Archive for the 'Rachel Aaron' Category

05
Nov
10

Polite self-promotion

First off (and fitting, considering the meat of this post), my second novel, The Spirit Rebellion is now officially launched. Hooray! I have a post up on my blog with some reviews and gory details about how the book came into being (spoiler: it almost didn’t), so check it out if you like that sort of thing! Book 3, The Spirit Eater, launches December 1, so if you’re waiting on the series, you won’t be waiting long. Orbit is generous like that :D. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can see all my books and read sample chapters here).

So, the Spirit Thief has been officially out for a little over a month now. Truth be told, it’s been a hard 30 days for me. I do realize how ungrateful I sound when say that, and please know the difficulty had nothing to do with the wonderful readers who’ve bought my book or the wonderful people who helped me get it out there. As always, my problems start and end only with me.

The month has been difficult because I’ve been struggling to overcome a fear I didn’t know I had: a fear of self promotion. If you had asked me (and several people did) a few months ago “are you looking forward to promoting your book?” I would have (and did) answered an enthusiastic “of course!”  After all, I wrote the damn thing. Of course I think it is wonderful and amazing and worthy of reading, else I wouldn’t have missed playing all that Warcraft to write it (and rewrite it and query it and rewrite it again). Why wouldn’t I want to shout to the world how awesome I think my book is? After all, I’ve never exactly been a shy, retiring flower.

And yet, for a forward, confident person, I’ve suddenly become tongue tied on the subject of my own work. For example, when The Spirit Thief launched, I went to the bookstore to see my book on the shelf. It wasn’t there, so I asked the stock guy and, after checking the computers, he said it was in the back. He offered to go get me one, but I declined (I didn’t want to take one away from my home store where I’d told people it was going to be) and then… I left. I left without saying anything, and the whole time I’m screaming at myself,  “Rachel, tell them you’re the author, ask to see the manager, see if you can set up a signing, PROMOTE YOUR BOOK.”  But I just couldn’t, and I didn’t know why.

This rocked my world on a pretty fundamental level. I’d just failed at the most basic new author task, and I couldn’t tell you why. But then, after lots of emo-face thinking, I figured it out. In some ways, I’m a very southern girl. I was raised to think that bragging was the height of all rudeness (and, hence, evil). That a truly worthy deed will gain notice on its own. Self promotion is, in a sense, a little like bragging. You’re telling people about your accomplishments. And there lay the problem. If I’d told that book seller “hey, I’m the author, want to get together and do something promotional?”  I don’t think I would have been out of line, but I would have been calling attention to the fact that I’ve written a bo0k and asking for special treatment because of that, which set off all kinds of deeply rooted warning bells.

So I find myself in a dilemma. If I promote my book, I feel like I’m being rude. If I don’t promote my book, I increase my chances of sinking into oblivion and ruining my career. That can not happen, and so it’s time to get over myself. Gotta put on my big girl panties and put myself out there. But, you know, politely.

So here’s my question for you: what kind of book promotions caught your eye? What did you most enjoy? Web ads? Blog posts? Contests? Let me know in the comments (if you don’t mind, that is).

01
Oct
10

Contest winners!!

I think any writer will agree that there is no better feeling in the world than people wanting to read your book. I got way more entries than I was expecting! I am so humbled and happy at all the excitement going on about Eli and his crew. Thank you all SO MUCH for entering. I wish I had books for all of you! T__T!

Sadly, though, there could be only 20 winners. The magic number picker ate all the entries, and these are the people it coughed up:

  1. Tegan
  2. Susan
  3. Greg
  4. Ashley
  5. Laurel
  6. Jennifer
  7. Jason Bull
  8. Atsiko
  9. Karen Senoo
  10. Minamostaza
  11. Amanda Jones
  12. Melissa (Books and Things)
  13. Maggie Lloyd
  14. April X
  15. Judy Adler
  16. Deb Salisbury
  17. Emmad
  18. Arkib
  19. Elizabeth Briggs
  20. ab

I will be sending emails to all the winners asking for mailing addresses today. If your name is on the list and you don’t get an email by tomorrow morning, please contact me and we’ll get things straightened out. For everyone who didn’t get books, I am so bummed I couldn’t give you all copies. I still greatly value your input and reviews, and I sincerely hope you’ll still give The Spirit Thief a try. Thank you again for participating!

Eli officially launches today! Catch him wherever new books are sold.

– Rachel

ETA: I’ve sent emails to everyone except Jason Bull, Karen Senoo, Amanda Jones, Maggie Lloyd, Judy Adler, Deb Salisbury, Emmad, and Arkib. Guys, I could not find your emails, so now it’s up to you! Send me a message and I’ll get your book off! Thanks!

30
Sep
10

Glorious celebrations demand free books!

ETA: It’s now noon on Friday, and the giveaway contest is closed! Thank you to everyone who entered!! I am now putting all the emails and comments together in a big virtual hat. Since I love all the comments so much, I’ll be using a random number generator to make the hard choice of who gets free books for me. Winners should be notified today.  Again, thank you all so much for participating. Even if you didn’t win, I sincerely hope you’ll go to your local bookstore and give The Spirit Thief a try.

Sincerely,

Rachel Aaron

_______________________________________________________

So my first book, The Spirit Thief, comes out tomorrow! YAY!

To celebrate, I… wrote a guest blog post for Kalayna Price’s blog party about how we’re living in a golden age of publishing!

But wait, that is not NEARLY enough celebration! So, to reward all you loyal Magic District readers, I am going to celebrate my book’s release by GIVING AWAY 20 COPIES OF THE SPIRIT THIEF! These are not ARCs, they’re the real deal with lovely, glossy covers and beautiful embossed lettering! Total hotness.

Here’s what you’ll be getting:

The Spirit Thief

Eli Monpress is talented. He’s charming. And he’s a thief.

But not just any thief. He’s the greatest thief of the age – and he’s also a wizard. And with the help of his partners – a swordsman with the most powerful magic sword in the world but no magical ability of his own, and a demonseed who can step through shadows and punch through walls – he’s going to put his plan into effect.

The first step is to increase the size of the bounty on his head, so he’ll need to steal some big things. But he’ll start small for now. He’ll just steal something that no one will miss – at least for a while.

Like a king.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it? You want one, don’t you?! Well that’s good, because I want to give you one!! BUT, there is a catch! A catch, in fact, shamelessly stolen from our own Nora (because she has amazing ideas) when she did her Hundred Thousand Kingdoms ARC giveaway.  It goes like this: in order to get a free (autographed!) copy of the Spirit Thief, all you have to do is send me an email or reply to this post stating:

  1. That you will in fact read the book. Because, while I care deeply about your bookshelves, Orbit didn’t send me this lovely box of books just to have them be shelf decorations.
  2. That you promise to, once you’re done reading, leave me a review at the venue of your choice (Amazon, GoodReads, your own blog, wherever). If you don’t like the book, that’s fine, leave a review anyway! Of course, I hope you do like it, but reviews, good and bad, are vital.

That’s it, no contest, nothing but your desire to REEEEAD! That’s not too much for a free book, is it? This contest runs for 24 hours. At noon tomorrow I’ll randomly select 20 winners from the replies/emails, and those lucky people will  get free, autographed copies of The Spirit Thief shipped right to their door!

Now, I’ve got 20 copies, so your chances are pretty good! And if I don’t get 20 replies by noon tomorrow, I’ll just keep pushing the give away open until I do. So get those entries in, and good luck!!!

04
Aug
10

if you tell the truth, you don’t have to have a good memory

I have not posted in a long time, and I offer a solid dogeza in apology (see below).

So my series, starting with The Spirit Thief, comes out on October 1, followed by The Spirit Rebellion in November and The Spirit Eater in December. So many books! But don’t they make such a lovely little set? Anyway, while all this is going on, I am busy at work on Book 4 in the Legend of Eli Monpress, and I am running into some interesting situations. See, back when I wrote the Spirit Thief, I knew it was the first in the series, but I didn’t actually know much about the series other than how it ended, which was very far from where it began. Over the course of three books I’ve had to get a lot more specific and detailed.  This has caused a few problems because I’ve never written a series before and I was wholly unprepared for the level and amount of detail I ended up having to keep track of. Thousands of little decisions made over years of writing that have to be kept in mind because, in the world of the books, they are now history, irrefutable, and completely un-fudge-able should I find them inconvenient later down the line.

Some of this was alleviated by my wiki, especially the dry, bookkeeping kind of detail, but more and more as I dig into book 4 I find myself face to face with decisions I made about my characters months or years ago, and worse, decisions I made and now don’t remember making. I remember hearing a story about J.K. Rowling writing her later HP books and having to go into bookstores to buy the earlier ones to check things because she didn’t remember what she’d written. At the time I first heard this, I thought it was stupid. What kind of author doesn’t remember what she writes? But I own Ms. Rowling an apology, because I’m now in the same boat (albeit a far smaller, less grand boat). I have an ARC of the Spirit Thief on my desk at all times that I use to constantly check things, and search is my favorite feature in Word. But as my story grows, the process of self checking gets trickier and trickier. But though I do check all the time, I often find that, especially for things like character decisions (who did what when), my first intuition is the right one. I’ve been wondering lately why this is. Does some deep part of me remember? Am I clairvoyant? That would be nice, but I think the actual reason if far simpler and, by extension, more reliable.

One of my favorite ladies ever, Judge Judy, always says that if you tell the truth, you don’t have to have a good memory. Tuns out this is equally applicable whether you’re suing your neighbor over a fence on TV or writing fiction. My characters are the most interesting part of writing for me, and I put a great deal of thought and consideration into keeping them true to themselves. Sometimes this has the unfortunate side effect of characters bucking the plot when it asks them to do something they wouldn’t do, but while that can be annoying (read catastrophic while it’s happening), I think my books have always been better for it. But another lovely, unforeseen side effect of this is that, by staying true to my characters, telling the truth of my people, as it were, I don’t have to have a good memory about what they’ve done in the novels. I just think of the situation in question and I know how they would have reacted, even if I can’t remember exactly how I wrote it.

What have I learned from all this? That it’s worth the time to really know your characters for practical reasons as well as artistic ones. Because sometimes you end up writing a fourth book when you only really expected to write one, and you should always build on a firm foundation. Especially if you’re like me and Diet Coke has eaten your memory and you need all the help you can get.

Mmmmm… diet coke…

21
Jun
10

Like most human interactions, it’s all about power

Gah, sorry about the lack of posts. I have no real excuses, life has been about the same level of busy as always. I can only chalk it up to the fact that I’m starting a new novel, and whenever that happens I suddenly have nothing to say. SO, let’s switch the subject entirely and talk about that other other new novel I’m thinking about writing (only once I finish all my contracted work, but of course!)

So I’m thinking about a new novel, and it has a romantic plot as its central element. Well, actually I’m thinking about 5 or 6 new novels, and they all have romantic plots (new ideas are not a problem writers have, it seems). The trouble is that, traditionally, I tend to fail at romantic plots. I can do sword fights pretty darn well, I think. Cliffhangers, no problem. Same for political tension, magical apocalypses, so on and so forth. But romantic tension? Not so much. I just can’t hear it in my head like I can other things, and it drives me nuts.  I love love stories. I’ve never been a romance reader, but I eat books up when they have tasty romantic twists (see Reason #354 why I love Nora’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, aka “Can I have a Nahadoth?”). So why can’t I ever seem to write one?

I was thinking about this a lot this weekend (ok, I was being emo about it a lot this weekend), and in the course of boo-hooing, I realized something. Looking back at all my books where I tried and failed to write romance, I was writing the wrong heroes. All of my heroes were guys I’d love in real life – nice, clever, responsible, talented, earnest young men with pretty faces. But that’s not what I want in my romances. If I look at the love stories I love, we get a very different type of hero. So I sat down to take an inventory — what turns my crank in a leading man? To start, I made a list:

  • Mr. Darcy (Austen, P&p)
  • Jareth the Goblin King (Labyrinth)
  • Wolverine (X-Men)
  • Nahadoth (above mentioned 100k kingdoms)
  • Alucard (Hellsing)
  • Mr. Thorton (North & South)

I could go on, but you get the point and I need to stop swooning. The next question is: what do these men have in common? I mean, Mr. Darcy and Wolverine? Jareth and anybody? Other than Jareth, they’re all dark haired, but I think that’s more coincidence than any marked preference on my part. So, what? I ruminated on this for a while and then smacked myself, because the answer was staring me in the face. It’s power. All of these men have great power in their own ways. They all have different kinds of power, Mr.Darcy and Mr. Thorton have money and status, Alucard and Wolverine are inhuman combat monsters, and Nahadoth and Jareth are otherworldly gods (Naha literally, Jareth more or less). All of these men can be very cruel with their powers, and most are, but they can also all be won over by an intelligent, determined woman who doesn’t care about their power and can not be won by it. That’s the angle I go for, apparently. Powerful men humbled by love.

Once I figured this out, I started scrapping my heroes. They were nice boys, but they weren’t leading man material. They just couldn’t hold up their end of the conflict. They were too nice, too good, too earnest. There wasn’t enough danger. The new heroes were much, much more messed up, and way more interesting. Soon as I got that in hand, the stories suddenly snapped into place.

Once again I learn the fundamental lesson of writer’s block: It’s not that I can’t do it, it’s just that I don’t understand it yet. Once I understand it, everything falls into place.

So, does anyone else have a type of hero they gravitate towards, or am I just weird?

24
May
10

keeping the balls in the air

A few days late, but I was overwhelmed this weekend launching my website! www.rachelaaron.net! This is also why my first three blog entries are magic district cross posts, no time to write three new ones! But I promise there will be new and unique content forthcoming. In the meanwhile, enjoy the pretty rollovers!

Everyone knows the famous Checkov quote, “If there are dueling pistols over the mantelpiece in the first act, they should be fired in the third.” It’s one of the best bits of writing advice I’ve ever heard, but in my line of work, writing adventure fantasy, I’ve had to make a few adjustments… “If there are dueling pistols over the mantelpiece in the first act, they should be fired in the third, then fired again in the fifth. By act 9 they should have morphed into cannons, and by act 13 the main character will be dual wielding them as planet destroying deathstars with hilts.”

Ok, that’s a little over the top, but hopefully you get my point. Lots of times my stories start with a magical system, some new and interesting way for the world to work. As soon as I have this in mind, I start working on a way to break it (or letting my husband break it for me). I think of this as player character testing. You know in role playing games how players will exploit every tiny trick of the system to get more power? I think this is the natural human reaction to constraints, which is what all systems are at their roots – power limitations. So when I get my characters and sit them down in a new world, the first thing I do is try to think how they will break the system, or at least abuse it horribly. It’s the best sign they’re acting like people and not like cardboard.

The down side of this is that with every new book, things get a little more out of hand. Characters need progression — new challenges, bigger stakes. Those secret power dueling pistols you showed in book 1 are old hat by book 3. You have to go bigger, cleverer, and the threat has to get bigger as well. And if you start big, like I did, then when you reach book 4, where I am now, things are REALLY big. That’s why I thank any power who’s listening that I made a plan at the start of this. So while things will get up to universe altering changes by book 5, hopefully they won’t get stupid.

That’s my biggest fear, really. I’ve seen so many series that start off amazing and just get stupid at the end, mostly because the characters have outgrown their world. They’re simply too powerful, nothing’s a challenge anymore. So I deliberately set my power scale at the very beginning in the hopes of avoiding this problem. I wanted big, dangerous, flashy, interesting, but not unbelievable. The important thing is that I haven’t left my main set of powers, my dueling pistols. Sure they’ve gotten bigger and crazier, but I haven’t had to change the rules of my world to accommodate my now very powerful, late series characters, and I never intend to.

Of course, we’ve still got 1 more book to go…

11
May
10

supporting your writers!

So this post is way late and not at all what I meant to write about, but it keeps coming up, so I thought I’d put it here!

So my first book, The Spirit Thief, comes out in October. So far away! But considering I’ve been a published author for nigh on 2 years now, that’s relatively quite close! Now that this whole publishing gig is worming its way towards reality, people keep asking me how they can support my blinking, blind, newborn career.

Now, I have lovely friends and family and am honored and flattered beyond all telling that they would want to stick their necks and hard earned dollars out for me. But I don’t want them to waste their time or their money, so when they ask me “Rachel, what can I do to support your novel?”, this is how I answer, condensed in useful list form!

How to Support Your Favorite Novelist Without Spending More Than 15 Minutes or the Price of the Book You Were Hopefully Going to Buy Anyway

  1. Wait until 2 weeks before the book’s launch before doing anything – This is the most vital time for support. Any sooner and people might forget, any later and you miss those vital initial numbers that mean so much to publishers. You can of course talk it up earlier, but save anything big, and the actual purchase, until this crucial time.
  2. Preorder the book – Since you were (hopefully!) going to buy the book anyway, this is the best way to do it. Preorders boost an otherwise unknown book up the Amazon or B&N or whatever seller you prefer’s list. Strong preorder numbers lead to more and bigger book orders from retailers, which make your author look really good!
  3. Leave an honest, informative review – Of course, we all love good reviews, but honesty is the most important. A page full of glowing reviews that ultimately say nothing won’t draw readers, but even a 3 star review highlighting the book’s pros and cons can lead sometimes lead to sales. After all, one person’s gripe can be another person’s love. Hopefully, your author has written a book that earns your giddy fandom, but even if you didn’t like it as much as you’d hoped, write about it.
  4. Mention the book on your social media – Twitter shoutouts, facebook links, blog posts, they all help to raise a book’s profile. Even if the only people who follow you are your family and that guy from high school who kind of creeped you out but you don’t want to unfriend because you don’t want to be rude. You don’t have to spam or be particularly verbose, you even copy/paste the review you wrote for the book’s sales page, just say something and get the title out there. Every little bit helps.

As Cory Doctorow says, an SF writer’s biggest problem is obscurity. Anything you do, even if it’s just one post, can be a big help thanks to the ripple effect of the internet, and your author will love you forever.

(Also, when I was typing the above I misspelled Cory Doctorow’s name and Google’s (I use Chrome) spellcheck corrected me. Folks, that is fame right there, when your name is in Google’s spellcheck. )

Anyway, that’s my list. You tell me, did I leave anything out? Mess anything up? Let me know!