Late last week, I blogged about my forthcoming fantasy novella, ‘Star of the Everlasting’, the first in the Ark & Fable series. I’m pleased to say the novella is now available for purchase! Hurrah! For anyone who missed it, here’s the blurb:
In the cliff-top city of Ardom Wave, there are the nobles, the criminals – and those in between.
As middlemen ‒ or middlewomen, in their case ‒ Ark and her partner Fable tread the fine line between those in power and those most definitely not, all while keeping their heads down, staying ahead of the law, and always turning a profit.
Their ‘fine line’ is under threat, though, and Ark’s about to break her three cardinal rules. The first: never let a job turn personal, even when a face from your past comes calling. Lady Vesper might tug at Ark’s heart-strings, but as a noblewoman with a string of dead husbands, she’s a dangerous woman to get close to.
Except Vesper claims to have changed her ways and wants to escape the city ‒ an escape Ark would be willing to provide, if it wasn’t for rule number two: stay well away from magic.
Because Vesper is up to her elbows in the artifact trade, and if Ark is going to dig her out, she’ll have to break the most important rule of all, the one separating the middlemen from everyone else. She’s going to have to get her hands dirty.
It’s exciting to have another story out there in the world, particularly one that I hope will be the first in a series. I’m also experimenting with Amazon’s KDP Select program, in an attempt to give the novella an initial boost. There is of course a caveat there: the novella will only be available for the Kindle, at least for now, but if you’re not a Kindle owner, don’t despair! As with ‘Sanguine’, I’m happy to send out review copies in your choice of format – just leave a comment on this post, or send me an email (details on my About page).
It’s fair to say I love this series: I love the city (although I wouldn’t want to live there!), I love how much fun I had writing it, and I especially love the two central characters. If you fancy reading about ancient magic, crime capers and gun-fights, all with a twisty, twisty plot, I hope you’ll love them too.
I’ve been talking a lot about self-publishing recently, and particularly about my own self-published works. Not surprisingly, a lot of my writing time has been dedicated to thinking about them, from the technical aspects of where to upload them and how best to go about promotion, to the more creative side of ‘what’s going to happen in the sequel?’. Something writers don’t talk about very often is that, no matter how calm and collected they might appear, there’s always worry associated with putting a new story out into the world. No-one wants to produce a flop. Everyone wants, no matter how modest they are about their own work, to be successful.
The thing is, in publishing at least, ‘success’ is both impossible to predict and difficult to achieve. Not only that, but one writer’s success is another’s abject failure. There’s no single recipe to great sales, a wide audience and lots of fans – and even if there were, that definition of ‘great’, ‘wide’ and ‘lots’ will depend entirely on the author in question.
This, then, is why I want to propose a new manner of working, one I’ve been thinking about more and more lately. Put simply: stop worrying about success. Or at least, success as defined by and relying on other people. Having writing goals is all very well, but as writers we’re constantly looking for the approbation of others. We want a certain number of sales, of blog views, of comments or reviews. These days, that even extends to numbers of Twitter followers and fans on Goodreads. These can be indicators of success, certainly (with sales being the biggest and most important in commercial publishing), but they’re largely things out of the control of the individual writer.
Despite that, of course, most of us spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about them. They take up time, and energy, and headspace as we try to deal with and then remedy them – time, energy and headspace that could be better spent. Better spent doing what, exactly? Well, you’re a writer. What do you think?
I’m not saying every writer should cease paying attention to the money they’re making and completely retreat from social media; if we want to publish in any sense of the world, we can’t exist in a vacuum. However, perhaps we shouldn’t be letting things we can’t control take over our lives, and instead focus on the things we can control. Not getting the sales you want? Write something else. No-one read your last blog post? Write another. No re-tweets of that really funny joke you just made? Start a conversation instead. Instead of worrying, and worrying, and worrying, turn your anxieties into writing, writing, writing. Not only will you feel better, but you’ll have produced something at the end of it – and that something might just be what brings you success after all.
I may have been busy working on my new Ark & Fable series of novellas, but I’m also determined to get my YA fantasy ‘Sanguine’ onto as many ebook sites as possible. (I do keep meaning to include Smashwords in that, incidentally, but it just looks more complicated than any of the other sites and I keep putting it off.)
Today I’ve added Libiro to the list, an ebook store dedicated to books by indie and small press authors. It’s a really nice site and very easy to use – and even provides a choice of ebook formats for readers – so I’d highly recommend it if you’re looking for something different to read this summer. It’s also been a pleasure to use as an author, which is always a plus!
So, without further ado: Sanguine, available now on Libiro, for your reading pleasure!
It’s only been a couple of months since my self-publishing début, but I’m never one to let the grass grow under my feet (unless it comes to actually mowing the lawn, at which I’m very lazy…). ‘Star of the Everlasting’ started life as a short story back in December of 2012. However, I have a real problem writing short stories, in that I continually try to cram too much plot in. By the time this particular story was at 12k words, I had to admit it really wasn’t going to be ‘short’ at all, and that to make it work, it needed a bit more room to breathe.
And the result is here! That unnamed short story became ‘Star of the Everlasting’, the first novella in my Ark & Fable series. It’s got gun fights and ancient magic and a city built on colossal stone pillars. It’s also got Ark and Fable themselves, the titular characters, a pair of ‘middlemen’ who negotiate between criminals and the city’s highest echelons, always in the name of profit. Well, perhaps not always, as you’ll discover if you read the novella…
So, on to the cover!
I think my partner has excelled himself this time, and I absolutely adore this cover. It’s dark and moody, and really sets the tone for the setting as a whole. It also shows a key scene from the story… and that’s as much as I’m going to say about that! However, you might have noticed the little logo in the middle of the cover, which – close up – looks something like this:
This was my partner’s idea, much as I’d like to take credit for it, and a version will appear on each novella in the series, tying the covers together.
Finally, it’s time for the blurb (not necessarily the final blurb that’ll make its way into the ebook, but it’s close enough):
In the cliff-top city of Ardom Wave, there are the nobles, the criminals – and those in between. As middlemen – or middlewomen, in their case – Ark and her partner Fable tread the fine line between those in power and those most definitely not, all while keeping their heads down, staying one step ahead of the law, and always turning a profit.
A fine line that comes under threat when they’re faced with conflicting requests from two equally wealthy clients, either one of whom could cause serious trouble if they don’t get their way.
The way out requires breaking Ark’s three cardinal rules. The first: never let a job turn personal, even when a face from your past comes knocking. Vesper might tug at Ark’s heart-strings, but as a noblewoman with a string of dead husbands, she’s a dangerous woman to get close to.
Except Vesper has changed her ways and is looking for a way out of the city – a way Ark wouldn’t mind providing, if it wasn’t for rule number two: never get involved in magic.
Because Vesper is up to her elbows in the artefact trade, and if Ark is going to dig her way out, she’s going to have to break the most important rule of all, the one that separates the middlemen from everyone else. She’s going to have to get her hands dirty.
You might have guessed that ‘Star of the Everlasting’ is rather different from my last self-published book. Whilst ‘Sanguine’ was a YA novel, this is firmly in adult territory (although, in all honesty, I don’t write huge amounts of sex, graphic violence or swearing in anything), set in a very different world. It’s also the first in a series, and I’m going to be trying a few different things when it comes to publication. For the first few months, at least, it’s going to be an Amazon exclusive, so I can gauge if that makes any difference to initial sales (I’ll say more about this when I do a more general self-publishing post). I’ll also be trying to get the next couple of novellas out as quickly as possible, with a novel-length omnibus to come later.
So, there you have it: ‘Star of the Everlasting’, coming soon to Amazon, and setting in motion events for a whole string of stories. I’ll have more release details soon, but for now, enjoy the cover, and let me know what you think!
Over on Fantasy Faction today, there’s a very interesting link to a document put together by Sonika Balyan, which is essentially an extensive list of women fantasy authors, going back to the 1930s. Obviously, as a female writer myself I found this interesting, but I’ve also been drawn to fantasy books by women ever since I was a teenager. Overall, I’d say my reading habits are split roughly 50/50 when it comes to the author’s gender, though there may be a slight skew towards women. However, out of my favourite authors, those whose works I return to repeatedly and whose books I automatically pre-order, the vast majority are women. I’m actually struggling to think of any who aren’t.
I decided, then, to work out what percentage of the authors on that list I’d read at least one book by. The answer: 53 out of 312, which comes out at a shade under 17%. I’ll admit to being a little disappointed by that – I’d expected it to be far higher.
There are a few caveats to be made, of course. There are a handful of urban fantasy and paranormal writers listed, genres I read only occasionally. I’m also not sure how many of the American authors listed have been published in the UK, and whilst it’s easy enough to import books these days, I first read many of these authors in my teens, when I was relying solely on British bookshops. Having said that, though, 17% is still much lower than I’d like.
I’m not trying to make a point here, incidentally, other than that this is a useful resource. I’d like to see more women in fantasy, of course, both as writers and readers. I’d like to see more diversity of every stripe, in fact, just part of the reason I make a habit of promoting my favourite authors. I also wish misguided comments like, ‘Oh, I don’t read books by women’ could become a thing of the past. (Seriously, if this applies to you, you’re never going to get anything other than merciless laughter from me.) Mostly, though, I just wanted to share this fascinating and incredibly useful list. I’ll be returning to it whenever I’m in need of something new to read – and if you’re at all interested in the fantasy genre, I highly recommend you check it out.
It’s over a month now since I self-published my YA fantasy novel Sanguine (which you can read all about here). I might, at some point, do a post on my experiences of self-publishing and whether or not it’s been a success (short answer: a hesitant ‘yes’, but I think it’s incredibly difficult to do well in the short-term via self-publishing – being successful in the longer term, and building slowly up to it, is much more achievable).
It’s fair to say that I haven’t done everything I could to promote Sanguine, mostly because I haven’t exactly had a surfeit of time (see my last post for details of that). However, I’d really like to get Sanguine out there a bit more. More than that, I’d really, really like to start seeing some reviews. This, then, is my offer to my lovely readers:
I am giving away free copies of SANGUINE, in your choice of digital format. All I ask is that you post an honest review after you’ve read it.
And yes, it really is honest reviews I’m most interested in, though of course I hope no-one hates the book enough to throw their electronic device of choice across the room.
At this stage, I’ve keeping the giveaway fairly open. I don’t have a limited number of copies to give away (although if I get an absolute deluge of requests, I may cap the number). There’s no time limit on the giveaway. You can live in any country, and you certainly don’t have to be a professional reviewer or blogger. As for the reviewing: of course I can’t force anyone to read the book, let alone review it. However, if you read Sanguine and feel compelled to write a few short lines, on Amazon, Goodreads or your blog (or all three!), I will be hugely grateful. You’ll also go to the top of my list for free copies next time I release a book (and I hope to have at least one more novel and a novella out this year).
Interested? Leave a comment here or on Goodreads (where this post will also be going up), or send me an email at amy[dot]sanderson42[at]gmail[dot]com (replace the square brackets with the appropriate symbols, of course). I can’t promise I’ll get back to everyone immediately, as I’ll be absorbed in cooking breakfasts and making beds for at least the next few days, but I’ll do my best to reply as promptly as I can.
A few months ago (more than I care to count, actually), I posted here about what I was up to when I wasn’t writing. It’s fair to say that, over the last two weeks especially, ‘not-writing’ has taken up far too much of my time, and will probably continue to do so for another week at least. This is bad news, obviously, but there’s always a silver lining, and today’s is HERE.
If you follow that link – and I hope you will – you can read all about the guest house my partner and I have just opened, here in the beautiful North Yorkshire countryside. There are even pictures! Of sheep! (Okay, the sheep pictures may be placeholders until web designer a.k.a. boyfriend finds something more suitable, but they’re rather cute anyway.)
All joking aside, getting this business venture off the ground has taken nearly a year, now. It’s been draining, utterly exhausting, and there have been times when I wished I’d just stayed in the city and worked for peanuts for the rest of my life (I really enjoyed my last job, and the people I worked with were truly fabulous, but it’s fair to say that the pay was… mediocre). However, making any kind of big change is always tough, and I’m glad we did it for the much-improved lifestyle it’s given us – although the prospect of actually opening our doors to guests is both imminent and terrifying!
When will my writing be back on track? Er… Still working on that one. The really difficult renovation work is behind us, but running a business of any kind is stressful, and that doesn’t always incline me to write. However, I’m hoping for a little more time over the coming weeks, which will be a blessed relief and should allow me to get a few more words down, both here and in my WIP.
I’m also hoping for a chance to get my next ebook up on Amazon, so keep an eye out for that. ‘Star of the Everlasting’ is on its way!