The News from Italy

I’m back in the States after my whirlwind trip through the Bologna Book Fair. The big news Tuesday: the first printing of Battle of the Labyrinth will be one million copies.

I just about passed out when I heard that. I still can’t quite get my mind around it. In the publishing business, anything over 100,000 is considered a huge first printing for a hardcover title. 250,000 is a blockbuster. But one million? Holy Hephaestus! It’s all thanks to you readers, who have been so enthusiastic about Percy. So many of you have already preordered the fourth book that Disney keeps bumping up their expected first printing number, until we now stand at seven figures.

News that is just as big: I’ve signed a new two-book deal with Disney. The first of these books will come out in 2010. It will not be a Percy book, but will be the beginning of a new action/fantasy series that I hope you’ll love. I can’t tell you anything about it yet, but I’m very excited about the idea and have wanted to write it for a long time. The book after that, which will come out in 2011, will return to the world of Camp Half-Blood, and start a new series about the young demigods who train there. As I’ve been saying for a while, Percy’s main story, which began in the Lightning Thief, will wrap up in Percy Jackson and the Olympians, book five. However, there are many other stories to tell about Camp Half-Blood. Will Percy himself be back? Which demigods will be the heroes of the story? It’s too early to give you any hints, but stay tuned. I will say that the end of Percy Jackson 5 (which I’m writing right now, by the way) will give you a pretty good idea what will happen in subsequent books!

The Disney staff, my agent Nancy and I had a celebration dinner in Bologna on Tuesday night. One important person couldn’t be with us: My editor Jennifer Besser was back in New York, holding down the fort, but major thanks to her! She’s played a huge part in championing the Percy Jackson series. And of course, she edits the books and makes sure I’m doing my absolute best!

I also had a great time promoting my upcoming Scholastic project, The 39 Clues. We had a dinner for the foreign publishers on Monday, and the response was extremely enthusiastic. Between Percy Jackson and 39 Clues, 2009 is going to be a busy year. I got invitations to visit Australia, Turkey, Korea, Israel, and Scandinavia. Not that I will have time to do all that – I can’t even accommodate all the U.S. requests I get – but maybe one of these days I’ll get to visit those places. For the moment, I’m just gearing up for May, and the huge travel involved in the release tour for Battle of the Labyrinth.

And now, it’s back to writing Percy 5. I’m afraid I left our friends in a dangerous situation, but what else is new?

Rick Riordan