Mod R has compiled a very long list of questions you had about Maggie and self-publishing, so here are some answers.
What are your reasons for going the traditional publishing route as I understood you were done with it? Self publishing allowing you more freedom over your writing schedule?
We need to get back in stores. Not having a print run through a traditional publisher hamstrings you in surprising ways.
Right now we are preparing for the Coastal Magic Con – more on the meet and greet later – and their book seller will not order our self-pub books. We can have them shipped to the con, and they will sell them for us on commission, but we won’t have Wilmington Files or Innkeeper on sale for you unless we mail them to the hotel and then ship whatever is left back home.
We don’t have catalog exposure. Large physical retailers are not carrying our titles. Getting into the libraries is harder. Getting on the reviewers’ radar is harder. A lot of promotion is happening online, in the visual media, like on Instagram, for example, and people want a printed book for the videos.
The plan was never exclusively self-publishing. We always wanted to stay hybrid. We just didn’t have anything to go hybrid with. Maggie wasn’t planned. It just happened and now we need to do something with it.
I’m curious how you decide which ones to publish traditionally, and which ones to publish indie.
When it came to traditional publishing, money used to be the primary consideration. It still is, don’t get me wrong. But now discoverability has also become a large factor. There are more fantasy books out there in our genre than ever before. To stay relevant, we need to not only take care of our existing readers, but also entice new ones.
It makes sense then, that a brand new series should be first shopped to trad, while the sequels are better self-published.
A new world presents no barrier of entry. It doesn’t have 14 prequels, so a new reader can just jump in. A spin-off or a sequel, meanwhile, already has a built-in readership. We spent years cultivating that audience. We don’t have to advertise as much, so we can simply self-pub a sequel and the book stores and newsletters will do the rest.
Which is not to say that we won’t pivot. We need a print partner for Iron and Magic duology. It fits right into the current romantasy trend: it has enemies to lovers, action, and it’s spicy. It is begging to be rebranded, and since the sequel should be written this year (don’t hold us to it,) it would be good to partner up with someone who knows what to do with it.
But we may as well self-publish it and keep all the moneys.
I’m excited for Hugh. At some point, Maggie says about a villainous character, “Solentine, you beautiful bastard.” That’s how I feel about Hugh. We’ve got to get back to the castle.
Is Maggie subverting tropes on purpose?
Yes. If you read heroic fantasy or portal/isekai fantasy, you will see a lot of tropes twisted on its head. Some of it is tongue in cheek. There is a secret prince, and a demonic knight, and an odd wizard, except they are not what you would expect.
Some of it is just common sense. One of the interesting things about Maggie is the minutia of the world. How many times have you seen adventurers arrive to the city, go to tavern, get a room, and not once does anyone ask them for identification papers?
His voice was quiet, almost intimate.
“Do you have any papers to show me, Maggie?”
“Then we must remedy that. The sooner the better because no one in the kingdom can escape the Seventh Chamber.”
He said that Seventh Chamber in a way most people would say the Spanish Inquisition when they were not being funny about it. Rellas had seven chambers of government. Justice Chamber oversaw the criminal justice system, War Chamber dealt with the military, and so on. The “Seventh Chamber” was the common people’s code for the Treasury. It collected taxes. No force in Rellas was more feared.
“At the end of the summer, after REDACTED fails to report his yields, the Treasury will come knocking,” Reynald said. “We have four months to procure an identity for you and explain where you have gotten your money.”
I blinked at him.
“I leave you to contemplate how we can accomplish that,” he said. “I’m sure you will come up with something.”
Medieval IRS. Let me show you it.
I need to get the personal tax paperwork into my accountant’s portal. Ugh.
Is Maggie grimdark?
Grimdark is a subgenre of speculative fiction with a tone, style, or setting that is particularly dystopian, amoral, and violent.Wikipedia
No. Maggie is not grimdark. Grimdark tends to be depressing. Maggie has moments of shocking violence, but it is not dystopian in any way. It is kind of uplifting despite all its grimness. It is also funny.
In the beginning of the story you see Maggie at her most physically desperate. However, she climbs out of that hole and then it’s off to the intrigue and complicated shenanigans. If you read us before, the violence and grimness shouldn’t be off the charts.
Is there romance?
Yes. The novel is filled with hot characters. That is part of the portal fantasy tropes. You know what they say: the main lead belongs to the heroine; the second lead belongs to everyone. Hehehe.
If a publisher buys it, when can we have it?
No idea. I would guess 2025.
What if nobody buys it?
Then it will be either a fall or winter 2024 release.
Was the Rise of Kair Toren inspired by *insert name here* author who didn’t deliver a sequel we waited for?
No. Maggie is inspired by fandoms in general. It has moments of showing how fandoms obsess over random things and explores what happens when a series is unfinished and how it makes the readers feel.
How long is Maggie?
130K. It maybe be longer than Bayou Moon. It’s hard to say, because we don’t have the word version of Bayou Moon in our files anymore. It’s Magic Bites and Magic Tides put together.
Have you thought of doing a Kickstarter like Brandon Sanderson?
Brandon Sanderson has an entire staff in place to handle printing of the books, storing them, shipping them out, etc. We could, theoretically, duplicate that, and we do have a merch store now, but we would need to sit down and figure out what would be the cost of getting this to happen. At that point, it might just be easier to self-pub.
Is there an official synopsis/ pitch and is “Maggie the Undying” now the final title?
That’s up to our agent. We don’t mess with that unless we are specifically asked for our input. Jeaniene Frost has been calling it “Outlander meets Game of Thrones,”, because that quickly explains that it’s about an outsider dropped in the middle of a complicated battle for the throne.
Well, I think that’s everything. If there is something I missed, we’ll save it until next time.