Monday, October 25, 2010

The Wintertide Response

Three weeks since the release of Wintertide and reviews are starting to trickle in.

Looking good so far—actually, looking better than I ever expected.

Everyone's opinions are different. This is abundantly clear when you publish a book. One person likes it, another doesn't. One person loves a character, another hates them—often for the very reason that the other loves them. What draws this person, repels another. One reader understands what you are doing, another doesn't have a clue.

A number of people have declared their dislike for Crown Conspiracy because the writing style is too simplistic and lacks character depth. Others loved it because of the wonderful depth of the characters and the beautiful writing. Some felt it was too rushed, others love the fast pace.

Avempartha pleased many of those who felt Crown was lacking in world building, those who liked Crown felt Avempartha was too dull—too much politics and world building.

Most of my readers appeared to not care as much for Nyphron Rising, citing that it was too slow, sort of depressing, and the new thread concerning Modina and Amilia, was not as interesting. They wanted Royce and Hadrian. Others, mostly those prone to reading literary fiction, (who did not care so much for Avempartha) loved it. They enjoyed the increased character depth.

Emerald Storm appeared to please most of my readers who felt it was a return to The Crown Conspiracy tone of action and adventure. Still there were some who hated the ship setting and were disappointed that the series plot did not advance much.

In working on Wintertide, I felt that it might not be well received as it was not as action oriented as some of the others. The scenery doesn't change much, and Royce and Hadrian spend a lot of time separated. Not the best formula for pleasing my readers, who universally enjoy their banter. Also Wintertide has to stand up to expectations. Each book has to be better than the one before it, just to avoid being a letdown. I don't know who invented that little law, but it's true. And being the 5th book in a series, the bar is getting a bit high to jump cleanly. Fans are starting to guess at my tricks. Emerald Storm took a number of you for a ride in more ways than one, and now you are wary. You don't want the same story retold, you want something new, something unexpected, something different.

The good news is that the playing field is friendlier. Those who didn't understand, or didn't appreciate Crown, aren't likely to keep reading the series, (although oddly a few do) and certainly aren't going to get all the way to book 5. The readers of Wintertide are nicely vetted, if not so easy to trick anymore.

So it was with no small surprise that I began learning of the public's reaction to the this latest installment. The first comments came from the editors and proof readers, who loved it. Friends I discovered had similar opinions. While this was great, I knew these groups were tainted. What the real world thought in the quiet sanctity of their homes could be very different.

The earliest reviews always come from the bloggers. Some are just folks who tend to read a lot and post their impressions online, seemingly to entertain their family and friends. These people rarely expect that the author of the books they published opinions on will find them. Others take a more professional attitude, and while I doubt they are paid, they act like it, and take great care to safeguard their reputations.

Fantasy Book Critic is one of the more respected review sites and one who has followed my series since it started. Liviu Suciu and Cindy Hannikman recently posted their joint review of Wintertide.

Jamie over at Ruled By Books, also posted his review.

The response to the fifth book is not exactly what I expected. As you can see from these two early posts, Wintertide has thus far been well received. Moreover, sales have continued to be stunning. Wintertide sold twice as many copies in its first three weeks than any single one of my previous books has in a full month. This has been followed by a sudden upsurge in Crown sales, which suggests that newbies to the series are reading Wintertide first and going back to start at the beginning.

If this keeps up, I might actually consider working on Percepliquis.

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