This book is broken, and other things I tell myself while writing

I am currently writing/attempting to write/failing to write my 13th book.

Authors often talk about murky middles or needing to stick the landing, but I’m going to be honest. For me, writing a first draft is one long doubt-ridden roller coaster, punctuated by brief moments of hope and long swells of you-suck-you-suck-you-suck.

This isn’t a matter of self-doubt and self-loathing.

This is a matter of being WILLING to write badly. To let yourself fail over and over again, to resist the urge to hold down delete and get. To. The. End.

For me, writing a first draft is an exercise in controlled failure. Or at least, controlled falling.

The dilemma is that, the more books you write, the more aware you become of when things are Not Working, but no matter how many books you write, you don’t become magically capable of fixing something until you have something to fix.

The amount of time I spend resisting this, the time I spend trying to nail a landing without ever hitting the springs, is astonishing. 

It’s also compounded by the fact that, while trying to write something good instead of letting myself write something bad, I’m ALSO usually doing the final read on a book I’ve already written, and revised, and seen through every painful step. So not only am I faced with an inferiority complex born of other writers’ work, I’m faced with my own evident decline, since there’s no way I’ll ever write something that good again.

Ignoring, of course, the fact it wasn’t good when I first started. The fact that at some point I had to simply let go, enter that controlled fall that is a beginning. 

This isn’t a post with any advice. It’s simply a post to say that no matter how many books you write, some voices don’t go away. Some voices even get louder. And the only way to shoulder past is to remind yourself over and over and over again that the only thing you can’t improve on is a blank page.

Yours from the trenches,


On the slow pursuit of Overnight Success

Photo on 7-13-16 at 4.28 PM #3

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post over on Tumblr about success.

I’d just walked into a bookshop in Edinburgh, hoping, as many author do, to spot my own work tucked away somewhere on the shelf. When I found not one, but two major displays–a table stand and a wall runner–I stood very still, trying to make a memory, and then, realizing I couldn’t be counted on, I snapped a photo instead. The photo doesn’t do the feelings justice.

These days I see my name paired more and more with the words “overnight success”, and I’ve heard that the average overnight success takes 10 years. It’s taken me 9, so if that means I’m ahead of the curve, so be it.

I started writing when I was a kid, poetry mostly, didn’t try my hand at anything longer than a short story until I was in college. I wrote my first novel as a sophomore, an acid trip through the underworld that will never be published, but it got close enough for me to get my first true tastes of failure. A literary agent, a year on sub to publishers, five separate acquisitions meetings. Five times getting all the way to the door and then being told it wasn’t good enough to go through.

I was a college senior when I decided to try again.

It would have been easy to walk away–failure isn’t fun, and I was pretty good at other things that wouldn’t take so much flesh, but I couldn’t bear the thought I was a fluke. Pride and all that. Plus I had this idea swimming through my head. Two sing-song lines about a village and a witch and a secret in the wind.

It was called THE NEAR WITCH, and the summer after I graduated, it sold to Disney.

It didn’t get much press aside from the fact it was a debut (the industry loves to tout debuts, as though lack of experience is the natural precursor to massive success). The book was in a select number of stores for a very short time, 1-2 copies max, and disappeared by the end of its first season. Out of print at 18 months.

I wrote a sequel, THE DARK REMAINS, but the publisher decided after it was written that they’d rather have something else, so back into the drawer it went.

Instead I wrote THE ARCHIVED, about a library of the dead. That one got a bit more traction, and a loyal cultish following, but by the time its sequel, THE UNBOUND, hit shelves, I’d been informed that the publisher wouldn’t be finishining the trilogy. It had earned out, but still under-performed by some invisible, unknowable measurement. (The hardcover of THE ARCHIVED was just taken out of print.)

At 25, I was scarred, terrified that my career was over, because I’d given something everything I had, and it wasn’t enough, and I didn’t understand how or why or what I was supposed to do next, and part of me wished I’d walked away back when that first book didn’t sell, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. And my anger, my frustration, my stubborn resolve was louder than my fear, so I sat down and wrote something else.

It was a book for me. A book to restore my joy, to remind me why I did this masochistic thing. And it was a secret, a sheltering of the creative process so that that no publisher could take away what the writing of it gave me.

That book was called VICIOUS.

It was a strange supervillain origin story and it took me to a new publisher, Tor, that took a chance on me. And that, over the next four years, would restore my faith in myself and my industry. The book itself was a risk, a niche, but I had an editor who championed me and a team who believed in my work and nearly 3 years after release, that book is still selling strong.

Also in the midst of the dear and chaos and loss of that first series, I signed a work-for-hire contract for an early Middle Grade at Scholastic. The book were designed for Scholastic Clubs and Fairs titles and sold more than 600,000 copies, and STILL got turned down by Barnes and Noble. I never got to see those on shelf.

My eighth book, A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC, was probably the one that launched my ship, the one that first garnered me that title of “Overnight Success”, though it would be refurbished with each subsequent release. ADSOM was the first title to get great store placement, amazing reviews, and it’s still selling strong–the hardcover is now in its 9th printing, the paperback in its 6th, and every signing I do is filled with fans of Kell and Lila, Holland and Rhy, and it’s an amazing to have a readership that cares as much about these books as I do. I recently sold TV rights, and was signed on to write the pilot episode.

My ninth book was part of a multi-author platform at Scholastic. I hope I didn’t tank that series. It feels like I might have, or maybe it was just winding down, as series do, but I’m really damn proud of that book.

My tenth book, A GATHERING OF SHADOWS, the sequel to A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC, was my first book to ever hit the New York Times list. It was the first time I got to go on a national book tour, and see hundreds and hundreds of readers, some who were new, and some who’d been with me since the beginning.

THIS SAVAGE SONG was my 11th book. It was my first YA since THE UNBOUND, a strange, dark, existential novel about what it means to be monstrous, what it means to be human.

And this past week, it debuted at #1 on the New York Times list.


This is not a post meant to brag.

Success is a thing so largely out of our control.

Overnight Success is almost always a myth.

Half of this industry is luck, and half is the refusal to quit.


My San Diego Comic Con (and Non-Con) Schedule!

Hello, lovelies!


As I head home today from the wonderful SAVAGE SONG tour, I am getting ready to turn right around and head to San Diego for SDCC! Below is everything you need to know about where to find me. ALSO, if you’re NOT attending SDCC, please note that there’s a special coffee shop date set up just for you!


1:30-2:30PM: NERD TRIVIA–PANEL! Horton Grand Theatre.
Nerd Trivia Challenge is a one-hour game show featuring three teams of today’s biggest authors competing for the chance to be the champions of nerdy knowledge. Authors Patrick Rothfuss (The Kingkiller Chronicle), Pierce Brown (Red Rising), Romina Russell (Zodiac), Chuck Wendig (Invasive), Sam Sykes (The City Stained Red), Cecil Castelucci (Star Wars: Moving Target), V. E. Schwab (A Gathering of Shadows), Camilla D’Errico (Pop Manga, Pop Painting, Pop Manga Coloring Book), and Duane Swierczynski (Revolver) test their knowledge of everything from Marvel Universe characters to Harry Potter. Moderated by Brandon T. Snider (What Would Captain Kirk Do?).

3:45-4:45PM (I THINK): NERD TRIVIA–SIGNING! I know that it’s after the panel, but I don’t know the EXACT time or Autograph Area, so check back, but they will definitely say at the panel.




9-11AM: NON-CON EVENT! The amazing Kevin Hearne has organized an informal signing/chatting date at Upstart Crow Books and Coffee. Come by at 9am and you can hang out and get books signed by Kevin, Chuck Wendig, Richard Kadrey, and ME!

2PM: IN-BOOTH SIGNING: I’ll be at the Tor booth, 2707, signing free copies of VICIOUS! They will also have copies of ADSOM and AGOS for sale, and of course, you can bring your own.




11AM-12PM: WHAT’S HOT IN YA– SIGNING. Autograph Area 09. Please note that the signing for our panel is BEFORE the panel, not after.

3:45-4:45: WHAT’S HOT IN YA–PANEL! Room 5AB.

Strong protagonists, engrossing romance, humor, action, and angst! Join us for this popular annual chat about the hottest new titles and trends in YA fiction. Moderated by Nathan Bransford (The Jacob Wonderbar series) and featuring Renee Ahdieh (The Wrath and the Dawn series), Victoria Aveyard (The Red Queen series), Michelle Hodkin (The Mara Dyer Trilogy), Lauren Oliver (Vanishing Girls), Brendan Reichs (Virals series), Victoria Schwab (A Darker Shade of Magic), Laini Taylor (Strange the Dreamer), and Adam Silvera (More Happy Than Not).

My Mental Illness is a Storm

I’m always searching for the right words.

For my stories. For my life.

After all, words are the form we give ideas, a way to make the intangible tangible, conceivable, real. Words confess, they admit, they ground.

I’ve always been an anxious person. Neurotic. Hyper-vigilant. I have high walls, struggle with change, emotion, vulnerability. At some point, it tipped. When I get overwhelmed, my body shuts down. I start shaking, in that teeth chattering, heart stuttering, flushed and sick to my stomach way. I try to mask it, to pretend I’m okay, and sometimes that works, and sometimes it gets worse and worse until I’m sitting on a bathroom floor, wishing I could find the plug and pull it.

It’s always been a war, mind versus body, mind over body, body over mind.

For someone who’s pretty good with words, I’ve struggled to find the right ones for this. For myself, but also for my family and friends, who wanted so badly to help, to understand, the storm in my head.

A storm.

It’s taken me a long time to settle on that word. But the more I think about it, the more it fits.

Sometimes my mind is so cloudless and blue that it’s hard to imagine there ever was a storm, let alone that I’ll see one again.

Sometimes there are dark clouds in the distance, I can see them, but I’m able to skirt the weather. Other times I can’t, and I’m forced to watch the weather roll in.

Sometimes every day for weeks the forecast is dark, and I have to keep my umbrella handy, shuddering at every distant piece of thunder.

Sometimes whole seasons are made of lightning, hail, turbulent winds.

Sometimes the storm is so bad that all I can do is hunker down somewhere safe and remind myself over and over that storms pass. It’s what they do.

One of the most insidious things about mental illness is that it lies. It tries to convince you that this–how it is at its worst–is how it will always be. That the storm in your head is the new constant. That because all you can see is bad weather, that’s all there is now.

All there will ever be.

You will never see the sun again.

But that’s not how storms work. Which is why this metaphor is so important.

Because no matter the weather, the most important thing for me to remember–for anyone to remember–is this:

Storms pass.

Sometimes fast and sometimes slow, sometimes without any damage and others with wreckage in their wake.

But they pass.

I guess I’m putting this here as a reminder–to myself and anyone else who needs it–that storms are meant to be weathered.

THIS SAVAGE SONG makes the Indie Next List! And an important reminder about preorders……


A couple of weeks ago I got the wonderful news that THIS SAVAGE SONG, which comes out in just 6 weeks, made the Summer Indie Next List, a pretty hard-to-land-on list of new and upcoming titles that will be featured in independent bookstores across the country. And as someone for whom indies have been absolutely vital, I couldn’t be happier.

Here’s the review that landed me on that list:
This Savage Song, by Victoria Schwab
(Greenwillow Books, 9780062380852, $17.99, available July)
“August and Kate live in a broken world where violence breeds actual monsters. Kate wants to embrace her monstrous side, while August would do anything to be human. This Savage Song takes the darkness of the world around us and gives it form. Schwab has gifted readers with a fascinating — if gory — urban fantasy world, a pair of unforgettable protagonists, and a question that will linger long in the minds of readers: What does it mean to be inhuman in a world where humans do such monstrous things?” —Nicole Brinkley, Oblong Books & Music, Millerton, NY
And while we’re talking about indies, now’s a GREAT time to remind you that if you pre-order THIS SAVAGE SONG through either Parnassus Books or Books of Wonder (two of my favorite indies), you will receive:
–A signed/personalized hardcover!
–A set of limited edition HUMAN/MONSTER tattoos!
–My undying affection!*
*Pre-ordering a book is like a gift from present you to future you. It’s also one of the best ways to show a publisher there’s excitement for a book/series. It’s not a necessary thing, by any means, but it really does help.

On Little Gods

I’ve been thinking a lot about control. As a writer, you sculpt a world from scratch, populate it with people, with stories, and control them all. From the geography to the folklore, the smallest details to the largest plots. It’s in your hands.

In that sense, as a writer, you become a ‘little god’.

But in publishing–that business side of the art, your control dissolves.

You don’t control whether the book sells.

You don’t control the marketing budget if he does.

You don’t control the publisher’s investment.

You don’t control your place in-house.

You don’t control the sales plan.

You don’t control the cover art.

You don’t control the jacket copy.

You don’t control how the book is portrayed, publicized, given, sold to the world.

You don’t control anything.

Or at least, it can feel that way.

Because, of course, you still control one thing.

The words.

The content between the front cover and the back.

In the cyclone of publishing, it’s easy to forget how important that is. Easy to feel like the words don’t matter as much as a six-figure marketing campaign, a national tour, a lead title push.

They can feel like big gods.

It can be terrifying, if you let it.

(Sometimes I let it.)

But it can also be freeing, if you let it.

(I try.)

Because marketing is fickle. Publishers are fickle. The industry is fickle. And in that cyclone, the solid ground–the only patch of solid ground–is the story you want to tell. Your words on the page.

Yes, marketing matters.

Yes, a good cover helps.

Yes, you’re fighting an uphill battle to be seen, to be heard, to be read.


The single greatest thing you can do–the only thing you can do–is write.

The big gods will throw around money and mountains, but the little gods with their delicate sculptures, those are the ones that matter. Those are the ones that last.

So go.

Pick up your pen.

Tune out the noise.

Focus on the thing in your control.

And write.

Behind the scenes of the ADSOM TV deal!

Hi lovelies!

So, it’s a well-known fact that publishing is 90% waiting, and a large part of that waiting for me lately has been waiting to share a piece of news! I hinted at it now and then, mentioned working on a script, but yesterday, Deadline finally broke the news…


You guys.

You guys.

ADSOM is being developed for TV! Not just for TV, but for a limited series. Think Game of Thrones, or Daredevil, or any of the incredible shows rocking the 10-12 episode format.

I’ve been sitting on this news for the last 6 MONTHS. 6 months of working hand in hand with my producer Danielle as she showed me the ropes of script-writing, and worked tirelessly with me to get it right.

Here’s what Danielle had to say:

“Victoria is the ultimate world builder. I knew I had to be a part of this project when I started dreaming in Red London. Schwab’s writing is so vivid you start to see it and imagine it all around you. She has a very special gift. We are thrilled to be a part of helping her bring ADSOM to life.”

Excuse me while I draw hearts around that quote.

I actually went out to LA in the fall to meet with Danielle and talk through the project, and she surprised me with an ANTIQUE MAP OF LONDON. You guys. We’re meant for each other. I think Danielle has read ADSOM even more times than *I* have.

Now that the news has broken, there are a few things I want to address:

Q: You’re writing the script?!?!

A: I am indeed. When the producers asked me if I wanted to write the pilot, I thought long and hard about whether it was the right decision. One of my primary reasons for agreeing to adapt the material was the creative control, the opportunity to dictate the aesthetic and story. My producers have involved me in every decision, and promise to continue doing so, and I’m immeasurably grateful. This means that if ADSOM comes to TV, it will do so with my seal of approval.🙂

Q: Have you already written the script?

A: I’ve been working on the pilot script for the last 6 months! It’s buffed and polished and almost ready to conquer the world. Or at least LA.

Q: Please don’t mess this up.

A: I am trying very hard not to.

Q: Does this mean that ADSOM will definitely be airing on my TV?

A: Of course not, nothing is that simple. As with most high-risk, high-reward pursuits, there are many doors left to unlock. BUT ADSOM is off to an incredible start, and we’ve got a lot of people on our side, including YOU. The best thing you can do for the series is keep reading it, so those people in Hollywood know it’s worth the time and money.






Everything you need to know about the GATHERING OF SHADOWS tour!!

Hey there, lovelies.

A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC just came out in paperback this week, and it’s hard to believe we’re little more than a month away from the sequel hitting shelves!!

It’s also hard to believe that Tor is sending me on my first ever official, national tour.

This post will serve, as the subject suggests, as a source of EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW.

First, the official tour schedule on my site looks like this:


What that list DOESN’T tell you is all the AMAZING authors I’m signing WITH. So, a breakdown:

Friday, January 22nd
Livonia Barnes and Noble @ 7 p.m. (with Susan Dennard, John Scalzi, Wesley Chu, Max Gladstone, Greg van Eekhout, Lawrence M. Shoen, Tom Doyle, Cherie Priest)Livonia, MI

Tuesday, February 23
Parnassus Books @ 6:30 p.m.
Nashville, TN

Wednesday, February 24
Blue Willow Bookshop @ 7 p.m. (with Rachel Hawkins)
Houston, TX

Thursday, February 25
One More Page @ 7 p.m.
Arlington, VA

Friday, February 26
Rediscovered Books + Downtown Boise Public Library @ 7 p.m.
Boise, ID

Saturday, February 27
Borderlands Books @ 3 p.m. (with Margaret Stohl and Stephenie Kuehn)
San Francisco, CA

Sunday, February 28
Barnes & Noble @ 2 p.m. (with Gretchen McNeil and Marie Lu)
Los Angeles, CA

Monday, February 29
Mysterious Galaxy @ 7:30 p.m. (with Kiersten White and Cecil Castellucci)
San Diego, CA

Tuesday, March 1
Third Place Books @ 7 p.m. (with Jason Hough, Kerry Schafer, and A.R. Kahler)
Seattle, WA

Wednesday, March 2
Old Firehouse Books @ 7 p.m. (with Brenna Yovanoff and Emily Hainesworth)
Fort Collins, CO

Thursday, March 3
Poisoned Pen @ 7 p.m. (with Sam Sykes and Rae Carson)
Scottsdale, AZ

Saturday, March 5
Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café @ 3 p.m. (with Jessica Khoury, Delilah S. Dawson, and Ryan Graudin, moderated by Beth Revis)
Asheville, NC

Tuesday, March 8
Joseph-Beth Booksellers @ 7 p.m. (with Gwenda Bond and Julie Kagawa)
Lexington, KY


this past week I also revealed the super exclusive fifth AGOS card, available only to those who come to see me on tour. Here is the two-sided RHY IN TORMENT/RHY IN MAJESTY.

Photo on 1-18-16 at 11.44 AM #2

Onto some FAQ:

*All answers are about my personal preferences and don’t apply to all authors.*

NOTE: Most bookstores understandably require you to buy at least one book at the event, but it doesn’t have to be mine (I am signing with some AMAZING authors), and I am more than happy to sign as many books as you bring with you, too.

NOTE: Please don’t record an event without asking.

NOTE: I often get asked if people can bring me things (it’s a very sweet gesture), and while I LOVE presents, I will ask that you please don’t bring homemade treats. My favorite things, if you’re so inclined, are: fanart, dark chocolate peanut butter cups, hugs.

NOTE: I am more than happy to take photographs!

NOTE: The thing about authors to remember is that we’re as scared of you as you are of us. Don’t fret about being nervous, or awkward. We are nervous and awkward and most certainly not judging you.

A Year in Review, A Year Ahead

I’m writing this post on New Year’s Day from my parents’ house in France, which looks–quite fittingly–like something out of a fairy tale.


My New Year’s Eve…


A lot of people tell me I’m brave for being willing to up and move across the world, to take my roots with me or trust in them to hold, but my parents are truly inspiring. My father has been a Type 1 diabetic since he was a child, and was told he’d never see 50. This past year he turned 66, is in better health than most people half his age, and followed a dream he had since his 30’s–to buy a home in France.


My mother, who didn’t speak a word of French (though she’s learning), agreed to pick up her entire life and go with him, to help make that dream happen. If that’s not bravery, I don’t know what is.


Looking back at *my* year, it certainly had its own adventures.

I finished a graduate degree at the University of Edinburgh, and earned a Masters of Science in Medieval Art History.


My Tor editor, Miriam, and I spent a week in Edinburgh celebrating ADSOM, plotting the final installment…


…and toasting our new four-book deal!



61vgDYmMOlL._SX342_BO1,204,203,200_   A Gathering of Shadows Final   23299512

I got a tattoo to mark the things I’ve already accomplished, and those still ahead.


A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC took 2nd in the Goodreads Choice Awards, right below NEIL F*CKING GAIMAN.


I read a whopping 104 books:


I celebrated the release of A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC on two continents. And that book would go into 5 printings in the first month. It would sell in Brazil, Germany, Poland, and China. It would become a major success. I, of course, had no idea.

IMG_2176 Photo on 2-25-15 at 9.51 AM #3

I fostered a crazy Pyrenees puppy named Zeke.

IMG_3597 IMG_3567

I fell madly, deeply in love with Scotland.


And I bought my very first apartment in Nashville.



I don’t know how to top that in 2016. I don’t know if it’s possible. But here’s what’s in store.

In 3 weeks, A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC hits shelves in paperback.

In 7 weeks, A GATHERING OF SHADOWS will come out in hardcover. In 7 months, my new YA, THIS SAVAGE SONG, will hit shelves in hardcover.

Photo on 12-7-15 at 12.47 PM

With AGOS, I’ll go on my first major publisher-sponsored tour.


Over the course of this year, I plan to finish writing the ADSOM series. I plan to write the sequel to THIS SAVAGE SONG. I hope to finish the sequel to VICIOUS, as well as a new MG project.

I’m setting another 100-book reading goal, because I honestly feel like that intense immersion in words and styles was an education unto itself.

My two words for the year are DISCIPLINE and SANCTUARY. At first they might seem incompatible, but both are essential for a sane and productive environment. I need to hold on to my writing discipline, but I also need to carve out safe and healthy mental space. That means not looking at reviews, not engaging in toxic or self-destructive behavior, not ego-surfing or dwelling overly on things out of my control. It’s going to be a challenge, but I hope I can rise to it.

Overall, I am simply hoping for a healthy, productive year. And who knows, maybe a few adventures around the bend😉


Give the Gift of *MAGIC*

“Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside them. And it’s much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world.” ~Neil Gaiman


I’m always talking about how books make wonderful presents, and I’m of the (admittedly biased) belief that ADSOM makes a particularly nice one. That’s why, this holiday season, I want to reward people for giving the gift of MAGIC.

And so, to that end…

If you:

-Buy A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC for someone on your holiday list, &

-Send proof of purchase* to by Dec 18th, along with a mailing address and the name of the recipient (even if it’s you)…

I will:

-Send you a signed/personalized bookplate to put with your book under the tree!

*Proof of purchase can be a screencap of an online order, a picture of the receipt with date, or a photo of you standing at a cash register holding the book and making a thumbs up.

*Open internationally.


And in case that’s not enough tinsel for your tree…

REMINDER: If you pre-order A GATHERING OF SHADOWS and send proof of purchase to, you’ll receive these gorgeous AGOS art cards illustrated by Victoria Ying.