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PSA: I Have a New Book!

The Trade of Queens

I have a book coming out this month; "The Trade of Queens", the sixth novel in the Merchant Princes series, is shipping (the official publication date is the 16th, but it should be showing up in bookstores in the USA from Monday onwards). And the last, for the time being — if you've been holding off starting on the series because you wanted to know there was an ending in sight, this is it. Series climax: finale: fat lady sings.

(You can find links to buy my books — including all the Merchant Princes titles — here.)

While this is the last of the current cycle, I'm not ruling out writing more books in that universe — but I'm taking a couple of years of time out first, and if and when go back to there, it'll be with a new story and mostly new characters.

I'm still slightly gobsmacked that I actually managed to write (and more importantly finish) this thing; a multi-volume novel about 30,000 words longer than "War and Peace", with a political subtext about economic development and a marked lack of good guys. One of these days I'm going to bolt my thoughts about writing larger-than-novel-length fiction together. But not right now ...




I note that the UK version of your 'buy my books' page only has the first three books in the series.


I note that the UK version of your 'buy my books' page only has the first three books in the series.

That's because Macmillan (in the UK) have not, as yet, bought the subsequent books in the series.

I normally wouldn't say this, but: if you're British and you want to read books 4-6, your best bet is to hit on a US bookseller who will mail them to you (such as Powell's, or -- spit --


I know you've written a great deal on the issues authors and publishers have with eBooks, but I read the first few books of this series on my iPhone, and I thoroughly enjoy that reading mechanic. I may be weird, but there it is.

All that said- I'm now faced with buying dead tree versions if I wish to continue the series, and this makes me a sad panda.


I'm all primed - re-read 1-4 a few weeks ago, read 5 yesterday (I'm under the weather, nice quiet day on the couch), 6 ordered from local-ish SF bookstore.


Oh, hooray!!!!!!!!! I've been wanting to read this book so much!


I've always thought these are underrated. They seem to get less attention than your SF stuff, but I've really enjoyed them.


t3knomanser, well, that's life. I own a lot more of Stross on paper than I'd care to, as well. I guess you just live with it, at the moment.


It makes me a sad panda too, but hopefully Macmillan (aka Tor) will get their ebook policy under control some year or other.

(I was really hoping to be able to release "A Family Trade" as a free download to coincide with the publication of "The Trade of Queens", but you probably won't be surprised to learn that one side-effect of the Amazon/Macmillan ebook spat last month was to trigger a full-dress review of all ebook releases within Holtzbrinck, group-wide, and "free download", while well-understood by my editor and the folks above him at Tor, isn't what Holtzbrinck's executives want to hear right now.)


My set of this series started out MMPB so I continued it that way. When do you expect this book to be out in that form?


Can you recommend the best way to place a Canadian order for the book?


Well, congratulations from someone who never managed to squeeze out anything beyond 10 pages.

On a side note to Steve@6 - these are "SF stuff". Those 'shrooms on the cover should be a dead giveaway, even without reading the books. :-)

Hella cover, BTW.


Marilee: "The Trade of Queens" should be out in paperback in March 2011 (this time next year). Maybe a month or so earlier.

Brendan: I know nothing about Canadian booksellers.

Sebastian: the mushroom clouds accurately reflect the content of the book. Did I say "series climax"?


Sebastian: the mushroom clouds accurately reflect the content of the book

Wow! Impressive! Did you have the art director's family hostage or something?


I normally wouldn't say this, but: if you're British and you want to read books 4-6, your best bet is to hit on a US bookseller who will mail them to you (such as Powell's, or -- spit --

This might be a bit of a faux pas, but carries the Tor editions of Merchant Princes, so no need to order from the US.

And great news on the final book. I'd been holding out on starting The Revolution Business since I couldn't deal with yet another cliffhanger :-)


Chapters Indigo is going to be stocking it, or you could get an independent to order it for you.


Juho, Tor (in the USA) is a semi-independent subsidiary of St Martin's Press, a subsidiary of Macmillan, who are owned by Holtzbrinck.

Tor (US) buy and publish the Merchant Princes books. They acquire world English language rights.

Tor (in the UK) is an imprint -- basically a brand name -- of Macmillan, a (British) publishing house owned by Holtzbrinck (a German publishing conglomerate).

(Confused yet? You will be!)

Macmillan (UK) bought the UK English language rights to books 1-3 from Tor (US), and published them -- just to add to the confusion -- under the Tor imprint in the UK.

But Macmillan haven't bought books 4-6 from Tor, so the only copies of those books available in the UK are grey-market imports.

Sometimes a Tor book is a Tor book ... and sometimes it isn't!


I was very glad when I went searching to see if another book was indeed coming out that I saw this.

I confess, when I finished the "The Revolution Business" I (gently) flung the book across my couch and growled "This better not be the end of the series!!!".

Perhaps part of my strong reaction was due to the fact that I live in the D.C. area :)

Oddly enough I'm okay with the conclusion of the 5th book as long as there is more story to wrap up the series, but the thought that it might possibly be the finale to a series that had gotten progressively grimmer as I sped through it was a bit much.

Any road, very glad to see that there will be another one.

Also, being bored at work on a weekend, I have been perusing the back pages of the Antipope blog.

Your experience working at a payments processor at the end of the 90's is remarkably similar to mine through much of the noughties. Rest assured that in the U.S. things are little more organized 10 years later than they were in the UK in 2000.


Ah, didn't realize that the UK edition was also published under a (separate) Tor label :-)

What I meant was that also sells the US editions of Merchant Princes, including books 4-6. And if the option is a US edition sold and shipped from the US or a gray market import of the US edition sold and shipped from the UK, the latter is probably a more practical option for Europeans.

(I guess there must be fears that large scale importing of US editions into the UK would threaten the custom of selling separate UK and US publication rights that you described in the recent series of posts.)


Any chance of seeing an omnibus edition of all 6 books at any time soonish?


If I might beg to differ from Our Gracious Host on one minor point:

There is not a "marked lack of good guys." There is a "marked lack of stereotypical fantasy/military science fiction unflawed heroes." I don't think I'm giving much away to anyone by proclaiming that Mirian, Mike, and Brill (among others) qualify as "good guys with minor flaws." On the other hand, at least two continuing characters we sort of assumed were good guys turn out to not be good guys... because the standard is not "I'm not as much of a slime as political adversary x."

Nice timing, this, as it comes out one week after TURDBLOSSOM's memoir.

And a couple of other comments: 8 It's not Holtzbrinck; it's W.H. Freeman, one of Macmillan (US)'s sister imprints. Trust me on this one; I'm not really revealing any confidences or litigation material. 11, 12, 13 Of course, this isn't the first appearance of A. phalloides in the series... 16, 17 I could go off into a long digression on the historical perfidy of U.S. copyright law, protectionism for the printing trade, and the fate of LotR's U.S. copyright; suffice it to say that this is as much a relic of Smoot and Hawley — that is, "revenue enhancements" aimed at simultaneously protecting an unprofitable domestic industry and preventing development of that industry in nearby less-developed nations — as it is of anything else. See Copyright Act of 1909 ยง 15. Hopefully, that qualifies as only a short digression.


Coincidentally, I just the other day finished reading Family Business. One of the books that kept me sane during a Plane Trips From Hell last weekend.

I really hate getting pulled into long series, but, yeah, it looks like that's happening.


Duh! Make that A Family Trade. I am really tired.


I just started reading the series yesterday (home sick, on Book 2 already =) so I'm overjoyed to know that there won't be that terrible fiction interruptus when I hit Book 5 and have to wait... a whole... year... or more... AUGH!

PS: Readers in Vancouver: get it (and many more quality books!) through White Dwarf books in Kitts, the best fantasy/science fiction specialty bookstore in BC... No, I don't own it, I just spend enough there to put their kids through college.

The rest of you: when you can, support your local bookstores rather than Chapters/Indigo/Amazon/MegaSuperSavingsMart. The little quirky awesome stores are all having a hard time right now, many are closing their doors, so show them some love or they'll be gone forever! They can get orders in as fast as Amazon and without charging shipping fees, and they also love you as a charming, worthwhile individual and not just for your body, er money.

Sorry. Got carried away there. :)


well, what if I don't love them?

I've always hated the retail-shopping experience (for anything, really) with a passion and the possibility to shop online has been a godsend.

Like, e.g. the fact that before amazon, as a young person living in a german-speaking country, I used to go to a bookstore in my hometown and check the one tiny shelf that stocked english-language books, and I wouldn't find the book I wanted. So I'd go to the counter and ask. And they'd say "sure, we can order that for you. We'll call you when it's here." And I'd ask "how long will it take, just as an order-of-magnitude-guess?". And he'd say "3 weeks".

Yeah. fucking 3 weeks. For ordering a book. WTF indeed. Also, they'd never actually call. Note: this was the case in EVERY bookshop I tried.

Nowadays? one-click order and I have it the next day. I've never looked back.


Just read book 5 yesterday and was a bit shocked by the not really happy ending (or the giant cliffhanger ...). YMMV - and even with the clearly visible mushroom cloud on title of book 6 and the amazon ad text (... kill the president ...), I'm of course curious how it ends.

What I really like about the series - and it only starts to become clear with book 4, at least for me - is that you can also read it as an introduction into political economy, comparing different forms of societal organisation of economy back-to-back.

A tiny point: I'm curious if the switch from the TOR fantasy brand to the TOR science-fiction brand (1,2,34 - 5 paperbook) was planned all along, or is a reaction to the content, where magic starts to become technology, or what the reasoning behind that is.

(And is vol. 6 classified as horror?)


In exchange for cover art that reflects the book's content, you seem to have lost the word "The" from the title on the cover. (Or is this giving us an example from your recent series of posts on how the author doesn't always get to choose the title of the book?)


Pre-ordered from (spit) Amazon. I'm really looking forward to reading it! Will you be doing any readings/signings in Edinburgh or Glasgow?


If you want to avoid Amazon, is a good alternative. They've got the paperback of The Revolution Business (and cheaper than Amazon!). You can't pre-order Trade of Queens yet, but they're listing it, so I'm sure they'll have it in good time. Needless to say, I am in no way affiliated, yadda, yadda; just a happy customer.


A great many people would happily pay for the drinks if you'd sit down with George [R. R. Martin] and tell him how you did it. (Although, at last word, your series might total the size of one volume of his epicly out of control trilogy.)


Well, I bought number 5 in hardback from Waterstones in Manchester. When you say "grey-market" it sounds a bit bad. Should I be buying from them?

Should my local library be buying them? They now have The Revolution Business.

As for the apparently unhappy ending, I say it is your world Charlie, bomb them if you want to. So long as you keep doing it with style. The best kind of lethal radiation is the fictional sort.

I am bothered by them having not put the plug back in, will it ice over? It keeps triggering that awful sense of having left something undone. I hope that avoids spoiling it for anybody who hasn't read 5, sufficiently cryptic?


Charlie probably has a better idea, but I think that's a lot of pages to put in one book. It should probably go into three omnibuses each with two books (and that would make the first omnibus the actual first book).


Oh, I forgot to write:


I won't try to transcribe the other noises I just made.

One of my favourite things about this series is that the characters do not magically divine what the best thing is that they should be doing. They are not saints or Hollywood heroes. The baddies have comprehensible motivations, to the point of being goodies having a bad time. I love Matt and imagine him as Adam Baldwin.



I've always thought these are underrated. They seem to get less attention than your SF stuff, but I've really enjoyed them.

I'll go further and say they're the best stuff he's done. In fact, I don't think anyone has ever written anything quite like this in the sf market. All too frequently you get the Connecticut Yankee or a certain state trooper from Pennsylvania with a bare nod to the difficulties of effecting such changes just for the sake of being more up to date than Dad. Please spare me any references to Eric Flint or similar persons.


I have so been waiting for this one... Human level fantasy fiction at it's best. I wonder if my local bookstore has ordered it yet? If not I may have to send the boys round to see them.


One of these days I'm going to bolt my thoughts about writing larger-than-novel-length fiction together.

It would make a great companion to the "Five rules for cold-bloodedly designing a fantasy series" article you wrote back in 2005.


Will you be doing any readings/signings in Edinburgh or Glasgow?

I did one last night at the "Aye Write" book festival in Glasgow -- but not from this book. I was, in any case, a last-minute substitute for Ken MacLeod (who couldn't make it) so I didn't appear on the billing and there wasn't time to publicize it.

Others ... maybe. But I don't generally read from the Merchant Princes books.


Pat: yeah, it's fine to nudge your library to buy it. The plug ... let's just say it's a gun-on-the-wall for a future series, should I get round to writing one. (As in: it has consequences that a plot hinges upon.) In the meantime, planetary atmospheres are big -- to vent it all into vacuum through a doorway-sized aperture would take centuries.


I read The Revolution Business the other week and, well, I'm looking forward to this one EVEN MORE now. I'd not realised that I couldn't buy it in the UK though, were quite happy to sell me a paperback copy without once mentioning that it was only available in the US.

Of course, I can see that this is yet another series of books where I end up getting the last book in hardcover because I can't wait a whole year for it to come out in paperback...


(PS, does PSA in this context stand for Personal, Selfish, Announcement? It is your blog after all...)


bugger - finally grew fed up waiting for an Australian bookshop to restock Revolution Business and just ordered it from the states from ... um... Amazon. if I'd held off another week I could have ordered both together.

Congratulations - have really enjoyed these books


No, no, it's for Personal Service Announcement. Sort of like fan-service, but for yourself rather than the audience ;-)


Re: last book of the series in hardcover - same with me, or better, I'm still undecided between waiting a year and getting six neat, similiar looking paperback books - or buying it now with all the shelf space consequences.


I'm looking forward to reading this book. Too me this was a very interesting exercise even if I thought book 4 and 5 was not as good as the first few. Still it's an interesting idea and a fun read.


The novel is indeed titled "The Trade of Queens".

However, Tor's inventory database drops definite articles! It's a known bug -- blame corporate IT.

I brought this up earlier, my editor flagged it ... and the message seems to have gotten lost somewhere in production. Groan. I'll see if I can get the correct title restored for the paperback (there's no point screaming and stamping and insisting they pull and pulp a hardcover run for something this trivial).

My publishers do in fact have the right to re-title my books, but it's not usual publishing practice for it to happen because of a software error!

EDIT: And indeed, it didn't happen. The early cover (with the missing definite article) made it into Amazon and B&N's databases, but the book itself is correctly titled (and there's a slightly different cover). Phew.


"It would make a great companion to the "Five rules for cold-bloodedly designing a fantasy series" article you wrote back in 2005."

Charlie, could you please post a link to this article?

Even the Great and Dread Google couldn't find it (just links to people who say that they posted links somewhere else; I was getting the impression of a joke).




Forgive me for using Amazon (spit!), but it's the only way to get a copy to a friend of mine. He's currently a guest of my Uncle.

Best regards, -mike


For those in Australia, it might be worth checking Booko for the best online price. It currently lists DeepDiscount as being the cheapest, once you include postage.

Note, for earlier books, Book Depository appears cheaper as it offers free postage.


A little grubbing in the archives of the Old Blog (which, by the way, Charlie, seem to have broken internal cross-links) produces results.


@44 Articles are overrated anyway.

I really like your stuff, Charlie. This is [] first book EVER that I've pre-ordered [] hardcover for. I usually browse [] library and find something to read, but [] wife and I have been enthralled with [] series.


Well now. It happens that I thought I'd be clever and get the first of these out of my local library. Having finished the first volume, I already have withdrawal symptoms, and will have to purchase the subsequent instalments in this saga. 'I'm addicted, I need more and more Stross to get high'.


Thanks, Dylan!


If you're looking for "Five Rules...", the Internet Archive has a copy here. It's also still hot in the Google cache, at least when I search for it, but that probably has a shorter half-life than the Wayback Machine...


Gah, I'm trying to get ahold of it quickly, and the first places I checked all didn't have it on order. Even if I ask them to order it, I sorta expect that will take longer than it would take for somewhere which already ordered it. The real issue I have, is the SF bookstore I found that did have it on order refuses to break the street date! The big places don't care about street dates, but don't order it. The little places order it, but won't break the street date.


I did one last night at the "Aye Write" book festival in Glasgow

Well, darn. I would have gone, had I known.


For Our Gracious Hosts user generated wishlist: a follow-up to that old blogpost about the five rules of writing fantasy, looking back at it from the actual outcome of the 6-volume series.


I second the request for the five rules follow-up, with a little more distance from the process than

Also, a discovery from the archives

I've got an eerie sense that [The Dresden Dolls] is a band on the way up, and seeing them now is like getting to see the Eurythmics in 1981 or Nirvana in 1989.


Loving the series so far (just finished 4) and looking forward to the conclusion. With some trepidation however: I'm somewhat of a wuss and get depressed and sad when the characters I've developed serious empathy for go from one crisis to another. It shames me to admit part of me wants that saccharine Hollywood happy ending. But I'll take the happy pills and press on! Thanks again for the fantastic storytelling.


Fantastic news! I just (like, this week!) started re-reading the series in prep for this.

It rewards re-reading...


Great news. I've been holding off buying this series till I knew there was an end though it's been on my present list for eighteen months or so. Hence I have book 3 (mothers, what can you do). As an aside, I've been collecting the Midnight Rose books, any chance of any more collaborations in the future? It's been interesting seeing how much you guys have changed the genre's stereotypes and assumptions. Keep it up


Hm. Amazon (UK) says it will be published on 4 April, Amazon US says March 16, thebookdepository says 1 March (but not in stock) - I moved my order to bookdepository after the Amazon spat... it's all very confusing.


Just ordered it from

Which brings me to a question: you were talking about geographical restrictions of publishing. How come a book store like BookDepository can buy book from a UK publisher and distribute them worldwide? And as a follow-up would it not be possible for them to do the same with e-books?


How come a book store like BookDepository can buy book from a UK publisher and distribute them worldwide?

They're not distributing them wholesale -- it's retail sale. You, the customer, are giving them money; you're not a reseller, you're the end of the chain. And they're the last trader in the chain, and they're in the licensed territory.

Where the book ends up doesn't count; it's where it's sold that counts, for rights purposes.

... Although now I notice it, "The Trade of Queens" is an American edition, so they shouldn't be doing that.

(Don't worry though, I'm not going to throw bricks at them for selling my books!)


And as a follow-up would it not be possible for them to do the same with e-books?

When I've asked this question around the net, I've got a response along the lines of "My understanding is that an ebook sale is considered to have taken place at the purchaser's computer, as opposed to the seller's warehouse in the case of a paper sale." I'd love to hear confirmation from someone closer to the perceived law on the issue.


Okay, so the weird not-out-in-UK-but-still-sold-as-if-it-were thing makes me wonder if I'd better order from Book Depository rather than expect it to magically show up at Eastercon. I'm sure I'll find plenty of other books there to add to my unread list.

(Also, any chance of getting MT to pick up names from OpenID logins rather than just showing the person's account username?)


Never mind book 6 I'm having difficulty getting book 1 in the UK, have TOR (UK) stopped printing it? Looks like I might be USA bound for the whole series.


have TOR (UK) stopped printing it?

Quite possibly -- I have no information on the subject, but the editor at Macmillan who bought them in from Tor in the US retired nearly two years ago, and there's been precious little communication from that quarter since.



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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on March 6, 2010 6:42 PM.

CMAP #4: Territories, Translations, and Foreign Rights was the previous entry in this blog.

CMAP #5: Why books are the length they are is the next entry in this blog.

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