Progress Report April ’20

May 1st, 2020

Damn it, I’m a day late with my progress report, but then I’m having some trouble remembering what month it is lately, let alone what day of the month.  Strange times, it hardly needs to be said.  The strangest I’ve ever lived through.  On one level it puts one’s worries in previous times in perspective, on another the petty realities of the everyday still strangely continue as one day blurs into the next.  I’m acutely aware of how lucky I am to be in a business that’s still able to carry on, at least in some form, and to do a job I can not only do from home but indeed always have done from home.  So in many ways my daily routine hasn’t changed that much – indeed in an effort to give some structure to the kids we imposed a much more rigid timetable than usual on everyone and the result was my productivity went up considerably to begin with.  Must admit the wheels are coming off the wagon a little bit now, mind you.  The challenges of home-schooling (major respect to all the teachers out there), constant bickering among the kids, intermittent waves of lethargy etc.

BUT the work continues.  I’ve said this about six times before, but Book 2 of the Age of Madness, The Trouble With Peace, is now FINISHED.  The copy edit has gone back, the covers are pretty much done in the UK and US.  I’ve written a little short story to go in a Waterstones special edition like the one we did for A Little Hatred.  I’ve even written a “previously in…” to refresh the memories of readers.  The final detail will be the proof-read, which will probably happen over the next month, and then it’ll be totally finished, honest, in good time for the scheduled publication in mid September.

Plainly this is a challenging time for every trade and the book trade is no exception.  You might think everything’s going great guns because we’re all locked down and looking to be entertained, but I’m told it’s a very mixed picture.  E-book and audio still continue to sell, though some books and genres are doing much better than others: kids better than adult, fiction better than non-fiction.  But as far as physical books go clearly all the bookstores are shut for the foreseeable future and amazon are, understandably, focussed elsewhere.  In particular they’re not tending to take preorders, and with the loss of a lot of the traditional routes of marketing and promotion that means a lot of publishers’ plans for forthcoming books are a little bit shot to shit.  That means many of them are delaying some bigger releases in the hope that things will settle down and those books will have a better chance.  But that means there’s a backlog of big titles waiting to drop that might suck the oxygen out of the market when things do relax.

As far as this affects my forthcoming releases: hopefully it doesn’t.  I and my publishers have worked hard to get the books ready and publish them reliably a year apart so we’d be gutted if that was derailed.  Printing and distribution still seems to be working so we’ll be doing everything possible to stick to the schedule, and the UK mass market paperback of A Little Hatred is going to be out in May as originally planned.  The Trouble With Peace is still firmly slated for September 15th-17th, depending which side of the Atlantic but, just to warn you, nothing’s absolutely certain right now.  I will of course keep everyone as informed as possible…

The third and final book is getting very close to done now, too.  Finished the character pass, which is where I go through with an eye on characterisation – mostly the voices of the lead characters, and trying to get as much personality into the dialogue and behaviour of the secondary characters as possible – so where there’s a generic shrug or sigh or eyebrow raise, can it become something that’s unique to the character or sheds a little light on their personality.  Honestly, by a third book in a series, the characters should be pretty well established and writing from the main points of view becomes instinctive, so there’s not that much to do in this phase.  Next will be a pass for setting, then it’ll be off for the detailed line edit, and it’ll probably be copy edited soon after, so I fully expect it’ll be close to completely finished by the time The Trouble With Peace comes out, though the proofs won’t happen till nearer the publication date next year, so the door remains open to a change or two if something comes to me, probably spurred by reaction to the second book.

There’s been some ongoing thought over the title.  I’d been working with The Beautiful Machine, but I’d never been totally sure, and now I’m starting to edge towards The Wisdom of Crowds, which was the title of one of the chapters, and has just come to suit the nature of the book better and better as things have come along.

Hard to imagine that in my last progress report I’d just come back from a visit to Spain.  One can scarcely imagine a less socially-distanced behaviour than serial shaking hands, posing for pictures and sharing breath with dozens of strangers queueing in small spaces, so who knows when book events, festivals and conventions will start happening again, if they ever do in the form to which we have been accustomed.  A trip to Portugal scheduled for March and another to France which was due in May have already been cancelled, and it seems very unlikely that physical events will be going on by the time The Trouble With Peace comes out.  I daresay bookshops and publishers will make an effort to organise on-line alternatives, but exactly how that might work remains to be seen.  Also looks like I’m going to be signing more tip-in sheets than ever for the US and UK to try and make up for the lack of in-person signings – the figure of 10,000 has been mentioned.  My hand hurts just thinking about it.

Stay safe, everyone…

Posted in news, progress by Joe Abercrombie on May 1st, 2020.

30 comments so far

  • Shoni Pampling says:

    Eeeek so exciting, i have already purchased a little hatred but I’m not ready to read it yet until I have at least the second book nearly done. I’m not a patient person so I don’t like to commit to reading a series that isn’t complete. However tout books are so satisfying I’m willing to throw that rule out the window!

    Iv been an avid fantasy reader since I was 13 and Logan nine fingers is one of my all time favourite characters. Thank you for your epic story telling. Peace ✌

  • Mathieu says:

    Thank you for the update!
    Do you have any news regarding translation of book 1 and release dates? (Especially for French).

    And too bad for the event in Paris. I had a plan in place to travel there and get to your signing, but I’ll try again in a year or two when the dust will settle.

    Thank you again for your books and updates!

  • Sean says:

    Great to hear things are still on track. Meet you in Nottingham Waterstones last year and, as you say, cannot imagine that at the moment! Will be looking for the pre-order of no.2

  • Your most ambivalent says:

    I love the title The Beautiful Machine, I’m not sure about The Wisdom of Crowds, but you could title it “How to Stop Being Completely Useless at Sex” and I’d still proudly buy it.

  • Malice Amarantine says:

    I already dealt with Cyberpunk 2077 being delayed. I’m not sure I could handle the delay of the next book

  • david butler says:

    I have been a fan of your stuff for years, I actually saw you interview George Martin on TV and thought ” I will check this guy out” now I have read all of your books, the so called teen fiction is easily as good and readable as anything with Logan ninefingers.
    Last year I popped into waterstone’s and saw a little hatred, bought it left it on the shelf for six months, now I am re reading Steven Kings the Stand while waiting for your next instalment. I’m sure I’m not the only one waiting? Keep it up and stay safe.

    Yours patiently Dave.

  • Wilfred Berkhof says:

    Joe, will those extra short stories in the Waterstones books be published somewhere else as well for us non-British fans?

  • Howard van Rooijen says:

    The only problem with “the wisdom of crowds” is that there’s already a semi famous book by that name by James Surowiecki. Although 15 years old, it was quite popular and you might get drowned out in (Google) searches.

  • Kshitij Rawat says:

    Does the release date of The Trouble with Peace include the Kindle edition as well?

  • Michael Dawes says:

    I finally got around to putting a ‘drop’ of water in a finger or so of a nice Hibiki I was given as a father’s day gift, against all instincts to do so, and who knew? Is this something you do at all? Covid19 – pleasurable things I learned in lockdown.

    Looking forward to hearing the incomparable Steven Pacey read this.

    Safety and sanity to you and yours. And good luck to Lady Grimdark on her new tome.

  • Alan Whale says:

    Time to invest in a signature stamp.

  • Darren says:

    Thanks for the update Joe. One question I’ve always wondered; you mention edits based on reading previous books, is there ever a change as big as removing a planned death based on how well a character developed and thoughts of using them again in the future?

  • Harman says:

    I’m a fan of the “previously on..” before the book so thanks for adding that. Also wondering if the short stories will be available elsewhere?

  • David Sullivan says:

    Glad to hear you and your family are safe. September can’t come fast enough!

  • Timothy says:

    Hello sir- Any update on the subterranean press edition of A Little Hatred? Specifically, will the priority pre-orders be based on Red Country or Sharp Ends purchasers (If you know, or are allowed to divulge) Thanks!

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    No precise dates on translations, I’m afraid – generally it very much depends on the availability of the translator so they’ll only just now be getting the final manuscript. Best guess would be a year after A Little Hatred comes out. The relevant publisher might have a better idea…

    In some countries they might do similar special editions with the short stories but as far as publishing some kind of collection like Sharp Ends I’m a long way off…

    Yeah, I noticed that once we started considering it as a title but the publisher’s not worried. I think if it was a good deal newer or in the same genre (or fiction at all) it’d be much more of a concern. There was a pretty successful crime thriller called The Blade Itself which came out within a couple of months of mine. Don’t think it really did anyone any harm.

    Yeah, paper, e-book and audio all at once would be the plan.

    Often put water in cask strength stuff cos it can be a bit overpowering but generally not in the lighter things or the blends, but one should drink it the way one wants to.

    At this stage it’d probably be small changes. Usually if I’ve decided someone’s gonna die it’s because that’s the best use of the character. If you feel no reluctance as a writer then probably it won’t move the reader much. Don’t often change my mind on that kind of thing.

    The short stories might be available elsewhere some time, but no immediate plans.

    Took us a while to find the right artist for the Sub Press edition but it’s now very much on track. It’s gonna be a considerable step up from the previous First Law ones – larger format, better paper, two colour printing, more artwork. Cover’s fantastic, and five or six of the black and white illustrations are done, so there are still a couple of colour illustrations and a few more b&w to do. I’ve signed the sig sheets. So it’s coming together but I’m not sure what their lead times are like, especially right now. They would probably be better able to give you a better idea of when it might be available.

  • Stephen Hick says:

    Any idea when the covers will be revealed? Likely I too will preorder the Waterstones edition and then the Sub Press one when those are finally announced, so I await the news about them to.

  • Matthew says:

    Joe when can we expect official cover art reveals for Trouble with Peace?

  • Timothy says:

    Thanks for the response, can’t wait- don’t think I’ve seen a SubPress book with both b&w AND colour!

  • Ulf the Ill says:

    Hi Joe,

    as I already commented on your last progress report: I love the title “The Beautiful Machine” for the third book! For me it evokes a certain “Kanedias”/making vibe which I liked a lot in the first trilogy. But it could also be read politically such as the state/politics as a machine or industrial progress beginning to be a force of good/beauty at the end of the trilogy. It was exactly this ambiguity or vagueness that I liked and that the title is somewhat different to the other two titles.

    You already hint at why you want to change the title to the “Wisdom of Crowds” which makes me think that the third book in general is going more in the political direction, maybe even hinting at the dawn of the rule of many/mass politics. Yet I cannot help but feel that the new title is not as “rich” insasmuch as it does not allow for a lot of different interpretations.

    Well, I hope to be proved wrong in the end. In one and a half years we will see :-).

  • TC says:

    SubPress just put up pre-orders for A Little Hatred! They’re using the same paper type they print their Malazan books on, which is pretty much the best I’ve ever seen in a book.

  • Flex Schaper says:

    Hey Joe,
    I hope everything will go as you hope with the publication of the second book. But I also think that you have a very loyal fan base who will take care of that.
    As soon as i can preorder it in Germany, I have secured it for myself and my girlfriend .

    By the way because I want to ask that a long time: Your book title names are always much better in english than our german ones, which I think is a bit of a shame because the original titles have more depth.

    Do you have any influence on the naming of your books in Germany? For example, freely translated:

    Original: “A little hatred” German: “Zauberklingen” which means in English “MagicBlades”


    Original: “Before they are hanged” German: “Feuerklingen” which means in English “FireBlades”

    And as I just read, the next book(the trouble with peace) in Germany will be called “Friedens Klingen” (Peace Blades). Hence the question of whether you will be involved in the decision..

    The German book titles are somewhat blunt in my opinion compared to the English ones.

    And what I wanted to tell you briefly: When I was shopping yesterday, I wondered how many “Practicals” are now walking around in the shops with all the half-masked people. I then edited my mask and now you can read “Praktikal Severard” there. Let’s see when someone speaks to me.. I’m trying to make the best of the situation.

    Safety and sanity to you and yours

    Flex Schaper

  • David Emma says:

    You have so many fans, and so many people waiting for this book. I don’t think your sales will suffer all that much if it comes out on time.

  • Jonathan says:

    Joe – Can’t wait for the next book. I love the humor in your books. Only ever found it similar in Butcher maybe. I’ve always wanted to ask this because I feel like Sharp Ends started the story of Jarve but feel like she could easily have her own book/story. Any thoughts to seeing her again?

  • Andy Mclain says:

    The picture below these comments is the confrontation between Whirrun of Blithe and the Javre the Lioness of Hoskopp (along with shevedieh) right? From sharp ends?

  • Mark J. Jones says:

    Fascinating insights, as ever, Joe. Great stuff. I’m intrigued by the comment on the writing process, and I wondered: what does your first draft look like? Is it skeletal, with what are really wordy stage directions, minimal descriptions, and dialogue that gives the gist, and then you embellish it layer by layer? Or do you aim high with draft one, and then obviously even higher with the rewrites? I’ve seen both recommended (and tried both myself on my, ahem, to-date self-published oeuvre). I find it hard to stick to the skeletal approach, but it seems like it might help when the going gets tough(er) and you need to see where – and indeed, whether – a book might be going.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Stephen, Matthew,
    Cover reveals in the next few weeks, I hope…

    Yes. By Raymond Swanland. From the limited edition of Sharp Ends.

    The German publisher chose the German title approach. They’re not the titles I’d pick, but they sell a lot of books, so who’s complaining?

    No, don’t like the skeletal approach, really, I want to get a feel for what it will read like. So my first drafts are readable they’re just a bit bland, maybe, and need some cutting and refinement. There may be large sections that won’t change all that much to the final version.

  • Petter says:

    Thank you! A Little Hatred was a great book, one such book that while reading it, it makes you look forward to going to bed, just because you know then get to read it, or when your mind wanders and you think about the book it makes you happy because you can enter that world when ever you want to (so to speak), and it’s a great feeling and such books are not that common and a lot of your books are really that good and so I feel a sincere thank you is in order. I’ve been meaning to do that more; to find a means to reach out to people which make my life better in one way or the other to express my gratitude; so thank you once more I am looking forward to September for sure !!

  • David says:

    I’m a little behind the curve, as I just got the paperback of ALH. To prepare, I’ve just reread the original trilogy, and am now working my way through a reread of the Great Leveller set (as it says on the box lol). I loved them all the first time through, and I have to say I was surprised by how much more I liked First Law the second time through. Can’t wait to dig into ALH. Keep em comin!

  • Mark J. Jones says:

    Thanks for the reply, Joe. I can relate to that. Very much looking forward to The Trouble with Peace, though currently, as at Casa Abercrombie by the sound of things, the trouble here is not so much peace but the lack of it; homeschooling and paid work (and writing on the side) are oil and water. Best of luck with all those signed copies…

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