The Book Launch Lament, Or: Being Way Too Honest on Release Day
May 16, 2017
“Like occasionally I’m legit pissed about the fact that there doesn’t appear to be a fandom for this fantastic series because sometimes, all I want to do is talk about my SdJ theories with like-minded folks (but then I look at my latest fandom experiences and kind of… resign myself to being a SdJ super-fan in relative anonymity).”
That’s from a review of my newest offering, Greedy Pigs, out today from Tor.com Publishing. Stitch is a book/media blogger, writer, and student, and I just love her to death. She first came to my attention after she posted a drunken review/quasi-live read of my first Sin du Jour book, Envy of Angels, and I’ve followed her stuff ever since. It isn’t just that she gives my books fantastic reviews (although she does), and it isn’t even the fact that she’s a deeply insightful analyst of everything from movies to comics (she is). Stitch perfectly captures the experience of just loving the fuck out of a book you’re reading, and having that applied to my books is immensely rewarding. That’s simply why we do this, to make people feel the way we feel when we read books or comics or watch movies we love that really capture and compel and move us. It’s one of the best things about the human experience, right up there with tasting food and having orgasms.
You can read her full review of Greedy Pigs here, but that highlighted portion above kind of encapsulates how I’m feeling today, the day of Greedy Pigs‘ release (it’s out in ebook and paperback and you should buy it and read it and love it and review it and tell all your friends about it and all of that junk).
I find myself holding onto a mixed emotional bag on this, my fifth Sin du Jour book launch day, and I also find it difficult not to be honest about that. I just finished line edits on Gluttony Bay, the next Sin du Jour novella, and I was rereading an ARC of Greedy Pigs. The latter is my fiancée, Nikki’s, favorite SdJ novella thus far (quite an accomplishment, as she is my toughest critic), while Gluttony Bay, the penultimate book of the series, is my favorite SdJ I’ve done up to this point. I’m intensely pleased by both books, how the series has evolved, and where it’s going. This whole thing started out as a weird experiment (and it still is that, to a large degree) and me just trying to write something as funny and bizarre and unexpected and different as I could. It’s turned into a group of imaginary people I really care about who (I hope) feel/read very real, and work of which I’m very proud. Yet none of that seems to be translating into hard sales, which are, quite frankly, soft. It’s almost two years on and we’re not moving nearly as many physical books as I’d hoped we would, and we’re not reaching the readership I know this series could potentially impact.
Don’t get me wrong. This has been and continues to be a greatly fulfilling experience for me, creatively and professionally. I’ve got an amazing publisher in Tor.com Publishing who love and believe in these books enough to have committed to putting out all seven of them, which is bananas. They are selling. They’re earning out their advances and moving Kindle copies, if not paperbacks. I’ve gotten nothing but love and enthusiasm from virtually all the critics who have reviewed the books, which is unheard of for me. I’ve got readers who connect with the work and get what I’m trying to do and quite obviously love this world and these people. The people who actually take the time to read the books dig ’em. I am grateful for all of that, truly.
However, it also causes me a lot of frustration, especially lately. None of our current efforts seem to be able to break the series wider, and that intense enthusiasm of the readership we’ve built and critics we’ve converted just doesn’t seem to have the infection rate in others you’d hope. I’m a big believer in “if you can convert one, you can convert a million,” and I still am. So while it’s wholly gratifying to see people love the hell out of these books, it’s also frustrating to see the next 999,999 people watch that and shrug and keep moving. It’s amazing to receive starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, four-and-a-half stars and a Top Pick badge from RT Book Reviews, be one of three SFF books recommended by The Washington Post for the month, have SFF book blogs and fanzines like Barnes & Noble, File 770, and Nerds of a Feather consistently gush over the series, but that also creates an even bigger sense of, “Why isn’t any of this translating to sales/readership?”
These are, of course, hardly revolutionary problems. This is the exact same eternal struggle encountered by virtually every author and publisher every day of their publishing lives always. But I’m not every other author, I’m me, and this is my career and these are my books, and this launch day I just can’t summon my usual up-and-at-’em, let’s-keep-fighting-the-good-fight attitude. I do, however, retain my always profound gratitude to those of you reviewing and buying and reading and loving and talking about these books. I see it on Twitter and I read what you write on Amazon and Goodreads and I get your occasional emails, and I can’t express my appreciation enough for your cutting through all that white noise out there to actually give time and attention and customerage to my little books. Thank you.
Don’t get it twisted, we are not defeated. Not even close. I’m currently working on the very last book in the Sin du Jour series, Taste of Wrath, which is due out in 2018. We have another year of SdJ being current and “hot” and “new” and all that jazz, and I am going to step up my marketing/awareness-raising efforts and be as smart as possible about it and make the most of it. I’m also going to take a big cue from Stitch, whose words actually inspired a lot in me over breakfast this morning. Because there is Sin du Jour fandom out there, even if it ain’t the size of Harry Potter or The Dresden Files or anything. It’s just individualistic fandom, scattered like a thousand similar thoughts waiting to be galvanized into a philosophy. I am going to work on bringing y’all together, and in that there is power. I’m noodling some special events and perhaps some kind of forum for you. If you are a Sin du Jour reader who loves the books and would like to talk to others who do also and you have ideas about how you’d like to go about that, feel free to email me at matt AT matt-wallace.com about it.
In the meantime, you keep reading ’em and I’ll keep writing ’em. That’s what we do. That’s all we can do.
I really think you’re going to love Greedy Pigs. Sin du Jour keeps growing up, but I hope it stays funny and weird and wild enough to keep y’all entertained in addition to moving you just an inch or two.
I have to thank my editor, Lee Harris, as well as Irene Gallo and her whole team at Tor.com Publishing. I also want to thank my new copy editor on Sin du Jour, Richard Shealy, who did a bang-up job on Greedy Pigs. My fiancée, Nikki, is the best alpha reader and life partner one could ever hope to find. My agent, DongWon Song of Horward Morhaim Literary, is the only bullet you need in your gun (go #TeamDongWon).
Most of all, thank you for buying another ticket to take this ride with me. Those stubs are my favorite scrapbook items.
Matt Wallace (Los Angeles, CA 2017)
Obligatory pull quotes from critical praise for Greedy Pigs…
“Wallace’s imagination is boundless, and his wryly funny storytelling manages to be heartfelt and completely gonzo at the same time.” – Publishers Weekly
“Once again, Wallace mixes delicious drama and devilishly clever supernatural twists in another stellar Sin du Jour novel.” – Bridget Keown, RT Book Reviews
“Matt Wallace’s Sin du Jour novella series is the best thing to happen to urban fantasy since Anita Blake lusted after her first vampire.” – Joel Cunningham, Barnes & Noble Sci-fi & Fantasy Blog
“…when Wallace delivers, he hits you right in the gut. It’s that gut punch, blended expertly with unmatched wit and creativity that makes Greedy Pigs so damned good.” – Joe Sherry, Nerds of a Feather
“While I may not be sure if I want to live in the weird world of the Sin du Jour series, Greedy Pigs makes it crystal clear that maybe, just maybe, we’re already there. And that’s what makes Greedy Pigs such a fantastic read.” – Stitch’s Media Mix