The final three novels in the Dominions series are now available for pre-order, at the special low price of 99c (or your local equivalent), from all the usual ebook stores.
Rodin has the contract under control, drawing the target in, ready for the removal. Not a simple job, but nothing too complicated.
But nothing happens in isolation, and Rodin has no idea how this contract will impact others—or himself.
Impact is a new release in the Dominions series, a set of four connected stories. It’s available from all the usual ebook stores, and is currently free*.
*If you come across a store charging for this book, please let me know (email@example.com) and I’ll sort out a free copy for you.
One of the great things about publishing independently is having control over pricing. I’ve run promotions for books before, and have experimented with free (all my short stories and novellas in my Dominions series are still free—click here to check them out). And now, until the end of the year, I’m trying something else.
I’m offering the first novel in each of my two series for only 99c (or your local equivalent). Both books are available from all the usual ebook retailers (if you can’t find it on your favourite, contact me and I’ll see what I can sort out). So if you want to start a new series for a bargain price, take a look at these two.
The start of a dark Dystopian thriller series.
A professional killer forced to take a contract in a perfect society—and becomes his own worst enemy.
The start of a sci-fi/horror trilogy.
The company trained Brice for many things. But nothing can prepare him for what he must face when the shadows fall.
…and for a couple of days you can get it for only 99c (or your local equivalent).
Shadows: The Complete Trilogy
What hides in the shadows?
It started with a routine mission, but when faulty tech and a worsening storm force Brice and the rest of the crew to abandon their craft, they have no idea they’ll become the prey for a group of blood-hungry beasts.
And this is only the start of their problems. These creatures have a terrible secret, one the company will do anything to keep in the dark—even if it means the deaths of Brice and his colleagues.
This set contains the complete trilogy of Shadowfall, Shadowsiege and Shadowstrike, horror-infused science fiction where the stakes grow as the nightmare deepens.
I’ve recently finished reading Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, and one of the things that impressed me was how, over three separate books, the story changes. The second and third books don’t only move the story on, but also peel back multiple layers from what is already known, leading the reader to continually reassess what they already know. On finishing Acceptance (book 2), I had a strong urge to start the series again, to see how much of the ‘truth’ was already there.
The writer part of me can’t help wondering how VanderMeer wrote these books. Did he have the whole trilogy mapped out, or did the layers of the story reveal themselves as he worked on each book? Did he start Annihilation (book 1) with the idea of writing a single book and maybe seeing how things went after that, or was it a complete trilogy in his mind from the outset?
I’m thinking a lot about series at the moment as I’m currently working on the final three books in a nine-book series.
Normally, I work on books sequentially, only starting a book when the previous one is (almost) complete. I’ll have ideas for the whole series, and as I write one book I’ll be noting more detailed ideas for subsequent ones, but plans don’t always pan out—problems will become apparent as I write, or characters will do and say things that take the story in unexpected ways. While it’s possible to change a book in the process of writing it, changing previous books to fit in with these new developments is far more awkward.
I’m trying something different with this trilogy. The books need to work as stories on their own, but also be a satisfying close to the whole series story. I need to close all (or most) of the loops already opened, answering hanging question. But I also need to ensure that everything that happens in the concluding scenes has been adequately set up.
So I’m working on these new books simultaneously. I planned then all, and I’ve just had a very intense few months writing the first drafts for all three (385k words, well over 1000 pages). And already, I’ve stumbled on issues that I can now correct.
An example—I found a solution to a particular problem in the final act of the last book, but it relied on a character using a specific skill. This was something that fitted the character, but not something I’d mentioned in other books. If I used this skill with no set-up, it would feel like a deus-ex-machina, a ‘get out of jail free’ card. But now, I can seed this skill earlier, so its use at the end doesn’t come out of the blue.
Another example—there was a whole sequence of scenes I wrote in the third book that, on reflection, added too much confusion in that book, and were far more suited to being included in the book before. Not a problem—drag those scenes into the second book’s file, and insert them wherever appropriate.
Of course, there are problems with this way of working. If I’d concentrated on the first book, it would probably be getting close to completion by now, ready for release by the end of the year. But I won’t be able to release any of these books until well into 2021.
There’s compromise in everything, though, and on balance this new method seems to be working better for me—I’m crafting better stories, both individually and as a series, which is my primary concern here. It’s allowing me to more fully immerse myself in the overall story too. In fact, I fully intend to work in this way with the next series I start.
Writing’s never static—there’s always more to learn, different strategies and tactics to explore—so I’m sure my process will change again.
It’s only taken a few years, but I finally have paperback versions of my Dominions books available from Amazon.
Hitting ‘publish’ on an ebook and seeing it appear in various stores is a great feeling, but there’s something even more satisfying in actually holding a physical copy of that book. I’m really pleased with how these books turned out, and from now on I’ll aim to have both physical and digital versions of new books available at the same time.
And if you’re interested in the paperback Dominions books, the links to these books are as follows:
The world is constantly changing, and any business that doesn’t adapt is liable to fail. Change is often gradual, or is sudden in one particular area, so there’s a cushion of normalcy within which to plan.
The current pandemic has thrown that on its head. The changes brought about by lockdowns have been both sudden and far-reaching, and businesses are struggling. Many have already gone under. And even those businesses that are doing well are struggling to cope with increased workload or increased demand—supermarkets have run low on stock, and have had to employ more staff to cope with demand, for example.
One industry that has so far weathered current events well is independent publishing. These businesses are usually run by a single person (the writer of the books they publish), and make the majority of their sales on-line in digital format. In fact, many indie publishers have reported a rise in sales over the last few months.
But over publishing and bookselling overall, the picture is different. Production of physical books has been delayed by the slow-down in manufacturing, and there have not been high-street stores open to sell the books anyway. Even as bookstores open up in the UK, people are reticent about using them like they once did—how does someone browse books when there’s the risk of passing on infection through touching the books themselves?
So what does the future look like for publishers and bookstores for the rest of the year? It’s impossible to say with any certainty, but for each company or business I see four possibilities.
(I’m ignoring libraries in this because they are about so much more than books—maybe that’s a subject for another day)
Some will fall
This, sadly, is inevitable. Some stores and publishers will close their doors for good, and others will be bought out. This will, of course, impact staff, as well as contractors and clients.
Some will manage to carry on as if nothing has happened
Through extensive financial backing or incredibly loyal customers, a handful of stores and publishers might weather the storm relatively unscathed, and continue as they have done previously. But this will be a very small minority, and I don’t think any store or publisher should bank on this happening to them—they probably have more chance of winning the lottery.
Some will adapt
I hope this will be true of the majority of publishing-related businesses. Those who are relatively new won’t be set in their ways, and so will be more agile, more flexible in their approach to the difficulties Covid-19 has thrown up. Older companies will have been through other periods of change, and so have experience to work with. They may also have deeper pockets and more resources.
But how will they adapt?
Independent bookstores have been adapting for years—offering more personal services (like events, or providing social activities around the books they sell) and becoming specialists in particular niches. Interestingly, Waterstones did something similar when James Daunt took over—he gave each store greater independence, encouraging staff to order in the stock they believed those in their area would want. Instead of each store becoming carbon-copies of one another, they became more local, encouraging greater customer loyalty as the stores provided what their customers most wanted. And as consumers return to physical stores, many are going to want to help those stores they have an attachment to—local stores, or ones that offer exactly what the customer wants.
And then there’s the whole digital sphere. Daunt has recently taken over Barnes & Noble, and he’s spoken of reviving the Nook (the B&N e-reader and e-book store). I wouldn’t be surprised if other stores (and publishers?) entered deals with e-book stores, similar to the deal between Walmart and Kobo. Also, I’d expect them to focus more on their own on-line platforms for physical sales.
Amazon showed how this could work, in their physical stores. I’ve written before how their stores work not so much as somewhere to buy but somewhere to browse, with staff ready to help customers make online purchases, either physical copies shipped to their doors or digital copies they can read on their Kindles or mobiles. So it isn’t too much of a stretch to imagine other places doing something similar, even if it’s only through encouraging customers to order physical copies. They might even stress the benefits of this—a sealed copy that hasn’t been touched by countless other browsers, home-delivered.
Then there are audio-books. They’ve come a long way from bulky tapes or CDs, and mobile technology (and smart speakers) makes listening to audiobooks so easy. Audiobook sales have risen drastically over the last few years, and I’d imagine publishers pushing more of this content. If bookstores work in conjunction with on-line providers, they could move into this field too.
Some will introduce radically new ways of working.
Restrictions have always given the possibility of innovation. Many artists prefer restrictions to having an ‘anything goes’ approach. Similarly, tough times often result in huge leaps forward.
While many will seek ways to mould their old ways of working to fit the new normal, others will take this time as an opportunity to try wild new ideas. It’s likely that not many of these ideas will work out in the long term, but those that do could be game-changing.
I can’t give firm examples, of course, but I can throw out a few possibilities. As virtual reality technology improves, maybe we’ll soon be shopping in virtual stores, ‘walking’ around the shelves and ‘picking up’ those books that interest us. Subscription services for TV, film and music are expanding, so maybe we’ll see more book-based subscription services. Then there’s print-on-demand—the Espresso Book Machine already allows in-store printing, but what if this technology improved, with both cost and size coming down? Or how about the trend in high-quality print editions—will we see an increase in books as art-works of themselves, secondary to the words inside?
Who knows what will happen? But something will. It’s likely that a few radically new ideas will develop and eventually take hold. Just think of e-books. Their history stretches back to the 70s, and the first dedicated e-reader only came out at the end of the 90s, but their importance in publishing today is undeniable.
And, like e-books, these new ideas will inevitably disrupt the status quo. They will throw up huge challenges for publishing and book-selling.
But that’s fine. In fact, it’s good. Change is inevitable. It’s through change that industry, business and art grow and develop. Without change there is only stagnation.
This fantasy and science-fiction giveaway has over 150 free books, covering all kinds of science fiction and fantasy, in all kinds of lengths (short stories, novellas, samplers, full novels, even multi-book collections). But it’s only running until the 15th of this month, so you only have a couple more days to discover your next favourite writer.
(Oh, and I’ve got a couple of books in it too.)
Click here before Monday to see the full list of books, and download some free reading for the summer. We might not be able to physically travel that much at the moment, but with these books we can go to places we’ve never even imagined.
No new short story this week (sorry), but I do have a few things I’d like to mention.
The short stories and novellas in my Dominions series are free on all platforms (click here to see details). They’ve garnered more interest than I expected, so I’ll keep them free for a while longer.
I’m also thinking of changing things with the rest of the series. Ebook sales and downloads are constantly changing—what garnered decent sales a year ago won’t necessarily be as effective today. There’s no ‘set it and forget it’ method of ebook sales, and I have to consider different strategies and tactics. I have to be willing to change, and to experiment with new ideas.
I don’t want to set all my books to free (it would be nice to at least recoup costs!), but free is powerful. I’m reminded of that at the moment through the pleasing number of downloads of the two titles I have in the Fantasy & Sci-Fi Giveaway on BookFunnel. And this giveaway is still on, with over 150 titles. For a complete list of the books, click here.
And now, I need to get back to the first draft I’m in. I’ve almost finished—and then I’ll have time to work on a couple of short stories (before planning the next book, and editing the new one, and everything else that needs doing!)
I think I might have to download some of those free books and escape into someone else’s story for a while.