Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mistborn Two Personalized Hardcovers

I managed to track down another batch of Mistborn Two hardcovers, and they're up in the store for sale.  As always, I'm happy to personalize these however you wish and ship them to your door.  The description is a little off right now--they probably won't sell out as quickly as the page implies.  That was from last year, and I just had my webmaster reinstate the store item, and haven't updated the description yet.  I've got a couple hundred of them.  They should last a few months at least.  (Though we're running really low on Elantris hardcovers.  I don't know how much longer they'll last.)

Last night--Monday night--I pulled an all-nighter finishing up THE GATHERING STORM and sending it off to Harriet and company.  In essence, the book is now complete.  I suspect there will be another hasty round of revisions this weekend, but the book really needs to be in ASAP.  We're already over-deadline in getting it in, and Tor is going to have to pay overtime at the printer in order to get it out in November.  (Tom has already said he'd do this, so it's not a big issue, but every day counts.   Hence the all-night revision marathon.) 

So yes, it's done.  Almost.  Kind of.  Now we begin the long wait for copyediting, proofreading, and printing.  I can now confirm that--for certain--the cover thumbnail passed around last week was nothing more than a mock-up.  I've now seen the cover, and while the general composition is the same as the thumbnail, this version is much better.  (For one thing, Rand is no longer busting a move with his back to us, but is turned face-front and standing in a different position.)

One final note.  My good friend Howard just released pre-orders on his new collection.  Go Howard!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Splitting AMOL

By now, many of you know about the press release that Tor put up about AMOL being split.

Well, I do have a reaction I wrote to this.  I posted it as a separate article on my website so that those of you who watch the blog via RSS or LJ wouldn't have to deal with eight pages of writing if you don't want to.  It's long, but it's mostly me talking about the process of writing this book over the last sixteen months.  I think the Wheel of Time readers will find it very interesting read.

The Split

All right, now that the press release is out, let’s talk about some things. I like to be transparent with my readers, whenever possible, and I feel it’s time to let you in more fully on what has been happening this last year.

Pull up a chair. Get some hot coco. This is going to take a while. I’m a fantasy author. We have trouble with the concept of brevity.

In order to explain to you how this book came to be split as it did, I want to step you through some events of the last sixteen months. That way, you can see what led us up to making the decisions we did. You might still disagree with those decisions (many of you will.) But at least you’ll understand the rationale behind them.

Before we start, however, let me explain that I only saw one piece of what was going on. As I’ve stated before, Harriet and Tom are the ones making decisions when it comes to publication issues. I’ve deferred to them. My input has by no means been ignored, but often I was so focused on the book that I didn’t have the time or energy to do more than say “Harriet, I trust your decision. Go with what you feel is best.” Therefore, some of what I say may be distorted through my own lens. I don’t have the whole story, but I think I’ve got most of it.

Let’s hop back to November of 2007. That’s the month where I’d discovered for certain that I’d be the one finishing THE WHEEL OF TIME. I was excited, nervous, and daunted all at the same time--but today’s blog post isn’t about that aspect of the experience. Perhaps I’ll have a chance to write more about it later.

The first discussion of length came in late November, early December during the contract negotiations for AMoL. I say negotiations, though those ‘negotiations’ were really nothing more than Harriet’s agents saying “Here’s what we offer.” And me saying to my agent “Sounds good. Say yes.” I wasn’t about to let the chance to work on this book slip away.

The contract stipulated that I was to provide a completed work which (including Mr. Jordan’s written sections) was to be at least 200,000 words long. This sort of length provision isn’t uncommon in contracts; it’s there to make certain neither author nor publisher are surprised by the other’s expectations. It’s generally a ballpark figure, very flexible. I hadn’t seen any of the materials for AMoL at that point, so I essentially signed blind, saying yes to produce something “At least 200,000 words” in length.

I’m not sure what Harriet was expecting at that point for length. She was still coping with Mr. Jordan’s death, and was focused on finding someone to complete AMoL so that she could rest easier, knowing that it was being worked on. Remember, this was just months after Mr. Jordan passed away. I honestly don’t think she was thinking about length or--really--anything other than making certain the book was in the right hands. She left it to my decision how to proceed once I was given the materials.

Around January or February, I posted on my blog that I was shooting for a 200k minimum. This surprised a lot of people, as 200k would not only have made AMoL the shortest Wheel of Time book other than the prequel, it seemed a very small space in which to tie up the huge number of loose ends in the book. I wasn’t focused on that at the moment; I was just passing along my thoughts on a minimum length. I think that I, at the time, hoped that we could do the book in around 250k. That was naive of me, but I honestly didn’t want to drag this on for years and years. I wanted to get the readers the book they’d been waiting for as soon as possible.

At that point, I started reading through the series again. I did this with the notes and materials for the final book at hand, taking notes myself of what plotlines needed to be closed, which viewpoints needed resolution. The read-through took me until March of 2008. As I progressed through the series, I began to grasp the daunting nature of this book. How much there was to do, how many plotlines needed to be brought back together, the WEIGHT of it all was enormous.

April 2008. I had to make a decision. I realized that the book would be impossible to do in 200k. I’d begun to say on my blog that it would be at least 400k, but even that seemed a stretch. I looked over the outlines, both mine and Mr. Jordan’s. I stared at them for a long time, thinking about the book. And this is where the first decision came in. Did I try to cram it into 400k? Or did I let it burgeon larger?

To get this into one book, I’d need to railroad the story from climax to climax. I’d have to ignore a lot of the smaller characters--and even some aspects of the larger characters. I just couldn’t justify that.  It wouldn't do the story justice.  I cringed to consider what I would have to cut or ignore.

Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps readers would have preferred a single, condensed volume so that they at least knew what happened. But I just couldn’t do it. The Wheel of Time deserved better.

This was not an easy choice. I knew it would anger some readers. I knew it would take a lot of time, and I would end up dedicating a great deal more of my life (and my family’s life) to the Wheel of Time than I’d initially anticipated. At the very least, I was contemplating writing a book three to four times the length of the initial contract--essentially, doing four times the work for the exact same pay.

But this had never been about the pay for me. I’d been put in charge of this project. I wanted to do what I felt Mr. Jordan would have done. I felt, and feel, a debt to him for what he did with this series. He had promised readers a big, big book--not big for big’s sake, but big because there was so much to do, so much to tie up. I decided that I would do whatever the story demanded, no matter how many words it would require, no matter how mad it made people. I would not artificially inflate the book--but I would treat each character, even the minor characters, with care and consideration.

I flew to Charleston that month and outlined my feelings on the various outlines for the different characters. The Charleston camp was cautiously enthusiastic; I don’t know if they realized just how much work this would all take. I’m not sure if I even told them how many words I was starting to feel it would be. At this point, Harriet was pretty much letting me call the shots when it came to the actual drafting of the novel. Harriet is an editor; she works best when I provide material to her, then she works her magic to turn it from good to excellent. That meant I was in charge of getting material to her as I saw fit, then she would tell me if I was on target or needed to try again.

I had already set the progress bar at 400k words on my website. I started writing in earnest, and also started warning people that the book was likely going to run longer than my initial estimate. Perhaps much longer. Soon, I was saying 750k.

By this point, I’d already warned Tom and Harriet that I saw the length being very large, but I hadn’t told Tom the 700-800k number. When I’d mentioned 400k to him once, he’d been wary. He explained to me that he felt 400k was unprintably large in today’s publishing market. Things have changed since the 90’s, and booksellers are increasingly frustrated with the fantasy genre, which tends to take up a lot of shelf space with very few books. There is constant pressure from the big chain bookstores to keep things smaller and thinner. When I’d turned in Mistborn 2 (revised and already trimmed) at 250k, production and marketing had nearly had a fit, complaining that the book would cost more to print than it would make. Tom approved the publication of the book anyway. (And fortunately we managed to fit it into enough pages--and sell enough copies--that it was still profitable.)

Anyway, Tom implied that 400k was what he saw as a cut off for length. Anything 300-350 could be one book, anything over 350 should be cut. (That’s me guessing on things he said; he never gave those hardfast numbers, and I know there was probably some flexibility.) Anyway, Tom--like Harriet--wanted to wait and see what I was able to produce first. At this point, it was too early to begin talk of cutting the book. I’d barely written any of it.

I wrote all summer, and the next point of interest comes at Worldcon. Tom and I were on a panel together, talking about AMoL. I noted that (by that point) I had around 250k written. He said something like “Ah, so you’re almost done!” I looked chagrined and said “Actually, I feel that I’m only about 1/3 of the way there, Tom.” He blinked, shocked, and then laughed a full bellied laugh. “It’s happening again!” he exclaimed. “Jim sold me one book that somehow became three, and now it’s happening again!”

Well, that was the first hint I had that this might be three books instead of two. I started to lobby Harriet subtly, pointing out that previous Wheel of Time books had been 380k, and perhaps that would be a good length for each Volume of AMOL, if it was cut. I also indicated that I felt it would be really nice to keep volumes of the book published close together if, indeed, the book had to be split.

What I didn’t realize was just how taxing this process was going to be. There’s only so much one person can write in a year. Before working on AMoL, my average wordcount for a year was around 300k. One 200k epic fantasy, then 50-100k on other projects. During 2008 I wrote over 400k--fully a third more than usual, and that was done with three months of my working time spent re-reading and taking notes on the Wheel of Time series.  (Yes, it was easier because of materials left by Mr. Jordan.  However, that was offset by the need to become an expert on thousands of characters, places, themes, and worldbuilding elements.  All in all, even with outlines, notes, and written materials Mr. Jordan left, I'd say this was the most difficult 400k I've ever written.)

By December, after my book tour, I was pushing hard to even get 400k done. I still had this phantom hope that somehow, I’d be able to spend January, February, and March writing harder than I’d ever written before and somehow get to 750k by the March deadline that Tom had said was about the latest he could put a book into production and still have it out for the holidays.

In January, Tom called Harriet and they talked. At this point, I’d hit my 400k goal, and I knew that I was only about halfway done. (If even that far along.) Very little of that 400k had been revised or drafted. Tom and Harriet chatted, and several things came up. One of the most dominating points was this: it had been four years since the fans had been given KNIFE OF DREAMS. Tom felt that we NEEDED to provide them a book in 2009. They couldn’t wait until I finished the entire volume to publish something.

Harriet called me and I finally agreed that I needed to stop work on writing new material. It was time to begin revising. That was, essentially, the decision to split the book. And I wasn’t certain that we could simply print the 400k that I had written. There were scenes all over the place, and if we printed that portion as-is, it would cut off right in the middle of several plot arcs. The book just wouldn’t be any fun to read. Beyond that, editing 400k would take too much time to have it done by April.

This is the second big decision. Perhaps you would have chosen differently. But let me outline the options as I see them. Pretend you’re Tom Doherty or Harriet in January 2009, making the call on how to publish the book.

1) You can decide not to print anything until the entire novel is finished. That means letting Brandon write until the end, then revising the entire thing at once, followed by printing the book (either as one enormous volume or several chunks, released in quick succession.) Last summer and fall, this was what I was hoping we’d be able to do.

If you make this choice, the readers don’t get a book in 2009. You’re not sure when they’ll get a book. Brandon took a year to write 400k words, and feels that he’s around halfway done.

So, if you choose this option, let’s say Brandon writes all 2009, delivers you a rough draft of a full, 800k book in 2010. 800k words would take roughly eight months to edit and revise. Production would take another eight months or so. (Minimum.) You’d be looking at releasing the book somewhere in summer 2011. Perhaps one volume in June and another in August.

2) You could publish the 400k as they are done right now. If you do this, the readers do not get a book in 2009. 400k would take roughly four months to revise (and that’s rushing it), and you’d have to put the novel into production with a January or February 2010 release date. That’s not too far off the November 2009 date you’d promised people, so maybe they would be satisfied. But you’d leave them with a story that literally cut of right in the middle of several plotlines, which did not have tied up resolutions. .

In this scenario, Brandon writes all through 2009, turns in the second half sometime around April or May 2010. It takes roughly four months to edit and revise that portion, and you’re looking at a summer 2011 release for the second half. Maybe spring 2011. (This way, you get the whole thing to the readers a little bit faster than the other option because you have the luxury of putting one half through production while Brandon is writing the second half.)

However, in this scenario, you end up releasing two fractured books, and the bookstores are mad at you for their size. (Which may translate to the bookstores ordering fewer copies, and fans being mad because they can’t find copies as easily as they want--this is what happened with Mistborn Two, by the way.). Beyond that, you missed releasing a book in the holiday season, instead putting one in the dead months of early 2010.

3) You could do what Tom did. You go to Brandon (or, in this case, to Harriet who goes to Brandon) and you say “You have 400k words. Is there a division point in there somewhere that you can cut the book and give us a novel with a strong climax and a natural story arc?”

I spent a few days in January looking over the material, and came to Tom and Harriet with a proposal. I had what I felt would make the best book possible, divided in a certain way, which came out to be around 275,000 words. It had several strong character arcs, it told a very good story, and it closed several important plot threads. I felt it would be an excellent book.

Now, this was longer than they’d wanted. They’d hoped I’d find them a cutting point at the 225k mark. But I didn’t feel good about any cuts earlier than 275. In fact, I later took that 275,000 word book and I added an extra 25k in scenes (one’s I’d been planning to write anyway, but decided would work better here in this chunk) in order to fill it out and make of it the most solid novel possible. Right now, the book sits at about 301,000 words--though that will fluctuate as I trim out some excess language here and there. I suspect the final product will be right around 300,000k words.

Now, let’s assume you made this decision, just as Tom did. This is the ONLY case in which you get to keep your promise to the Wheel of Time readers and deliver a book in 2009. (Though, it took a LOT of work to get it ready. I’ve been pulling 14-16 hour days six days a week for the last three months.) In this scenario, you get to deliver them a solid book, rather than a fractured one.

But you are also splitting a book that Robert Jordan intended to be one book. (Tom and Harriet both have said they don’t think he could have done it, or would have done it, given the chance.) A bigger problem is that you’re releasing a book without knowing when you’ll be able to release the next section. You aren’t certain what to tell people when they ask how large a gap there will be between the books; it will depend on how long the next chunk is and when Brandon can finish it. (Plus, Brandon keeps increasing the final estimate, which--now that I’ve added some material to this book--indicates that the final product will easily be over 800k.)

So...how big will the gap be? Well, the honest truth is that I don’t know. Tom has been telling other publishers and retailers that November 2009, 2010, 2011 seems like a safe bet. But that’s just an estimate, erring on the side of caution. I’m pretty certain that we have to divide the book in three parts because of where I chose to make the split. There will be another good split at around the 600k mark.

If I had the next 300k or so done already, it would take me 4 months to revise it at the shortest. I feel that the next chunk is going to need a lot more revision than this one did. Partially because I cut into the 450k completed portion with the hacksaw and pulled out 275k. What’s left over is ragged and in need of a lot of work. I’d say five months of revisions is more likely. So, if it were all done, we’d have the second book coming out five months after the first.

But it’s not all done. It’s around halfway done. I’ve got a lot of writing left to do--four to six months worth, I’d guess. By these estimates, we’ll have another book ready to go to press, then, in February next year. That means a fall 2010 release. And if things continue as they have, the third book (none of which is written right now) would come out summer 2011 at the earliest.

And I guess that’s what I’m trying to show you with all of this: No matter how the book is split, cut, or divided, the last portion wouldn’t come out until 2011. Why? It goes back to that first decision I made, the one to write the book the length I felt it needed to be. And so, it’s not the greedy publisher, stringing you along that is keeping you from reading the ending. It’s not the fault of production taking a long time. The blame rests on me.

I am writing this book long. I’m writing it VERY long. Most books in most genres are around 100k long. I’m shooting for eight times that length. And one person can only produce so much material, particularly on a project like this. Writing this book, keeping all of these plot threads and characters straight, is like juggling boulders. It’s hard, hard work.

You’re getting a book this year. You’ll get one next year. You’ll get one the year after that. I don’t know which months in 2010 or 2011 the books will come out. You can keep hope they’ll be sooner, but you might want to listen to Tom’s November, November estimate, as I feel it’s the absolute latest you’d see the books.

I know some of you will be mad that it is getting split; I feel for you, and I hope to be able to persuade Tor and Harriet to publish a special edition omnibus some day. But...well, they’re both convinced that it will be too long for that. I’m not going to fight for it right now; I’ll wait until the books come out.

I will continue to fight to get the books released as quickly as is reasonable. But I have to write them first. You’ve been able to watch my progress bar; you know that I’m working and the book is getting written. I’m not going on vacations and living it up. I’m working. Hard. Sixty, seventy, sometimes eighty hour weeks.

I won’t make you wait an undue amount of time. But please understand that some of the things you want are mutually exclusive. You want a high quality book that is of an enormous length published quickly. Get me a time machine and I’ll see what I can do.

George Marin and Pat Rothfuss have both spoken on this already, and both did it quite eloquently. Books, as opposed to a lot of other forms of mass media, are unique in that they rest solely on the production capabilities of one single person. A good day of writing for a lot of authors is about 1,000 words. And you’re lucky to get 200 days of writing in a year, with all of the other demands (edits, copyedits, book tours, publicity events, school visits, etc.) that come your way. I tent to scale higher than the average, partially (I think) because of all those years I spent unpublished getting into the habit of constantly writing new books.

But even I can only do so much. We’ll get these books to you. At the slowest, they will be November, November, November--meaning that they all come out in the space of two years. Perhaps it will be faster. If we can do them more quickly, and keep the quality up, I will continue to advocate for that. But I honestly don’t know if I can do another two years like these last sixteen months. I’m exhausted. I’ve pushed very, very hard to get you a book in 2009 because you’ve been waiting so long. But I can’t promise that I’ll be able to keep the same schedule. Plus, I do have other commitments, contracts signed to other publishers, fans of other writings of mine who cannot be ignored. I’ll need to write another Alcatraz book this year sometime. And I will have to do revisions on THE WAY OF KINGS, which I’ve stayed pretty quiet about. I’m planning to do these things during down time on AMoL, when waiting for revision notes or the like. But I also can’t afford to get burned out on The Wheel of Time. You deserve better than that.

Now, some words about titles. Where did THE GATHERING STORM come from? Well, in January where it was decided to split the book, I continued to advocate for something that would indicate that this was ONE book, split into three parts. (I still see it that way.) And so, I suggested that they all be named A MEMORY OF LIGHT with subtitles. I love the title A MEMORY OF LIGHT; I think it’s poetic and appropriate. Plus, it was Mr. Jordan’s title for the book. That alone is good enough reason to keep it.

And so, I suggested smaller, shorter, more generic sub-titles for each of the parts. With a long, evocative title like A MEMORY OF LIGHT as the supertitle, the subtitles needed to be shorter and more basic, as to not draw attention. The first of these was named GATHERING CLOUDS by Maria’s suggestion. Book two would be SHIFTING WINDS, book three TARMON GAI’DON, all with the supertitle of A MEMORY OF LIGHT.

We proceeded with that as our plan for several months. And then, suddenly, Tom got word from marketing that the titles needed to change. The bookstores didn’t like them. (You’ll find that the bookstores control a lot in publishing. You’d be surprised at how often the decisions are made because of what they want.) In this case, the bookstores worried that having three books titled AMoL would be too confusing for the computer system and the people doing the reordering. They asked for the supertitle to be cut, leaving us with the title GATHERING CLOUDS.

I shot off an email to Harriet, explaining that I never intended that title to be the one that carried the book. It was too generic, too basic. She went to Tom with some suggestions for alternates, and THE GATHERING STORM was what they decided. This all happened in a matter of hours, most of it occurring before I got up in the morning. (I sent her an email at night, then by the time I rose, they’d made the decision out on the east coast.) Some materials had already gone out as GATHERING CLOUDS, and I wonder if THE GATHERING STORM was chosen because it was similar. I know it was the one out of those suggested by Harriet that Tom liked the most. It’s somewhat standard, but also safe.

That title swap came at me rather fast. I plan to be ready for the next one, so hopefully we’ll have the time to produce something a little more evocative. I don’t mind THE GATHERING STORM, but I do realize that it is one of the more bland Wheel of Time titles. (My favorite title, by the way, is THE CROSSROADS OF TWILIGHT.)

I think that brings you all up to speed. The question many of you are probably wondering now is “What did you decide to put in this book, and what did you decide to hold off until the next one?” I can’t answer that yet--perhaps when the time gets closer, I’ll be able to hint at what was included and what was saved. But know that I believe strongly in the place where the cut was made, and I love how the final product has turned out.

I also want to mention that one of my main goals in division was to make certain that most (if not all) of the major characters had screen time. Some have more than others, but almost everyone has at least a couple of chapters. (In other words, it wasn’t cut like FEAST FOR CROWS/DANCE WITH DRAGONS with half the viewpoints in one and half in the other.) However, some of the important things you are waiting for had--by necessity--be reserved for the second book.

I’m almost done with the revisions on the first part. I expect to start writing new material for part two sometime in April. The progress bar will inch forward again when that happens.

Anyway, that’s the story of how this all came to be. I don’t expect you all to be happy with the choices we’ve made, but I do want you to understand where we are coming from. I have to trust my instincts as a writer. They are what got me here, they are what made Harriet chose me to work on this book, and it would be a mistake to discard them now.

Those instincts say that we’ve made the best choices, and I think THE GATHERING STORM will vindicate those choices. So, if possible, I ask you to hold back on some of your worry and/or anger until you at least read the book this November. As always, the work itself is the best argument for why I do what I do.

Brandon Sanderson

March, 2009.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

More News on AMoL

I've had some emails from Harriet and company and can give you some more solid facts here.

First, an email Harriet said I could post:

Dear Brandon,

Whatever the "art" is that was posted on Dragonmount, I have not seen it, and from what I hear I would certainly not approve it.

Rest assured, no art will go on the cover until I have seen it and approved it. Best, Harriet

This was before Harriet saw the link on Dragonmount itself, showing the thumbnail of the artwork.  The fact that she hadn't yet seen the real cover art makes this all seem even more fishy to me.  Looking closely, that posted art really lacks detail.  After getting some internal emails from Tor, I'm really thinking that my conclusion last night was true.  This is not the cover, but a rough mock-up done quickly by production to have something to show at meetings.  It was never supposed to go outside of Tor, and is NOT the final cover, not even close to it.  I'll bet this is just a sketch Mr. Sweet did showing potential cover ideas.  It might not even be him doing the art--it's too small to tell.

Tor is planning a press release about AMoL talking about the title, the number of volumes, and that sort of thing.  We won't see it until early next week, however, because of issues of timing with the major news sources.  They moved it up from late in the week to early in the week, but that's the best they could do.  Until then, don't panic.  There is truth to some of the rumors, but there is also a lot of bad information going around. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Exploding Internet

A few hours back, people started sharing links regarding a few places outside the US who have begun posting news related to A Memory of Light.  I'm getting some emails about this, so I thought I'd go ahead and post something.  Likely, this will all get overwritten soon, as soon as Tor and the Jordan estate release official reactions and/or announcements.

I can't say much.  Why?  Well, it's not my right.  I'm loving being part of the Wheel of Time, but it is Harriet's world, not mine.  And so I feel it right to let her make any announcements at her pace.  I don't even feel right linking some of the websites making news about this, though you can find a thread about it on Dragonmount if you look.

A very small cover image has been floating around, and people want me to say if it's a hoax or not.  Well, to be honest, I haven't yet seen the cover art for the book.  Things have been so busy for me these last few months editing that I've let Harriet handle all of that.  So I don't know if the cover is the real one or not.  It certainly looks like Mr. Sweet's work, and it could be a scene from the book.  But it looks rough, perhaps not the finished art.  It's too small to tell.  And the lettering on it is suspect to me--it mentions this book being the sequel to Crossroads of Twilight, for instance, which is a flat-out error.  I certainly didn't approve that on cover copy, and I doubt Harriet did either.  Most likely, this is a mock-up done internally that is being used as a placeholder.  That's just one of the several things that bothers me about this cover image.

A lot of people are wondering on the number of volumes this book will be.  I'll be honest, this is a big, big project.  I stand by one promise to you, no matter what else happens.  I will NOT artificially inflate the size of this book.  It doesn't matter to me how many volumes Tor decides to make it; the story is the same to me.  One volume, as Robert Jordan planned it.  Enormous. 

If it is split into chunks, I will push Tor to release them as soon as is reasonably possible and I will push hard for an omnibus edition at the end.

More soon.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mistborn Two Audiobook

Much thanks to everyone who has pointed out to me that the Mistborn Two Audiobook just hit Audible.  The trilogy is finally complete in this format; I apologize that it took so long to get them all up there. 

AMOL revision work is moving right along.  I'm afraid there's not much that is interesting to report.  What I'm doing right now is probably the most boring part of a revision--line editing.  I'm going line by line, trimming the fat, making it more readable, cutting the passive voice, making the scenes more visual, trying to cut out redundancy.  There is a LOT of material here that I'm working with.  It shouldn't be long before I'm back to writing new scenes, however.  Probably next week or the week after. 

Tor is readying a press release about the release date of the book.  I suspect you'll see that next week as well.  Watch Tor.com and Dragonmount; I'll link it here when it goes live as well. 

If you didn't see the Mistborn Two deleted scenes, you might find them curious.  Go drop by my forums to discuss

And, in parting, random comic strip.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

New Annotation and Deleted Scene

Two major updates for you on the Mistborn series. 

The first is a new annotation, Chapter Fifty Eight of Mistborn Two.  This is the next-to-last annotation for this book. 

And, since we're so close to the ending, I thought I'd go ahead and post the alternate ending that I wrote for the book.  A lot is the same, though a lot of the trappings are different.  There's a longer explanation in the post. 

In other news, our friend Howard just got nominated for a Hugo!  Congrats, Howard.  You deserve it.  

Interestingly, he's up against the Dabel Brothers treatment of a Dresden Files story.  I know that some have had problems with the Dabel Brothers when it comes to contracts, but I have to say, I've absolutely loved their visualizations of the Wheel of Time series.  I've had the privilege of seeing some early images of an upcoming release, and I'm very impressed.  They have a very, very talented team.

And I guess I'll go ahead and give a congrats to Girl Genius too, which is also nominated in the same category.  It's one of the very best comics on the web.  Howard, my friend, you're in a bittersweet place.  It's always good to be in such good company for an award, and yet it can be frustrating as well. 




Friday, March 13, 2009

Various Notes

I'm making progress on these A MEMORY OF LIGHT edits, slowly but surely.  It's a lot more time-consuming than other books I've edited for several reasons.  First off, I've got a lot of input coming in from Charleston.  I receive feedback on every chapter not just from Harriet, but from Alan and Maria as well.  It's all very good advice, but it's like juggling three editors on the same project, each with different specialties.  The sheer organization of it all can be daunting sometimes.

Recently--today and yesterday--I spent producing some new material for the first time in a while.  One of the issues with revisions like this is that sometimes, Harriet and the others point out holes in the story which require new scenes to patch properly.  As such, I've been 'spot writing' so to speak, crafting new scenes.  Some are holes I knew were there and intended to patch, others were holes I left thinking that they would be all right--that readers would make the leap from one scene to another without the bridge scene.  In one case, it's a scene I hadn't realized everyone would want to see, but they really do, so I've started work on it.  I expect this to continue for the next few days, so you might see the main "A Memory of Light" progress bar inch up a few points.  It's at 110% right now.  (Which means 440k of completed manuscript, not counting some scenes that Mr. Jordan worked on that haven't yet happened in the chronology.) 

The basic estimate for the final length remains the same as it has since about last summer.  750k words.  I'll let you know if I think that needs to be revised, but I really won't be able to guess until I've completed more of the manuscript.  As I've warned, also, keep an eye on Dragonmount and Tor.com for official announcements related to the Wheel of Time.  I'd guess that something will pop up in the next several weeks.

And, in other random news, a reader was googling mistcloaks for costume ideas and ran across this.  Yes, that is what you fear it to be.  A Mistborn Lolcat, posted randomly on Icanhascheezburger.  Heaven help us all.  (And thanks so much for that link, Jon.)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mistborn Metal Vials For Sale!

Way back, when Badali contacted me about Elantris Jewelry, they also asked after the Mistborn books.  Well, we weren’t sure where the rights were on the art for those, so we had to make arrangements with Isaac before being able to do Mistborn-themed jewelry.  (Isaac, as always, was extremely easy to work with—but getting paperwork and the like together takes time.)

One of the very first things I asked Badali about was this:  “Can we do metal vials?”  I felt this was one of the first pieces of jewelry I’d personally like, and I thought that all of you wonderful folks would agree.

Badali came through for us with amazing results.  They developed silver jewelry ‘cages’ which can hold a small glass metal vial.  This makes it possible to swap the vials out for one another.  Beyond that, they came up with little vials that are just perfect representing each of the different metals.  (In fact, nearly all of them contain the exact metal itself, in powder or foil form.)  Just have a look at these shots:


IMG_1487 IMG_1488 IMG_1480

I wanted to get the vials on the site last month, but the computer issues caused trouble.  Still, I’m proud to say that I’ve got the copy for them all written up and my webmaster has a very nice display for them.   The cost is $39 for a vial cast in sterling silver with one vial of metal.  (You pick the metal you want inside.)

Note that one of those options is a “Mistborn mixture” of the eight first metals.  You can also order other metal vials separately, or even just order your necklace with one of each metal vial included.  (Select "All" from the dropdown.  You still get one for free; this adds the others in.)   You can see images of each vial in detail on the page that sells them separate from the pendant.

Note that because of a quirk to do with shipping via the partner we use on these, ordering just one vial ships at $10--more than a single vial costs ($6.)  Sorry about this.  We WILL combine shipping for jewelry.  Just drop an email to my assistant Becky (dragonsteel.becky@gmail.com) if you want to order multiple necklaces or multiple vials (i.e., if you want a certain four but don't want to buy all of them) and she'll work it out so that you only pay shipping once. 

We're working very hard on a shopping cart for the store, but incorporating one requires a rewriting of a lot of our basic framework, so it's going to be a little while before we have one.  Until then, just email Becky if you have questions about pricing or shipping.  And I hope you enjoy your metal vials!  (There are other Mistborn jewelry items for sale as well; I'm working on the descriptions of those, but feel free to browse the jewelry section.)

Thursday, March 05, 2009


And now, a brief webcomics interlude.  (Explanation below for those who aren't familiar with this sort of thing.)

Whatever you think of Scott Kurtz and PvP, this sequence of comics is just plain brilliant.  Some of the best work he's ever done, hands down. 

The above comics are a parody of Watchmen mixed with a parody of today's newspaper comics industry, a personal hobby-horse of Kurtz's which I happen to agree with wholeheartedly.  If you haven't read Watchmen, the comics not only won't make sense, they risk spoiling the experience--so I suggest not reading them until you grab the graphic novel.  If you have read Watchmen but don't get the webcomics/newspaper syndication thing, here's a primer: Recently, (like, over the last two decades) a lot of the innovation in comics has been forced off of the printed page and (as the web has grown) onto the internet.  A number of the big newspaper comics aren't drawn by their original creators, and instead are a kind of 'comfort food' product, never changing, offering the same jokes over, and over again.  Because of this uniform blandness, comics on the printed page have a trouble attracting new readers.  And because these comfortable relics take up so much space on the comics page, it's very hard for new, innovative strips to find a market in newspaper comics.

On another note, I'm not certain what to think of PvP lately.  The new shaded art style is fantastic, and Kurtz has evolved a lot as a cartoonist these last few years.  At the same time, he's been experimenting a lot with his story and humor.  I respect an artist who does that--Scott Card does it to.  You never know what kind of book you're going to get next from Scott. 

However, because of the nature of experimentation like this, the product is less reliable.  There's more variation.  Sometimes it just doesn't work for me.  Sometimes it does.  And occasionally, there's true genius, like these Watchmen parodies. 

I guess that's what we get when we cry foul on the whole newspaper comfort product.  Reliability rarely leads to genius.  Boldness and innovation take us there--but when a creator is bold, sometimes those changes take him or her in a direction his readers don't like. 

This is an ongoing struggle for a creator like myself.  I want to try new things.  But I also want to produce things that my readers will enjoy.  I want to be on the cutting edge of...well, of what my readers want.  I don't know if that makes any sense.  One of the reasons I didn't turn Elantris into a series is because wanted readers to learn not to focus on one series of mine.  Instead of "That guy who writes the Elantris Books" I wanted to be "That guy who always writes great fantasy books with interesting magic systems."  The latter gives me more flexibility to go in new directions, but hopefully retain the readership.

We'll see if it work.  Warbreaker is different from Mistborn.  It's trying for the same things that Mistborn tried for--great characters, innovative use of setting, compelling and interesting plot.  However, it does each of these things in different ways from Mistborn.  And it's not a series. 

Part of me is excited to be releasing another stand-alone in this era of huge monster series.  But we'll see how the sales figures are.  It worry that people will feel they can wait for the paperback or the library on this book, since they're not driven to find the end of the series. 

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

AMoL Update…kind of.

I’ve been getting a lot of reader mail like the following lately:

Mr. Sanderson, I'm sorry if I am a little behind on the news, but I haven't heard anything about A Memory of Light and was wondering if it has already been finished and we're waiting for a release date or if it has already been released. Please let me know, I'm very eager to finish the series, thank you.

There’s been a lot of buzz going around about the book lately, particularly since Tor released this widget which makes some implication about the release date of the book.

I asked Harriet if I should say anything about all of this, and her response to me was essentially “Keep on working.  We’ll worry about announcements.” 

So…well, I’m going to leave it to her and to Tor.  Nothing official has been said yet, though I think that’s probably because the best way to make WoT-related announcements is being discussed.  JordanCon is coming up next month, and I think it’s likely that Harriet and Tor would rather wait until then to make any big revelations. 

Here’s what I can say:  I have not finished the complete manuscript.  I’ve got about 450k words done of what I still plan to be an eventual 750k (or more) manuscript.  I’ve spent most of January and all of February doing revisions.  Harriet is pleased with what she has seen so far, but any manuscript needs a lot of work revising.  Right now, we are focusing on making what we have done as good as it can be.

I will post here when official announcements are made.  They’ll probably appear first on Tor.com or Dragonmount.  I wouldn’t expect anything to appear until the first week in April at the earliest.  (Third week, during JordanCon, being even more likely.)

Monday, March 02, 2009

New Elantris Audio Edition

When we were looking at selling audio rights to Elantris, my agent approached me with an interesting suggestion.  Instead of one edition, he thought we could get two separate ones made.  The reason was he had two companies interested, both of which were willing to let the other also do an edition.

One was wanting to produce a traditional audio edition, unabridged, read word for word.  The other wanted to do what is called a performed abridged edition. 

In short, this company—Graphic Audio—wanted to do a version like an old-time radio drama.  It would be ‘abridged’ only in that they would cut out the dialogue tags—since different actors would be playing each character—and some of the blocking.  (For instance, where I wrote that a door opened, they’d replace this with the sound of a door opening.) 

I was intrigued, and more than a little excited, particularly after I met with the folks from Graphic Audio.  They had a very good vibe to them.  It’s hard to explain, but I just liked them, and liked what they were doing.

Well, Elantris is finally out from Graphic Audio, and I suggest you give their demo a listen.  It’s a completely new way to experience the book.  I’m hoping it will do well, since I’d like to see a similar treatment for some of my future books.  The stand alone novels—Elantris and Warbreaker—are what I’m most eager to see done this way, as I think they lend themselves very well to this format. 

They’re doing it in three parts, and the price looks very good.  All three parts bought on sale will cost about the same as a hardcover edition, which is very good for an audio book.  Part one is out now; the second two parts will come soon.

Enjoy!  (And Graphic Audio, my hat is off to you.)