(This post is a rambling essay on genres but also features some news about the Supernature series and what happens next there…)
I posted a response to a thread on KBoards, one of the better places to discuss self-publishing and all that jazz, on the subject of using pen names to write in different genres.
Essentially, I’d tend to go with a pen name for each genre, based on my experience. As you know, I predominantly write police procedurals set in Edinburgh, Scotland, which I do not at all badly out of at all. A few years ago, I hit upon an idea to do a vampire thriller set in the Highlands of Scotland, called SHOT THROUGH THE HEART.
What I found when I released it was my existing audience either 1) sort of, kind of liked SHOT (about 20%) or 2) were largely ambivalent to it and the sales were nothing like for the other books in my DC Scott Cullen series, usually by a factor of ten (if I’d spent that time writing another Cullen, I’d have earned a lot more cash).
My thinking in the fourteen months since publication has been all over the place. In 2013, I started out wanting to write a sequel to establish a series. Then, when I started getting the “vampire=bad” feedback, it kind of morphed into a police procedural with vampires – I’ve finally written that book as a straight police procedural without any vampires (CRASH INTO MY ARMS, I’ll be starting the second draft next week), which’ll mesh well with my core audience of police procedural fans.
But… I get an email or social media post every couple of weeks asking what’s happening to Supernature. I’ve got a desire, if not exactly burning then at least on fire, to write a proper sequel to SHOT. I’m thinking through how to make that work – a revised draft of SHOT with more of a police element seems to be an idea I can’t get away from and I had a bash at that last week, which was going in a promising direction. The bits I disliked about SHOT were instantly removed by the police stuff and the flow of the story was a hell of a lot better. There’s quite a lot of Scottish folklore I could explore with that.
One thing I noticed last summer is based on trying the old “product funnels” thing, as espoused in WRITE. PUBLISH. REPEAT., by making SHOT free for a period. The result was it ended up cannibalising sell-on from GHOST IN THE MACHINE, the first freebie in the Cullen series – rather than buying book 2 in the series after enjoying book 1, the readers seemed to go for the other free one. Because it was vampires and they tended to dislike it, so I lost sales. If it’d been a straight pol proc, I think it’d have worked, most likely.
Of course, it could be that SHOT just isn’t that good – another reason a redraft will help is it’ll allow me to know if it’s a quality thing. Alternatively, it could be that I’ve not released book 2 in the series, so I’ve no real idea if it is a money-spinner. It did take about a year for it to break even on publicity and editing costs, which is another reason I felt my fingers got burnt. Finally, it could be that the cover is too “police procedural” – moody, monochrome shot with bright text – and it jars with the genre.
In summary, the lessons for me from publishing in multiple genres are –
1) People who like a writer writing in a genre tend to like the genre more than the writer, i.e. they’re less likely to buy you writing in another genre.
2) There are people who like the writer as much as the genre but they’re a lot lower. The crossover could be managed by other means, e.g. mailing list – “hey I’ve got a new book out in another genre under another name. You might not like it so I’m not forcing it down your throat” etc.
3) I might not have gone after the fans of vampire books in the right way (title, cover, product description, author name, etc). They might think it’s a police procedural.
4) If you’ve managed to get some level of success with your “day job” writing in a genre, that means you’ve got some tricks you’ve applied in building an audience there which should be applicable to writing in a new genre (and there’ll be some element of fun in learning it)
5) Watch your product funnels don’t cannibalise the main genre series.
Hope that’s of interest to you. I’ll be getting back to that redraft of SHOT in the summertime and will most likely do the second book back to back, while the characters and genre are still fresh in my head. At the moment, it’s called JUST WALKING THE DEAD, thought I really want to use the title HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF, somewhere.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmnWXhxlh14]One of my very favourite songs of all time – GETTING AWAY WITH IT by Electronic, the late 80s side project of NewOrder’s Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr, then late of the Smiths, featuring Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys – features the line “I’ve been talking to myself just to suggest that I’m selfish.”
What a curious way to start a blog post, you might think. Well, I might or might not be selfish, but I have been talking to myself. On purpose.
One of the best writing craft books I read last year was by David Morrell, author of FIRST BLOOD, the low-key novel that kicked off the Rambo mega-franchise (God, I hate that phrase). It’s pretty and very insightful, particularly if you ever sell your books to the Film industry (I’m not calling them movies). [No – I’ve not sold anything to Film/TV, so don’t ask.]
One of the techniques he uses in the book is to have a written conversation with yourself about a book, sort of like “Good morning, David. How are you today?” / “I’m good, David, though I’m struggling with my new book.” / “Tell me about it.” / “Well, I forgot to put a story in.” Something like that. The idea is you talk to yourself about the book, refining the questioning and the idea as you go but leaving an ‘audit trail’ (Argh) of what you’ve discussed, which could be minor fragments of things you can pick up on the way, or if you get into a dead end you can go back.
Anyway, I thought it was madness and forgot about it. Until I wrote FUTURE SHOCK, a sci-fi thriller I’ve been working on for a good number of years – I wrote it as a short story in 2009, I think, then dusted it off in September with a view to turning it into a novella. It turned into a novel. But I forgot to include a story. Good bits happened in the opening act, then the hero got a job and got bored and quit it and went on holiday (which meant I could show the world 150 years from now) then all the story was wedged into the last third. I tried unpicking it on Monday, having turned in a first draft of CRASH INTO MY ARMS, and came into a cold sweat and a grumpy mood. I couldn’t get it to work.
I had a look at maybe redrafting SHOT THROUGH THE HEART (which meant re-outlining the story from the start) then went to the gym in the evening and beasted the weights. Sitting in the hot tub after (at the gym, not in my house – I’m not like some authors), I started to think about the problem. Turned out I was having a conversation with myself about it in my head. I showered and got changed then sat with my phone and typed into Evernote while my girlfriend dried her hair.
And it worked. Over the next day, I had a conversation with myself where I’d ask questions and respond then chip away at the answer until I’d made things simpler and more elegant. I took a few goes at it, refining my questioning until I got to something resembling a story. But it’s all sorted now, I hope. I’ve got a very solid story now in place of the black hole at the centre of a lot of writing. A very weird experiment but it really worked and it’s something I’ll do again.
How does it work? I think one of the things that have worked for me in the past has been talking to people about problems I’ve got with my books, which gets me to a good place having talked about it. This is talking about it in a way you can review after the fact. Mr Morrell finds himself starting writing the book – that’s not my style, daddio, but it’s a good way of working, certainly to get the central idea concrete and go all Occam’s razor on it; usually plots fall apart because they’re too complex – good plots are simple ideas executed in a complex way. Everyone’s actions and motivations have to be clear. The other thing is I’m a professional writer now and writing dialogue is what I do most days, so it’s something I’m good at. It’s practise for that and it’s a good way of problem solving.
Just a quick note to say there’s an interview gone up with some chancer called Ed James over on Scots-American author Allan Mann’s website –
It focuses mainly on writing craft and how I manage the stupid number of projects I do, so it might not appeal to those looking for the release date of COWBOYS AND INDIANS or whatever…
News at last!
SNARED, my Dundee-based police procedural starring DS Vicky Dodds, has found a home with Thomas & Mercer, part of Amazon Publishing. This took a wee while to get going but we finally signed the contract in August, did the editing between September and December and now it’s ready to pre-order. That’s pretty fast for a publisher.
It’ll be out 28-Apr-2015, priced £3.99 for the ebook and £8.99 for the paperback. The ebook is available for pre-order on Amazon NOW (the paperback will also be available through other retailers) –
It’s the best thing I’ve done (in my opinion), building on all the Cullen novels and doing something extra with that. And with a lot less swearing. Vicky was a pretty interesting character to write and seems to be quite well liked by the early readers.
Hope you enjoy it.
I’ve been really bad at blogging last year. Too much writing and editing. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to blog more. So, here we go – I’ll have my review of 2014 coming up later in the week sandwiched with this and some big news (if you’re on the mailing list, you’re going to get it today).
Anyway, my favourite books of 2014… It was a tough year, reading-wise, as I was doing so much writing and self-editing. I couldn’t look at words in July. I just couldn’t process them, but that’s another tale. Anyway, I did manage to love some books, so here’s a list of the top 5 things I did enjoy. As you can see, my tastes are reasonably diverse…
Notable mentions go to Alex Sokoloff (HUNTRESS MOON) and Craig Robertson (RANDOM) [always good when the nice crime writers I meet actually write awesome books, though those books were published a few years ago] and the four Stuart MacBride novels I read this year (one of the very few writers who I can’t find anything I’d edit). Also OLD MAN’S WAR and REDSHIRTS by John Scalzi, which really freshen scifi for me, tight stories rather than tracts of “world building” harking back to the glory days of Philip K Dick, when scifi novels were as long as other novels and not the sort of thing you’d use to prevent entry to your property. I’m sure there are others I’ve forgotten about… Oh, Douglas Lindsay’s third DS Hutton novel was a damn good read.
Anyway, the top 5 is as follows –
5 John Scalzi LOCK IN
I’ll be honest and say this has possibly the worst opening in a book I’ve ever read. Well, that I didn’t give up on. That it’s on this list should show something… One of my favourite TV shows of the year was the sadly cancelled ALMOST HUMAN, and this filled that void – a future police procedural. The buddy cop pairing of the seasoned female cop and the avatar of the locked-in male officer gave a new take on the dynamics and showed a plausible world, rather than dumped forty pages of tell about it. Really enjoyable. After that first chapter.
4 Joe Abercrombie HALF A KING
I have an uneasy relationship with fantasy novels. The works of JRR Tolkien really left me cold – I took about six goes to get past the nonsense with the dwarves in THE HOBBIT and the tedium of THE LORD OF THE RINGS in book form makes the films seem that bit better (yeah, shove it) – and I’ve never really got into the genre, aside from some China Mieville and Michael Moorcock. This book was my entry point – focused and immediate storytelling from the start, the world of the SHATTERED SEA shown rather than told. This is aimed at a young adult audience, so it’s maybe a bit light and relies on too many coincidences, maybe, but it’s certainly hooked me on his work. I’ve spent the first couple of weeks of 2014 getting stuck right into his earlier (and better) works.
3 Eva Dolan LONG WAY HOME
I write police procedurals for a living. It’s hard to read them without either 1) wanting to edit the hell out of them, 2) picking at the research errors or 3) not ripping them off. Ahem. This is one of those books that came out of nowhere and just blew me away. Very modern, and reflecting the racist hell England is in danger of becoming. Not afraid to tackle big issues and her style is electric when writing immediate scenes, a masterclass in letting the reader sense the book.
2 Gerard Brennan UNDERCOVER
I started this not expecting much but it soon gripped me from the sheer pace of the start. A tight tale of kidnapping and greed, Brennan doesn’t try anything flashy, just delivers a solid tale and does it well. Vivid characters, sharp dialogue and action I could be more than bothered to follow (I usually skip action scenes). It gives a fresh spin on Belfast, the Troubles only a looming menace to its gangland children. (Note – this is published by Blasted Heath, co-run by my agent, but I don’t think there’s a conflict of interest.)
1 Nic Pizzolatto GALVESTON
TRUE DETECTIVE was the TV highlight for me this year, that rare show we’d catch as near to live as to be able to fast forward through the adverts. GALVESTON is what the show’s writer did before, a noir so dark it sucks all light in. I read this in one sitting on the train to London in March when I was in the middle of the editing slog, having done a full redraft of FIRE IN THE BLOOD, and it’s testament to the quality that it dragged me put of my funk and made me focus on just reading. Incredible.
I’m trying to read a lot more this year, so maybe I’ll get up to a top ten…
Just got a note from Amazon saying I’m October’s 14th most borrowed author in the UK – get a nice wee drop of cash for it. Many thanks to any Kindle Unlimited users who’ve borrowed the books.
(In other news, I’m beavering away on other projects ahead of shutting down body and mind for Christmas – I’ll do some more enbloggening soon)
So, that’s the editing done for WINDCHILL now. The book is now uploaded and firing through the Amazon pipes – for some reason, they want ten days grace (previously it’s been 12 hours or so).
Been a bit of an ordeal this one – as ever, I underestimated the amount of work involved, but we definitely got there. My poor editor, Rhona, has been tearing her hair out and sighing as much as one of my early drafts.
I’d like to thank everyone who’s bought the book ahead of any reviews – the sheer number is mind bending. Given this is my day job, it really helps quell the pre-release jitters.
This has been an experiment with the ability to pre-order – Amazon let me trial it in April when I didn’t have any books due for release before they pushed it out to every KDP user. I’ll blog about my experiences once the bugger’s out.
Oh, and Crime Fiction Lover have it on their radar of new releases. One of my very favourite review sites.
And here’s something for you, the first chapter –
He tried to keep in the shadows as Steven opened the front door. Blinking, he stepped back as the taxi swept past the house before it trundled up the hill, headlights illuminating the wet street. He waited for it to pass and the dim glow of the street lights to return. “Can you not hurry up?”
A man passed them on the opposite side of the street, coat tucked tight against the rain, looking overweight. Had he seen them? His breath quickened.
“Got it.” Steven fumbled with the front door, finally nudging it open. “Sorry about that. Too much to drink, obviously. Come on in.”
“Thought you’d never ask.”
Steven looked down at the cream carpet in the long hall. “Can you at least take off your shoes?”
“No.” He smiled before walking through to the living room, flicking on the mother and child light by the sofa, but remained standing. “I’m fine as I am.”
Still standing in the hall, Steven reached down to untie his own laces. “Can I get you a drink?”
“Now that would be good.”
Steven marched across the wide room, switching a side light on. He paused in front of an oak cabinet behind a leather recliner, like he was going to say something, before pulling down the horizontal cabinet door, revealing a sizeable collection of spirits bottles. His hand hovered over them before settling on a whisky, black label embossed with silver. He sniffed it then poured healthy measures into a pair of glasses. “Here you go. Hope it’s still to your taste.”
Steven took a sip and nodded, eyes staring into space. “Right.”
He took the glass and wandered over to stand just to the left of the window, before sniffing the drink. Pure darkness. “Still think it’s the best whisky in Scotland, Steven?”
“I like it. Get through a bottle every month.”
“That’s a lot of drinking.”
“Helps with the stress. You know how it is.”
“Don’t I just.” He finished the whisky in one, the liquid burning his tongue and throat. Sucking in a mouthful of air, letting it dampen the heat. Bliss. He held the glass up to the light and inspected the lines of the crystal.
Steven finished his dram and put his own glass down, hand shaking. “What is it you want?”
“A chat. One that can’t wait. It’s important.”
“It just is.”
“Come on. You dragged me from the pub to hear whatever it is.”
“You’ll want another drink.”
“Aye, I think so.”
“I’ve had a skinful already.” Steven turned his back and poured out another measure of Dunpender, his head bowed. “Fine.”
He spotted a crystal quaich, Dunpender 100 etched into it, next to another tall bottle matching the design but gold replacing silver. “Nice little trinket you’ve got there.”
Steven ran a finger over it and nodded. “Cost me a pretty penny.”
“Disappointed you’re not opening that one for me.”
Steven sighed as he looked down at his glass. “Like I’ve got anything to celebrate.”
“Quite.” Taking a deep breath, he set the empty glass down on the dark brown window sill. He lashed out, connecting the base of his hand with the back of Steven’s neck, forcing him against the cabinet, fingers clutching at the glass doors. Steven fell forwards, grasping for the hinge as he sprawled across the machined wood flooring, the bottle of Dunpender tumbling and smashing, a pool of gold liquid forming around his prone body.
Stepping forward, he followed through with kicks to Steven’s stomach, head, balls. He kicked the head again. And again.
He knelt down, breathing heavily, fingers crawling up Steven’s throat, clasping the pulse point. His heartbeat was faint.
Still alive. Good.
He dropped the toolbox in the middle of the living room, the trail of oil muddying the bleached wood of the floor, before sifting through the tools inside.
Hammers. Two of them. Which one? The ball-peen for definite, its small head giving precision. The claw hammer was all about brute force. Maybe he’d need both.
He rummaged through the second layer of tools, finding a long cord, the sort used on a drying green. That’s the ticket.
He got to his feet and untied the kitchen cloths on Steven’s wrists, replacing them with the cord, the solid knot at the back of the chair just out of reach.
Breathe. Slowly, deeply. Take your time.
He picked up the glass of water from the coffee table and tipped it over Steven’s head. He didn’t wake up.
He raised the hammer, bringing it down on Steven’s middle finger.
Steven’s eyes shot open. He screamed, a primal roar from the pit of his gut, his gaze darting around the room.
The noise curdled his own stomach. He swallowed, his throat constricted. “So you’re awake then?”
“What the fuck are you doing?”
“Come on, Steven, you know what I’m doing and why.”
“I can pay you.”
“Can you really?”
“Please, how much do you want?”
“This isn’t about money. At least not to me. No, it’s about the betrayal of trust.” He reached for the pliers, gripping the fingernail on Steven’s left thumb and yanked. The scream turned his stomach anew.
One, two, three…
Two minutes – one hundred and twenty – that’s all he’d allow himself to enjoy his work.
He stayed in the shadows, watching the yellow flickering in the living room and kitchen windows at the back. The briefest smell of charcoal and petrol.
Glancing around the street, he couldn’t see anyone.
One nineteen, one twenty. Time up.
A cough. Somewhere to the left.
He looked around. There – a fat man stood a few doors down, focused on his phone as a small dog ratted around the bushes of the compact front garden, cocking its leg as it sniffed the air. It was the man who’d almost spotted him as Steven made a hash of getting in.
The dog sensed him, its brown eyes locking on, its mouth curling.
He stepped back into the shade. The dog’s bark rattled around the small space.
“Benji, will you bloody quit it?”
One, two, three…
After sixty he peered out, the phone’s backlight illuminating the man’s face, thumbs working at the screen, the dog pulling the lead tight.
He clenched the claw hammer, hoping he wouldn’t have to resort to another murder just to get away.
“Come on, Benji.” The man tugged at the dog and led him inside.
He let out a breath, watching it mist in the cold air, before walking off. He headed for home, his work complete.
He allowed himself another glance at the house, the flames now visible and obvious to anyone who cared to look.
Pre-order the book from Amazon – http://mybook.to/edjameswindchill – £2.99/$4.99/fractions in other currencies. The pre-order price will be maintained for 90+ days.
Morning all – here’s the cover to WINDCHILL, book SIX in the ongoing idiotic adventures of Scott Cullen:
Suitably wintry, right?
Just going through final edits for it just now – I’ve been a bit of an idiot and ended up with two books to edit at the same time; more on SNARED later. Needless to say, what started as a pair of short stories has grown to a monstrous novel, second-longest in the Cullen pantheon. Why do I do this to myself?
WINDCHILL is out on 13-Oct-14 and is currently on pre-release at Amazon. Note the price of £2.99, $4.99 (US) [and some odd fraction in EUR/AUD/CAD/JPY/INR/etc] will be maintained for at least 90 days after release, so it’s not like I’ll suddenly dump the price to 99p. [Oh, and COWBOYS & INDIANS will be book seven, out sometime early next year]
Book blurb –
WINDCHILL covers two cases over the festive period, two stories joined at the hip.
Still reeling from the events of the previous Spring, Detective Constable Scott Cullen’s ambition has almost burnt him out. With his drinking out of control, Cullen’s hopes of promotion are dashed by the shrinking police force and managerial game playing – his only pleasure is the prospect of Christmas spent in front of the TV.
In CHRISTMAS STEPS, when a corpse is found in a burnt down house, Cullen’s Christmas plans are pulled apart as he unpicks the victim’s life just as his own private life is picked apart by his boss, DI Colin Methven.
In WINDCHILL, the murder of a young barman in his Edinburgh flat leads Cullen into the murky world of pubs and bookmakers, while the most likely suspect has a cast-iron alibi.
WINDCHILL is a claustrophobic police procedural novel about dashed friendship, alcohol abuse and trust.
The sixth book in a series of Edinburgh-based police procedurals starring DC Scott Cullen, the first of which which has been compared favourably with Ian Rankin, Mark Billingham, Christopher Brookmyre, Ed McBain, Elmore Leonard and Stuart MacBride.
Not long now.
GHOST IN THE MACHINE (Cullen 1) is now a bargain 79p/99c – myBook.to/edjamesghost
A quick reminder that I’m appearing at Bloody Scotland this Saturday at 10am with Allan Guthrie and Alex Sokoloff.
Alex has blogged about it at her site – she’ll be interrogating Al and I on digital publishing among other things. If you’re an aspiring author – much like I was two years ago when I saw Al at Bloody Scotland – then it’ll hopefully be an inspiring talk.
WINDCHILL (Cullen 6) – pre-order now
UPDATE: It’s live here; http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04fz0wx. 24m30s.
Just a quick note to say I went into the BBC Scotland studios yesterday to record some stuff about self-publishing, crowdfunding for authors and a few other bits and bobs. It should be going out on Radio 4’s PM programme tonight.
In a tribute to the Clash, I even made my own cup of tea while I was waiting. “Do you wanna make tea at the BBC…”
Cullen 6 – WINDCHILL is available for pre-order on Amazon.
£2.99, $4.99 and some odd fraction in EUR/AUD/CAD –
For clarity, this is a novel set at Christmas time and the New Year, told in two parts.
COWBOYS AND INDIANS will be book 7 and hopefully out not too much longer after this little baby.
I get a lot of questions about when this, that or the other thing is coming out. Hugh Howey, the sci-fi author has a widget on his site so I thought I’d add something similar.
The place to keep on top of my release schedule is here –
Current Projects Page
That’s a hell of a lot of books I’m working on. As ever.
If you want to keep on top of these books as I write them, subscribe to my mailing list – monthly-ish update of what’s going on.
I know I’ve been a bit quiet, but my head has been down. Got a lot of projects I’m focused on and this blog has taken a bit of a beating.
Little side note – the revised edition of DYED IN THE WOOL is now available from Amazon. This one took a hell of a beating in the revision process, going from 112,000 to 83,000 words, most of what came out either redundant scenes or words. It flows a lot better. You should be able to get a revised version from your Manage My Kindle page. Again, sorry for not releasing these books on other platforms, but nobody bought them when they were there (the collected edition is available).
Just a quick note to let you know I’ll be appearing at this year’s Bloody Scotland as a presenter as well as a punter –
I’ll be appearing with Allan Guthrie, who’s one of my biggest influences as a writer, and we’ll talking a lot about digital publishing, as well as Cullen and the other mad stuff I’ve got in the pipeline.
I went to the first event two years ago and it was excellent (I couldn’t make it last year what with being a WILLIE and a heavy cold) – there are a lot of things I aim to attend this year.
Also, closer to my home, I’ll be appearing at the Write:On festival in Haddington tomorrow night.
The Cullen books, GHOST IN THE MACHINE free – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ed-James/e/B007UEQTQI/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
As most of you will know, last year I was a WILLIE for nine months, WILLIE of course meaning Work In London Live In Edinburgh, and did a hell of a lot of writing while I travelled. I recorded a piece for Radio 4 as part of their ‘Rise of the WILLIEs’ show last month – looks like they’ll even use some of it… Show goes out at 11am –
Was quite a mad time in my life, though my back is still pretty buggered from the experience.
I’ve been experimenting with using multiple sales channels over the last few months.
Previously, I’d found that Amazon was >99% of my sales figures though, curiously, 85% of my free downloads. I wanted to see if that 15% would turn into sales on the other channels. Also, I get occasional posts, tweets and emails about whether I’ll put my books on Kobo/Nook/iBooks/etc.
Well, I tried. Put it this way, having had the books out there for seven weeks now, I’ve realised I sell 2.5 times EVERY DAY on Amazon what I’ve sold in that period across Kobo and Nook. Say what you like about Amazon, they really have created a market for indies like me to exploit and create a career out of.
So, I’m going back all-in with Amazon ‘s KDP Select as of next Wednesday, 07-May. For all those who’ve contacted me asking for the other Cullens on non-Kindle platforms, you’ve got a week to get the books.
In all seriousness, if you read books on your tablet (iPad, Fire, Nook Colour, etc) then I recommend you get the Kindle app for my books. It’s really good. I’d also advise against reading on a tablet – your eyes’ blink reflex is deadened compared with paper or eInk so you get dry eyes. As someone who’s had laser surgery on my ‘een’, I’m acutely aware of how bad my eyes feel when I’ve beasted my iPad for a long period (most recently reading twenty issues of CAPTAIN AMERICA back-to-back on Comixology…) I’m not a professional but speak to your optician if you get pain or dry eyes – don’t mess with your eyesight.
In other news, I’m just about finished Draft 1+ of SNARED, DS Dodds book one. I say 1+ and that means I wrote it last week and I’m firing through it to fix errors and stop things like summary narrative which is something I’m trying to kill in my books.
There’ll be a mailing list entry in the next couple of days, so sign up!
Kind of spooky in the week GHOST hit 666 reviews in the UK, but a few things on CULLEN book two – DEVIL IN THE DETAIL.
If you’ve bought it, you should have received an email from Amazon yesterday saying a revised version was uploaded. This is fact. There’s also a revised version of GHOST IN THE MACHINE uploaded as well.
What sort of revisions? Well, one of the big things I’ve done this year is edit the first two novels so the writing is consistent with the later novels – my style has moved on a lot. With GHOST and DEVIL, I went through them several times and tidied the text up significantly. The changes were read by Rhona, who edited DYED IN THE WOOL and BOTTLENECK, and those two books are now as good as I can make them without starting again from scratch (seriously, don’t tempt me).
The bulk of the changes are stylistic – removing info dumps (bad), heavily-reducing the Scottish patois (no kens, didnaes and all that), cutting Bain’s swearing a bit (he’s still a profane idiot), heavily-reducing the dialogue attribution (I was a bit worried about people getting lost in dialogue, so every line had a said) and tidying up a few bits and pieces. There was a lot of descriptions of roads which really added nothing to the books – I should really write THE ED JAMES GUIDE TO THE SCOTTISH MOTORWAY SYSTEM (INCLUDING DUAL CARRIAGEWAYS AND SIGNIFICANT A-ROADS).
The significant changes to GHOST were the complete rewrite of the first scene and addition of a cold open scene in Pilrig Park, foreshadowing a bit of the ending. Nothing major, really. The word count went from 96,000 to just under 87k.
DEVIL was squashed into two calendar days and I’ve thinned the action on day two out into a third one, adding a nice scene with Sharon McNeill. There’s also a bit of a ticking clock that was in there which I’ve picked out of the mix and made more explicit. At least two of the scenes got really major rewrites. The word count was sliced from 103k to just over 86k and it is a lot slicker for it.
I don’t know if any of your ever have any plans to re-read the books (I think TRAINSPOTTING and THE CROW ROAD are the only novels I’ve read more than once…), then do me a favour and read these ones. Spending that amount of time putting sheen on a free book was a labour of love, really.
In other news, DEVIL is now out on Kobo and Nook. I’m experimenting with non-Amazon channels for the Cullens just now (I’ve had >30,000 GHOST downloads on these two) but I’ve been a bit underwhelmed by sales so far, shall we say. Say what you want about Amazon, their KDP offering for indies like me is second-to-none.
Keep an eye on the mailing list – http://bit.ly/EJMail – to keep up with my release schedule.
Just noticed it’s two years to the day since I first published GHOST IN THE MACHINE. Wow. Hard to believe how much has changed in that time. Serious thanks to everyone who has downloaded it and bought the subsequent escapades in Cullen’s life.
I’ve spent some of this year revising the first two books to make them more consistent stylistically with the rest (and to reduce Bain’s swearing…) and new versions of GHOST and DEVIL are available now. I’m such a dabbler. They may email you telling about it, but if you want to receive the revised version on your Kindle, send them a mail and they’ll give you the new file (looks like they’re going to automate this).
Anyway, thought I’d give an update on where things are – the Mailing List is going to be my primary announcement thing and I’ll start using this place more regularly for more flippant stuff.
Cullen Year One
About a month ago, I released a collected edition of the first four books called CULLEN YEAR ONE. This puts GHOST, DEVIL, FIRE and DYED in one edition for the bargain price of £5.99 or $9.99, saving 25% off the price of buying them individually. It’s a bit of a steal, especially as GHOST is free already. Universal Amazon link – [ http://mybook.to/CYear1 ] It’s on Kobo and Nook too if that’s your thing.
CULLEN 6 – COWBOYS & INDIANS
Had a few searches for the next Cullen book, clearly people who’ve devoured BOTTLENECK already. At the moment, there’s no release date for it. I’ll start doing some work in the next month or so, just to get the plot nailed down along with the novella I’ll do later this year. As per the BOTTLENECK afterword, still no idea when I’ll release it. Things are a bit in flux just now – keep an eye on the Mailing List for further news.
DS DODDS 1 – SNARED
I’m currently going hammer and tongs at the first draft of SNARED and am roughly a third of the way through, having bashed out 33,000 words. Not bad for three days’ work so far… Again, for release information, keep an eye on the Mailing List for news of when this one is going to get released. For those of you who don’t know, this is a new series set in Dundee with a new copper, DS Vicky Dodds. It’s hardcore police procedural all the way, similar in some ways but pretty different to Cullen. I’m enjoying writing it like you wouldn’t believe.
Yeah, not sure what I’m doing with this. CRASH INTO MY ARMS, the intended sequel to SHOT THROUGH THE HEART, is getting de-vampired and will be the next project after SNARED. I’ve got a solid idea for a sequel but the sales on this one have been really quite bad. I learnt a lesson with this one, that’s for sure. I’m going to make it free again to see if that gives it a market sufficient to warrant a book two.
I’ll be sending a new newsletter in the next couple of days – sign up at http://bit.ly/EJMail
Hope you’re all enjoying BOTTLENECK.