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!:-)