New Book FAQ

Whenever I announce or talk about an upcoming book, I often get asked these following questions. I’m answering them here in one place because I get tired of typing the same answers over and over. Now all I have to do is post the URL to this piece! Everyone wins!

When will the book be out? In the absence of me stating it directly, check the pre-order page at your favorite online retailer, which will be posted several months in advance of the publication of the book.

Should I pre-order? If you’re sure you’re going to get the book, it’s a nice way of letting the publisher know there’s interest. While pre-ordering online is usually how people go about doing this, you can pre-order from your local bookseller as well; they will be happy to take your order and have the book for you to pick up on the day of release.

When will the ebook be out? The same day as the print version. These days print and ebook rights are almost always bundled into the same contract; certainly mine are.

Will the ebook have DRM? If the book is from Tor US or Subterranean Press, no. If it’s from some other publisher, maybe. My personal estimation is that DRM is entirely useless, but that doesn’t stop some publishers from having it, so.

When will the audiobook be out? If it’s one of my Tor US novels, the audiobook will be out day and date with the print/ebook release. That’s unlikely to change for the next decade at least. Nearly all of my new fiction through Subterranean Press also tends to have day/date release with print and ebook. My non-fiction books don’t tend to have audio releases and I honestly don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Note: Sometimes I will do an audio-first release (see: the “Dispatcher” series), which means the audio version will be available first, followed by a print release after the audio-exclusive window runs out. That’s usually six months to a year after the audio release.

Will the audiobook have DRM? Probably, since Audible/Amazon seems to like it and Audible is my most frequent audio publisher. Please see above for my opinions about DRM; I would be pleased if my audiobooks didn’t have it and Audible/Amazon knows this. But to date they seem resistant to my arguments on the matter.

Who will narrate the audiobook/will [insert person here] narrate the audiobook? If I haven’t already announced the narrator for the audiobook, it will be either because I don’t know yet, or because I’m not allowed to say yet. I usually announce who the narrator is when I am able.

What version of the book should I get? Honestly I get paid about the same regardless, so get whichever version you like the most — print, eBook or audio.

Will this book/ebook/audiobook be available in [insert country here]? For English language print versions of my novels, they are often available (either in the Tor US or Tor UK versions) via the local instance of Amazon, or you can (probably) special order them from a local bookstore. eBooks are more problematic because there are certain territorial rights involved and honestly it’s very complicated and annoying and I know almost as little about them as you do. English language audio should be available through Audible worldwide.

Will this book/ebook/audiobook be available in [insert non-English language here]? It depends on whether a publisher who puts out books in that language wants to publish it (and wants to publish it in those various formats). I am most reliably published in German, French, Japanese, Hungarian and Spanish; everything else, it depends. Publication in those languages usually happens between six months and two years after the English language version comes out. I have absolutely no control over what books get published in which languages and when they come out.

Will this book/ebook/audiobook be available in my library? Depends.

Print: It depends on whether your library decides to purchase it. If you request it, it is more likely they will purchase it.

eBook: Again your library would have to purchase it (or more accurately, purchase access to it). Some of my publishers have arcane rules in place about how many eBook copies can be in circulation and when. I didn’t make those rules.

Audiobook: Right now Audible doesn’t license audiobooks to libraries. Sorry.

I wish for you to inveigh upon your publishers to change their library access policies and here are several paragraphs — indeed, several pages — why: One, that’s not a question, and two, you can be assured that I have already expressed in no uncertain terms my opinions about library access to my various publishers, and will continue to do so when the occasion arises. With that said, please understand that the weight of my opinion, while not utterly insignificant, is only one datum in a sea of data by which these publishers have come to their current practices. Additionally, at this point you are better off going to them directly with your arguments.

Will there be a movie/TV show/video game/[insert other media type here] of this book? If someone options the book for that medium, then maybe! But they have to be the ones to make an option offer (at which point my team will then evaluate it and decide if we want to be in business with those folks). Even after an option is taken there is still quite a lot of work to be done, and you should know that most options of any sort fail to pan out.

Are you going on tour? Will you come to my town/country? I have generally (but not always) toured the US for my novels, and whether I come to your town is entirely dependent on some entity, usually a bookstore or library, making a bid to have me appear when Tor sends out a tour interest sheet. If the tour has already been announced, it’s almost impossible to add additional cities to the tour, because we’ve already booked flights and made other such arrangements. Also, I don’t tend to tour other countries (most of my foreign publishers don’t wish to spring for the cost of a tour), although I may occasionally show up for a book fair or other such event.

Will you sign/personalize my book? Yes, if you see me on tour or at a convention/book festival, or if you purchase a book from one of the places I go when on tour, or via Jay and Mary’s Book Center in Troy, Ohio, which is my local bookstore. Here are some details on all of that.

I won’t buy your book because [insert reason here]: Again, not a question, and also, I don’t care, although going out of your way to tell me directly that you don’t intend to buy my book(s) may indicate you’re a bit of an attention-seeking dillweed. Work on yourself, please, away from me.

That should hold us for now! I will update this with answers to additional questions when/if needed.

Big Idea

The Big Idea: R.W.W. Greene

For his Big Idea on the novel The Light Years, author R.W.W. Greene considers what things make the cut, when civilization itself is on the line.


Moving always sucks. But especially when it’s unexpected. Even someone with Chrisjen Avasarala-level planning skills, when faced with an eviction or a sudden breakup, is going to lose a thing or thirty by the time she unpacks the boxes, bags, and bales in the new digs. Somehow, she’ll end up with both copies of Tom Petty’s Wildflowers, no can opener, a single black shoe, two years of Yankee-Swap gifts, and the bad phone charger. It can be a new home, but it’s never the same home, and it’s going to take a while to get comfortable.

That’s the big idea I kept in the crosshairs while I wrote The Light Years, which is springing from the presses at Angry Robot Books this month. In the book, which is set a mere thousand years from now, Earth has burned to a cinder and humanity is no longer living there. Generation ships, hibernation pods, and a little faster-than-light-travel for the well-to-do have given the species a fresh start, and after several hundred years in survival mode, things are settling into the new normal. There’s finally time for a few luxuries. They can begin unpacking the box marked “The Humanities.”

Naturally, time and travel left big gaping holes in all the packing boxes, and even with the best intentions, there was no escaping Earth without leaving a lot behind. There was data loss at every point in the exodus.

After all, the statue Winged Victory of Samothrace was so very, very heavy. It was carefully scanned, of course, along with The Mona Lisa and Starry, Starry Night. The Google Books servers were uploaded to the ship-based computers, along with as much of the Library of Congress as could be digitized and everything on Spotify and iTunes. All the shows on the streaming services came along, all the memes on Twitter, all the approved YouTube videos, even the ones being made right… now. I mean, now.


Is it still a work of art if the original no longer exists? That’s something the Earth refugees will no doubt want to debate later, after they’ve built the infrastructure of a new civilization. People with the means will debate it, I mean. Philosophy and classical studies will be luxuries for quite some time, I’m afraid.

The richer countries were better represented on the What-To-Bring-To-The-New-World Committees, which could explain the loss of so much non-Western art and culture. There was a representative sampling collected, but with only a generation or so to plan, sacrifices had to be made. And was it such a loss? If no one had made a parody or dorm-room poster of it by 2050 or so, how relevant could it be?

Hey, you know how after a breakup you tend to go through Facebook and Instagram to get rid of the pictures of your ex? There was a similar move to tidy up history and culture for posterity. No one remembers which version of Huckleberry Finn made the cut, and there are numerous books and films mentioned in the archives that were judged unworthy for inclusion. (However,  the director’s cuts of Bloodsport, Home Alone 2, and Zoolander were carefully curated so that future audiences could enjoy them.) In a different political climate, different decisions might have been made, but that’s democracy for you.

Many of the recorded histories reflected poorly on the countries working so hard and spending so much money on the fleet of colony ships, so the rougher parts got sanded smooth or trimmed away. There was little political will to bring the mistakes of the past into the new future.

Science and tech? They brought everything relevant, of course. Every theory. Every paper. Every debunked anti-vaccination and Intelligent Design study. All those adverts about crystals and CBD oil. It was far easier just to bring everything then to engage in politically divisive debates over facts and merit, and the really important bits were locked away under patent and copyright and statutes of secrecy.

What else was there to pack? Pictures and videos of beautiful places. A recording of the mating calls of loons. The sound of a busy street in Manhattan. Genetic samples (but there was no way to get samples of everything) and seeds. A few, small personal items.

More data was lost in transit. Most of the Earth’s citizenry traveled frozen or in massive generation ships, but representatives and build teams from the greater nations had faster means. They got to the new worlds first to make them ready and, as was their due, claim the best spots. They set the rules, created the social system, and decided what was cool long before the other refugees arrived. Family recipes were modified for available resources, and soon no one remembered what a real meal from the Old Country tasted like.

Remember how the old iPod shuffle algorithm was only pseudo-random? That’s also how the bowdlerized, gerrymandered version of the Sum Total of Human Knowledge contained in the colony ships’ computers worked. Stuff that people wanted to find got stored at the top, search-engine-optimized and nicely cross-referenced with keywords. Other stuff was never seen again, like that song from that album that never shows up on your playlist. It’s still there in the depths, where even the nerdiest of the data-spiders never go. (Somehow, though, “Friends” made it into the zeitgeist again. Go figure.)

And, thus, a new civilization (and book) was made from what we carried from the old.

Most anyone who has taken a creative-writing class has been asked to consider the following prompt: Assuming friends, family, and pets are safe, what is the one thing your protagonist would grab whilst fleeing his or her burning house? A rational character would, of course, grab the perfect, narratively-useful, archetype-defining thing for its creator to use. However, rational behavior is a lot to expect out of someone in panicked flight, and I expect most civilizations, most lives–real or imagined–are made and remade from those off shoes, duplicate CDs, unfilled needs, and broken pieces.


The Light Years: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s site. Follow him on Twitter.

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