It’s very good, if I do say so myself.
After last week’s baby-related announcement episode, this newsletter will be centred around my writing. First, though, a very big thank you to those of you who got in touch about our news; I shall reply individually, but I just wanted you to know I am very touched and grateful for your messages.
Death in Harmony
Death In Harmony is now live and published on Amazon!
As I have mentioned, the ebook is tied in to the platform for a certain period of time but will, in the first quarter of next year, be made available on other platforms*.
This choice was a tough one — I am not a fan of the near-monopoly Amazon has in certain markets but, quite frankly, this is a business and Amazon has thus far out-performed every other sale point PUT TOGETHER by a considerable margin. I am especially keen to see how many people read the book on Kindle Unlimited. If you have Kindle Unlimited, do please have a look.
(One day, I’ll publish the figures and data for downloads and sales — I think it might be interesting and potentially useful for some of you.)
*As I also mentioned in my last newsletter, there will be a paperback, print-on-demand version of both Tales of The Lesser Evil: Volume 1, and also Death In Harmony (with its bonus tale, Dancing With Death, included). This week, Amazon have also announced a Beta project for print-on-demand hardback books (sadly, no dust jackets at this point, however), which is something I will definitely be looking into. Hardbacks seem a sensible plan…
Free Books! (I told you to watch this space!)
Death In Harmony is available as part of a Kindle Unlimited group promotion, over at Story Origin, entitled Magical Journeys Into A Book. If you have KU, do have a peek at this link — there are 38 books to have a look at and read. This is my first KU group promotion, so I am unsure what to expect, but I am hopeful it will encourage Kindle users to download the book to read. Watch this space (there will also be other KU promotions in the coming months, as well as the usual giveaways and, potentially, review copies.
The free giveaway group, Fantasy & Sci-Fi Worlds to Explore, which I shared in my last newsletter is still live up until the 8th of October. If you want to check it out, and have a look at all the free books available to choose from (no Amazon-exclusivity here!), follow the link.
Don’t forget, if you are not a member of Kindle Unlimited, you can still purchase the Kindle edition of Death in Harmony from Amazon, here.
Thoughts on Publishing and Sundry Matters
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that I am currently queuing up some articles, social media, and blog posts to help promote Death In Harmony. These will include mini essays on the themes and ideas behind the novel (attempting to do this spoiler-free, of course), as well as discussion of the history of certain tropes in the fantasy genre and how I have taken these and added different twists.
The beauty of fantasy is that these tropes and clichés may seem old and stale when viewed from outwith the genre, but when a writer is aware of them, and examines them in a new light, they can be as enthralling and useful as they always have been. It is foolish to dismiss certain ideas, just because a version of them has already been done.
Similarly, Joe Hill recently tweeted this:
And I think I mostly agree. It is close to the argument I’ve shared before that, since archaeology can be defined as the study of the human/hominid past through material remains and history is the study of the past through documentary resources — then, since a book, scroll, carving, papyrus etc is undoubtedly material culture, history is a subdiscipline of archaeology.
It is important to know and understand the discipline one works within, whether that is fantasy fiction or archaeology, for example. It is crucial to take a magnifying glass at what has come before, but not to be daunted by this process or those writers — many of the ‘classics’ are of their era and some are certainly problematic today. (Or the authors have fallen out of favour, for very good reasons. I left it too late to read The Mists of Avalon, and now I simply can’t bring myself to do so.)
When I went back to university, the second, more successful time, I was more than a little daunted by the process of being taught by those who had literally written the archaeology books I studied. I have always been someone who listens more than he speaks but, looking back, I do wish I had taken more time to engage with the lecturers.
Once upon a time, it was similar with the authors I read in the fantasy genre. I was intimidated by the simple fact they had crafted the books I was reading, by the fact they had been published at all, somehow getting beyond the gatekeepers of the publishing industry. It seemed a hallowed feat, something remarkable and mysterious.
The publishing world is different now, very, very different — and the traditional publishers are still struggling to adapt. When I take a critical look back and consider those books (and often multi-book epics) I devoured as a teenager, I also remember those which didn’t make the cut, despite being the ravenous reader that I was. There were those which I started and did not enjoy (but would sometimes read to the end, in the hope it might just get better), and those whose blurbs and covers were distinctly off-putting. I won’t name names, but it remains a distinct puzzle how some authors developed the following they did.
Yet those books had somehow crept past the gatekeepers. How? One simple reason is that everyone’s tastes are different, which leads to my point — in this brave new world of publishing, the key is to find ‘your’ people.
Find those who read the authors you, the writer, like or admire, and you’re halfway there. Give away review copies, search for readers who you are sure will like your work – and, crucially, be honest with yourself: is your writing good enough to expect the results you would like?
Convincing people to read your own book is a difficult matter and, traditionally, one reserved for a professional marketing team. Now, however, even those published by the bigger publishing houses are expected to market their work (without financial recompense for their time spent on this, of course).
So I am not in a place to complain about having to learn to market — I intend to do what I have done with, for example, ebook creation, learn the skills, apply them, revise, repeat, continue until I am good at it. These things take time, true, but they are skills which are transferable and, in the future of my writing career, will be time well spent. Better to learn it now, when I can.
In short, expect more marketing! I will certainly try and keep it engaging, interesting and, for those who like my work, useful. I’m not simply going to repost the same ‘Buy My Book’ plea I so often see (do these work?), instead considering clever ways to use the tools available to me. As I keep saying, watch this space…
Finally, do consider buying or reading Death In Harmony – I know I am completely and utterly biased, but it is a rather fine read.
All images are my own, of different aspects of autumnal Scotland. Seemed fitting. Happy Equinox to each and every one of you, it is always a day which makes me feel connected to everyone else, across the globe.