Friday, 27 August 2010

Things We've Read on Other Blogs we Don't Understand - Part 1

"I took my car to a garage. The mechanic said my radiator is bust. I don't believe him cos I had to pay. I'm looking for a free mechanic."

WTF, right?

Okay, we'll come clean. We've never read that on someone's blog cos it would be pretty dumb.

So... what did we read? Well, on at least 6 different blogs we have read the following conversation.

Tradpub "Self-pubbed books are shit. They don't get edited."
Selfpubber "My book got edited."
Tradpub. "Yes, but editing doesn't count if you pay for it."

What The Fuck!

How does this even make sense?

First - all editors get paid. The difference is that traditional publishers pay the editors, not the authors. But they still get paid.

So what Mr Tradpub is saying is that if the author pays the editor then it invalidates the editing. On our next book we shall ask My Mum to pay the editing bill. This means the author won't be paying, and the editing will automatically be better, right?

Seriously, are you a nutcase?

Second - why would a freelance editor lie?

Let us say we pay $350 to get Invictus edited. That is $350 we really can't afford. That's like kiddies shoes money, the hundreds of kids here will be going to school barefoot. Okay, maybe not, but we don't have $350 spare in a drawer or something.

So the editor LIES (you know, simply because we paid) and we sort things that didn't need it, and don't sort things that do. So Invictus goes on sale, and reader comments roll in. Things like "This is shit," and "This wasn't edited."

Oh well, Scathach thinks, it doesn't matter. Except it really fucking does. Cos we don't have $350 to piss into the wind. We are angry (think wild horses angry) and we want that editor-pimp-bitch-ass-idiot to pay!

So we tweet.
And we blog.
And we facebook.
And we go to every comment thread on every forum, and we apologise to every pissed off reader who wasted their money buying our trash. And we tell them it will get re-edited, properly this time. And it will get re-released (it's an e-book, so, you know, we can do that).
And we give all our pissed off readers Smashword vouchers to get the newly edited copy for free. Because sometimes we are nice. Usually on Tuesdays. Here at Scathach, we like Tuesdays. Tuesdays are awesome.

Indie authors have this kick ass community, like a herd. We're doing this ALONE and that makes it shit scary as well as lonely. So we huddle together with all the other loners. And we congregate on places (like the Konrath blog).

And that community gets wind of the shit we here at Scathach have just been dragged through. People like the fantastic Zoe Winters (so what if we're kissing ass?) start blogging and tweeting and facebooking. She's up the rung from where we are. More people notice.

At some point the great Indie God Konrath notices. And blogs, tweets, facebooks. And the little editor who screwed us over will never work in this town again.

Except that by this town we mean the whole fucking world.

Oh, but of course, it's not that they LIED it's that they are INCOMPETENT. Except that the editors employed by publishers are being laid off, and some of them are going freelance, and some of us are hiring them. But they are still crap editors, because you can only edit if a publishing company foots the bill.

I'm sorry but, once again, I must ask...

What the Fuck?

More things we've read we don't understand coming soon...

Monday, 23 August 2010

Barriers, my mum, and the size of my wang - unveiling Scathach Publishing's USP

There is such a thing as good taste. It is an elusive beast. Here at Scathach it is something heard of, but never seen. We fear it might be extinct in this part of the world. People say to us "You have no good taste." It makes us sad for a moment. We are never sure why.

We recently read an awesome article on USP. This is Unique Selling Point and is the reason people should buy from you. Don't think "I'm the only one with my book," think instead "There are lots of other books in my genre that are similar. Why this one."

You have your good cover. The work is edited. The story is tight. The characters are engaging.

That can be said about lots of books.

We're not going to go too much into what a USP is. It was summed up by Think Traffic far better than we could ever manage it. This is where you want to go when you've finished here.

We have our USP now, and it is summed up by this, the first Matilda Raleigh: Invictus book trailer. We're going to bring out more, and more, each time revealing a little bit more about the book, until the book comes out.

This time, there's nothing more than the title, author and price.


And as to our USP?

Scathach Publishing: our books are cheap, not shit.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Book Cover Design Problems

With some books, like the one mentioned in the previous post, we know exactly what we want from our cover art. Sadly, the finished novella is not one of those books.

So we need a cover idea fast.

Let's look at the theme of the novel.


Matilda loses her hand saving the king from an assassin.

Matilda loses her eye stopping a rampaging robot from killing one of her allies.

Matilda becomes the thing she hates most, a vampire, because it is the only way to stay alive long enough to save the world.

Matilda ********** **** ****** on board the ******* to stop the baddie from gaining world domination. Yeah, we're not giving that one away. Let's just say it is the biggest world-saving-sacrifice ever made in any work of fiction that we have ever read.

We have our theme. Kind of, it's hard to put into words.

A true hero is willing to sacrifice anything for their cause.

That sounds too much like a suicide bomber.

A true hero is willing to sacrifice anything for the greater good.

Cliched piss.

A true hero must be willing to sacrifice everything if that's what's required.

Awesome. We like it.

The books USP (Unique Selling Point) is that it costs $1. Yes, I'm undercutting other indie authors. Yes, $1 is very cheap for a 50,000 word novella. Yes, some people will think its some kind of a con, or the book is shit. We're cool with that.

We have a plan.

The genre is steam and sorcery. It is steampunk, and it is sword and sorcery. This needs to be conveyed in the cover.

Currently, the title is Invictus.

In a similar vein to the James Bond novels and to avoid similarities with the movie Invictus, it will actually be called...

Matilda Raleigh: Invictus

This needs to go on the cover.

We're making progress, actually. We have decided exactly what type needs to go on the book cover. What that leaves is the image. A steampunk sword and sorcery image that shows the theme of heroic sacrifice.

Wow, this is not easy.

Everything's better with lesbians; even zombies and a language lesson

I'm going to have to do two versions of this next novel. I'm writing it in first person, alternating views between the two main characters, and it is being written in Lowland.

A lot of people think the way Scottish people talk is just slang, but we actually have three languages in Scotland. Highland Scots is normally called gaelic. Lowland Scots is the one most people think of as slang. Scotch is an alcoholic drink, which we call whiskey. The third language is English.

Am gonnae hae tae dae twa versions ay this yin. Am scrievin it in first person, alternatin views twixt twa main characters, an its bein scrieved in Braid Scots.

A wad ae fowk hink the wie Scottish people blether is aw jeest slang, but thur's three languages in Scotland. Hielan Scots is normally cauld gaelic. Braid Scots is the wan maist fowk hink ay as bein slang. Scotch is a drink, wi caul whiskey. The third language is English.

Scots the wikipedia page

It will be hard for non-Scots to read, and not just for the language barrier. I'll throw up a list of words, see how many you can understand.


These words are really common. Rarer words will be harder to understand.

Sowans nicht

Making this list, I've come to realise something. It is often said that Scotland has two weeks of snow, two days of sunshine and the rest of the year it rains. Stoat and smirr both relate to the rain, and dreich, and drippit and more beside have something to do with rain. I'm wondering if we have more words to describe rain than any other country in the world. Possibly.

Added to the words, there are calender words such as hogmanay (possibly obvious), first foot, Trades and Fayre, and so on. Trades is the first two weeks in July, Fayre the next fortnight in July.

Then there are the expressions, such as "lang mae yer lum reek," which means I hope you always have good fortune, and "yer erse is oot the windae" which means "You are unlikely to achieve the desired result with that kind of behaviour." That last comes from a BBC website because I found it funny.

And then there's all the grammatical differences, such as the fact we use how and why interchangeably, or that the plural of ee is een, or that an comes before a consonant and a before a vowel except if an comes before the an that comes before a vowel.

Yeah, you're thinking what the fuck, right? An is used in place of and, so if you were to say and an apple it would be an a aiple. Notice that when the d falls off of and, it isn't replaced with an apostrophe. This is because in Scots there is no d, so it isn't missing. Some people put apostrophes in when they aren't required, and these are called apologetic apostrophes.

Anyway, enough of the language lesson. It is enough to say I have decided my next novel will be in Scots, which will make finding beta readers really hard. And editors.

The thing is, my next novel is a zombie book. I'm not going to say its title yet, but when I recently told Zoe Winters the title and she immediately hearted me. Really, it has an awesome title. People want to buy it on that alone, without even hearing the synopsis.

But it's not just the title that's awesome. Here are a few teasers.

"Be careful out there. There are zombies everywhere."
"It's okay, I'm a hairdresser."
"What the fuck has that got to do with there being zombies out there?"

Lesbians make everything better.

"My dead dog is chasing the neighbour's dead cat along the stream, and all you can say is that it works?"
He considered for a moment. "It fucking works?"

It also has a really hilarious sex scene, some moments of gross out horror (a scene with a dog springs to mind) and parts that are so sad I cried as I wrote them. Okay, I didn't cry, but it is sad.

I actually wrote this in 2004, I'm just reworking it, getting rid of plot-holes, modernizing.

It is set in Denny, a small town in Scotland where I grew up.

I'm going to put it out in an English version, too, but the Scottish one will come first.

You'll love it, trust me. Especially you, Mike.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

The Carnival Is Here

This is a blog carnival by indie authors. Indie is the new term given to self-publishing authors to try and get away from the stigma foisted upon them. Stereotypically self-published books are all worthless crap put out by deluded desperadoes who can't get a publishing deal.

This is far from the actual truth. There are high quality self-published books out there (there must be, else why would publishers offer self-publishing authors book deals?). There are authors who don't want a traditional publisher to publish them – note: don't want is vastly different to can't get.

Here are 12 self-published authors ready to tell you why they stopped submitting to traditional publishers (or in some cases, never started). Two more are going to tell you why they are planning on going the independent route.

If you've never read a self-published book because you've bought into the crap that they are all written by talentless hacks, then this blog carnival is just what you need. Hopefully, reading the reasons why so many talented people have turned away from traditional publishing will inspire you to try their work.

If you're an author just ready to submit, and your looking at your options, and the stigma attached to self-publishing is scaring you, then read the blog posts gathered below. They might inspire you one way or the other, but chances are they will inspire you.

Jess C Scott offers up ten reasons why Indie is a better bet than traditional publishing. You can find her reasons on her blog. There's not much point listing the genres she writes in, as Jess writes in almost every genre.

Claire Farrell is on a time scale to write before she gets back to work because she has hundreds of babies. Oh, okay, 5, but I've got 3 and I thought that was pretty bad. For more on the reasons Claire went indie, and her 5 kids, check out her blog. Plus, her fiction is about fairies, and I love fairies.

Ty Johnston has worked in newspapers for 12 years. He's seen first hand what happens when digital takes the place of print. He started self-publishing to pay bills but still manages to get publishers to pick up some of his work, which puts the lie to the idea that if you self-publish a traditional publisher will not go near you.

Levi Montgomery is chasing dreams. :) He is looking for a publisher to give him a contract where he has full control. I respect his reasons for going independent, but I doubt he'll ever see that contract. He's not stupid, though, he knows this, too. He has a full, and very extensive list of the things a traditional publisher would take away from him. Not only this, but for all the self-publishing naysayers out there, it should really be pointed out that Levi has turned down several offers from publishers already. Way to go, dude.

Moses Siregar III
has had his first novella out on Amazon for seven days now, but he isn't closed to the idea of a traditional publisher either. He sees the benefits of going both ways, and has even linked his post to one that states reasons why traditional publishers and agents are still important.

Paranormal romance authors are up next. The first of these, Kait Nolan, hates her day job. And from what she's tweeted about it, I'm not surprised. If you scroll down some on this blog, you'll find a recent interview we did with Kait, if you're interested.

If you like your indie authors (Hell, even if you don't) you've probably heard of the second of this blog carnival's paranormal romance authors. She's everywhere on the net, she's the she-hulk of self publishing as Ty Johnston describes her. What else can be said about Zoe Winters, except that she (like Levi) wants full control over her work. People warned her not to self-publish, and she ignored their advice. With the amount she is selling, it seems she made the right call.

Camille LaGuire has put the other self-publishers in this carnival back in their place. For her, it isn't about the money, the control, the cover art, giving up the day job or sticking two fingers up at the establishment... she just really enjoys what she's doing. Besides, trad publishers wouldn't buy a cozy western mystery about gunslingers who play with dolls. I can't imagine why, it sounds awesome. Check out the Daring Novelists's blog, if you dare. Haha.

Targoun is tired playing it safe, and has decided to throw his dice into the self-publishing game. With the quality of writing in his blog posts, I'm sure his fiction must be good, too.

Luna Lindsey is looking at the music business, and thinking similar things will happen to the publishing industry. Will readers start looking specifically for indie authors? Strangely enough, a reader posted a comment on Kait Nolan's blog today, stating that because of the strength of Kait's novel Forsaken by Shadow, she now does exactly that.

One more published indie author to go, and he has promised us a limerick. I was looking forward to this, but sadly it is the worst limerick of all time (made worse by the hideous lie it contains; he doesn't even like fish) check out M T Murphy's blog, Werewolf Kibble.

This is starting to look badly organised (to which Zoe will leave a comment mocking me. Grr. Shut up, Zoe. :p ) but I just found another entry in the carnival. Susan Bischoff, author of Hush Money, wanted to write a series regardless of whether it would sell. As soon as I get my Kindle, Hush Money is the first book on my to buy list. It's about super-heroes.

And another late edition. This is going to be so much better organised for the one I'm planning in November. Stacey Wallace Benefiel, author of Glimpse and Glimmer, wants cotton candy. It's not that type of carnival, Stacey. :) Stacey didn't have the patience to do the whole traditional thing, especially not after gathering 70 rejections.

Well, that's it for published authors. Lisa Yarde emailed me to apologise as she couldn't manage to make a post for the carnival, and Fran MacDonald was going to post but hasn't. I'll check Fran's blog later, in case a post is up.

Now for J A Marlow, who will have a book out in early 2011, and is already planning on going indie.
Oh, wait, I nearly forgot. My novella will hopefully be out in September. And the major reason I want to self-publish? It's in the post right under this one, but I'll link to it anyway. Here.

And that's all. It's been fun, and totally exhausting, doing this. Writing this post has taken five hours (including reading all the other blogs). I hope it inspires you.

Chris Kelly.

(PS if you wrote a post for this and I missed you, leave me a comment somewhere).

Why I intend to go Indie

On the cover of the third book in the Sword of Truth series there is clearly a dragon. Which doesn't seem that odd (it is a fantasy after all) until you consider that there is no dragon in Blood of the Fold. Yes, the first two books have dragons in them, but the third is curiously dragon free.

On the very first page of Dragon's Keeper by Robin Hodd there are 3 mistakes. We are supposed to believe that in a self-pubbed book these are spelling mistakes. In a publisher produced book these would be called “printing errors.”

A cookbook this year had a recipe that required “ground black people.”

A Terry Pratchett novel had the entire middle of the story reprinted and tucked in instead of the end.

There is every chance that going indie will lead to monumental fuck-ups on my part.

But they will be my fuck-ups. Not someone else's. Mine.

And that's important to me.

The Ship has Sunk! There are Sharks! Modern Publishing is Lost at Sea! (The Blog Carnival Cometh).

Imagine that there has been a great shipwreck, and we are all in the water together. The land isn't far away, but there are sharks.

Six old men get into the only lifeboat. They are professionals and have had a lot of big meals over the years. They know they should swim for the island, but they are scared. Those big meals have led to lots of extra weight they can't easily shift. They know if they strike for the island, most of them will go down. The ones that do make it will lose limbs, and be nothing like what they were before. In the meantime, the tide carries the lifeboat further away from the island, making it harder by the hour for these six old men to survive.

Everybody else is in the water on their own. Some people grab broken doors, dining tables, anything they can find that will float. They head for the island together. But you can't be saved by consensus. One person has to take charge, and its not going to be you.

All the rest strike out on their own. Some are stupid, and think they have a much higher chance of survival than they do. Perhaps they can't even swim. These are the first to die. Some are stupid but lucky. A very few that seemingly had no chance will make it to the island anyway. There are only so many sharks, and determination beats tiredness.

Some have a much higher chance. Perhaps they are really good swimmers. Perhaps they know how to deal with sharks. Perhaps they have a ten year marketing plan, lol.

You know the score, right? The Agency Six publishers languish in the lifeboat. They might be the last to fall, but only an idiot would swim away from land to climb onto the lifeboat for temporary safety. Those committees trying for land, they are the small publishers. They are doing the same thing indies are doing, but they are doing it together.

Which is great if you need the support of your peers. If you need someone to decide your books title, or the cover art. If you want someone to manage your career (read: tell you what to write) or wipe your ass for you, then this is the best option.

I'm not mocking the small pubs. They offer a much needed service. They do it better than the bigger ones. These are the guys that for the most part will survive the storms ahead.

The self-publishing indies are heading for the shore on their own. Some are no talent hacks, and can't swim. Most of these will go down. A few lucky ones will make it through. Of the rest, the ones with real talent, they'll make it to the island.

In fact, some of them already have. Tomorrow you'll hear from 12 writers already on that island, as they tell you just why they they struck out on their own. Furthermore, you'll hear from 2 writers still in the sea, ignoring the "you'll never make it," cat-calls of the folk in the lifeboat as they drift further from safety.

At the end of the day, survivals down to your own choices no matter which path you take. But in tomorrow's blog carnival you may find the inspiration you need to decide one way or the other, especially if you've been on the fence.

There's been a fight brewing between self-pubs and trad-auths for a while. Remember, either way, we are all still writers. Some better than others (some probably delusional) but all writers.

So, whichever route you choose, good luck.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Okay, one more time people (this is supposed to be easy :) ) Blog Carnival Instructions

It should hopefully be simple.

1) Write a post on why you are indie.

That's it. I'll write a post on Fri linking to your post (and everyone else's).

2) Edit your post to include a paragraph that says basically "This pot is part of a blog carnival. To find the other posts in this carnival, go here." Then link to me.

Easy. Told you.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Blog Carnival Update 2

I believe I have now commented on all 13 blogs of people involved in the carnival. If I missed you, I'm sorry.

Okay, dudes, write your post Thursday. I'll write mine Friday linking to each of your own posts. It would be beneficial if you then update your post to link to mine. And everybody facbook/tweet etc about it. Let's do this...

Blog Carnival Update

We've went to the blogs of most people involved in the blog carnival and reminded them posts are needed on Thursday. We still need to do four or so. Do it later. Bedtime now.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

We are so Utterly, Majorly, Totally, Awesomley, Ridiculously Excited

Blog carnival is this week. On Friday.

Which means Blog Carnival Week has officially began.

And that is all we are saying today, laochs. See you tomorrow.

Feeding Agents to Sharks and Other Awesomely Devious Ideas that are only a little bit Insane

Here at Scathach we want to feed a literary agent to a shark. It's a scientific experiment, so that makes it okay, then. Sharks and dogs can smell fear, and right now we reckon agents are some of the most terrified people on the planet. Should drive the sharks wild. Funzies.

Might be easier setting loose a pack of wild dogs.

We just read this post over on kidlit by an idiot of an agent called Mary. Okay, so idiot is perhaps unfair. She is clearly very afraid, for her job, for her way of life. We don't blame her. Changes are a-coming.

In fact, Changes are here. This could not be more obvious now. Six months ago if an agent bashed self-publishing usually one voice would pipe up to defend it (funnily enough, it was always Zoe. We think she has google alerts set up!) On this post, 75% of comments were pro-self-publishing.

Which, in turn, prompted Mary to write this... we'll be polite and just say blog post... in which Mary manages to ignore 80% of the pro-self-publishing comments, and simply focuses on the couple of people who pointed out old self-pubbed authors like Mark Twain. In the comments her view is once more showed up for the ill-thought-out and badly researched piss that it is. Someone lists modern self-pubbed classics like the Shack.

She points out that Christopher Paolini is a self-publishing success (except that he's not. His mother and father published him through their own existing small press).

But the thing that really got to us here at Scathach, the thing that really riled our feathers, was this... here is a woman saying
  • you are all too stupid to know if your work is good or bad
  • and clearly far too stupid to send it to someone impartial to judge it
  • and if you send it to an editor you are paying they'll say its good cos you're paying them so DON'T TRUST THEM
  • and clearly even though I am getting paid too, I'm not getting paid for looking at the m/s and judging its worth, so I keep my integrity, and YOU CAN TRUST ME (told you she was an idiot)
  • and all this, all this utter shit about how she is the only one who can judge the quality of your writing, and yet her blog clearly illustrates one point above any other
  • Mary doesn't know the difference between there, their and they're.
Another reason we're indie. We have to deal with much fewer idiots this way. Just putting it out there, telling it as it is. Like Mary, but honest.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Pizza, Marketing, Audiences, and more

With the first novella due out in September, thoughts now turn to the best ways in which to market it. Should we do as publishers so often have, and change it to fit a perceived market? Or leave it as is, and hope a market exists somewhere?

Well, there are a few scenes which, if dumbed down on the gore factor, would send the novella on its way to being a YA title. Matilda chain smokes and swears all the time, but as she is a Victorian lady the worst she goes to is "Bloody Hell." This is option A.

The most gruesome scene is one where the demon Sephyr rips apart a man. There's nothing really equal to that in the novella. However, the next one will be a zombie story, and the gross-out factor there could be high. The natural alternative to option A then is to leave everything in. People being dripped apart, the description of a female vampire drinking blood that was literally based off of a female orgasm, the (mild) swearing, the chain smoking and the child sacrifice. Oo-ooh, did we give away too much? Anyway, fans of things like Conan the Barbarian etc will like this novella. This would be option B.

Now for a tangent

Jim Butcher, Changes, Spoilers

Here at Scathach we are big fans of Jim Butcher and the Dresden Files. We lovey long-time. At the end of the latest novel, Changes, Harry Dresden is apparently killed. Maybe. It's kind-of vague. Anyway, Jim Butcher has revealed that when he submitted his book to his publisher his editor refused it. Butcher had to send in the first 4 chapters of the sequel before the editor okayed. The editor also refused to allow the sequel to be called Dead. Now it is to be called Ghost Story.

(For stories of why other indies have went independent, drop by this blog on the 20th of August for our Indie Blog Carnival).

Bringing it back in

This is part of the reason we are independent here at Scathach. So that we don't have to change what we write to meet the dictates of someone else's view of what the market can support. But the question today is, should the story change depending on our view?

We don't think so. The story written is the story we want to write. Changing it could fit the story to a certain audience, but only by taking it away from a different audience. This is what the big publishers have lost. When you "fix" a book to appeal to as many people as possible you do so by removing the things that make each book unique.


It's like a pizza shop that only sells 1 type of pizza. You don't put pepperoni on it cause some folk don't like pepperoni. You don't put any meat on it, cos you want to sell to vegetarians. No mushrooms, no peppers, no pineapples. Pretty soon all your selling is Margharitas.

And that's when the indie pizza places open up, even if each one only sells one type of pizza each, they'll still gain an intense gathering of loyal followers. Much like indie authors will.

So the story stays as it is. Going forward from here, we must identify our target audience. After that, we work out where to target them. And we crack the Twitter/Facebook problem. Huzzah!

Oh, and last point, Pleasure and Death is now officially a working title only.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Indie Author Kait Nolan Interview: Forsaken by Shadows Author talks to Scathach

The absolutely fantastic Kait Nolan has agreed to be this weeks interviewee. She's the Author of Forsaken by Shadow, a paranormal romance. Here at Scathach Publishing we love paranormal romances, so we just had to find out what the novel's about.

Cade Shepherd is on top of the world as this year's Ultimate Fighting Champion. He doesn't even remember his life as Gage Dempsey, a Shadow Walker with the ability to magically transport himself from shadow to shadow. In fact, he can't remember anything before waking up in a cheap motel room ten years ago with mysterious burns on his hands--not even the woman he almost died for.

Embry Hollister has picked up the pieces of her life, learned to control her ability to generate flame, and now works an enforcer for the Council of Races. But when her father is captured by the human military and the Council refuses mount a rescue mission, Embry has no choice but to go rogue. All she has to is find the man with the new name and new life who was completely wronged by her people, give him back the memories they stole, convince him to join her on what's probably a suicide mission, and hope that after ten years of living as a regular guy he still remembers what her father taught him.

And after that, she just has to leave him. Again.

Sounds good, can't wait to read it. What do you think is the best price for an e-book?

Well, here’s my take on the whole thing. Ebooks do not have the attendant costs of paper, printing, warehousing, shipping, etc. that drive up the cost of paper books. Ergo, they should be cheaper than the paper books. For a full length novel, $2.99-$3.99 is about my cap. For a novella (which is what Forsaken By Shadow is), I started out at $1. And this was great because it’s less than somebody spends on a cup of coffee, and people are more likely to take a chance on someone they’ve never heard of at that price point. I’ve done quite well there. I ultimately shifted to a price point of $1.99, just to see how it affected sales, as there are those out there who believe that no one will take a book priced at only a buck seriously. I couldn’t really say how sales were affected, though, as Amazon discounted it back to $1.00 because one of my other distributors has not updated yet. And that’s fine. At the 35% royalty rate on Amazon, you get that percentage of the LIST price (which is $1.99) no matter what they sell it for. For a little while I’ll get the benefit of what is essentially a 70% royalty of the sale price, which is a nice little bonus and is going toward funding my next book cover.

Where do you get your ideas?

I don’t know about other writers, but I hate this question. Not because I find it annoying but because I find it incredibly difficult to answer in any way that readers find satisfying. Because the short answer is: everywhere. Eavesdropping. Dreams. News reports. Discovery Channel. Science Channel. National Geographic Channel. Spike TV (yes, I’m serious—I watch a lot of shows like Deadliest Warrior, Fight Science, Fight Quest, and the like—they really help with fight scenes and make the hubs happy). Anything goes, especially when you write paranormal and don’t have to take things literally.

Occasionally the inspiration will have an obvious and direct connection with the outcome. For example, a few months back when I saw that news report about that football player Michael Vick who was arrested for dog fighting, my immediate response (after a choice diatribe of cursing and opinions on the fact that they ought to leave his punishment to the dogs—the jerk), was an idea about how one of the illegal sports in my paranormal world would be werewolf fighting. That somehow the wolves would be in collars that would keep them from shifting back, and they’d be kept in an animal state and forced to fight. Talk about a new definition of bloodsport.

Other times, there’s no logical connection to the outside observer between inspiration and outcome. I read an article about the Turritopsis nutricula, a variety of jellyfish that is biologically immortal. No seriously, go look it up. It’s really cool. Well I took that idea and twisted it into an origin story for each of the major paranormal races in my world. What do immortal jellyfish have to do with wolf shifters, vampires, fae, and other paranormal races? Well, you’ll have to read my Mirus series to find out. :D

Smashwords has rules on what it will publish but, crucially, these rules do not concern the quality of a work. Do you think Forsaken by Shadow may be negatively affected by being around work that might be of a lower quality?

I think the real value of Smashwords is not so much in its own sales platform but in its distribution partners. I think that there is some difficulty in separating the wheat from the chaff on Smashwords since there tends to be a lot of friend/family/not serious reviews of stuff, and sometimes it makes things difficult to find. But most people I’ve spoken with don’t do their primary shopping at Smashwords to begin with, so if they wound up buying my book there, it was because they went specifically for IT rather than just browsing. As Smashwords proper is such a small percentage of my sales, that hasn’t been much of an issue for me.

Self-publishing naysayers often say d-i-y books are a money-sucking hole. Considering how much you have spent on editing, on cover art and any other expenses in the publication of your book, have you made a profit from Forsaken by Shadow?

My total outlay for FBS was $100 for copyright, professional cover art, and stock photos. That’s it. I did not pay for a professional editor (among indies, we often barter our services). I didn’t pay for advertising or anything else.

    The nay sayers very often do not understand the difference between self publishing in e and self publishing POD. There is more outlay with POD, more money to spend on cover (since you need a spine and back as well as a front), and you’re forced to price much higher to cover printing costs, etc. POD only comes in trade paperback or hardback, which are necessarily more expensive. So often the higher price is more off-putting to buyers and it may take much longer to turn a profit.

    But starting in e only is virtually no risk. I made back my initial investment in a little over 2 months and have been steadily making a profit ever since. Not like a living wage kind of profit, but a healthy enough one that I’ll be able to continue to put that money into my work in the form of future covers and such and an eventual POD endeavor for the print only audience. This is the smart way to go about it if you’re on a shoestring because you can easily make back the initial small investment and then (if you’ve written a good enough book) use the profits to fund other endeavors without having a publishing money pit.

    A large part of this blog's focus is on ways to market fiction. Would you care to share a marketing tip with the readers?

    I am a big believer in the work selling itself, but I think one of the most effective things that I’ve done is to develop relationships with people on twitter. A lot of them are other writers, a lot of them aren’t. This isn’t about spamming people with “Buy my book ’cause I’m awesome”. It’s about genuinely interacting and making friendships. I had a really nice sized network of people in place who not only went out and bought a copy when FBS was released, but they went to tell their friends. They’re a really supportive group. And that led me to a month long blog tour for the month of May, a contest working on getting reviews, and so on.

    My next big marketing thing will be to release a freebie novella (it’s what I’m working on now) to both tide folks over until my next release and also to draw people in to my world with a stand alone sort of story in hopes that they’ll check out my other work.

    Retake Homemade is the idea behind your cookery blog, simple recipes that anyone can make from home. Are there cook books in your future?

    Not cookbooks, no, but I do have a series forthcoming about a kitchen witch who lives in the buckle of the Bible belt. Edible Enchantments will follow the misadventures of Lorelei McIllhenney as she comes to term with the fact that she’s a hereditary witch and accepts the destiny that goes along with that. There will probably be recipes in that series, but they won’t be the focal point of the stories.

    Books are often judged by their cover. Yours has a very simple yet elegant design, and I love the reflective symmetry. Who was your artist?

    Brenna Rae Dunlavy of the Memphis School of Arts. She’s a recent graduate, though she’s moving on to veterinary medicine.

    Where are you on the web? (ie facebook, your website, etc).

    Initially it was entirely about building an audience. I figured I’d put some short stuff out to start building name recognition and a platform so that when New York decided I was awesome, I’d have some actual awesome to back me up. And then as things have unrolled the last year or so, traditional publishing has continued to make asshats of themselves regarding digital content and the digital rights of authors. They are clinging to an outdated business model that’s starting to resemble the Titanic. More and more agents and editors are telling their authors to keep their day jobs, advances are getting smaller, author responsibilities are growing, and the authors themselves are not getting compensated for those additional duties.

    In my real world, I work 2 (was working 3 at the time) jobs, and it occurred to me that unless New York decided that I was the next Stephanie Meyer and gave me an advance accordingly, I wouldn’t be able to afford to quit any of the jobs, not to mention we’re going to be starting a family in the next couple of years, and I wouldn’t be able to manage the sort of turnaround time they would expect. So indie began to become more attractive to me. I decided that I could move forward in the next five years or so, continuing to put out my work independently, building a following, AND building enough of a passive income stream FROM it to get down to one job. And at that point I might be in a position to deal with New York deadlines.

Frankly, I want to write for a living. I’ve always wanted to write for a living. And if I can make as much or more off of independently publishing and maintaining creative control over my work and my book covers and such and not have to worry about my books going out of print or losing my editor or my publishing house closing because they live in a bubble, then it seems foolish not to. I’m not averse to a New York contract but I don’t have any desire to give up my e-rights only to have them mismanaged. That’s not in my best interest. Plus, this way I don’t have to stress over writing a synopsis or query letter. :D

Thanks, Kait, for the interview.

Check out Forsaken by Shadow now. And if the infinitesimally small $0.99 price tag is to high, it's being serialised on her blog. So go over, read a few of the excerpts, and then buy it.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Wee may have slightly a little bit perhaps kind of almost fucked up but we didn't not really hahaha lol had you going or something like that

You thought we were amazing, didn't you? You thought we were awesome, that we couldn't possibly score a monumental fuck up. Well, we are, and we can.

That's right, here at Scathach Publishing we do occasionally make a humungous fucking mess of things. But you know what? We have the balls to own it afterwards. Well, some of us have balls... if Scathach Publishing had more than 1 employee it would be an equal opportunities employer. As it is, our MD Chris Kelly, to the left dressed as a pirate, occasionally doubles as a woman... for equality reasons. Maybe. Actually, he doesn't.

Shit. We can't just change our mind like that.

Okay, maybe he does, but if he did we wouldn't admit to it on the net.

This is so coming back to bite us on the ass.

Things have been so great in August that we decided a staff holiday was in order. No computer for a whole weekend. Then we forgot to load Blood of the Werewolf up on Smashwords first.

Also, as this is the first day back, and everything is ass-up, the next interview will be posted tomorrow. As will this weeks excerpt.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

No Book Review Here

Okay here's a link to my other blog. If you jump over there, you'll find out why I don't support indie authors. Anyway, about a month ago the absolutely fabulous Zoe Winters gave me vouchers for her e-books, condition being that I review them.

I'd already read and loved Kept, and I think she really wanted a review by a guy. Whatever. Anyway, if
I could have I would have downloaded them then and there. However, as I can only read e-books as html or web pages, I had to wait until I had the time.

This week I found some time to read one of her books, and in particular was going to read the one about the werewolves. But the vouchers she gave me have expired. So my book review is currently off the cards.

But I can say this. I read Kept because it was free. And it was the first time I have ever sat down to a book (I mean that as written, I wasn't referring to only indie books) and thought "wow, this author might actually be better than me."

I'm sorry I can't review her fiction today. But if you're here for Werewolf week (and even if you're not) go to her blog, her website, etc, and buy one of her books. Or try the free one. You won't regret it.

Chris, MD, Scathach Publishing.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

I don't support indies

I've never bought a book by an indie author, but I do have a genuine reason for that. I don't have an e-book reader.

The thing is, in the UK, e-books are not a big thing. We are a few years behind the states in this. I know one person who has an ipad, for instance (whilst I thought the Bruce Lee game was good, the rest was less than impressive).

The ones most readily available are over-priced and under-performing. They are Sony e-readers and for £150 I could get one that will hold 350 books. Thats $238, by the way. For £180 or $286 I can get one that holds 500 books and has upgradable memories.

Okay, when I'm in work, I tend to spend £7.99 a week on books. If the books I'm getting cost 2 dollars I'll be able to buy six a week, or 312 a year. Add in any free books I download. Yes, pointless.

I want a Kindle. An old Kindle holds 1500 books and works out at £120.  A new Kindle is £80. But the old one is on 3G and in Britain, because that's a mobile phone network, downloading a book is charged as getting something from abroad, adding $1.49 to the price of every e-book.

Of course, I could download to my computer. But it is a netbook and doesn't handle downloads well (downloading the latest version of Firefo lost me all internet for days).

So I only read the ones I can get for free.

But I hope to get a new kindle soon.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Indie Author Mike Murphy Interview: Lucifera's Pet's author talks to Scathach Publishing

We have decided to do a weekly interview with an Indie author, and the awesome Mike Murphy has agreed to be our first victim. Victim's are something he knows a lot about, as his books are chock full of vampires and werewolves. But not your typical modern age angst ridden sparkly vamps, these creatures are evil and clearly loving it.

His first novel, Lucifera's Pet, is out now at Smashwords and all good on-line bookstores and costs only $0.99, but if even that tiny price tag seems too much, read on to find out how you could bag yourself a free copy!

Hey, Mike. Thanks for agreeing to the interview.

My pleasure, Chris. Thanks for having me.

You are the author of Lucifera's Pet. Would you mind telling us what the novel's about?

Vampires, werewolves, love, death, and revenge. I wanted to tell a story about a vampire and a werewolf who were not simply good guys caught up in the evil actions of their unscrupulous brethren. It is a story about the villains, and how they came to be the way they are.

By the way, we love the name Lucifera. It is sort of like a feminized version of Lucifer.

I wanted a memorable name for a character. Something that sounded both sinister and beautiful at the same time. Lucifera was a perfect fit, though readers will come to find out that the origin of her name is actually quite innocent.

Lucifera's Pet is set out in an interesting manner... first person but with multiple POV characters, one each per chapter. What prompted you to write in such an unusual fashion?

I wanted to give the book an intimate feel. The reader sees first-hand exactly what is going through the heads of the two protagonists. Because they are villains, I still wanted to establish a sense of detachment when they did something particularly heinous. By telling parts of the story from the POV of the antagonists, I tried to show the division between the lead characters' thoughts and their actions. They are aware of their villainous nature, but not aware of just how horrible they appear to their victims.

On your Smashwords profile you have written that you are fascinated by monsters who enjoy being evil, who do not seek redemption. What is about these characters that attracts you?

Book shelves and dvd aisles are full of tales of redemption. The concept goes back as far as mankind has been telling stories. The protagonist overcomes his or her shadowy past and grows into a hero from the ordeal. It's one of the most recycled formulas. What about the real bad guy of the story, though? Was he always bad? Surely the villain doesn't view himself that way. No matter how "evil" his actions are, he is the hero of the story as it unfolds in his mind. That fascinates me.

I suppose I have always had an anti-authority streak. Cheering for the big bad comes with the territory.

You have free fiction available at Smashwords. These short stories are in a very interesting cross-over genre, werewolf westerns. Lucifera's Pet has Nazi vampires and you have a free short story about killer turkey jerky. Your ideas are unusual, interesting and entertaining... where do these ideas come from?

I love the Classic Universal Horror films as well as the Hammer pictures from the sixties and seventies. Similar imagery pops up a great deal in my writing. Because I have settled upon werewolves as the unifying theme for my work, I like to examine different variations in folklore concerning those creatures. If there is a way for me to inject a werewolf into a mundane situation and make it entertaining, eventually I will do it.

With the werewolf gunslinger tales, I definitely draw from western stories. My dad owned the entire L'ouis L'amour western collection in paperback. He would start with the first book and read them in order until he finished book number one-hundred and five. Then he would start over. I bet he read them all a few dozen times each. People are passionate in their love of American frontier tales. I wanted to tap into that and shake it up by throwing one of my furry creations into the mix along with a healthy dose of vampires. It has been a very fun series to write.

Smashwords has rules on what it will publish but, crucially, these rules do not concern the quality of a work. Do you think Lucifera's Pet may be negatively affected by being around work that might be of a lower quality?

With all art, the difference between a smelly, steaming turd and a hunk of gold is truly in the eye of the beholder. I can only put out my best effort and hope someone finds it shiny. There are some Indie works that deserve to be best sellers and some that leave me feeling mentally violated. The trash to treasure ratio for electronic books is probably on par with what you would find on the shelves of the book superstores.

Actually, I love the fact that electronic publishing levels the playing field for everyone involved. It may take readers a little longer to find quality, but good books will always rise to the top.

Books are often judged by their covers, and your covers almost look like bad 70's horror movies. It has the same effect as the PS3 game Wet. I love it. Who is your artist, and where can I find more of her work...?

LOL! Thank you. An old horror movie marquis poster is exactly what I had in mind.

The cover for Lucifera's Pet is an original painting by an up and coming artist named Alissa Rindels ( Her art is beautiful and dark, full of demons, goddesses, monsters, and ethereal landscapes. I am very lucky to have been able to work with her. I let her read an early draft of the novel and gave her my general thoughts on character design. She captured my creations on the cover exactly as I see them in my head. She had free reign for the interior pieces and they turned out perfectly as well.

My short story cover art is a different matter. I put those together myself using various graphics programs with less than stellar results. Updating the Werewolf Gunslinger covers is a priority. Look for new art before the end of the summer. Eventually, I will publish an anthology of stories in that series including a new cover done by Alissa. Target date for that is mid-2011.

I threw the silly cover for Turkey Jerky together in two minutes using Microsoft Paint. Next to Lucifera's Pet, it is actually my favorite cover.

For longer works, my goal is to have a book that can and should be judged by its cover. I don't pen droll commentaries on the state of society. I write pulp-inspired, gritty tales focusing on a werewolf and a vampire. I grew up reading comic books, so I guess my cover preference is a reflection of that.

What can fans of your work look forward to? Are there more stories or books in the pipeline, and will fans see a return of much-loved characters?

I am currently working on the draft for the follow-up to Lucifera's Pet. If all goes as planned, I will publish in early 2011. The action picks up a few months after the conclusion of the first book. Virtually all of the characters who lived through LP will appear. The Werewolf Gunslinger short stories are set in the 1800's, but many familiar characters will also appear there.

Thus far, everything I have published is connected. There are no coincidences or random occurrences. Everything happens for a reason. That reason may or may not come to light until a few books down the road, but it is there.

A large part of this blog's focus is on ways to market fiction. Would you care to share a marketing tip with the readers?

Social networking is the most cost-effective and powerful marketing tool in an independent author's bag, but we have to be conscientious in how we use it. If all you do is hock your wares, people will see right through you. You have to give them something of value: a fresh idea, a chuckle from a funny tweet, an article about something they care about. Social media is like a giant conversation. If you interact with people and be yourself, they will want to know more about you and your work.

Where are you on the web? (ie facebook, your website, etc).

Smashwords (Free eBooks):

Normally there would be a question asking why you didn't go the traditional publishing route, but you have very kindly agreed to participate in the upcoming Blog Carnival on this subject. Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.

Lucifera's Pet is available at in print and Kindle format:
Also in all e-reader formats via Smashwords:

And Mike has very kindly came up with a freebie offer for Dun Scaith blog readers.

If any of your readers would be willing to review Lucifera's Pet for their blog, I will gladly send them a free electronic review copy in the format of their choice if they email me at the address above and mention Dun Scaith.

Well, that's it from us here at Scathach, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, Mike.

Thanks again for the opportunity. I hope you'll let me send a few questions your way for my blog when your book hits this fall.


Sunday, 1 August 2010

The Week Ahead (1st August, 7th August)

This week is Werewolf Week here at Scathach Publishing.

We'll be putting up a list of our fave werewolf books and movies.

We will be interviewing Werewolf Indie Author M T Murphy (and there's a chance to get a free copy of his book Lucifera's Pet) (you got that he writes about werewolves, right? We're not saying he is a werewolf. He might be, we're just not saying it).

We'll be putting our second free short story up on Smashwords. Its called Blood of the Werewolf.
Oh, here's some stats for Coffee. It has been downloaded 49 times. It hasn't been reviewed. We know what's wrong with the html version and fixing it is on our to do list.

We won't be finishing Werewolf in the Rookery (a choose your own adventure) this week because it still needs a shit load down.

We will be reviewing at least one independently published werewolf novel, check back this week to find out which one.

And because it's the first week of the month, and that calls for new beginnings, we put our first excerpt on our website. If you follow the link at the top of our blog, you will find our website, or just click this link.

Happy werewolf week. Don't get eaten.