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Pre-order: yea or nay?

For some time now, Amazon has offered self-publishing authors the possibility to have their books available for pre-ordering before publishing. The advantage is, for example, the potential higher ranking on the publishing day, as all the pre-sales are counted on that day. Smashwords offers the same option, too, for the books distributed through its channels. I have now tried the option twice, so it’s time to sum up my thoughts.
The first book I had available for pre-order was A Warrior for a Wolf that came out in November. It’s the fifth book in the Two-Natured London series, so I figured my readers might be interested in pre-ordering the book. Especially, since I had recently uploaded the series on Smashwords and other vendors, and the books were selling fairly well there.
You can set the publishing date as far as a year on Amazon, but as I had everything ready, the cover, and the edited and formatted manuscript, I was a tad impatient and set the date only a week from uploading. (If…
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Reading recap: April and May

It’s already June and I realise I’ve completely forgotten to update you on my reading in April, so this is a double feature for May too. April and May weren’t particularly good reading months in terms of numbers read, partly because I read a couple of longer books that took longer to finish, partly because other engagements kept me from reading – I know, right – and partly because I started and then discarded a number of books that I just couldn’t get into. But those books that I ended up reading and finishing, five in all, were all absolutely brilliant. Four of the books were from my reading list, and the last one was an absolutely necessary addition.
First up was one of my favourite series, Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward. Book number fifteen, The Chosen, was as good as any in the series, which hasn’t had a weak book yet. I really like Ms Ward’s style of edgy writing, and especially how she introduces characters and their backstories throughout the series, and follows them afte…

Reading recap: March

I had a good reading month last month. Everything I read was delightful and entertaining, on top of which they were good books too. Again, I didn’t quite stick to my reading list; two out of five books were outside it.
First up was A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab. It’s the second book in her Shades of Magic trilogy set in a world of parallel Londons that have different levels of magic and which can be travelled between by a special person with enough magic and right words. Grey London is in the Regency England of the ‘real’ world with little or no magic, Red London is abundant with magic, and White London is in permanent winter and constantly struggles to regain its magic by any means necessary. In the first book, Lila gets accidentally drawn from Grey to Red London by Kell who can travel between the worlds, and decides to stay. In this second book, she enters the stage as a pirate and ends up taking part in a tournament of magic. Most of the book is taken by the tournament, and…

Reading recap: February

It’s time to look at what I’ve read the previous month. I finished four books, two of which were from my reading list and two of which weren’t. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a very satisfying selection of reading.
First up is Because of Miss Bridgertonby Julia Quinn, the first book in her new Rokesbys series, which wasn’t on my original reading list. She’s written numerous Regency romances about the Bridgerton family, and while I haven’t read them all, most of those that I’ve read have been delightful. Not this one. First of all, it was set in an earlier era, around 1770s. It’s a time totally different from her usual books, but you wouldn’t know it by reading this one. The historical setting is minimal and for the most part people behaved like they do in her other books. Waltz is mentioned even, even though it hadn’t been made fashionable in continental Europe yet, let alone in England. The story progresses like a steam engine, slow and steady, with no twists or turns, highs or lows. For a …

Caught between series

I have currently two series that I write, Two-Natured London paranormal romance series and Tracy Hayes, P.I. detective series. The first has six books (or five and a half) and the latter has three books published – or will be by February 23rd. I like writing both, and while they’re not exactly best-sellers, both deserve my attention. But I’m only able to write one book at a time – I’ve tried to multitask and it didn’t work – so now that I’m about to start my next writing project, I’m caught up with a dilemma: which series should I dedicate my attention to next?

From purely a calendar point of view, I should write a Two-Natured London book next. The previous one was published a year ago, so it’s long overdue. The series currently has some uplift too, as Amazon finally made the first book free, so it would make sense to have a new book in the pipeline.
The problem is that I don’t have a clear idea what I want to write. I have four heroes to choose from that all deserve my attention, but I…

Reading recap: January

I read six books in January, all from my reading list. It was a mixture of fantasy and sci-fi, with fantasy winning, especially since I’m not entirely sure if MiĆ©ville’s book is fantasy or sci-fi. Here’s my recap.
Those Above by Daniel Polansky starts his new Empty Throne trilogy. The premise was interesting, a world shared by humans and those above, god-like creatures fairly devoid of all humanity. The first book introduced a cast of human characters that all have a reason to hate those above and one who doesn’t, and a plot that likely aims at starting a war against them. But the episodic chapters into each character’s lives failed to convince me. While things happened in them and to the characters, they all seemed mainly to be slaves of the plot. The characters didn’t change and none of them actively moved the plot, and while there were hints that the characters’ lives might be connected, nothing was made of it yet. Basically, I could’ve read the first chapters introducing each chara…

Temporality and passage of time in serial fiction

I’ve been binge watching Star Trek: Enterprise lately. I didn’t see it when it aired in 2001-2005, but thanks to the streaming services, I’ve been able to indulge. For those who aren’t familiar with the series, it’s set a hundred years before the adventures of the original series with Captain Kirk and his fellows, and follows the crew of the first starship Enterprise. I’ve always been a Star Trek fan and I’ve liked it in all its incarnations, but Enterprise might be my favourite. There are many reasons for my preference, but what sets it apart from other series is how it allows the passage of time to show.

Many episodic TV series, regardless of the genre, are curiously atemporal. Passage of time is only implied to, maybe with the compulsory Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day episodes, or if the series is set in the school world, with the start and end of the term; if it’s a long-running series, the students move from one grade to the next from season to season. Other than that, …

Cover design for self-publishers: series

I’ve been making my own book covers ever since I started publishing in 2012, partly because I can’t afford professionally designed covers and partly because I really enjoy making them. My first covers weren’t very good, but I’ve made an effort to learn and improve my skills. I’ve learned a lot about techniques, visual effects, colours and fonts. One thing I’ve learned is that individual covers are different to make than the covers of series. You have to take into consideration the cover visuals from the first book on to make the readers immediately see that the books belong together. Not always easy for amateur designers, however enthusiastic. So what to do?

1. Use of fonts
The simplest solution is to use the same fonts on every cover; author name with one kind of font, the title with another, and so on. Even if you’re not writing a series, you can opt to use the same font for your name in all your books as a sort of a calling card. If possible, you can also use the same layout for all …