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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

"Flawed: Flawed Book One" by Cecelia Ahern (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)




Visit Cecelia Ahern's Website Here



OVERVIEW: Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation where she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found flawed.

In her breathtaking young adult debut, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society where perfection is paramount and flaws lead to punishment. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything

FORMAT: Flawed is the first book in a YA dystopian novel. The novel has some romance in it, but mostly portrays the political scene within this dystopian setting. The novel does contain some brief scenes that involve branding and self-harm.

Flawed is the first novel in a proposed series. It is written from the point of view of Celestine North. It stands at 336 pages and was published April 5, 2016 by Feiwel and Friends.

ANALYSIS: Dystopian YA novels are a dime a dozen. Everyone wants to get in on the latest literary trend, which means multiple authors are stepping outside of their comfort zone and trying their hand at writing a YA dystopian novel that will be the 'next big thing'. Some succeed, some do not.

Flawed, the first book in a new YA dystopian series titled Flawed by Cecelia Ahern (a well-established chick-lit/romance novelist), is proof that while authors do indeed seem to follow a template of sorts when writing this type of fiction, if you have the ability to make it your own, it can create a decent, captivating novel. Just as its name suggests, Flawed does have some flaws – it is by far not perfect – but there is something about it that kept me reading and wanting to know more.

Cecelia Ahern does an amazing job of writing in a way that draws the reader in. Many times while reading Flawed, I felt antsy and a bit uncomfortable with the novel. Not a bad uncomfortable, but uncomfortable because the things that were going wrong and stuff that was happening was so.... wrong. It made me sad that society could have gotten to a point where fear causes people to become so blind to injustices and blatant hatred.

It was the writing style and its ability to connect with me that ultimately made this novel. I think it was the whole thought that one simple mistake could destroy your entire life. And society allowed it. The mistake could be as simple as handing someone a quarter who happened to be 'flawed'.

I will note that I am sure my fascination with the US political situation played a role in my like of the novel. Given the state of things, it is easy to see how a system like this could develop. Yes, its extreme, but it isn't as if this type of 'flawed' system was completely unrealistic. Seeing how it could relate to some current events, it could be enough to make some people uneasy.

There isn't a whole lot of world-building that goes on within the novel. Readers are kind of thrust into the midst of a chaotic situation and they learn as the novel goes along how things came about. Readers learn a very brief history of how the Guild – a group of individuals charged with judging and punishing those who commit moral/ethical misdeeds – came about. Readers learn what happens when an individual is branded 'flawed' and what consequences are for that happening.

Unfortunately, while readers do learn a very basic overview of these things, a lot of it isn't really explained in depth. A vague 'higher political power/bad guy' in YA dystopian isn't unheard of and certainly not a rarity, but I think a lot of questions could come up while reading Flawed. I believe – and hope – those questions will be answered as the series goes on and we dive deeper into the Flawed system and Guild's authority.

Even though there are parts that aren't well-developed or described, the novel does an amazing job of setting up this bleak, brutal dystopian world. There are a few 'grit your teeth' moments that don't graphically depict violence/torture, but that infer it or fade to black when it happens. I think there are just enough moments to reinforce how bad the world is in the novel without going over the top.

The characters in the novel appear one-sided, but over time they start to show different sides. The mother in the novel is a super model who appears to like cosmetic surgery and shopping, but in time she shows a deeper softer side to her. The grandfather appears to be a crazy old man with government conspiracies and wild tales, but he eventually turns out to be a deeper more understanding individual willing to help.

The main character – Celestine North – could be a bit frustrating at times. She is run by logic in a world that operates based on fear. She sees things as black and white, but there are deeper issues involved. It is her logical, straight-forward side that leads her into trouble.

What was frustrating – to me – was she seemed to want everyone to think things through when it came to her and her situation and try to be more understanding, but she was one of the most judgmental individuals. Every person she came across after her court date, she seemed to believe should show her compassion and understanding, but she judged them harshly for how they acted or didn't act or for the things they were still doing. For someone so logical, it didn't really fit that she was so judgmental of everyone especially others in similar situations to herself.

Celestine was also very naive. Multiple times throughout the book she was put in situations where she should have seen stuff coming up or what would happen, but didn't. Even after people told her it might happen, she fought them and still continued to believe in her naive ways. Eventually at some point, you'd think she would wake up and realize what was happening around her, but she didn't seem to do that until the very end.

There is one refreshing thing about Celestine – she isn't being portrayed as 'the one'. You know what I'm talking about. The "One" individual in the novel who has all those special skills and who just happens to have lady luck on their side at every moment. Celestine for the most part is being used by multiple individuals – the Guild, the media, other Flawed individuals, other politicians. She is being used because she was in the right place at the right time, not because she is some special snowflake who has it all.

It was refreshing to see Celestine put into situations that were real life scenarios and watch her try to get out of it. Sometimes she succeeded, sometimes she didn't. If she was able to solve a problem, she did it mostly on her own and didn't really have that magic 'get out of jail free' card flying around. There were a lot of times where she had to think and make decisions on her own and then live with those consequences.

Flawed is unique enough to put itself above the pack, but it doesn't have everything it needs to make it a genre changing novel. It is perfect for those who love dystopian novels and want something a little different, or those looking to venture into the genre, but if you feel burned out from the genre it won't have the 'oomph' needed to spark your interest again.

I – personally – loved the novel. Sure it has some flaws to it, but not enough to ruin the experience. I fully expect the entire series to be a complete package and can't wait until the next novel.  
Thursday, April 21, 2016

A Riposte To Ros: Why Self-Publishing Isn't all Gloom and Doom Part II (By J.P. Ashman, D. Benem, J, D. Cormier, B. Galley, P. Jack, G.R. Matthews, B. McGregor, & D. Moonfire)


Continuing from yesterday, here's the rest of the responses by Blair, Geoff, Jack and David. Read and enjoy...


Blair MacGregor: Almost a year ago, I wrote Dichotomy is Easy, and Easily Dismissed, related what I'd heard from up-and-coming writers about the whole self/trad pro/con debate. Really, it's like debating cats versus dogs or whiskey versus wine. Which "side" comes out on top is dependent more on a person's goals and wants than the comparative facts. (For the record: dogs and whiskey. Always and forever.)

Take the early discussions on Kindle Scout—Amazon's crowdsourced slush reading that can land a writer an Amazon imprint contract at 50% royalties. Among many self-publishers, the first debate was whether the marketing power of Amazon was worth the lower royalty rate. Among many trade-published writers, the first debate was whether the lack of a publisher's editorial and design control was worth the higher royalty rate. (Here's the post I wrote at the time, discussing perspectives.)

From different perspectives come different priorities.

What many writers like Barber fail to acknowledge—or perhaps simply don't realize—is their side-swipes at self-publishing are increasingly smacking their peers, including authors they might admire, in the face. While Barber snarks at writers who market their other skill sets as "the new 'authorpreneur' pyramid scheme," and others sneer at author-publishers as being like a "Rogaine Hair Club," their fellow professional writers—trade, indie, and hybrid—do indeed take notice and adjust their professional circles accordingly. Over time, the results will resemble the "Online story markets aren't real and professional!" cries of the previous decade: those who mock them will gradually quiet as their peers move on and pretend nothing happened.

Besides, I can name off the top of my head three major SFF writers—all traditionally published—who offer their editing services to aspiring writers.

Now, if the validation of awards—indeed, if just being eligible for specific awards—is the cornerstone of one's career plan and personal fulfillment, then one must make one's professional choices based upon the judging criteria instituted by a few. However, the number of awards closed to self-published works is shrinking (even the Pulitzer is open to self-published works!), and while some pools of awards-voters are adamantly opposed to self-published works, other pools are beginning to reflect the broader experience of readers. The rest will catch up eventually.

Which brings me back to the notion of different perspectives yielding different priorities. For most self-published writers, the connection with readers is of the upmost importance. That's the award they seek, and the technology and platforms making it possible are of far greater importance to them than the ones that continue telling writers they lack the ability to do more—and, indeed, will be belittled if they attempt to do more—than provide a story others will mold, package, and distribute as they see fit.

For me, it isn't about the money. It's about the time and the flexibility, the direct connection with readers, and the power of knowing I'm responsible for every little step of my own career. I understand others would rather hand over a great deal of control, just as many travelers prefer pre-packaged tours and all-inclusive resorts. Alas, I'm more of a "Throw the tent in the back of the car and head out alone" type of gal. :)


G.R. Matthews:

You have to forget writing for a living. - Really? Tell me some more I didn’t know. Or in fact, tell me that all Traditionally Published Authors don’t also have a job; Jen Williams, Den Patrick, Lucy Hounsome – all fantastic traditionally published authors who have a job. I don’t write for a living, I have a very time consuming, stressful and rewarding job. I do write because I have a passion for writing and stories.

Self-publishing can you behave like a fool. - No, it can’t. Being an idiot is a personality trait, like arrogance. If you’re predisposed to being rude, pushy, holier than thou, then you’ll act that way. It is that simple. I cannot accept that just being ‘Traditionally’ published will suddenly turn you into a paragon of etiquette. You’ll be as you always were. Alcohol can make you act like a fool – I’ll accept that. Self-publishing, no.

Gatekeepers are saving you from your own ego. - Are they? The cabinet building is a nice analogy but I am shit carpenter. I did, before putting pen to paper, go and study (for 3 years of formal education) how to write. Will that make me perfect? No, of course not. Just as being ‘Traditionally’ published wouldn’t either. I’ve given up on Trad and Indie books in equal measure. And perhaps, just perhaps, these gatekeepers have all the adventure of a stick – only picking books similar to others that already sell? Look at J K Rowling’s rejections as Galbraith – advised to go to a writing group and learn to write?

Good writers become good because… - This was just a filler paragraph that should really have been edited out to improve the pace of the article.

You can forget Hay festival and the Booker - And here is a telling phrase, “literary novel”. Damn it. If that had been in the first paragraph I’d have known the rest of the article wasn’t worth my time. In “genre fiction” self-publishing can be good (gee, thanks) but with proper “literary fiction”? No chance. Right. I call that the “snob factor”.

You risk looking like an amateur - “Why not practice your skill until you’ve written something a publisher will pay for?” Simply because many publishers are looking for something similar to the last big seller. Again, to repeat myself (why not, you did), look at the JKR rejection letters – a very successful author who makes a very good living out of it got rejected (at least twice) by respected publishers.

70% of nothing is nothing - But you’re complaining that even in Traditional publishing that you’re poor? I can write for enjoyment, hone my story, my prose and characters. Have them edited and proof-read. Get a good cover designed and made up for me. And I can still work for a living in a job I enjoy. In all of that, I don’t have to worry about living in poverty.

I’m sorry you’re living in poverty… perhaps you should try self-publishing? You might be one of the lucky few that gets rich. Clearly, if you’re poor, Traditional Publishing isn’t working for you. Just a thought.


Plague Jack: I actually agree with many of the article’s points about editing and covers, however I don’t know if they matter. Unprofessional products tend to sink in the self publishing world. Most of Ros Barber’s arguments are about the literary fiction genre, and for what she wants to do self-publishing is probably a poor choice. I don’t care about literary festivals. She does, but if you want a career as a writer self-publishing is a valid option.

What self-publishing offers, which Ros Barber doesn’t mention, is total and complete creative freedom. If I want to pick a stupid pen-name and pretend I’m a gorilla on my Goodreads profile I can. If I want to write a hyper-adult grimdark novel series, and simultaneously write its sequel, a YA webcomic about an inter-dimensional library, I can and no one can stop me. Amazon lets me patch and edit my own work instantaneously, and the freedom they enable surpasses anything traditional publishers offer. The trade off is that self-publishers have to invest their own money into their work, and their own time promoting it.

The publishing gatekeepers can be seen as guardians of quality, or the enforcers of monotony. I see big most big businesses as opportunistic carnivores, constantly on the prowl for prey. Sometimes publishers launch an author into super-stardom, most of the time they don’t and the author doesn’t earn back their advance. I believe that in the future self-publishing will be where publishers get most of their talent, and we’ll begin to see agents requesting that authors list how many Amazon reviews they have, Twitter followers, and Facebook likes.

TLDR: Who gives a shit as long as you’re successful.


David Benem: I take exception to a great many of Ms. Barber's assertions on the business, quality, and ambitions of self-publishing. Much of her proffered "evidence" is anecdotal at best, arbitrarily contrived at worst. In either case, her positions are misleading to anyone considering self-publishing as a possible avenue for getting their book to market. They also insult indie authors with the implicit accusation that we don't care about the quality of our work. I disagree. We write because we love it.

Ms. Barber contends self-published authors spend 90% of their time promoting. This "fact" comes from some anonymous someone who posted on her blog. I'm sure the experience is different for everyone (a position not seemingly shared by Ms. Barber), but I spend hardly any time promoting. I post the occasional tweet. At present, Ms. Barber's "pinned" tweet, from April 5, is her promo for her book "Devotion." I write an occasional post on my blog. The header on Ms. Barber's blog is presently, again, a promo for her book "Devotion." There's simply not much of a difference in the effort, but one thing that's clear is that Ms. Barber finds value in time spent promoting herself and her works. I presume she wouldn't be doing it otherwise. Neither would a lot of other authors, traditional and indie alike.

Ms. Barber also contends that indie authors don't make money. In support, she offers the anecdote of a writer who wrote seven books and made money (less than 100 pounds) on only one, and concludes that "70% of nothing is nothing." While her math is correct, her facts are not. Sweeping accusations and gross generalizations about a publication path that has given us the likes of Michael J. Sullivan, Anthony Ryan, and Hugh Howey simply don't work. There are plenty of self-published authors who make money doing it. Heck, I do--my book earned enough in a month and a half to qualify me for membership in the SFWA. Am I quitting my day job because of it? No, but the vast majority of traditionally published authors aren't doing that, either. Including Ms. Barber. We write because we love it.

Most of Ms. Barber's remaining points are various forms of insult, claiming those who self-publish haven't spent time learning how to write, don't take writing seriously, or are mysteriously compelled to act like twitchy tweet monkeys on social media. I know several self-published authors, and a few traditionally published authors as well. These points apply to none of them. Rather, the arguments are specious and one wonders if they serve any purpose other than elevating Ms Barber's ego.

We write because we love it. We care about our words, we care about our stories and the worlds we create. We put our books on the market because we hope others will be moved or entertained. For people who care truly about their work--who take it seriously--it doesn't matter if the work gets to market by indie or traditional means. And it doesn't matter if the work makes millions or wins the Man Booker.

We write because we love it.

*---------------*---------------*---------------*


Official Author Website
Order Sand And Blood HERE

Dylan Moonfire  is the remarkable result of the intersection of a computer nerd, a scientist, and polymath. Instead of focusing on a single genre, he writes stories and novels in many different settings ranging from fantasy to science fiction. He also throws in the occasional romance or forensics murder mystery to mix things up.

In addition to having a borderline unhealthy obsession with the written word, he is also a developer who loves to code as much as he loves writing. He lives near Cedar Rapids, Iowa with his wife, numerous pet computers, and a pair of highly mobile things of the male variety.

You can see more work by D. Moonfire at his website and get more information about his entry, Sand and Blood over here.


Official Author Website
Order The Stone Road HERE

Geoff Matthews (G R Matthews) began reading in the cot. His mother, at her wits end with the constant noise and unceasing activity, would plop him down on the soft mattress with an encyclopaedia full of pictures then quietly slip from the room. His father, ever the pragmatist, declared, that they should, “throw the noisy bugger out of the window.” Happily this event never came to pass (or if it did Geoff bounced well). Growing up, he spent Sunday afternoons on the sofa watching westerns and Bond movies with the self-same parent who had once wished to defenestrate him. When not watching the six-gun heroes or spies being out-acted by their own eyebrows he devoured books like a hungry wolf in the dead of winter.

Beginning with Patrick Moore and Arthur C Clarke he soon moved on to Isaac Asimov. However, one wet afternoon in a book shop in his home town, not far from the standing stones of Avebury, he came across a book by David Eddings – and soon Sci-Fi gave way to Fantasy. Many years later, Geoff finally realised a dream and published his own fantasy novel, The Stone Road, in the hopes that other hungry wolves out there would find a hearty meal. You can follow him on twitter @G_R_Matthews or visit his website.



Official Author Website
Order Exile: The Book Of Ever #1 HERE

James Cormier went to law school and spent years as a practicing attorney before realizing that what he really wanted to do with his life was sit around and write stories about imaginary places. Which is why you're reading this now. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, his son, and the requisite two cats that every writer of fantasy and science fiction is presented with upon the publication of their first novel.




Ben Galley was born in 1987 in the British Isles. As a child, exposure to the works of Tolkien and Greek mythology helped fire his imagination and left him with a great desire to spin his own stories. Ben wrote the first book as a DIY project and since then has written several self-help blog posts and also offers consultancy services for the same. He’s currently hard at work with the next book.


Official Author Website
Order What Remains Of Heroes HERE

David Benem resides in St. Louis, Missouri, where in his free time he pursues his passion of writing fantasy fiction. What Remains of Heroes is his first novel, and he is presently hard at work on its sequel.


Official Author Website
Order Black Cross HERE

Born Lancashire, England, J. P. Ashman is a Northern lad through and through. His parents love wildlife, history, fantasy and science fiction, and passed their passion on to him. They read to him from an early age and encouraged his imagination at every turn. His career may be in optics, as a manager/technician, but he loves to make time for writing and reading every day. Now living rurally in the Cotswolds with Wifey and their little Norse Goddess Freya, He's inspired daily by the views they have and the things they see, from the deer in the fields to the buzzards circling overhead.

Writing is a huge part of his life and the medieval re-enactment background and tabletop gaming lend to it; when he's not writing the genre, he's either reading or playing it. He plans to keep writing, both within his current series, and those to come, whether short stories or epic tomes.



Blair MacGregor writes fantasy—adventurous, epic, and dark. Her debut novel Sword and Chant was included in the first Indie Fantasy Bundle through StoryBundle, and her more recent novel Sand of Bone was included in the 2015 Fantasy Bundle. Her short fiction has appeared in Cicada and Writers of the Future. She is a graduate of Viable Paradise and a member of SFWA.

She also teaches and speaks on a variety of topics—education, wellness, failure and resilience—for audiences ranging from a double-handful to a couple thousand. In years past, she acted and worked in thirteen Shakespearean productions, spent a dozen years teaching martial arts while homeschooling her son, and once learned how to drive a combine from an Amish man who couldn't drive it himself. In between all that, Blair hikes and camps, grows organic produce, and indulges in the occasional ziplining excursion. She loves traveling to places both wild and domesticated. She currently lives in Colorado with her one son and two goofy dogs.


Order Sins Of A Sovereignty HERE


Plague Jack is a pseudonymous author who dislikes writing writer bios. Plague Jack loves Gorillas, comic books, rock climbing and conventions. He currently is writing two different series. 


NOTE: "Someone's wrong on the internet" art courtesy of Louise Wei and Dave Hodgkinson.
Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Riposte To Ros: Why Self-Publishing Isn't all Gloom and Doom Part I (By J.P. Ashman, D. Benem, J, D. Cormier, B. Galley, P. Jack, G.R. Matthews, B. McGregor, & D. Moonfire)


Nearly a month ago Ros Barber posted her one-side views about why self-publishing should never be considered by any true professional writer.  Safe to say, there were many who were not only peeved by her assertions but also felt that her column needed a counter.

So thanks to the lovely SPFBO authors, here's a riposte to many of Ros' claims. Presented below is part I (with Ben, Dylan, Jonathan, & James) , and part II (with Blair, David, Geoff, & Jack)  to follow tomorrow. Enjoy their thoughts...


Dylan Moonfire: I'll admit, the first thing that set me the wrong way with the piece was the last line of the introduction: "Despite royalty rates of 70%, I think self-publishing is a terrible idea for serious novelists (by which I mean, novelists who take writing seriously..." Writing is not marketing, they are two entirely separate skills. What makes a good writer has absolutely nothing to do with what makes a good marketer. Some people are good at both, some are lousy at both.

When some self-published authors decide to get into marketing, the results are the same as if someone announced they are going to be a great writer, buy a copy of Scrivner, and expect to be Ursula Le Guin after ten minutes. That isn't true for every self-published author because everyone has different skills and situations. Some have degrees in marketing, married a graphic designer, or spent the summer selling cars.

Others are lost but still want to try, so they browse the Internet because that is how writers fake knowledge for their books. They find a few flashy-sounding advice columns and then follow those suggestions with the slavish focus of someone who doesn't understand why that advice wouldn't work for them. Of course, with the power of Google, there are a lot of authors who find those same pages and also follow it, flooding everyone with copies of the same poor behavior.

Not every self-published author spams their feed with pictures of their books. Not everyone uses auto-DMs, trading links, or interjects their book into every conversation that shares a word with something they wrote. Some come up with marketing plans, hire professionals to handle PR, and treat their social presence with the same detail as the book they wrote.

A similar observation could be taken for the point "You risk looking like an amateur." Typography, ebook formatting, accounting, and the types of editing are all different skills. Very few people have all of them in equal measure. Not everyone understands the Dunning–Kruger effect. Publishers supply those skills, but it is still possible to hire people to cover those weaknesses and still produce a professional book. It isn't that hard to find good editors, typesetters, and formatters. Those are the same skills larger presses hire to do the very same thing.

The truest part of the article was the title: "For me, traditional publishing means poverty." For Ms. Barber, self-publishing may not be the best choice for her. For others, however, they either have the skills to create a high-quality story or they have the ability to hire those who are willing to fill in the gaps. It is simply a different path to the same thing: publishing a book.

One last point. A "real writer" is someone who writes. It doesn't matter if it is a journal kept under the bed, drunken poetry on a napkin for open mic night, or someone who spent two years writing with a fountain pen in leather-clad books. Writers write, that is all that is needed to be a real writer.


Ben Galley: It’s a real shame that Ros Barber didn’t take the time to talk to any of the thousands of hard-working, knowledgeable and passionate self-publishers out there when forming her opinion. Here’s why:

You should never forget writing for a living

This first fact is plain wrong when it comes to serious self-publishers. As I know Ros is fond of math, let’s do a little:

I have been self-publishing for over 5 years and in that time I’ve published 10 titles. 5 years = 1825 days. If 90% of that time has spent marketing, that leaves me 182 days to write and publish 10 books. That’s roughly 6 months. My fantasy books average at 130,000+ words. Combine that with my other non-fiction and graphic novel titles, and I’d say we could look at an average of 100,000 for each book. That’s a million words in 5 years, which equates to 5,494 words per day, every day. Basing on my writing speed, we’re looking at 6 hours. That means I would have had to work 60 hour days to give 90% of my time to marketing.

Any good self-publisher knows that product on the shelf and in readers’ hands is one of the secrets to success. He or she will also know the value of improvement. That’s why those who take themselves seriously will spend 90% of their time writing, 10% marketing.

Only fools behave like fools 

The example of Twitter Ros has rolled out is one that most self-publishers will abhor, and make an effort to steer away from. Self-publishing doesn’t automatically turn you into a fool and, like some disease, make you rabidly promote your book on Twitter and Facebook. Only people who lack the understanding of social media will do that, and they will notice when they see it doesn’t sell books.

We don’t need gatekeepers

I’m fascinated with this idea of validation that a lot of writers harbour: that being published traditionally is the hallmark of “I’ve made it”. I believe that’s archaic. It’s an indicator of quality, or being commercial perhaps, but the only true mark of validation in today’s market is what the reader thinks. That is the only person matters in the publishing chain. What readers think can make or sink a book and as such, they’re the only gatekeepers I want to please.

Apprenticeships? 

Another trope that bothers me is the idea that writers must suffer through time for their art. That if a novel hasn’t taken you four years to write, it’s not a novel. Yes, practice is important, and trad or indie, you should never rush to put a book out there, but to me the notions that time equates to talent, and of suffering for suffering’s sake just to prove you’re a writer, are laughable.

It’s time for Donald Trump to apologise

Major prizes don’t accept self-publishing books. A minor speed-bump. There are plenty of other prizes that do. Authors aren’t likely to get reviewed in mainstream press. That’s too bad. There are countless review sites and blogs (oh, and readers) that will. Authors don’t get booked for major literary festivals? Well, that’s just not true. I’m proud to say that this year I have been invited to speak at the Festival at Hampstead Theatre and the Stratford Literary Festival.

4.4% of nothing is also nothing 

One of the best parts of self-publishing is the higher royalty rate. Yes, Ros is correct in her math that 70% of nothing is nothing, but most days I would rather take the 70% of an £8.99 book than 4.4% (what Ros makes in the UK per book sold on Amazon).

In summary, Ros’ article is misinformed, but there’s also a prevailing sense that she views self-publishing as a booby prize, or an amateur’s solution, and as such it comes across as snobbery. That simply isn’t true. Self-publishing is a viable and valid option for authors. It may not be a direct path to financial security, but from the looks of Ros’ published financials, traditional publishing isn’t either.


J. P. Ashman:Despite royalty rates of 70%, I think self-publishing is a terrible idea for serious novelists (by which I mean, novelists who take writing seriously, and love to write).”

We don't all get royalty rates of 70%. If you do, it's likely through selling an ebook at a lowly rate of £0.99. So let's clear that up before folk think we're raking it in. Also, bear in mind, we pay taxes and other fees. Those of us who take it seriously (many of us, despite what Ros thinks) pay editors and cover artists too. She does mention that, but clearly believes we do the following.

Paying some poor bugger in the Philippines a fiver, or bunging £50 to your PhotoShopping nephew will not result in a distinctive, professional-looking cover.”

I'm not quite sure why she chose the Philippines, but that's beside the point. Her point seems to be that we don't use 'real' artists and editors because we'd have to dish out jewels and gold to all and sundry, hoping that we find some rare, talented soul who isn't already inundated by traditional publishers who are paying for them out of the goodness of their hearts; making it free for Ros and her chums.

Wait! Didn't she say being traditionally published was financially depressing? Perhaps that's because her editors, artists and formatting gurus aren't free after all? Perhaps her publisher is paying for it from the money they're saving by paying her small advances and low royalties? I don't know, it's hard to tell, because like a lot of what she says in her piece, she contradicts herself.

I'm not going to cover everything she said, because I'm sure it'll all get covered in this article anyway. So, I'm going to leave mine short-ish, because I have a tendency to waffle. That's one of the reasons I choose to pay for a professional editor to edit my work.

Forgive me for coming across a little angry, but I don't appreciate people who tar folk with the same brush, for any reason. I'm self-published by choice. I love it. I love writing, world-building and I also love marketing and socialising with fellow writers, and readers. This is where my editor, Jeff Gardiner, would tell me to stop and shut up, so I shall.

Ros Barber had her say, which is her right. I just wish she'd chosen to ask a wide range of self-published authors their experiences before publishing her biased article. Now it's our turn to have our say, and you, the readers, are finally getting our side of it from more than one source! A real snapshot of what we do, how we feel. I'm off now to super-spam the world with 'buy my book' tweets and email drops.


James D. Cormier:You have to forget writing for a living.”

If you self-publish your book, you are not going to be writing for a living. You are going to be marketing for a living. Self-published authors should expect to spend only 10% of their time writing and 90% of their time marketing.”

Barber’s first assertion, like all those that follow, is anecdotal at best and a blind assertion without any evidentiary support at worst. The only explanation for the 90/10 percent ratio she cites is that a single self-published author who commented on her blog put the percentage of time he actually spent writing in the single digits.

This breakdown is contrary to my own experience and that of pretty much every self-published writer I’ve talked to, but, more importantly, it also ignores a fundamental truth of publishing in 2016: every author is also a marketer.

Read the rest of James' eloquent thoughts over at his blog.

Also catch part II of the riposte tomorrow....

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Official Author Website
Order Sand And Blood HERE

Dylan Moonfire  is the remarkable result of the intersection of a computer nerd, a scientist, and polymath. Instead of focusing on a single genre, he writes stories and novels in many different settings ranging from fantasy to science fiction. He also throws in the occasional romance or forensics murder mystery to mix things up.

In addition to having a borderline unhealthy obsession with the written word, he is also a developer who loves to code as much as he loves writing. He lives near Cedar Rapids, Iowa with his wife, numerous pet computers, and a pair of highly mobile things of the male variety.

You can see more work by D. Moonfire at his website and get more information about his entry, Sand and Blood over here.


Official Author Website
Order The Stone Road HERE

Geoff Matthews (G R Matthews) began reading in the cot. His mother, at her wits end with the constant noise and unceasing activity, would plop him down on the soft mattress with an encyclopaedia full of pictures then quietly slip from the room. His father, ever the pragmatist, declared, that they should, “throw the noisy bugger out of the window.” Happily this event never came to pass (or if it did Geoff bounced well). Growing up, he spent Sunday afternoons on the sofa watching westerns and Bond movies with the self-same parent who had once wished to defenestrate him. When not watching the six-gun heroes or spies being out-acted by their own eyebrows he devoured books like a hungry wolf in the dead of winter.

Beginning with Patrick Moore and Arthur C Clarke he soon moved on to Isaac Asimov. However, one wet afternoon in a book shop in his home town, not far from the standing stones of Avebury, he came across a book by David Eddings – and soon Sci-Fi gave way to Fantasy. Many years later, Geoff finally realised a dream and published his own fantasy novel, The Stone Road, in the hopes that other hungry wolves out there would find a hearty meal. You can follow him on twitter @G_R_Matthews or visit his website.



Official Author Website
Order Exile: The Book Of Ever #1 HERE

James Cormier went to law school and spent years as a practicing attorney before realizing that what he really wanted to do with his life was sit around and write stories about imaginary places. Which is why you're reading this now. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, his son, and the requisite two cats that every writer of fantasy and science fiction is presented with upon the publication of their first novel.




Ben Galley was born in 1987 in the British Isles. As a child, exposure to the works of Tolkien and Greek mythology helped fire his imagination and left him with a great desire to spin his own stories. Ben wrote the first book as a DIY project and since then has written several self-help blog posts and also offers consultancy services for the same. He’s currently hard at work with the next book.


Official Author Website
Order What Remains Of Heroes HERE

David Benem resides in St. Louis, Missouri, where in his free time he pursues his passion of writing fantasy fiction. What Remains of Heroes is his first novel, and he is presently hard at work on its sequel.



Official Author Website
Order Black Cross HERE

Born Lancashire, England, J. P. Ashman is a Northern lad through and through. His parents love wildlife, history, fantasy and science fiction, and passed their passion on to him. They read to him from an early age and encouraged his imagination at every turn. His career may be in optics, as a manager/technician, but he loves to make time for writing and reading every day. Now living rurally in the Cotswolds with Wifey and their little Norse Goddess Freya, He's inspired daily by the views they have and the things they see, from the deer in the fields to the buzzards circling overhead.

Writing is a huge part of his life and the medieval re-enactment background and tabletop gaming lend to it; when he's not writing the genre, he's either reading or playing it. He plans to keep writing, both within his current series, and those to come, whether short stories or epic tomes





Blair MacGregor writes fantasy—adventurous, epic, and dark. Her debut novel Sword and Chant was included in the first Indie Fantasy Bundle through StoryBundle, and her more recent novel Sand of Bone was included in the 2015 Fantasy Bundle. Her short fiction has appeared in Cicada and Writers of the Future. She is a graduate of Viable Paradise and a member of SFWA.

She also teaches and speaks on a variety of topics—education, wellness, failure and resilience—for audiences ranging from a double-handful to a couple thousand. In years past, she acted and worked in thirteen Shakespearean productions, spent a dozen years teaching martial arts while homeschooling her son, and once learned how to drive a combine from an Amish man who couldn't drive it himself. In between all that, Blair hikes and camps, grows organic produce, and indulges in the occasional ziplining excursion. She loves traveling to places both wild and domesticated. She currently lives in Colorado with her one son and two goofy dogs.


Order Sins Of A Sovereignty HERE


Plague Jack is a pseudonymous author who dislikes writing writer bios. Plague Jack loves Gorillas, comic books, rock climbing and conventions. He currently is writing two different series. 


NOTE: Be sure to catch part II tomorrow. "Someone's wrong on the internet" art courtesy of Louise Wei and Dave Hodgkinson.



Tuesday, April 19, 2016

GIVEAWAY: Win a Copy of The House of Daniel by Harry Turtledove





To celebrate Harry Turtledove's guest blog post at Fantasy Book Critic we have one copy of his new book The House of Daniel to giveaway!

Don't forget to stop by his guest blog post to learn more about his new book and to see what he has to say. The guest blog can be found here.

A huge thank you to Tor for supplying the book for giveaway. 

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GIVEAWAY RULES: 


1. This giveaway is open to the US only.

2. Only 1 entry per person please. Multiple entries will be deleted

3. Contest starts March 19, 2016 at 12:01 p.m. and runs until March 27, 2016 at 12:01 a.m. Entries after the contest deadline will be deleted.

4. To enter please send an email to FBCgiveaway@gmail.com with the subject line "HOUSE OF DANIEL". Please include your name, snail mail address, and email address.

5. Winners will be randomly chosen and emailed about their winnings at the end of the contest

6. Upon completion of the contest and winners chosen, all entries will be deleted.Information provided for this giveaway will only be used for the purpose of this giveaway.

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