Thursday 23 February 2017

Red Sister contest!

Huge thanks to all who entered the Red Sister contest. Your efforts are very much appreciated!
The random winners are, getting signed Wheel of Osheim paperbacks (or alternatives)
Feel free to email me your addresses and to ask any dedication you want.
#12 Kristina #25 Kim #5 T.O & #18 Tony
Winners on effectiveness: Red Sister hardbacks to #7 Joy Cronje #15 Trevor Hob Sherman
ARC winner has to be Petros Triantafylloy for going above and beyond!


The ulterior motive behind every contest I have ever run is, of course, to spread the word about my books.

To that end, cutting out the middle man, this is a contest to spread the word about Red Sister.

The winners will be those judged to have done the most effective job, four random picks so that all entries have a chance of winning.

Prizes = 1 Red Sister ARC, 2 Red Sister hardbacks. All signed and doodled. And 4 signed Wheel of Osheim paperbacks (or other previous works).


- try for a viral tweet. Most RTs wins! Must make the subject clear. Bonus points for including the cover and a link.

- make a Facebook post, most shares and likes wins! Include the cover and a link.

- make a Youtube video. Most views wins.

- take a photo of someone holding a printout of the cover. Most people taking part wins. Bonus points for famous faces and good location.

- convince a convent full of nuns to sing about the book

- a blog post, most unique comments wins

- proof that a friend will now read it because you talked them into it

- Get the book release into a newspaper, on TV, projected by laser onto the face of the Moon, get Donald Trump to tweet about it etc.

- a great sign! Here's one for Prince of Fools

Whatever you do, send me a photo, or a link. I'll put them here and at the end of the contest check the figures.

Send to

Contest closes March 20th. Entries must post date the start of the contest.


#30 Clary - promo tweet

#29 Konstantina -  promo tweet!

#28 Tracy -  Facebook post

#27 Grimdragons -  review & tweet!

#26 Kate - Sticker campaign!

see more

#25 Kim -  A Facebook post
                   & a Blog Post

#24 Pavle -  Student common room fruit bowl advertising!

 #23 Alania -  promo tweet

#22 Kurt -  A Custom Gaming Emblem (Call of Duty Black Ops 3)

#21 Mia - A Song!

#20 Justin -  Facebook Post

#19 Kristina

#18 Tony - Facebook post

#17 Petros - Facebook post 
                      Blog giveaway!
                       A video promo!

                         A Song!

#16 Brandon - is working to get nuns on board!

#15 Trevor - Blog Post!

#14 Loki - Facebook post

#13 Steve - promo tweet
                   Facebook post

#12 Kristina - promo tweet
                        Facebook post

#11 Mia - promo tweet

#10 Karine - Facebook post

#9 Mike - promo tweet

#8 Andy - promo tweet (to Donald Trump)

#7 Joy - A content calendar detailing forthcoming efforts 
                  (with a link to metrics on their impact!)
                                   Facebook Post

#6 Poornapragna - promo tweet

#5 T.O - promo tweet

#4 Zach - promo tweet
                        blog post

#3 Alex - promo tweet

#2 David - Facebook post
                   & promo tweet

#1 Jorg - promo tweet 

Wednesday 22 February 2017

How have the SPFBO finalist 2015 fared?

I thought I would have a look back at the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off finalists from 2015 and see how they were doing.

The table below shows how they did in the contest and how the public have judged them.

My conclusion is that in its first year the SPFBO certainly wasn't a king-maker. Whatever effect is has had has been swallowed by the larger currents such as how well the author promoted their work and how well it fitted the current market.

Some of the books our ten blogs judged to be top 5 out of the ~300 entries have sold (or given away) just a few hundred copies. This is by no means an indication of their quality. With insufficient marketing a brilliant book can fail to sell more than a few tens of copies, and then, with the right push can go on to sell many thousands. We've seen it happen in this year's SPFBO. So maybe try a few of these!

Note - the formula I use for sales estimate is pretty accurate for traditional published fantasy with >1000 ratings. It may be more variable here. I have rounded to the nearest 500.

Note - the fewer ratings on Goodreads (sales) a book has the easier it is to get a high average score.

Note - some of these books were published a number of years before the contest, giving them longer to sell.

Scores for the finalists: The Matrix!
Finalists (with average score)   Goodreads Average     Estimated Sales     Year of Publication  
The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble's Braids (8.00)3.9845002012
Bloodrush (7.75)3.8520002014
The Weight of a Crown (7.30)3.595002011
City of Burning Shadows (7.15)4.075002014
Sins of a Sovereignty (7.15)3.572502014
What Remains of Heroes (7.00)3.8230002015
Shattered Sands (6.70)3.782502015
Under a Colder Sun (6.60)3.2110002014
Priest (6.30)4.1525002010
A Soul for Trouble (6.25)3.7795002012

Tuesday 21 February 2017

REVIEW: The Complete Calvin and Hobbes

I bought this set for my boys a few Christmasses back - but really I bought it for me.

I've read the entire thing a few pages at a time over the course of a some months and I was sad to come to the last wonderfully bound hard cover.

Although I was sad to reach the end I also applaud Bill Watterson for knowing the power in ending something. He quit while he was ahead and left us something golden. It would lessen the work if he had carried on past the point the fire left him, repeating old themes too many times, and forcing us to watch as the life leached out of these beloved characters - perhaps even passing the torch on to contracted writers to continue milking the cash cow ad infinitum. But he didn't. Thanks Bill.

Calvin and Hobbs captures a type of magic. The humour dances between many levels, brilliant visual comedy, erudite observation, poignant insight, laugh out loud slap-stick, and just damn feel-good stuff that touches everyone who has really lived.

I fell into Calvin and Hobbes' world in my 30s and intend to keep dipping back in every time life gets me down.

Go try it.

You can go and 'like' my review on goodreads, if you like.

An index of my reviews.

Sunday 12 February 2017

Well covered!

Here are Red Sister's US and UK covers along with two fakes, one from Petros and a mashup posted anonymously on reddit.

Just for fun, two polls, one to choose between the genuine covers and one to choose between all of them.

POLL:  US or UK?

POLL:  US, UK, fake 1 or fake 2?

Oh, and while you're clicking, how about a pre-order? US or UK.

Results with 225 votes in:

US Voters       UK Voters      International Voters
US 79%          US 74%           US  80%
UK 21%         UK 26%           UK 20%

US cover

UK cover

Fake Cover 1

Fake Cover 2

Thursday 9 February 2017

Red Sister - The UK cover!

Voyager thought long and hard about their cover for Red Sister in the UK.

It's a tricky business. They wanted to signal that this is a whole new offering, not just another installment of the world and stories begun in The Broken Empire and The Red Queen's War, They wanted to invite in new readers who were perhaps put off by the piles of corpses &/or forest of blades emblazoning the front of my previous work.

As part of that process of signaling a change they moved from cover artist Jason Chan (who has produced six excellent covers for me, including two which won awards) to cover designer Heike Schuessler. The motivation here is the same as when audiobook narrators are changed when moving from Jorg to Jalan. In no way dissatisfaction with the previous performance, just a need to mark the arrival of a new thing.

You can pre-order it here.

And this is the result. Atmospheric, classy, simple!

(click for detail)

And for comparison, the US cover.

Did I mention about pre-ordering? I forget.

Monday 6 February 2017

REVIEW: Senlin Ascends

I've been posting these reviews in reverse order of their popularity on Goodreads. So yes, that's right, my most "liked" review ever is for Green Eggs and Ham...

And my review of A Dance With Dragons has only a couple more "likes" than my review for the self-published gem, Senlin Ascends!

Wow. That was unexpected! 

Senlin Ascends is one of the best reads I've had in ages. I decided to read it because one of the bloggers judging in my self-published fantasy contest had a very difficult time choosing between this title and another for the best of his bunch of 30 novels. In the end he went for the other book, which left me thinking that it was harsh luck to miss out by such a fine margin to a very different kind of story.

Anyway, I was dragged in and didn't escape until I'd finished two or three days later.

Don't read this book because you like mine. It's not like mine. It is, however, excellent.

For me Senlin's Ascent hits on pretty much every level (no pun intended).

It's the story of a man's literal ascent up the many tiers of the Tower of Babel, a series of bizarre ring-doms standing at the centre of a huge and varied empire. Senlin goes there on honeymoon armed with his expertise on the subject in hand, and finds the reality very different to what his reading has led him to expect. As with all journeys of consequence, Senlin's ascent has an impact on both the traveler and those encountered on his travels.

It has truly excellent prose. So many lines made me deeply jealous. Clever, literary, insightful lines that cut to the quick of the matter.

The story is compelling. It unfolds and unfolds. Because the characters are excellently drawn I cared very much about where it was all going.

The imagination is unbound and intriguing. This has a strong Jack Vance, Dying Earth vibe, mixed in with overtones of Kafka, but it's also very much its own thing with hope and defiance to offset the cynicism. 

It starts rather gently and with a style you might find in many works of literary fiction but dark undertones build and so does the violence/action/excitement so that at the end it becomes a work that actually fits more closely to the kind of fantasy I've read a lot of recently (and remains an excellent read).

So, in short, this is just the sort of find I was hoping would come out of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO). A truly fine book that after 3 years has only managed to gather 50 ratings on Goodreads. It's a pity that it didn't make the final and l hope to read the book that beat it there, but I also hope it finds the audience it deserves and that this review will inspire some of you to give it a try!

It's free on Kindle Unlimited and reasonably priced otherwise. So take a punt.

You can go and 'like' my review on goodreads, if you like.

An index of my reviews.

Thursday 2 February 2017

The Red Sister special edition!

I don't have a cover to show you as it's the UK edition (coming soon), but I promised many who inquired early I would let everyone know!

The signed and numbered limited edition is up for pre-order at Quill & Claw!

The edition will has black-sprayed edges to the pages (only visible side on).

They went on sale last night and almost half are gone already. You have been warned.

Get your copy HERE.

See the first 8 blog reviews HERE.

Wednesday 1 February 2017

ARCs & Red Sister

Both the US and UK Advance Review Copies of Red Sister are now available.

This is not the book cover. That will be revealed soon.

Voyager have signaled a break in style by going with a clean, minimalist, quote cover as opposed to using the book cover on my ARCs as they have with previous work.

There was a lot of debate about the way to go on both the book and ARC cover (internal Voyager debate - my two pennies were only requested when most of the dust had settled) and I present for interest's sake an alternative draft ARC cover that was produced during those brainstorming sessions.

And at Ace the change of direction has been signaled by moving from the utilitarian "standard green" of the first six ARCS

To a Voyagerian use of the book cover as the ARC cover.

Of course all this talk of ARCs prompts many invitations to "send me one".

Allow me to open the window on the business of ARCs a little. First, consider that they are more expensive to produce than the actual book as a consequence of a limited print run sharing fixed overheads over fewer copies.

Second, consider that when an ARC is sent out the publisher is giving that expensive book away to someone who may very well have purchased a hardback on day 1, *and* the publisher (or me) is paying for the privilege a second time when it comes to the posting - if I send a book overseas the postage is often more than the price of the book itself.

So, since publishing is a business, it only makes sense to send out ARCs if the average impact per ARC is such that the additional books sold in consequence cover the expense. For an author this takes far more book sales as the author gets a much small percentage of the sale price,

This means that commercially it makes no sense to send this limited resource out to dedicated readers, folk who promise to put up a Goodreads or Amazon review, or someone who started their blog yesterday. ARCs really need to earn their keep, and their best chance at doing that is if they go to the owner of a popular blog that puts out regular reviews to an audience of thousands. Even then it's a gamble, because they also have to really like the book!

Add to this the info that I typically get about five or ten ARCs in total, and you can see why most pleas have to go unfulfilled.

The good news though is that these days there is an established e-ARC distribution method and your chances there are much greater. The publisher is still in the business of selling books rather than giving them away, but if you have a blog, get on Netgalley and you may well find yourself with a copy to review!