Spilled Blood - video trailer

Monday, 24 December 2012

Happy Christmas Holidays...with a couple of FWB Freebies

Just a quick note to wish all our followers, supporters and readers a really good one. Chaz is still fighting off a badly-timed dose of seasonal 'flu but hopes he'll be feeling better in time for the big day.

He's also been holding back a couple of Amazon KDP Promotion freebies, and is now offering the Sword and the Ring Kindle book alongside the whole new, revamped and illustrated edition of the first part of the Wish and the Will: Sundancer's Regret. It seemed that readers enjoyed the first episode but the idea of an ongoing serial, in classic Victorian/Dickensian style, was one that few readers bought into. Well, it was an experiment, and you never know how these things will go until you try. So rather than releasing 'Sundancer's Regret' piecemeal over 4-5 individual episodes, we thought we'd try it in just two parts (since it is rather a mammoth tome - and the latter half of the book is still in production, but ought to see daylight in the first half of next year).

This edition also features new design and illustration work from Mr. Frang McHardy, which was originally commissioned for the possible full-colour print edition:

In any case, 'Sundancer's Regret' and 'Sword and the Ring' will be available free from the 25th - 27th December, all inclusive.

Have a good one!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Angels and Demons

Angel of Vengeance has only been up on Smashwords a few days, and already it's found another enthusiastic fan. There seems to be something about the creepy, sarcastic little demon Bosch that people find appealing, and he's certainly been one of our most popular characters to date.

We'd been wondering whether or not to run with a sequel given the very open-ended conclusion of the first book. But such encouragement is almost impossible to ignore, so once we've gathered together all the sketchy notes and ideas that are floating around, we'll see what we can do get another title in the supernatural series out there.

Short novels and even short stories of under 10,000 words seem fairly common on Smashwords (not so sure about Amazon KDP, since they don't usually bother to provide word or page counts) and we already have another short-ish piece in production - more details on that later. It'll be interesting to find out if there is a future in quick, decent little stories. Malaria 9 has already proved that a decent full-length novel need not take years, and so the FWB catalogue may be set to expand considerably in the near future.

The other advantage is that should a book fail to take off with readers, then it hasn't required a colossal investment in time and effort, with correspondingly big disappointment at the end of it all. So far, the expansion on to the Smashwords platform is looking like a good move.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Amazon KDP v Smashwords

Well, we've spent a few weeks now configuring, adjusting and re-editing books to accommodate Smashwords' rather severe content guidelines, but has it been worth it in contrast to the more easygoing Amazon KDP requirements?

In a word, yes.

As hinted at in an earlier post, Smashwords not only care about the quality of the formatted material they allow users to submit, they also provide their own guidelines and help documents, with unambiguous information and helpful tips to correct editing which actually work. My guess is that once you've been through the SW grinder a couple of times and finally gotten a book approved for their .epub distribution, you'll know pretty much every possible formatting and layout mistake that you could ever make, and how to fix it, in the unlikely event you ever make it again in future. It's a learning curve, this digital formatting business, but one that's definitely well worth pursuing (at least until these platforms are able to provide full PDF document support, which may never come). SW's user stats and tools are infinitely superior to KDP's basic weekly and monthly reports, with daily graphs and all the cool, helpful info you could ever want.

In any case, Maranatha has now joined Malaria 9 in our growing SW catalogue, under its original ebook ISBN which was assigned to it under Amazon's KDP but which Amazon never seemed bothered about listing.

In other news, I'm not sure if it's simply due to the 'adult content' filter being turned on under our profile (so that we can actually view our own books, which, while hardly being 'over the top', were never designed to be kiddie-friendly), but there seems to be a heck of a lot of seriously gross-out porn freely available on SW. Perhaps it's just because there's an awful lot of it, but it's a slightly disturbing trend nonetheless, and not something I particularly like my own material to be associated with (although there's no accounting for potential buyers' browsing habits). I'm no prude and am pretty open-minded when it comes to adult material, but some of the titles alone in the viewers' and purchasers' lists makes me want to squirm. Well, as I always say: if you don't like it, don't look at it. I don't, so I won't, and that's all we have to say about that.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Pow! Kablam! 'Malaria 9' hits Smashwords!

Well it took a bit of doing, but we finally succeeded in enrolling 'Malaria 9' in the Smashwords roster. Not only that, but with some effort and editing we got it approved for the Premium distribution as well.

Last week, I found my list of old ISBNs from back in the Lulu.com days, when printing on nasty old-fashioned paper still seemed the way to go, so thought I might as well use one in this little experiment (as ISBNs are required for entry in the SW Premium catalogue). A new platform to explore, one (I hope) without the hang-ups of Amazon KDP. So as it turned out, the huge Smashwords style guide wasn't such a nightmare, after all. Much of it is just common sense that any fule kno. The rest is simply fine-tuning for the SW platform.

Which is something that got me thinking the other night: namely, that Smashwords really give a damn about the content that is put out on their servers by writers. And Amazon don't. The question is, should Amazon care, or just leave it up to readers to write lousy reviews of works that haven't smelled a spellchecker or even know what 'formatting' means? Since I've seen wholly negative reviews posted that focused purely on such matters, many writers are doing themselves a great disservice by publishing such technically inferior works. It surely can't be doing the KDP platform much good either in the long term. But Amazon could also do their bit to address some of the negative publicity that so often sticks to self-pubbers and indie writers, and perhaps rescue some of their sinking reputation at this troubled time.

In any case, it'll be quite exciting to have a new book out in the global catalogues again - it's been almost exactly four years to the day since A Surfeit of Mandrake was published. How time flies...I guess that means we've been having fun!

Monday, 3 December 2012

'Kindlegate: Or, A Veritable Can of Worms'

Well who would have imagined that a thoughtful buddy dropping me a link to someone's indie publishing blog about Amazon's KDP shenanigans could have opened my eyes quite so widely!

After Sandra took the time to comment on our latest blog post on this subject, I checked out the link in her post for more details. A storm is brewing heavily, it seems, in the indie/SP community - a storm of which I've been completely unaware until now.

And all this so hot on the heels of an earlier post here singing the praises of the KDP platform and its ease of use. No, I've not done a complete U-turn, and I'm not going to dump Amazon, write them nasty steaming hatemail and ask them if they know where Dick M. Nixon kept his smoking gun.

Glitches and technical problems happen to the biggest and the best. I've worked in business tech support for ten years and read the global IT news daily, and it's true: things can fall over, blow up, fail, fall apart. Unfortunately this also means it's easier than ever for dodgy dealings to be passed off as being the fault of a wayward stream of electrons or a flaky web server, rather than a deliberate or underhand attempt at obfuscation or deceit. So I'm not going to say too much on the matter of what Amazon may or may not be doing behind the scenes, although I do agree that their copy-and-paste responses reek of corporate "tell the customer this..." BS. I should know, I've written plenty of it over the years, and copied and pasted enough of it too. In the corporate world, half-truths are stock in trade. And then there's lies, damn lies, and statistics. And as far as the statistics go that Amazon KDP have offered us, I've always taken them with a pinch of salt since Day One anyway.

The problem is, since Nixon redefined the word 'gate' as a perjorative suffix dripping with high-level conspiracy and cover-up, nobody can ever really be truly shocked or surprised about anything anymore. So I'll be watching that KDP space very closely indeed. I do hope it's not as bad as it could turn out to be - an awful lot of people's livelihoods and incomes are at stake if such is the case, people who have far more invested in words than I do - and with any luck, the truth will out sooner, rather than later.

Underground British Metal for Discerning Listeners

Underground British Metal for Discerning Listeners
Because Chaz is a fan of these guys and their music. Help support the British metal music scene!

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'Sword and the Ring' Book 1

'Sword and the Ring' Book 1
Now Available...in print, or in Kindle format

'Sword and the Ring' Part 1 Book Trailer

'Malaria 9' Book Trailer

"Maranatha" video trailer - for the new 2nd edition

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