The Book, One Month Later

My friend Kleenestar observed recently that “once you get to a certain critical mass of not-posting, the return to semi-regular posting is shockingly hard.” This is very, very true. And it goes double at the end of a semester.

So, my apologies for the silence. I’ll return to the world of the e-living by giving an update on Doppelganger.

More reviews in various places, mostly on blogs, a few on Amazon. Another negative review, too. This one, I will link to; it’s on the Green Man Review. (For the record, I didn’t link to the last one because it was someone’s journal, and I didn’t want to give the impression that I was asking anybody to go defend me in the comments thread. This one, on the other hand, is in a publication that habitually publishes reviews.)

It’s very odd, seeing the utterly contradictory nature of the positive and negative responses I’ve gotten. The GMR review doesn’t like the world or the characters all that much. Other people have spoken glowingly of that selfsame world, those selfsame characters. At least one person has found my prose terrible; others have raved in favor of it (though in the vein of “it’s nice and tight” rather than “wow, it’s really artistic”). Some of that is personal taste. Some of it, I imagine, is a matter of focus; you might pay attention to the aspects of the world that are original, while someone else is more attentive to those that aren’t. Some of it is probably perspective, since originality is partly a matter of what you’re accustomed to. Hell, thanks to my late introduction to The Lord of the Rings, I cruised happily through fantasy for many years without spotting who was ripping off Tolkien.

I’ve been getting fan-mail. Is that weird or what? <g> Over two dozen complete strangers have written to me since the book came out, telling me how much they liked it. For those of them who might be reading this journal: I am grateful to each and every one of you. No, really. As much as it boggles me to be getting such messages, this is, in a sense, why I wanted to write: not to get letters from readers, per se (especially since I feel like an idiot, trying to figure out how to respond with anything better than “um, wow, thanks!”), but to tell stories that other people care about. The letters are simply a way for me to know I’ve succeeded at that.

Sales-wise, I have no numbers yet. I won’t get anything official until the first royalty statement, I imagine, which will happen some time after June; they come to me twice a year. (I do get royalty statements, even if I’m not getting royalties yet. They let me know how far away I am from getting royalties yet.) I may get some less official numbers in the nearer future; in fact, I hope so. At the moment, I’m basically going off anecdotal evidence and sporadic checking of my Amazon sales rank against a handy webpage that translates the otherwise meaningless numbers into something like a sales rate. But that doesn’t tell me much, since my rank’s been fluctuating by as much as twenty thousand places. (I kind of wish Amazon would just abolish the bloody thing; it’s little more than a way to feed the fluctuations of my self-confidence.)

Now that the semester’s winding down, I’ll have a little time to do promotion. No concrete plans for that as yet, but watch this space for announcements.

That’s it for the nonce, I believe. Posting should resume as normal, since I’m out of classes now, and virtually done with grading. Ah, summer. How I’ve been looking forward to thee.

0 Responses to “The Book, One Month Later”

  1. selenya

    I just have to say that this is all surreal and completely bad ass.

    That is all. 😉

  2. fallenrose

    I keep meaning to post a review on my LJ and maybe on Amazon. I have some thoughts on the book I’d like to share.
    I’m curious about the sequel, too, and intend to preorder ASAP. May I ask what the premise of the sequel is? From the except included with Doppelganger it seems to be a followup/aftermath thing at the beginning at least, but I know the first chapter is not the whole novel. 🙂 I also ask because I myself immediately thought of some ideals I’d love to see in (a) sequel(s). But that’s another discussion. 🙂
    Anyway, thanks for the good book! I look forward to more.

    • Marie Brennan

      I should post the back cover copy for the sequel — I’ve been holding off because not everybody browsing the website has finished Doppelganger yet, and the cover copy is rather spoileriffic. But it’s followup in the sense of taking what happened in the first book and saying, okay, what are the consequences of that? Because events like that are rarely, if ever, totally shiny and happy and fine.

      • fallenrose

        Ah, yes. That’s what I figured, from the excerpt.
        I personally would also love to see some historical development of the story-world, especially, perhaps, something from the perspective of the Cousins? There were a few places in Doppelganger where I realized I’d love to hear more but it would be a different story entirely. I guess that’s a sign of a ficitional world that has potential for real, further development.
        Then again, I do love series. ^_^

  3. unforth

    I used to run a webpage that garnered fan e-mails a few times a week, and all I can say is fan mail is utterly surreal. I know exactly what you mean, except mine was on a far less cool level. 😉

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the differences in opinion. It’s worth always recalling that we live in a world where there are people who truly believe that ALL fantasy writing is Tolkien derivative, and that therefore no fantasy should be read or published. Seriously. I’ve met people who say that. Clearly, it’s impossible to please all of the people all of the time. However, from what I’ve seen many more of the reviews are positive than are negative – go with that. 🙂

  4. ninja_turbo

    That review is amusing.

    Amusing in the nature that I’m not sure I’ve disagreed so diametrically with the evaluation of a review, well, Evar.

    And the reviewer might benefit from a survey of Japanese history & culture course. Then again, I think everyone should know more about Japan.

    • Marie Brennan

      Honestly? I’m about midway between the GMR opinion and some of the reader responses I’ve gotten. Certain aspects of the world look Japanese, but if the witches didn’t have Japanese-style names, the resemblance wouldn’t seem nearly as strong. Don’t get me wrong — I like the world, and I’m glad other people like it. But I don’t think it’s nearly the most interesting one I’ve come up with, especially in the years since then. Which is actually a good position to be in, since it those who felt it was original will get even more neat stuff from me in the future, and those who felt it wasn’t will get something that might please them more.

  5. akashiver

    Hmm. The main world-building beef of the GMR review seemed to be “how can Caucasian women have Japanese-sounding names?” Which is somewhat like asking how Caucasian men can have names like Aragorn. I could see the potential applicability of that critique if you’d just grafted Japoense names onto a cliched Tolkienesque culture, but knowing your work, I know that’s not the case.

    • Marie Brennan

      I’m not sure I’d say that was the main beef, but yes, it is something I disagreed with. I have a personal fondness for playing mix-and-match with bits of language and culture. ^_^

    • mindstalk

      I did note the oddness of witches having Japanese names — or more precisely, their having different names from everyone else. But I assumed it was a Goddess thing. “Here’s a completely different naming style to show how holy/different you are”, or some such.

      • Marie Brennan

        Pretty much; that’s how Misetsu got her name, and she just made a habit of it that all of her descendants followed. The language of magic is phonetically like Japanese, and if I’d conlanged Doppelganger at all, everybody’s names would mean something. But that book predated my dabbling in conlangs.

  6. d_c_m

    I’m half way through your book and am enjoying it very much. 🙂 I really like the Goddess worship and the witches and the first witch story.

  7. kleenestar

    Hey Bryn, at some point I will get on toward reviewing your book (which I just finished a week or two ago), and I’d be curious if you want the “this is my friend’s book SQUEEE!” review, the “this is just a random book” review, or the “wow, let me give this some critical thought because Bryn is awesome and deserves my best thinking, even if that means being harsh” review. Let me know which you’d prefer. 🙂

  8. gollumgollum

    You wrote a book???

  9. ombriel

    Congrats again on all this. Bad reviews, of course, are just a part of the Overarching Coolness(tm).

  10. Anonymous

    The bad review

    I liked the book, but would tend to agree with the review about the resolution of the central conflict; it was too easy for my taste. And it is a matter of taste, I think–I like things a little darker; if it had been my book, I’d probably have had either Mirage or Miryo succeed in killing the other in the first third of the book, and only in hindsight realize that this was a Terrible Mistake; then build a story from there.


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