Friday 30 April 2021

The Prince of Thorns 10th anniversary leather-bound special edition!

It's been a wild 10 years! Jorg has sold approaching 2 million copies of his stories and made a mark on many hearts.

We're all a decade older and many of us like to own special copies of the books that have meant the most to us. Grim Oak Press is making that happen. Because Jorg's worth it!

On May 4th the signed and lettered edition of the 10th anniversary special edition of Prince of Thorns went up for pre-order ... and sold out in 30 SECONDS! 😲 

There are still copies of the signed and numbered leather-bound edition and you can (for now) get your pre-order in HERE

Join my 3-emails-a-year newsletter #Prizes #FreeContent 

Thursday 29 April 2021

The Girl And The Mountain is out in the UK!

Get your copy from online from somewhere like Amazon. Or support a bricks & mortar store like Waterstones after their long pandemic struggle.

Get the special edition signed and numbered edition, with art print (see photo) from Anderida Books.

Get a signed edition from Forbidden Planet, in stores, or online.

In the US get a signed US edition from VJ Books.

I really hope you guys enjoy the journey. Thanks for being my readers.

Paperback now out!

Join my 3-emails-a-year newsletter #Prizes #FreeContent 

Ten Thousand One-Stars!

This is a ramble on criticism of writing in its many forms and on the ideal thickness of skin for a writer.

The title references my guestimate at how many 1* ratings my books have had. Actually on Goodreads the total is 7,126 but if you lob in the Amazon results etc the guess was pretty close!

A writing critique or a review are both form of criticism, both carry the potential sharp edge of criticism whether it's a negative opinion at the story level, or a technical observation on the mechanics of the writing on the small scale.

There are a variety of different levels on which criticism takes place and each comes with different advice on how much attention a writer should pay to it.

Broadly though, it boils into three main categories: "solicited", "unsolicited-general" & "unsolicited-direct".

Solicited: You sent your work to someone, and asked them to give you feedback. They give you some.

Unsolicited-general: Your work is out there (on sale + you may even have sent it to a reviewer). They broadcast their reaction to the world in a review.

Unsolicited-direct: Your work is out there. Someone reads it and contacts you directly with their thoughts.

There are of course middle grounds between these various categories - if someone tags an author in a review on Twitter that's kinda direct, but less so than emailing them your thoughts privately, or cornering them at a convention.

And there is of course a big difference within each of these cases when the review is positive. I don't know of any author who would object to someone emailing them on their publicly available email address to say they loved the book. Emailing them to detail why their book was rubbish ... rather different thing!

In a sense one might label all criticism of a published author as solicited since they put the book out there, or perhaps even sent copies to reviewers. But I'm going to label the criticism by readers and reviewers as unsolicited since the clear intent is that the general reader or reviewer direct their impressions at the wider world rather than at the author. 

So, my own personal policy on these cases:

Solicited (positive): Hooray!

Solicited (negative): Honesty can hurt but it's a hugely valuable resource. More thoughts here. Always remember that just because someone is being honest, it doesn't mean they're correct. You're going to need skin that's thick enough to stop the criticism damaging your wellbeing, but thin enough that important lessons can get through. It's a fine judgement. And if you can't achieve that balance then such critique is something you're better off managing without.

Unsolicited-general (positive): Hooray! That's a great service to any author. Very much appreciated.

Unsolicited-general (negative): It goes with the territory. I don't read it any more. I used to.

Unsolicited-direct (positive): Hooray! I love getting an atta-boy email. I try to reply to them all. 

Unsolicited-direct (negative): Deleted immediately that I see what it is. 

If I want it I'll ask for it. There's really no difference here between an email saying "You're a terrible writer!" and an email carefully breaking down all the perceived mistakes and suggesting how to improve. One might be intended to hurt and the other could possibly be a genuine attempt to help. Neither should happen. If in the latter case the person really did want to help, then at least ask first - but ideally the thing to do would be to sit on your opinions and wait to see if the author calls for such help, or to publish them to the world and then the author can find them if they want to.

Note: this last category has happened to me very rarely, on literally two or three occasions in 10 years. Though I hear that some authors (only female ones that I know of) have a significantly higher incidence of it. 

I think all of the above is commonsense really. If you go looking at reviews of your own books in the wild west of the internet then it's a gamble - you might see something that upsets you - someone might have slapped your baby. They're entirely at liberty to do so. But people shouldn't bust into your house and slap your baby where you can see it!

Want more control? Go on Goodreads and just filter for 5* reviews! 😀

Or just wait to see if someone will tag you in a positive review on Twitter.

There was, in the dying stages of this year's SPFBO contest, some discussion of the tone of some reviews, with the suggestion that they were insufficiently kind/positive.

I should point out that the blogs that are good enough to volunteer their time to review and score for the contest are entirely independent, and I would never try to influence how they do their reviewing - they'd just tell me "no" even if I wanted to. Hypothetically, if a blog reviewed in a manner counter to the ideals of the contest then I would thank them but not invite them back. I've never had to take that step.

My feeling is that since all of the books in the contest are published, the blogs could have independently chosen them to review, and done so however they like. Moreover, entering the contest is an act that solicits reviews from the blogs.

The reviews are not then directed at the authors, just put out there. An author could - should they wish to - enter their book and never again look at the contest, simply waiting to hear if they've won.

The contest exists to promote the best that self-publishing has to offer and to generate reviews of books that might otherwise struggle to get reviewed on high-profile blogs. That act of promotion would be less effective if it became apparent that the bloggers were treating these books differently to the others that they reviewed. If potential readers came to think that these SPFBO books were getting gentler treatment than books that just caught the blogs' attention ... then they would set less store by the positive things that were said in them. It's a case of needing contrast. Honesty must be demonstrated so that when unalloyed praise is given it has an impact.

The glowing reviews of our champion can be taken at face value because we know that many other books (even some of the finalists) faired less well. We know that when Fantasy-Faction gives The Lost War 9* and my latest book 8.5* it is because they thought it was a better book, not because they were giving The Lost War a free pass because it's self-published.

Join my 3-emails-a-year newsletter #Prizes #FreeContent 

Tuesday 20 April 2021

The Girl And The Mountain is out in the US!

I've said it on all my social media and on my newsletter - but I should mention it here too.

The Girl And The Mountain is out in the US!

(The UK gets it on the 29th.) 

Join my 3-emails-a-year newsletter #Prizes #FreeContent 

Thursday 1 April 2021

Look at me self-publishing!

It's here! The long-awaited publication of The Wheel of Osheim / A Roda de Osheim, final book in the A Guerra da Rainha Vermelha trilogy.

Here's an assessment of the Brazilian fantasy publication scene from a Brazilian reader:

"Being a fantasy reader in my country is hard. When Game of Thrones released, there was a boom here, where every publisher started bringing fantasy books, a genre very overlooked in our market. As the initial hype died down, publishers were faced with a hard truth: fantasy does not sell well here. I’m not a researcher so I can only give some assumptions on why that happens: price, size and complexity. The sad reality is that (and other people from the third world may understand what I mean) for a country with a broken economy and high inequality, books would be considered by many a luxury and on top of that, fantasy books tend to be larger or part of series, which make them pricier. Also, the lack of funds for our public schools (thanks politicians) leads to generations of people simply receiving a barebones education which reflects on our low reading index (an average of 2 books per year).

Okay, back from that tangent. So what happened is that publishers gave up on fantasy and this led to most series, and even just trilogies, to be abandoned and left incomplete.

That was the case with Red Queen’s War, abandoned after the first two books were released, despite the Broken Empire trilogy actually selling well here."

I've no complaints about my Brazilian publisher, Darkside, they made some lovely hardback editions of my books and sold them in great quantities. Obviously they had to make some tough choices in a difficult economic climate. 

Once my contract allowed my to take back the Brazilian rights to The Wheel of Osheim I looked into the possibility of having it translated and releasing it myself in e-book. It turned out to be doable, so I did it!

I felt bad about leaving my Brazilian readers without a conclusion to the trilogy, so now it's there for those sufficiently interested to find it. It seems very unlikely that the sales will make enough to cover the translation costs, but I was in a position to afford it, and wanted to do it as a thank you to the Brazilians who bought The Broken Empire books in such numbers.

A big thanks to cover artist Jason Chan for letting me use the cover art for free for this edition. And thanks to Pen Astridge for designing the cover to be similar in style to the two previous books.

Find the book here, and spread the word to Brazilians whose English isn't strong enough to read my blog/social media:


Join my 3-emails-a-year newsletter #Prizes #FreeContent