Do reviews matter?
The answer depends on who you ask, how you define “reviews,” and what you mean by “matter.”
Ask a trade-published writer, and you’ll likely learn a review is first and foremost something written by a pro or semi-pro reviewer that will appear in an industry-supported or industry-centric publication. That sort of review is expected to (fingers crossed!) boost enough interest and offer enough praise to filter down to the general readership in time to impact sales in the first week (or month, on the outside) after publication.
Ask a self-published writer, and you’ll likely learn a review is first and foremost something written by a reader, directed at other readers, that will appear on the online retailer’s sales page for the book or (second best) on a site like Goodreads. That sort of review is expected to (fingers crossed!) boost enough interest and offer enough legitimacy to immediately impact the reader’s purchasing decision in the first week, the first month, the first year, and far beyond.
But no matter who you ask, the truthful answers all share one critical element:
Like most other authors, I cross my fingers a great deal (when not using them to, y’know, write). That’s why I put Sand of Bone in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off hopper.
Continue reading In Which I Expound On Reviews and Awareness
Guys, guys, GUYS!
Eight novels. Eight aspects of fantasy. One awesome collection for StoryBundle.
Sand of Bone will be in there, too.
I can’t yet share all the wonderful reads you’ll find in the bundle. But I can tell you now I’m thrilled by the line-up. And, every once in awhile, I pinch myself because I can’t believe I get to share that line-up with such amazing writers.
In the meantime, check out the Weird Fiction and Holiday Fantasy bundles currently available!
Really, you can’t be much more satisfied than when a reviewer recommends your dark fantasy novel to fans of KJ Parker.
To my great happiness, reviewer Marissa Lingen chose to give a full review to Sand of Bone, just as she did for Sword and Chant.
I love that she speaks about the themes of loyalty and personal motivations.
In SFF fiction in general, and epic fantasy in particular, the writerly temptation to attach broad and noble motivations to our characters is massive. We want to believe our own heroes and grand historical figures were motivated to struggle and fight and at last achieve greatness by lofty ideals alone. It just sounds better to say, “He wanted freedom for everyone!” than to say, “His son was insulted again, and he just couldn’t see his son cry one more time.”
The first one is the “public” face, the motivation that will rally others to agree and act. But the second one is the real reason, and is equally noble despite the fact most folks won’t give a damn about what happens to his son (outside of its PR value as an origin story, that is). It’s the public reason, the noble reason, that connects the empathetic few with the self-motivated whole.
With Sand of Bone, I didn’t want to create characters motivated from the start by Grand Notions that would later be revealed as having personal underpinnings. It’s a valid storytelling method, to be certain, but backwards. I wanted to use my viewpoint characters to carry out the real-life version of what leads to dissention: start with deeply personal reasons for standing up to authority and, if enough people agree, maybe it’ll be deemed noble. If even more people agree, maybe it’ll be a movement. But for the characters, backstory is never backstory. It’s the reason for every breath.
And the fact Lingen touched upon that in her review makes me even happier than the Parker-reader recommendation.
Sand of Bone is available for Nook through Barnes & Noble.
There’s also a great review by Sherwood Smith at Goodreads. (Cool news about her upcoming release can be found here.)
My favorite thing about the review? She discusses her grimdark limits as a reader and where Sand of Bone falls on that continuum — information so important to readers choosing their story experience.
I want the folks who buy Sand of Bone to be GLAD they did so. I don’t want readers surprised by a book that’s darker than — or not as dark as — their expectation. As I’ve said before, my goal as a publisher is not to sell as many books as possible. It’s to sell as many books as possible to readers who will enjoy them.
And folks have been buying Sand of Bone through Amazon and Smashwords! Hooray and thank you! (And it’s been nice to see Sword and Chant get a little bump as well.) Now all you wonderful Nook readers can get in on the action.
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Honestly – I don’t go around looking for rules to break. I don’t get my kicks and giggles from bucking conventional wisdom. It just… happens. I didn’t like the education opportunities others had created, so I’ve homeschooled my son for nearly nine years. I don’t like standard workweek obligations and expectations, so I contract and freelance all over the place. I didn’t like driving slowly on mountain roads, so I drove my ’66 Mustang around hairpin curves while stepping on the gas and—
Wait. Never mind. Ahem.
Continue reading Breaking Rules For Principles
No, this is not the first chapter — that’ll be up later in the week — but I really wanted to share a sample of what’s to come. Just a little taste…
Continue reading SAND OF BONE Snippet
Once upon a time, I lived near deserts and I loved them. It was natural, then, that deserts became the living and breathing setting for Sand of Bone.
When I was a kid, my grandparents owned a piece of desert property outfitted with a one-room cabin outside Apple Valley, California, on the edge of the Mojave Desert. Apple Valley was a little tiny place at the time – less than a tenth of the population it is now – and for a kid raised in the suburbs of Orange County, it was about as middle-of-nowhere as I could imagine.
Our family spent a few weekends every year up there. It being the late 70’s, my parents let me roam the desert at will for hours as long as I promised to never try to catch a snake or explore the abandoned mineshafts.
Continue reading More of What Ends Up In the Book
Half of my first summer as a teenager was spent in a compact car, driving back and forth from Southern California to New Orleans with my mother and nine-year-old sister. I was torn between huge curiosity and excitement, and the nagging certainty spending so much time with my ultra-extroverted mother and sister would cause my head to explode. I remember we argued daily, but remember more clearly all the places we saw along the way.
It was the first trip I took after deciding I could, just maybe, write a novel someday. Every part of me was primed to store experiences and research with the intention of one day using it in a book. One excursion in particular made a huge impact: Carlsbad Caverns.
Continue reading Everything Ends Up In the Book
It’s coming, my darlings!
I have my first blurb!
“Searingly vivid, and grittily realistic, Sand of Bone slams the reader into a harsh desert world full of complex people, tense moral dilemmas, and an exhilarating jet of the weird. Do not start this one late at night!” — Sherwood Smith
This makes me incredibly happy!
This weekend is for final corrections, proofreading, and the like. The cover design is in progress, and I’ll give you a look when it’s ready.
The tentative release date is August 20… though I’d love to have it up and ready by GenCon!
And you did sign up for my newsletter, didn’t you?