Angel Stakes launch feedback

Well, things go right and things go not-so-well.

Angel Stakes has pulled in 45 reviews (just on the US Amazon website) in just 5 weeks after launch. That’s more than any other book of mine in that time. Those reviews are almost all positive. That means we’re both doing something right. I’m writing what you enjoy reading, and I’ve communicated well enough with my readers that a lot of you have bought Angel Stakes in that short period (and reviewed it). There are also 19 reviews on Goodreads and 10 on the UK Amazon website, as well as some great book reviewer websites.

Thank you!

Got That Right Image

Sorry this image is a bit blurry. Other point to note: Sleight of Hand is at 197 reviews on the US Amazon site. 200 reviews is one of my milestones. Soon. Soon. πŸ™‚

What’s not going so well?

Angel Stakes started off in the first week outselling everything, but has now slid right down the chart.

Book 5 weeks

It’s not massively behind the other sequels, apart from Hidden Trump. I’m still getting “I didn’t realize it was out” messages, so I’m going to have to work on publicity for the next one!

There’s not a great deal more to say at the moment. I’ll do a full sales & marketing at the end of the month, along with progress reports etc., but 5 weeks from launch happens to be the comparative data set that I still maintain.




About Mark Henwick

I was born in Africa and left out in the sun too often. An early interest in philosophy and psychology was adequately exorcised by tending bars. And while trying to enroll in a class to read Science Fiction full time, I ended up taking an engineering degree which splendidly qualified me to move into marketing. That in turn spawned a late onset career in creative writing. When not working, I get high by the slightly less conventional means of a small light aircraft. My first books are available on Amazon at

13 responses to “Angel Stakes launch feedback”

  1. soireadthisbooktoday says :

    Woo Hoo! See, we keep telling you – you do GREAT work! πŸ™‚

  2. thetaplace says :

    When will the audio book be out?
    I’m enjoying the series.

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Julia Motyka has other commitments this summer, but has promised me she’ll be in the studio recording Angel Stakes in September. Given that timing and the steps we need to go through with Audible to complete production and actually get it released, I’m estimating late November or early December.

  3. Pyoro says :

    Pretty interesting to see this kind of charts. It’s imo logical that sequels always sell a bit worse than the one before them; I doubt too many start in the middle of a series, and some people quit reading for one reason or another… so established readers buy quickly, then it kinda petters of. Makes sense to me.

    As one of those perpetually critical grumblers I should probably also throw in that I didn’t like AS as much as the rest of the series. Well, can’t make everyone happy πŸ˜‰

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Certainly can’t please everyone, Pyoro, but most readers seem to be putting Angel Stakes above the others. πŸ™‚
      Can you identify the reasons you like it less, or is it a just a general feeling?

      • Pyoro says :

        I’d say it was sort of an accumulation of little things over all the books, not so much something by itself.

        If the book had been the 3rd or so … the plot wouldn’t have made much sense πŸ˜‰ but assuming that it had, I probably wouldn’t have thought much about it one way or another.

        But as the 5th in the series I probably hoped that the main plot would be a bit further along than it is, but instead the book for a large part goes on a tangent about the whole sex trade thing, which, no doubt, was an OK sub-plot, but just didn’t do much overall progression, at least in my eyes, so that felt disappointing.

        And the other one, well, I’m not a huge fan of some of the characters – especially Skylur (way too clichΓ© always-perfect-always-knows-everything-can-do-no-wrong vampire lord) and to a lesser degree both love interests (Jen seems just so freakin’ convenient – every time something is needed, she has the money to get it – and Alex is one of those “hey, this is an urban fantasy novel with urban fantasy characters!” types). Now, for a while you can hope that things develop, or change, or that at least they die a decent death and we can have some nice drama, but that sort of hope only keeps going for so long. πŸ˜‰

        Finally, and this sort of links back to my Skylur-dislike, I’m not sure I’d be on the political side of our protagonists. I mean, obviously they have the right goals, but the way they’re going about it, I’m not sure how believable I find that. That power-grab they orchestrate not blowing up in one huge “civil war” is really odd. All those old, proud vampires swearing some oath that basically enslaves them like some newly turned fledgling … huh.
        I think I kinda hoped that our protagonist would be a bit more critical here, but again, if it doesn’t happen over 5 books it’s not happening after 6.

        Usually. I mean, it’s not like I haven’t been wrong about this sort of thing before, but it’s where I am now. ^^


        So now you know why I generally don’t write amazon reviews. They’d all sound so depressively negative, when I still think it’s a fun book, overall. It’s just way easier to complain than identify the good things. “Good writing, nice action, no swooning-romance” – doesn’t sound like much, when it is. πŸ˜‰

        • Mark Henwick says :

          Okay, thanks. Very useful to get detailed feedback & it’s much appreciated.

          However, it’s difficult to answer in detail without sounding enormously defensive and argumentative (and possibly getting into spoilers).

          And I could/would defend my position on every point you’ve raised. πŸ™‚

          Ask if you want me to go into detail.

          Anyway, I’m glad you’re still enjoying the books despite the things you don’t like! πŸ™‚

          • Pyoro says :

            If you feel like it I’d very much be curious. It’s unfair enough that it’s generally “recommended” for authors not to reply to reviews, which basically means that anyone can say anything about their work without any way to refute some criticism; I don’t think we need to repeat that sort of thing on your own blog, too. πŸ˜‰

  4. Mark Henwick says :

    I’ll answer in bits (this posting is light relief from re-re-reformatting my books for print).

    Development of the series plot is slow. Hmmm. Depends how long the series is, doesn’t it? How many books do you think Bite Back is going to be?

    The series plot is Emergence, and the requirements to proceed with that include a majority of paranormals agreeing to it. Angel Stakes has delivered a structure for the Assembly that can actually move forward, though of course the Adepts and remainder of the Were will need to be accepted into the Assembly, and will need to take an active part.

    Of course I could have arrived at this point earlier, but ‘realism’ dictates that the politics takes time. I honestly don’t know exactly how long the series is, but I already feel I’m going to have to rush the section where the Confederation, the Adepts & the Carpathians are brought on board.

    There’s also a balance here with the chosen viewpoint. There’s a limit to what Amber can achieve in the Assembly directly, and I doubt anyone wants stories that spend any more time in Assembly debates, so Amber has to be doing things that influence the outcome, but are more entertaining.

    Which will lead me to my subsequent post on Skylur & other characters.

    • Mark Henwick says :

      In defence of Skylur…

      If he’d been around for such a long time and *wasn’t* highly competent, then I’d get complaints that he was too dumb to be in that position. I would point out that he does get things wrong and events happen he can’t predict, but I admit that he rapidly factors everything into his plans. What can I say except he’s good at what he does.

      He has also been working on that power-grab (as you call it) for hundreds of years, preparing the way. The sane Athanate know they can’t descend into a massive fight without alerting humanity to their presence and Basilikos aren’t strong enough to mount a full assault. Despite everything, including the setbacks, Skylur has them approximately where he wants them.

      And Skylur might be the only one who can navigate though the coming problems. If he wasn’t, then the way I’ve set it up would result in a war with humanity.

      That does make him a little like the stereotype perfect scheming ancient vampire, but I much prefer that to the vampire who’s lived for centuries and kills people for looking at him wrongly, still manages to command respect and fear and yet goes weak at the knees when some 17 year old waitress wanders in and talks back to him. πŸ™‚

    • Mark Henwick says :

      In defence of Jen (so convenient) and Alex (trope character).

      I’ll agree these characters aren’t developed much after their initial introduction, though there is time spent in Angel Stakes with their relationship to each other and Amber, which I think is reasonably done.

      Jen’s money doesn’t have an enormous impact on the core struggles that Amber has, but I agree it does enable her and allows me to skip any time in the books where Amber has to go and do things that she would otherwise have to.

      Alex is a dominant werewolf who subdues that dominance for his & Amber’s purposes, but all you see is the surface. Yes, I guess that’s fair.

      I can’t really argue much more than that. I *could* develop them more, but that would take up more story time, or make the books longer. I *could* kill them, but would you want Amber spending more time on other relationships? I could reduce the number of characters, and that’s a criticism I have to accept – there are too many. Currently.

      • Pyoro says :

        Thanks for your answers. I really appreciate that πŸ™‚

        Length: didn’t really think about that before; I think in a sort of casual-instinctive-how-long-are-series-like-this-usually way I’d be surprised if it ended with less than 8 books, and equally surprised if there’d be more than a dozen. 10 or so seems fairly realistic.

        Of course since I don’t really know what else will happen or how much of an open-end fan you are etc. it’s actually pretty much entirely unpredictable …

        But I’m not entirely sure that’s relevant for the individual books. I mean, in some ways, sure, but in other ways? You can write a series with a dozen books that’s really slow-paced, and you can equally write one with a dozen books that’s really fast-paced.

        Maybe I kinda felt that the fast pace of some things (I mean there’s always stuff going on in your books, that’s certainly nice), but a perception of other things going rather slowly that kinda threw me off for this book.

        Sometimes it’s a bit difficult to tell ^^;

        Skylur: I can sort of see your point, but … ah, I just really don’t like him and everything related to him. πŸ˜‰

        Jen&Alex: that’s some pretty interesting points there.
        Yeah, the balance between individual characters and having a lot of characters can be problematic, but since the series is (at least to me) also a lot about Amber doing her “I’m founding my own House”-thing, which I think is a pretty fun idea and sets it apart from the more … “individual ambitions” of other protagonists in similar books it’d also feel weird if there were a lot less characters.

        Ultimately it’s not such a big thing, I think. Having a nice bunch of characters around can be an opportunity, since I often find it easier to relate to a sort of “personal side” of issues than the bigger ones in fiction, and if there’s a bunch of characters around you care about it can lead to nice emotional moments (preferably on both sides of an issue), but it’s not like books definitely need to go down that route.

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