Jul 22, 2014

Sales at Your Book Launch

With the launch of Memory War less than seven weeks away, I wanted to talk about something which every author needs to consider: Sales.

Whatever your feelings on the romantic idea of the author, toiling away on their novel, or the relationship between art and business, the fact is that authors these days need a keen business mind, particularly when it comes to the big events like the release of your latest book. You can't sit back and assume the book will sell itself; you've got to get out there, find your target audience, and spread awareness of your product.

Now, a book launch, alone, will never be a huge money-maker. Unless you're one of the top-name authors in the business (in which case, you don't need my advice, and could I have an endorsement, please?), your book launch really is there primarily to help you celebrate the achievement of getting that book out there. The secondary goals are to spread awareness of the book and hopefully sell enough copies to either convince the bookstore to stock copies afterwards, or (if you're having it somewhere else) to pay for the costs of actually getting the event arranged to begin with.

This advice might at first seem to not be relevant to those who have their launches in a bookstore, but some stores might have difficulty ordering stock themselves, and might ask you to provide the books on the night, and arrange a rate at which they'll sell them.

Remember that while you're there to have fun and enjoy that lovely giddy feeling you get as people walk around with your book in their hands, you also have to pay your bill.

The big money comes from two things: (A) venue hire, and (B) books.

This year I'm happy to say that the Trinity Bar has offered me space at no cost, so I just have to worry about providing some food and ordering books to sell.

My advice to anyone providing books for their launch themselves is to take pre-orders, and as much as possible, only order copies that you've already been paid for. There's a horrible, sinking feeling that comes from looking at your sales and realising you don't have enough to pay back your supplier. Plus it turns the launch into a guessing game where you try and work out who'll come and how many copies they'll buy, and work out how much stock to order so you have enough to sell to everyone.

Avoid the hassle altogether and just offer pre-orders. If you've got some cash spare, it can be nice to have some extra copies on hand to sell to people who might show up without having RSVPed, or if anyone forgot to place their order, but you can always take more orders on the night, and avoid the stress of watching your cashbox for the moment you reach your break-even point.

That's what I'll be doing this year. I might have a couple of spare copies with me, since I get a few free from my publisher, but I'll only be ordering as many copies as are ordered, and for the rest I'll be taking orders on the day.

Jul 17, 2014

Choosing Gender

I thought I'd take a break from talking about Memory War today and discuss gender choice in writing. This has been a hot topic all year, what with debate over whether or not Dr Who should have female Doctor, how Ubisoft could have avoided the PR mess over the co-op avatars in Assassin's Creed: Unity, and most recently, Marvel's announcement that a woman will become the new Thor.

I remember talking about this with friends over the last few years as my writing career has slowly built up. One of the things I've come to think about lately is my earlier reasoning for choosing the gender of my characters.

I'll own up, way back when I was still figuring out how to get published and wondering what I could write, I had this misconstrued idea that there were too many women protagonists in the kinds of stories I liked. So I decided I was going to "even the odds" by making sure to write an urban fantasy with a male protagonist. Well, five years and a lot of new experience and research has told me that Younger Me was very, very naive.

Even so, I thought that I should still write male protagonists because "that's what I knew." I figured I could write a man better than I could write a woman. Now, bear in mind I was still perfectly happy to write plenty of female supporting characters, so I don't know what to think of myself there. Was I of the opinion it was okay to risk botching a supporting character like that, but not the protagonist? Of course, the idea of learning how to write a woman didn't cross my mind. What was my problem?

It was simple. I wasn't really considering the implications of my choice of characters. It wasn't that I was ignoring women, or pushing some MRA agenda. I just didn't realise that gender choice was an important part of the writing process. Because at the time, I wasn't exposing myself to the same range and variety of authors and bloggers I am today. I hadn't the feintest idea of the problems of female representation in entertainment.

So Nathan Shepherd wound up being a man. I'm not sorry I made this choice. And in fact, I still managed to play on the assumption of the male hero, because part of Nathan's journey in Locked Within, and part of how he become stronger and grows into a hero, lies in remembering his past life as Katherine O'Reilly. In essence, the hero gains strength from embracing the feminine side to himself.

I've heard, and (please forgive me) used the excuse of "I'll write a female protagonist if the story calls for it." Ugh. How come we never see anyone say I'll write a male protagonist if the story calls for it"? Because to many people, a white male hero is the default assumption.

Not that there's anything wrong with writing a book about a white man. While my Lady Raven series features a girl as the protagonist, I'm certainly going to keep writing books with men in the leading role. Because I enjoy writing male characters. I enjoy exploring platonic relationships between men and women (something I feel is seriously under-represented in fiction). But it won't be my default anymore. It'll be a choice, and I'll own it as a conscious decision in my creative process.

Everything that's in a book is the writer's choice. It hasn't been forced on them, and it certainly isn't the only way for the book to be. So authors should own their decisions. Write a male character, or a female one, or a transgender one. It's okay to write whatever the hell you like, so long as you're doing it because you've made that conscious choice, and you're not following a blind assumption that it somehow "should be" a certain way.

Jul 15, 2014

Entries Are Closing

Today's the last day to get your submissions in for the Memory Wars Casting Contest! I'll leave it until midnight tonight, GMT, to fully close off entries.

The lucky winner will have their chosen cast revealed on July 24th, and be the first to receive a signed copy of Memory War.

Jul 10, 2014


My wife and I are off to the wedding of one of our oldest friends today, so there won't be a proper blog post.

Instead, I'll remind everyone of everything that's going on as we get ever closer to the release of Memory War:

Book Launch - If you're in Dublin in September, RSVP to the launch party on the 6th, and help us celebrate the epic conclusion to the series.

Ask The Author - Stop by my Goodreads page and ask me anything you like!

TV Tropes - Check out the new Memory Wars Trilogy page on TV Tropes, and add some examples of your own.

Pre-Order - Order your copy of Memory War ahead of the launch, either from Amazon or directly from me.

Blog Tour - If you'd like to help promote the new book, sign up for the blog tour and host an article, interview, or review.

Casting Contest - The closing date of July 15th is almost here. Send in your dream cast for a Memory Wars movie series, and be in for a chance to win a signed copy of the third book.

Jul 8, 2014

Ask The Author

From now until the release of Memory War, I'll be answering your questions on Goodreads. Drop over and let me know what's on your mind, what you'd like to know about the previous books, what you can expect to see in the new one, and what my plans are once Nathan's story is finished.

Sign up on Goodreads and join the fun!

Jul 3, 2014

Writing Goals Update

In the midst of getting things ready for Memory War's release, I'm painfully aware that I have to keep focused on what's to come after the book is out. I have Lady Raven due out later in the year, but I have to keep writing so I've got stuff ready to come out in 2015.

To that end, I've set myself the goal of completing two novels by the end of February 2015. One of these will be the second Lady Raven book, while the other will be for traditional publishing.

Unfortunately, looking back at the number of book ideas I've talked about on this blog, and then let fall by the wayside, I think it's best if I keep the details of new series under wraps until I'm certain they're going somewhere. Fact is, most book ideas never get written, and I'm certainly no exception to this. Writing a book is hard, and takes a lot of commitment. Some ideas have to be let go, because your time might be better spent on a more solid concept, for now, instead of struggling through something that isn't working.

This isn't because I'm having trouble deciding what to write next. I swear. Why are you looking at me like that...?

I'd love to take a week off from work, and each day just write as much as I can for a different book, and by the end of the week see which idea looks the most promising.

So that's where things stand, as regards my future writing. Lots to consider, and I really need to decide what new series to write next. One thing is for sure, I do not want to repeat the stress I put myself through last year. 2013 was a rough year, writing-wise, and while I need to get my writing back on track, I can't afford to run myself into the ground like I've done in the past.

Don't forget, you can still sign up for the Memory War Blog Tour, and enter to win a signed copy of the book. If you'll be at the launch on September 6th, don't forget to pre-order your copy.

Jul 1, 2014

TV Tropes

TV Tropes is a wonderful, terrible thing. It's a fantastic tool for analyzing narrative structure and storytelling techniques, but it's a huge time-sink, and if you're not careful, you'll wind up losing hours of your day to it.

It also happens to be a handy place to let people know about new books, shows, and movies. Unlike Wikipedia, they have no rules or guidelines against creators adding their own work, so long as they accept that once a page is created or an example entered, the community can edit or remove it if they feel it's no longer relevant, or have comments of their own to make. It's kinda wonderful how it's grown so successful based just on a shared love of stories and how they're told.

I've added a page for The Memory Wars, with a hefty set of initial tropes that can be found in the series. I've refrained from going into any detail on Memory War there, at least until the book has been out long enough for people to read it, and any examples that might give away the plot of the series have been spoiler-tagged. Please take a look, and if there's any examples you'd like to add yourselves, create an account and share your thoughts!

Jun 25, 2014

Memory War Pre-Order

With just 10 weeks to go before the release of Memory War, I'm sure plenty of people will want to know how they can get their copy. For those of you who'll be attending the launch, or don't want to order from Amazon, you can order copies directly from me, if you wish.

Almost time...

The price per copy will be €13. I can arrange for free delivery in Ireland if you can't make it to the launch, but still want a signed copy. Outside of Ireland, I would have to charge an additional €5 for delivery.

All payment can be made via PayPal, and I'll just need your email address to send the invoice.

Please note that you'll need to pay the invoice in advance to secure a copy. I may have some spare books to hand at the launch, but I can only give a guarantee for prepaid copies.

You can place your order by email.

Jun 24, 2014

Sign up for the Memory War Blog Tour

It's that time again, when I need the help of bloggers to get the word out about my latest book. It's time to prepare for the Memory War Blog Tour!

Although Memory War is out on Kindle in August, the blog tour will be running in September, to coincide with the release of the print edition and the official launch party.

As this is the end of the series, expect to see the most revealing articles yet on how The Memory Wars came to be, what the series means to me, and where I'm going from here. There'll be music discussions, character profiles, excerpts, interviews, and revelations about the Memoryverse.

If you'd like to take part, post a message here, or get in touch with one of the following methods:

I'll get back as to you as soon as possible to arrange a date in September. All you have to do is let me know if you'd prefer to host an article, review, or interview, make sure it's up on your date, and let everybody know on the day.

Jun 17, 2014

Casting Contest - Enter to win a signed copy of Memory War

It's getting closer and closer to the release of Memory War, and to help celebrate I'm running a casting contest.

How will this work? Come up with a list of actors and actresses you would cast as the characters in the Memory Wars trilogy, if it were being made into a movie, and send them to me, wither with a brief explanation of why you think this would be a good cast, or a note to say which of their previous performances made you think of them for the part.

I'll select one of these cast lists and post it here. The winner will receive a signed copy of Memory War.

The closing date for submissions will be July 15th, and the winner will be announced on July 24th.