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.

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.”

Les meilleures ventes en Space Operas

Ascension Point has stormed into the top ten of the Amazon.fr English-language Space Opera bestsellers’ list, and is rubbing shoulders with Iain M. Banks’ Hydrogen Sonata and Orson Scott Card’s Enders’ Game!

frtopten

 

(And a novel called WARPAINT, which I’ve not heard of before, but find oddly compelling for some reason.)

And what glut of sales do I have to thank for this new-found popularity, I hear you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.

I sold one copy.

In five months.

So… I guess they’re not reading a lot of English space opera in France.

Edit The Second One, Sell The First One: Rinse, Repeat, Profit

Bit of a status update, this post. My wonderful editor–Misti from RedAdept–finished her initial edit of Venus Rising at the end of last week, and we had our edit kickoff call this Tuesday. Some of you might remember this post from the same point during the writing of Ascension Point. Highlights included an hour and a half on the phone to talk through all of the things that needed fixing, and a mammoth 619 comments from Misti on my first draft, as well as all of the inline edits she’d suggested. This time?

Twenty five minutes on the phone. 90 comments on the draft. (Fewer than on the first chapter alone of that draft of Ascension Point.)

So, yeah–it certainly seems like I’m improving as a writer. Hurrah! I’d thought so, but it’s nice to have something approaching quantitative evidence.

Anyway. Lovely wife is away at a conference this week, giving me a certain amount of spare time to fill. There are only so many back episodes of Chuck that I can watch in one evening, so I spent quite a lot of time on my edits, and sent Misti a new draft last night. It’s looking really good, and I’m confident the final draft of Venus Rising that I release in April is going to be great. Exciting times!

In other news (the ‘sell the first one’ part of the headline) today Ascension Point is Ereader News Today’s Book of the Day. This is far and away the biggest promo I’ve ever done. Greg at ENT gets thousands of applicants in January for the 240 BotD slots available for the coming year, so I was thrilled that he deemed Ascension Point worthy of one.

It’s $150 for the promo, and as you’ll have seen from my post a couple of days back I chopped the ebook price down to $2.99 to make it even more enticing to the ENT subscribers. 75 sales will see me break even, which would be a lovely goal to achieve; mainly I’m after some word of mouth and a few more reviews. After eleven hours–and with folks on the west coast of the U.S. just now getting home from work and checking their email–I’ve sold 49 copies and the book’s Amazon rank has gone from 673,000 to 11,000, so it’s looking pretty promising!

I’ll post final numbers in a few days once the bump is over, for the interest of the more writerly readers out there.

G’night!

Should I Be Giving My Books Away?

Amanda Palmer–alt-rock music star and wife of fantastical writing genius Neil Gaiman–did a talk for TED on ‘The Art of Asking’. The synopsis from TED:

“Don’t make people pay for music, says Amanda Palmer: Let them. In a passionate talk that begins in her days as a street performer (drop a dollar in the hat for the Eight-Foot Bride!), she examines the new relationship between artist and fan.”

Amanda and her band famously used Kickstarter to fund production of their new album, asking fans to contribute a total of $100,000. They ended up with $1.2M, donated by only 25,000 people at an average of almost fifty dollars a piece. Astounding.

Unlike Amanda, I’d hesitate to call myself an artist–it seems a bit pretentious, for some reason–but watching this made me think, as the parallels between music and books are obvious. The digital indie publishing revolution has brought writers closer to their readers than ever before, tearing down the barriers and hurdles of finding agency and publisher representation, of shipping physical copies to a bookstore.

What’s to stop me posting a new novel here, on my website, available to anyone to download for free? With just a PayPal or Google Checkout button next to it with a message saying “If you enjoyed this book, you can help me out here. Thanks.”

Nothing. There are no barriers.

But should I do that? It’s early days in my writing career, but I have a certain amount of confidence that ten or twenty years or novels down the line I might be able to make enough from my current, standard indie pub model that I could make a living at it. (Industry changes permitting, of course.) And if I did make that living, why would I change?

Might doing so make me richer? Would some deep-pocketed fans happily download one of my books, and give me $20 in exchange? $50?

Would it make me more famous? Would I care if it did? Would I even like it if it did?

Would TED invite me to do a talk? (That would be cool.)

I don’t know the answer to any of these questions.

Writers, would you consider giving away your work and trusting in the generosity of strangers and fans to pay your bills? Why? Do you yearn for the emotional connection to fans that Amanda talked about?

Readers, would you donate before you read, or happily accept a freebie? Or maybe come back and chip in what you thought the story was worth once you’d read it? Or maybe you prefer the Amazon shopping experience with eight million books at your fingertips, rather than having to traipse over to every individual author’s website to pick up your latest read.

What are your thoughts, folks?

In The (SFF) News This Week…

A super-nerdy but awesome explanation of the Kardashev scale, which is ‘used to classify hypothetical alien civilizations according to the amount of energy at their disposal’.

‘This led him to speculate about a Type II civilization. For an [extraterrestrial intelligence] to reach K2, it would need to capture the entire energy output of its parent star. The best way to achieve this, of course, is to build a Dyson Sphere.

Conjured by Freeman Dyson in 1959, this hypothetical megastructure would envelope a star at a distance of 1 AU and cover an inconceivably large area of 2.72 x 1017 km2, which is around 600 million times the surface area of the Earth. The sun has an energy output of around 4 x 1026 Watts, of which most would be available to do useful work.’

As anyone who’s read Ascension Point knows, I’ve always been more of a Dyson Swarm kind of guy, but each to their own.

Next up, are you ready for season three of Game of Thrones? I know I am.

We should stop using nuclear weapons as a unit of measurement, says annoyed atomic historian.

“In general,” he added, “What I don’t like is … the idea that kiloton or a megaton is just an energy unit, that it’s equivalent to so many joules or something. Because you could do that. You could claim that your house runs so many tons of TNT worth of electricity per year, but it sort of trivializes the notion.”

Also at The Atlantic, a spectacular NASA video of three simultaneous solar phenomena.

…a solar flare, a coronal mass ejection (CME), and coronal rain, “complex moving structures in association with changes in magnetic field lines that loop up into the sun’s atmosphere,” NASA explains.’

Finally, in Dan-specific news, Venus Rising goes to my editor on March 8th, which means it should be out in just a couple of months!