Psst, Paperback Edition of The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes Available Now!

Surprise! My baby is now available in corporeal form. A few weeks ago I asked on social media how people feel about audiobooks versus physical books (you guys were unanimous, physical it is). I’ve been wanting to test the waters for a print copy for a while, not least because my Ultimate Dream is to have a iridescent, map-on-the-front-pages, probably-linen-bound hardcover. With a little ribbon for keeping your place. You know the type of book I mean: the type that is a work of art.

Anyway, those are expensive and since I’m self published, I’d have to figure out some sort of pre-order system to gauge demand before committing to a print run. I don’t fancy being stuck with books I can’t sell, even if they are linen bound with a ribbon. So I thought, let’s do the smart thing and have a sort of soft opening using Amazon’s print on demand system.

I’m pretty sure I’ve bitched about Amazon on here before, but if I haven’t: it’s an unholy trinity of bad packaging, ethically questionable business processes and is at least partially responsible for the devaluation of the book industry.

Unfortunately for the high street but fortunately for my bank balance, Amazon does print on demand really well. It took me about half an hour to upload my files, less than 72 hours for Amazon to check the details and tah-dahhh. You can now order a paperback of the world’s best YA fairy tale. It cost me zero pounds, because I downloaded a Photoshop trial to design a back cover and spine. The book is priced exactly as the ebook at £7.99 (well, it is until Bezos discounts it to 89p). I will make about £2 on each copy, assuming they sell at full price, so I need to sell about a thousand copies to afford a posh hardback. Less if I’m willing to put all the money toward the hardback, but I’m quite invested in earning a wage. This is probably a good time to mention that after 11.5 years of blogging, I’ve joined the Amazon Affiliate programme with the strict goal of scraping every last penny from this paperback as I can… the links in this post are all affiliated. I think a lot of you would have to click and buy for me to hit the minimum payment threshold of £25, though, ha.

Anyway, I am already in profit, because a few members of the No. 1 Readers’ Club have bought some copies (this is why you should join the No. 1 Readers’ Club). I haven’t forgotten about doing a quarterly income round up, by the way! The last quarter ended a few weeks ago but I have diploma work to finish, so I’ll probably get the post done in a month or so. My ebook royalties aren’t in, so it’ll be a short post.

As with the ebook, I’ll be paying it forward with three copies: if you or someone you know wants a copy but cannot afford it, hit me up and I’ll order you a copy to to your mailing address. I’m also doing a giveaway right here on this very blog! To win a signed copy of The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, comment on this post and tell me your favourite fairy tale or folk tale. Mine changes all the time, but Femlore Pod recently did an episode on Lieutenant Nun, who is fascinating. The contest ends on 30th April at 11:59pm BST, it’s open internationally, and I’ll pick a winner at random the next day.

Oh, one last thing:

If and when a hardcover run becomes a reality, I may pull this particular paperback. Ideally, one day I’d like this book to have a permanent home with a publishing house that can do hardcover, paperback, audiobook et al and handle all the logistics (and ensure that Amazon is not the only paperback retailer). That would mean a different ISBN, different blurb and spine and whatnot. So there’s a distinct possibility that in twenty years’ time, this particular Amazon offering will be like first printings of MCR’s first record: rare and sold on eBay for inflated prices. That’s actually already happening to an extent; the book’s been live for a week and someone’s already selling ‘used’ copies at a premium. What they’re actually doing is drop shipping: buying new copies and sending them straight to the customer, because they are [censored because it’s too rude even for this blog]. Anyway, if you’d like to be a part of history, just saying, the book is here.

'The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes' paperback on shelf
Much love to my cousin Ellen for taking The Princess and the Dragon‘s first ever shelfie!

Look after yourselves!

Francesca


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like. If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

A Fully Scientific Review of The Lord of the Rings Films, by a Fantasy Writer Who Somehow Missed The Lord of the Rings Until Now

Yeah, I know. I do remember watching the films about 15 years ago and clearly retained nothing, because watching them recently was a completely novel experience. I knew the basic beats of the story – ring, quest, defeat evil – but never really got round to properly watching or reading them. It took me long enough to get through The Hobbit – can’t remember much of those films either – that I keep meaning to go straight to the audio book of The Fellowship of the Ring. (If you’re new here and were enticed by the title: hi, I’m Francesca and I write stories about magic. My last book included a quest, a dragon and a wizard in a tower so it’s safe to say Tolkien’s influenced my work without me noticing.)

Grab popcorn for this, guys, it’s very scholarly:

The Fellowship of the Ring

  • I don’t think I’d realised Sean Bean was in it
  • But we all knew what would happen to him
  • Excellent creepy costume and atmosphere work with the ringwraiths, 10/10 for nightmare potential had I been paying attention 15 years ago
  • I imagine there was far more of a point to Cate Blanchett’s Extra Ethereal Elf in the novels; on screen I thought that although she’s definitely a good guy, she could have become a bad guy in the right (well, wrong) circumstances. Given the running time we might as well have had 10 more minutes of exploring her character
  • Not sure why none of these men tie their hair back to go into battle. Sweaty necks are hard enough when you’re out for a walk, let alone when you’re wearing a helmet or Defending the Hobbits
  • I mean, come on, Legolas, there’s no way those plaits would have survived all that running
  • Did anyone else really worry what happened to Bill the horse?
  • Kind of felt like Gandalf and Saruman were a bit too stock character wizard-y until I remembered they are the original wizards and therefore VERY COOL
  • I always liked the idea of going to New Zealand but now it is on the list in a serious way, not a ‘one day’ way
  • I was so excited to see Liv Tyler’s elf! I mean she was just there to save Frodo but she seemed to be on such a good character arc, building her mortal life with Not a Worthy King until-

The Two Towers

  • Okay I spoke too soon, I think she’s just lying on a couch a lot?
  • Did not realise the two towers were two separate towers. Not a full on tower-y building that would need to be stormed. Took half an hour to catch up. Fortunately, I still had four years of film left to enjoy the plot!
  • Don’t you love when you have more experience with a meme than with the original work?
gif of Legolas exclaiming, 'They're taking the hobbits to Isengard!'
from Giphy
  • As I write this I’ve remembered that I do have an abiding Lord of the Rings memory! When I was little and the films were being released – Google says I would have been six to eight – I understood that hobbits and dwarfs = small; humans and wizards = tall. I also understood that dwarfism is a thing in real life, so I thought that the people they cast to play hobbits and dwarfs were actors with dwarfism. I was really disappointed to see a news segment or suchlike proving that they cast regular sized people for every role and then CGI-d it! Couldn’t figure out why they didn’t save themselves a job. May have been a very young diversity campaigner
  • Speaking of diversity, are we really meant to believe that in a world where multiple species co-exist, there are absolutely no brown people except for maybe those mercenaries on monster elephants? Dudes.
  • (I am aware that although the films were only made 20 years ago, things are done differently now.)
  • (We’re not going to mention the Bechdel test.)
  • Not sure what the point of the blonde princess was except to provide a handy love triangle for our now-swooning elf and Not a Worthy King

The Return of the King

  • You know what I love? A good battle scene. The noise! The gravitas! It probably helps that now I am old enough to know all the horses were acting
  • Blonde Princess got her (redeeming, cool) stabby battlefield moment!
  • Liv Tyler’s elf did not
  • My brother and I disagreed on whether or not she even needed to exist, but I guess 3 central female parts are the prime amount for a saga with an extended edition running length of 11.5 hours
  • Not sure what was up with the Steward of Gondor and his fiery demise, except as a reminder that yes, the king needed to return sharpish
  • Poor Sméagol 
  • My brother pointed out that although the Eye of Sauron sees all, it can only look in one direction at once. Bit of a design flaw there, your evil lordship, but I feel like it would make a good metaphor for the narrow mindedness of an existence bent on world domination
  • Bowing to the hobbits awwww
  • Speaking of hobbits, I am vagually aware of decades of readers nudging each other and saying ‘are we sure they’re all just friends?’
  • I am with you
  • Clarity, please, Tolkien estate
  • Just kidding, if there’s anything worse than a lack of a character trait in canon text, it’s the author telling us about it years after publication (you know who I’m talking about). I also love stories that are more focused on friendship than romance, so if the ghost of Mr Tolkien is reading, thank you (and fantastic work on the world building, even if I recall The Hobbit being a bit… wordy). I get where all the fan fiction is coming from, that’s all
  • I liked that after the quest ended, the story got a second ending that we can all take home to digest. ‘New chapters’ don’t have to mean no adventure, just different adventure.

I’ve done (minimal) web surfing and although I am not the first person to question the 3:746464748 female:male character ratio, it looks as though the novels are a bit more fleshed out. Maybe I need another watch (and a crack at the books) to absorb the nuances of Éowyn and Arwen’s character arcs and personalities. Sort of wish I’d done this at the start of lockdown because now we’re creeping back into life, I probably have better other things to do. But then, judging by the number of people I encountered this morning who were acting like coronavirus is a thing of the past, we might be back to full lockdown in about two weeks’ time. Is it offensive to say that some people are marginally less bright than orcs? JUST WEAR A MASK AND STAND SEVERAL FEET AWAY FROM ONE ANOTHER.

Only in 2020 could you go from musing about diversity in a decades-old story to comparing the general public to malevolent ogre-creatures for the transgression of standing around.

I’m off to finish writing my next patrons’ story (no dragons, maybe magic). If you enjoyed this Hot Take on a classic, let me know! If I’ve ruined your favourite story, don’t let me know!