You don’t like us and we don’t care.

•March 23, 2012 • 4 Comments

I woke up this morning to find a mini uproar on one of the facebook groups that I frequent, because yet another traditionally published author had taken a massive swipe at the self published. There was a blog post that rattled on about how he regretted self publishing one of his own books because now he’d been stained with the communal shit of the self publishing world. There was also a series of well considered, thoughtful comments on Twitter, such as ” Self-published authors, go fuck yourselves! You all suck ass!” and ” All you self-published Kindle/Smashwords writers! You suck! Cut it out! You’re wrecking a good thing!”
Hmm, such a wordsmith. Your eloquent prose is making me want to rush out and buy your traditionally published zombie novel /dog training manual.
Unfortunately, this walking, talking arse-biscuit is not alone in this view. I’ve heard very similar comments from writers that I like and respect. Even traditionally published writers that I’ve met and get on with have made comments like this. There was a panel at Fantasycon 2011 that basically degenerated into a very well known publisher and a very well known agent slagging off anyone who would dare to self publish their work because it is, without exception, crap that would not be touched by any self respecting publisher. That panel, and the shit attitudes of the people on it was the turning point where I decided to self publish my own book.
So, what exactly is the problem that these people have with us? I mean, even the worst self published book in the world is still a book that someone has poured hours of their time into creating. That is an achievement in itself. It’s something that most people will never do, and like it or not, it is the one thing that all of us writers, from Stephen King down to the guy who sold 10 copies of his self published book on Amazon last year, have in common.
Well, there are a few things that the traditional publishing crowd have against us. The first and main thing is the quality of the product. And they have a point in many cases.
I find it astonishing that someone will spend years writing a novel, tweak it a bit and then upload it straight to Amazon with a cover they knocked up in 10 minutes on Photoshop. I mean, why put all that time and effort into something, only to screw it up by doing a rush job at the end? I realise that it’s expensive to hire an editor, but the fact is that it’s something self published authors should be planning for from the second they write the first word in their book. Cut down on the booze and fags, or buy a few less DVD’s or video games and save up for it. By self publishing, you are going into business for yourselves and if you don’t do a proper job then the business is going to fall flat on its arse. All told, it cost me about £1000 to get High Moor published. 4 months after its release, and I’m not very far at all from making that money back, and the reason for it is that is mostly that I had it properly edited and refused to rush its release until it was ready. It’s not fucking rocket science.
Saying that, self publishing is not the only source of crappy books. Traditionally published books can be just as bad. The number of terrible movie or video game tie-in novels that I’ve had to read lately is astonishing. I imagine that these are only as bad as they are because they were written in a very short time, then published with minimal editing to coincide with the release of the movie/game they are based on, to maximise revenue. Basically the same thing that self published authors are criticised for.
So, is that the only problem that advocates of traditional publishing have with self publishing?
Nope. Not by a long shot.
If you take a look at the Amazon US site’s Kindle Horror books, then within the top 100, there are very few traditionally published novels. I’ve not counted, but it certainly looks like the trad published books account for less than 40% of the top 100.
Why is that?
Mostly, it’s down to pricing and the ability to react to the market more quickly.
The big publishers sell their ebooks at a premium – in some instances their ebooks go for as much as the hardbacks. If asked, they will say that the cost of producing the book is no different to physical copies, and it needs to be priced accordingly so that their authors get paid a decent wage for their work.
Which is all very well on the surface of things, but when you look at it in the cold light of day, you realise that it’s a load of old bollocks. With ebooks there are no printing costs, distribution or warehousing costs. The editing, proof reading, typesetting and cover design cost money, but these are one off expenses. Once that ebook file is built, there are no more costs going forward. And if the royalties paid to their authors on ebooks were more generous, then they’d still get a decent wage if the price was dropped.
On the other hand, the self published author does not have these massive overheads to contend with. If done properly, there are fixed costs, but it means that the books can be priced at a competitive rate and I still make more per copy sold than most trad published authors. If my sales rank nose-dives then I can do a 24 hour sale and get a big rank boost, which translates into more full priced sales going forward. Big publishers do not have this flexibility. Sure, there are people who give their book away for nothing, or have it set at a permanent $0.99 price point, which means that no matter how successful their book may be, they are making no money from it. Pricing is a tool, and some people will use that tool well, others won’t.
However, the success of many self published authors is a huge threat to the status quo. It’s eating into traditional publishers profits and so instead of adapting to the changing market, the default action seems to be to stick their heads in the sand and start a smear campaign it. With the possible exception of those who already had traditional deals and have gone down that route. That, apparently is acceptable.
Self published author’s need to start to take some pride in their work, do it properly and stop giving ammunition to the traditional publishing crowd. It makes more commercial sense, if nothing else. You are not going to be the next Stephen King by publishing your first draft straight up to KDP. If you at least get it properly edited, by a real editor (as opposed to your Auntie Joan, who got a grade C in her GCSE english) then you at least stand a chance of being successful.
By the same token, the traditional publishing world needs to take its head out of its arse and stop slinging shite. Self publishing isn’t going to go away, and while there will always be people who publish crap, there are a growing number of independent authors who produce high quality, well edited work that is just as good as anything else out there. I could recommend a few to get you started, such as pretty much anything by Iain Rob Wright. Hell, I’ll even throw down the gauntlet and offer any traditionally published author a free copy of my own book in the electronic format of your choice. Just drop me a mail or IM and I’ll get one right out to you, so you can make up your own mind.

Armand Rosamilia Dying Days 2 Blog Tour – You Can’t Use Our Business

•March 19, 2012 • 2 Comments

Scary heavy metal horror author, Armand Rosamilia has dropped by as part of the promotional blog tour for his new book, Dying Days 2, and gives his thoughts on using real world locations in your novels.

You Can’t Use Our Business

Armand Rosamilia

This past week I released the third book in the Dying Days series, Dying Days 2… yeah, that might be a bit odd, but Darlene Bobich: Zombie Killer is the first one, and… well.. just read them.
A strange thing happened while I was writing the latest book, something that might be normal to some writers but not for me. In yesterday’s guest blog I talked about product placement, and the legalities involved. Basically, you can add Coke or Absolut or Publix in but it’s frowned upon to say Starbucks coffee is killing everyone… even if it might be true.
Let me backtrack a bit. I tend to write a story without a solid outline, preferring a few notes on an index card or two, some basic plot-points to get a flow. The story (if it’s any good) tends to write itself. Usually the index card becomes pointless by the last part of the story, when the characters have done something unexpected and sent the story in another direction.
Case in point: Dying Days 2, where I got to a spot in the beginning chapters and needed to simply add in a name of a bar. The story is set in St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest city in America. There’s a bar there that is in a perfect spot in the center of town, and I figured it would make perfect sense to have one of the characters owning it and maybe another character or two go visit and get a drink, using the barter system. That could be fun.
As the story progressed I realized, in all reality, this would easily be the focus of the survivors. And why not? It was a friendly bar, it had alcohol for trade, and sat in the middle of the safe part of town.
So I let the story write itself, and suddenly the bar became its own character, with a climactic scene and a gathering for the main characters.
There was nothing negative about the bar. In fact, it talked about what a mainstay it’s been for St. Augustine and how nice of a place it was, rich in its history.
Me being me, I decided to contact the actual place before publication. My goal was to do a book-signing on one of their slow nights, drive a few extra people into the bar, publicize it in the paper, and spread some good will.
No chance.
The general manager immediately got on the defensive and told me I couldn’t use the name, it was a registered trademark, and the owner (who is a billionaire – her words) would sue me and stop publication of the book.
So much for good will.
I hadn’t even told her what the book was about, how the bar was being used in the story, or anything. Of course, too, my bitchy Jersey attitude almost kicked in and I wanted to tell her she legally couldn’t stop me from using the name in that context anymore than McDonald’s could stop me from mentioning a character eating a McDouble.
But I refrained, decided to simply change the name of the bar, and never spend another dime in her establishment. There are much better places in St. Augustine, anyway.
The old adage ‘all publicity is good publicity’ doesn’t appeal to everyone, and I know my little book wouldn’t make or break their bar, and maybe having a book-signing there on a slow Tuesday night might not draw a hundred extra patrons, but I don’t see it hurting them. I also don’t see getting sued over it, either.
A part of me wonders where it would’ve gone if I’d simply said ‘too bad, it stays in the book, get your lawyer’ and then made a big production in the media about it… David vs. Goliath and all that drama.
I’d probably be selling more copies of Dying Days 2 than I could print… darn, why’d I change it?
I’m hoping a sex tape for my next book release will get some sales in as well… until then…

* * * * *

Want to know more about the “Dying Days” series? Want to win free eBooks and maybe print books of them? My contest is simple: e-mail me at armandrosamilia (at) gmail (dot) com with DYING DAYS in the subject line and I’ll enter you into the daily giveaway… also, post a comment here and you get another chance… follow my blog at http://armandrosamilia.com for yet another chance, and friend me on Twitter (@ArmandAuthor) and simply post DYING DAYS to me, and you’ll get another shot… nice and easy, right? If I get enough people joining in the giveaway there will be a print book given away that day!

“Dying Days” series information can be found here: http://armandrosamilia.com/dying-days-series/

Two more fantastic reviews for High Moor

•February 4, 2012 • 2 Comments

I’m going to do a proper blog post later on, but until I get around to it, I thought I’d share two new reviews of High Moor with you.

First off, there is This One on Hellnotes.com. Its written by the lovely Darkeva, who also runs her own very successful book review site.

Secondly, I got an amazing review from Brett J Talley, author of the brilliant Cthulu mythos thriller “That which should not be.” That he would post a review like this when my book and his are competing for a Bram Stoker award shows just how classy a guy he is. This may very well be the best review I have had to date. Go check it out by following the link Clicky! and while you are at it, go check out Brett’s book, because its brilliant.

Finally, I had my first one star review. The reviewer stuck it up on Goodreads and all over Facebook, and at first I was a little shocked and upset by it. Then, thanks to the wonders of the internet, I did a little cyberstalking and discovered that the reviewer is very good friends with another author. One who’s book missed out on this years Stokers preliminary ballot by the narrowest of margins. Things started to fall into place, especially seeing as how the review went live within about an hour of the prelim ballot being announced.
I would hope that this is nothing more than a case of sour grapes by proxy, but there is also the possibility that the author of the other book may have put them up to it. Its sad really. Reviews like that say more about the person writing them, than the book they are about.

For the sake of balance, I’ll post it below.

Positives: Well edited.

Negatives: No depth of characterization at all. The plot is predictable and the action cliché. The narrative style is short, choppy, irritating sentences rather than a conventional paragraph style. Werewolves and the word fuck… sigh…

Summary: Dull, lifeless, and predictable. This is what the Stokers are serving up this year? Bram is rolling in his grave in my opinion…

Like I say, it seems pretty harsh at first, until you realise the context under which it was posted, at which point it seems a bit pathetic. Frankly, if one of my friends had written a review like that on my behalf, I’d be embarrassed.

Anyway, I’ll try and get the “proper” blog post sorted out this weekend, assuming I don’t have to spend the rest of the weekend digging the chickens out from snow drifts 🙂

The Bram Stoker Awards, Review and Interview

•January 24, 2012 • 5 Comments

Phew. There’s been quite a bit going on this week, and I’m only just finding the time to write about it.

Firstly, the big news. High Moor has made the preliminary ballot of the Bram Stoker Awards. I should be clear that this does not make me or the book “Stoker Nominated”, but its exciting news and means that the three (possibly four) remaining slots on the final ballot for Superior Achievement in a First Novel are going to be allocated between the five books that made it through the rec stage. The competition is stiff. I’ve read a couple of other books on the list, and they are excellent. I can only hope that High Moor does well. Even if I go out at this point though, its amazing that I’ve got this far, and I’m incredibly grateful to the HWA members who liked the book enough to make a recommendation.

You can read the full list for the preliminary ballot by following the link. 2011 Bram Stoker Award Preliminary List

I’ve also had another review go live, at PissedoffGeek. Its extremely gratifying to get good independent reviews of the book. Even now, I still have trouble believing that its out there, and that people are liking it. You can read the review by following the link. PissedoffGeek’s Review of High Moor

And last, but by no means least, I also have an interview live on the ShewolfManc’s blog. Hannah, who runs the site is a lecturer in medieval folklore and is an expert on werewolves in history and popular culture. The girl knows her stuff (and even puts me in my place when I get a factoid wrong). She’s going to be reviewing High Moor soon, and that scares me, even if she is as nice a person as you could hope to chat with online. The lady has probably read every werewolf book written in the last five hundred years or so. Its also fantastic, as her opinion is going to mean a hell of a lot. In the meantime, you can read her interviewing me by clicking on the link: Shewolf Manc interviews Graeme Reynolds”

Oh…one more thing. I can officially confirm that there will be a sequel to High Moor, and my intention is to get it released later this year. The working title is “High Moor 2: Moonstruck”, although this may very well change prior to release

Right, off to make dinner and carry on with my next chapter. I’ve just thought of a horrendous way to kill a character off and am itching to get it written.

Catch you later.

One of those things – a High Moor Story – Now Online

•January 16, 2012 • Leave a Comment

There is a new story up on my blog, and its part of the High Moor continuity. “One of those things” takes place between Part 2 and Part 3 of the novel, and deals with some things that were mentioned in the book, but never explored in any detail. I’d say more, but I don’t want to give anything away 🙂

You can access the story by following the link below, or click on the relevant link in the stories menu

One of those things

Let me know what you think.

Update: There is now an audio version of the story, narrated by me. You can access it by clicking the link One of those things – Audio

2011 in review

•January 1, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,200 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 53 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Goodbye 2011 – It’s been interesting…

•December 31, 2011 • Leave a Comment

So, another year is nearly over, and I think its fair to say that 2011 has been something of a mixed bag for me.

I started the year in a house that I’d been doing up for the last 5 years, in a seaside town called Clevedon, with a half finished conservatory that I didn’t have the money to finish. My novel had stalled and I’d not written anything for months. I’d just been sacked from my job.

Within 10 weeks, I’d moved into a rented house with no neighbours for half a mile in any direction, gotten a new job and found my groove with the book again. Six months after that, after an absolute nightmare house sale, and an equally nightmarish house move, I bought a seven acre smallholding in mid Wales, an hour and a half away from anyone I knew, and I had published my novel, High Moor.

So, while this year has been possibly the most stressful in living memory, I’ve also achieved more in 2011 than at any point in my life to date. I’ve achieved two of my major life goals – buy a smallholding so that I can become more self sufficient, and publish a novel.

There have been some low points. In addition to house selling stress, and unemployment stress, I have also lost some treasured pets and buggered my back up again due to two house moves in six months.

Apart from the smallholding and novel publication, there have been a few fairly significant high points.

When Gingernuts of Horror gave High Moor such a rave review (Click Here) I was very happy indeed. When the site listed me as one of their top ten discoveries of 2011 (Click Here) and listed High Moor as one of their top fifteen books of the year (Click Here) I was over the moon.

If I am honest, I could not be happier with the way that High Moor is being received in general. Its been out for six weeks, and the feedback I’ve been getting from real readers on Facebook, Goodreads and Amazon have thrilled me. That I am ending 2011 with High Moor currently at the top of the horror novel category in the Preditors and Editors readers poll (Click Here), and have a recommendation for a Bram Stoker award are things that a year ago would have seemed like a distant dream.

I loved having the telephone chat with Lori Titus and Tonia Brown for Flashes in the Dark Radio – you can hear the entire demented discussion by following this link (Click Here)

I enjoyed every second of Fantasycon, and met some incredible people. I’ve already booked my ticket for next year.

All in all, 2011 has been a hard year, but its also been an incredible journey that’s finished with me exactly where I wanted to be.

Happy New Year, and here’s hoping that all our 2012’s are good ones.

See you next year. I’m off down the pub for a few well deserved pints.

Graeme