Dear Reader…

Have you read Ascension Point? You have!? That’s great! I wrote you this letter…

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Dear Reader:

Thank you so much for buying a copy of my debut novel, Ascension Point. I hope you enjoyed it. If you were here, I’d high-five you, and then we’d have a beer. Maybe a snack. I’ve got some nice cheese in the fridge.

I’m writing to you today to ask for your help in addressing a shocking issue that’s afflicting one in every one science fiction authors in my immediate area: Ascension Point‘s chronic shortage of Amazon.com customer reviews.

As you may or may not be aware, Amazon.com reviews have comparable value to these items:

  • Uncut diamonds
  • Gold dust
  • Enriched plutonium

While Ascension Point has sold well, and received a small number of (very positive) reviews, my in-depth calculations regarding its sale-to-customer-review ratio have determined that this many readers go on to leave a review:

11 / 500 = HARDLY ANY

This debilitating shortage of customer reviews is the leading cause of at least one of the following conditions:

  • Global warming
  • The rise of militant fundamentalism
  • Teen obesity
  • Me not being able to run a BookBub promotion

But it’s not too late. With your help, we can address at least one of these issues. (Probably the last one.) It only takes a minute, and costs you ZERO DOLLARS.

That’s right.

ZERO DOLLARS.

(Although while you’re there, if you decided to buy a copy of Venus Rising as well, that’d be cool.)

Here are some examples of the reviews that could go a long way to addressing this terrible problem.

‘Ascension Point was a super-fun read. Dan Harris is clearly the new Joe Haldeman, except with less scientific rigour or Vietnam War allegory.’ *****

Or:

‘Even though I bought Ascension Point in ebook format, I made the effort to find a way to print it out in its entirety, just so I could shred it and use it as bedding for my seventeen diarrhea-afflicted guinea pigs. That’s how bad it is. But then the author asked me to leave a review, so here I am.’ *

Or even:

‘Meh.’ ***

You see how easy it is? Even one word, and a pseudo-random selection of a value from one to five counts as a review!

That’s all I ask. Help me help you help me, and together we can guarantee that I’ll write another post exactly like this next year. You can leave a review here.

Thank you.

Dan Harris

You Cured the Patient but the Patient Died

“Look at Amazon’s costs in taking a manuscript from an indie author (or a publisher) and putting it up for sale. Amazon receives an ebook file together with metadata (book description, author, key words, etc.), has someone in India look at the result for 10 minutes, then lists the book for sale. Amazon’s customers decide whether the book sells well or not. Computer algorithms watch sales, generate sales ranks and promote books that look promising via emails and more prominent placement on the website..

Compare the costs of Amazon’s model with the costs involved for a traditional publisher with acquisition editors, internal meetings to decide whether to take the book and how much to pay, contract negotiation (minimal, but still a time cost), internal editing, cover design, meetings with sales and marketing, printing costs, sales pitches to bookstore buyers, shipping costs for physical books, etc., etc. For major publishers, all the people are receiving Manhattan salaries and sitting in offices rented at Manhattan prices.”

From You Cured the Patient but the Patient Died at The Passive Voice. Truer words, etc.

Kris Rusch on ‘The Stages of an Indie Writer’

This one’s for writers, and anyone interested in the publishing industry.

Over at The Business Rush Kris has written a great essay on the different stages she’s seen traditionally published authors go through on their journey from ‘how it used to be’ to the brave new world of indie publishing. It’s fascinating stuff, though I can’t personally comment on the accuracy: I jumped straight in at stage twelve!

“The emotions are actually predictable, although we all go through these stages at our own speed, and in our own ways. Some people get stuck in one of the stages and might never emerge from it. Others blow through a few of the stages and wonder why friends can’t do the same. We all find something that stops us for a while, though, and we all have to find our own way through them….

8. Fear (Indie Publishing Version 1)

They don’t know how to indie publish anything. Designing a book is hard, finding a cover is hard, uploading to e-book services is hard. Or, at least, it all looks hard.

Then the writer tries a few things. Yeah, there’s a learning curve, but she has had learning curves in the past. That’s what she did with her writing. She learned. She’s done this before. She can do it again.

She decides to try.”

Iain Banks: The Final Interview

Over at The Guardian today. Includes what I’m sure will go down as one of his most famous quotes:

“I can understand that people want to feel special and important and so on, but that self-obsession seems a bit pathetic somehow. Not being able to accept that you’re just this collection of cells, intelligent to whatever degree, capable of feeling emotion to whatever degree, for a limited amount of time and so on, on this tiny little rock orbiting this not particularly important sun in one of just 400m galaxies, and whatever other levels of reality there might be via something like brane-theory [of multiple dimensions] … really, it’s not about you. It’s what religion does with this drive for acknowledgement of self-importance that really gets up my nose. ‘Yeah, yeah, your individual consciousness is so important to the universe that it must be preserved at all costs’ – oh, please. Do try to get a grip of something other than your self-obsession. How Californian. The idea that at all costs, no matter what, it always has to be all about you. Well, I think not.”

Perfect. ‘How Californian’ indeed. There’s also a great quote that’ll get the more militant indie author/publishers’ backs up:

“I think my poetry’s great but then I would, wouldn’t I? But whether any respectable publisher will think so, that’s another matter. I’ll self-publish if I have to; sometimes I have no shame.”

Ha ha. And finally:

“…it wasn’t that Iain was still Iain, despite an illness that was as unexpected as it was tragic. It’s that in his last days he was more witty, more impassioned, more imaginative, more kindly, more caustic and even cleverer, as if concentrating and distilling the best of himself into the small time he had left. It was humbling to have been there.”

(Thanks to Steve Hall for the link.)

So I’m Not Writing Much at the Moment

In case you were wondering. I do have a complete outline of my next book, the third in The Unity Sequence, and I’ve drafted the first four chapters. But a combination of the tendinitis in my left wrist flaring up a few weeks back, and the fact that Mrs. Dan and I preparing to relocate from Brazil to the US at the start of July–with all of the visa getting, flight planning, and shipping organising that this entails–has meant I haven’t put any words to digital paper in the last few weeks.

Not pictured: Me grimacing.

But never fear. I’m still confident I can get a first draft done by about October, and edits complete ready for publication before the end of the year. That’ll keep me on the two-books-a-year plan which should make me rich and famous by about 2024.

It’s good to have attainable goals.

Links Ahoy! Time Lords, Green Lanterns, Super-Humans and Superman

Over at The Wertzone there’s a stunningly in-depth history of The Time Lords, which is a fascinating read for anyone even remotely interested in Doctor Who. (I’ve never followed the show myself, shamefully. I’m just waiting for it to end so I can watch all the DVDs in one go.)

io9 have a funny article on why the Green Lanterns are the worst.

“For almost the entirety of the Green Lantern Corps existence, they have had one weakness — the color yellow. There was an impurity in the giant Green Lantern that powers their rings, so any time the Lanterns tried to manipulate or fight anything colored yellow, they’d be weakened or possibly even completely ineffective.”

Nice one.

While we’re there, check out this piece on augmented human intelligence.

“The real objective of IA is to create super-Einsteins, persons qualitatively smarter than any human being that has ever lived. There will be a number of steps on the way there. The first step will be to create a direct neural link to information. Think of it as a “telepathic Google.”

And there’s a NEW MAN OF STEEL TRAILER OH MY GOD I NEED TO CALM DOWN.

KNEEL BEFORE ZOD! He’d better say that in the movie at some point.

(I also can’t get used to Michael Shannon as General Zod, seeing as me and Mrs. Dan are currently watching Season 3 of Boardwalk Empire where he plays the tightly-buttoned ex-prohibition officer whose life has fallen apart. Check it out.)

Finally, Tor.com asks ‘Is There A New New Wave of Science Fiction, And Do We Need One Anyway?’.

Happy reading.

Author Interview – Dan Harris : Part 1

Last week I was interviewed by Tim Flanagan, a fellow SF author and an indie publishing enthusiast. Tim likes to share the stories of other indie authors on his very popular blog, and I was delighted to be featured. Check out this installment for my thoughts on the writing process. Parts two and three will be out later this week.

TIM FLANAGAN

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWithin the Indie Author Hub, you can learn about other authors, their thoughts and opinions, what makes them tick and how their writing process works for them.

All this week I will be releasing segments of an interview I conducted with fellow author, Dan Harris, an inspirational Sci-Fi writer. Have a look at his profile and books here.

Part 1 : Dan’s Writing Process

What inspired you to become an author? I’m honestly not sure. I’ve been devouring books since I was about four years old, and writing stories on and off since I was twelve. But it was another fifteen years before I said to myself ‘look, you’ve got no excuse for just talking about writing a novel, instead of actually writing one’. Which did the trick, as I sat myself down and, over the course of a year, banged out Ascension Point. If I wasn’t an author I…

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Indie, Trad, Hybrid: An Impartial Look from Chuck Wendig

There’s been a lot of noise in the internet’s publishing circles over the last few weeks, with the always spirited ‘indie vs. trad’ debate reaching even higher than normal levels of shrieking and hair-pulling on both sides of the aisle. I’ve been pondering a post on the topic, the thrust of which would be this:

Neither indie nor traditional publishing is necessarily right for every author, so every author needs to weigh the options objectively before deciding which way to go.

Happily, the always entertaining and informative Chuck Wendig has gone and written it for me. In this post, he breaks down, item by item, the pros and cons of both traditional and self-publishing, with the calm objectivity of a writer who has done both successfully, and typifies the new breed of ‘hybrid’ author.

Any writer who wants to publish fiction at any point in the future, whether you’re a first-timer or have already published, whether you think you’ve already decided which way to go or not: this is worth reading.

Neil Gaiman: “It’s Time To Be Dandelions”

I’ve already lauded the speechifying of Amanda Palmer on this site. Her husband, the wildly talented Neil Gaiman, gave the keynote address at the London Book Fair/Digital Minds Conference. It was something special.

“I worry that too many of us, like the man in my calendar anecdote at the beginning, are certain that if only we can get 1993 to come back again, we’ll clean up; if we hold our breath and close our eyes and guard the gates with bigger and more dangerous weapons that time will turn backwards and it will be yesterday once again–and we all knew what the rules were yesterday. The rules of publishing were simple: authors, agents, books. Incredibly long lunches. That was publishing. It’s not any more. These days the gates being guarded are gates where there are fewer and fewer actual walls.”

New Release: Venus Rising is Out Now!

It’s been edited, re-edited, and polished until shiny, and now Venus Rising–the second book in The Unity Sequence, and the follow up to the occasionally critically acclaimed Ascension Point–is available from all good online bookstores. Here’s the blurb:

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A year has passed since the events of ASCENSION POINT, and the galaxy shifts uncomfortably as the opposing forces of progress and tradition threaten the new and fragile peace. Titan society teeters on the brink of civil war, the Commonwealth bristles with hostility towards the returning Seryn, while the Collective remains silent in the spaces between the stars, watching. And waiting.

VR-smallAgainst this backdrop of turmoil and unrest, the Peacetrooper brother of Commonwealth Senator Neela Kane has gone missing. Intelligence places him on Karak, an Independent desert world, and Operative Dante Zo is dispatched to bring him home—or confirm his demise. Quinn, employee of the shadowy Seryn Agency, is also headed to Karak, where rumours abound of a fierce and sudden tribal war centred on a mysterious woman with uncanny power: Venus, the Seryn’s most dangerous rogue agent.

Meanwhile, on Karak itself, other forces bring their pieces into play. Tasha, a young but mercurial assassin, is unleashed to kill the foreign witch and bring peace back to her home. But with a renegade Titan mercenary at her side, Venus will let nothing stand in the way of her plan—and the conquest of Karak is just the beginning. With a world in the firing line, and the fate of the entire galaxy at stake, only one question remains:

In the name of duty, is there anything that can’t be sacrificed?

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I’m also delighted to be able to say that, like its predecessor, Venus Rising has been awarded ‘Outstanding in Genre’ status by Red Adept Select.

It’s available from Amazon.com in Kindle and paperback, and from Amazon.co.uk (Kindlepaperback). Those of you with other e-readers or iDevices can grab it from KoboBarnes and Noble or iTunes.

Thanks to all who’ve followed me on another journey from vague idea to publication–and happy reading!