In three months, around about August time, I’ll be releasing an original novel, Thy Fearful Symmetry, in paperback to sit on the shelf next to my other stories, and in all ebook formats. Until then, I’ll be blogging every Saturday, sharing how I’m going about it. When it’s released, I’ll continue for a little while, and let you know exactly what happens with the book.
Saturday is Thy Fearful Symmetry day! Mark your calendars!
Today, by way of preparation, I’ll cover what the book is, why I’m self-publishing it, and what’s behind my taking you through the process step-by-step.
1 – Thy Fearful Symmetry.
The end of the world. Fire, raining from the sky. Rivers and oceans turning to blood. Crazed angels on the streets with blazing swords, while beasts from hell surge from dark places to claim humanity for their own. Thy Fearful Symmetry is the apocalypse. The novel’s set in Glasgow, where I was living when I wrote the first draft. This is a large cast, blockbuster of a book. If you’re looking for horror and adventure,it has those in spades. At the book’s heart, there’s another story about faith, and what that word means to different people. In August, you’ll meet Father Baskille, Malachi Jones, Inspector James Gemmell, and the beings known as Ambrose, Pandora, and Leviathan.
The end of the world starts with a kiss, and that’s all you’re getting for now.
2 – Self-Publishing.
If you’ve been here for a while, you’ll know about last year’s self-publishing experiment, in which I resuscitated my long out of print novel Cuckoo. You can go and buy it now, as a smart paperback, or in pretty much whatever ebook format you like, wherever you are in the world. I learned things, doing Cuckoo, and it’s time to put them to the test. There was less risk last year. Cuckoo had already been released, by two publishers at two different times, and so I was bringing back a book which had already proven its worth. I don’t have a safety net this time. Thy Fearful Symmetry is an original novel, which I’ve spent years writing and rewriting. If I get this wrong, all that time and effort was for nothing.
And I could get it wrong. It takes seconds to scout online and find hundreds and hundreds of self-published books that should never, ever have seen the light of day. You might even have the misfortune of accidentally owning some. A lot of people see self-publishing as a cheap and easy way of releasing a book, and in truth, they’re right. The tools are there to throw a novel into the aether almost as soon as you write The End, and too many people do just that.
I’m not here to sit in judgement on what other people do, though. All I can say is that I don’t want Thy Fearful Symmetry to be lost in the mess they’re making of the self-publishing landscape. I’m only feeling my way through how to do this, and the chances of succeeding are actually fairly slim. Yet I’m convinced that these days, self-publishing has to be a part of any author’s arsenal. I’ve other novels and stories that are destined for what is becoming known as ‘legacy publishing’ (bleeeeuuugh – hate that phrase). At the same time, I have plans I want to take forward myself. It’s empowering, but dangerous. If I balls it up, there’s no going back.
So, in short, I want to build on what I did with Cuckoo, and take it further. If it works out, I’ve got ambitious plans for 2013 (more ambitious, even, than a blockbuster novel about the end of the world), but this has to pan out first. For now, it’s all about Thy Fearful Symmetry.
3 – Behind The Scenes.
Why am I blogging my potential errors for the world to see? Lots of reasons. Firstly, we’re at a stage now in self-publishing where everything is possible, but almost nothing works. With self-publishing being ‘easy’, it’s harder to do it ‘right’. There isn’t even a definition of ‘right’ that works. Big successes share almost nothing in common in their approach. Books that should be big successes stumble from the first, and vanish into the vast morass. I thought it might be useful to blog what I’m doing and when, both for myself to look back on (if there’s a…) next time, and for others to benefit from now. That benefit might come from my doing something that works, that you can refine. It might come from my screwing everything up right here, in front of you, so you can vow not to ever do the same thing yourself.
One of the things lacking in a self-publishing world is conversation. Publishers are good at conversation. It happens between authors and editors, editors and artists, money men and marketing types, marketing types and distributors. A lot can go right, when you start having conversations – that’s the first rule of any big project. Whether this turns into a conversation between me and you, or me and myself, doesn’t really matter. Nailing ideas down, watching them wriggle before deciding whether they should live or die, can be a very useful thing to do.
Feel free to join in. I’ll be here every Saturday as I build the book, release it, then try to convince people they want to read it. I’ll probably keep going at least until I take the book to Anthocon in November (and yes, for those who want to know, I’ll tell you exactly how the book sells when it’s released). Do come back, and do comment. If your only contribution is to shoot me down when I make a disastrous misstep, then that could be the saving of the whole thing. Thy Fearful Symmetry already blows up the world. I’d hate for it to also blow up whatever it is I call a writing career.
So, that’s a summary of what I’m doing. There’s more, but there are also a lot of Saturdays between now and Anthocon. I’ll dip in and out of various topics as we go along, and hope you might raise some of your own. You don’t need to be a publishing expert to have ideas I’d never think of. Don’t be shy in sharing them.
Over the next week, I’ll be getting the artwork started, and editing a short story that might help me sell the big one. More on that next Saturday. See you then. Any early thoughts? Tell me about them below…