It’s time again for Elevengeddon, a multi-author sf/f extravaganza that bears little relationship to the number eleven!
It did start out with eleven authors, honestly, but the number grew to twenty and that’s simply fabulous. So fabulous I think we need a Pulp-O-Mizer poster for it:
On Wednesday, June 1, at 7 pm, come meet a whole honkin’ bunch of authors and get all your holiday/birthday shopping done by snagging signed books at The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale! I’ll be there, of course, but here’s the full list of who else will be there, happy to sign and say hi and take a selfie and so on—and yes, they all deserve exclamation points:
Mary Robinette Kowal!
Leanna Renee Hieber!
Michael J. Sullivan!
Not in Arizona but want to get signed books from any of these folks? Call The Poisoned Pen ahead of time and place an order and they’ll ship anywhere in the world! Here’s the event on The Poisoned Pen’s site, which may/may not be updated to include all the authors above—my list is accurate, I promise! Hope to see you there if you can make it!
Also: Very excited to announce that I’ll be a guest at Hal-Con in Halifax, Nova Scotia, from Nov. 4-6! This will be my first Canadian con, where I assume there will be poutine and beer! And also lots of spiffy people. My previous visits to Canada (Toronto and Vancouver) have been uniformly delightful and I expect this to be no different. So if you’re available and of a mind, I’d love to see you at Hal-Con!
Emerald City Comic Con!
Come play games with me and Patrick Rothfuss and Robin Hobb and oh my glob so many spiffy authors and peeps! Click on that link and snag your ticket! You don’t have to attend ECCC to attend this event!
Spiffy store additions
Haven’t updated the store in a while, but I now have TWO whole new thingies in there!
First new thing is the signed hardcover of Staked. If you couldn’t catch me on tour and would like a signed copy, I’m now able to get one out to you (in the U.S only). You may of course just buy it alone for cover price ($27), but I want to offer you a spiffy package deal in case it appeals:
Buy Staked and the hardcover of Shattered and use the coupon code WOOHOO and that will change the grand total from $53 to $35—an $18 break—PLUS I will throw in a free download code for the audiobook of “Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles,” a $6.95 value! The download code will be emailed to the address you provide in the checkout field.
Already have Shattered and “Two Tales”? Well, they can make great gifts—especially the audiobook download! But if you’d like one of my signed paperbacks instead of the Shattered hardcover we can make that happen. Follow the same procedure because the coupon code is keyed to the Shattered hardcover, but when you get to the Special Instructions field in the checkout process, just ask for a signed copy of Hounded or Trapped or whichever one of my paperbacks you’d like to substitute for Shattered.
Short version: Staked + Shattered + “Two Tales” Audiobook =$35 (plus S&H) with the coupon code WOOHOO.
Second new thing: A wonderful illustration of Oberon that’s perfect for coloring! A watermarked sample can be seen at left. You can download the clean copy, sized 8 1/2 x 11, for 0.99 and print as many copies as you want at home. You and/or your kids can have him say stuff about bacon and poodles. Plaster your fridge with him!
This illustration was drawn by artist MaryElizabeth Mono who is turbo spiffy. All proceeds go to her because artists gotta eat.
And that’s it! Thank you again for reading, y’all. Peace & sausages!
STAKED is out now!
The wait is finally over! STAKED is now available in stores, online, and in spiffy audio format! So excited for you to find out why you never want to be Nigel in Toronto and all the other fun goodies I have in there. I did a bunch of traveling for this book to nail down locations and such and I still miss the cities: Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Rome, and of course, Toronto.
Hope you all enjoy! If you haven’t read A PRELUDE TO WAR yet, that’s a vital novella in between SHATTERED and STAKED. It’s in a mini-anthology with Chuck Wendig and Delilah S. Dawson called THREE SLICES, and it’s the first time we were able to get Oberon on the cover! Inside there’s another illustration featuring Granuaile and Orlaith! Plus, of course, two awesome stories from two of my favorite authors.
I’ll be on tour for this and I hope I can see you at one of the places listed below if you can make it! Sorry if I can’t make it somewhere near you this time—only so many places I can visit. Hopefully next time—I’ll try to make it to California and the east coast for sure! If you have any friends in these cities that you can bribe to show up for you, that would work too, right? BTW: Crestview Hills, KY is right across the river from Cincinnati! Hope to see some Ohio peeps there! Cheers, everyone, and happy reading!
A roundup o’ goodies
Newsy news you can use in handy numbered lists!
- I finished/delivered A Plague of Giants, the first book of my epic fantasy trilogy. It has to be edited and all the other myriad steps have to be followed before it gets to you, but yeah: That’s coming. I don’t have a publication date yet but I’ll share it when I do. There will be audio but I don’t know who the narrator(s) will be. And if you’re keeping score, it’s twice as long as any Iron Druid book. The manuscript was 680 pages! Apart from the four and a half months I spent writing Staked, that’s what I was doing in 2015. Workin’ hard!
- My latest Iron Druid short story, “Goddess at the Crossroads,” where Atticus shares the perilous circumstances of his meeting with William Shakespeare, is now available though Subterranean Press in A Fantasy Medley 3! This is print only, no ebook or audio. Very honored to be featured with stories by Jacqueline Carey, Aliette de Bodard, and Laura Bickle! It got a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly and you can get either a regular hardcover edition or a signed, numbered, super-sexy limited edition here.
- Staked will be out on Jan. 26! (*high-pitched squee*) If you haven’t heard about the tour already, here’s where I will be and I hope you can make it! Remember that if I’m not coming to your town/region/country, it’s not because I don’t love you, it’s because of math.
- While on tour I’m giving away these new signed bookmarks that have a Third Eye Books & Herbs receipt on one side and Oberon’s answer to the question “What is best in life?” on the other. But if you can’t make it to the tour, you can still snag one by pre-ordering Staked from wherever you like to buy books! Just send me an email with your shipping address. Thanks to everyone who’s already pre-ordered, by the way. YOU DESERVE A SNACK.
- I have a couple of new ways to connect: I’m starting a newsletter called Oberon’s Shenanigans that will be out monthly, first issue coming out Jan. 14 if all goes well. It will include a “Meat of the Month” column written by Oberon as well as other goodies. You can sign up here! And I’m on Instagram now at @Kevin_Hearne if you like pictures of books and booze and mountains and beardy guys with doggies.
So what’s next?
- I’m working on a novella right now from Oberon’s point of view called The Purloined Poodle, which will hopefully be out in the fall. Mystery! Allusions to Sherlock Holmes and Edgar Allan Poe! Sausage! Poodles! You know, the good stuff! More details when I have them.
- I have three IDC short stories in my head that I’ve long wanted to write, so I’m gonna do it. Two are Atticus-in-history tales because I love the research, and one features Flidais and Perun in London with Perun as the narrator.
- Book 9 of IDC!
Places where I’ll show up this year, besides the Staked tour:
- Dallas, Texas! Well, Garland, really, at the Barnes and Noble at Firewheel Mall. February 20, 2 pm, with amazing authors Charlaine Harris, Rachel Caine, Jaye Wells, and Delilah S. Dawson! OMG I AM ALREADY GEEKING OUT
- AnomalyCon in Denver! March 25-27. With so many awesome authors I can hardly stand it. Chuck Wendig! Scott Lynch! Elizabeth Bear! SOOOOO MANY MOARRR
- Emerald City Comic Con! April 7-10 in Seattle! YAY!
- Phoenix Comic Con! June 2-5. YAY!
- San Diego Comic Con! July 21-24. YAY!
- Dragon*Con in Atlanta, September 2-5! Woohoo!
- StoryCon in New Orleans, Sep 30-Oct 2! BEIGNETS!
Whew. Well, that’ll keep me busy. Hope your year is fabulous and we’ll get to see each other along the way! And thank you so much for reading!
I have new bookmarks! They’re pretty dang spiffy! And you can get a signed one easily by doing stuff you were probably gonna do anyway! Before I get to that, LOOKIT:
I’m hiding part of one side because it has fun surprises on it like the name of the last book and Oberon’s answer to the question, “What is best in life?” And that will also be the side where I sign it for you.
But how cool is the side that looks like a Third Eye Books & Herbs receipt? I got the idea from my friend Leanne, who surprised me with it by making up a few. I tweaked it a little bit and put it on the bookmark. Fun fact: That address and phone number go to the real-life location of Third Eye Books & Herbs, my cousin’s comic book shop, Ash Avenue Comics. Shameless plug: He has the best selection of graphic novels in AZ.
So how do you get a signed one? THERE ARE THREE WAYS.
1. See me on my STAKED tour. I’ll have ’em with me and everybody who comes to see me will get one. I can’t wait to see y’all, by the way!
2. Order any signed book(s) from Oberon’s Treat Shop and I’ll include one in your shipment. (You can bag a signed hardcover of SHATTERED for 50% off by using the coupon code FIFTY)
3. Pre-order a hardcover copy of STAKED from anywhere (online or from your favorite indie store), let me know by sending me an email with your shipping address, and I’ll mail one to you. Because pre-orders mean love! My email address is kevin (at thingie) kevinhearne dot com. Already pre-ordered? You are turbo cool! Thank you! Shoot me an email!
Getting excited for the release of STAKED. Will Oberon find something even better than sausage in Canada? FIND OUT SOON!
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!