So, why would I take one of my bestselling novels, and make it free for a limited time? On a series that’s done well, and continues to grow its audience with each passing month?
Because it’s the first book in the series, and as such, really should be read first.
That seems obvious. But for the last year and a half, I’ve been giving away the prequel to King of Swords, Night of the Assassin, free. And it occurred to me over cocktails that’s not the best way to find new readers, because the prequel is really much more satisfying if read after King.
So what I’ve decided to do is an experiment. See if sales of the rest of the series increases with a different book as the free one. I’m making Night a $2.99 purchase given its length (just under 60K words), and taking King free.
For anyone that hasn’t read the Assassin series, it’s a gritty, unflinching assassination thriller series set against a backdrop of very real cartel violence in modern Mexico. It features several of the most interesting characters I’ve come up with to date: El Rey, the super-assassin known as the King of Swords, because of the tarot card of the same name he leaves at the scene of his executions, and Captain Romero Cruz, of the Federal Police, who is not only the head of the anti-cartel task force, but is also chartered with stopping El Rey before he can do the unthinkable.
The model for all the books was Day of the Jackal, which was the seminal assassination thriller of our time, and really created the genre. It’s since become cliche, as protagonist after protagonist has been written, usually ex-CIA or SAS, and always because this time its personal. I wanted to try a different approach, and create two protags, one really more of a villain, and the other a conflicted good guy slogging through doubts and conflicts that are a necessary outcome of the corruption in the system and the futility of trying to battle an adversary that’s co-opted the government and has more money than God.
For that reason, the Assassin series has found its niche. It’s different. It’s fast moving, surprising, adrenaline-filled, but also grittier than stuff like JET, which is more just unbridled, over-the-top adventure. King is more realistic – some have said too much so, in that it leaves one somewhat disturbed due to the hopelessness of the whole drug war thing. That’s a function of telling the truth, not a deliberate buzz kill. Some don’t like to read anything that conflicts with their anodyne notions of how the world works, and King is probably not the right book for that set. Actually, none of my work is, come to think of it. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.
I was recently asked who I would envision playing El Rey in a film, and after some thought, I’d have to say a younger Johnny Depp or DiCaprio. For Captain Cruz, Benicio Del Toro or a younger Antonio Banderas. So if you’re looking for my take on who I sort of see them as in my head, there’s your model.
So get yer free copy of King of Swords, and if you like it, tell a friend or leave a review, or both. I don’t know how long I’m going to keep it free, so don’t tarry, or it will go back to paid and you’ll despise yourself for your procrastination and wind up sleeping under a freeway overpass before dying cold and alone in a drainage ditch while your enemies chortle with glee and your last moments are the horror of being boogarized by clowns. You don’t want that. Trust me. You don’t even want to joke about it. Don’t let that happen to you or the ones you love. Get the book, you cheap bastard – can’t get much more attractive than free.