Halloween Horror Arcane Bundle

“The Serpent’s Eye” has been included as part of Arcane Bundle’s Halloween Horror Bundle.

Pay want to want and get a download of 5 DRM-free ebooks. Pay at least $7 and get and extra two books. And if you send a tweet sharing the collection you can get “The Serpent’s Eye” included for absolutely free.

It’s a great deal. I’ve always been a fan of Bundles like this, and I’ve got some great books for very little this way. And it’s amazing to have my book included in this collection.

So if you want some stories to keep you entertained over Halloween, head over to the Arcane Bundle site and pick them up now.

A few thoughts following publication

So a few thoughts on my first week as a published author.

I want to start with a big thank you to those of you who have downloaded The Serpent’s Eye already, and another to those who have been sharing it with friends. During the five days where the book was available for free it has had over 400 downloads! That’s just amazing. That fact that the number of people who have downloaded my book is pretty much double my Facebook friend list (which is pretty much what I expected my audience to be) is awesome.

I’ve even got my first review on Amazon. And people I’ve never met mentioning that they are reading my book of Twitter. It’s strange how little things like that seem to validate what you have done. The fact that I know have a book available to buy, an author profile on Amazon, and that strangers are leaving positive feedback, somehow makes it seem more real. It’s like I’m a real writer or something.

But I do feel a strange conflict. There is still a small part of me that cannot shake the feeling that putting something up myself as an e-book doesn’t count as “real” publishing. This feeling annoys me, as I’m proud of what I have done and in no way feel it is any worse than books that have been professionally published. If I didn’t believe it was good enough for publication I wouldn’t have self-published it. The reason I didn’t go down the shelf publishing route for my last book was that I wasn’t confident it was good enough without the input of a professional editor to help me out.

The fact is that the first hurdle in self-publishing is the easiest to fall at: believing your work is good enough without the work. You can look around the internet for five minutes and find hundreds of works people have self-published online that can’t even be considered half finished by any professional standards. People who seem to honestly believe that “My Mother said it was good” is enough reason to publish something. I swore I would never be one of those people, but that doesn’t stop them swamping the market.

A basic fact about today’s literary market is that if you seriously want to make it, the first step is to make sure that you stand out from the crowd half finished and poorly constructed drivel. The internet allows you to put your work out for people to find, but if you are lazy, hasty, make the same mistakes as others, or are just simply untalented, any publishers and agents who you manage to get to pay attention will dismiss you without a second thought.

And so my next step is to get an agent, and to get The Serpent’s Eye “officially” published. While I will always keep writing and putting out my work myself if that’s what it takes, I won’t deny that the end goal is to move into the field of traditional publishing. And if any one thing can help me get the attention of agents and publishers, it will be my book selling without any professional help.

The problem is I am not a publicist. Nor do I have any marketing experience. These are not things that you traditionally consider to be vital skills in an author, but in the modern publishing market they have become essential. If you want to stand out and be noticed, you’ve either got to (a) get working on the self publicity, or (b) pray that you’ll get reallyreally lucky.

So my work is set out before me; to grow word of mouth and build both book sales and blog-hits.

So, you know, start bigging me up to your friends. Suggest The Serpent’s Eye. It may not be free any more, but £1.53 is still pretty cheap.

Oh, and if you’ve still to get your own copy, you can download it here.

Out Now: The Serpent’s Eye

facebook cover image

I write these words in warning. Do not make my mistake. I fear, should anyone start along my path, that they will find their fate inexorable. As I have.

In the summer of 1816, George Sandings is sent to Buenos Aires to investigate the death of the late Earl Edgar Leer; the infamous explorer and hedonist. He has a month to uncover what he can, in order that the Leer family might put their disgraced son’s memory behind them.

But soon the words of George’s own journal begin to show him that the fate of Earl Edgar may not have been so simple. That Edgar may have uncovered things that should have been left alone and forgotten. As he digs deeper into the secrets that surround Edgar’s final years, George finds his own mind is becoming entwined with some power that cannot be explained.

A power that may prove impossible for any sane man to overcome.

It is done. The Serpent’s Eye is out.

You can download The Serpent’s Eye as an ebook from Amazon right here. If you have a Kindle and you’re looking for a slow-burning horror story to enjoy over your holidays, pick it up now.

And as a special offer, this week only, it’s free. This offer lasts until Sunday 3rd July.

It’s a strange feeling, finally getting this out there. The internet and ebooks may have made it easier to get a book out, but it’s still a chunk of work if you’ve never done it before and you want it to have a level of quality. I’ve been working on this story for the last year. The first draft was just two pages long, written as part of the background for the characters of a roleplay group I was part of, and wasn’t intended to be anything longer. But the idea stuck with me, and when I was looking to start a new long term project it came back into my mind and just started developing and growing.

It’s been interesting to write. In the past I always used to plan my writing projects out in minute detail before starting. And looking back I think this stifled me. This time I decided to work more organically. I started with the basic idea and worked things out as the story progressed. It was a lot more freeing. I write most things this way now. It can mean more revisions, but it allows a freedom I didn’t have before.

I’ll write more about it later. For now, I’m simply going to encourage you to head over to pick up the book on your Kindle right now, for free! Did I mention it’s free and you should pick it up now?

Once you’ve read it, then we’ll talk.

‘e’ doesn’t stand for ‘easy’

Writing is the easy part. Anyone can write. You can do it at your own speed and your own schedule. It may take a long time or require a thousand revisions before its ready but eventually, as long as you stick it out, you will have something that you are confident enough to say ‘Yes, this is ready to be published’.

Then comes the hard part.

Once I had finished my novel I began my first forays into the real world of publishing. I did all the research; listing agents and publishers and reading up all the tips and hints on how to get ahead of the game, and began cataloging all the options available to me to get my work published. (In truth I was actually doing all of this well before I was even being close to having a finished manuscript, in for the purposes of this post we can skip the realistic time frames, can’t we?)

And the one thing that you learn about the publishing world of the past ten years is that is has changed. And what changed it? The internet!

For years book publishing was an elite world guarded by a series of Gatekeepers. Aspiring authors had to fight their way through those Gatekeepers in order to ‘make it’. If you wanted a career as an author? They were the ones who judged whether you were good enough. It was entirely their decisions that got your book printed and into shops. If you were rich you could perhaps self publish, but for mere mortals the Gatekeepers were all powerful, controlling the pathways to publishing.

But now things are different. The internet, as it was wont to do, came along and changed everything. No longer are writers shackled before those gates. All it takes is a blog and a moment of your time to get anything you want online. The rise of ebooks means you no longer require any financial outlay at all to get published. All you require is a little word processing knowhow and an online platform, and you can distribute your work all across the world.

The judgement of the agents and publishers is something you can choose to avoid, if you so wish. You are in control. The only decision maker on getting your work out there is yourself, if that is how you choose to make your way.

But not all of this is great for the struggling author. While you can look at the Gatekeepers of old as insurmountable barriers to publication justly bypassed, they were also a filter for quality and a safe and sure way of getting your book seen. They were also Knowledge Keepers. All you had to be able to do was write and then, with the luck of the slush pile, they would help you with everything else.

The digital revolution may have made it easier to get your book out there, but it has also made it harder to make it big. And when I say big I’m not referring to becoming the next J.K. Rowling. My definition of ‘big’ means earning enough money from your writing to live; being able to dedicate yourself to your writing without having to worry about whether you can eat as well.

With everyone able to put their work out there into the great public space that is ‘online’, it becomes harder and harder for someone get noticed. There is so much content out there now that agents, publishers and readers have a ridiculous amount to choose from.

And just because someone can publish online, doesn’t mean that they should have. I am a member of a few online writing communities, and I have read things that are just terrible. The author has obviously deluded themselves into thinking that that their work is of a high enough quality to publish, but it’s obvious to any other reader that it is not. I don’t want to start throwing stones around this glass house, as I could well be one of those poor saps living in their own world, but all this sub-par work out there just makes it harder for the quality writing to get noticed.

And so the industry has adapted. Today, if you want to get noticed you have to build a name and a readership for yourself before you can get any sort of interest from publishers. That burden has now fallen to the author themselves. The first piece of advice any and all writers guides give aspiring authors today is “build yourself a brand”. Facebook, Twitter, blogs, all of it. If you want to get published you have to get people reading your work, and to do that you need to gather attention to yourself. With so much work out there publishers want that extra assurance that they are backing the right horse. If you can build a readership with no professional marketing or advertisement skills, that is the sign to them that your work is enough to invest in.

But here’s the kicker. Not everyone is a tireless self promoter. What if you just do not have the time? What if you just don’t know how? I am sure that there are wonderful writers out there who have created ground breaking work, but who have no knowledge of how to use the internet to promote it and will therefore never get the chances lesser, but more tech-savy, writers manage to find.

The bottom line is, if you want to get your work out there and make it as a writer it’s just as hard as it used to be. Don’t think your blog and the fact you can email submissions will mean a faster track to the big time. Don’t let it grind you down. Just be prepared for the fact that in today’s market we’ve got to be able to do more than just write.

Don’t get me wrong. I think that publishing is in a much better place now we live in the online world. The creation and proliferation of media and culture is so much better now, and opportunities are rife. The Gatekeepers had their place, and they still hold a vast amount of power, but now things are open we have so many more options to go for what we want.

Just don’t think that it will be easier. It will still take a lot of work to make your name.