‘Exile’ in Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off

Exile AMZN-EPUBSo I’ve entered Exile: The Book of Ever into Mark Lawrence’s awesome Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, which I talked about here just a few days ago.  (Exile is free for Kindle through this Monday, by the way.)

My book got sent over to be reviewed by the excellent people at Fantasy Faction, which is very exciting for me, as I’ve been a reader of theirs for quite some time now.

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Mark Lawrence will be updating his post (linked above, and here) as reviews start to trickle in, and you can also check the individual blogs for updates as well.  If you happen to be talking about the Blog-Off on Twitter or another social media site, be sure to use the hashtags #SPFBO and #SelfPubFantasyBlogOff!

Mark Lawrence is Sponsoring a Self-Published Fantasy Reviewing Contest

mark-lawrence-authorMark Lawrence, renowned author of the excellent The Broken Empire series, starting with Prince of Thorns, has rounded up ten of the most popular fantasy book bloggers on the web and convinced them to participate in a review contest featuring exclusively self-published fantasy fiction.  You can read the details of the contest here, but it’s very simple: you submit your finished book, the bloggers get the chance to decide if they want to read it, and then they sponsor or “publish” it to the next round.  It’s essentially a bracket system, resulting in a final ten novels that will be reviewed by all ten bloggers.  This is an incredible opportunity if you’re a self-published fantasy author: a bestselling, traditionally published author is giving you the opportunity to get your work in front of a group of respected book reviewers.  As Mr. Lawrence said himself, “you can’t buy better publicity than that.”

The reviewers participating are:

1./ Sarah Chorn of Bookworm Blues
2./ Steve Diamond &co at the Hugo winning Elitist Book Reviews
3./ Mark Aplin &co of the award winning Fantasy-Faction
4./ Mihir Wanchoo of Fantasy Book Critic
5./ Lynn Williams of Lynn’s Books
6./ Milo of The Fictional Hangout
7./ Bob Milne of Beauty in Ruins
8./ Ria of Bibliotropic
9./ Tyson Mauermann of The Speculative Book Review
10./ The guys at Fantasy Book Review

If Mr. Lawrence and I lived on the same continent, and I swung that way, and it didn’t constitute criminal assault, I would kiss him for this.  As every self-published author knows, even in this, the golden age of self-publishing, it is still very, very hard to become accepted by the literary establishment.  Most respectable book bloggers aren’t interested in self-published work (usually for understandable reasons), to say nothing of getting your book noticed or reviewed by more traditional publications.  And traditionally published authors* tend to range from openly hostile to politely disinterested in self-published writing, so it’s incredibly spirit-lifting to find one who not only embraces self-publishing but wants to help.  Bravo, Mark Lawrence.  To quote Jorg Ancrath, “This is where it starts. When they write the legend, this will be the first page.”

As someone who chose self-publishing not because there weren’t other options but because I thought it was the best choice for me at the time, I’m overwhelmingly grateful for this kind of effort to reach out to new writers.  It’s rare to find someone who is confident enough in his own accomplishments to be able to serve as a mentor, as a champion.  As a leader, if you will.  Because after all, “You got responsibilities when you’re a leader. You got a responsibility not to kill too many of your men. Or who’re you going to lead?”

You’d be downright dumb not to take advantage of this opportunity if you’ve got a fantasy book ready to submit.  I only wish Karthanas were ready to storm the gates!

* Obviously there are exceptions to this rule, including traditionally published authors who started out self-pub

Will the New Twitter Algorithm Make It Less Useful to Writers?

ios_homescreen_iconTwitter recently implemented a new algorithm in its code that selectively includes content from users you don’t follow into your timeline.  This change has caused a lot of backlash in the Twitterverse, for relatively obvious reasons.  TechCrunch reports on the changes:

The specific change in how your Twitter timeline operates allows for the company to inject additional content into your feed from other users you don’t follow. This is in addition to promoted tweet advertising content — you still get that thrust into your feed too.

So basically this change means tweets from people you’re not interested in may now show up in your Twitter feed. And judging by the popularity reference, at least some of the content being algorithmically injected is exactly the sort of mainstream trivia that makes Facebook so uninteresting to a large swathe of Twitter users (myself included). And indeed the sort of content that populates Twitter’s Discover feed — aka ‘the feed that no-one reads’. Except now some of that crap is being thrust in front of your eyeballs, mingled with the tweets you did want to read.

Twitter’s focus on popularity as a selection criteria for injecting tweets evidently also means that tweets marked as favorites by other users can now appear in your timeline — a change that has already triggered a backlash of complaints, as noted by an earlier Guardian report.

This is troubling to me as a writer, because I use Twitter as my primary social media tool.  I use it for marketing, networking, and interacting socially with friends and acquaintances.  A big part of the appeal of Twitter (aside from the fact that it’s still primarily text-based) is the fact that I can curate a news feed that is tailored precisely to my interests and field.  The idea of Twitter changing their app to deliberately interfere with that functionality irks me.

It seems fairly obvious to me that this is part of a larger effort to monetize the service and therefore increase corporate profits.  Yes, they already have advertising in the form of promoted tweets, but the more power Twitter has over your timeline the more opportunity they have to fill it with irrelevant, mainstream, commercialized crap (which, as the TechCrunch article notes, is exactly what has happened to Facebook).

The “Self-Publishing Is For Losers” Kickstarter Is Live!

Self-Publishing Is For Losers by P.J. FoxNow’s your chance to get behind a great book designed to help indie / self-published authors not only publish their work but achieve the writing career of their dreams.  Written by P.J. Fox, author of the bestselling The Price of Desire and The Demon of Darkling ReachSelf-Publishing Is For Losers: The Evil Toad Press Guide to Self-Publishing cuts through all the BS that’s out there about self-publishing and tells you what you need to hear to make it as an indie author.

The unfortunate truth is that as many strides as self-publishing has made, there are still many out there who deride it as a license for mediocrity–hence the ironic title, Self-Publishing Is For Losers.  That’s what traditional publishing wants you to think, whether they admit it or not.  This book teaches you how to put that thinking aside and focus on building a business and career of being a professional writer.

This isn’t a technical guide on how to design your ebook in a particular file format or a primer on the step-by-step details (i.e., which button to click) of publishing a book with Kindle Direct Publishing, but rather a big picture look at the work ethic and business skills you’ll need to get your work out there and selling.  Self-Publishing Is For Losers operates under the presumption that your book is polished and good, and gives you the skill set to take it from Word document to finished product.

It offers a wealth of nuts and bolts advice on business and marketing, but more importantly it also helps you identify when it’s time to step back and hire a professional.  If you chose the self-publishing route affirmatively, because you believe in keeping control over your own work and taking control of your own career, this is the book for you.  If you want your book to look, feel, and read like a traditionally published volume you might pick up in any Barnes & Noble, this is the book for you.  If you want brutal honesty and no-nonsense advice, then you need to help us publish Self-Publishing Is For Losers–and in return, you stand to get some awesome rewards.

“Self-Publishing Is For Losers”

When I’m not doing my own writing, I’m also a co-founder of Evil Toad Press, an indie publishing company that offers a variety of editing, design, and marketing services related to self-publishing.  We’ve written a self-publishing guide called Self-Publishing Is For Losers: The Evil Toad Press Guide to Self-Publishing, and are in the process of prepping a Kickstarter to fund its production.  For now, however, you can watch our kickass book trailer: