Blog Archives

Reading Your Own Press

The general consensus among writers (or, at least ones that I’ve heard talk about it) is that you shouldn’t read reviews of your work. This makes sense, arguably: good reviews can give you an inflated sense of self-worth, while bad reviews can damage your self-esteem for no good reason.

I spend waaay too much time stalking myself on this site.

I spend waaay too much time stalking myself on this site.

But of course I read them. I don’t honestly understand how it’s possible not to. I mean, I didn’t write my books to exist in a vacuum – I want them to be read, dammit! I breathlessly await the audience’s reaction. And why not? My books are as much for them as they are for me. It’s like giving somebody a present but never checking to see if they appreciated it. Who does that? Don’t you want to know? If I told you that just over there inside that room there were a bunch of people leaving anonymous notes about your work performance, wouldn’t you go take a look? They’re talking about you! Don’t you want to know?

If you answered “no” to that question, well, you’re a much stronger person than I. Or perhaps a sociopath.

Maybe both.

So, I’m going to read my reviews. I will do so until they get boring or repetitive or I have the lucky fate of having so damned many of them that I can’t keep up. How, though, to retain my sanity in the face of constant critique? The trick, I think, is to read your reviews with one thought firmly held in your head: This is just their opinion.

If they love the book, then great! But that doesn’t mean everybody will.

If they hate the book, booo! But that doesn’t mean everybody will.

If they call me names, I am rubber and they are glue (etc., etc.).

There will be unfair reviews (both good and bad) there will be fair, well-thought out reviews (both good and bad) and I must be okay with this. Now, I have had the lucky fortune of getting mostly good reviews for my stuff, so hooray for me! I am, of course, deeply appreciative to anyone who wrote a review (good or bad), because that helps other people find my books and confirms to me that, yes, people out there are reading and thinking about what I wrote. This all isn’t just some crazy dream.

So, I say go ahead and read your reviews! Just don’t listen to them. It’s one thing to read your own press, it’s quite another thing to believe it.

AND ONE MORE THING: Never, ever ever ever respond to reviews. Ever. Not good ones, not bad ones, not middle ones–NEVER. Under any circumstances whatsoever. Why? How about all of these reasons.


No Good Deed Updates!

So, more and more folks are bugging me about when the sequel to The Oldest Trick comes out. As my last editor just left Harper and I have a new one, the release date has been pushed back to June 21st where, hopefully, it will stay. I am still waiting for edit notes from my new editor and, once I get them, I’ll be turning them around fairly quickly (I hope). So, just a few months left to wait, I swear!

For now, you can pre-order the book on Amazon and, when it releases, an e-copy will find its way to your device promptly. Until then, I promise to be doing my best to get you the best damned Tyvian story there is. Thanks for all your support!

 

Advertisements

The Iron Ring, On Sale Now!

Oooo! Mysterious!  And cheap. Let's not forget cheap.

Oooo! Mysterious!
And cheap. Let’s not forget cheap.

Starting today, my fantasy novel The Iron Ring (the first half of The Oldest Trick) is on sale for a mere $0.99! It’s also available through BookBub for the same discounted price! This means you can get the entire first book of the Saga of the Redeemed (The Iron Ring and Iron and Blood) for a mere $2.98 or so! Here’s the sales pitch:

Tyvian Reldamar—criminal mastermind, rogue mage, and smuggler of sorcerous goods—has just been betrayed by his longtime partner and left for dead in a freezing river. To add insult to injury, his mysterious rescuer took it upon himself to affix Tyvian with an iron ring that prevents the wearer from any evildoing.

Revenge just got complicated.

On his quest to get even, Tyvian navigates dark international conspiracies, dodges midnight assassins, and uncovers the plans of the ruthless warlord Banric Sahand—all while running from a Mage-Defender determined to lock him up. Tyvian will need to use every dirty trick in the book to avoid a painful and ignominious end, even as he discovers that sometimes even the world’s most devious man needs a shoulder to lean on.

Sounds exciting, yes? Go check it out! If you are a fan of Scott Lynch or Max Gladstone, you’ll find a happy port in this book, which I’ve been pitching as “James Bond in the Fantasy Renaissance.” And, never fear, once you’re done with The Iron Ring and Iron and Blood, the third (or, really, second) book in the series, No Good Deed is coming out early next year! You’ll barely have a month or so to wait! Go for it!


About Publicity

So, a friend of mine, also a fantasy author, was venting a bit today. It’s been about six months since her first paperback release and the paperback returns are coming in (by the way, did you know that unsold books at bookstores can be sent back to the publisher for returns? No? Well, they can, and the author has to give the royalties back. Very sad.) and she’s had royalty statements where she owed money back to the publisher. Oof. She, like myself, feels a bit helpless in the face of this. What’s a relatively unknown author to do?

I mean, yeah, you can join the echo chamber over at Twitter and scream your book title into the void (much good will it do you – Twitter seems to be a vast ocean of salesmen with no customers). You can organize a few book signings at local book stores and sell maybe a few dozen books each time. Maybe a case or two. You can give presentations at conferences. You can sit on panels. You can do readings at local libraries. All of this nets you…what, exactly? A hundred sales, maybe? It all seems fairly futile.

A wise man – Eric Flint, to be precise – told me (and my fellow Writers of the Future winners) that a lot of self-promotion is a waste of time. He said the best advertisement for your last book is your next book. The best publicity for your work is more publications. I think there’s a lot of wisdom in that. This business, as much as anything else, is an accumulative process. The gradual building of an audience, a fan base, a network of professional connections that will, someday, add up to something substantial. It’s very hard in the meantime, though. People tell you that you should just be satisfied having published a book, but there’s the whole other ocean of uncertainty on the other side.

I guess we just ought to lock arms with our friends and just keep swimming, right?

Anyway, buy my book, will ya? It’s good, and it’s only $0.99. And thanks.

Events! News! Books! Yay!

Exciting news, friends and stalkers! Thanks mostly to the Writers of the Future Vol 31 Anthology (to buy your copy, click on the picture on the sidebar), I am now ranked as an Amazon bestselling author in Science Fiction and also in Fantasy.

Observe:

#29 in Science Fiction

#34 in Fantasy

Pretty wild, no?

Fair warning: they aren't exactly being shipped first class.

Fair warning: they aren’t exactly being shipped first class.

Additional News

Those winners of my little giveaway for a signed copy of The Oldest Trick now, finally, after long ages of waiting, have their books in the mail. If the postal service is smiling upon you, you should have it within the week. Just in time for release day.

Which reminds me…

RELEASE DAY!

The Oldest Trick, first installment in my fantasy series, The Saga of the Redeemed, is releasing tomorrow in paperback for the first time. If you too enjoy the smell of a good book and the feel of smooth paper in your hands or just viscerally enjoy folding the corner over of a saved page, then go online and order! Available online wherever books are sold!

BUT I WANT IT IN MY HANDS NOW, HABERSHAW!

This is a picture of me signing Kevin J Anderson's copy of the WoTF anthology, just to prove that I know how to sign a book.

This is a picture of me signing Kevin J Anderson’s copy of the WoTF anthology, just to prove that I know how to sign a book.

Never fear, my irrationally angry friend, this week there are not one, but TWO opportunities to not only acquire the book immediately but also to meet my stunning personage and have the opportunity for me to vandalize your newly bought property!

I am holding two book signings this week.

Thursday, 10/1, 7pm-9pm at Pandemonium Books and Games

Come to this cornerstone of the Boston Scifi and Fantasy world, nestled in the heart of Cambridge’s Central Square (and easily accessible via the T). Come meet me, come let me sign my book for you, and also peruse the many other wonders this hidden gem holds. Here’s the public facebook event, too!

Saturday, 10/3, 5pm-8pm at On the Dot Books

At this event in Dorchester, not only will there be books to buy and sign, but there will also be food and a cash bar (I think–still hashing that out). Join THAT event either here or here!

So, a busy week ahead! Please come see me! Amazon says I’m good, dammit – you should believe them!

 

I’m Off to LA!

Hello, loyal readers!

(cue theme song to The Great American Hero)

(cue theme song to The Great American Hero)

Just dropping a brief note for you folks here: tomorrow morning, bright and early, I’m off to the City of Angels for the Writers of the Future Workshop and Gala!

What does this mean for me? Well, I’m going to be hob-nobbing with the scifi and fantasy elite and getting an award for being awesome.

What does this mean for you? Well, no blog posts for the next eight days, at least. In the meantime, busy yourself by purchasing Book 2 of the Saga of the Redeemed, BLOOD AND IRON, on pre-order. Also, do it now – it seems that Harper Collins (my publisher) and Amazon are about to get in a bit of a squabble, so best buy while the buyin’ is good!

Anyway, wish me luck! I’m off to meet my destiny!

Blog Tour is Winding Down…

We press on!

We press on!

So, the blog tour is more-or-less over, now. I’ve got a couple more things to trickle in over the next few weeks, but I should be returning to my regular posting habits next week. That said, here are some entries:

An Interview with me by C Stuart Hardwick (fellow WoTF winner and author)

My Book, The Movie (wherein I was asked to cast The Iron Ring, and did so)

Writers Read (wherein I discuss precisely what I’m reading right now)

And a pretty good review (3.5/5 “sheep”, points off for it being half a book) from I Smell Sheep

Overall, the reception to the book has been good. It’s been getting very good reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads (and many of them from people I don’t even know!), but it is still a small book in a great ocean of books. It’s being compared (in tone) to the work of Scott Lynch and Patrick Rothfuss and Brandon Sanderson, and that is pretty gigantic praise. On the other hand, I’ve also been taking a bit of flak for the book ending, essentially, in the middle (don’t worry – the sequel wraps up that plot arc, and it’s coming out in June!). For a debut novel, though, it is being received very well!

I do, however, need more attention for THE IRON RING. If you’re read it, please review it (somewhere). If you want to run a feature on it on your blog, drop me a line! If you want to interview me, I’m happy to do so! If you are interested in my writing a guest post for your blog, I’m game!

I should also point out, as a means to drum up buzz about my book, the price on Amazon is temporarily reduced to $0.99 – a steal! So, if $2.99 was too rich for your blood, now’s you’re chance, America! Go buy it! Read! Enjoy! Review!

Thank you all for your support! I press on (and Tyvian presses on, too, though with markedly less enthusiasm).

That Way Lies Madness…

So, my first novel is out (did you hear? No? Well go out and buy it!). This, being a new experience for me, has also brought with it a bunch of unusual lessons I wasn’t really expecting. In the interest of forewarning others, I will now take you on a tour of my neuroses.

Lesson #1: Having a Book For Sale Is More Stressful Than Selling a Book

What if NOBODY LOVES ME?

What if NOBODY LOVES ME?

Like, 2000% more stressful. Rejection from publishers, while moderately painful, is way less worrisome than if the entire world decides it hates your book. With publishers, there’s always others, right? If they don’t like it, you can always self-publish! Who cares what those New York fat-cats think!

The thing I forgot (and that maybe a lot of writers seem to forget) is that the audience to which the book deal will grant you access is not guaranteed to like your book. So, there I was, on release day, sitting there with a case of the shakes because I was pretty sure the only people who would read and like my book were my friends and family, and at least some percentage of those people would lie about it because they love me and don’t want to hurt my feelings.

Awesome.

Lesson #2: There Is No Upper Limit To How Much You Can Stalk Yourself

Like, hours and hours, easily. I have been swinging by Amazon and Goodreads and Barnes and Noble so damned often that it was reaching a kind of mania. It was: “Do I have any reviews? No?” (five minutes pass) “Do I have any reviews? No?” (five minutes pass). Never have I wished I didn’t have a smart phone more.

As an addendum to this rule, I’m not really sure how you can’t look at your reviews. Like, I have honestly no idea. Sure, I can deal with them (I’ve only received one bad review so far, and that person somehow read the book before it was for sale but wasn’t given it for review, so…shady, is what I mean. Of course they’re entitled to their opinion, but…you know what? I’ll shut up now.). But not looking at them at all is pretty much beyond my willpower’s capacity. Like Pandora, I’ve gotta open the box.


Lesson #3: Analyzing Amazon Ranking is Bad For Your Health

As of this precise moment, THE IRON RING is ranked 76,698th on Amazon. On the one hand, considering that there are probably millions of books on Amazon, this isn’t all that bad. On the other hand, I am forced to reconcile the fact that 76,997 books are selling better than mine. In other words, more people than could fit inside the Superdome have books out that are better appreciated than my own. For somebody who has a pretty intense competitive streak, that is frankly driving me bonkers.

Look, I know it’s irrational – those numbers are more representational than they are actual and they fluctuated by the tens of thousands every hour, so what do they really mean, anyway? Besides, the book just came out 13 days ago, so I should cut myself some slack. Of course, much like reviews, I can’t not look, so there I am again, wondering what magical publicity button I can push to make it down at least into the four-digit realm. Then, of course, this sets off a spate of Impostor Syndrome and all kinds of other stupid senses of inadequacy that are really bad for me. I have to cut it out.

The Takeaway

The fact is that I don’t know how well the book is selling, nor will I know until I receive my first royalty check. I’m doing everything I can to help sales (and still keep up with my other job), so I shouldn’t be down on myself. I’ve accomplished something pretty amazing here – I have to admit that. Of course, being me, I want to do better than just that. As with all things I do, I’m not in it just to play, I’m in it to win. Of course, once you “win” in anything, there is just another, bigger contest beyond the rise. That’s the nature of writing – first you try to write a book, then you try to write a good book, then you try to get a book deal, then you try to actually make money, then you try to make enough money to just write for a living. It never stops.

It is important to remember that, if you’re a writer, you can’t get into this race and expect to just win and then stop. You should be in this race because you like running.

Pre-order THE IRON RING now!

That's 100% official cover art, right there.

That’s 100% official cover art, right there.

Tyvian Reldamar—criminal mastermind, rogue mage, and smuggler of sorcerous goods—has just been betrayed by his longtime partner and left for dead in a freezing river. To add insult to injury, his mysterious rescuer took it upon himself to affix Tyvian with an iron ring that prevents the wearer from any evildoing.

Revenge just got complicated.

On his quest to get even, Tyvian navigates dark international conspiracies, dodges midnight assassins, and uncovers the plans of the ruthless warlord Banric Sahand—all while running from a Mage-Defender determined to lock him up. Tyvian will need to use every dirty trick in the book to avoid a painful and ignominious end, even as he discovers that sometimes even the world’s most devious man needs a shoulder to lean on.

…and so it begins! THE IRON RING, my debut novel and first book in the Saga of the Redeemed, is an epic fantasy that should, with any luck, rock your face. It is now available via pre-order from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Go forth and purchase it, if you are so inclined. Or even if you are not so inclined – do it anyway, because I am a nice person and this is important to me and I will totally be your bestest friend forevers, all Samwise Gamgee style. For serious.

Also, if you’re curious about the setting of the novel and about Tyvian’s world, I recommend searching through the blog about the world Alandar. I’m going to set up a tab up top, too, that will hold the various world building materials I’ve posted here, just for fun and games. I might also go to town on putting together a better map than the one I have, showing you the breadth of the West and the intricacies of its geography.

THE IRON RING releases on February 10th – less than a month away! Keep an eye on this space for more news, coming your way soon, I’m sure. Thanks, everybody, for all your support!

 

 

Follow Me, Boys! I Know the Way!

(promptly falls off horse)

JONES, SR (to Indy):

Lost in his own museum, huh?

FADE OUT

You know how to toot your own horn, right? You just pucker up and blow.

You know how to toot your own horn, right? You just pucker up and blow.

As much as I aspire to be Indiana Jones and would even be tickled to be Henry Jones Sr., I am, I must admit, much more like Marcus Brody than anybody else. I possess vast armchair knowledge and, as of this writing, lack much field experience. Yet, I am very conscious that I stand on the threshold of, perhaps, changing all that. Maybe.

I’ve done some housekeeping around here. I ditched the stuff in the sidebar nobody ever clicked on and I made it easier for people to find my work, should they be inspired to do so. Furthermore, for those of you who like to swing by regularly, I encourage you to follow/like me on AmazonFacebook, and Goodreads. Of the three, I am most active on Facebook and then Goodreads. The Amazon page is a work in progress.

Anywho, I’ve been adventuring in Goodreads more and more, lately. I think it’s a great place to connect with your fellow readers, talk to your favorite authors, and find interesting books to read. I’ve spent entirely too much time adding books I’ve read to my shelf, and it’s been fun rating and remembering all the books that I’ve come across.

For all that, though, I’ve not written a review yet. I’m hesitant to do so. Yeah, I’ll give a rating, but when it comes to putting together my exact thoughts on the work in question and writing them out, I worry what that might mean for me. Now, for the rest of the universe, you should write reviews (bad or good) for the books you read. It helps the authors (in the case of a good review) and it can help your fellow readers (in the case of a bad one). Try to be fair, don’t be insulting, etc, etc, but you should do it. For me, however, the question of whether to review or not becomes more complicated.

The Fantasy and Science Fiction world isn’t huge, really. I am about to enter it as a new author and go full bore to try and make a name for myself in that industry. I’ve got an award coming to me (Writers of the Future), I’ve got three books on the horizon, and for me to start writing reviews for far better established authors than I, while tempting, has no discernible upside for me. On the one hand, if I dislike the book and say so, the author might read that, remember my (rather memorable) name, and next think you know I’m sitting on a panel with the person at a convention sometime and it gets…awkward. On the other hand, if I write good reviews only, I start to look more like a kiss-ass than somebody providing his honest opinion, and that’s not very good either. Given the odds of me actually having to interact with and even possibly work with these authors in some settings, it is perhaps best I keep my opinions to myself as much as possible.

Then again, I’m not much for self-censorship. Ask me what I think of you and I will tell you straight. You might not like it; I might not like saying it, but I will anyway. So, I’ve decided that, while I will give a 1-5 star rating to the books I read on Goodreads, I won’t write reviews (good or bad) as a kind of personal compromise. I also will try and stop reviewing my prospective peers here, on this blog (which I have a few times in the past). It strikes me as some kind of bad karma, maybe. I don’t know. Perhaps I’m overreacting. Or underreacting. Who knows?

So, yeah – a bit of a new look here for the blog, a resolve not to write too many reviews, and an entreaty to check me out at all those places. That about covers it. Thanks everybody!

Making Friends and Meeting People

I must confess something: I’m not much of a networker. Honestly, were it not for the existence of Facebook, I’d barely converse with anyone my own age. If Facebook crashes and burns, the thought of having to move to some other social networking site seems like a lot of trouble. I probably won’t unless forced (which is how I wound up on Facebook – my wife signed me up). I lose contact with people easily. I really don’t work very hard to keep in touch.

Your challenge: talk to these people without really having a conversation. Go.

Your challenge: talk to these people without really having a conversation. Go.

It isn’t that I don’t like people – I like them just fine – but I don’t especially need people to feel fine. I can go literal days and even weeks without speaking to another human being. I did it in college during Spring Break my senior year – I stayed at school and just sat at my desk and wrote for the whole week. I barely went out. I barely saw anybody. I don’t think I had a conversation with anybody that lasted more than five seconds. At the end of it, I felt fine. In fact, I felt more than fine – it was then that I finished the first draft of my first novel (no, you won’t be reading it. It was terrible).

I would say that I’m an introvert, but that’s not precisely true. I have no trouble talking to people, I just don’t need to talk to people. In fact, unless there is a reason to speak to someone, I usually don’t. I don’t do small talk, for instance – either we are having a conversation about something or we are not talking. I find meet-and-greet events tedious and troublesome, since usually it involves me having to strike up conversation with people who don’t actually want to have a conversation – they want to talk about the weather and ask banal questions about each other’s professions. God forbid you actually engage in a real answer to a question, like when somebody asks me “how are you” and I give them an honest answer about my health. Suddenly I’m the weirdo for some reason, when they are the person who asked. Sheesh.

But I digress.

As my novel, The Oldest Trick (Part 1), nears its deadline and eventual release, I’m starting to worry that no one will buy it. Well, maybe not no one, but barely anybody, anyway. Not enough people for me to finish out the series, not enough people to put it on anybody’s radar, and not enough people for it to allow me to nab myself an agent. I have, therefore, gradually begun expanding my ‘social media presence’. You can find me on Twitter (which is sort of like the small talk Olympics, so I feel like a camel in the Congo there) and I have set up profiles on Goodreads and Amazon. There’s this place, too, for what it’s worth. I should probably get around to setting up an Author page on Facebook, which is the only social media platform I use with any regularity. I’m also a recent winner of the Writers of the Future Contest, which is a networking advantage all its own, and I’ve maintained some contacts among other up-and-coming scifi and fantasy authors. These are all good things.

Even still, I feel disconnected, aloof. I’ve never been a guy for diving into the crowd. I like parties and I like talking to people, but I generally prefer to do it with fewer people as opposed to more (since, in the former case, I can actually speak with and be heard by others in comfort). There is no earthy way anybody is getting me to go to a bar, and especially not if the bar is playing music loudly. Give me a couch, a dozen friends, and a good meal. All that, though, is sort of the antithesis of what an author wants or needs to build his “brand.” I need to inspire the masses, somehow. I need to make a connection with hundreds or (ideally) thousands of people so that they like me and want to buy my books and follow my every step. Frankly, I have no idea how to do that. I could be doing it right now and I’d have no idea.

Anyway, the point of this post is that I’ll be fiddling with the layout of this blog over the next few weeks, trying to make it a more efficient portal to access my work (evidently, nobody seems to see the “where you can find my stuff” category on the sidebar, despite what I feel is its very, very direct title). Wish me luck, folks. Oh, and if you have any tips on how to be better at networking, be sure to pass them along.

And if you’re an agent looking for a talented fantasy writer, well, I could really use your help. I think. That’s just it – I have no idea.