The Quest to Get Published: Part 2

I am about to embark on an adventure. I have long been intrigued by the ebook revolution. It has turned the self publishing process from a ‘vanity press’ to something that reaches a far wider audience that can really make its authors some money. I’ve been inspired by writers like Lindsay Buroker (whose blog is well worth a visit) who have been able to turn a hobby into a full-time career. With the increasing difficulties in pursuing the traditional publishing route, the self-published ebook offers an outlet for many fine authors who would otherwise have gone ignored by the big publishing houses for whatever reasons. My own frustrations at receiving one ‘good, but not for us’ rejection letter after another, I have decided to dip my feet into the world of self publishing.

I have long had an idea for a ‘dime novel’ type series about a British adventurer in the nineteenth century and even worked out a couple of drafts a few years ago. The idea has since developed into a three novel Steampunk series which I will kick off with a free short story (to be released soon) and an additional short story which I plan to give away to subscribers of my new blog at

Yes, I’m publishing these under a pseudonym. This isn’t out of a wish to hide my identity, but Steampunk is a very different animal to my historical novels (which I’m still trying to get published) and I feel that they would work better under a different name. P. J. Thorndyke will by my pseudonym for lots of projects (not just Steampunk) in the future. I have plenty of ideas for pulpy-style adventures in different genres so this will be a good outlet for those stories. So, if Steampunk or pulp fiction is your thing, head on over to my new blog and buckle up for the ride! I don’t know how it’s going to turn out but I’m sure I’ll learn plenty along the way as well as having some fun.

American Nightmare Now Out!

amazonnightmare2Now available from their website in print and digital form (and from Amazon for Kindle) is the American Nightmare anthology featuring my story ‘Ghost Girl, Zombie Boy and the Count’. This 1950s-set collection is a dark twist on the American Dream; a world of Cadillacs, greasers, diners, drive-ins and rock and roll with a healthy dosing of the occult, the supernatural and the macabre. Check it out at Kraken Press!

Preorders for ‘American Nightmare’

I just signed the contract on this which will be the first story I’ve had published where I receive royalties! It’s supposedly coming in ebook and print format and contains my short story ‘Ghost Girl, Zombie Boy and the Count’. This was the second Halloween-themed story I had accepted this year so it wasn’t a bad October! ‘American Nightmare‘ is a 50’s-themed horror anthology from Kraken Press.

The Quest to Get Published: Part 1

I recently had a near thing going with a small publisher who offered me a contract for a novel of mine. I was ecstatic until I discovered that they wanted me to front over £1000 to invest in the publication of it. Now this wasn’t some shoddy vanity press type of thing. Despite being a small publisher, they put out some quality stuff (some of which I have seen in Waterstones) and run a very smooth operation. They offer several levels of contracts, the highest levels require no financial investment from the author and unfortunately, as I am as yet unestablished in the field of historical fiction, my novel was offered one of the lower end deals, despite some in the company thinking its quality was worthy of a higher contract.

To me a grand seems a huge amount to hand over to a publisher that claims to be interested in my novel. Paperbacks sell at about £7, of which I would receive 10% with this deal, so 70p per book. Middling novels can sell around 1000 copies, and that’s doing pretty well for an unknown author. Even if I take into account ebook sales (of which I would receive 50%), it seems unlikely that I would get much of a return on my £1000+ investment. Financial concerns aside, there is the principle of the thing. I take a lot of pride in my work and paying somebody a grand to get it out there just doesn’t seem right.

Although it’s crushingly disappointing to turn down an honest-to-god contract, I have to get published on my own terms. And I’m taking many positive things away from the whole experience. For a start it was the perfect kick up the arse I needed to get networking. After many years of reluctance, I am now on Twitter and am trying to tweet regularly. I’ve made inroads into the genre via other blogs and planned a marketing strategy. I’ve also got a killer book trailer under construction. Most importantly, I’ve had my novel read by four people in the publishing industry who, although some had their criticisms, generally liked it and two had some very encouraging words about it. One even said that with a back list of similar titles I could make an impact as a good mid-list writer and that I should ‘please keep writing.’

I will never give up.

Gilgamesh: Historical Fantasy 2000 BC

My recent piece of flash fiction called ‘Great Worms in the Temple of Uruk’ (published in Flash of Fiction from the Short Story Competition HQ) draws inspiration from perhaps the oldest surviving story we have in physical form. The Epic of Gilgamesh tells the story of King Gilgamesh of Uruk (now in modern-day Iraq), a fierce Mesopotamian ruler who lived in about 2500 BC. The legend survives in cuneiform inscribed stone tablets.

It portrays Gilgamesh as a debauched and tyrannical ruler. To distract him from oppressing his people, the gods create a man-beast called Enkidu who is his equal in strength and ferocity. Enkidu’s ravishment of the countryside prompts Gilgamesh to lure him into a trap using a temple harlot called Shamhat. After a ferocious fight that results in the doors to one of Uruk’s temples being destroyed, Enkidu and Gilgamesh recognize each other’s strength and become lifelong companions. Perhaps with the aim of repairing the temple doors, Gilgamesh and his new buddy head out to the great cedar forest where they defeat the terrible demi-god Humbaba…

The story goes on and involves many mythical monster slayings that could appear in any Conan story as well as a quest for eternal life in the form of a rare flower. It’s great sword and sorcery stuff and has been an inspiration to countless fantasy epics throughout the ages. I had great fun crafting a little flash fiction piece in the world of Gilgamesh and lament only that my time among the crumbling temples and slithering demi-gods of Mesopotamia was so short. Oh well, perhaps I will visit that world again one day…