Friday, 30 July 2010

Viva Le Revolution: we're building an indie army

Firstly, Mars Dorian reckons you need to name your fans. Lady Gaga has her Little Monsters. Rebecca Woodhead calls her fans Wordnerds (awesome name. Reminds me of Chuck. If I can't be a Nerdherder, I want to be a Wordnerder).

Here at Scathach we call our fans laochs.

It's because we're building an army.

More on that in a bit. First we want to share a link with you. It is about the Death Spiral, the fate of traditionally published midlist authors. Another good reason to be indie. Talking about being Indie, we asked Mark Coker to spread the word about the upcoming blog carnival. Here's hoping.

We want the carnival to be good.

And you want to know about our army, right?

We've said it before. We'll say it again. We'll keep saying it until you all listen. A grassroots movement is the surest way to build publicity for yourself. If you want to attract new readers, plug someone else's book.

That's right. Stop doing what you are doing. Stop commenting on people's blogs in the hope of attracting Sales. There are genuine reasons to do this. Sales is not one of them. Stop plugging your books on twitter, facebook, myspace, bebo, goodreads, blah blah (if you click the clickies you can friend us).

Instead, promote our book (out September 2010). You're not going to plug your own book saying it is shit. You will be biased and you will big it up. Of course you will. This is fine. This is natural. Don't worry.

But you can be honest about our book. We can be honest about yours. You can be honest about each others.

When you are a reader, other readers will respect your opinions more. It will seem more truthful (you will have a responsibility here; if you promote books that are shit just to have others promote your work it will be obvious).

Here's something to try. Find an indie who writes in your genre. Ask if they will put a link on their website to where your book is for a sale. An "if you like my books, you might also like..." make sure the book is one you like, is good quality. Sending your readers to look at shit will lose you readers. When you get someone to put a link up, you put one on your site for them.

When people are on your site, you've already done your marketing. We guarantee this will work.

We're building an army, an army of indie authors. We're finding ways to promote your books because we know this will promote Scathach's. We're interviewing an indie author on my blog every week. Next week, M.T. Murphy, the week after Kait Nolan. We're doing a blog carnival.

We've set up a guild, which is quiet right now. As of October 2010, there will be a massive effort to draw attention to the Guild of Independent Authors. We're making independent publishing viral. Be a part of it. Join the army. Be come a laoch.

For those who really insist on knowing, laoch is a Scottish word that perfectly fits the followers of a company named after the warrior princess Scathach (hands up if you thought about Xena). It is a difficult word to translate into English because it means Warrior, but it also means Hero and Champion.

Go on, be a champion of independent publishing. Be a laoch.

Join our army.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Coming soon: loads of stuff! But not christmas...

Coming Soon: Excerpts from Pleasure and Death, available on our website (link at top of page).

Next Week: Interview with Indie Author M T Murphy.

August: Blog Carnival for Smashwords authors. Leave a comment to be part of it.

Christmas: wait, no, that's fucking ages away.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

A Fantastic Opportunity for Indie Writers

We're organizing a blog carnival for authors who use Smashwords. It is happening on the 20th August 2010, a Friday.

What is a blog carnival?

A collection of different bloggers write posts on one topic, in this case why you decided to publish independently rather than going the traditional route, on their own blog. The host blog (hi, us) posts an article summing up each of the other blog posts and with a link to your blog.

On your post you mention at the top the post is part of a blog carnival, and link back to our post. This way any reader who reads any blog post on the subject and is interested has the potential to go to any or all of the other blogs.

Does it have to be on that topic?

Look, dudes, the topic is set. We're looking to do a monthly blog carnival if this works, and we don't care if you end your post with a synopsis and a link to buy your book. But the first carnival is about why you went indie.

How High Profile is this going to be?

Want to know a secret? Here at Scathach we don't read other writer's blogs for funzies. Oh no, we read Think Traffic, Liz Strauss's blog, itty biz, Mars Dorian's blog, and more. We love marketing, tiz fun.

And we pick up tips, by osmosis. We will try really hard to market this blog carnival. We'll use SEO techniques and link-building and more. You can do your bit, too. Tweet about it.

How do I sign up?

Leave a comment. Honestly, it is that simple. Leave your comment and write your blog post on the 19th of August, and post it. On the 20th we will come around, write our article, and link to the posts of everyone who has commented here.

You can also email us at

Why do we post on Thursday?

Our way of making sure you get included. We live in the UK and we're working nightshift over the Summer. If you post in the states in the evening, we'll probably miss it. So this way we know we'll include your post.

What do we get out of it?

Exposure to readers who wouldn't normally read your work? The chance to feel like part of a community? Free marketing? A coconut?

Okay, the coconut was a lie.

5 Things Spider-man Can Teach The Independent Author

Admit it. You've thought about it. In the deepest, darkest depths of your procrastination, the thought has occurred to you. What can be learned from Spidey?

Well, laochs, we're here to tell you what Spider-man (as presented in the movies) can teach you.

Just Because You're Young Doesn't Mean You Can't Kick Ass

There's a scene in Spidey two when the hero is unmasked. Folk on the train he is on are shocked by his age, with one dude commenting that Spidey is the same age as his kid. Yes Spiderman is young, but the villains are always older (with the exception of two, one of whom is redeemed and the other who is symbiontly joined to an alien creature that is possibly very old).

Spider-man is very much youth vs age.

Indie Publishing of the type practised by Scathach and others is in its infancy. But that doesn't mean we can't kick ass. We can kick ass in the form of getting loads of sales. We can kick ass in the form of standing up to the Agency 6 and tell the money-grabbing, tight-assed loathsome bean-pushing bureaucrats who have stolen everything beautiful from literature that enough is enough. Money can no longer be the bottom line.

It is telling that Authors don't give a shit about the money. If we did, we'd all be Publishers and no one would write. It is telling that Readers only give a shit about the money when books start costing ridiculous prices. We've given control of an industry where the money was always the least important part (the most important part being good storytelling) over to people for whom the money was always the most important part (fucking bean-counters) and now everyone bitches about how stories are
  • conformist, mass-marketing junk
  • no one writes cool, edgy, challenging things anymore (a misconception, it is written, just not published)
  • dudes like Dan Brown gets a contract
That last bit so was not jealousy. Here at Scathach we do not want to butcher our stories to make them fit someone else's idea of what will sell. Because taste is subjective, and when you try to make literature as appealing to as many people as possible you are often instead left with something bland and generically unappealing to everyone.

Of course, readers still buy it because the market is saturated with this piss, and there is nothing else to buy. So publishers in turn think this works, and keep mass-producing turds inside book covers.

(There are some good books out there, sure. Each of them has around 15 clones).

In the face of certain death, crack a joke

Spidey is always sarcastic, especially when his face is being pounded to pieces. How telling is that every Indie author Scathach has come across lists sarcasm as part of their talents? Check them out on Twitter, sarcasm stands out on everyone's bio.

Sarcasm, the ability to rip into someone else, to withstand them ripping into you, and to do it all in a good natured fashion, is very important to the indie author. If you give a shit about what people thing of you, don't publish your own work. By being bland and conformist and let agents and editors and publishers put you into all sorts of weirdly contorted positions no one will hate you (quite possibly no one will love you, either).

Look at the most popular authors. JK Rowling, Stephen King, Terry Pratchett, Patrick Rothfuss. They started out blazing their own trails, they didn't conform. People came behind them and copied the shit outta them, and you won't have heard of those folk.

If you go your own way you may well build up your own fans. On the other hand, some people will hate you. They may even take you to an undisclosed bad man's lair, cage you, and threaten you with lava traps a la Episode 3 of Zoe Who? Try it, you'll love it.

It's usually wannabee traditional authors, to terrified to take the chance your taking. Scared stick-in-the-muds who will insult you rather than doing something worthwhile. Keep your sense of humour, and know that indie publishers will get the last laugh.

Flexibility and Speed are More Important than Strength and Size

It is interesting to note that in the combat scenes, Spider-man doesn't ever use his strength to win. Sure he is super-strong, but not as strong as the Hulk or Rhino or even the Green Goblin. He is strong enough to survive their hits, but not to beat them.

Spider-man wins his fights by always moving. He is small, fast and flexible.

Just like a single author project. It takes years for a big publisher to put a book onto the shelves. It takes time for them to respond to the market, for them to change the way their business operates. This is evident right now in the catastrophe they are making of e-books. So many individuals have to be convinced that the new way is the right way. The old way has to be wound down and stopped. They are like Rhino, always in mid-charge.

But the Indie Publisher can be fast and flexible. The Indie Publisher can change much more quickly. Can have books out much more quickly. And if your readers are getting a book every 4 months instead of 1 a year, they will love you for it.

Don't Let It Consume Your Life

For a while, Peter does too much. No one knows his secret. He can't keep a job. He is struggling with college. His lecturers think he is brilliant, but lazy. It all gets too much and he eventually loses his super-powers (like impotence, its in his head).

But they come back in time to save MJ and after she learns his secret, he is happier than he has ever been for a while.

Make your work the best it can be, but don't make it the only thing you ever do. Remember your loved ones, spend time with your family.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

I saved the most obvious one for last, but what you gonna do?

As an Indie Publisher, you have power, and you have responsibility, and this is completely free of bullshit. People will read your work, and you may influence the way they think, the things they do or say or believe. If enough indie publishers unite, it may change publishing forever. We stand on the precipice of the future, and it is up to us to turn back or to hold hands and jump.

But if we jump, you and I, who knows who else will be following. In two years e-book sales will be 50% of all book sales in America. How high a percentage of that will be indie authors remains to be seen but we are
  • cheaper
  • faster
  • more flexible (on the ball, upto date, concurrent)
  • connect more with our readers (not mentioned on this post but we will do a reader connectivity post at some point
  • and (when it comes to Scathach, at least) much, much sexier
You have the power to change the world. You have a responsibility not to fuck this up.

Good luck with that, laochs.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Running Naked Through the Wilderness and Wild Sex Al Fresco

Apparently, it is important to relate to readers, to bare all. And so we want to share some things about Scathach Publishing, bare our soul.
  • We don't like to run around naked.
  • We don't like to run around naked outside.
  • We're not even sure what sex is (and we've no idea where these 3 kids came from. Anybody want one?)
There are 2 approaches to being online, and as authors you should be aware of your choices. You can have the completely transparent 100% out there approach, and run naked through the online wilderness if you want. This is a warts and all approach, and could be something that would work really well for the indie author.

Big Publishers like to keep it all mystical. Big Authors add to the equation. There is something so secretive about the whole publishing thing. Masonic handshakes, secret codes, conspiracies, etc. Agents on their blogs reveal only 2 kinds of manuscripts; the crap they don't want, or the great stuff they do. But as writers
we know that none of this is actually true.

Manuscripts start off as so much crap and go through various stages of revision, becoming work that an agent will fight for. All the shit of the slush pile could (perhaps) be revised in its entirety into something an agent will fight for.

Why keep all these stages secret? If you're indie, you have the final say in what gets published. Announce your synopsis up front, post early drafts on your blog or website. Don't be cryptic (J. would make a great villain. P. is in love with S but I'm finding it hard to write). Be completely and utterly open and honest, from the start, about your W.I.P.

This idea might be destined for failure. It could be the worst move you've ever made. Or it could cement your readers to you, give you reader loyalty like nothing you'll ever experience. The fact of your honesty, coupled with your readers realising just how much effort goes into producing a finished novel could make them love you. Blog exactly what your editor says. Let them know how much your cover cost. Have them witness every step of your journey.

We think we're going to do this, at least once.

Look, you're not a NY Publisher. Stop thinking like one.

Of course, the other way is to lie. Lie about everything. Lie through your teeth. You're a fiction writer, so live the fiction. Blur the lines between truth and reality. Scathach Publishing is One Man Alone yet we write in the royal plural. If you have a problem with that, take it up with our queen.

People are interested in your books, so brand build around that. Give them what you promise them. If you offer drama, author some drama. If its sex you do well (writing about it, obviously, you gutter whores) then give them passionate steamy sex. That you write about. Don't imbed your home vids inside the blog, cos that's just TMI.

You don't have to bare your soul to connect with your readers. You don't have to run naked through the internet wilderness. Most of you probably wouldn't do it in RL. So why do it online? By all means, though, flash the flesh (or the soul) if you feel it will help. And if you do something and it is a complete fuck up, stop and do something else.

Hope this helps. Now you tell me, do you live the lie or embrace the soul-baring nudity?

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Why Indie Authors Should Start Writing Queries Again

Okay, so we promised we would teach you how to write an effective Smashwords synopsis, and here it is... write a query.

Wait!!! What???

Yes, a query.

There are plenty of sites on the net that teach you how to do this, but we'll break it down here for you as well.

Dear Agent you basically don't need any of this suck-up shit so throw it in you desktop bin.

My novel is a genre wordcount story can be binned.

When orphaned Harry Potter discovers he is a wizard, and is taken to wizard boarding school, he couldn't be happier to be away from his awful aunt and uncle. But as he makes friends and learns magic he discovers a terrible truth... that his mother and father were murdered, and the evil wizard who killed them is after Harry, too.

There you go, none of the issues discussed in the previous post here.

Authors submitting to agents spend a long time making their queries just right. They have their queries critiqued. They rework them and rework them. They go over them in writing groups. They quite often put hundreds of man hours of effort into making them perfect. All this so ONE PERSON will buy their book and then ship it to publishers, hoping ONE MORE PERSON will buy their book.

Don't give us any crap that they need to do this because publishers and agents are gatekeepers. Don't tell us it needs more work to go to these "gatekeepers" because it doesn't, and to think it does only insults your readers.

At the end of the day, it comes down to how many copies you want to sell. Look at how much effort those other guys put in to sell to 2 people. We think you would love to sell a few thousand. Then it is simple, the synopsis should be the very centre part of what would be a query if you were going for one of the Agency 6.

Our upcoming short story, Coffee, is only a 1000 words long. Here is a possible blurb for it:

They said Galileo was mad. They denounced Darwin. Now they seek to discredit me. Well, I won't have it.

A possible blurb because we probably won't use it.

We might use

Coffee. The very word has a taste to it, a smell. You can't ever separate the three; word, taste, smell. As soon as one comes to mind, they all do. But what could be hiding behind a taste and smell so strong?

It is difficult to use a 1000 word story to illustrate points made on a 50k story. So here is something else to consider, the upcoming Matilda Raleigh novella. Yes, we're planning the synopsis already, a month and more before the grand release.

After a lifetime of adventures, Matilda Raleigh is finally dying. But when people she trusts betray her, and threaten all she holds dear, Matilda picks up her demon-possessed revolvers once more and heads off to stop them. Can she stay alive long enough to save the world one last time?

So, this isn't great.

It's actually quite shit, if we're honest. We have the gist of what we want to say, though we hoped for more (something about allies becoming enemies, enemies becoming allies would have been nice) and we had definitely hoped to plug our non-sparkley vampires, but c'est la vie.

We've not actually told you specific ways to improve, we know. But by pointing out what doesn't work, and including some examples of what could work, you may find your own way. If you don't, we shall make a further post with more detailed scenarios for success.

Edit: we used that second synopsis for Coffee. It's available now on Smashwords, download it for free.

Friday, 23 July 2010

I have a new blog

It's all about the image. It's all about my personal brand.

I don't have a brandable name. There is nothing catchy about my name at all. My new publisher has a catchy name. Scathach Publishing. Can't really be mistaken for anything else.

I'm getting a logo designed. Something cool, a woman with a spear.

This blog will still go, detailing personal things, and some talk of writing, too. But Scathach is where I will build my brand.

You can find it here  and here.

Bookmark them, follow them, whatever.

Wiley Agency tells Random House to Fuck Off

Right then, laochs, this was supposed to be a post on how the folk who need to fix their blurbs can fix their blurbs. But the publishing world is dynamic and explosive and sometimes things just can't wait. And one of those things is the Wiley Agency's massive fuck you to Random House.

And guess what, puppies, Macmillan got in on the action. John Sargent must have secret desires to be an author instead of a publisher, because he's always trying to get his name in print.

The History

Okay, so Random House, showing the kind of business acumen that only big publisher's ever display, have decided that they now own things that
  • they didn't ask for
  • they didn't pay for
which is the equivalent of you, young laoch, buying a cinema ticket and declaring that means you own the dvd.

Yes, we know this is completely fucking stupid, and time and again the situation gets explained to Random House, but they just can't grasp the idea that you own what you buy. (This, btw, is one of the big publishing companies so many authors try so hard to put their books with. Really? They don't understand principles of business that a 5-year-old can get).

So, what exactly happened? Well, people wrote books, and they wrote them before e-books were on the agenda. Hell, some of them wrote books before computers were, you know, in every teenager's bedroom. Back in the days when ebook was a typo.

No one knew e-books would be big (we would have known had we not been wrapped in our respective swaddling cloths) and no one could predict the Kindle (not even Nostradamus did it, and he was the best there ever was - much like us here at Scathach). So Random House did not include, anywhere in the contracts of the time, provision for e-books.

In other words, they didn't ask for e-book rights, they didn't pay for e-book rights, they didn't buy e-book rights. So why the fuck do they think they own e-book rights?

Here at Scathach we honestly have no fucking idea. Unless it's a simple case of the average 5-year-old being smarter than the corporate executives of Random House. Which, as time goes by, looks more and more likely.

The now

The Wiley Agency has used the rights of e-books it never sold to enter contract with, giving Amazon exclusive rights to these books for a period of 2 years. They have completely bypassed the publisher and gone straight to the distributor (essentially making Wylie a publisher in its own right). The list of books in the new Odyssey Editions range includes Lolita and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

The why

Publisher's give authors 25% of e-book prices as royalty. But e-books are cheaply manufactured and authors want 50%.

The consequences

Random House announced that they will not be entering any new worldwide English-language contracts with the Wiley Agency until the situation is resolved. Or, in other words, Random House is looking for a teacher, crying that the W.A. won't play fair. Boo hoo hoo, R.H., boo hoo hoo.

What the Fucking Twat said

There was a typo in the sub-title for which we apologise profusely. Instead of Fucking Twat it should have said John Sargent. But you know that, right? Course you did, you're smart little laochs.

"It is an extraordinarily bad deal for writers..."

Of course it is, because any deal that gives a writer 1,2,3... 23, 24, 25% extra cash for the sale of every book is ridiculously bad. What stupid writer would actually want to earn $5 for every $9.99 book instead of his usual $2.50? The idiocy of these writers astounds us here at Scathach. We are astonished.


Why? An author's agent handles paying royalties to illustrators. The agent isn't changing.


Bad deal? Sure. Karma? Yeah, probably. If publisher's weren't such fucking wankers these situations would not occur.


If e-books are going to booksellers out of business, they are going to put booksellers out of business. Sure, independents might be putting books online, but they can't hope to compete with Live in the real world. Please?

Clearly Mr Sargent doesn't. His attitude towards the Wiley fiasco reeks of panic and self-preservation. He asks why Wiley doesn't publish e-books through Books-a-Million. Possibly for the same reason Macmillan doesn't?

In Summation

If Wiley hadn't granted exclusivity to Amazon then Sargent would still have his knickers in a twist. Because with agencies seeing there is no point in going with Publishers, Authors will come to realise this, too. Agencies and Authors have been saying work with us, work with us. And the publishers have been ignoring them, and trying to grab every penny.

To be honest, I think Wiley will panic and try to back out of the Amazon deal. Random House is throwing its weight around. But the more the Agency 6 act like babies, the less weight they have to throw around, and the more people will stand up and say a big fuck you.

Anyway, we're going out to enjoy the sunshine. Have a nice weekend, ickle laochs.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Wtf Indie Authors, You Are Killing Yourselves

Seriously, Indie Authors, what the fuck?

I have just been on Smashwords, reading synopsi, and they is bad. Yes I has bad grammar too and oh my gosh no commas but this is I getting in the swing of things. Look, if your book has a shit synopsis, I will assume the book is shit. So will most readers.

If the book is thought to be shit, people won't read it. You are losing readers before they even look inside the book. The writing inside might be ace but no one will know.

These synopsi are really bad. They have bad grammar, repetition, punctuation in some cases and, quite often, they make no sense.

I'm going to look at some of the most recurring problems.

The Really Fucking Irritating Vengeance Twaddle Shitty Problem

This one really bugs me. It needed that title. Don't get halfway through the synopsis and suddenly out of the blue announce your hero wants vengeance. Vengeance is a consequence, the direct result of an action. Tell me the action. Your hero wants vengeance against the church. What? Why? Did a priest sleep with his dad when he was a choirboy? Did the pope call his mum a whore? If you don't tell the readers the reason, you have to accept that we will imagine our own. Usually these are more interesting than what you were going to tell us anyway.

The Fucked-up First Sentence That Needs To Be Nuked

Most first sentences in these synopsis should just be cut. So many of them are, like, well, basically piss. Write your synopsis, and then get rid of that first sentence. It really needs to go. Seriously. Trust me.

If You Wouldn't Say It In The Book, Don't Say It About The Book

Words like "In Addition" are crap. Don't use them. Same goes for repetition.

Don't Tell Us What The Book Isn't Fucking About

Okay, really, really, really can't fucking believe what I just read. I just picked a book at random (no names, right,) and read a great interesting synopsis about the third world war. It sounded seriously awesome. Right at the end it said "...scattered pockets of survivors emerge. [This book] follows one community." If the book follows the community, the synopsis should be about the community. If the synopsis is about the war, then the war is what I will want to read about.

Names and Nouns - don't fuck them up

Just read one synopsis. [Name]finds[something][somewhere]. His father accuses the boy of playing a prank.

Who is the boy? Is it the character you just named? You know, but your readers don't. That's a key point, actually. It seems that synopsis writers often forget that the readers know nothing about the story. You do.

Make Sure the Sentences Make Sense

Gone is anonymity. Here is a direct quote. "Before running back upstairs, the tree speaks to the boy." The tree can speak and run? This is the same synopsis as the nouns and names issue above, and it had further problems. And it wasn't the worst I've read.

Okay, there's loads of other issues, but I'll only do one more.

Stop Trying So Fucking Hard To Be Enigmatic
When he/she/it investigates h/s/it discovers a secret. Seriously? They wouldn't have to investigate if there weren't secrets. What they are discovering is the answers to secrets. For fuck sake, when you write a mystery or a mysteryX and you can't make the synopsis suspenseful why would you expect me to give up my time reading 100 pages of suspense-less mystery?

Okay, detox time. Calm down, it's only a synopsis. No, wait, it's not; well, okay, it is, but what is a synopsis? When you consider it, what is the synopsis really? It's your very short marketing pitch. It's entire point is to sell your product, but with the problems above they are actively NOT selling your product. And I don't just mean they aren't attracting people. You are getting negative equity here; your synopsis is making readers who would buy your book decide not to. And that is never a good thing.

I didn't want to do this. I didn't want to rag on fellow Indie Authors. It's hard enough being the underdog facing the might of NY Publishing and saying "Yeah, your books are piss. Mine's better," without having your peers ridicule your products. But I'm not ridiculing your products, I simply want to help you market them better by writing a better pitch.

Here's what I will do. We'll rewrite a famous novel using the issues above, to help you see what we mean.

The vengeance twaddle, Names and Nouns, Enigmatic, and just plain shit

Harry Potter didn't even know he was a wizard, but now Lord Voldemort wants vengeance. The boy is at school studying magic, but Hogwarts is full of secrets, and only by getting the philosopher's stone can Harry stop Voldemort's nefarious plan to return to life.

Wtf? HP didn't know he was a wizard. Cut the word even out because character space is limited and words are tight. Why does Voldemort want vengeance? Wait, it says later Voldemort is dead. How can he have vengeance. What is going on?

Everyone knows Harry Potter, right? But if you didn't know it, would you buy that book? I wouldn't, and not just because I come from a nation of tight arses. It sounds crap. Not saying the book is crap, just the pitch.

Okay, guys, here's the deal. I was going to go on for a bit about what you can do to solve these issues, but we're running this post long, and because of the blog setup (the posting bit being narrow) long blogs are bad blogs over here.

But fear not, my wee laochs, I'll be back soon with a further blog to help those that need it. Til then, if you can't be good, be fierce.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

5 Reasons this Blog Post is Shite

Well, here it is. Our first ever blog post. And it's shite. In our defence, though, there are definite, solid reasons for the shititude.

1) We're a Publisher, without any books. Uh-huh, yes, there it is. The first title, a Matilda Raleigh novella called The Guns of Pleasure and Death, is currently with an out-of-house book editor. When she is finished with it, we'll look at any changes she suggests, and make the novella the best it can be. There is also a draft with a cover artist who is busy thinking of potential covers. When the novella is done, this column will display a link to it so you can buy it, as you wish. <--------- (this column). The blog looks weird with empty columns.

2) It is 2:25 am. Good things rarely happen at this time. It's late, we're all tired, don't expect too much from us.

3) It's not the post we wanted to post. That was a post detailing ways in which traditional publishers could possibly attempt to fix the mess they are in. Good post, great topic, lousy introduction. Yes, okay, this introduction is not much better.

4) The post lacks content. We're not really saying anything here, are we? It's tongue-in-cheek, but as a first post it is our first piece of contact with readers. Readers who have not suffered the whims of our collective senses of humour, and have no way to gauge how serious or sarcastic we are being.

5) The title says 5 Reasons, but we don't even have five. Pathetic or what?

Trust us, the next post will be better. You'll have to come back so we can prove it to you.

Monday, 19 July 2010



Sunday, 18 July 2010

Sometimes I love my government

I have a new website,

It isn't a linky because it can take up to 72 hours for it to blah blah blah and I'll linky it when I finish site building.

Thanks to the fantastic fantasticness of GBBO I got my own domain name, 2 years web hosting, and a cool website for the tiny little price of £0.00.

That's right, nothing.

GBBO stands for Get British Business Online. It is part of the government's plan to make Britain world-leaders in IT. It is a partnership between the government, BT and google.

Scathach is born... yeeha!

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Scathach is Born

In Celtic mythology the great hero CuChulainn learned love and war from the warrior maiden Scathach. She is always depicted as a Scottish heart-breaker, a martial arts instructor who taught the greatest Irish hero (and many others) how to fight. She would give them Friendship of the Thighs (ie teach those young lads all about sex) shortly before they finished training.

CuChalainn wanted to marry Emer, but was forbidden from doing so until he had finished training. So he went to Dun Scaith (Fortress of Shadows) on the Isle of Skye and seduced Uathach. In the midst of sex her lover discovered them. CuChalainn killed him, and Uathach fell in love with him (I think it was slightly more involved than this. Let's call this the abbreviated version) and taught him how to make Scathach grant him 3 desires.

So he got Scathach to teach him to fight, and to let him agree to marry Uathach, and I cannot remember his third desire. Anyway, Scathach gave him the Freedom of the Thighs (seduced her daughter's lover, fiance, etc) and gave him a magic spear only he could use.

Scathach means shadowy. It is the name I am giving to my Publishing company. The story above will illustrate why Pleasure and Death will be an ace first title. It's pronounced exactly as read (in Scottish, anyway. In Welsh it is Ska ha, but I ain't Welsh. As illustrated by my use of vowels).

Scathach is born.

Ending the Stigma of Self-Publishing

This is a fairly interesting blog post from over on Free Kindle. The author asks the question "What is a book?" He has a valid point. If the book is the physical thing, then an e-book isn't really a book at all. Neither is an audio book, a podcast or anything else.

This is the way I approach it, too. I see myself as a storyteller more than a writer, which is why I'm as happy directing as writing. Films, books, it's all just about a story at heart.

Here's another free kindle post about what readers judge a book by. Publisher isn't in the top 5, interestingly enough. One reader comments that he (or she?) only reads books that are like books by authors he (she?) likes. This reader doesn't know how to search out other books.  I keep getting the feeling that there should be a way Indie Authors can come together, because only collectively can Indie Authors outshine the NY Publishing Houses.

Until there is a way for Indie Authors to work together, there will be limited individual successes (yes, okay, like Zoe. Zoe who?) and a huge amount of people falling into obscurity. Yes, there is crap produced, but there are some real gems out there. I feel there needs to be a way to get readers to more easily find Indie Authors.

I read a lot of Indie Author blogs. You'll find them down the side of my blog, all except Zoe who (lol, again) for some reason I can't link to from down there. I'm always finding more Indie Author blogs without even looking thanks to the gem that is Google Alerts. I have various alerts set up but the important one just now is "Indie Author" including the quotation marks.

A lot of these author blogs I read are geared at other authors. Very few make a conscious effort to blog for readers. I don't either, but I don't have a book out yet so I doubt readers are interested in me.

This isn't an Indie Author thing. Of all the blogs I have read by authors, only 2 have been strictly for readers. Neil Gaiman posts a "this is what I did, this is what I'm doing, this is what I'm going to be doing" style blog here. For a blog that's fun, interesting, and all about the readers, try this one: Patrick Rothfuss. The reason I think this works so well is because he wrote a magazine in college. His blog posts are college-magazine like.

So what can Indie Authors do? I don't really like offering advice because my book isn't out yet. I am kind of side-lined, but it is getting unbearably close to being ready. Like standing at the tip of the diving board, staring into the water below, people behind getting impatient. I did that, once. Was terrifying all the way up the ladders, and just before I jumped I lost all fear. It was about 30 ft above the water and I was doing a life-jacket test.

Indie Authors all seem to see themselves as being alone. But that won't work. When a NY published book comes out it comes out without the stigma attached to self-publishing. It comes out with the backing of literary gatekeepers. Yes, as Zoe Who episode 2 points out, that gatekeeper might be a 19 year old fashion school drop out, but it's still a gatekeeper.

Right now is the best time to be an Indie Author. Right now the publishers are killing themselves, they are literally in their death throes. I really do think they will re-invent themselves, be reincarnated in a new form. But right now they are dying. They are collapsing where they stand. And there are so many reasons for this, way beyond the obvious reasons. You want to know one of the major reasons the publishers are dying? J A Konrath is murdering publishers, or at least he has the potential too.

He is showing that mid-list authors with backlists and fans can do a lot better on their on, without publishers. When this news gets about, as it will, more will follow. When they do, publishers will be left with noobies and big guns. With only debut authors and giants and nothing in between, and every few years the noobies reaching the point where they are better off on their own, the publishers will die.

That's not the only reason. This is another one, and the agency pricing model another, and the obsession with dead tree books another. Now is the best time to be Indie, but to truly get passed the self-publishing stigma, I think that Indie Authors need to work together. There needs to be a grassroots community of Indie authors that readers find easy to navigate. There has to be a way of finding other books readers will like.

It has to be aimed at readers. It has to be directed at the people we are directing our work at. It has to be honest. If we recommend something shit, it damages our reputation. By finding a way to highlight the gold we can widen other indies readerships even as they widen ours. Books are read faster than they are written. By bringing Indie Authors together and sharing fans everyone's readership will grow, and we will lose some of that stigma that self-publishing has.

If a reader picks up an Indie book they might think "Wow, I thought all self-pubbed books were shit. Guess this is the exception." If they Stumbleon the grassroots community of Indie Authors where every book is quality, then their whole opinion must be revised. A self-publishing author isn't news. A grassroots, word-of-mouth community of authors that have turned their backs on Publishing because someone left a wardful of idiots in charge might be news.

For the benefit of all of us, Indie Authors need to come together. I'd love to hear other people's views on this. Leave a comment below.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

My Big Mouth

My Big Mouth keeps getting me in trouble.

I do these silly things. Well, no, actually, I agree to silly things. I recently started volunteering on Hospital Radio. Last Thursday I told the manager I could write a radio drama and would happily give them radio copyright but I was keeping all other copyright.

Tomorrow I've to present 3 story ideas.

Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.

I also agreed to appear as Robin Hood when the roadshow goes out in August. Crazy.

There might be pictures.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

My boots are huge

I started the first step in my marketing plan, yesterday. It seems crazy, my book isn't even out yet.

On that, I'm 100 pages into my hard copy edit. That's where I mark all the changes on a print out, as in the previous post. My entire m/s currently sits at 127 pages, double-space, 12-point TNR. This edit has some pretty big changes in it. I realised that some scenes which were conversational should really have been confrontational. This is sword and sorcery I'm writing after all it's supposed to be about marching from battle to battle.

After I'm finished, I have to put all my changes into the PC. Then I pop the book to an editor and to my cover artist. I'm confident with my story, I like it, I don't want to change it. Unless there is a gaping plot hole I won't be changing the structure. My artist plans to read my book for inspiration.

And then I do my marketing. Which I started yesterday. It's hard to market fiction, which is why I have decided to do non-fiction to put my name about a bit. So I started working on a non-fiction yesterday, which I aim to have finished by Xmas.

Which is roughly when I'll start the first Guns prequel. I don't have a title yet, but I do know it will be set in 1860, in London. Winter. There will be zombies. And Church knights. And really cool steampunk technology. The plot will involve an old book, somehow.

And Matilda will be evil, which will be fun to write. Embrace the demonic badness.

I have plans for work in other genres too, but I'm just going to keep going for now and see how far I can get. From Sept/Oct next year there's a film I really want to start filming, so I'll need to script it this year, and try and make enough money from the writing to have a float with which to start fundraising for my film.

But this non fiction is one of the hardest things I have ever done. Other companies make these books, and put together teams of 30 staff to pull it off. I have me, and a tea-brewing dwarf, and a quarter of that sentence was a lie.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Hard at Work

Thought I'd offer up some proof I've been hard at work, lol.

These are some heavily edited pages from my manuscript. You can see my scribbled handwriting marking out the detailed changes.

This scene involves the hero Matilda being visited by the Archangel Barachiel, who offers her the Blessing of God.

The Blessing of God ensures that no matter what "evil" a person does in life, they are guaranteed entry into heaven when they die.

Matilda refuses the Blessing of God, saying that if she commits acts evil enough to ensure she is sent to Hell, then she will go to Hell.

Facing the consequences of your actions is a huge theme in this novella. This is the last battle of her life, and she faces once more the first evil she ever fought. It killed her father and her husband.

I really wanted a cyclical aspect to Matilda's life.

She is going to die facing the first evil she ever faced once more. This is the thing that set her down the road to being a hero. This is what it's all about.

A while ago I wrote a query and submitted it to someone who reads queries and tells you if they are any good. This person commented on the fact that it sounded like Matilda was going to die.

She does die.

Unlike most other novels that are about the hero/heroine taking out the evil and finding a way to survive, this book is about Matilda staying alive long enough to get to the Big Bad.

She nearly dies several times before getting to the last fight.

But sometimes it's not about surviving; it's the winning that counts.

I had a lot of fun with this scene because I was using existing Christian mythologies.

In old Christian beliefs Barachiel is an angel who offers the Blessing of God. He often appears holding a white rose.

I went in a very stereotypical way with my angels; white swan-feather wings, handsome bare-chested men, flaming swords. Of course, my demons look very similar, with the exception of Sephyr (she's a demonic mermaid). My demons (being fallen angels) can appear as demonic or angelic as they wish.

This is perhaps my favourite scene in the entire thing. Matilda has given up on God, and when the angel visits her, she argues with it. Its not that she doesn't believe in God, she doesn't have to believe, she knows he exists.

If God has a Plan, if he is all-knowing and infallible, then he must have known about the Fall before the angels rebelled and became demons. If he did know, then God allows evil in the world. If God didn't know, then he isn't all-knowing.

I really like this scene. Once published, I hope some of you like it, too.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Not about strategy

So I said I would do a blog post on marketing strategies. I remember writing that for a very defined purpose. I knew why I was doing it. It made perfect sense. How shit is it that I have completely forgotten what was going into that post?

About the only thing I can say about marketing strategies is... surprise people. Don't do what they expect you to do. Apparently the first company to advertise on the sides of their trucks was the Body Shop. Before that trucks trundled up and down the country with plain white sides. After the Body Shop did it, everyone else copied. But the Body Shop jumped ahead of the game by advertising on the sides of elephants.

I'm not entirely sure why elephants were trundling up and down the country, though.

Surprise people. And I don't mean put Jane in a Box instead of Jack. I mean, actually aim to do different things, things other people haven't done.

Right now, that's all I've got strategy-wise.

Writing wise, I'm about 50% into my newest edit. I'm going to make this the last one. My preious edit changed a lot of things and made the story much stronger. This edit will make sure it all flows and I have no typos or shit lying around. And then, I'm done.

Copies of the book will be sent to my editor and cover artist. At this point I don't see any major changes to my novella, so my artist can read what I have so far and together we can discuss my cover art. She wants to do an original piece of artwork for it.

I've just begin my next big project. It's a non-fiction book, and I'm hoping to have it sort of finished by Christmas. It will then go out to other people, and I'm hoping that stage can be done by April, which would give it a Summer 2011 release date.

Long before which I should be finished my prequel, book one of my series.

I have decided on titles. A while back I asked people what they thought of my titles, The Guns of Pleasure and Death, or Pleasure and Death. The romance writers and readers unanimously picked Pleasure and Death (a romance sounding title) and the spec fic author picked Guns.

For my novella I'm going with Pleasure and Death. For my prequels, the series title will be The Guns of Pleasure and Death. The first book doesn't have a title yet, but it does have a plot. Zombies, grimoires, demonic possession and the militant arm of the Church are all involved.
And that's enough teasers for now. Ba-bye.