Jilly: Good Book Squee – Sweep In Peace (Ilona Andrews)

Sweep In PeaceYesterday, Michaeline explained her willingness to shell out $15 for a digital ARC of a book that she fully intends to buy again, in hardback, when it’s officially published. Today I’d like to share my excitement that Sweep In Peace, a book I’ve already read for free, is available to pre-order.

I hoover up everything Ilona Andrews writes, even her blog posts. She and her husband, Gordon, have a knack of creating worlds and characters that make me deeply happy. I get a lasting positive buzz from all their books – the mixture of humor, humanity, imagination, good writing and excellent craft fills me with joy – but I have an extra soft spot for the Innkeeper series (Clean Sweep and Sweep In Peace) because of the way I first read them.

The Innkeeper books are a self-published side project, written while working on two best-selling traditionally published urban fantasy series, the Kate Daniels books (eight so far, published by Ace) and the new Hidden Legacy series (published by Avon, one so far, next one on the way). The stories were posted free on the authors’ website, one scene per week, as they were written. Sweep In Peace started in January 2014 and finished in summer 2015. The complete draft was then left up online for three months before being taken down for editing and publication. Apparently the plan is to start the third book in January 2016.

I know serials have been around since Dickens, but he did it as his day job 😉 . I assume Ilona and Gordon Andrews are not doing it for the money – I read that they had the option to sell the series to a traditional publisher but decided not to. They’re way past the stage in their career where they need to give their stories away to achieve discoverability. So what are the benefits? My guesses are: a creative project to explore for their own satisfaction, free of any external restrictions; a way to experiment with the publishing process and what works for them in particular – titles, covers, pricing, anything and everything; and most importantly of all, the best possible way for them to stay connected to their large and growing fan base during the long periods between book releases.

I remember Courtney Milan said at a presentation at a past RWA conference that one key to successful self-publishing was to have an event (an offer, or a new book, or a free one, or a bundle), every three months. The free serial model means the authors have a reader event every week, in addition to whatever their publishers are doing with their traditionally published titles. The weekly comments are fascinating and educational, and judging by my own experience, sharing the story as it develops leaves me with a deeper and more lasting connection to the book than reading the whole story at once would have done. Even more interestingly, I read that offering the book for free in serial form does not appear to have hurt sales of the paid version once it’s finished and edited.

Check out the beautiful cover for Sweep In Peace above. Click here to go direct to the Ilona Andrews website, or if you prefer, here’s the official blurb for the book:

Dina DeMille doesn’t run your typical Bed and Breakfast.  Her inn is a living entity that defies laws of physics, her fluffy dog is secretly a monster, and the only paying guest is a former Galactic tyrant with a price on her head.  But the inn needs guests to thrive, and guests have been scarce, so when an Arbitrator shows up at Dina’s door and asks her to host a peace summit between three warring species, she jumps on the chance.

Unfortunately, for Dina, keeping the peace between Space Vampires, the Hope-Crushing Horde, and the devious Merchants of Baha-char is much easier said than done. On top of keeping her guests from murdering each other, she must find a chef, remodel the inn… and risk everything, even her life, to save the man she might fall in love with. But then it’s all in the day’s work for an Innkeeper…

I’ll review Sweep In Peace when I’ve read the final, edited version, but if you like the sound of the blurb, don’t wait, go for it!

Right now I have enough trouble writing one book at a time, let alone writing a series in public as a side project, but I’d love to try it one day.

What do you think? If you’re a writer, would you give it a go? And do any of your favorite authors offer special story treats?

8 thoughts on “Jilly: Good Book Squee – Sweep In Peace (Ilona Andrews)

  1. That sounds so fantastic! In at least a couple of senses of the word, LOL. When my reading pile goes down a tiny bit . . . it’ll be a good time to order the book!

    I’ve toyed with the idea of doing a serial. My hope would be that the interaction with readers would be inspiring, and also create a sense of obligation to get a chapter a week written. But my fear is that . . . well, I have several. I would be afraid of getting stuck. I’m not very good at plotting, so writing a string-of-pearls with no real escalation would be a worry, too. Also, I’ve heard that traditional publishers don’t like it very much, getting basically second rights. But that may be very old news–traditional publishers have picked up successful ePubs, as well as bloggers of all sorts. Having a good track record has got to be attractive to the traditional publishers.

    Having a bad track record, though . . . .

    Well, still on the see-saw about the serial idea. I may have to check in when they start up a new serial . . . .

    • I’d love to know how much plotting/outlining they do before they start. I only have a very top-level overview for my current WIP, but if I tried writing a serial in public I think I’d want the security blanket of a detailed plan. Or maybe we could take some baby steps and try writing a short story over (say) four or five weeks 😉

      I’ll give you a nudge when the new serial starts. I can’t wait to see what Dina does next.

      • (-: Please nudge me when the new serial starts (as long as it doesn’t start this month, in November!).

        I wonder what Dickens did. A lot of his most famous books started as serials, I believe. It’d be interesting to read the original serial, and see what editing took place between that and the book. (When I have about two years to spare on an informal Masters program, LOL.)

  2. Just ordered Clean Sweep- the first one, yes? I have a feeling this might be a great book for my daughter and I to share. I love it when we can both read and enjoy something, but I can also throw in discussion of plot structure, character development, etc. My husband calls this “Tricksy Mama Teaching.” 😉

    Thanks for our next learning experience!

  3. I’m not into paranormal and alternate species stuff, but I would read a series like that in a genre that I do like. I don’t think I could write that way. My writing needs way to much editing and I tend to skip around (write scene 1,2, 8, 25, 4, etc). Harlequin used to tease books that way. They still might, but I don’t go to that website often.

    • I might (very occasionally) skip a scene, leave a marker and go back to it later, but I can’t imagine writing out of sequence the way you describe, Michille. I don’t think I could do it. Do you write to a detailed outline, or do you have certain key scenes in your mind, write those first and then fill in the details?

  4. Pingback: Jilly: Digging Deeper – Eight Ladies Writing

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