HarperCollins Australia

Going Clubbing

One of the nicest things about having your book get published is all the interest and encouragement that your friends give you. People will go out of their way to tell you how much they enjoyed it (presumably those who hate it manage to keep it to themselves, much like the way friends won’t tell you that your baby is actually quite ugly, or that your voice grates upon their ears like someone is slaughtering a giraffe.) Friends will send you reviews from the other side of the world, or let you know that they have foisted a copy on someone else, and that the someone else has said they’ve enjoyed it. It’s really encouraging.

In the past few weeks, however, I’ve had the pleasure of a completely new form of support. Various friends have put The Rook forward for their book clubs to read and then invited me to come and talk about it. I’ve taken this as license to come and talk about myself, and eat whatever cake is available.

It’s actually very cool, whilst simultaneously terrifying. So far, the book clubs that I’ve been invited to have consisted of sophisticated and elegant older ladies (older than me, anyway). These ladies have all, withouth fail, been extremely kind. However, it has been clear that supernatural thrillers set in the public service are not their usual selection for bookclub. A phrase that I’ve heard frequently is ‘Normally, I would never read this kind of book…’, which is the kind of phrase that can either introduce lavish praise, or withering condemnation.

Of course, they were all too polite to unleash really withering condemnation, but it’s evident that for a few readers, The Rook was agony. Others, however, were bewildered to discover themselves enjoying it, which is very cool. In one of the clubs, they went around the room, and said if they liked it, or not, and why, or why not.

While I sat there, eating cake.

The process led to some very interesting and unexpected questions, but having someone flatly state that they couldn’t get into your book, and couldn’t get through more than a couple of chapters is always a little bit crushing. I expect it’s like being on one of those reality shows where you stand up in front of judges, and they candidly discuss your strengths and flaws while you smile weakly, and can’t throw your cake at them.

Anyway, we talked about the book, and where I got my ideas from, and the process whereby a book in my head becomes a book on your shelf. One thing that everybody was quite interested in was how the money works, so I thought I’d explain it to those blog-readers who aren’t familiar with the process.

So, I wrote the book. And then, after a few adventures, I got an agent (the incomparable Mollie Glick of The Foundry Literary + Media). And, after a substantial amount of work, Mollie decided that it was time to put it out on the market, and see if some extremely clever publisher with excellent taste would like to purchase it. Fortunately for me, one did. Little, Brown & Co (yesssss!) purchased the English rights to The Rook. This means that they have the exclusive right to print it in the English language throughout the world.

Now, a few people have asked after the royalty cheques that I get. This is the thing that people know about authors – they get royalty cheques. For every book that’s sold, the authors gets a bit of the money. True, enough. But, the book can take a while to sell, and so sometimes an author will receive an advance against those royalties. It’s some money that I get right at the very beginning, to keep me in comic books and bowler hats. Before I get any more monies, enough copies of the book have to sell and enough author-royalties have to build up to pay off the advance. Until then, I get no royalty cheques (I’m not complaining, let me hasten to assure you. This system works just fine for me.)

“But hold on,” I can hear my Australian readers say. “I purchased a copy of The Rook here in lovely scenic Australia, and it’s got HarperCollins on the spine. There’s no mention of Little, Brown & Co. What the hell are you trying to pull here? I should come around to your house, and steal your doormat.” And they make a good point.

Now, Little, Brown & Co. holds the worldwide rights for English. But, it may be that they don’t wish to publish it here in Australia, for whatever reason. They can then choose to distribute the book, or to partner with an Australian publisher to publish the title there. By doing this, they not only get an advance (which would go in part towards paying out my advance with Little, Brown), but they also give the book a chance to be ‘published.’ By which I mean that the book is not merely carried by the shops, but that an Australian publisher can use its local know-how and contacts to market and publicise the book, which gives it more visibility, which hopefully will lead to more sales.

So, Little, Brown & Co. sold the Australian English rights for The Rook to HarperCollins Australia, giving them the right to publish it here. Any advance, and the subsequent royalties from Australian sales, goes towards paying off my advance from Little, Brown & Co, bringing me closer to the point where I will see future little royalty cheques. Meanwhile, Head of Zeus in England has acquired the rights for that country. I don’t see that money in my sweaty little palm, but it’s doing me good. Like vitamins. Or democracy.

And, of course, there are all those other great languages out there in the world, each of which can be acquired by different publishers. For that, there is the glorious Stéphanie Abou, my foreign rights agent at the Foundry, who oversees foreign language sales. So far  (and I am very excited about all of these), the following publishers have brought The Rook into their family:

Leya in Brazil

Beijing Pengfeiyili Book Co. in China

Baronet in the Czech Republic

Super 8 in France

Piemme in Italy

Azoth Books in Taiwan

and April Publishing in Turkey

With attendant advances, and future royalties (he says hopefully.)

And that’s how the money works. Pretty much. Of course, there’s also taxes and agent commission, both of which are entirely worth it, the former because your taxes (and mine) pay my day job salary (and buy us all some civilisation), and the latter because without the agent, The Rook would still be sitting on my hard drive, and not in your hands.


In other news, a friend of mine surprised me with a formal heraldic description of the crest from The Rook cover:

Arms of The Rook

Lozenge rond en soleil gris, quarterly sable and argent; first pot du thé argent, second tower sable, third cephalopod sable with six arms guardant, fourth lapin argent sejant; supported by lions gris rampant and surmounted by Spanish crown argent.

I rather like idea of being a cephalopod sable.


And in even more other news, there’s some new reviews of The Rook floating out there. But so that you don’t have to trawl through the internet, I have the links for them right here.


Talk Supe gives it four cauldrons (it’s not clear out of how many, but the official verdict is ‘loved it’, so I am going to assume that it is out of three cauldrons.) http://www.talkingsupe.com/2012/05/rook.html


Hit the Road Jacq gives it a short, sharp, whip-crack of a review. Very bracing. http://www.hittheroadjacq.com/Review.php?Title=The+Rook&Author=Daniel+O%27Malley&Publisher=Harper+Collins+Publishers+Australia&ID=399


The Goatfairy Review Blog gives The Rook 10 out of 10 cheesewands, an accolade that I have added to my professional curriculum vitae, and the draft epitaph for my tombstone. http://goatfairyreviews.tumblr.com/post/21444489723/the-rook-by-daniel-omalley


Crimespree Blog dissects the book at http://crimespreemag.com/blog/2012/04/the-rook-by-daniel-omalley.html


I talk about my dog, the peerless Sally O’Malley, at ‘Coffee with a Canine’. She looks much better in the photos than I do. http://coffeecanine.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/dan-omalley-sally.html


Buried under Books gives a charming review at http://www.cncbooks.com/blog/2012/05/09/book-review-the-rook-by-daniel-omalley/


And finally, a fun story with a happy (if somewhat belated) ending. Periodically, I will get a note from someone at one of my current publishers (Little, Brown & Co. or HarperCollins Australia) letting me know that something cool has happened. And this time, it was extremely cool. At Shelf Awareness, which publishes two newsletters (one for general readers and one for booksellers), there was an interview with Charlaine Harris, creator of the terrifically entertaining Southern Vampire Mysteries (now captured on deathless celluloid/silicon as the True Blood TV show). You can read the interview at http://www.shelf-awareness.com/issue.html?issue=1732 , and in it, Ms Harris describes herself as an evangelist for The Rook by (ahem) Daniel O’Malley!

Naturally, I was overcome with excitement. However, in the back of my skull, I couldn’t help but think “You know, ‘evangelist’ implies you’re singing its praises, and maybe wearing a robe, with a choir in the background.” So, I googled ‘Charlaine Harris Daniel O’Malley’, and I was led to this blog entry from waaaaaay back in February: http://www.charlaineharris.com/bb/bb230.html . Read it, and you will find that Ms. Harris wrote really nice, encouraging things about the book, and I never even knew.

This is like founding out that several months ago you were crowned the King of Switzerland, but that no one bothered to tell you.

Going Clubbing Read More »

In which I calmly prepare for a TV interview

You read before you the words of a man who is beginning to feel the first nauseating twist of panic in his stomach. Tomorrow there is a television crew coming to my house. And it is not one of those shows where they clean up your house, and do some redecorating, and maybe give you a free TV. No, this is the local branch of the ABC (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation), who wishes to do a little segment on me and The Rook. I am simultaneously thrilled and nervous.

To begin with, I am a decidedly unglamorous writer. There is not an elegant chamber that I retire to, no artistically cluttered desk that I sit at. I generally write on the couch, with my feet on the coffee table. If I am feeling particularly self-indulgent, there may be a cup of coffee nearby. There may also be an action DVD playing on the TV. This is not the young artiste in his writing salon. This isn’t even the young artist in a garret. This is dude on the sofa, pausing in mid-sentence because it’s the part of Willow where Madmartigan does some sword stuff.

Meanwhile, the house is getting cleaned within an inch of its life. A biblical amount of vacuuming is taking place, and I am trying to figure out how one cleans the stuffed head of a wild boar. (I should add that my house is not filled with trophy heads, Trevor is the only one, and in Australia feral pigs are an alien species that wreaks havoc upon the delicate fabric of the et cetera.)

So, that’s what’s dominating my thought processes at the moment.

In other news, earlier this week, I did a Facebook chat thing for HarperCollins Australia’s ‘Summer of the Supernatural.’ A Facebook chat thing is a good time, but also kind of odd. You keep hitting ‘reload’ on the screen, and you’re never entirely certain if anyone is actually there. Then you’re relieved when someone writes a question, and you want to write a marvelous answer, but you’re also aware that for them, it’s just dead time. So, frantic typing ensues. But, I hope everyone had as good a time as I did.

The Facebook chat thing is available at http://www.facebook.com/summerofsupernatural , just scroll on back to the 13th of March.

Also, I just found a very interesting review of The Rook on Thirteen O’Clock. http://www.thirteenoclock.com.au/the-rook-by-daniel-omalley-review/

Okay, I must go scour some more.


In which I calmly prepare for a TV interview Read More »

Launching, and being a Guerrilla Marketeer

It’s a lazy summer Sunday, perfect for lounging around dreamily. And I have been lounging around, but I don’t get to do it dreamily because I am working away feverishly on a multitude of projects. And it’s been an extremely busy week, with lots of Rook-related occurrences occurring.

To begin with, on Wednesday the wonderful owners and staff of the Dymocks bookstore (http://www.dymocks.com.au/) in Civic (which is the city centre area of Canberra) were kind enough to host the Australian launch of The Rook.

Now, I had been quite anticipatory about this, because ever since I shyly announced to the world that I had a book which was going to be published, the immediate response of many of my friends and acquaintances was to say brightly, “Invite me to the launch!’ And I didn’t know anything about launches. I’d never attended one. I suspect that they hadn’t either, but they seemed to have quite set ideas about what such things involved. And I didn’t quite dare ask, for fear of looking ignorant.

Thankfully, the Dymocks staff are well acquainted with book launches, and they were able to take me firmly in hand, and make sure that the event involved everything it needed to. They supplied the food, and the drink, and the multitudinous copies of The Rook. All I had to do was show up, say a few things, and sign whatever was thrust in front of me.

I was petrified.

The nerves started building up a couple of hours before the launch. It was becoming increasingly clear that this was going to be an Occasion. My parents would be there. Various friends were going to be there. Members of the public were going to be there. My glorious editor from HarperCollins Australia was going to be flying up from Sydney to attend. And I had to speak.

Now, I’m not a shy person, as anyone who has met me will attest. But this was going to be different. This was a life event, like a christening, or a wedding, or a birth (although I don’t know how many speeches get made at those.) And I was fully prepared to believe that some malignant muse would possess me, and I’d spew forth a selection of epithets and obscenities before collapsing in a seizure onto the cheese platter. Such a development couldn’t possibly good for sales.

But, in the minutes beforehand, I found myself feeling a lot better. People I knew kept flowing in, and I got to chat with them, and embrace them, and blush a little when they pointed out the book that had been shelved in various different locations around the store. My glorious editor, Anna Valdinger, stood up, and with her delicious English accent made a really nice speech, and then I got up, and saw all these faces, and it was all people I knew, and loved. And a couple of complete strangers who’d wandered in, but they were smiling at me as well. And I gave my little speech of thanks, and answered a few questions, and torches and pitchforks weren’t produced.

And then I commenced the signing. Lots of signing. The whole thing is a blur of little tailored messages for people, and the alarming evolution of my signature (over the course of the evening I developed an entirely new way of writing the letter ‘M’ that I am very pleased with.) Now, since I am left-handed, of course my hand was smeared liberally with ink, and I agonized a little that various people’s precious keepsakes would be smeared, but I consoled myself with the fact that they would at least be authentically smeared by the author, and that would probably add some value to it.

Afterwards I went out for dinner with Anna the Glorious Editor, and Jodi who is my earthly representative from HarperCollins Australia, and it was great. I fell into bed that evening, replete with very good Indian food, and satisfaction.

And then the next evening I got to do it all again at Impact Comics (www.impactcomics.com.au/web) , which is the comic-book shop that I patronize, and to which I have been coming since I was twelve and it was Impact Records and was contained in a different location. So, when I wandered in, and saw that they were handing out laminated Checquy security passes (which can later be used a magnets!) I almost had a nervous breakdown of joy. I was interviewed by Ryan K Lindsay, Renaissance Man (http://www.stinkbrown.org/), and then did yet more signing. Great evening.

Meanwhile, other cool things have been happening. Most recently, if you skitter on over to the fine website of Suvudu (located in the classy neighbourhood of http://sf-fantasy.suvudu.com/2012/01/new-release-interview-the-rook-by-daniel-omalley.html ), you will find an interview with me, in which I talk about various things, including the gestation of a sequel to The Rook.

Also, there have been some very nice reviews released upon the world. Parade Magazine (which, for the non-Americans among you, is a Sunday magazine that is distributed in more than 500 newspapers, and is the most widely read magazine in the USA) put forward The Rook as one of its Parade Picks!

Laura de Leon’s blog I’m Booking It gave her top ten reasons for liking The Rook at http://blog.imbookingit.com/2012/01/24/the-rook/ .

At http://thebooksmugglers.com/2012/01/book-review-the-rook-by-daniel-omalley.html , The Book Smuggler says (among other things) that ‘if you’re looking for the antidote to the same old, lackluster, run-of-the-mill UF, look no further. The Rook is awesome. I can only hope for more Myfanwy in the future.’

And also my hometown newspaper, the Canberra Times, featured a review of The Rook by Colin Steele, a man of letters who, for decades now, has figured prominently in my personal pantheon of heroes. And he finished his review by saying “The Rook is certainly cool.’

And life was good.

But the adventures don’t stop there. Yesterday, I engaged in a bit of guerrilla marketing, thought up by the aforementioned Glorious Editor. For those of you who haven’t read The Rook, it’s characterized by a series of letters that explain the world of the book. Anna’s idea was to print out a copy of the first letter from the book, on official-looking letterhead, and then leave them in places where people would find them. They’re already opened, and addressed ‘To You’, and it was thought that finding such a letter might pique people’s interest, and lead them to the book.

Anna had given me a couple of them while she was down in Canberra to make her speech at the launch, and I cautiously took a couple along to CanCon, which is the local annual gaming convention. I thought I’d place the envelopes cunningly, with all the suave insouciance of a Checquy agent. I hoped that someone would pick it up and look around, bewildered. Maybe they’d catch a fleeting glimpse of me in a crowd, my eyebrow raised, and that, when they chased me down, like that, I’d be gone.

Of course, it turned out less immediately cool than that.

To begin with, the place was crawling with people. And there were remarkably few places that one could just leave an envelope. I didn’t at all like the idea of sandwiching it between some of the stacked boardgames at the stalls. These were other people’s places of business, after all, and I don’t want to interfere with their livelihoods.

Then there were many, many tables, but all of those were taken up by people playing board games, or else they were covered in those vast, compelling replica landscapes that people build for their miniature soldiers to do combat on. I’ve always found those things fascinating, but I walk even more carefully around them than I do around museum exhibits. My hands will not bring themselves out of their pockets if there is a reproduction battlefield nearby, for fear that I will knock over a fortification, or inadvertently smear a tiny Napolean, or impale myself on a spire. So that was out.

The laser tag arena didn’t strike me as the sort of place where people would stop what they were doing to pick up an envelope. And if they did, I thought it might get handed in to the guy running it.

In the end, I casually sat down on a handy bench, smiled casually at the young lady who was sitting at the other end with her child, and then casually pretended to read my book while casually sliding the envelope onto the bench, and then casually sauntering away.

I was totally braced for a helpful call of ‘excuse me! You’ve casually left your envelope behind!’ In which case, I was either going to return shamefacedly, or pretend innocence and confusion (“that envelope? Why, it’s not mine. What does it have inside?”), or else bolt away, which I like to think would have added a touch of mystery to the whole thing, but might also have resulted in security getting called in.

But, no helpful calls came, and the convention was not evacuated because of a mysterious open envelope. I wandered around for half an hour, buzzing a little from my awesome deployment of guerilla marketing techniques, and then I casually wandered by the bench, only to see that the envelope was still there, untouched. Rather deflated, my friends and I left, but I do hope that someone picked it up eventually, and that is wasn’t just a member of the cleaning staff who threw it automatically into the garbage.

Launching, and being a Guerrilla Marketeer Read More »

I thwarted the Fates.

This week, I made my very first ‘appearance as an author’! So, naturally, the Fates conspired to make the entire thing as difficult as was humanly possible.

Those Fates are Bitches.

The event was the VIP members evening at the Dymocks bookstore in Tuggeranong. (Dymocks, for my non-Australian readers, is an Australian bookchain (http://www.dymocks.com.au/) and I have a long history of spending vast amounts of time and money in their establishments. Tuggeranong, for my non-Canberran readers, is a quarter of Canberra – one of the valleys that the city flows through.) This was an evening they were holding for members of their Booklover loyalty program (of which I am, ahem, a Gold Member.) The local rep for HarperCollins Australia had asked, ages ago, if I would like to attend, and I was extremely enthusiastic.

Then things started happening, just to spite me.

To begin with, as you may recall from my previous blog entry, I was struck down by a disease. It was never professionally diagnosed, but given the constantly running nose, the sore throat, and the cough, I feel safe in asserting that it was, um, bubonic plague. So, come the day before the event, I was still in the throes of this blight, and I had to advise that I wouldn’t be able to attend. I was convinced that my appearance would not only discourage people from buying my book, but it would also discourage people from buying any books at all.

However, the next day dawned, and I felt, not exactly 100%, but certainly less pestilential. So, I called Jodi (the rep) and asked if they might still have me. And she allowed as how they might. I was still a shambling mound of vile, but I was determined that I would make it.

Whereupon, the Fates (those cunning wenches) idly lobbed another wrench my way.

For you see, Thursday was Thanksgiving. And while the O’Malleys may reside in Australia, they adhere firmly to the tradition of Turkey Day. I absolutely had to be home by 6:30, when the guests would be arriving. Which would only give me a limited time to be at the event (it began at 5:30). Still even a flying visit would be awesome. I made arrangements with a longsuffering friend to pick me up from work (if I was well enough to attend an author event then, according to the Laws of O’Malley, I was well enough to go to work, and infect my colleagues). He would shuttle me down to Tuggeranong, where I would press the flesh, foist some sample chapters on hapless Booklovers, shill The Rook, possibly pick up some discounted books, and then zip home in time to gorge on a hapless turkey.

The Fates looked upon my plans, and laughed hollowly.

To begin with, my friend did not materialize with his car. It transpired that someone had seen him park in a handicapped parking place (which he is totally allowed to do – he’s got a handicap, and the related card that lets him park where he wants). They had felt that he did not look sufficiently handicapped, and decided to register their disapproval by parking directly behind him, so as to prevent him from leaving. It took a fair amount of time for this avenging angel to appear, and then he felt the need to lecture my friend on his parking/inadequately obvious handicap before he would move the car. Meanwhile, I was bouncing up and down in a distant parking lot, watching the moments flow away.

Finally, finally my friend appeared, and we sped on down to Tuggeranong. Or at least, we would have done, had the Fates not had a word with the operators of every traffic light between my work and the Dymocks Tuggernanong. And then, just to spite me even more, they arranged for traffic to back up. I was tearing my hair and rending my garments by the time we got to the bookstore and elbowed aside the shoppers who were dithering about outside.

Well, it was great. My rep embraced me (probably exposed herself to the flu), and showed me around, and introduced me to the bookstore proprietress. There were a couple of other local authors there, including the supremely nice Tracey O’Hara, whom I’ve met before. So, we howdied and shook, and then I wandered about, shoving sample chapters at people, and importuning them to buy my book when it comes out next year. Which led to one of the more interesting interactions I’ve had in my professional career, which I shall recreate for you here.

(Dan approaches a young guy who is browsing in the Fantasy/Sci-Fi section)

Dan: Hi, can I interest you in a sample chapter from a book that’s coming out next year?

Guy: No thanks. The author is a friend of the family, so I’ve already read the first chapter.

(Dan is somewhat nonplussed, since he has no idea who this guy is.)

Dan, feebly: Oh! Right.

Guy: Yeah.

(Dan is rapidly realizing that, not only does he not know who this guy is, but this guy has no idea who he is.)

Dan: Well, that’s cool.

(Rep approaches.)

Rep: Hey Dan, things are going okay? People interested in your book?

Dan: Some are.

Guy: Oh, you’re Danny!

Dan: Yeah. (Brief pause. Then, revelation strikes.) Are you one of my mom’s students?

Guy: Yep.

Dan: Ah. Cool.

I have to confess, those few moments, after he claimed the author was a friend of the family, were some of the longest of my life. But, I got home in time for Thanksgiving!

And there was much gorging.

And thankfulness.

I thwarted the Fates. Read More »

Field Trippin’

One of the many nice things about working for the Government (aside, naturally, from one’s duty towards one’s country) is flextime. For the uninitiated, this means that every hour – every moment – that I work over a set time, can later be taken off. And, thanks to my rigorous work ethic, and the bus schedule, I tend to accumulate flextime at a fairly good clip. Sure, sometimes I’ll take a bit longer at lunchtime, but generally it goes into the flex bank, and there it stays. For you see, the O’Malleys, despite our incredible laziness, tend to regard days off with a certain amount of skepticism. Vacation does not feature largely in our schedules, and as for sick days… well, when it comes to sick days, unless you are actually bleeding from your pores, then sick days are spent at work, infecting coworkers. That way, when they stay home, you can look virtuous. Anyway, as a result, I have a vast store of flextime into which I hardly ever dip. There is, of course, a limit, and when you cross over it your superiors tend to eye you somewhat askance.

Thus, on Friday, I was able to take the day off, and catch the train down to Sydney Town, for to meet with the good people at HarperCollins Australia, who are publishing my book here.

Now, I was a little bit nervous about going there. I mean, HarperCollins is one of those iconic names that’s emblazoned in my brain. Half the books on my shelves bear their mark. And who knows what you do when you go to the publishers? What do they want of you? What happens? How will it be? When I visited Little, Brown & Co. in New York, I was accompanied by my agent, and I was astoundingly jetlagged, so I was quite mellow about the whole thing. This time, however, I was in full possession of my faculties, and thus, lacking in any excuses.

Well, it was great. To begin with, HC-Aus is located in downtown Sydney, and the office is beautiful. It’s got the sort of views that, if I had them, would prevent me from getting anything done, ever. There’s a reason that my day job is based in a pod, and I do my writing on the couch. I’m far too easily distracted. The place was very clean and very beautiful, and full of very nice people (who are also clean and beautiful). My particular very nice, clean and beautiful person, Anna Valdinger, came and scooped me up from the lobby and we were immediately chattering away enthusiastically. She showed me around the place, and introduced me to all sorts of people, many of whom had read the book, and all of whom were enthusiastic and cool.

And then, from there, a bunch of us (a literary street gang, if you will) meandered along to the local pub, pausing on the way to beat the living hell out of a rival literary street gang (poets from an Italian-owned publisher, we stomped them but good), and dined heartily on some extremely good schnitzel. Much good cheer, some very amusing talk about a variety of stuff, and a very nice time all up. Some of our party had to peel off and head back to work (I should have asked about flextime), and eventually it was Anna and I lounging about, talking books and stuff. We ambled back to the office, and then she escorted me through the office’s compactuses (compacti?), and let me engage in a little light pillaging. I snaffled a couple of very lovely, lovely books, and am, in fact, at the moment snout-first in Divergent by Veronica Roth, which I am enjoying a great deal. And she ALSO gave me a pre-release proof of the Australian version of the book, which is extremely good-looking.

So, there you go. That’s what happens when you go to meet the publishers.

Field Trippin’ Read More »

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