Friday, 11 April 2014

I have a date

Okay, not a date with a woman. Or a man, for that matter. I’m talking about something much more interesting and unnerving and exciting and momentous – at least to me.

I have a publication date. For Cry Baby, my new novel. The one I talked about in my previous blog post. It’s happening. It’s going to appear. People are about to buy it (you are, aren’t you? Please tell me you are).

In some ways I’m more nervous about this book than I was for its predecessors in the series. On its success or otherwise lies the fate of Callum Doyle, the protagonist I have developed and evolved over four novels. I like him. He’s not me – he’s not anyone I know – but for all his faults and mistakes he’s a lovable guy. I don’t really want to end his all-too-brief fictional life. You readers out there – you have the power to keep him alive. A heavy responsibility, I know, but I have faith in you.

People keep telling me not to worry. Those kind enough to have agreed to review it are saying extraordinarily nice things. It’ll soar, they tell me.

But I am all too aware that the publishing game is hugely unpredictable. I have done all I can, by writing the best book I can, but there are some things over which I have no control. One of those is luck, and only time will tell if fortune is on my side.

So here we go. The wheels are in motion. The final version of the book has been sent to my agent tonight, just waiting to be released into the wild. We shall see whether it is strong enough to fend for itself, or whether it will be devoured by the competition.

And the date we find out? Wednesday, April 16. Less than a week away.


Wednesday, 2 April 2014

New book, new adventure

I’ve been a little quiet about my writing lately. It’s not that I’ve stopped writing or anything. On the contrary, I’ve been pretty busy over the past year. But it has also been a time of reflection, uncertainty and change. Right now I’m working on the first of a new series of crime thrillers, this time set closer to home. But fans of the Doyle series may also be glad to hear that I haven’t given up on him. Not yet. In fact, I’ve written the fourth in that series too. This one’s a little different, in a number of ways.

I’ve done a lot of thinking recently about Doyle’s fate. The reception the books get is, for the most part, extremely positive, both from readers and the media. Pariah, the first in the series, was Highly Commended in the CWA Debut Daggers, got rave reviews, and audio and translation rights in several languages have been sold.

What I think is missing, though, is exposure. I need to reach more readers. And that’s not for financial reasons – it’s because, like most authors, I want people to enjoy reading the books I have spent many hours of my life writing.

This leads me to my first major decision about the new Doyle book. I’m going it alone. To be more accurate, my fantastic agent (Oli Munson at AM Heath) and I are going it alone. Doyle #4 is to be published under Amazon’s White Glove Program. If you haven’t heard of the WGP, it’s a scheme that is open only to agented authors, and offers the incentive of increased promotion. Everything comes at a price, however, and what we have to offer in return is a period of exclusivity on the e-book rights. That means that, at least in the short term, the only e-reader on which the novel will appear is the Kindle.

The WGP has done wonders for some authors. Mark Edwards published The Magpies under this scheme – a book that has sold in the gazillions. He tweeted recently that the three biggest-selling Kindle authors last year all achieved their success via the WGP. Although I don’t expect to replicate that, I am excited at the prospect of finding more readers than I have ever managed before. And while I’m on the topic, I’d like to record here my heartfelt thanks to Mark for all the advice he gave me.

A huge factor in this decision is the autonomy it gives us with respect to pricing. We can set it at whatever level we please, and we can change it as many times as we like. When my third Doyle novel, Marked, appeared as a mass market paperback, its price was something like £6.39, and it hasn’t dropped much since then, despite my protestations. For a small fish such as myself in a very large pond, this rules me out of the competition, especially when there are so many good books by household-name authors that are being sold for a quid or so.

So what of the novel itself? Here’s the jacket image (created by my talented wife) and cover blurb:

It’s every mother’s nightmare – the abduction of her baby.

That’s how it starts for Erin Vogel when she is attacked and left unconscious in her apartment. When she awakes, it is to find that Georgia, her six-month-old daughter, has been taken.

But Erin is given a chance to get Georgia back. At an unthinkable price.

Like most mothers, she has always said she would do anything for her child. Now the strength of that bond is about to be put to the ultimate test.

And when her actions arouse the interest of a certain Detective Callum Doyle, one thing is inevitable: a confrontation that will be as explosive as it is unforgettable.

From the highly acclaimed author of Pariah, The Helper and Marked comes a nerve-shredding novel that questions the line we draw between good and evil.

I hope you like the sound of it. As I said above, Cry Baby differs from its predecessors in a number of ways, of which the Kindle decision is but one. I think you’ll notice a difference in style in this book too, which I think has matured since I began writing, and the tone is somewhat darker. Despite being a Doyle book, it can easily be read as a standalone, with much of the focus being on characters other than Doyle.

At the moment I’m doing a final proofread, with the intention of sending it out to potential reviewers before its publication (so please let me know if you are interested in a free review copy).

It’s an exciting time, but also a scary one. Wish me luck!