Progress Report October ’19

October 31st, 2019

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…

Posted in progress by Joe Abercrombie on October 31st, 2019.

38 comments so far

  • Butch Clark says:

    Your best book to date Joe.

  • Neil Cooper says:

    I’m half way through A Little Hatred & I’m throughly enjoying it. Of course it’s a little different from your previous books, but I still love the way you write. Please keep up the good work. Don’t forget, if you can only please one person, make sure it’s yourself. By the way, I’m happy to proof read the next book, but only if it’s signed

  • Jon E says:

    Thanks for the update, Joe! And congratulations on the successful release. Looking forward to the next book.

  • Victor Gannon says:

    Really enjoyed A little hatred, couldn’t put it down (or more correctly couldn’t stop listening to it). Only issue I had was having to wait for the next one 🙂 Keep up the good work!

  • Luke Chambers says:

    Joe,

    Thank you for the progress update. As a fantasy novel fan I cannot tell you how nice it is to see this type of thing from an author.

    I really enjoyed ALH. The next generation of characters combined with the nostalgic touches of the previous novels made it a satisfying read. I am very much looking forward to the next instalment. The fact that you have a release date pretty much set is also awesome. No wondering when/if it will ever be released.

    A friend of mine has also read the book and he’s gone back to read the original trilogy. I am doing the same, but I have started with Sharp Ends and intend to re-read the stand alone novels as well. I suspect there will be similar fans doing re-reads of your work in preparation for next September. I think this can be viewed as a positive.

    I haven’t seen any reviews etc. I usually don’t bother with that type of thing. I personally wouldn’t see ALH as your best work. To me that is “Red Country” and I can’t really see that changing, but that is just my opinion, and it doesn’t mean that ALH isn’t good, nor that I won’t be reading your future work. In fact, I am more likely to due to how much I like “Red Country”. Incidentally “Red Country” is my favourite work because of how the other novels set it up.

    I see ALH as an establishing novel for what is to come and look forward to the next read. I am hopeful that it will build into great events in the future books.

    Anyway, thanks again for the update and good to see the audio book sales doing well. I am more old-fashioned and have the hard back and will continue to do so.

    Regards,

    Luke

  • Jamie Green says:

    I’ve enjoyed each of your books at least as much as it’s predecessor and probably half as much as it deserves. I await your next publication as my dog does his next walk, although I have no tail with which to appropriately signal this.

  • Sam Fricker says:

    Congratulations Joe, I am about halfway through and loving it!

    I recently finished my thesis, and if editing that was hard I can only imagine what multiple novels must be like!

  • Jens says:

    Thanks for those numbers, I always wondered about those and haven’t seen anyone else talking so openly about it before.

    I haven’t noticed any “steampunk” or “Twilight” in “A little Hatred”, but a little hateful amazon-opinion (found it at the top on amazon.de) did and it further claims that you were kidnapped by the “me-too-movement” and that you are now writing for a new clientele. I think he’s wrong. You are still writing for what Orso would call manly men 😉

    Great book. Great writing (not a single word wasted). Great characters, everyone has his/her unique voice. Very, very well done. The “Revolution-Scenes” are reminiscient of the “Battle-Scenes” in “The Heroes”. Just as well done. They will stick with me (and haunt me, especially that little girl!) forever.

    The scenes in the North are beautifully balanced with the Industrialization-Themes, so that I felt more at home in this world than I feared when I first heard of your plans to skip several years and let progress happen in a fantasy-setting.
    May the sales be with you.

    PS: Please push the publication-date of book 2 forward for one month, so that I can read it during my next vacacation in Denmark. It has become a tradition to read your books in a beautiful danish Summerhouse close to Copenhagen. You don’t want to ruin this. I’m sure of it.

  • Dwayne Davie says:

    Hi Joe – I really enjoyed ALH, too. Eagerly waiting the next books. I almost didn’t read this one, having moved more towards waiting for the entire series to be finished before reading the first one. But I couldn’t resist, having just re-read First Law. Love your style and the characters were just as engaging as previous installments.

  • Steve S. says:

    Love the updates and the insights into your writing process. I’m saving A Little Hatred to read on my vacation next month, but the reviews to date have me quite excited.

    FWIW, I recently re-read all your First Law books to date, and I think I might actually like The Heroes best. Red Country was great (I have a soft spot for the Western genre), but Curnden Craw is one of my favorite characters you’ve written, and I also loved how you wrote from Calder’s perspective. Can’t say I *liked* him, but getting into his head made his actions and motivations much more relatable.

    In fact, I think that’s one of the greatest features of your work — taking characters that are somewhat unlikeable and/or seem fairly simple superficially, and then fleshing them out into real, living, breathing people, with understandable motivations (however base they might be).

    You’re a pretty cool guy, Joe. Keep up the good work!

  • CC says:

    Hi Joe,

    How about you make a surprise next year and release both books in the same time?
    P.S. And please, don’t kill Gunnar Broad.

  • Mathieu says:

    Hello Joe, and thank you for your work and for the update.
    Do you have any visibility regarding the translation of A Little Hatred in other languages ? (ie: Is it happening? And if so, any idea regarding the time table to release them?)
    Thanks agin.
    Looking forward to read this one after devouring all of your previous work

  • John says:

    Joe, thanks for the updates. It’s refreshing to hear the inner workings of writing and publishing.

    I finished A Little Hatred a week ago. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I really liked your intermingling old and new characters. As always the “Abercrombie Way” of surprises was totally unexpected, and often I was totally unprepared for your twists.

    One “but”, however….I finished the book WAY too quickly. Now I have to way another whole year for book two. Not sure I can do this!! Any suggestions?

    Thanks again, very much for your great work. John

  • Donovan Xain says:

    I really enjoyed ALH. I am very excited to see where the stories go. I really enjoyed the chapter where , as the reader, we switched p.o.v. from person to person as the chaos ran wild. I think this book does a good job of showing how far you have progressed as a writer. Keep up the good work. Also, what happened to Ferro Maljinn? I loved her as a character.

  • Jen McMenemy says:

    The increased success in the states certainly warrants a tour over here! (not the JM from Acknowledgements, but it does tickle me to see my name in published print)

  • DementedFairy says:

    I was so excited looking forward to publication day that I accidentally pre-ordered TWO copies in hardback. My dad cheerfully agreed to being the recipient of the spare copy, at 82, he’s also a fan! I gobbled it up in a couple of days of course, reading far too fast, as I always do with a favourite author’s works…so I treated myself to more of the marvelous Mr Pacey and also ordered it on audiobook. Even better, as you can only listen as fast as he reads, so I picked up on some of the details I’d missed when I read too fast. It was a delight to hear that I’d read the new characters in his voice! Huge fun, a brilliant set up to the delights to come…breathless in anticipation!
    [And yes, I did re-read the whole caboodle to finish on publication date.]

  • Scott says:

    Thank you for the wonderful 2 days it took me to read this edition of your First Law World.
    One thing I would value your opinion on. Almost every technological advancement in history has been adopted by the military first. Planes, radar even the worlds very first production line was for the manufacture of weapons of war. We saw a glimpse of this in The Hero’s, will we see more going forward? The clash of old style military campaigns and modern machine warfare was devastating in WW1. How quick do you think the Northmen could adopt such technology? I look forward to your beautiful wordsmithing of such a brutal clash of eras.

    Again thank you for such a wonderful world to escape into.

  • Caul Shivers says:

    Hey Joe, loved A Little Hatred. By far the only thing this year that I was hyped about and not disappointed by. In fact it blew my expectations away. I wasn’t sure if i’d like seeing the children of all the OT characters but I found that I really loved them all. Can’t wait for the next ones. I’m rereading the whole series in order now! All your books are my favorite ones of all time.

  • Judith Blatt says:

    Loved the book, no big surprise there. Look forward to the next 2. Super happy there won’t be a huge gap. Glad you’re doing better in the US. Keep up the great work.

  • Rob Campbell says:

    Halfway through ‘A Little Hatred’ and loving your work as always, Joe.
    I think the new characters are working well, and from my memories of social and economic history, your take on the Luddites (the Breakers and Burners) is spot on. The “That’s why they call them Burners, I suppose!” comment had me laughing. Reminds me of John Cleese/Robin Hood’s comment about the poor in the Time Bandits.

    Just about to edit my own book now so I dread to think what editing two door-stoppers must be like! You have my sympathy. Keep up the good work – can’t wait for part 2.

  • Nathan says:

    Any idea when the translations will be published, or at least the one I care for, the Dutch translation? All your earlier books were quickly devoured by me in English, but with age the craving for the subtleties of my native language has also grown. (The right translators often do wonderful work in that respect). I will eagerly await the translation of your book and open it like a well-aged wine.

  • Hempknight says:

    Well you’ve done it again you beautiful bastard. Yet another excellent book that’s left me clucking like a heroin addict for there next fix. Who would have thought that something as small as a bloke removing his spectacles could get the hairs on my neck to stand on end in anticipation of what’s to come. To quote the greatest tyrant to ever grace my book shelves ” long live the king”

  • VZ says:

    As one of your most committed fans (I’ve not only bought all your books, including one of these 3850 UK hardcovers of ALH, as soon as they were published, but actually read them with great pleasure), I must say that it was somewhat bittersweet. I definitely enjoyed it very much, as I knew I would, but it was not quite as new and fresh as The Blade Itself was back in 2006. Of course, there are plenty of compensations: I hope you can pardon me saying that your writing is (even) better than it was back then and there are actual female characters too now. But it’s hard to keep deconstructing the tropes and subverting the expectations when you’re known as the master of subversive deconstruction.

    And yet, I also remember that as much as I loved The Blade Itself, The Last Argument of Kings turned out to be even greater. So I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the trilogy as I believe there might still be some surprises, even for such sophisticated and worldly-wise fans as me . Although whom am I kidding, really, I’d be looking forward to them even if you gave your grimdarkest oath that everybody will live happily ever after form now on. Just keep them coming, please!

  • Rasmus Rubæk says:

    Loved the book Joe. The pieces are in place on the chessboard once again.

    I also love the fact, that you seem to be worried about a (nonexistent) publication gap. You are about the most consistent and reliable writer I know. I mean 11 books in 13-14 years and always that damn high bar. In fact I often refer to you as the Motörhead (22 bonecrushing albums in 40 years) of fantasy literature, and that is quite something.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Chad says:

    Well I loved it! You got me into fantasy with The Blade Itself 10 year ago, and I’ve rattled through various authors since then in the genre. I love it when I find something a bit *different*, and the fact you’ve not just kept the same themes, settings, technologies, etc but have moved it forward means I get “you” and “new” together, which is wonderful.

    My wife isn’t too keen though – whenever I’m reading one of yours she’s fed up of the alternating gasps and laughs emanating from my favourite reading chair, and the refrain of “I love an Abercrombie” being voiced regularly. Ah well, you can’t please everyone!

    Roll on September 2020 🙂

  • Paul Taegel says:

    Just finished the audiobook last night and am not particularly thrilled to have to wait nearly a year for the second. Your dialogue gets sharper, your plots tighter, and your characters more human with every passing novel. Reading them fills me with equal parts delight and awe.

  • Antonio J Gonzalez says:

    Really enjoyed the book. Quick question though. Who is the Weaver?

  • Matt says:

    I have been following you since the First Law. Somehow, inexplicably, I missed this book coming out. I blame your colleagues who never publish anything on time. I guess I sort of assumed this would be a spring 2026 release, like everything else.

    Finally got my copy last night and did some 80+ odd pages of reading. My early impressions:
    1. The writing itself is so sharp and excellent. I only think you’ve been at this level for The Heroes.
    2. I can’t help but worry about the main characters so far. In The First Law, there was no question in my mind we were reading the story from the POV of the characters I wanted to read about. Logan and Jezal particularly. I’m a little worried that this current crop isn’t the most interesting cast of characters, and they seem to be getting consistently outshined by other characters in their own chapters. The big exception is Orso, who is a vintage Abercrombie character. It is still very early though, and I remember not really loving Sand Dan Glokta until someway through part two of the Blade Itself.

  • Darren says:

    I admit I was slightly worried I’d love the books as much as I did 7 years ago, but by chapter 2 I was where I was back then in red country loving the humour and style of the first law

  • Anthony K Moore says:

    Just finished the audiobook (Stephen Pacey is God) and thrilled to hear that the rest is on schedule. As for favorites, I do think it’s the best of the 8, although my absolute favorite may still be Sharp Ends, which is odd because I usually hate short stories and like multi-book series much better than novels. To me Sharp Ends isn’t really a collection of short stories so much as a single tale with interludes. In any case, I had one laugh-out-loud-for-20-minutes moment on this new one. It was a combination of something I’d forgotten and a momentary notion that you were getting soft and something uplifting was going on. When the rug was pulled out, I was driving around listening to the audiobook laughing and screaming as I realized that you’re even more cynical and sadistic than before. The psychological pain you inflict on these poor lovable characters is worse than the practicals and inquisitors could ever accomplish.

    As for characters, Orzo (Orso? Obviously I have the audiobook) may be my favorite of the whole series aside from Shevediah from Sharp Ends.

  • Anthony K Moore says:

    Reading the other comments, I forgot to mention that amazing shifting PoV chapter, which reminded me of that battle sequence in one of the stand-alone novels. GRRM spoiled me for preferring the PoV approach but you’ve taken the concept and greatly enhanced it. Similarly the consecutive parallel chapters with the same or similar names were a stroke a genius. It’s like Bach – virtuosic writing technique that never gets in the way of the story itself.

  • Jordan says:

    One of your American readers, here. I think I found your books right after Best Served Cold was published. Love The First Law trilogy and have thoroughly enjoyed the standalone novels, especially Best Served Cold.

    I liked A Little Hatred. I thought the boiling discontent of the laborers was an incredibly powerful element of the story. I also really enjoyed several of the characters – Orso, Savine, Rikke. I loved the writing style and devoured it pretty quickly for me, about 2 weeks. I read on the train to and from work and if a book starts to bore me, I am much more likely to find reasons to read stuff on the internet. I was excited to read every time I got on the train each day, so bravo at writing something that is so easy to engage.

    I find it hard to judge the book as a whole because it seems like the story elements, especially in the North, were much more table setting for events to come. So, as an introduction to the new setting and new characters, implications for the future of the trilogy and sharpness of the writing, thumbs up. As a stand alone story (which I know, it is part of a trilogy), I was looking for a bit more connection to the order of the magi, more than just passing mention of the relationships between the Union, Gurkhul and Styria and a greater threat to the established order. I’m hopeful I’ll get it in next two entries.

  • Tony "Antmac" says:

    I had stopped visiting a year ago, because the wait was harming my soul, I could feel the grave creeping closer and the winner of the race was no sure thing.
    Yesterday I was in a book shop, standing beside some random stranger, both of us looking over the shelves, and I don’t know if it was him or me, but one of us made a noise, we were both reaching in the same instant, and luckily there were two copies, or we may have come to blows.
    We were both smiling hard, and agreed
    “You fucking beauty !” which is Kiwi for “Oh, this is rather excellent”.

    I am part way. I come across one of your typical fine crafted scenes, and . . .

    A reader is looking into a book at a two readers looking into a book that purports to be a genuine telling of a character that is false three or more layers deep.

    It is a story.

    “I know”, he said, with a happy smile, because reading it is a fun game to play, though it doesn’t last long enough.

    I will never pay off this debt I have to you, Joe. 🙁

  • David Faber says:

    I’m absolutely loving the new book. Your words and Steven Pacey’s voice are a perfect match. Thank you!

  • J says:

    I absolutely adored Alh it’s only second behind The Heroes for me and I class that as the greatest Fantasy book released in the last 20 years, but more female POV lot of intricate plotting hints and foreshadowing and much to read between the lines especially for those of following since the first law series what’s not to love.
    As for the hate I imagine some people got hung up on the epic fantasy part of the first trilogy and missed and discounted the satire and subversion my favorite part and I would argue the novels real genre and thus consider ALH a switch up or completely different genre, and Weren’t either paying attention to the development of the standalone’s Or weren’t reading them Or maybe they just weren’t feeling it I liked red country but I didn’t love it compared to 98 % of everyone else sometimes sometimes you can read something brilliantly written that just doesn’t connect.
    That’s my 2 cents either way lots of love thank you for another great book

  • Brad Smith says:

    Hey Joe! I just want you to know that you are my very favorite author. I am a loyal American fan and continue to spread your name to anyone I think would enjoy your work. I just finished ALH, and it was as good as I hoped it would be! Something always takes me by surprise in every one of your stories, and this one did not disappoint. I am now restarting The First Law and plan to re-read everything from the beginning. I just want you to know I appreciate what you do and cannot wait for the rest of this series. Thanks!

  • Peter Cady says:

    Just finished A Little Hatred in the last half hour.

    That it is, at least, up to your usual standard as all that should need to be said. But the concept of dragging a previously established swords-and-sorcery universe kicking and screaming into the Industrial Revolution is a nice new twist. Ignore those who claim you’re climbing on the Steampunk parade. This is, to a great extent, riffing on actual English history, at least as I (as an outsider since Nicholas Cady got off the ship sometime around 1630) understand it.

    Strong Work. Hurry up on the next. (Please.)

  • Josh Hanselman says:

    Hey Joe,

    One of your fans from across the pond here. When I first heard of the new Age of Madness trilogy I was ecstatic. I’ve been a huge fan since The Blade Itself first came out, to the point that my gamertags are all Bloody-Nine (or as close as I can get to it given your popularity).

    I had a hardback copy of A Little Hatred in my hands as soon as it was released, and yet, for what I believe is good reason I haven’t read it.

    I enjoyed The First Law trilogy and the subsequent standalone novels, as well as Sharp Ends, so much so that I felt I had to start from the beginning and read the entire series in order before diving into A Little Hatred. I’ve done this many times in the past with the authors I enjoy the most, and mostly because I feel more connected to the story as a whole and better appreciate the new work within the greater context. The last time doing so with your books when Red Country was released, so its been a good few years since a proper trip to the Circle of the World.

    That being said, I just finished The Heroes, literally minutes before starting this post, and it’s still one of my favorite books of all time. I know the hype is all about A Little Hatred right now, and I am certain it’s much deserved, but this is why I go back and reread the whole series. Black Dow is by far my favorite non-POV character of the series, the POV changes during battle are amazing and Gorst is absolutely fantastic. Reading the Finree and Calder chapters have me stoked to get to know Leo and Stour Nightfall, along with all the others in the next generation. I’m barreling through these stories with reckless abandon to get into the newest installment and loving every minute of the ride.

    Whenever asked by another reader for an opinion on a new series to try out, yours is the first and many times only name that comes up. I’ve enjoyed this world so much I’ve shared it with everyone I care about and a good number of those I don’t as well. After all, just because a person might not be worth the effort to piss on to put out a fire doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have a chance to enjoy a good story.

    Next up for me is Three’s a Crowd, and soon enough I’ll be diving into the twisted lives of the next generation.

    Keep it up, you truly are one of the best!

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