It’s the night before the big siege begins; we’re walking the parapets, smoking pipe-weed and hoping to catch a glimpse of the stars through the ragged veil of fumes thrown up by the invading army. We’ll think of home, make small talk; you’ll tell me you’re afraid to die and I’ll answer with something both pithy and wise. We’ll see a flaming arrow blaze up in the night sky. You and I, both, know it’s a harbinger. A sign to gird our loins and draw steel. The calm is broken. The storm comes . . .
This is generally how it feels the day before Release Day. Like your world is holding its breath in anticipation. You’ve done all you can to get the word out; all you know how to do. You’ve bombarded social media, wrote endless blog posts, stared into the Internet like a haruspex seeking to divine the will of god. You’ve prayed, smudged, offered sacrifices, and sought deals with the Ruinous Powers. For today — this one day — all you can do is watch and wait. Tomorrow the battle begins. The battle to determine the arc of your career.
No one is made or broken on one book. We tell ourselves this. But, the reality is that in this day and age, where books must fight tooth and nail against flashier, showier forms of entertainment, a lackluster performance is not long tolerated. Literary Darwinism means you adapt and sell and stay on top of your game . . . or you become a side-note in the history of the genre. I’ve had one flop, seven years ago. I can’t risk another.
So as this day draws on, as I walk the parapet of my personal Helm’s Deep, I reflect over the past year: what I did right; what I did wrong. How can I improve, going forward? How can I win my battle? The answer is deceptively simple: make the next book even more awesome, and get it finished quicker. That’s the plan, at least.
Tonight, I will have a glass of wine. I will toast the shades of my fallen comrades — friends who I know would have loved this one, but who the Fates took from us far too soon. I will write the opening scene of Twilight of the Gods (due in my agent’s hands by 31 October 2017) . . . and I will prepare for the next few weeks. The calm is breaking. A storm is coming . . .