Bringing It Home: a followup to last post

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For the last few years, I’ve been putting more and more of my thoughts into Twitter threads, and it’s time to pull back from that. The people on Twitter are great, except for the ones who aren’t, but the company is a parade of fail. What’s more, it’s all so ephemeral. If I write about a Star Wars reboot on my blog, it’s always available to me when the subject comes up. If I put it Twitter, it falls into the memory hole before the day is out.

So, more posts in spaces I own.

This is probably a terrible decision, considering how little traffic I get. But I’ve been on Twitter for seven years. That’s a lot of bullshit to type out, and a lot of time to waste. It’s time I reclaimed time, if you know what I mean.

And as a followup to my last post, remember how I said I was working on a 20P novella? I just turned it over to my agent.

At the moment, I’m as free as a bird to watch creature features and daydream a new project. And I have a tall glass of celebratory bourbon beside me.

Happy Tuesday, you guys.

The State of the Novelist Address: I just sent a book to my agent

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I thought I’d pop in and update things for folks, writing-wise.

First, earlier this week I sent a new novel to my agent. It’s a crime/mystery novel, a genre I’ve been reading for years. This isn’t my first attempt at this style, but it is the first one that I feel comfortable with. Some aspects of it fall right down the middle of the genre, while some are probably all wrong and will make me tear my hair out in revisions. We’ll see! But it feels good to start a book and send it to her in under six months. I’m not usually that prolific.

Which means I’ve returned to revision on my Twenty Palaces novella. I know I’ve been talking about this for a while, but this mini-book has resisted several attempts to write it. At this point, I feel I’ve solved most of the problems and hope to have it on sale before the end of the year.

Once I finish that, I’ll be working on something new. No idea what it will be, but I’m just going to pick an idea that sounds cool and run with it.

Thank you for reading this, and being here.

Baby’s First Audio Book

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Today I finished listening to my first audio book.

It was the unabridged Fellowship of the Ring, read by Rob Inglis, and I enjoyed it. A lot.

I didn’t expect to. When the audio book for Child of Fire came out, I found it impossible to listen to it. The narrator’s voice was fine–excellent, even–but it was completely different from the voice I heard in my head when I was writing it, and the dissonance was unbearable.

And the format itself seemed utterly wrong for me. I love to drive but I don’t have a car so I never do. I don’t have a phone to carry with me when I walk. My apartment is tiny, so when would I be able to listen at home? Besides, no skimming? No reading quickly through the exciting stuff?

Hmf, I said.

Then I heard a piece on NPR where a woman said she listened to Rob Inglis’s reading of LOTR every year, and I found it at the library. The first book was 19.25 hours long on 16 CDs! [1] And I just happened to get my copy of Obduction from Kickstarter.

A quiet, Myst-style game and an audio book through the headphones seemed like a perfect combination.

And I loved it.

The game was done before the audio book and I’ve been having trouble squeezing time to listen, but all the things I thought would be bugs turned out to be features. As annoyed as I was when I read Tolkien’s description of hiking through rough terrain (was this really the sort of challenge you want to devote page space to?) being forced to listen to it had the opposite effect. I could visualize the scene. I didn’t feel impatient because I couldn’t skim ahead to the next plot point. Taking away that small measure of control was surprisingly relaxing.

Anyway, I have never enjoyed Fellowship of the Ring quite so much before (although I still say Fuck Tom Bombadil) and I’m wondering how I can find 17-odd hours for the next book. I can’t. It just won’t fit into my life, but I wish it did.

Until I get a car, maybe.

[Update] I forgot to mention that the third book in my Great Way series comes out today in audio book. If you subscribe to Audible, you can listen free. If you bought the Kindle version from Amazon, the audio version is startlingly affordable. The series begins here.

[1] Don’t laugh. I’ve just had to order a new CD player online, because our old one is going wonky and my wife doesn’t want to have to fuck with a computer to play her music while she paints.

Can I get these Polish cover designers to do ALL my books?

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The Polish edition of Child of Fire is out, and look at how amazing it is.

If that image doesn’t show, you can also find the cover at this link.

In a time when covers (especially urban fantasy covers) seem to share all the same design elements, this is genuinely exciting.

BTW, I originally found the cover on Goodreads, but I couldn’t find a simple way to share it without being scolded to linking to my own work, so Amazon it is.

State of the Book/State of the Self

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[I wrote this on Saturday night, before news struck of the deadliest mass shooting by a civilian in this country’s history. Rather than let it go live at the scheduled time, I’m just going to post it later in the week, along with my wish that sensible gun control be enacted in this country, starting with a lifting of the ban on CDC’s ability to study gun violence.]

You’ll be reading this tomorrow, but I just tweeted this:

If you’re not a long-time reader, let me explain: When I finish a draft of a novel I treat myself to a bottle of Arrogant Bastard Ale.

Which means that I’ve wrapped up the zero draft of ONE MAN, and what a fucking relief it is. I started this book in March of 2015, according to the creation date of my Scrivener file. That’s a long time for me, even if you count the amount of time I spent traveling on vacation and taking a digression to work on side projects, like The Way into Fate, the rpg game supplement that closed out my Kickstarter campaign, and short fiction, too.

So, that’s a long haul, and I’m still not done. I have a list of 90-some changes that need to be made, from small ones like adding a couple characters to a scene or changing someone’s name, to systemic ones like giving certain characters their own slang. Then, once those changes are done, I have to manage the numerous comments I’ve left myself recommending I check various details in the book. Then, once THAT’s done, I have to reread the whole book, smoothing out the text, searching for word echoes, and generally prettying things up. If I were sensible, I’d do that twice.

Only then will this draft be truly done and ready for my agent to read. If you’re waiting for THE TWISTED PATH, which is the next Twenty Palaces story, you’ll have to wait until then. Sorry. Gotta get this book on the market.

Personally, I’m relieved to have accomplished even this much. This has been a difficult book, and I’m not entirely sure why. It’s a fantasy with a made-up setting. It’s a crime story. It has a bunch of POV characters. It has stakes and magic and betrayals and secrets.

And if this book flops, too, I’m going to have to rethink my whole approach to writing.

Child of Fire on sale

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I woke up this morning and saw this:

I don’t subscribe to BookBub‘s newsletter (which shares promotional deals with large numbers of readers, and is a powerful marketing tool) but I do know they’re choosy about which books they choose. Anyway, it seems that today they’ve chosen mine. It was submitted by Del Rey, of course, and they didn’t let me know about it, of course.

Still, BookBub favors sale prices, and that means the ebook edition of Child of Fire is on sale right now for only $1.99. If you haven’t read it, here’s your chance (buy links at the bottom of that page).

Update: BookBub bumped the sales rank to 780, which is pretty good, six years after the novel was released.

Dark Fantasy StoryBundle is now live

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Hey, you guys. You know what a StoryBundle is, don’t you? There are several novels all bundled together into one package, and you can pay whatever you like for them (with a $3 minimum). If you’re willing to pay above a certain dollar figure ($12), you get extra books.

Well, currently there’s a Dark Fantasy StoryBundle running for a limited time. You can spend three measly bucks and get five novels. For $12 (or more) you get nine.

Plus, if you so choose, 10% of your purchase price can go to charity. In fact, you can support the ALS Association, the charity that has been benefiting from the ice bucket challenge, but without the social shaming issues that come from “challenging” people. If you think ALS has already received its fair share of support lately, the other options are Girls Write Now and Mighty Writers. There’s a “Learn More” link on the page to tell you more about those charities, but I just want to say that I grew up in Philadelphia and anyone who wants to throw a little love to Mighty Writers would earn my gratitude (not that the other programs are not worthy, too).

You also get to choose what percentage of the purchase price goes to the authors and what goes to the folks at StoryBundle, which is a great way to do things.

All the books are DRM-free. The other authors include a Hugo-winner and a couple of best-selling authors (as well as, somehow, me). The fiction here is *dark* urban fantasy without romance plots, so if you like my work, you might also like these other books. PLUS, it’s super easy to buy the bundle as a gift for someone else.

Anyway, if you guys wouldn’t mind helping to spread the word about this, I’d appreciate it. And check out those books. I’m downloading my bundle right now.

The Bundle will be available until Sept 17. If you’re interested, don’t put off the purchase. It’s going to go away soon.

Here are the covers:

All 9 StoryBundle Covers

First week self-pub book sales: the numbers

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It’s been one week since I released the ebook of Bad Little Girls Die Horrible Deaths And Other Tales Of Dark Fantasy (aka BLGDHDAOT oh, forget it) and I thought it might be interesting if I shared sales numbers. If you aren’t a regular reader of the blog and just like sales numbers, there’s more detail here, consider picking up a copy. It’s only three bucks.

First, we have the Kickstarter backers. There are 1166 people who pledged at $12 or above and who should have already gone to the download page and snagged a copy of this book. According to Google Analytics, there have been 1665 page views of the download page, and only 729 730 unique views (good job, late visitor). IF YOU BACKED THE KICKSTARTER AT $12 OR MORE BUT HAVE NOT RECEIVED THE DL LINK, CONTACT ME THROUGH MY KICKSTARTER ACCOUNT. You deserve to have your first book. Come and get it.

On a side note, releasing BAD LITTLE GIRLS… prompted eight unique views to the page where backers could get a copy of Twenty Palaces.

But what about readers who wanted the book but couldn’t/didn’t back the Kickstarter? Well, as you’d expect, Amazon generates the most sales. For this first week, there were 41 total sales: 16 on that first day, low numbers over the holiday weekend, then another 13 on Monday, when I posted an updated announcement post and a reader linked to the book on reddit/urbanfantasy. Later that day:

Broke 100 in Dark Fantasy

Hey, I’ll take any excuse to celebrate.

Using Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press, I’ve sold six copies. In Smashwords: three copies. Apple iBooks: one copy.

Of course, it took several days for me to get my book on Smashwords and iBooks. Those went on sale much later than the others, Smashwords because their formatting requirements are so complicated and iBooks because they take a long time to approve the books for their store. In fact, iBooks just made Bad Little Girls available yesterday, so that’s only one day’s numbers. If you’re an Apple partisan with an iPhone or iPad, you could swing over to iBooks yourself and bump their numbers. (Any benefit to me would of course be incidental.)

Other sales channels like Kobo, Oyster, Scribd, etc will be fulfilled through Smashwords’s distribution channel, and that hasn’t happened yet. Still, from experience I know those sales channels will be pretty thin.

Anyway, as expected, Amazon is readers’ preferred choice when it comes to buying and reading ebooks. I know short fiction collections don’t generally move a lot of copies, but I’d hoped the numbers would be higher. I received quite a few tweets and emails from people who had missed the Kickstarter and wanted to make sure they could get the books, especially the Twenty Palaces story BAD LITTLE GIRLS…. How to reach those people, though? I hesitate to send out a newsletter because I anticipate sending one in August for The Great Way. Few things will make people drop a newsletter faster than feeling that they’re getting too many emails. I’m planning to combine those newsletter announcements into one.

On top of that, there’s… what? Ads on reddit/r/Fantasy? I’m told reddit is one of the few places that ads will work. Maybe I could add comments to the five-star reviews on the other 20P novels, letting readers know there’s a new story? (Nah. Bad idea.) I’m planning to organize a blog tour for The Great Way, so I can’t do an extra one here.

In short, I wanted BAD LITTLE GIRLS… in my backlist when The Great Way came out, but I don’t want to do so much promo for it that people are sick of hearing from me when my trilogy comes out.

Fingers crossed.

My First Short Fiction Collection (20 Palaces-related)

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I announced this last week, but I think I did a really terrible job of it. Let me try again:

One of the stretch goals for the Kickstarter I ran last fall was a short fiction collection that would include a new Twenty Palaces short story. We hit that goal and the book has been delivered to Kickstarter backers.

It’s also on sale as an ebook right now for only $2.99.
| Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords |

The book is DRM-free on every site. If you buy the .mobi file format from Smashwords, you can put the book on your Kindle without worrying that Amazon will take it away from you. In other words, you’ll actually own it. (Just back it up elsewhere.)

Some details:

  • The Twenty Palaces story is called “The Home Made Mask” and it’s actually a novelette, being about 10K words.
  • Four of the stories are reprints that have been published elsewhere. Their rights have reverted, so I’m self-publishing them for the first time.
  • Two are stories that I previously sold on Amazon for 99 cents each.
  • Five have never been made available before, including “The Home Made Mask.” (It was important to me that people who had bought those short singles not feel ripped off when buying the collection).

Some of the stories are straight fantasy adventure. Some are much darker, bordering on horror (but aren’t straight horror). Some are humorous. Some are grimdark.

Honestly, I don’t consider short fiction a natural length for me, but I’m proud of the work here. Also, I keep thinking I should offer a free sample in my blog (maybe of the title story). What do you think? I realize comments are off on my main blog but you can drop me a note via Twitter, LiveJournal, Facebook, G+, or whatever.

Cover art for Bad Little Girls Die Horrible Deaths And Other Tales Of Dark Fantasy

Only $2.99

Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords |