get there if they wanna. Charlotte, Knoxville, Spartanburg or Greenville SC—all within reasonable distance. Good indie store + access to large population = author visits. Math.
d. Cities that let their indie stores close? Well, it’s not the end forever, but it definitely puts a damper on authors showing up. Two examples to illustrate the principle: 1) Dallas/Ft Worth. You had an AMAZING store called A Real Bookstore that served BEER inside. I did a thing there once with Jaye Wells and it was simply awesome. I loved it! Wanted to go back forever! But by the time my next book came out, it had closed! I wept. So there was no Dallas tour stop for that book, and I doubt I’ll be back unless a new indie store sprouts up (they really are that important in deciding where to go). I am visiting Austin and Houston instead on the Staked tour because they have Book People and Murder By the Book, respectively, which both hold lots of events and bring in lots of readers. Seriously, Austin and Houston: You have two of the best indie bookstores in the US there. Give ’em lots of love and don’t let ’em die. 2) Nashville is an example of how communities can turn it around. They had all their indie stores die out for a while, and then author Ann Patchett couldn’t stand the tragedy of it and opened Parnassus Books. People love it there. Nashville got its second chance and embraced it, so Nashville gets plenty of author visits now. I was there for the Tricked tour. It’s an object lesson how you can make your city a place that authors visit. Ann didn’t do it by herself. The people of Nashville did it! Readers supported Parnassus instead of online giants. Then they demanded to see authors and authors supplied that demand.
e. Some cities—in part because of the great indie stores, I think—have thriving reader cultures, and I often wonder if we appreciate just how important such stores are to the community. I’m going to single out Portland here as an example. Powell’s City of Books downtown is a simply stunning place to visit. But their stores in Beaverton and elsewhere are truly great also. Thanks to Powell’s, the Portland metro area enjoys regular visits from the world’s authors, fiction and nonfiction, giving residents of that city access to creative and inspirational minds almost every single day. And that’s why I think their city is such a trip, constantly innovating and re-inventing itself. It’s because there’s a freaking awesome bookstore there and people read voraciously and treasure ideas and creativity. They show up for authors so authors keep showing up in Portland.
f. I have had three very kind & vocal people repeatedly ask me to come to Las Vegas. It’s turbo sweet but here’s the thing: Las Vegas actively—even aggressively—promotes itself as the place to do anything but read. That doesn’t mean nobody reads there—obviously many do, and I appreciate hearing from the three people who would really like me to visit! However, I am simply unaware of an indie store in the area. I know I could search for one online—that’s not the point. The point is that as an author who speaks with other authors regularly and discusses tours and great bookstores in the United States, I’ve never heard of anyone having an event in Las Vegas. Ever. At least not so far. Maybe even author events that happen in Vegas stay in Vegas? I don’t know. But that leads me (perhaps erroneously, I admit!) to conclude that they don’t have an indie store there that regularly holds events.
g. Related to that last point, I’ve had many people from Kansas City and Pittsburgh show up on my FB or Twitter feeds and ask me to visit. Thank you! That matters! It helps! I love you! It has me thinking about visiting both places. But please speak up at your indie bookstores too. Or your libraries. They will, in turn, talk to my publicist in NY. Know why I started going to Houston and then kept going back? Murder By the Book contacted my publisher and asked for me. They said they wanted me there and I’d have a great event because they knew their readers. And holy shit, they were right! I had a hundred people show up with barbecue! I have such a good time every time I visit that I can’t leave Houston out of my tours now. But again, it’s not just the store doing it—Houston’s doing it! Murder By the Book got me there but the readers also showed up. So if you’d like me (or any author!) to come to your town, definitely let the authors know but also be vocal and present at your indie store!
h. I’ve done a bit of looking into the Pittsburgh thing especially because I hear from readers there so often. And the indie store situation there is unclear. Right now I’m hearing through the grapevine there’s a new owner at Mystery Booksellers and maybe they’d be cool with events? (Mystery shops often host sf/f writers, like The Poisoned Pen and Murder by the Book do.) If that’s the case…well, I’d like to know if that’s the case. O Good and Brilliant Peeps of Pittsburgh (and everyone who doesn’t get to see the authors they want): This is a fixable thing. You’ve made it very clear to me through the provenance of social media that you have a lot of awesome, enthusiastic readers. But right now, at least from my admittedly non-local perspective, it appears that your city doesn’t have a clear go-to for author events. Where’s the place to go? In Portland it’s Powell’s. In San Diego it’s Mysterious Galaxy. In Lexington, Kentucky, it’s Joseph-Beth Booksellers. In Nashville it’s Parnassus. In Denver it’s Tattered Cover. Where’s the iconic indie in Pittsburgh? I’m using you as an example but understand that there are many, many cities in the same boat. Authors would love to visit their readers everywhere but we really need a place to go where we’re fairly certain people will show up. Because of number 3.
3. Travel expenses. Tours are damn pricy and for the vast majority of authors not a money-maker. In fact this is why most authors do not tour at all or only do events near their hometowns. (And also why we rarely do international visits. The markets are smaller and it’s hugely expensive to travel out of the country, which makes the math tougher.) Let’s say I’m promoting a paperback like I did for my first six books. I get sixty-four cents per copy (that’s fairly standard these days). If I sell a hundred copies at an event (which is a lot!) I’ve made $64. Can I get airfare plus a hotel, rental car or taxi, and meals for under $64 anywhere? Hell no, not even close. There’s no way I can break even on a tour, forget about making a profit. And if you’re thinking the publisher is paying for my tour, well, yeah. They are now. But they didn’t when I first started out. I paid for everything myself for the first four books, and please understand that almost all authors do. Del Rey picked up a hotel room for book five’s tour and paid for a few more nights for book six but it was still mostly my dime. Only when I got to hardcover with book seven did I get a full publisher-sponsored tour, which I still can’t believe really happened. Point is, aside from a very few gigantic names, authors don’t go on tours to make fat stacks of cash. We lose money on it but we do it because we have heard of sunlight and how we should get some and we also hope that those appearances will pay off down the road in word-of-mouth. So if we tour at all, we naturally try to arrange for events that don’t make us cry and feel like we’ve wasted our time and money. Because nothing blows chunks so much as traveling somewhere, spending cash you don’t really have on the trip, and then three people show up. (Yes, that’s happened to me. And it happens to lots of authors.) And something I genuinely fear more than my own embarrassment if nobody shows up: I don’t want the bookstores to feel like they’ve wasted their time and money either. (It does cost them time and money to set up an event!) So again, it goes back to big cities and stores with good reputations for community outreach and holding great events. We want to maximize the chances that everyone leaves happy.
4. I might have been to your city in the recent past or will be there soon. There are a few places I try to visit every tour now (Phoenix, Houston, Portland, and Denver) but otherwise I try to mix it up. Atlanta’s a pretty big city but I’m not stopping there this tour because I’ve been in Georgia twice already the past year. Chicago’s huge but I’ve been there a couple of times so I’m going to Michigan since I haven’t visited them at all yet. And I like visiting Seattle on tour but since I’m going to be at Emerald City Comic Con in April it seems silly to also stop there in February. Basically the Staked tour is six cities I’ve visited before (Phoenix, Houston, Minneapolis, Portland, Ft. Collins, Denver) and five cities that are new to me (Austin, Orlando, Asheville, Crestview Hills KY, Lansing).
So I hope this helps explain why I (and authors in general) wind up going to some places and not others. I’d love to see all my readers. Math says I can’t. And in many cases there are cities I’d like to visit (like KC and Pittsburgh) but I haven’t yet heard through the author grapevine that there is a great place to do events in those towns. That can change! It takes work. It doesn’t happen overnight. But where you shop makes a difference in what’s available in your area. (The closing of many independent bookstores plus Borders and a slew of B&N stores is proof of that.) If you value cheap books or simply enjoy the ebook or audiobook format for any number of very good reasons, or if you live in a rural area with few bookstores, then yes, online is definitely the way to go. If you value meeting authors and asking them questions and such, supporting your local indie or library and asking them to book events is the answer.
Anyway: I love you all regardless of where you live or in what format you enjoy your books. I try to visit a few new places every tour, so I hope I’ll get to your town someday, or at least to a city somewhere nearish that you won’t mind making the trip to say hi. And if I can’t make it near where you are, remember—it’s never anything personal, it’s math!
Peace, tacos, & beer—
I’m so excited to see y’all! I mean, as many of y’all as I can. Very sorry that I can’t come to everyone’s town—it’s math. There are thousands of cities and I can only visit eleven of them. I do have five new cities I’ve never visited before this time, in addition to six old favorites. I hope that you won’t mind coming to see me if the trip’s a doable thing for you. So here’s when and where I’ll be, and I’m including phone numbers for each store because if you call any one of them and preorder, they’ll get me to sign the book while I’m there and then ship it to you!
Jan. 26: Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ. The Poisoned Pen, 7 pm.
(480) 947-2267. My old hometown. I always go here first because they’re really good about shipping anywhere, including internationally. Plus? I like to go for fish and chips and whiskey at Rúla Búla while I’m in town to start things off right. AW YEAH.
Jan 27: Austin, TX. Book People, 7pm.
(512) 472-5050. This is a new destination for me! I’ve heard good things! I hope people show up! Please, for the love of all the gods: Don’t leave me all alone in there with no barbecue.
Jan 28: Houston, TX. Murder By The Book, 6:30 pm.
(713) 524-8597. Such a great store & great peeps. I keep going back because it’s always a blast.
Jan 29: Orlando, FL. Barnes & Noble, Colonial Plaza Market Center, 7 pm. (407) 894-6024. Also a new destination. I’ve never set foot in Florida before! Looking forward!
Jan 30: Asheville, NC. Malaprop’s Bookstore & Cafe, 7 pm.
(800) 441-9829. My author friends keep telling me this is a turbo cool store so I have to check it out. Asheville got a shout-out in Hammered—both Atticus and Laksha were there, but this will be my first visit. If you’re anywhere nearish, hope to see you there!
Jan 31: Crestview Hills, KY. Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 4 pm.
(859) 912-7860. I’ve gone to the Lexington store in the past but I’m heading here in hopes that peeps from Cincinnati and the nearby area can make it. Plus I want to see if it’s as beautiful as the Lexington store.
Feb 1: Lansing, MI. Schuler Books, Towne Center Blvd., 7 pm.
(517) 316-7495. For this appearance only, I’ll be joined by audiobook narrator Luke Daniels! It’s gonna be good times. Also, this will be my first visit to Michigan!
Feb 2: Roseville, MN. Barnes & Noble, HarMar Mall, 7 pm.
(651) 639-9256. This is a spiffy store in the Minneapolis/St Paul area. I visited for the Shattered tour and it was so rad that LOOKIT I’M COMING BACK
Feb 3: Beaverton, OR. Powell’s Books, Cedar Hills, 7 pm.
(503) 228-4651. One of my favorite places ever. Always a great crowd of readers!
Feb 4: Ft. Collins, CO. Old Firehouse Books, 6 pm.
(970) 484-7898. Old Firehouse is actually an old firehouse. Super cool building and awesome staff that likes beer. (If you lived in the microbrewing capital of the planet and didn’t like beer that would be kinda tragic.)
Feb 5: Denver, CO. Tattered Cover on 2526 E Colfax Ave, 7 pm. (303) 322-7727. This is the store with The Inscrutable Portrait of Anne Rice in the cafe. I write there a lot. Nice to have a signing there!
Ready for a surprise? Stay tuned over the next couple of months for info on how you can win a free stay at @countryinns to see me in one of these tour cities! And by staying tuned I mean you can check back here, or I will be saying stuff on Twitter and Facebook too.
Very sorry I can’t make it everywhere. I know California’s not here at all this time, but I gave California lots of attention for the Hunted tour, hitting five cities, and I feel like I should always try to visit a few new places each tour. I’ll be at SDCC in 2016, so you can see me there OR have coffee with me at Upstart Crow in San Diego on the Saturday morning of the con. (It’s a free get together—you don’t have to attend the con!—I’ll sign whatever you want and we’ll just chill. I’ve done this in the past and it’s honestly my favorite thing about the con: ESCAPING the con!)
Seattle peeps! I’ll be there April 7-10 for Emerald City Comic Con! So you have to wait a bit longer but hey, I’ll be there four days!
And I’ll try to get to some more eastern cities next time. Here are three places I want to go that I haven’t been to yet as an author:
Washington DC or Baltimore! I know there are lots of readers in those areas but I just haven’t made it yet.
Providence! My wife’s from Rhode Island and still has family there. I used to visit back in the 90s. Del’s lemonade, steamers at the Narragansett shore, NY System Wieners, tons of trees to hug—there’s lots to love in Rhode Island. We were hanging out in West Warwick and Lincoln mostly but I’d like to check out Providence and make that my New England destination.
Pennsylvania! Somewhere! I did a thing at Seton Hill University once but haven’t ever had an event otherwise. Don’t know which city I’d visit but there you go. I’d like to do a gig in Pennsylvania someday.
Hope to see you soon! Peace, love, and tacos~
I don’t get reviewed often by Publishers Weekly. I think the last time was for Hounded in 2011. So it was pretty spiffy to hear that A Fantasy Medley 3 from Subterranean Press got a starred review this morning. Fantasy Medley 3 contains an Iron Druid short story, “Goddess at the Crossroads,” which the reviewer called “a delightful adventure,” and dang, some super kind words about the collection as a whole: “For fans of fantasy, these stories offer something special and delicious, with a rare level of quality.” Here’s the link to the full review. And if you wanted to preorder a copy (it’s out in December) it would make me smile. Trade edition is $20; signed, numbered, leather-bound special edition is $45. (That’s signed by all four authors and the editor, only 250 of those.)
In other news: I’m having a hootenanny at Rúla Búla tonight. Facebook says 250+ people are coming—egad! We have special gifty gifts for people who attend. My mom will be there telling embarrassing stories about me. And my editor will be there too, who is still laughing about the time she took me to Hell’s Kitchen and I said, “OH! You mean where Daredevil lives?” The pub is running a special on fish and chips all day. Shindig starts at 5 and happy hour is going until 6—get your cheap suds while you can. If you’re going, the parking lot immediately north of Rúla Búla is free! They have little meters and stuff but the City of Tempe doesn’t enforce it and hasn’t for a year. Do take advantage of that if you can since almost everyplace else in Tempe is paid parking. Please enter via the patio gate and then sit where you like. The Poisoned Pen will have books for sale there but if you want to bring your own that’s perfectly cool. I’ll sign whatever you bring! Looking forward to seeing you!
Work continues on my epic fantasy, A Plague of Giants. It’s twice as long as an Iron Druid book already and I’m not finished. So there’s that. :)
Staked is out January 26 and my tour schedule is pretty much set! Just settling times on the Colorado dates. You can preorder in all the normal places online, or if you’d like a signed copy, you can order from any of the stores I’ll be visiting on my tour and they’ll ship you a signed copy after I stop by! (The Poisoned Pen ships internationally, by the way.) Preordering is love; thank you so much!
Also, lots of folks may have missed the Iron Druid novella A Prelude to War, which picks up right after Shattered and leads you into Staked. It features cover art with Oberon and also has interior art with Granuaile and Orlaith! You can find it online in ebook or audio in Three Slices, which also features a Miriam Black novella by Chuck Wendig and a Blud novella by Delilah S. Dawson!
Thank you for reading! Peace, love, & tacos!
The Coffee House is Dead
Please welcome turbo spiffy author Kameron Hurley to the Writer’s Grove. She has some very important things to say about beer so you can see why we get along. But also? Read her stuff. It’s great. —Kevin
The Coffee House for Writers is Dead: Long Live the Beer Lounge
I hesitated to write this article, because then everyone would know my secret, and the hipsters would descend on all the best writing hangouts in my town. Once I wrote this piece, the world would know that for me, the clackety-clack typing of novels at the coffee house is dead.
The tappity-tap at the beer lounge is ascendant.
Oh, to be sure, I spent a good deal of time writing Empire Ascendant, the sequel to my epic fantasy, The Mirror Empire, at a coffee shop. A variety of them, in fact, as I struggled to find a place that was both fun and eclectic without being packed so full of folks talking urban gardening and startups that my headphones couldn’t muffle the sound.
I live in Central Ohio, and if you’re thinking “How could there possibly be cool places to write there outside of one’s house?” I will note that when I moved here in 2007, that was a fair question. But today Dayton, Ohio is undergoing a bit of a secret renaissance. Cheap housing and even cheaper land have made this an affordable place for cash-strapped, job-poor, student-loan laden young people to start businesses and actually own real estate. The average home price here is $94,900. That’s not missing a digit, and yes, they are real, livable houses on par with anything you’d get on either coast. Add the low cost of real estate to the ease with which many businesses downtown are receiving and renewing their liquor licenses, and it’s resulted in a boom of small businesses, from restaurants to microbreweries.
To be sure, there are a lot of breweries, bars and restaurants around, from Main Street all the way up to Fifth Street and beyond. But bars and restaurants can get loud and crowded for writer-types who are actually there to work and not to be Seen Working. Those sorts of places aren’t so much made for lounging as sitting at a bar watching a blaring TV. But a beer lounge… well, that’s another thing entirely.
And what is it, you may ask, that makes for a great beer lounge for writers?
Enter The Barrel House, my lounge of choice in downtown Dayton. The key to building a good lounge is equal parts amazing beer and cozy surroundings. You want this to be a place people want to linger and congregate. I’m a binge writer, which means I’ll spend 4, 6, 8 hours a day writing on the weekends. I need a place that’s comfortable and soothing. The Barrel House does this right, with little clusters of couches and single chairs for writers like me who come in wanting nothing more than a beer and a seat. Come during the afternoons or weekday evenings instead of the packed weekend evenings and you’ll get a seat no problem. Free-standing stools scattered about the main sitting area serve as both additional seating and desk space for a laptop. Instead of seating at the bar, there are two nice long tables where people can write or play board games. And of course, what’s the lounge without the mini-library? The Barrel House comes stocked with both books – for the introverts – and games – for the extroverts.
We haven’t talked about the beer yet, have we? Even if your beer lounge of choice isn’t great for writing on a lazy Saturday or Sunday afternoon, it better rate high as a must-visit for beer connoisseurs. As at The Barrel House, one must be able to choose from a seemingly endless variety of beers and wines on tap (yes, wine too because why not?), twenty at a time, with new ones being introduced every week as kegs are emptied out. If you love trying new beer, you’ll never be bored at a proper beer lounge, and the proprietors must be good at suggesting new brews for every palate.
Another issue I have with coffee shops around Dayton, especially the independent ones, is that they don’t have late hours. I need to wrap up my writing at about 4-5pm when I’m clacking away at the coffee shop, then head somewhere else as they shut down for the day, usually slogging back home to get distracted by dishes and dogs. A great beer lounge like the one I frequent is open late during the week, and will give you a few extra hours on Sunday to finish up that last chapter.
I’m a firm believer in moderation, of course, especially over a six hour writing session, so be sure to measure your intake carefully if you want to ensure all that writing was good for something besides a whole lot of editing. I never drink more than three drinks in a sitting, and I make sure I savor them and they’re all excellent because why drink if what you’re drinking isn’t amazing?
There may be all sorts of other things folks need in a beer lounge, but this final one is essential: the proprietors must never forget the most essential element for every bar or beer lounge from here to London: they cannot forget the towel. Hanging up at the front door of The Barrel House – perfectly placed for one who needs to grab it while fleeing quickly – is a towel. Yes, a towel, the most massively useful thing any interstellar hitchhiker can have. This clearly signals that the bar owners are, in fact, Our People.
Good mood. Great seating. Late hours. Exceptional beer. Preparedness.
This is how you build a great beer lounge.
I know where I’ll be this weekend. How about you?
About the Author
Kameron Hurley is the author of The Mirror Empire and Empire Ascendant and the God’s War Trilogy. Hurley has won the Hugo Award, Kitschy Award, and Sydney J. Bounds Award for Best Newcomer; she has also been a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, Nebula Award, the Locus Award, BFS Award, the Gemmell Morningstar Award and the BSFA Award for Best Novel. Her short fiction has appeared in Popular Science Magazine, Lightspeed Magazine, Year’s Best SF, The Lowest Heaven, and Meeting Infinity. Her nonfiction has been featured in The Atlantic, Locus Magazine, and the upcoming collection The Geek Feminist Revolution.
Salt Lake Comic Con!
Hey folks, finally making it to Salt Lake! Excited to see peeps there, I’ve heard great things.
Here’s my schedule:
Thursday, Sep 24:
5 pm, Room 151 G: Spotlight on that Kevin Hearne guy. I’m gonna read a little bit from STAKED, plus talk about other goodies in the works and so on.
6 pm, Booth 1401: Signing at Shadow Mountain Books. Basically if you want to score books this is the booth to visit. Get there anytime and pick up what you want.
Friday, Sep 25:
12 pm, Room 255E. Character Development for Novels and Film. With Peggy Eddleman, David Farland, Brian McClellan, Sohrab Mirmont, Brandon Mull, Peter Orullian
2 pm-3:30 pm, Booth 1023: Signing at the Badali Jewelry Booth! Bring thou thy books and say hi. Also check out the Iron Druid jewelry there—licensed replicas of Atticus’ necklace and more!
Saturday, Sep 26:
1 pm, Room 255F: Live Plotting! Build-a-Story with Larry Correia, Robert J. Defendi, Megan Hutchins, Chad Morris, Jennifer Nielsen, Dan Willis
4 pm, Room 355: Urban Fantasy with Terry Brooks, Jim Butcher, Larry Correia, JR Johansson, Shawn Speakman
5 pm, Booth 1401: Signing at Shadow Mountain Books!