Tag Archives: self-publishing

An Announcement

I’m very happy to announce that I recently agreed to sign a contract with Berkley Publishing Group in the US for publication of the Raven’s Shadow trilogy. Berkley is a US imprint of Penguin Books which includes the Ace and Roc Sci-Fi/Fantasy lines, so it will be an honour to have my work appear on the same imprint as Stephen Donaldson, Joe Haldeman, Ursula LeGuin and William Gibson (among many others).

It will take some time for the print edition of Blood-Song to appear so rest assured the current ebook version will remain available, at the same price, probably into 2013.

I’m aware of the ongoing debate about traditional versus indie publishing and fully appreciate why some authors have chosen to stick with the independent route. However, having thought about it long and hard, I decided this was the best choice for me. If I’m ever going to get to the point where I can start writing full time I need my work to reach a wider audience, including foreign language markets and bookstores, neither of which are open to me at present.

Many readers will no doubt be wondering what this means for Tower Lord. The fact is, at this stage I just don’t know. I still intend to finish it this year, but giving any indication as to a publication date would be pure speculation at this point. I’ll post any news here in due course.

Now, off to celebrate with a marathon session on Sniper Elite V2 (buy it, it’s really good).

The Secret to E-book Self-Publishing Success

As it’s been about five months since I published Blood Song in which time I’ve sold over 2000 books (admittedly most of them this month). So I thought it might be time to reveal the secret of self-publishing an e-book that sells. Don’t waste your time and money on how-to books or webinars, for I have the answer right here for free. Ready? OK, here goes:

Write a good book.

That’s it. There’s no mystery, no short-cuts and no substitute. If you want to write a book that sells, make it a good one. The advent of e-books has certainly opened the flood-gates to an enormous amount of unreadable dross, but it’s also brought about a new meritocracy in publishing. Put simply, if it’s good it will sell. If it’s not, it won’t and no amount of publicity will magically turn it into the bestseller you want it to be.

If you’re going to do this thing, accept the fact that you exist in a meritocracy, a real one. Not the pretend meritocracies of the corporate world where success is largely a matter of fooling gullible management into believing how great you are (read Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test if you don’t believe me). In a real meritocracy all that matters is ability. Not popularity, not inter-personal skills, not a facility for spewing jargon and buzz-words. Just being good at what you do, and being good at something requires work.

Writing is hard and it takes a long time to do it well. I estimate it took me about 100,000 words before I got to a point where I wasn’t embarrassed to show people my work, and another 100,000 before I felt confident enough to publish it. So if you want to do this, get writing. Write every day, whenever you can. And, if you’ve never written before, accept the fact that you’ll probably write crap for the first 100,000 words or more. But having written 100,000 words you will definitely be a better writer than when you started. Writing is a craft and you can learn it, but learning requires doing, and no one is going to do it for you.

Worry about the mechanics of publishing when you’ve written something worth publishing. As you can learn to write you can learn to format a word file correctly, you can learn the basics of graphic design to produce your own covers, you can learn to write a blurb, you can learn to set up a blog or a website. But do it after you’ve actually written a book that’s worth someone’s time and money. And most of all, be honest with yourself. Deep down, you will know if the book you’ve written is ready for publication. Listen to that voice and don’t publish before you’re ready. Canvas second opinions from people you know will give you an honest critique and listen to what they tell you. If it’s not ready, don’t publish it. I’m eternally grateful for the fact that e-books came along after I’d gotten most of the dross out of my system, otherwise I might well have been tempted to publish it, with potentially ruinous results. Most pro-writers will have an anecdote about the terrible novel they stupidly sent out to publishers and subsequently burned so no one else would ever see it. You may have spent years on a novel only to find it’s just not very good – I did, more than once. Does that mean all that time was wasted? No, because I learned from it, I got better.

As writers we exist in a true meritocracy now. Publication is now open to all, but success is dependent on ability. It’s just about writing good books.


Like most self-published ebook authors I’m constantly engaged in a struggle against an obsessive need to check my sale stats – or clockwatching as I call it. I strive to avoid checking more than once a week since my mood can crash if I fail to sell anything in a 24 hour period. Nuerosis comes with the territory when you’re endeavouring to write stuff for which people may actually part with money so logging in to my sales report every five minutes really isn’t healthy. However, during my last permitted period of obsession I sat down to calculate just how many books I would have to publish in order to generate enough income at the current rate of sale to keep myself in the luxuriant style to which I’m accustomed. Turns out, once taxes are factored in, I need to publish 30 books. Pshaw! Easy you might think. However, it took me the best part of six and a half years to write my first book. At that rate I should make it to full time writer status by the age of 237.

To anyone worried that the above post means the sequel to Blood Song won’t be out for another six and a half years – all I can say is I intend to be writing pretty much every day from 1st April to 31st July after which I may have a first draft, if I don’t die in the attempt. If you like my work and want the sequel to appear as quickly as possible, I will be spurred to greater efforts by good reviews on Amazon or your bookseller of choice – and of course more sales, despite the fact that I’ll only be checking once a week (or once a month if I can manage it).

Writing news

Just finished the first draft of A Hymn for Gods Long Dead, the third in my Slab City Blues SF-noir series, set on a crime-ridden orbiting slum about two hundred years from now. I intended this one to be about 8,000 words but ended up with a 34,000 word novella which may grow even more in rewrite. I hope to get this published via the usual ebook outlets by mid-March, other commitments permitting. I’ll be putting it up as both a stand-alone ebook and as part of a collected Slab City Blues anthology – both for $0.99. The first two stories will still be available as free ebooks on Smashwords, B&N, Kobo, etc, but not on the Amazon Kindle store since they only permit publication of free books via their silly KDP Select thingamajig.

Once this is out of the way I face the looming mountain to climb that is Tower Lord, the sequel to Blood Song, Book One of my epic fantasy series Raven’s Shadow. Blood Song came in at 220,000+ words after rewrites and I expect the next one to be of similar length, a prospect which fills me with equal parts dread and delight.