NYC recap (and that little GRRM tidbit!)

Okay, since so many of you have asked about it, here's a little recap of what took place while I was in New York City.

Since I figure that most readers browsing this blog are only interested in the SFF stuff, I will forgo the details pertaining to various activities such as pub crawls; Harlem and Brooklyn walking tours; suffocating NYC nights; a dinner at Blooms with Pam and Brett (friends I met in Spain); a sumptuous dinner at Jean Georges' Nougatine for Restaurant Week with the lovely Ariela (member of the fabled Paris Crew who somehow went from cute to gorgeous in the years since we last saw one another!); the fact that, regardless of the amount of history and culture found there, Washington, D. C. is a bit soulless and has no vibe whatsoever; those two good-looking Argentinian girls; free wine-tasting; that German beauty who sat fit to arrive on my last evening in DC; those annoying Koreans who turned off the A/C in the middle of the night; and an assortment of additional traveling tidbits!;-)

There must be a curse between Tor Books and I. Not only does their computer system eat up the AOL emails I send there way from time to time, not only do sent ARCs and review copies fail to show up in my mailbox, but fate decreed that I wouldn't be meeting with anyone from Tor for a second consecutive year. Things found a way to screw up when I was there last summer, so I wanted to make sure that we would be able to swing it this time around. For some unfathomable reason, the email sent by the publicist containing her availability kept rebounding, which in turn led to my receiving it nearly a week after I had left New York City. By that time, I was already getting ready to leave DC. So next time I'm in town, meeting with the folks at Tor Books is first on the list of things to do!

Though he was waiting for me in the lobby and I went all the way up to Orbit's floor, I did meet up with Alex Lencicki, the Marketing and Publicity Director for the imprint. We had lunch at Palm, a wonderful steakhouse. Being in the Big Apple for Restaurant Week was a stroke of genius, let me tell you!;-) Alex has an online marketing background, so we discussed blogs and websites and message boards as marketing tools, online publicity, the evolution of the Blogosphere, etc. He was really interested about the Hotlist, about how it came about and grew to what it is today. With John Clute's comments at Readercon still on my mind, we discussed the pros and cons of online reviews. Interestingly enough, the better part of Orbit USA's publicity campaign for their launch is aimed at the internet. We talked about my fear that too many giveaways actually reduced the exposure that most novels receive, while overexposing certain titles. It was a very interesting afternoon, for we were two guys on different sides of the fence attempting to achieve the same objective. Surprisingly, Alex even asked for my advice on how to make their blog/online campaign better. Good food, good conversation -- I had a great time! Alex claimed that I had given him a lot to think about, so I guess I didn't make a complete fool of myself!

On the following day, I was a bit more nervous. Indeed, I was meeting Daw Books' top brass and I wanted to make a good impression (they have my manuscript, after all!). Betsy Wollheim, president and publisher, introduced me to her co-publisher Sheila Gilbert, and the rest of the Daw staff. I saw the new design for the paperback edition of Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind, and was asked which color scheme I preferred. After checking Bookscan to see how well what should be the fantasy debut of the year, we were joined by Erica, Advertising and Promotion Manager, and Sarah, publicist in charge of Daw titles, for a delicious luch at a Greek restaurant. We discussed everything from Terry Goodkind, to the godawful gay cover for The Name of the Wind, Melany Rawn, why Tad Williams' Shadowplay was not as good as it could have been, Michael Whelan's beautiful covers from the 80s and 90s, Rothfuss' Wise Man's Fears, online reviewing vs print media, and countless other things (many of which off the record, of course). Once again, I was a bit taken aback when both Betsy and Sheila revealed that they believed that online reviewing was the way of the future. With book sections closing down in many newspaper and the slow decline of SFF print media, it is only natural that websites like mine gained popularity. I think I'm now beginning to understand why people like John Clute and his cohort have sort of been lashing out at online reviewers more often of late. If they can feel that publishers rely less and less on their reviews, they're probably scared to have the rug pulled from under them at some point. The main problem most publishers face is that they don't always know where to look for quality content. . . C. S. Friedman told me last winter that Betsy raved about the Hotlist, so it was flattering and rewarding to have both Betsy and Sheila complimenting me on the work I do on the blog.:-)

After that came my first face-to-face meeting with my agent, Matt Bialer. When he met me in the lobby of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates, he pointed at the wall where they have copies of all their bestsellers. "One day your book is going to be there," he said, gesturing toward the Dan Brown novels. Call me stupid, but that felt good! Once again, we talked about a variety of topics that ranged from Locus Magazine to Tad Williams, why I didn't like the latest Weis and Hickman Dragonlance books, Robert Newcomb, and much more. He showed me the cover art for Patrick Rothfuss' Wise Man's Fears and a couple of foreign covers. Understandably, we discussed my manuscript as well. He once more emphasized the fact that these things take time, so I must show patience. Matt also arranged a meeting between Anne Groell and I for the following morning.

So I made my way to the Random House building on Broadway, where I met Anne, Senior Editor for Bantam Dell. It was the first time I spoke with her, for I usually deal with her assistant Josh. Hence, it was great to finally meet her, and in person to boot! Who would have thought that creating this blog would open so many doors for me! As was the case with my previous meetings, our conversation encompassed many topics, including scantily clad sexy girls on the cover of all those urban fantasy novels. Thanks to Anne, my next Shameless Plug articles will be what I always meant them to be. She showed me the cover art for the new Sarah Ash book, which is pretty nice.

As a matter of course, I had to ask questions about both Scott Lynch and George R. R. Martin!;-) Anne set my mind at ease when she disclosed that there was indeed a more ambitious overall story arc for The Gentleman Bastard sequence, and that Republic of Thieves would not be just another caper. After Red Seas under Red Skies, I feared that this series would lose its originality if such was the case. I also discovered that a quote from my review can be found in the US paperback version of The Lies of Locke Lamora. As for Lynch producing a volume every eight months or so, forget about it.

I couldn't leave Anne's office without inquiring about the progress of GRRM's A Dance with Dragons. Sadly, what I have to report will not please anyone, so be forewarned. What it comes down to is this: Unless a miracle occurs, there is no way the next ASOIAF volume will be released this year. The folks at Bantam are hoping to get the finished manuscript at some point this fall. But if Anne's facial expression is any indication, they're not holding their breath. Which means that, at the earliest, we are looking at a spring 2008 pub date.

Many fans have been wondering why it should take this long for the author to write this new book, what with 50% of it having been completed already. Rumors have been circulating that GRRM did scrap some portions of what he had when they decided to publish AFfC in its current format. Well, unfortunately that's not hearsay. It appears that GRRM did cut some chunks out of the original manuscript and has been tinkering with a few things. Hence, he didn't truly have 50% of it done with and ready to go. Which explains the slower than expected progress for A Dance with Dragons.

The good thing is that Bantam are pretty flexible and there's no rigid timetable as to when the book should be published. According to Anne, the editorial process will begin as soon as the manuscript reaches her office. As was the case with Robert Jordan with the WoT volumes between A Crown of Swords and Crossroads of Twilight, I believe that A Dance with Dragons will be released as soon as possible after the manuscript is turned in. I figure that no one at Bantam wishes to repeat the mistake which came back to haunt them with A Feast for Crows. I'm persuaded that they will make only one announcement pertaining to the publication of ADwD, and that only when they'll know for sure that the production process has begun.

GRRM detractors should be happy to know that the author is writing. Personally, as long as I don't see a pic of a naked Martin swinging at Hedonism III in Jamaica, I'm satisfied!;-) ASOIAF is a series they'll still be talking about in 25 years, so it's only natural that it takes a while to write. I don't think GRRM ever envisioned that it would become this big. Anne told me that it was sold to Bantam as a trilogy! So GRRM fans rejoice because your favorite author is working hard to make this new installment as good as humanly possible. He's not late because he goes to cons, or because he has lost the will to finish this saga.

And that, my friends, is the long and the short of my stay in NYC. At least on the SFF front!:-)

10 commentaires:

Larry said...

I could have told you before you went to D.C. that Argentine girls (and Brazilians, Colombians, and a few Slavic gals) are the hottest in the world!

Sounds like you had a nice, fruitful business/pleasure trip in NYC. But part of me is that nosy skeptic: When you were discussing online reviews, what exactly did they talk about being the elements of said reviews that would make them qualitatively better than print reviews (which we both agree are dwindling in an age of corporatism and stagnant readership)? Interesting bit about Alex's background, which of course would make a lot of sense based on what I've read of the ARC press kits and other material that I need to go through in the next few weeks.

The Martin news is no surprise at all to me. Outside of the speed in which SoS was published, none of his other SOIAF books have taken fewer than 3 years to write/revise/edit/publish. It'll come when it comes, I suppose.

But I suspect there's something you've neglected to tell us. You went to NYC and didn't pick up some swag in addition to all the other things you mentioned in passing about clubbing and so forth? ;)

Roh said...

I just read the first two paragraphs and then jumped here so I could tell you: I am hugely interested in pub crawls, and I believe they deserve more than an honourable mention. Bring it!

Anonymous said...

I laughed out loud reading about Martin. I love the guy. I'm a huge fan. My patience hasn't even been tested yet. It's awesome having George's world as an ongoing factor of my life or something like that. How strange.

Aidan said...

Ahh, that news about Martin is too bad. But, on the bright side, there are so many other great books out there to be read, so I will survive until the time comes!

Glad you had a great time on your trip. Sounds like you wined and dined with some big names. Alex is doing great things at Orbit right now, so I'm glad to hear that he's taking your advice, I expect great things from them!

Matt represents some of my favourite authors, so you are a lucky man indeed to have him as your agent. He's someone I've always wanted to meet. Perhaps one day he will represent me, too!

I'm glad to hear about the generally positive and encouraging viewpoint that publishers have taken towards blogging. That should make our lives easier as bloggers! Hopefully many of them will follow Orbit US's actions and start reaching out to us new bloggers, as well.

~Aidan
A Dribble of Ink

Patrick said...

Larry: Hmmm, Spanish girls have yet to be dethroned, at least in my book!;-)

As far as online reviews go, we didn't particularly discussed what would make them qualitatively better than print reviews, though we did broach the subject of print reviews often being more about the reviewer than the book itself. What are they looking for, you ask? Well, given the fact that they took me out to lunch and wanted to meet me, I figure that the sort of reviews I put out is what they're looking for. Hence, it appears that the review format shared by sffworld.com, Ken, Adam, William, etc, is exactly what publicists and editors are into.

Anne Groell did mention that most of what's online cannot be used, even though it's positive. She referred to those as the "Me like this book" kind of reviews.

As far as more in depth criticism goes, no one seemed truly interested in that aspect of reviewing. Why? It doesn't help them sell more books, so why should they care? What Scalpel and a few others in the field sought to achieve appeals to a small number of genre fiction readers, no question. But I got the feeling that publishers have little time for that...

As far as my neglecting to tell you guys some things, remember this old traveling adage: "What happens during your travels stays there!"

Neth said...

Thanks for the update Pat (and the repeated mentions - I appreciate that).

As for the GRRM bit - did anyone really expect anything different?

The Monk said...

Pat: this Martin situation is becoming the biggest publishing fiasco in the whole genre. I think my comments about how the ASOIAF series has metastasized is pretty accurate.

Shawn C. Speakman said...

Hey Pat--

Glad you had a great time in NY! It was wonderful hearing about your time there, as I hope one day soon Matt will take me through the same gambit.

The great thing about your post is how you still come at the trip as 1) a writer trying to sell a manuscript, and 2) a blogger of a successful book criticisms website. You aren't one or the other but melded together. I just think that is very cool, and few writers out there have the ability and marketability to have both.

So congrats on the trip! I hope it pays off soon!

Shawn

David Forbes said...

Hi Pat! Isn't Matt an awesome guy? Did you get to check out the corner office with the to-die-for view of the Empire State Building?

I met him last summer and he's even more gracious and down to earth than he was through email and over the phone. Best of luck with your project!

Adam Whitehead said...

"Pat: this Martin situation is becoming the biggest publishing fiasco in the whole genre. I think my comments about how the ASOIAF series has metastasized is pretty accurate."

Your comments are actually filled with factual errors. As for the fiasco situation, I think Mervyn Peak dying barely one-third of the way through his Gormenghast series or Tolkien's death before completing his vision for Middle-earth or Jack Vance making people wait 16 years for the resolution to the cliffhanger ending in The Eyes of the Overworld are all much more serious matters.