Today, I want to talk a little bit about why you guys are so awesome, and then once I’ve got you sufficiently buttered up with flattery, I’m going to ask you a favor.
For a relatively new writer, I’m doing pretty darn good. A couple of years ago I was a self-published nobody. I just wanted to write a book that was a salute to B movies told from the perspective of the heavily armed side of society. (i.e. My People)
I stuck Monster Hunter International out there on a few gun forums, and my advertising mainly consisted of blogger friends like Mad Ogre, Lawdog, Preacherman, Tamara, and others telling their readers to check it out. And you guys did.
Apparently y’all liked it.
All of a sudden MHI was a hit. A lot of things fell into place. Believe me, I was more surprised than anybody. It blew up huge. Baen picked me up, and from there MHI did even better.
Now here we are, just a few short years later, and I’ve got a slew of books coming out, I’m nominated for a Campbell, the 2nd MH novel was a NYT bestseller, and I’ve sold the rights to make an MH TV show. (nothing new to report on that yet).
I get asked all the time how I pulled this off. Trust me, it wasn’t me. It is because my fans are just that friggin’ cool. Ever since the first book came out, you guys have taken pride of ownership in the MH universe. I’ve got pictures of people sporting the patch all over the world, quite literally. There’s MH fan fiction! People are dressing as MH characters at parties and cons! When you get a picture of a guy running the door gun on a Blackhawk in Iraq or a Ranger riding in the turret of an uparmored humvee in Afghanistan, sporting the MH Patch, it hits you. Holy crap. These folks really like this stuff I made up.
That’s humbling for a writer, and I promise to try and not screw it up.
So that was the flattery part. Now for the favor.
The third Monster Hunter book comes out next month. Monster Hunter Alpha turned out excellent and I’m not just saying that because I’m biased. The eARC came out a little while back, and the feedback and reviews on it have been great. It is an Earl Harbinger novel, and he is such a badass that writing him is really a lot of fun. Basically, in any situation, I ask myself “what would a tough Clint Eastwood character do here?” Then I take it up a notch. In MHA, I got to expand the history and scope of the MH universe, introduce new characters, new adversaries, and set up the next couple of books. Monster Hunter Legion (Owen) and Monster Hunter Nemesis (Franks).
So please tell your friends.
That’s the favor. Word of mouth is the best advertising ever. If you guys like MHI and MHV tell your friends to go get Monster Hunter Alpha. (preferably on preorder or the week it comes out) MHA comes out on July 26th. If you’ve got a blog, and you want to plug me there, I will say nice things about you to your friends. Facebook, Twitter, bathroom graffiti, I don’t care. Share the love!
If you want autographed copies, here is where you go to get them:
(I’m doing signed bookplate stickers this time, because I can’t afford to fly to Minnesota again, and it is too expensive to ship 10 cases of books to Utah, have me sign them, and then ship them again). If you want personalization, put that in your instructions. I’m flexible like that. (however, keep in mind there is only so much space, okay? Last time I had a few people ask me to write small novellas, and there is only so much space on a book plate!)
If you don’t care about my lightning-like signature or a lovingly handcrafted MH smiley face with horns (or is it a penguin, you decide), you can get it at most bookstores, every B&N, or Amazon.
Now, on the preorder or release week thing, let me explain. Here is a little peek behind the curtain into the publishing industry. This is a very competitive business. Making it onto a bestseller list spurs future sales and boosts your career. The biggest and toughest one to get on is the NYT. MHV made it to #27 when it came out.
Some of you may remember when I went around with an idiot about how this meant that I wasn’t a *real* bestseller. Let me break this down. The NYT is broken up into fiction, non-fiction, and young adult. We’re looking at fiction. The NYT only shows the top 35 fiction books in three categories. (hardcover, trade paperback, and mass market paperback). So I’m competing against every paperback fiction book on sale in the country.
This next part is important. It is based on books sold during that week. So you can have a book that sells ten thousand copies in a week, and zero copies the rest of the year. That book will be a NYT bestseller. You can have another book that only sells a thousand copies that week, but sells a thousand every other week of the year. That book will sell way more copies than the first one, but it will not make the NYT. That’s called velocity.
The velocity part is why the release week (and the preorders that ship that week) are so very important. A book will normally sell the most when it first comes out. So, barring something that comes along later to cause a bunch of publicity (Movie adaptation, Oprah book club) you either make the list when you release or not at all.
Okay, so how competitive is it? Take a look at this list of urban fantasy releases in July:
There are 30 books in the same genre as MHA coming out in the same month. And that is just Urban Fantasy. (which I think is a silly place to put a novel that takes place entirely in rural upper Michigan, but they’ve got to shelve me somewhere). That doesn’t count fantasy. That doesn’t count sci-fi. And all of fantasy and sci-fi are tiny compared to the thriller market. And thriller numbers are nothing compared to romance.
And we’re all competing to get on the same list.
So, for those 35 slots on the NYT that week, an author is up against literally hundreds of other new books. The week Hard Magic came out, on Nielsen Bookscan (which is like the Nielsen TV ratings, but tracks most of the book sales in the country) I the 19th bestselling fantasy novel in the country, and that wasn’t enough to get onto the NYT. And that was with having something like 8 True Blood or Game of Thrones novels ahead of it.
And there is a lot of marketing/advertising money pushing some of these books too. I love my publisher, but we are not that big compared to some of the Manhattan giants. I’m pretty sure their monthly doughnut budget at a few of those places is bigger than our entire annual advertising budget.
The kicker of all this is that despite how dang hard it is, you guys still managed to put MHV on the bestseller lists. That is one hell of an accomplishment. During MHV’s release week on the Nielsen Bookscan, it was the #4 fantasy novel in the country. That’s impressive.
Basically, I’d like to do it again.
So please spread the word, mighty Monster Hunter Nation. MHA is out on July 26th. Let’s kick some literati ass.