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 have red sprayed edges to the pages (only visible side on) like we had in The Wheel of Osheim special edition.

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!

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Shock Value!

Shock value: the potential to provoke a reaction of sharp disgust, shock, anger, or fear.

When people say, "That <Insert Act of Violence> was only added in for shock value." they are not complimenting an author.

But if they say that something was added in for comedy value ... not so much. And how about, "You only added that in for interest value," or "Come on, you only wrote that bit to make me feel a sense of wonder and awe." I can't remember ever seeing that.

So what is wrong with shock value?

A book generally comprises highs and lows. Few readers consume books hoping for a constant feel-good story, The darkness in a book allows the bright spots to shine more brightly. There's less joy in a victory if you haven't come face to face with the consequences of failure first.

So is the accusation of shock value just made by those upset at being more shocked than they wanted to be? Sometimes it might be.

I think the truth though is that "shock value" is, or should be, aimed not at criticizing the notion that a book might shock us but at clumsy implementation. It's hard to imagine that many people really think a book should never shock its reader ... but doing so by having a ghost jump out and say "Boo!" or by some other method that a particular reader does not find effective may provoke calls of "shock value".

TL:DR - generally it's not the shock they're complaining about, it's seeing the mechanics of the process.