Progress Report Aug ’14

August 29th, 2014

Half a King came out in early July and made no. 3 on the Sunday Times hardcover list, and at a competitive time of year too. Even more pleasing is that it then stuck in the top 10 for 4 weeks. Preorders give you a big boost that first week, so you’ll often see books pop onto the list strongly the week of release but drop straight off. Sticking around tends to mean your book is not only selling to your committed fans but also selling strongly off the shelves, which is a very promising sign.

With all the touring and events however, including Comic Con in San Diego and Worldcon in London, most of July and August got swallowed up by travel and signing and blah, blah, blah.  What with the stress and the jet lag and the convention hangovers I’ve always found it tricky to make a lot of progress with writing while on the road, usually sticking to a bit of light reviewing, planning and reading over rather than drafting new stuff, but things do grind inexorably forward.

I did my last reading through and checking over the detail of the language on the second Shattered Sea book, Half the World, at the start of July, and in a highly nimble bit of production work Harper Collins had proofs of the book ready for Worldcon in mid August:


‘Andsome, eh? Once again they’ve gone for an impactful quote on the front with the title on the spine. These will be making their way out into the world over the coming weeks and are to excite folk in the trade, of course, the actual hardcover will have a cover in keeping with the previous one. Half the World is now copy edited too and therefore, aside from the proof-reading phase, basically done. Nothing (at least on the creative side) stands in the way of US and UK publication in early February 2015.

I’m now half way through the first draft of the last book in the trilogy, Half a War. This is pretty much always my lowest ebb with a book. The excitement of starting something new is far behind, but generally you’re still a way off getting the plot and the characters completely straight in your head and the whole thing feels plodding and dull. Oh god will I ever write a good book again? It is some help, though less than you’d think, that I know I’ve felt this way about every book since I finished the First Law. These shorter books do give you less time to get into character, as it were, though, and it doesn’t help that I’ve gone from one point of view character in Half a King, to two in Half the World, to three in Half a War, therefore there’s less time spent with each and at the moment they’re twisting about like snakes with their heads cut off as I struggle to smash them into a shape that fits the (constantly changing) plot. Still, I think I’ve now got a decent plan for the second half of the book which should provide some interesting moments. I just need the characters to be the people who’d do the type of stuff I’ve got in mind, and that means a fair bit of rewriting in the earlier parts. Sigh. So it goes. I’m still a heavy planner, but I find over time my process is getting more and more fluid. The basic plot I have in advance, but the details of how and who and why I get there shift around a lot more than they used to.

Anyway, this year’s big clutch of events is behind me, and though I’ve got a couple of much smaller commitments, the next three months are largely clear to get a full first draft of Half a War together, so I can spend December doing the heavy lifting of rewriting the first half of the book and have a decent, coherent second draft by the end of the year. That should leave ample time to get the book out by its planned publication in July 2015. Such is the hope, anyway.

That is your progress report for August…

Posted in progress by Joe Abercrombie on August 29th, 2014.

23 comments so far

  • Sean Smith says:

    Always fascinating to read your progress updates, I find them a very insightful glimpse into your process. Also really looking forward to reading the next two. The scene when they get their heads cut off sounds great!

  • Glyn says:

    Loved Half a King, and all your work prior.

    Keep up the grand work Mr Grimdark.

    Hopefully you have a signing I can actually make, next time around! Although I did manage to craftily get hold of a signed copy from Waterstones Doncaster on the day of release!

    A sexy scribble it is, too!

  • John says:

    How do we get one of those proofs? Amazing cover!

  • Jeremy Szal says:

    Yes, I’d love to get a copy of one of those proofs myself. I’ve been starving for a good YA read ever since I finished Half A King. I needz it!

  • Phil.I.P. says:

    ‘Twas good to see you at the Worldcon, Joe. Sorry about the badge – a moment of madness from my inner Young Adult.

    I can’t remember whether I mentioned observing that the UK edition of Half a King is already into a third reprint which fact ties in nicely with your comment regarding post-launch sales. Presumably this has something to do with attracting new customers in the YA sector as well as being a cracking read, regardless of the age of the reader.

    Pleased to note that Rogues has found a UK publisher in Titan Books. Due out on September 15th at GBP 20.00, I believe.

    Finally, out of interest, how did the “Meet Joe (and some other quite well known authors) at the HC party” competition turn out? I haven’t seen any mention of it.

  • Iangr says:

    Had your breather,my son?
    Feeling allright?

    Now back to the writing dungeon you go,them next books ain’t gonna be written themselves y’know!

  • Phil says:

    Are you finding time for gaming? If you haven’t already played it, then I highly recommend you check out Diablo 3 on PS4. Be rearly good to hear your thoughts about the latest games!

  • Sam says:

    I’ve finished Red Country, read Half A King, and am now re-reading the First Law trilogy. I only discovered you half a year ago but your work is so compelling I just can’t stop. I have not been so enamored of a writer since I first read Tolkien back in the 70’s.

    I am a prolific reader, but your work is just amazing in its simplicity/complexity. I have a hard time explaining how incredible it is to friends.

    How did Glokta end up a hero? Madness!

    I can’t wait for February.

  • Sword1001 says:

    I bought my copy of HaK in Asda of all places. First time I’ve seen one of your books in a supermarket, and I suspect it helped improved sales somewhat.

    Are you now ‘mainstream’, Joe?

    Good on you if you are 😀

  • Emily says:

    Agh, I loved Half a King. (And everything that you’ve written to date actually).

    *feels somewhat like being taunted with the information that these exist* 😉

    Can’t wait!

  • James says:

    I can’t find the Proof copies to buy anywhere, and I didn’t see any at Worldcon. Where are they hiding?

  • Lord O'Grady of Norn Iron says:

    Hey Joe. Enjoy these progress reports, it’s great to have an honest insight into a MAJOR authors writing. Looking forward to Half a War.

    I have a question that you could perhaps answer (being a super splendid fellow with impeccable taste in whiskey):

    Do you think you will ever write another military campaign style novel in the vein of ‘The Heroes’?

    I ask as though I’ve loved all of your work, it is my favourite of all, I’ve read it three times as it’s frankly awesome.

    So… any plans for another in that style?

    Lord O’Grady of Norn Iron, Warden of the North, Protector of the People, High Superior General Admiral of the Field.

  • J.L. Frye says:

    Joe, enjoyed the progress report–always nice to get a glimpse into the inner workings of a proper (and increasingly popular!) novelist.

    Been enthralled by each of your releases so far. You’re one of the few authors (probably the only, at the moment) whose books I have to buy in hardcover as soon as I can get my grubby, callused mitts on them.

    I continue to be amazed by how prolific you’ve managed to be and how quickly you churn out such quality work. Naturally, February can’t come soon enough. Congratulations on all your well-deserved success.

  • Frank Fitz says:

    Yes, yes, yes, that’s all very well, but I think what we *really* want to know, Joe, is how many sugars you have in your tea?

  • JC+Drake says:

    I knew there was a reason you were my favorite author (other than having made it interesting to read about a guy who constantly shit himself while sleeping). I just wish other authors had your drive to actually get stuff written and published for all us humble peasants.

  • Alissa says:

    I love to read your progress reports, and such good news! You’ve clearly had a very tiring period, and yet you’re planning to work a lot and soon. As your reader, all the more, thank you (even if, just for Sand dan Glokta and The Heroes I’ll never thank you enough)! And btw, I’ve already pre-ordered Half the World, it’s great we don’t have to wait much to grab it 🙂

  • James Hancock says:

    Where did you preorder it from?

  • James+Hancock says:

    Where did you preorder from?

  • Robert says:

    I found your books a little over a year ago. I read all First Laws books one after the other and could not stop. Personally I think you really need to get away from all the shows and signings and write books. I know your publisher probably kind of makes you. Your books are great. It is so refreshing to find an author that can write contemporary fantasy that I could not compare to anything else.

    However, I find it depressing to read your blog and find that you are not able to spend time writing.

  • AntMac says:

    Brought Half a King today, cost NZ $31.50.
    Haven’t opened it just yet, Im’ma savour it fer a bit, stare at the really rather striking cover for a few days, maybe shift it from one shelf to another.

    The problem of course is my various family members whom I have taught to have a taste for Abercrombie, one of them will eventually spot it and force my hand.

    Thanks mate. Now pick up the quill, and crack on. 😉

  • AntMac says:

    Crikey. Good thing my nephew isn’t soft-hearted, that is all I can say. Young Adult Grim, the new genre.

    Some good lines in this Half a King book, Mr Abercrombie. Reminds me strongly of reading some of John Christopher’s novels, yo these many years gone.

  • Jason Scott says:

    I really liked your book Half a King, and that pisses me off good sir. You see, I have been a loyal fan of your books since I discovered them (some time between the release of Best Served Cold and The Heroes.) I don’t follow your blogs much and regret that. When I learned of your most recent publication being a story separate from the world of Shivers and Friendly, I raged at all those who would sway you from the arbitrary and meaningless death scattered about in the universe of the Bloody Nine. I need some closure there. That world, where selfish, unabashed human condition is worn like a badge brings me comfort. I would like to know how Logan, Luther and the others meet their demise. I would speculate, but have too much respect for your ability to poke my psychological need for meaning in the eye. Please kill my friends before you make me fall more in to a state of compassionate loathing for for this new batch of endearing human filth. I need more of The Great Leveler before Nothing woes me away… I have no leverage here though, since i will by and love at least Half of everything you write.

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