Hey all. Just a quick note to let you guys and gals know that The Old Man of the Temple is finally available in paperback. If you’re interested, head on over to Amazon and pick up your copy today.
In the world of indie publishing, there is a metric ton of advice out there for authors on everything from crafting a professional manuscript to “gaming” the algorithms of Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and on into the sunset. Much of it is good. That’s the great thing about indie authors–they tend to offer a hand down to those climbing the proverbial ladder once they’ve seen a measure of their own success. Check out the nonfiction section of Amazon and you’ll probably see a lot of titles about marketing ebooks, or how to leverage this site or that to push your titles to the next level. It can be very confusing, especially considering that there are lots of people out there who offer the “tried and true system to push YOUR books to the next level!”
I’ve read a lot of it. But me being me, I’ve never been able to keep a long list of tactical tricks in my brain for marketing purposes. Keeping up with the changes in Amazon’s business models, or the way that Facebook pushes your author page to people, has never been my strong suit. I’ve never been a PR wizard, or an SEO specialist. I’ve never worked at any internet firms or anything like that. I’ve been a mechanic, a musician, an artist, a soldier, a writer–but never anything PR-related. I abhor social media on general principle, and don’t spend enough time on any website to get a deep understanding of the way they work. Maybe I’m kind of a dinosaur.
I can barely manage my website. Yes, it’s that bad.
When I first published back in 2011, I adopted every trick I could find. I was new to the scene, and had no idea what I was doing. I got easily bogged down in minutiae, and taken in by the advice of this writer, or that. Some good, mostly bad. My first book (with no comments on the horrible quality) did alright, but fell eventually into the mists of internet obscurity.
When I decided to revamp my writing career, I didn’t count on having any great amount of success. I decided that instead of listening to the endless parade of advice from authors who were offering it, I would instead adopt a few simple principles, and take a page from the books of some of the great generals in history–Strategy is by far more important than tactics. A tactic is a short-term thing designed to get you through the moment. A strategy is a plan of action for the long haul, and I made mine simple.
Concentrate on writing good books, get good-looking covers, and worry about the bullshit later.
I thought about the way that I look for a new book when I want something to read. I don’t listen to Facebook or Amazon, don’t click on ads, don’t participate in giveaways or contests (though I know some people do). What I do is probably what most of you do–I ask my friends. I read descriptions, I read reviews from other readers. I figured that for my own work, the best thing to do would be to try and write a good book. If it was good enough, people would want to read it and recommend it. It’s true that this is a more slow-burn type of strategy than landing an ad somewhere, and it might not net me a million downloads in a few days, but the people who did discover it would probably enjoy it more than if it had been shoved in their face by a pop-up on some random website.
I decided that I didn’t need to be the next George R.R. Martin, I just needed to write something that a few people really enjoyed. I wanted to be accessible as much as possible, and treat people like people instead of assets to push a product, or ticks on some line graph. What I wanted was a small group of fans with whom I can talk, joke around, and have a good rapport. I just don’t have it in me to be anything but generally irreverent, snarky, and completely unprofessional. I’m just a guy with tattoos. I could never be some untouchable, suit-draped elitist who looks down on others as a waste of his time. It’s just not me, and never could be me. When I think of authors doing book signing events, or live book readings, etc, what I would much rather do is just go out to a pub and have a beer with people.
I never counted on having much exposure, or a legion of fans. I figured a few people would like what I was doing, but it was probably going to be a niche crowd from the get-go. Since I changed my business model, so to speak, I’ve not purchased any ads, done any podcasts, promoted posts on Facebook, or joined Twitter hashtags. The closest thing I’ve done is Fantasy Writer of the Day on Reddit, but that’s totally free on my part, a niche crowd in itself, and it’s an AMA-style interaction between me and subscribers to the subreddit rather than an ad campaign. Which, by the way, I will be doing again on July 24th. Look for me there on that day if you want to ask questions, or just hang out and bullshit with me.
Somehow, along the way, the books have picked up some steam on their own. I say it’s down to you guys–the readers. You’ve read, recommended, shared, or whatever it is that you’ve done, and slowly but surely something pretty awesome has happened.
When I logged in to check my numbers this morning, I saw this. I was floored. There’s a lot of jostling that happens in the Amazon bestseller rankings, and they change from one minute to the next. One thing I’ve noticed, though, is that all three of my books have slowly clawed their way into the top ten. For the last six months or so, Child of the Flames and The Knife in the Dark have stuck there consistently, and since The Old Man of the Temple‘s release, it’s been right there beside them, and featured in Amazon’s “Hot New Releases.”
So thanks. Thanks to all of you who have shared, recommended, talked about them with your friends, or left me reviews. Thanks to those of you who haven’t, but have purchased and read them all the same. The past two years I’ve worked hard on them, especially this past year, and it’s wild to see them climbing to where they are now. I can’t even describe the feeling, and it’s all down to you guys. I should be studying for my finals next week right now, but I’m cracking a Guinness Nitro for all of you out there who are riding this train with me. All I did was write them. You guys did this, and I fucking love you for it.
Much Love and Respect to you all.
I see you guys out there. You’re all awesome. My gratitude is yours.
Guess I’d better get cracking on that next book. Much love and respect to you all.
The Old Man of the Temple is now available at Amazon. Head over there and get the next installment in the story for your Kindle today. Put your feet up, have a beer, and read something nice.
Don’t forget to leave the book an honest review, if you like it and you’re so inclined. Enjoy, and have a good one.
So, I get a lot of spam comments on this website. I mean pages and pages of the things. I dread logging into my site because I always have to delete 50 or 60 of them. I thought I’d make it fun and share one with you guys.
“Hurrah, that’s what I was exploring for, what a data!
present here at this website, thanks admin of this website.”
What a data!
Gotta love that. I think I’ll keep doing this, ‘cuz I find it hilarious for some reason.
Don’t forget to get your copy of The Old Man of the Temple on April 22nd!
So, got the new mock-ups for the cover of book three, and it will be released April 22nd.
Yes, this time it’s real. The Old Man of the Temple will be out on April 22nd. For serious.
That’s all. I love you all with the fire of a thousand suns.
Hey all. Got some new maps. Figured you might want to see ’em. Enjoy.
Time to send out a quick update to let you guys know what the current timeline looks like for the release of the upcoming books. As you may have realized, they’re not coming out at the end of this month. That was a tentative date anyway, but it’s not getting pushed too far to the right.
Tentatively, again, look for the books to drop around the end of June.
Here’s my logic behind setting the date for June. First of all, it’s obvious that this project was going to take me a little longer than I had anticipated, especially with the portions that required heavy rewriting. Child of the Flames is now finished, and that means that the lion’s share of the work is done. I’m currently working on The Knife in the Dark, which won’t require nearly as much rewriting. Basically, I’m taking the amount of time I think it will take me to finish the next two, and doubling it.
One reason for this is simply to make sure I give myself enough time to do this right. Another is that my school schedule is ramping up as the middle of the semester rolls through, and I have a full schedule of classes. Failing them is just something that I won’t do, and that means I’ve got to dedicate a little more time to them when needed. College is expensive, and my G.I. Bill is fairly limited. One has to maximize one’s time.
However, if you just don’t want to wait for Child of the Flames, The Knife in the Dark, and The Old Man of the Temple to publish on their regular date, you can JOIN THE CONCLAVE. I’ll be leaking advance copies of the first two books to the mailing list as they become ready for market.
The going plan is to have six books out by the end of the year, the audiobooks ready before Christmas, and possibly to make a few changes to the blog. I plan to start blogging more regularly once The Seven Signs is back on track, mostly about nerdy stuff, but not always. You all know of my general disdain for social media, but maintaining that in today’s world is virtually impossible. It might be time to shake hands with the devil.
Anyways, back to The Knife in the Dark. I’ll be posting here to talk a little more about Child of the Flames next week, and how the story is changing, and how it isn’t. Stay frosty. Remember to bring disgrace upon your enemies.
Tonight I’m going to get a little serious with you guys. I’ve recently received an email from a reader who expressed an opinion to me that I took issue with. It wasn’t really a negative book review–I’ve gotten a few of those, and they’ve always been constructive and helpful, overall–it was an email personally written to me. The sentiments expressed in the correspondence echoed a lot of opinions I’ve seen floating around social media and YouTube lately, and in light of a few articles I’ve read on Reddit about this sort of thing, I wanted to say a few things about it.
First of all, I replied to the email sent to me–this is not addressed to anyone in particular. Now, on to the meat and taters…
There seems to be a culture of what I can only describe as “cultivated offense” in today’s society. There are so many blogs/videos/books/articles written about how (x) person finds (y) offensive, which makes the purveyor of (y) a racist/sexist/whatever. Sometimes this sort of thing is warranted, as in official policies, etc. What is confusing me lately is that this attitude seems to be infecting artistic expression.
Whether you’re speaking of video games, books, movies, or music, there seems to be a veritable army of people ready to take up pitchforks and loudly proclaim artists to be the worst kind of hateful people in our society. “Where’s all the black people in the new Star Wars trailer?” or “Video games are oppressive to women and GTA promotes misogyny!”. So many people have problems with so many things these days that it’s hard to keep track.
“Your writing promotes traditional gender roles and sets women back decades.”
I wanted to try and set the record straight about this, because I see a rising tide of angry people wishing to purge anything genuine from the arts. First of all, I certainly have never–not once–thought of myself as a misogynist, or a racist. My writing is not intended to promote any sociopolitical ideals related to race or gender, gay or straight, or any other label people want to place on themselves. I write Epic Fantasy. It’s about as non-inflammatory as one can get, or I thought it would be. These days…maybe not.
Yes, there is rape in my books. Yes, there is murder in my books. Hell, people eat dead bodies in my books. Doesn’t mean I want to promote the idea of eating dead people, and the same goes for rape, murder, or anything else that turns up in the pages of The Seven Signs or anything else I write.
When I write something like a murder, or imply that someone is in danger of being raped (I’ve never actually written a rape scene…I mean, gross) it’s because I want to demonstrate something. I want to put my characters in danger, I want to give them some adversity to deal with, some hard choices to make, some pain to ingest. I mean, without the adversity, the story would just go like “Shawna smiled at her father and lived happily ever after.”
Nope. Not in my world.
For me, the whole point of Shawna’s storyline is her overcoming the pain at the death of her family, giving the proverbial finger to the powers that want to take what she has, and kicking the asses of the people who have done this to her. Her storyline is exactly about a woman in a male-dominated society who nonetheless manages to be kick-ass anyway. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, and if you just want to read Shawna as a classic trope against women…well, that’s your prerogative. But it certainly wasn’t about that for me.
As you guys will find out soon, there are a few more female characters that are going to enter the story. ‘Cuz I like writing them, and I’m going to keep doing it.
Authors need the freedom to put things on display. Art imitates life, as the saying goes, and all of these things–rape, murder, child molestation, etc–exist in our society today. I didn’t invent them, and I’m certainly not going to stop writing bad things into my stories. I won’t apologize for offending anyone with my writing, because my writing is not intentionally offensive.
I also will not water down the bad things that happen to the characters in my stories, because that would make it suck, plain and simple. I know the majority of you guys don’t feel that my writing is offensive–otherwise you wouldn’t be here–but I wanted to clarify this just in case this issue comes up again. It is not incumbent upon me to advance anyone’s political cause in this world by changing the stuff I write about my fictional world.
And for the record, I’m actually a Humanist. The only “anti-” anything you can describe me as would be “anti-ignorance”. Shawna, Nalia, Bethany, and Allisondra aren’t meant to advance anything. In the story, they’re just people dealing with adversity. Just people, not statements.
You guys will find out about Nalia and Allisondra on August 15th.
I hope I didn’t leave you with a bad taste in your mouth, but I had to get that out. Don’t forget to like, subscribe, share, etc, and I will talk to you guys soon.
So, this morning I had what you might call a moment of intense panic.
I always do, before publishing or running a promotion. I spend days poring over everything, trying to fix all the problems, streamlining things, and generally pulling my beard out. I can be very intense when it comes to my writing, and I tend to get wrapped up in things. The last four or five chapters of my book usually go in a couple of weeks–and my readers know that means hundreds of pages.
I’m the kind of writer that can’t really produce much on a subject or story that doesn’t mean something to me. So whenever I start a promotion and I start to see downloads happening, I have this moment where my brain does a little back-flip and I think “Ye Gods, someone is actually going to read this thing.” I doubt my every decision that led to me putting it out there.
What is Beneath the Burning Sky and The Sageward Exordium? Well, you might call it Military Fantasy. Or, you might call it Science Fantasy…or maybe Military Science Fantasy. It’s not quite Steampunk and it’s not Contemporary. To tell the truth, I have a hard time putting it into a category that can describe it in essence.
Bear with me while I attempt to describe the setting. Imagine the world of The Seven Signs around 600 years into its future–a time perhaps comparable to WWI. Things have evolved considerably, including magic and those who use it. Magic has weaved itself into technology, and vice-versa, and this strange marriage has created a truly unique setting to tell a good story.
There’s also a huge conflict going on between two opposing factions on the continent of Alderak. War has been raging for an entire generation, and as we all know, war is a huge driver of innovation. Something of an arms race has ensued, and both sides are scrambling for advantage.
Beneath the Burning Sky is the story of one soldier and her experiences during a pivotal battle of the conflict. It’s the first installment in a prologue of stories that will lead up to the release of a new series. The Sageward Exordium is the prologue, and is itself a series of short stories.
You’re writing a series of prologues? Yes, as crazy as that sounds. When I came up with the ideas for the upcoming series, the first thing I did was sit down and start fleshing the idea out. Once I got to the point where I needed to put something on paper, I realized that the prologue to the actual book would be huge, considering the backstory that needs to be told. In short, it would be as large as an every day novel on its own, so that’s why I decided to put the prologue out as a serial. The Sageward Exordium is the prologue–it’s just in serial format.
So you’ve described the setting, but what is The Sageward Exordium truly about? Well, the Exordium itself is just the bedrock for a larger plot arc. But taken with the series it precedes, I would say that what the story is really about is war itself and the larger effects it has on those who wage it. Each installment in the serial will tell the story of one of the main characters and what happened to them on the same day, during the same fight.
I wanted to tell a good war story, and I wanted to do it in an exciting way. But, as a veteran myself, I know the real-world effects that war has on people. I’ve seen some of that in real life, and so I wanted to tell a deeper story than one of blood and glory. It will certainly have plenty of that, but there will also be larger implications at hand, and deeper emotional ramifications for the characters in the story.
How many installments are there in The Sageward Exordium? Right now there are five planned installments, but I reserve the right to add another as they come to me. I’ve written a number of very interesting characters, but the project is still in the infancy stages at this point. I plan on putting a new one out every four to six months during the times when I just can’t stand to write another chapter of The Seven SIgns (haha). The Exordium has to be planned to coincide with the larger series it will precede, so it can be slow-going at times. It’s a story that speaks to me on a very deep level, though, so I have a feeling that it will be huge.
The Seven Signs is pretty big. Will the new series be that large, as well? In a word–bigger. The rough plot line I’m working with now puts me right at about five books, though those books won’t be quite as large as your basic Seven Signs book–which come in at about 340,000 words. These will be around 150,000-200,000 apiece. Which is still huge, I know. The Seven Signs is Epic Fantasy, which is supposed to be huge. The new series, though, may be chopped down a bit. It all depends on what happens during the developmental edits, too. So stay tuned!
I hope that answers a few questions about Beneath the Burning Sky. As always, don’t forget to like me on Facebook, check out my website to join The Conclave–my mailing list–and follow me on Twitter. Much love to all of you, and I’ll talk to you soon.