CORRUPTION is SO Hot Right Now

Well… that’s only half-true.

My Eastern Europe-based dark fantasy/post-apocalyptic/Wizard of Oz on three bottles of vodka novel Corruption, Book one of the Corruption Cycle, has had an admittedly small number of readers since it hit Amazon two months ago. Much smaller than my horror debut Lurkwhich seems to be selling better each month (especially on Audible). I never planned to make money writing books, and so the royalties I get from Lurk continue to be a pleasant surprise.

By comparison, Corruption doesn’t have a single review yet on Amazon, and none of the reviewers I reached out to before the book’s launch have gotten around to it yet. I have done exactly zero promotion for the book, which I know is not ideal. A few people have purchased it on Amazon or read it on KDP. But, so far, the book is still a complete unknown.

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What’s the deal with my crappy sales?

There are a few reasons for the book being slow to launch, and I’m not ignorant to them; it is my fault for not putting a bunch of money behind it to buy ad space and promotion stuff right when it came out, which is the typical strategy indie authors use to get a book off the ground. My approach to editing was iterative. Some of the early drafts I sent to my beta readers or interested friends/family were pretty rough, which I could’ve waited on. I also don’t think the first blurb I wrote was very good, and made the book sound kind of boring. So I did the sensible thing and rewrote it, and the new blurb is a vast, vast improvement.

The last thing, and this is smaller but still important… I didn’t do my due diligence in getting reviewers lined up before the launch. Group psychology is a real thing when it comes to book sales. Readers want the books they pick up to already be vetted by other readers, because books take a lot more work than other forms of entertainment to truly enjoy. The reviewers I reached out to were people whose opinions I trust for good or ill, but they are all pretty popular, which means their to-be-read piles are gargantuan.

Word of mouth is king. If nobody knows your book exists, they can’t talk about or recommend it, can they? This is the precisely the conundrum I found myself in with Corruption. I needed exposure, but I know my flaws, and the biggest one by far when it comes to writing stuff is that I am terrible at self-promotion.

So I entered the book into Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-off. 

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Dude, what the hell is the SPFBO?

The SPFBO is a contest held by best-selling grimdark author Mark Lawrence each year to shine a light on works by indie authors that fall under the umbrella of fantasy fiction that would otherwise go lost in the shit sluice that is book publishing in 2017. I don’t mean that every self-published book out there is shit. My books are both self-published (Lurk had a publisher, but they went under). No, “shit sluice” here only means that there are a ton of books out there – something like 1,000,000 e-books on Amazon alone – and getting yours noticed without the push of a big New York publisher behind you is near impossible without a fame-wave or mountains of disposable cash to ride on.

As far as exposure goes, the SPFBO is an indie author’s dream come true. Fantasy readers are voracious for new stuff to read, and the contest tends to filter for some truly awesome books. Authors who make it to the final round get a massive boost in eyeballs, if not sales, and it’s not just the fans who are watching. Josiah Bancroft, who wrote the Books of Babel, one of last year’s SPFBO finalists, just nailed down a book deal with a big New York publisher. How cool would that be? And he wasn’t the only one.

Anyway, the contest takes about a year to play out. But the initial feedback from the  reviewers is in, and Corruption made the top 12 covers in the contest… out of a pool of 300! Go go go little book. Of course, a great cover doesn’t mean a book is good or bad, but it is absolutely true that the cover is the first thing that sells the book. I’m extremely proud of how Corruption’s cover came out, and think my designer, J. Caleb Clark, knocked it out of the park, capturing the story perfectly in a simple, clean image that really stands out on the shelf.

Take a gander:

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Neat!

 

Plan of Attack Moving Forward: Do More Stuff

I’m planning to really start pushing Corruption end of summer/beginning of fall. I just don’t have time or funds to do it seriously before then, and my experience getting Lurk airborne has taught me that it’s better to do it right than right now. The audiobook is in production, though, and should be on Audible in the next two or three months. I’m already hard at work on the sequel, which is tentatively titled Virtue.

If you dig grimdark fantasy/portals/end of the world stuff/tales of drunken debauchery in foreign countires or all of the above, Corruption may be just the dark fantasy fix you need. A link to buy the book is at the beginning of this article. The ebook is $5 and paperbacks are $18.

You can read the first chapter for free here.

I Moved to Germany

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Actually, this is Denmark.

It’s been a crazy month, but I am here and slightly settled. New country, new city, new job. I wasn’t happy at my last job. It felt an awful lot like spinning my wheels. I don’t think anyone ever loves their day job unless or until their day job and their pipe dreams finally convene. But that one was a pretty bad fit.

So about a month ago I accepted an offer from a company in Germany that I had been talking to about writing games for back when I lived in Boston. I packed my bags, said goodbye to my LA homies and Jiu Jitsu friends, took a road trip up the California Coast with my beautiful girlfriend, even squeezed in a snowboarding trip to Lake Tahoe, and then I moved abroad… again. This was the second time for me moving to Europe for a long-term job. Counting shorter-term gigs, it is actually the fourth (or fifth…? Who knows).

Driving up the 1.

Big Sur coastline, home of a rare specie of alpha predator man-eating squirrel.
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She’s Heavenly.

Anyway, I flew out of SFO and stopped in Denmark for a day on the way over. Copenhagen is awesome. I walked around, ate a bunch of herring, had a drink by some boats, and overall felt Danish as fuck. Hamlet was Danish and that guy was a way more badass white dude than Iron Fist. I have not seen Iron Fist but I hear it has martial arts and Loras Tyrell is  straight now. Whatever.

Beautiful Copenhagen.
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Home of gender-neutral metal vikings.

And gargantuan gingerbread.

I got to Germany about two weeks ago. I am in a nice city in the south with a beautiful old town, and a lovely crystal-clear river flowing through the city center with white, stony beaches where I plan on swimming and reading books every day during summer. There are a few Brazilian Jiu Jitsu schools I need to get my ass over to check out, and most of all, many delis serving the dankest of small sandwiches.

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Great city for biking.
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Or walking.
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Or ordering spaghetti with a schnitzel.

My first impressions of the new job are decent. My co-workers are cool and there is beer in the fridge. My last job had beer too, but they kept it under lock and key until the monthly sanctioned company happy hours, because having fun at work is not allowed in America unless you work in porn. I have never worked in porn, so it’s refreshing.

And on the subject of beer, this is where the famed German efficiency truly shines. I went to a beer festival the first Friday I was here. Hundreds or maybe thousands of people in traditional clothing dancing and stomping on tables and smashing liters of strong beer together was what it looked like at 8:30PM. You don’t want to know about closing time.

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Put on your dirndl, we’re going to get turndl.

Anyway, there is no real point to this post other than to say hello and give a quick update on what I’m doing. My next book comes out in two weeks. Be sure to check it out.

Also gotta say I really missed kebabs.

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Picture credit Google.