Heads up, he’s back!

I suppose the best thing about blogging is that it’s something you can do at your own pace, and the resulting blog entries are indicative of the amount of time you have to dedicate to the exercise…

It has been a long time since I have shown my face and/or my thoughts in this forum, and I’ve been uncomfortably aware of that, from time to time. But it has only been in the past few days that I have been able to spend any time dwelling on the fact of my truancy, and last night a letter from Webmaster Mark reminded me that I have been sorely out of touch… Mark advised me that he has read in the forum that there are advance copies of the new book “out there” in the markeplace and that I’ve reportedly been out there signing them. Well, that’s almost true, although I myself did not realize until I was informed yesterday that my new US publisher, Putnam, has indeed released a number of ARCs (Advance Reading Copies). My response to that letter formed the basis of this new blog entry, designed to bring everyone up to date and to explain what has been happening to me recently, so here’s the gist of what I wrote on that, and other topics, to Mark last night after receiving his cry for help and input:

“Advance promotional copies–uncorrected and incompletely edited proofs–of the new book are indeed available in the ‘States, but I only found out about that today from the Canadian Penguin Rep, here in Kelowna, at the BC Booksellers’ Trade Fair. But I am not "out signing them." I pre-signed several hundred "tip sheets" some months ago for Putnam US. These are blank pages, autographed personally, that are "tipped in" by the printers when they assemble the books, so that the product comes off the press already "autographed". That’s a new one on me, something I’ve never encountered before, but the publishers asked me to do it for a special promotional printing to be sent out to what they call their "privileged client list" . . . independent booksellers and smaller chain stores all over the country, and because I recognize a good idea when I see it, I passed the idea to Penguin Canada, who had me do the same thing here. It beats shipping and handling cases of finished books for signing. Now I’m finding out, through my Canadian sources, that the initial response to the book, from US booksellers, has been so strong that Putnam has upped the initial print run substantially, which, lacking the details as I do, was a very pleasant surprise for me. I can’t claim any personal credit for that, for my recent track record of sales through my former American publisher, Forge/Tor, has been dismal, which is why, I guess, they are my former publisher.

The spur behind the enthusiastic orders has, of course, been the enormous success of The Da Vinci Code, which has led to an unprecedented public interest in all and anything having to do with the Knights Templar. I’m growing inured to the suggestions that I am “jumping on to the Da Vinci bandwagon.” The knowledge that I have been working on this trilogy for a number of years now, while completing my Arthurian books, makes it easier to ignore the connotations of that assumption.

And on the topic of the Arthurian cycle, I’ve recently been informed that Forge/Tor will be releasing the US hardcover of The Eagle in January, 2007, having been in possession of it since early in 2005… I am proof reading the galleys at this time. The paperback mass market version will appear in Canada this August, released by Penguin Books simultaneously with the Canadian hardcover of the first Templar novel, Knights of the Black and White. And for the first time in my publishing history, you American readers will be able to lay hold of the Putnam, US, version at the same time as your Canadian counterparts, on August 8th.

I also received word recently that the book has been selected as a monthly pick by Bookspan, which is, I discovered, (since we don’t have Bookspan in Canada,) the coalition of two former greats in the book club world: Book of the Month Club and The Literary Guild. Anyway, the Putnam people seem to be high on the book . . . and the Viking Canada people certainly are. But the publication date is now firmly scheduled for August 8th and I have not been traveling to promote the book to this point, other than to two Booksellers’ Trade Fairs here in Canada, one of them held here in my home town (the BC Booksellers Fair) and the other in Toronto at the National Book Expo, where I was making promotional pitches on behalf of the Canadian publisher. I probably won’t start touring in Canada until September, and right now I don’t know what my schedule will be. But I feel a need to state that, to this point, I have no scheduled dates for public appearances, and I’ve no idea what, if anything, I’ll be doing in the USA. I suspect, however, that the Americans would rather spend whatever promotional funds they have budgeted on well-coordinated media and Web campaigns, than on flying me to small centers across the USA.

As for what I’ve been up to and why I haven’t been showing my face or my eccentricities here in my own site, the explanation is simple. My North American publishers advanced the publication schedule on me, early in the New Year, to capitalize on the fascination with the Templars stirred up by the success of The Da Vinci Code. We were originally supposed to publish in September/October, as usual, but they–the Canadian and US publishers–suddenly decided it had to be released for distribution by late July. The edit, which involved a major rewrite, was an absolute nightmare and the schedule was horrendous. I’m now working on the edit for the UK/Commonwealth edition.

Add to that the fact that I’m preparing a completely different book, a 300-page memoir called, "Jack Whyte–Forty Years In Canada" for release in Canada in October (with another publisher, Heritage House) and the second novel in the Templar trilogy is due for delivery by the start of the new year.

I’m not complaining. I simply have never been so busy in my life. I’m enjoying all the furor and the hype and activities–translations into all the major European languages, plus the Slavic languages including Polish and Russian, the Scandinavian languages, Brazilian (which is Portuguese, almost, I’m told,) and several Asian languages–Korean, Thai, Chinese and Japanese… Lots of work with brutal deadlines and too little time to accommodate it all.

But I have been feeling enormously guilty about neglecting this web site and my loyal friends in the Forum. The truth is, however, that in a world of competing priorities, tough and reluctant decisions sometimes have to be made. Now it’s time to reassign those priorities and revitalize www.jackwhyte.com, aka camulod.com, and the timing is right.

Within the next few weeks I’ll be sending lots of new material to Mark Webmaster, including publishers’ catalogues and hyperlinks to other sites, along with new audio and video bits and pieces, and I’ll post an appearances schedule as soon as the elements of that begin to fall into place. Publicists for the various Houses are beginning to slot appointments, and it looks like I’ll be doing a lot of Web interviews, appearances and features this time around, so I’ll post those links as well, as they begin to come up. One of the things suggested to me in that area, for example, is that I get involved in an author-to-author dialogue on a site called www.beatrice.com, where I’ll be corresponding with Robyn Young, whose new novel, Brethren: An Epic Adventure of the Knights Templar, is being published next month. Obviously, the people at beatrice.com are interested in having both of us talk about Templar-related themes. I’ve no idea how that might go, or what we’ll get into, but I’ll post word here when the arrangements are made.

One of the major departures you’ll see here in the next while is that the primary address for the site will become www.jackwhyte.com. Don’t let that upset you, because it’s already in place and you probably haven’t even noticed, but the change is necessary for the benefit of those new readers of the Templar Trilogy (and I hope there’ll be thousands of them,) who currently know nothing at all about camulod.com. When they enter jackwhyte.com, they’ll land in here, but there will be a new section dealing solely with the Templar books, as opposed to the Dream of Eagles/Camulod Chronicles material, and eventually there will be a third area dealing with the forthcoming Memoir, Forty Years in Canada, as it approaches publication. Those of you, however, (and that’s all of you at this time) who are used to entering Camulod.com will continue to do so… You’ll be aware of no changes until you see the new material, and all the existing stuff will still be there.

It’s all starting to come together now, but up to this point the major emphasis has been on getting the new book completed and into the market. Now that it’s ready to go, I’ll scan the new American book jacket and have Mark post it, and I’ll also send in a couple of sample chapters of the first Templar book, Knights of the Black and White. And now that I finally have some time to dedicate to what I really want to do, I’ll be back in here more often.

Jack, June 27,2006