The Curse Of The Second Novel


Mad Genius Club

I bring you bad news.  There is a curse on a second novel.  To be exact, there is a curse on a second PUBLISHED novel, no matter how many novels you’ve published before.

I’m not sure if this applies to indie novels, I confess, but I think it might, if you have at least had some kind of success on your first book.  Now, it depends on what success is to you.  If you go Martian-big on your first novel (we should all be so cursed) I almost guarantee that you’ll suffer second novel curse on the next.  But it’s possible that if you never at all expected to sell anything at all, and you sell a couple thousand books, you’ll also suffer second novel curse.

What is worse, you can suffer second novel curse when you have “simply” taken a big leap in sales or in PERCEIVED craft.  I…

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Obligatory Horn-Tooting

The online magazine Science Fiction & Fantasy World ran a nice little interview with yours truly, which I almost missed thanks to the holiday weekend. Makes me feel like a real author. Probably need to change my photo to something more erudite and writer-ly, like maybe a smoking jacket in a leather armchair in front of a wall of books that I’ve never read. Something like this guy…

You can leave anytime, just buy my books! Here, have some champagne.

Our Pain, Your Gain

After the success of last month’s Fathers Day sale, it appears my publisher has elected to keep Perigee and Farside at the discounted price of $3.99 for an indefinite time. Even better, today is Amazon Prime Day which kinda makes it like shopping at WalMart – you go in for one or two things and come out with a cart full stuff you just had to have.

The key word here is indefinite. All good things must come to an end, but I have no idea when that might be. So if you’re filling up that shopping cart anyway then you might as well pick up a couple of great books cheap.


Real Men Read Books…So Hurry And Get These On Sale For Dad!

My publisher (the wonderful Baen Books) is running a sale this week, just in time for Father’s Day. Starting Wednesday, Farside and Perigee will be available through all your favorite ebook outlets for the obscenely low price of 99 cents. (Hint: Read Perigee first. It’s a SERIES.) This is a limited-time, don’t-miss chance to get Dad a couple of kick-ass hard Sci-Fi adventure novels to load up that new Kindle or iPad he so richly deserves.
Does Dad like to read the old-fashioned way? Amazon or Barnes & Noble can also get you the paperback version in just a few days.
So you heard it here first, kiddies. Go on, do it – it’ll change your life. Or his. Either way everybody’s happy, including my publisher. Seriously y’all, there’s some real crap out there so here’s your chance for something that’s, well, not crap.*
And don’t wait too long, the sale ends Monday, June 20th.

*Exhibit A of why I didn’t go into advertising: “buy our stuff – it’s not crap!”

Here’s some handy links:



Barnes & Noble

Google Play Books



Finally, some kind words from a dear friend: “The story is an intriguing rollercoaster ride of twists and turns, and features characters that are real enough to invite to your next barbeque.”

I’ll take that. And barbeque always sounds good.

Big News

I’m now publishing with Baen. They’ve picked up Perigee and Farside, which are being republished under their imprint this week. More news to follow as I work on future titles with them. You might have noticed the blog has been on life support the last few months, needless to say I’ve been rather distracted and it hasn’t all been publishing deals. If y’all keep coming back for updates on the new titles, I’ll promise to start putting up actual content again.


Obligatory Marketing Post

It’s been about two weeks since FARSIDE went live on Amazon. Now comes the hard part: marketing.


Someone with the audacity to think he has the chops to write two novels should have no problems tooting his own horn (not talking about when I eat too much spicy food, but that’s another story). But there’s something about selling myself that’s inherently distasteful and I suspect most normal people would feel the same way.

Having said that, buy the @$&#! book already! C’mon people, I’ve got a kid heading to college in a year and life ain’t getting any cheaper. I’m sure it’s not for you either, so $3.99 is a pretty small investment for a big payoff.

There. I marketed. I feel better now.

Tearing Down Walls

About dadgum time something like this happened.

We are well into a complete remaking of the relationship between reader and author, where publishers are not really necessary. The types of services they provide certainly are, but their lock on distribution is long gone. Writers will always need editors, proofreaders, cover artists, and book designers…but we no longer have to become indentured servants to do so.

Who knows if ITW and SFWA will follow suit, but their insistence on “recognized commercial publishers” wore out my patience a long time ago. Traditionally-published authors have told me that most books under the old model might sell only 1,500 copies. That made sense considering how long it might stay out on the shelves at Barnes & Noble…it used to be 6 to 8 weeks, now that’s been whittled down to 2 or 3 weeks. If that’s your primary sales channel, your last name had better be Rowling or Clancy. If not, then don’t quit your day job. But in the Age of Zon, shelf life is virtually unlimited. Perigee has sold 3,000+ copies so far, so what’s the new threshold of success? Should it be pure volume, or sales over a given period?

The resolution allows for self-published books as professional credit toward membership, as long as three important criteria are met. Self-published books presented by authors applying to join the Union must contain an International Standard Book Number (ISBN), must demonstrate commercial intent, and must be peer reviewed before being forwarded to the membership committee of the Union for approval based on existing criteria.

To be fair, I get the “peer review” part. Some people will slap a cheesy cover over whatever words they’ve vomited onto a Word doc and manage to con people into buying it by plugging a few sock-puppet 5-star reviews on it. So yeah, there has to be some measure of quality control. But this whole notion of requiring authors to be in the trad-publishing Cool Kids Club seems pretty outdated and more than a little insulting as time goes on. What about guys like Boyd Morrison? He had respectable sales as an independent and was picked up by a major publisher only to get dumped before his contract was up. So he’s back in the indie world, and hopefully doing better for it.

Why should anyone care, though? I’ve asked myself that – and I suppose my only interest is in the opportunity to commiserate with other writers whom I might never encounter otherwise.

It could be fun. Or not. Maybe they’re all just a bunch of wiener-heads.

Hit & Run Posting

A couple of quick hits here just to make sure the blog still has a pulse, and to encourage other writers. Here are two more recent signs that the “establishment” media is coming around to a grudging acceptance of the Brave New World of indie publishing.

Yesterday, NPR interviewed Mark Coker of Smashwords in a pretty much snark-free manner, but stand by for the obligatory follow-up with a big cheese at Hatchette publishing is supposed to happen today.

And today, the New York Times reports that Apple will begin highlighting indie “Breakout Books” on iTunes, which gives me one more thing to browbeat you guys about. Get out there and rate that sucker!

That is all. Carry on.


APOGEE, Chapter 1

As promised, here’s the next round of Apogee sneak previews.

If ya’ll haven’t guessed, we pick up where Perigee left off: that is, with Art Hammond hell-bent on sending people around the Moon. The tech combines elements of Buzz Aldrin’s “lunar cycler” concept, Bigelow/Transhab type inflatable modules, L2 depots, and a few other things that I’ll try and surprise you with. The “LV” prefix before a ship’s name stands for “Lunar Vessel”, something I made up.

Hints and Spoiler Alerts: Remember that Ryan and Penny were both ex-military? That’s going to come back and bite them.

The excerpts posted here are from the first round of revisions. Details may change along the way, but the story arc and all that goes with it will not. Enjoy!

UPDATE: speaking of details…interesting how seeing something you’ve been looking at for months suddenly changes when you post it somewhere in a different format. There were some things about this first chapter that bugged me, so I’ve done a little editing. I think this flows a lot more nicely, hopefully you will too. Continue reading “APOGEE, Chapter 1”

Tipping Point

2012 may be known as the year Indie publishing broke down the final barriers to general acceptance. This may be one of the biggest roadblocks to fall:

NY Times Critic Selects Self-Published Book Among This Year’s Top 10

A lot of writers have been of the opinion that a big-shot reviewer’s stamp of approval is the brass ring we needed someone to grab. I hope that’s the case, because there aren’t that many left. Consider what’s happened just in the past twelve months:

Literary merits aside (gaah!), there’s no denying that 50 Shades of S&M Grey pretty much owned the best-seller lists this year. A more worthy (IMO) example is Hugh Howey’s Wool, which didn’t do so badly itself after being published pretty much on a lark as I understand it. It’s very good – surprisingly good – in that I knew it was getting great reviews and selling well, but I was surprised at how emotionally powerful it was. Turns out he made the right move, as the movie rights have been picked up by Ridley Scott.

Personally, 2013 is going to be a big year for yours truly. Look for the Perigee sequel this spring, and a novella that connects the two books by next Christmas.

There – committed to them in public! Suppose that means I’d better get on with finishing them…