Friend Friday: Lessons From Self Publishing

Share this post

Good morning everyone. It’s been a couple of weeks but today we return to our Friend Friday content, where I give other authors a voice on this wonderful platform. His new book is a science horror, and looks really intriguing. A.K. Preston is a good Christian man who from all I’ve seen has a wonderful work ethic and drive. Someone to watch for in the future. Here’s what he learned from self-publishing, and maybe it can help you: 

Lessons from a Self-Publishing Newbie: The Case of The Gevaudan Project

You’ve probably all heard the story of the naive author who just wants to write and thinks publishing will take care of itself. When I first began work on my sci-fi thriller novel The Gevaudan Project four years ago, that was me. The experience that followed has made me a much more sober – and hopefully wiser – man.

My original manuscript was approximately 150,000 words and took about a year and a half to write. After finishing the final draft around 2015, I finally began looking at the different options for publishing. Being blindly prejudiced at the time, I dismissed self-publishing right off the bat (it wasn’t “real” publishing in my mind) and began sending out queries for a literary agent.

Most new authors are simply not prepared for the long-drawn out wait and frequent rejections involved in the query process, and I was one of them. I sent around 30 before giving up. In retrospect, I should have done 80 or more.

At this point, I gave self-publishing a second look and discovered CreateSpace. It’s a truly wonderful and cost-effective tool if you’re willing to put in the time and effort to use it properly. In my case… not so much. The idea of print-on-demand had me hypnotized – I was looking for a quick, easy way to monetize my book. With no marketing or promotion. At all (you can all stop laughing now).

I ultimately self-published the book on Amazon under the title Harvest of Prey. My thought was that I could leave it there for the time being, move on to my next project and have it re-published at some time in the future. The model I had in mind was Daniel Suarez’s novel Daemon, which had been self-published in 2006 and then reprinted in 2009 by Dutton Press.

As it turned out, however, there was one big difference between Daniel Suarez and myself – he had sold a truly significant number of books while self-published. With no marketing except to family and friends, I barely managed 30 sales over the course of nine months. The significance of this only became apparent in 2017, when I sent one final query to the Steve Laube Agency.

Steve read my first three chapters, recommended some revisions, and ultimately requested the full manuscript. Several months later, he contacted me again and said he really liked my story. This was farther than I had gotten than on any of my previous queries, and I thought I had finally made it. I had an agent! I was going to be published!

Then the follow-up questions came. When seeking a traditional publisher, it is required that all previous sales histories be reported to them. Many of them only take on one first-time author per year and the competition for that slot is extremely fierce. Every publisher is essentially a venture capitalist looking for a return on their investment. They go through hundreds of thousands of candidates annually and they have to make snap decisions as to who they’ll accept. It’s a big enough risk for them to take on an unknown author with no prior record of book sales. But if they see someone who has sold books before but with limpid sales figures…

I had shot myself in the foot. Steve had to tell me “not yet” – given my decision to self-publish beforehand, he’d be better able to bring me on board if I could point to sales in the thousands.

You can all probably imagine what I was thinking and feeling after that kind of a setback – so close, yet so far! But I picked myself up and decided on a new approach. My contact with Steve had still proved extremely helpful – his recommended revisions resulted in a more taut, readable narrative of 137,000 words as opposed to the original 150,000. If I took the time to do things properly, I could still go somewhere with this.

So I sat down, did some final revisions, retired Harvest of Prey from Amazon, and starting truly
developing my Author Platform for the first time as I prepared to launch The Gevaudan Project. In the end, this experience finally opened my eyes to the true opportunities for an Indie author. Ironically for a sci-fi writer, my view of publishing was decades out of date. Why was I a seeking a publishing contract that would likely involve sacrificing at least 90 percent of the profits from my book sales while I would still be responsible for virtually all of my own marketing?

My advice to other new writers: don’t be a snob. Embrace your identity as a self-publisher from the very beginning. Start a blog, build a website when you have the means, and grow a mailing list with free content for subscribers – short stories don’t take all that long to write and an awesome way to introduce your full-length books. Build connections whenever possible – reach out to fellow authors and podcasters. Promote their content – it costs you nothing to participate in a blog tour every now and then, and many authors will gladly send you free copies of their work in exchange for reviews. In fact, make a habit of reviewing every book you read – it makes great blog content and can be easily shared.

And most important of all, remember this: every experience is valuable – even the setbacks. It all depends on how you use them.

Don’t forget to check out his new book, the Gevaudan Project, available now on Amazon. 

Share this post

Review: Balanced On The Blade’s Edge By Lindsay Buroker

Share this post
I’m always on the lookout for quality steampunk fantasy I saw Lindsay Buroker’ss name on several different top lists on Amazon for several months and so I’ve been meaning to check her out for a while. Balanced on the Blades Edge was (and is) free on Amazon the first book in the Dragon Blood series so it seemed good time.
The book starts out with a sorceress who awakens deep within the mines that have been turned into a prison after a 300 year slumber. She meets a fellow by the name of ridge who is removed from his assignment as an airship pilot to be the warden of the prison mines. The sorceress Sardelle is bonded with what’s called a soul blade which is also hidden trapped within the mines she is trying to get to the soul blade and win the affections of the warden while trying to survive a culture that burns it withes somewhat Puritan style.
As Ridge gains control over the mines enemies are attacking via an airship. The enemy has a sorcerer aboard who is trying to get at the soul bode. they attacked several times and Sardelle and Ridge have to defend against it. What follows is two parts romance and one part action through the rest of the story.
I really love Lindsay‘s writing style. While Ridge can come off somewhat cocky and almost a romantic version of Han Solo he still ends up pretty likable throughout the story and Sardelle really carries her weight within the story. The enemies have good and clear motivations characters are well defined all around.
At first I thought the world building was a little bit lite but it’s very similar to the way I unfold my worlds with my writing and it gains depth as the story goes along and necessitates it.
Pacing wise, I thought it was very well done. I found myself wanting more of the book and not wanting to put it down. It had great airship action, romance was very exciting ,and I find myself genuinely caring for the characters and wanting more at the end of it.
The world and book overall had a fantasy feel to it more than steam punk as the focus was more on magic then on technical gadgets. I still found that this is one of the most enjoyable steam punk worlds I’ve had the pleasure of reading so far.
Overall, this book was fantastic. I am excited to get to the next installment in the series and look forward to reading more. It’s about everything I want out of steampunk fantasy.
If you like my taste in fiction, you might like the fiction I write. Check out For Steam And Country today!
Share this post

Contributing To A New Site

Share this post

I’ve been reviewing comics on here for some time, lately with my quick shot simple reviews as of late to try to give a feel for what comics I’m liking reading in this environment where so much of the industry is either bad or full of toxic negative identity politics.  But I”m pleased to announce that as of yesterday, I joined the team at Bounding Into Comics.

This site has been doing work for a long time, posting comic news, reviews and interviews. They were the only comic site to even give mention to The Ember War comic adaptation, that as a novel series, sells better than any Marvel or DC comic out there except the bigger events. It’s got a professional team with a great property, so why did it not get mentioned?

We know why. The comic news world is almost worse fake news than the legacy news networks. They’ve become social justice propaganda outlets which has overridden their primary function of reporting on comics.

But Bounding Into Comics has different voices, ones who still care about comic books, which is why I’m proud to join them.

I’ll primarily be reviewing books by Valiant Comics, Alterna Comics, and Akhaven Comics, with a few other indies scattered here and there. People need to be exposed to comics beyond just Marvel/DC and reviewing the alternatives, even if it gets less clicks than the legacy names, is the way to make sure the industry is healthy and thrives. I’m committed to doing it, so look for my reviews over there (which i’ll cross post to here as much as I can).

The first I did was Right Ho, Jeeves #2, which came out earlier this week. You can read the review here. 

If you like my review work or thoughts on stories, you’ll probably like my stories even better. Support my Patreon for a new short story and more every month. 


Share this post

Space Opera and Spirituality

Share this post

Yesterday I had a good question from another writer about characters with spirituality in space opera making for something important to the genre — or better stories. I thought about it over the course of the evening, and in context of the discussion with DS9 and Babylon 5.

Deep Space 9 was the first Star Trek to really offer an in depth religion of a race. Though there was the one original series episode that definitely confirmed Jesus Christ was God and savior, most of Star Trek until DS9 proved religion-less, which did give the show one of its more interesting angles overall. Like most Star Trek, the Bajoran “gods” weren’t “gods” but wormhole aliens. The big difference was – they acted like gods in a lot of ways. Sisko being their emissary, even reluctantly (what real prophets aren’t reluctant though?) gave his character a very interesting dimension which other shows lacked, making for a more interesting program overall. The spiritual element played a big part in the show, and because real religion, not mocked, is something a lot of science fiction writers are afraid to touch, it differentiated it.

Babylon 5 was also differentiated. the Narn religion, the Minbari religion, they were all based on the Shadows and Vorlons acting as actual gods over the aeons.The prophets and the like were all real, and all had truth spanning millennia–yet the religions were false in their own way as well once we found what the aliens were truly about. It was presented as something for an intelligent race to grow out of, albeit subtly. Still, when monks or pastors arrived, they were mentioned and treated as what they were — as real people, and their convictions were presented as true and not in a biased way like we usually see on TV, this made for better storytelling as well, and gave another reason to connect with the show.

Sheridan/Sinclair in B5 also had almost a prophet-status by the end of the show. It was a little different, however. Some people took them as saviors, but really the men were about a sacred purpose for the human race, and living purpose was what made them appealing characters.

Living purpose is what’s important to focus on. Everyone has a sacred purpose, whether they realize it or not. When you do realize it, and live toward it, your life becomes far more fulfilling and rewarding. Likewise a character living such a purpose will become easier to attach to, because it triggers something in us we desire to have, or desire to execute. When it’s presented heroically and accomplished over heavy odds, it serves to inspire us.

In The Stars Entwined, I don’t focus so much on religion. Sean is really just your standard guy thrust into a job in over his head. He’s lost to purpose at the beginning of the book, but by the end, he starts to find it. It’ll become more clear over the next couple of books as well. The Aryshans talk about Overseers and stormwraiths in passing, which stem from their world and their mythology, but I don’t go further into that as we’re mostly focused on one military ship over the course of this novel. Both the main characters have very clear purposes though from the Aryshans, and those make them into more dynamic characters.

In Justified, which will be my next released novel, I have a very spiritual sacred purpose for Drin, the main character.

Which one works better? I think having that purpose is what’s important in a story, and the specifics give variety in storytelling. Making sure your religiosity feels real, whether it’s personal religiosity in what someone wants to accomplish in life, or someone following a god via their actions, will help to create epic tension throughout the storytelling, and is necessary for space opera. Connect with a purpose, and make your character serve a purpose that feels worthwhile, and you’ll have a better work.

The Stars Entwined is out March 20th, and you can check it out here.  

Share this post

What I Wanted From Space Opera

Share this post

We’re about 15 days out of The Stars Entwined‘s release, and I want to shift gears to talk about space opera.

1999 saw the end of an era on TV with both Babylon 5 and Deep Space 9 going off the air. Those shows really were the blueprint for great space opera on TV, with overarching storylines that swept across the galaxy. Alien races, who, some were not too dissimilar from us, navigating through the stars as well. Overwhelming threats to humanity’s existence — but what differentiated those from what I’ll call the “Post-Battlestar Galactica Era” was that through all this, our main characters really kept their souls. They were cheerful, optimistic people. They were real heroes. Sci-fi after this went dark, where in efforts at first to make characters “more real”, plunged shows into nihilistic dreariness, from which the genre hasn’t really recovered.

Part of it was Hollywood’s lives being so corrupt and nihilistic. When you’re in that environment, you tend to write what you know. That’s why we see even Straczynski’s later work as he became more of a militant atheist, drifting from the beauty of Babylon 5 — which truly the theme of it is “one man can make a difference” — to his later work which is devoid of beauty or meaning.

But in 1999 we were left with a hole in the zeitgeist for humanity’s push to the stars. I felt that hole, really delving into online roleplaying in sci-fi/star trek-based environments, where, while many of t hem were fun, didn’t quite fulfill in the way watching those beautiful stories did. Some books nearly scratched that itch — Lois Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga did well in several of the books — but it still didn’t quite have the feel I was looking for as it waded a bit too far into dark territory at times.

That was the real origin of why I turned to writing writing. I, during this period, wanted to set up and recapture the feel of those two shows in the 90s that really to this day are unsurpassed in their storytelling excellence. I set up a station of my own, which is now dubbed Palmer Station in the book (named after David .R Palmer whose Emergence novel is amazing — and very hard to find!). My intent was to create episodic building narratives that pushed the world like DS9 or B5…

…and then my characters had different plans.

I think I still captured the feel of DS9/B5. The sense of wonder of doing something different, the aliens who are cool, not too distant to us — some even sexy, but the sprawling events of The Stars Entwined couldn’t keep someone confined to a station. It took me from 2001 when I started writing this to 2012 to finish the first draft, which looked VERY different than what you’re going to read at this point (I will be putting up pieces of that over on my patreon for those curious as to what it looked like). But I needed to not just copy that which I loved, but come into my own with my own voice to tell the story that was burning in my head.

As I reflected more on those shows, what made them different was the characters. The characters who wouldn’t give up. The characters who wouldn’t lose their souls even through immense troubles. Those were what was missing from modern entertainment. And those were what I feel I created with Sean Barrows, Tamar, and Tol (who you will meet in 15 days!). As this expands into a series, more characters will come into the limelight. I’m very proud of the way these characters turned out and the progressions they had within the story.

Did I succeed in capturing the feel of what I was looking to? You’ll have to tell me in 15 days! Let me know.

The Stars Entwined is available March 20th and is up for pre-order now.

Share this post

We Will Win Culture Because We Have Substance

Share this post

There are some days when the vile dehumanzing thrown from those controlling culture even is a bit much for me, numbed as I am after the overwhelming hate I’ve received since Worldcon decided to unprecedentedly discriminate against me. But it’s important to keep spirits up and keep going. Every success worthwhile is worth enduring hardship for, and in fact, every such  success will come with a large amount of hardship. It’s how life works.

Vox Day’s blog often inspires me to keep going. He has a  much broader strategic  vision compared to my attempts to carve out a space where I can write and people can read my science fiction work. He’s setting  up platforms as a publisher, which is helping make room for more people like me to come down the pipeline and create books and comics. Today he had this to say;

And the reason that they are failing despite their near-complete control of the cultural high ground is because they have literally nothing to offer in its place. All they ever had to offer was reaction, negation, ugliness, filth, and snark. Sure, you can adulterate Christmas, and you can substitute Silver Bells, shopping, Santa, and Seasons Greetings for Silent Night, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Scrooge, and We Wish You a Merry Christmas, but at the end of the day, either you come up with a substitute or your efforts will eventually prove futile.

What did they come up with in over a century of frantic effort? Festivus, the Hannukah Aardvark, and horrible movies that are bad even by Seth Rogen’s standards. Hardly an attractive exchange for even the most godless pagan.

We not only can win this cultural war, we cannot lose it so long as we continue to create things that are good, beautiful, and true, and continue to refuse entrance to the infiltrating wormtongues who are always there with their helpful blandishments and seductive offers to sell your creative soul to Mammon.

So let them turn Elsa of the Crowleyesque anthem into a lesbian. Let them transform Superman into an SJW superhero fighting for global migration, one-world government, and AIPAC. Let them continue to preen and posture and sneer and snark in futility. It will avail them nothing. Like their Father the Devil, they cannot create, they can only corrupt. And that is why the greatness of Tolkien, of Howard, of Lovecraft, and of Wright will continue to be recognized over time despite the Left’s best efforts to denigrate and diminish it.

And this should inspire you because he’s right. They have the high ground in terms of where they stand on the field right now, but we have the high ground in terms of our creativity, beauty, love, and thousands of years of human tradition in art and culture. They have offered no substitute for the divine because they cannot.

The fight is hard right now, but the avalanche of change is just coming. We are just at the start and just at the tip of this revolution. Keep going, support your brothers and sisters, you will see a massive shift in the long term to prefer our hard work by the people. Why? People crave heroes, truth, justice, and especially the American way.

The good news is the more of us out there being outspoken, the less power they’ll have, because while they’re brazen right now about the way they mistreat us as a group, they’ll eventually see our market power. Their denials can only last so long while the artists under this hedonistic corporate influence starve for lack of sales and readers.

In the meantime, when you are making your creative works, do one important thing you may have not considered: pray. Pray that your work does honor to God and honor to you. Pray for inspiration. Pray for success. It works, and you should be as relentless in your prayer as you are about your creative endeavors if you want true substance.

It’s a little over two weeks before the release of The Stars Entwined, a book I’ve been working on for more than fifteen years. This series is going to move the needle in culture. Check out the pre-order here.

Share this post

Emerald City Comic Con To White Males: You’re Not Welcome Here

Share this post

The last several months have seen a flurry of discrimination by conventions. Worldcon shamefully and unprecedentedly banned me over my being a political figure, Readercon removed guests over their age, and now ECCC is giving preferential treatment to people based on sexuality, gender and race.

Their programming says it all:

You’ll immediately note what’s missing — any industry mixers for straights, whites, or males. Also none for Christians. As the industry moves more and more to excluding these groups, the conventions are celebrating their lack of inclusiveness.

When asked about it, ECC took their time and responding:

The discrimination is clear. I’ve asked if they intend on having an industry mixer for white males next year and offered to host/moderate. I doubt I’ll get a response.

If you want to help in the fight for civil rights and equality for all, including whites, males, Christians, and other marginalized groups by the publishing and comics industries, you can join in the fight. Support my Go Fund Me to help me take legal action against Worldcon for their illegal discrimination and defamation. 

Otherwise, I live off of the support of folk like you checking out my books or supporting my Patreon. Even $1 a month keeps this blog and my other content going, and at $3 and above I offer exclusive content like short stories and behind the scenes looks at my book creation process. Support today and join a great community that’s fighting for your rights to exist.  

and my new book is released March 20th!

Share this post

Book Blast: Levon’s War by Chuck Dixon

Share this post

Anyone who follows me knows that Chuck Dixon is one of my favorite comic writers. If comics had a Grand Master status, he would definitely have earned it. In fact, I’ll confer him the title Grand Master of Comics right now. But I discovered he also wrote prose fiction early last year, when I saw him post to a Facebook group, promoting the book, Levon’s Trade. I immediately picked up the book and found he’s an extremely competent prose writer as well.

Most of the fare I signal boost on here is fantasy or sci-fi, but Chuck’s series is a straight up action thriller. If you like Bruce Willis movies or Seal Team Six or Brad Thor books, this series will most definitely appeal to you. And with the 5th book of the series releasing this week, you have something cool to binge read as well.

Check out Levon’s War! 

His word is his bond. 

A promise made in the past takes Levon Cade from the hills of Alabama to the caliphate of ISIS.

The US Marine turned backwoods vigilante returns to the Iraqi desert on a mission of mercy that will take him to the heart of terror. 

It will take all his skills, all his courage and all his will to survive the hell that Mosul has become. 

It’s time for Levon’s War.

Share this post

Quick Shot Comic Reviews: March 1 Edition

Share this post

My pull list was fairly small this week, so I only have 3 books to review:

Ninja-K vs. The Valiant Universe #2

This is an underrated little title. I’m not sure it takes place within the general Valiant continuity, as I believe this was originally meant for a tie in for a live action web series Valiant was going to try to do with the character, but that project went off the rails. We ended up with this comic instead. Ninja-K is on the run after having stolen some weapon from MI-6. All the valiant heroes are after him and he’s just trying to survive.

It’s really fun, high action, good character development, it’s really everything I want out of the Valiant universe but have trouble getting in the main titles that seem to get bogged down in politics or boring backstory in the main titles as of late,  not living up to the beautiful art they typically procure.

This art  is  a little more standard comic  than their big books, but it works really well. I highly recommend this series but I’d read a little of the first Ninja-K series (complete already), Unity, X-O Manowar so you can familiarize yourself with some of the characters first. It works without that, but you may care more if you know them.


Silencer #2

DC’s  John Romita Jr. Book  is back for its second issue. I feel like he settled into the art a little better in this issue which makes it flow a lot more nicely. When I read this, I thought, “wow, here’s a character with a motive, who’s developing, who can change and isn’t stagnant for ‘iconic’ status, and it’s a breath of fresh air for the DC Universe.”

And that  about sums it up.  Silencer was visited by Talia Al Ghul last issue, trying to force her into her old life as an assassin, even though she’s trying to raise a family. This issue deals with fallout from that as she takes an aggressive stance toward trying to get away from it. Great action, cliffhanger ending, and I’m excited to see where this series goes. Best new character from the Big-2 in over a decade.


X-O Manowar #12

If you’re familiar with  me at  all, you know this is my favorite comic out there. I tell people on  repeat to pick it  up. In this arc, Aric has become Emperor of a planet Gorin — and in peace, things have gone drastically wrong. There’s a planet-wide famine,  and his most trusted advisors have plotted  to remove him from his position, and succeeded. He’s left stranded and naked in a desert, and has to fight his way out.

This issue hit on every emotional cyllinder. Matt Kindt, the writer, spent so long setting up this world building and emotional stakes for what occurs here, it’s pretty amazing, and  here it’s  really starting to pay off on  the personal level for Aric. I’m pretty sad that we’ll be leaving the planet Gorin after all this is done (the next arc says it’s Aric’s return to Earth) but this has been a masterpiece so far.

My only complaint is the art quality on this arc has dropped pretty drasticlally. The first 3 arcs had some of the best art I’ve ever seen in comics, so it’s a tough bar, but they should have rotated back to one of those rather than bringing in someone with such a drastically different style.


If you like my taste  in comics, help me make some. Contribute to my patreon.  you’ll get short stories and other content that I make, including comics as they get done. Check it out here. 

Share this post