October 2019 Archive

Progress Report October ’19

Well, A Little Hatred is out there, and it feels good to be back in the publishing game, I must say. First book published since Sharp Ends, three and a half years ago.  First novel since Half a War, more than four years ago.  First First Law book since Red Country seven years ago, which seems hard to believe.

My most successful first week of sales to date, I’m very pleased to say – though that tends to be more a function of your previous books and career than this current book, of course.  A Little Hatred made no. 6 on the Times Hardcover Bestseller list in the UK.  I’ve been as high as no. 3 before but at much easier times of year and against much softer competition – A Little Hatred actually sold more hardcovers in its first week than any of my previous books (about 3,850), as well as a similar number of e-books (though these don’t count in the rather antiquated bestseller list system), and over 5,000 audiobooks (which is a stunning amount on audio and shows how that segment of the market has grown, as well as a testament to the reading talents of Steven Pacey, of course).

In the US, where I’m less well established than the UK, the step forward was even bigger.  I’ve barely troubled the scorers in the past on the NYT bestseller list, having made, I think, no. 27 with Red Country when they still published an extended list up to no. 30.  They only go up to 15 these days, and at this time of year that seemed a very big ask.  Delighted to say A Little Hatred did just clip the top, though, making no. 15 on the hardcover list and no. 13 on the combined hardcover and e-book list.  I think it’s the first time the US has outsold the UK in that first week (and nearly doubled the sales of Red Country), with over 5,000 hardcovers, plus nearly 7,000 e-books and over 7,000 audiobooks (again, a stonking audio performance).

So it looks like the publishing gap hasn’t totally killed my career, which is nice.  Have to thank the dedicated and hardworking editors, publicists, marketers, and booksellers who I’ve got chained in my basement slaving to make the book and its sequels a success…

The response from the papers, magazines and various websites was great (you can see a few highlights over on the books page if you happen to enjoy my good reviews as much as I do), and early reader reaction was almost worryingly excellent.  Definitely some less glowing opinions appearing now, though.  That’s often the way with much anticipated stuff – there’s a burst of enthusiasm out of the gate, then contrary opinions appear which encourage others to be a bit more critical and maybe start to establish a more sober consensus about a book. It’s a funny thing – what you instinctively want to hear as an author is BEST BOOK YET – and there’s certainly been plenty of that – but at the same time the more books you write the less likely it is that a given book genuinely will turn out to be someone’s favourite in the long run.  In an odd way your most committed fans can be the hardest to please – they got to like you because of what you already wrote, not necessarily what you’re writing now.  You sift the feedback for common threads, and lessons to learn, but you have to stay true to your vision, to coin a ridiculous phrase.  People are weird, and have their own tastes and obsessions and interests, and it’s your own taste you have to keep writing to.  So once you’ve scraped off the froth you’re looking for threads of criticism that many people have in common, and most of all that feel like they might be true to you – it’s not about making them happy, it’s a means of fumbling your way to better writing as far as you’re concerned…

ANYWAY, September and the early part of October were mostly spent preparing for the publication, touring and doing interviews, so work on the other two books has been pretty light.  Book 2, The Trouble With Peace, has now gone off for its detailed edit, and though a couple of issues have come up while working on the third book that will need some attention in book 2, it’s now very close to done.  I’ve had all the editorial comments in now for Book 3, The Beautiful Machine, and I’m maybe half way through the edit, with most of the work to do on the last part, perhaps unsurprisingly.  Publication dates are pretty much set now on September 2020 and 2021.

I’d like to say I’ll aim to get Book 2 totally finished by Christmas, but in reality I’m working on these two books together, so I doubt book 2 will get fully locked off and copy edited until spring next year, when Book 3 is also very near done. We shall see…

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