Goblin Quest

My Son Reviews Goblin Quest

A week or so back, my wife sat down and started reading Goblin Quest [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy] to my son Jackson. To be honest, this made me nervous. I wrote this book more than a decade ago, and while some people have loved it, no book works for everyone. What if he didn’t like it? What if he didn’t get the humor? What if it was just too old for him?

Basically, I was more worried about what my seven-year-old boy thought of my book than I was about what my editor thought of the Codex Born draft.

I’m happy to say he loved it. Night after night when I put him to bed, he’d ask me questions about the goblins and the hobgoblins and the dragon, and told me what he thought would happen next. He even guessed where the Rod of Creation would be found. The first time the forgotten god Tymalous Shadowstar spoke to Jig the goblin, Jackson literally gasped. He giggled when Smudge set various people and things on fire. He worried about Riana and Jig, and got mad at the adventurers for how they treated Jig.

I’ve gotten some great reviews for this book. Wil Wheaton called it “too f***ing cool for words.” Ed Greenwood loved it. Fans have made crocheted goblins and gotten tattoos of Jig or Smudge.

But this review is at the top of my list. Watching and listening to his reactions as my wife read the story has been one of the best experiences in almost 20 years of writing.

With that said, let’s find out what he thought of the book.

What is Goblin Quest about?

You should know that. You wrote it!

Okay, fine. What do you think Goblin Quest is about?

I think it’s about the first goblin that goes on an adventure. Jig was on muck duty, and then Porak and the rest of his patrol took him out and sent him ahead so they could play games and not technically abandon their duties. But they really did abandon their duties, but Jig didn’t. He did their duties for them, and he got captured by a group of adventurers that were on a quest to find the Rod of Creation.

Who was your favorite character?

Jig, because he’s he main character, and I think he’s pretty cool.

What did you think of the other characters?

I liked it when Jig was talking to the adventurers in English, but then he talked to the other goblins in Goblin, except that he forgot that Darnak could speak Goblin. Uh oh…

What was the best part of the story?

For me, it was when they found out that [SPOILER ABOUT THE ROD OF CREATION].

Were there any parts you didn’t like, or that you thought were too scary?

I didn’t like when Riana was picking one of the Necromancer’s locks and it started to turn her into one of the walking corpses, a zombie, basically. It was scary.

Who do you think should read this book?


What are you and Mama going to read next?

Goblin Hero!

250 Weeks of Goblin Quest

As I was adding my Bookscan numbers to my big old Excel Spreadsheet of Sales (yes, I’m a data geek), I realized last week marked exactly 250 weeks since Goblin Quest [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy] first started showing up in bookstores.

That was an odd realization. It’s been not quite five years since the biggest shift in my career… In some respects it feels like a long time. There are circles where I feel like one of the old pros, watching the new kids with their fancy e-books and their new-fangled urban steampunk pararomances and their social media. In other ways, I still feel like a brand new author trying to figure out how to make a career of this.

Some random factoids about Goblin Quest…

  • I started writing the book on November 1, 2000, as part of a Novel Dare with some friends.
  • I finished the first draft on December 7, 2000. (I was unemployed at the time, so I could spend a lot of time writing.)
  • After a three week break, I started revising on January 1, 2001.
  • I wrapped up revision after about two weeks, and submitted my first four query letters on January 16, 2001.
  • My first rejection letter showed up on January 30, 2001.
  • I submitted to a total of 39 agents and publishers over the next few years, and was rejected by almost all of them.
  • The first acceptance arrived on January 7, 2004 from Five Star Books … three years after I finished the book. (We sold the book to DAW in early 2006.)
  • Goblin Quest has been published in Russian, German, French, Polish, and Czech. (We almost had a Hebrew edition as well, but that fell through.)
  • The book has earned out its U.S. advance twice over, and is currently in its sixth printing with DAW. Its two sequels also earned out their advances and gone back for multiple printings.

Not bad for a nearsighted goblin runt and his pet fire-spider, eh? So much has changed since then … it makes me wonder where I’ll be in another five years.

Story Sale and Book Giveaway

Contracts are signed, and the announcement has been made: I’ve sold my story “The Blue Corpse Corps” to the Dragon Moon Press anthology When the Hero Comes Home, edited by Ed Greenwood and Gabrielle Harbowy.  The book should be out in August, and includes stories by Jay Lake, Erik Scott de Bie, Todd McCaffrey, Julie Kagawa, Marie Bilodeau, Eric Buchanan, and more.

I’m amused and flattered to note that I’ve become a selling point.  The press release mentions that the book includes, “an all-new Jig the Goblin story by Jim C. Hines.”  That’s pretty darn cool.

To celebrate, I’m giving away one copy each (autographed, of course) of Goblin Quest [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy]  and Stepsister Scheme [Amazon | B&NMysterious Galaxy].


“The Blue Corpse Corps” started with a comment on the blog about how fun it could be to do a goblins vs. zombies story.  To enter the giveaway, just comment and suggest who the goblins should take on next.  For example:

Goblins vs. My Little Ponies
Goblins vs. Doctor Who
Smudge vs. The Chipmunks

Make sure to specify which book you’re interested in: Stepsister or Goblin Quest.  One entry per person, and anyone can enter (this is not a U.S. only contest).  I’ll randomly select two winners next week.

Have fun!

First Book Friday: Goblin Quest

I’m thinking about making this a regular feature, asking different authors to talk about their first big novel deal.  What do you think?

It was September of 2000.  I had just quit my job in Nevada and moved back to Michigan.  I was living with my parents, sending out resumes, and trying to rebuild a social life.  I was also reading a lot, including one book which should have been awesome.  It was a fantasy novel written from the point of view of the monsters, and it looked to be funny and fun and exactly what I needed.

It wasn’t.  I don’t think it was a bad book, but it wasn’t what I wanted to read.  I tossed it away without finishing because I was so frustrated.  I wanted to know more about the monsters’ society and how they functioned.  I wanted humor that came from the characters.  I wanted to see them fight back with cleverness instead of brute force.  Since this author hadn’t given me that book, I decided to write it myself.

Goblin Quest [B&N | Mysterious Galaxy | Amazon]  was the fourth novel I finished, telling the story of Jig the goblin, an underdog even among underdogs who gets dragged along by adventurers and forced to face carrion worms, zombies, a dragon, and worse.  Because I had no life and no job, I wrote and revised the book in just six weeks.

Unlike most books I’ve written, I had a clear idea how this one was going to go.  Jig and Smudge were fully formed from day one.  The plot didn’t change much.  A few names were altered — Rana became Riana, the dragon Fraum turned into Straum, Golara the cook got a K in her name — but that’s about it.

The first four query letters went out to agents on January 16, 2001.  I sent another four on the 23rd.  I also submitted the manuscript to publishers, starting with Tor on February 7. Tor’s rejection showed up on February 20.  (If only I had known about their fear of goblins!)

All total, I queried 27 agents and submitted to 10 publishers, including Baen Books in November of 2002.  In November of 2003, I came across Five Star Books, a small library press.  John Helfers was the acquisitions editor.  I knew his name from Turn the Other Chick, which included a story from me.  So I sent him a query.  When he expressed interest, I sent a withdrawal letter to Baen and mailed the manuscript to John.  A month and a half later, I had an offer.  A year after that, GoblinQuest[1. For some reason I decided GoblinQuest was a cooler title than Goblin Quest. I’m not sure what I was thinking. Removing the space was a dumb idea, and led to a number of needless database errors.] was out from Five Star.

Then things got interesting.  In February of 2005 — a year and a half after I had withdrawn the book from Baen, and three months after the Five Star edition came out — I received an e-mail from Jim Baen, offering to buy Goblin Quest.[2. Apparently they never received my withdrawal letter.]

I freaked out.  On the advice of author friends, I called several agents.  Steve Mancino at JABberwocky agreed to take a look.  Five Star only published hardcover and trade paperback, which meant the mass market rights were still available.  Steve read the book, loved it, and offered to represent me.

Without going into details, the Baen offer was withdrawn, and I entered a month-long funk.  While I moped, Steve sold Goblin Quest to a Russian publisher and encouraged me to get to work on the next book.

I ended up writing another goblin book because writing about goblins cheered me up, and I desperately needed cheering.  Steve took the new book, Goblin Hero, and sent it to editors.  The folks at Ace and DAW were interested, so we sent them Goblin Quest to read.  DAW made an offer on both books, and the rest is history.

So there you have it.  Six years from writing the book to seeing the DAW edition appear in 2006.  Today, Goblin Quest is in its fifth printing, and long ago earned out its advance.  It’s been translated into five other languages, and German sales helped put a new roof on my house.

Not bad for a nearsighted goblin runt and his pet fire-spider.


In addition to well over 100 comments on yesterday’s MZB Fanfiction write-up, I’ve received a number of e-mails on the subject.  Some thanking me for the research, others telling me I’m wrong about one or more details.  That’s very possible.  Heck, it’s probable.  First-hand accounts are often slanted, and (as was brought up in the comments) there may be settlement terms keeping some information quiet.  My write-up is the best I’ve been able to research, but please keep in mind that we don’t know everything, and probably never will.


I discovered today, via a Twitter update from my agent, that Goblin Quest [B&N | Mysterious Galaxy | Amazon] is in its 5th printing.  Not bad for a little goblin runt and his pet fire-spider!


Penguin just sent me 4000 bookmarks for Red Hood’s Revenge [B&N | Mysterious Galaxy | Amazon].  Please contact me if:

  1. You’ll be going to a convention in the next few months, and would be willing to leave bookmarks on the freebies table.
  2. You work at/run a bookstore, and would like bookmarks for your store.
  3. Neither of the above, but you live in the U.S. and just want a Red Hood bookmark.  (In this case, I’ll probably send a handful or so and ask that you hand a few out to anyone you think might like the books.)

I’m also happy to autograph one for you, if you’re interested.

Thus endeth the promotional part of today’s blog post.


Finally, over on YouTube, we get a sneak peek at the new line of LEGO toys.  (I don’t generally embed video in the blog, so I apologize in advance if I mess it up.)

Hey — Free Books!

As people may or may not know, every time someone clicks on one of my Amazon links to buy a book (or anything else from Amazon), I get a small percentage back as Amazon gift credit.  This is why I usually list book titles like so: The Mermaid’s Madness [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy].

For a while now, I’ve used that credit to buy and give away books.  Thanks to everyone who’s clicked on those links over the past month or two, it’s time to hand out some more.

This time, I’m going to offer three signed copies of either Goblin Quest and The Stepsister Scheme.  If you’ve been thinking about trying one of my series but haven’t felt like shelling out $8, here’s your chance.  Or, if you already own the books but want an autographed copy, that’s okay too!  (But if you win a book you already own, I’d ask that you give your old copy to someone else who might appreciate it.)

To enter, just comment on this entry stating which of the two books you’d prefer and why.  Are you Team Goblin or Team Princess?  One entry per person, and anonymous commenters, please make sure I have some way to reach you.

I’ll pick three winners either over the weekend or early next week.

Why I Haven’t Written a 4th Goblin Book

At least once a month, I receive an e-mail or a comment asking if I’m going to do a fourth goblin book.  The answer has always been, “Probably not.”  I can think of only two situations wherein I might consider writing another goblin book:

  1. DAW offers to pay me a million dollars[1. Or any publisher, for that matter. I’m not picky.].
  2. I come up with an idea for a goblin story that is both new and exciting to me as a writer.

The thing is, in my brain, Jig’s story is finished.  I’ve shown him and his fellow goblins growing and changing over the three books.  I leave them in a very different place in book three, and I like that.  I like that we got to see Tymalous Shadowstar’s story as well.  I like that we got closure for some of the other characters and situations from book one.  It feels done.

Sometimes I wonder if I made the right call, if maybe I should have kept going with the series.  Jig has some wonderful fans, and he really was a fun character to write.  (Not to mention the goblins were making great money over in Germany!)  And then last night I caught the rebirth of Scrubs.

This is a show that “ended” after season eight.  I thought they had a wonderful series finale, and I was very impressed at how they handled everything.  It worked.

And then they decided to keep going.  I don’t know why.  I don’t know if it was a purely commercial decision, or if someone honestly thought they had more stories to tell.  All I know is that it was painful.  Many of the characters had crossed the line into caricature.  The stories felt repetitive–things we had already seen in earlier seasons.  The whole thing felt hollow.

I hope they’ll improve as the season progresses, and I’ll keep watching to see where they go with it.  But those two new episodes affirmed for me why I don’t just sit down and write a fourth Jig book.  If I wrote it because the fans wanted it, or for money, or for any reason aside from my own love and excitement over a new story, the odds are that I’d lose the heart of those stories.  I’d end up with the same kind of empty, repetitive caricature I watched last night.

I was disappointed when Scrubs ended, but I enjoyed the series, and I loved and respected the way they wrapped things up.  As a fan, I find myself wishing they had left it there.  And as a writer, I don’t want to do that to my own fans.

SF Novelists & Electronic Goblins

Today is my day at SF Novelists, where I wax not-so-eloquently on what makes a story. I also offer another free book, ’cause I like giving away books 🙂


Oh, and before I forget, it looks like Goblin Quest is going to be released in Kindle and other e-book formats on July 7.  I’m excited, since this means the entire goblin trilogy will finally be available in electronic format.

Finally, I’m told I should be getting page proofs for The Mermaid’s Madness [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy] very soon now.  Between this and the rewrite on Red Hood, blogging and e-mail might be a little light for the next few weeks.

Jim C. Hines