I'm endeavouring to publicise the book. I spent yesterday at the British Fantasy Convention in Brighton, and I left a bundle of flyers around the convention centre. (I wasn't the only person littering the place, so I don't feel too guilty!). There still seemed to be a fair number lying around when I left, so I don't know how successful my ploy was. I thought the flyers looked quite good: they looked like this:
I've also done a banner to add to forum posts, which is at the top of this post and which I think is quite striking - the close-up on the dragon face works well, in my humble opinion.
The question is whether anyone will take notice and buy it...
And I'm going to add a smaller version of the banner, just for completeness:
I was all prepared for
the launch of Sorrel in Scarlet on Monday. I uploaded my files to my
three targets on Saturday. Lulu went live almost immediately - epub
format for e-readers other than the Kindle. CreateSpace - print on
demand paperback copies, which I thought might well take longest to
launch - was available on Monday morning, and I received my own copy
But the Kindle... I
uploaded the file on Saturday. The system checked it over and firmly
said it was okay, and would be published and on sale within 12 hours.
Sunday morning - no
sign. I assumed it meant 12 business hours.
Monday? Not a whisper.
I can be patient - I sat back and waited till Tuesday.
Not a dickie-bird. No
change to my status, no e-mails, no messages, nothing. So I sent
Kindle a polite "What's going on?" style message.
I'm still waiting.
And to add insult to
injury, the paperback is available on Amazon UK and Amazon US, but
the cover picture isn't visible. The US one is finally showing up,
but the UK image is still absent.
Is Amazon trying to
tell me something?
Still, the good news is that the paperback version is now on sale. If you're in the UK, go here. If you're in the USA or elsewhere try here.
If you want an epub version (Nook, Kobo, Sony E-Reader, iPad etc) then try Lulu, here.
I spent most of last week formatting Sorrel in Scarlet for the Kindle. I uploaded it to test it... lo and behold, the system tells me my Table of Contents is not functioning.
So back to the drawing board - go through the help information on the Kindle guide, re-lay and re-structure my ToC, re-upload... and it tells me I still don't have a ToC, even though I can see it.
More delving, and I find a page of information about inserting an NCX file (just one only, it tells me), all structured in html, the language of web pages. In the dim and distant past I have written bits and pieces in html, but this is way beyond my level, and I can't launch Sorrel on Kindle (or any other epub site) without this.
I have a week before my planned publication date... I could be in big trouble.
I love books. Yes, a
Kindle is a brilliant gadget, but there is something about having an
old-fashioned book in my hand – the feel of the paper, the weight,
the sussurus as the pages turn – that grips me. Perhaps it was
because, as a child, I read constantly – books were my friends and
my treasures. I drove my mother mad keeping me with a supply of
reading material – I was a member of two, and later three different
local libraries, and we drove over to one or other at least once a
week. Six from Carnegie, four from Dulwich, six from West Norwood –
more than once I had finished one of them by the time we had driven
home. Books were (and are) the escape from the mundane, a means to
transfer myself into bright, extraordinary, occasionally frightening
landscapes and stories, a way to meet remarkable people and confront
dreadful odds... and win.
My bookshelves at
home groan under the weight of more than two thousand books, mostly
paperbacks, collected over thirty years. Over a thousand more
languish in boxes in the spare room and the attic, relegated there in
a desperate effort to prevent a lawsuit by the Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Shelves. New books materialise with
frightening regularity, as if by magic. And I know my books. Every
cover is somewhere in my mind's eye, most of the plots can be teased out of my
memory with only a few moments' thought, or a brief flick through.
They are still my friends. I would be lost without them.
Can the Kindle or
its ilk replace that?
My first thought is
to say never.
And yet... and yet I
picture the books boxed up in the attic, almost inaccessible, miserable and feeling unloved. The contents of those boxes
don't see the light of day. I can't casually pick one up and page
through it, reminding myself of the pleasures of the story. If I had
them on my Kindle, wouldn't that make them available to me again?
I don't have a simple answer to that... except that you can't, with a Kindle, easily pick
up a book almost at random off the shelf and flip to a favourite
scene, or glance at a cover in passing and remember the adventures
No, even if I do get
prosecuted by the SPCS, I can't do without at least some real books in the house. The Kindle is
a neat piece of kit, but paper books are still my first love.
Novels don't appear
instantly. They take time and effort and commitment. I spent a year
or more bashing my head against my word-processor, but the final
result read well, and I thought it had a fighting chance of
publication. I had written novels before, without any great success –
I had sent them to numerous agents, who had sometimes said that I had a good writing style, but that they didn't feel my previous efforts were
commercial enough. Sorrel in Scarlet I thought had
The first agent to
whom I sent it sat on it for months before curtly rejecting it. The
second wasn't taking on new clients at all. The third... I got a very
nice email, saying he had enjoyed the first three chapters, and
wanted to see the rest. Two weeks later, in March 2011, I had an
agent and a contract. Tim told me he thought Sorrel was
We spent months
editing it, so Tim was confident in its chances. Then he sent it to a
dozen major UK publishers.
Three, including one
of the biggest, showed interest – I met with a commissioning
editor, who said he wanted to publish it.
And then Sorrel
crashed and burned. His acquisitions committee vetoed it – too
strange, too far outside the obvious niches. The other two interested
parties said the same.
I was left with an
unsaleable manuscript, and some broken dreams. Tim and I had both
been so sure Sorrel would fly.
Get back on the
horse that threw you. Impcatcher was the new novel I've set to
But I still had a
manuscript in my clutches, one that had been within a whisker of a
And so now I intend
to put Sorrel on sale myself.
I've got a long way
to go, but publication beckons.
My family didn't
regularly go to the cinema when I was a child. So the few films I did
see on the big screen packed an impact. Back in 1975, one movie I
remember well was The Land that Time Forgot. At the time, I didn't
know of Edgar Rice Burroughs apart from as the creator of Tarzan (and
Tarzan I only knew from the Johnny Weissmuller films, which hadn't
grabbed me). This, on the other hand... it had dinosaurs, and a
submarine, and a brave hero. The pretty young woman didn't catch my
attention much – I was too young for girls to have impinged. What
the film did have was action, monsters, and a sense of the
extraordinary. The titular Land was not just a “Lost World”, but
had a strange pattern of advancement in evolution the further inland
you went. That aspect was never fully explored, but it gave me the
feeling that there was more here, more that could be explored,
further mysteries to follow.
It was many years
later before I saw the sequel – The People that Time Forgot –
which takes the ideas further, but which is by no means as good a
The special effects,
at the time, looked pretty good to me. Now, they creak nearly as badly as
original Doctor Who – but so what? The story is what matters. The
characters are relatively two-dimensional, but they are still better
than the characters in some of the current blockbusters being made,
and the plot keeps moving. The characters are active – they work to
get themselves out of the trouble they are in through brains and
muscle, rather than just panicking and being blown on the wind of
fortune. Yes, Doug McClure's character may be a square-jawed hero
with very little in the way of depth, but he is still a strong
The Land that Time
Forgot was the first of the Doug McClure action-adventure films, and
is in my view the best. I hadn't discovered pulp adventure stories at
that time (with the exception of Biggles) – this was the film that
really introduced the genre to me. Without this, perhaps there would never have been Sorrel in Scarlet... so you can all blame Doug McClure!