Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Finished Books Arrive; An Author’s Prayer

The first finished copy of The Magician King arrived today.

(It is impossible for me to experience this without thinking of the last scene in Back to the Future, where Marty McFly’s dad gets his finished copies of A Match Made in Space.)

The book looks like this:

It’s hard for me to believe it, but it’s about to start making its way out into the world in that weird, furtive way that books do. Bookstores will accidentally sell it early, and copies will show up on eBay, and leak out from the warehouse and such. Then it’s officially on sale August 9.

(And of course some people have been reading ARCs and galleys. If you’ve done this, remember the galley is not a finished draft. I know I say that too often. But that draft really is pretty rough compared to the real thing. The real thing is smooth, man. Or smoother anyway.)

And then feedback will start making its way back to me. Trade reviews, Amazon reviews, GoodReads ratings, sales data, over-the-transom e-mails. It’s already starting.

You can get obsessed with that no prescription zithromax stuff. After all nobody gets all-good reviews. Not Neil Gaiman. Not Virginia Woolf. Nobody. If you look hard enough, you can always find somebody calling you a talentless hack on the Internet. The Magicians is a polarizing book. It takes chances. It pisses some people off. That’s a choice I made when I wrote it. And The Magician King takes even more chances.

It’s important to study the feedback, and learn from it, but that stuff must be handled with care. It can chew away at your inner Yggdrasil, like some kind of dark psychic Níðhöggr. This is not healthy for an author, particularly one with well-documented mood disorders.

When this starts to happen, I silently recite an author’s prayer. It goes something like this:

The opinion of that one guy on the Internet, who spells his name in l33tspeak, does not determine the worth of your book.

OK, even those six guys — they don’t determine its worth either. You don’t even know who they are. They could be idiots. You could be glad they don’t like your book. Maybe you would have been pissed if they did like it.

They probably didn’t like Mrs. Dalloway either. They probably gave it one star too. And that book rocked.

So it shows to go ya.

And furthermore, you are not your book. It does not determine your personal worth. It is a part of your life, that you love and put your soul and a lot of other bits of you into, but come on. A bad review on the Internet. That’s not a problem. You could be sick, or homeless, or heartbroken. Those are problems.

So get a grip. Shut down your computer — go on, I’ll wait. Now go pick up your baby. Look at her! She thinks you’re awesome. She’s giving you, like, a five-star rating on Babyzon.

Whose opinion are you going to go with? Your perfect baby’s? Or m0th3rtruck3r69’s?

That’s what I thought.

32 comments on “Finished Books Arrive; An Author’s Prayer

  1. I can’t wait to read this book. My fiancée and I actually bought our second copy of The Magicians today (this time in hardcover).

    I might be more excited for this than I was for Harry Potter releases.

  2. milieu says:

    Now I really want to log on to Babyzon and see what they thought of “Go the F* to Sleep”.

  3. Jaimie says:

    The Magicians did piss people off. Dude, why is that? I recommend it to friends and hear back the weirdest stuff. I don’t understand, but I’ve come to accept it.

    AHHHHH. I cannot wait to read this book.

  4. Geri Byers says:

    Very excited for the arrival of The Magician King. I’ll start my re-read of The Magicians tonight–have been meaning to re-read it for some time.

  5. goblinbox says:

    I love your new book, and I haven’t even read it yet. That one guy on the internet that hates your writing? Is a jerk.

  6. Babyzon. Good one. The ratings on Teenagerzon get a little nerve-wracking …
    (Apparently you always say … whatever it is they don’t want to hear … and then you do EXACTLY the thing you told them was bad. You hypocrite! Ugh They hate you. Lowest.Rating.Ever.)

  7. Martin says:

    I can only imagine how thrilling it must be to finally have that finished product, with it’s new book feel and smell, in your very own hands!

    I hope to know first hand one day, but until then, I’ll enjoy experiencing it vicariously via your wonderful blog.

    Can’t wait to read The Magician King!

    P.S. milieu’s comment (Now I really want to log on to Babyzon and see what they thought of “Go the F* to Sleep”.) had me laughing out loud! Love it.

  8. M says:

    oh so exciting
    to make up for my poor..comment making skills i’ll try to make a good and OR coherent comment today.

    can’t wait to read it. i always display my books at home w/out the plastic cover on the outside. i like to pretend that i live in the rococo era..

    when i was in school, i never read the comments profs/teachers wrote on essays because i have a great fear of rejection / bad feedback

    but now i enjoy reading it all! sometimes they really do have a point, and when they don’t have a point just remember that you have a book out and they don’t…

    congrats again

  9. M3lani3 says:

    See what I did there?

    I’m very excited, Lev, for you and me both. I reread The Magicians alrady, in preparation for August’s release of The Magician King, and I think I’m going to have to re-re-read it again! Squee!

  10. Rita says:

    Oh, I loved this!

    I’m sure I will love The Magician King, too, because you are just such a damn good writer and I’ve loved everything I’ve read by you. Your blog is awesome, for heaven’s sake. I can’t wait to read it to say that for fact.

    I am so totally jealous of that McFly dad box-of-books arrival experience. I hope to have it myself one day… and then fret over reviews.

    And I’m sure Babyzon hated Go the F* to Sleep. What self-respecting baby wouldn’t? And why would they want to sleep anyway, when The Magician King is coming out?

  11. Christina says:

    My copy of The Magicians is already ragged with creases in the binding from reading and re-reading that book endlessly. Heck, I’ve been waiting for its sequel since the moment I read the mere first chapters of The Magicians! Congratulations to you for its completion, so many of us can’t wait for August! Ignore the haters! My old, infinitely wise high school history teacher once said that if you have no enemies, you never took a stand for anything. People don’t like your book(s)? Great! Just means you gave them something to think about and they obviously didn’t like the stretch it caused their brain.

  12. Björn Uusitalo says:

    You’ve probably already heard this but it bears repeating.

    Maybe everyone does not love your book, bu let me promise you, us real fantasy fans who has already seen all cliches appreciates a book that dare to touch unusual themes, dares to be different.

    Be brave and listen to those who loves your book rather then the other people.

  13. K.M. Walton says:

    Can not wait till August 9th. Never let the naysayers penetrate your soul. Ever.

  14. najaaslatep says:

    Congrats! I am excited to see how the characters change and grow (and how they don’t!) now that they are in positions of responsibility over others!

  15. Narameh says:

    Wh00t, I’m so excited! I’m saving the buy-yourself-a-nice-book-voucher I got last christmas for this one (I’m a student, and thus allowed to be thrifty :P). Any idea when the small paperback version will be released to europe/the Netherlands? (No, this is not thriftyness, but rheumatic joints. Holding big hardcover books for hours hurts the crap out of my hands). Will there be another audiobook?

  16. David Olsen says:

    Yeah, I hear ya. A few years ago I got a taste of what the internet thought about me (they said, don’t read the message boards, but come on! Who can resist the knowledge of what completely anonymous strangers think of you?). Personally, the equation was about one bad comment had the same weight of ten good comments.

    At least monkeychug had the ability to make me laugh while he threw insults at me. May any criticism you read also make you smile.

  17. Leigh Ann says:

    You are NOT your book, it’s true. I have to tell you, I might have come for the book, but at this point, I enjoy knowing you just because you’re a cool person. you’re quirky and geeky and a lot like a lot of great fans I know. Even if I *hated* the new book, I’d enjoy your virtual presence and other writings. That said, I do love the new book, though I think it’s a hard read in some ways, and will be at least as polarizing as The Magicians was. To me, that’s the *point* — the difference between fantasy for children and fantasy for adults. It’s a gorgeous, messy, scary, complicated and often very funny thing, just like actual fucking adult life.

  18. Abhi says:

    All I can say is that I hope the praise of your fans helps soothe the sting of the critics.

    I very rarely pick up a book without first looking it up to see if I should spend the money. For some reason when I first picked up “The Magicians” it just dragged me in. I am super excited to see the next one (wish I could get my hands on it right now :)).

    Anyways I hope you keep writing and that “The Magician King” is as awesome as the first book.

  19. Jake says:

    Looks good!

    By the way, you can add to your author’s prayer that it is highly unlikely you’ll ever make this list of the Harshest Author on Author Insults in History:


  20. andy says:

    Now that the book is ready you can update your “about me” section. Or not. Your website, your book, your call.

  21. Sue says:

    Loved “The Magicians” and I am looking forward to the new book. Curious though, why it seems it will not be offered in kindle or other e-format. This is a major disappointment for me if it`s true.

  22. Leverus says:

    @andy I could. If I could remember how to edit that damned text. Can’t figure out where it fits in WordPress

    @Sue it’ll definitely be out for Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Magician-King-Novel-ebook/dp/B004XFZ8X2

  23. dennitzio says:

    Well said. Let’s hear it for babies.

  24. Anastasia says:

    The Magicians ruined fantasy literature for me, because I just didn’t like anything else as much. In comparison, everything else feels either childish or archaic. As a result, I can’t wait for The Magician King – I can like books again!

    I was surprised that some people don’t like The Magicians, I think it’s because these people enjoy fantasy being fantastical and don’t value the incredible realism The Magicians has. If you’re hoping it will be a dose of magic which lets you escape from the real world, it’s probably a shock. Even if The Magicians isn’t to their taste, no one can reasonably call it a bad book, since it is so spectacularly well-written.

    I was sad to see that in the UK the release seems to be September. Do you know when the audiobook will be released on US Audible.com? I’m hoping it’ll be August 9th on the US site, so I can listen to it before getting my hands on a hardback.

  25. kali says:

    I just finished the arc, literally mere moments ago. As good if not better than The Magicians, please tell me you are considering a sequel. please.

  26. Kailyn says:

    Ditto on Anastasia’s comment. Hopefully “everything ends” on June 15th, and people can wake up to a finally humanistic portrayal of everyone’s favorite escapist fantasy.
    I love, love, love the Magicians. I’m not sure I’ve ever been this excited for a book before.

  27. Kailyn says:

    Ha– July 15th.

  28. Sharon says:

    You are absolutely amazing. I am so in love with The Magicians. Ive read the book three times now and I am SO HAPPY you’re writing a sequel. The Magicians is the most realistic fiction book that readers can actually relate too. I can’t imagine why anyone would hate it.

  29. Jon says:

    So, I’m obsessed with The Magicians and can’t wait for you next installment!!! is there ANY WAY POSSIBLE to get an early read of it??? You’d seriously make the day of a broke college student!!!

  30. jeujeu says:

    So glad to hear it… but August 9th?
    Bad luck for Jews, Grossman.

  31. I stumbled across “The Magicians” earlier this year and immediately had a book i felt compelled to recommend to everyone. I picked up an ARC of “The Magician King” at BEA (sadly I missed your signing) and saved reading it until last week during my vacation. I was captivated, enthralled, enchanted. It is a beautiful story eloquently told. No spoilers here, just prepared to be surprised at every turn. It is one of a handful of books that allows us entry and then immerses us into a world beyond our experience. And the ending….mmmmmm. Along with Erin Morgenstern’s haunting “The Night Circus” it is my favorite book of the year. If your book tour brings you to the Pacific NW I would be honored (and giddy) to host a reading and signing at our library. Thank you for a wonderful and challenging reading experience.

  32. wedding magician…

    […]Finished Books Arrive; An Author’s Prayer « Lev Grossman[…]…

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