Both of My Novels Are Now Available as Trade Paperbacks

December 30, 2012

BookCovers

Happy Holidays Everyone!

My office was closed this week, so to keep myself busy I set myself a goal: I’ve finally figured out how to get my e-published novels available as print-on-demand trade paperbacks. A copy of Inca and Zulu are in the mail to me as we speak. In the next week or so they’ll be available for sale through the various Amazon websites, but in the meantime they’re already available via CreateSpace directly:

Inca by Geoff Micks

Zulu by Geoff Micks

For any authors out there with e-books, I cannot say enough good things about the CreateSpace process. Formatting for print was a little time-consuming, of course, but if you have any kind of a graphic design background it is also relatively simple and totally free! That’s a far cry from the not-so-distant past.

Once upon a time, physical copies of self-published books were only available via vanity press: You bought a few hundred or thousand copies up front from a publisher, and it was up to you to sell them. There was a stigma to vanity presses, and the costs were prohibitive. Today, the stigma has been replaced with a spirit of entrepreneurialism, and making your books available costs nothing at all. When someone orders a book, CreateSpace prints off one copy and mails it to the reader. They deduct their costs from the price, and send me the rest as a royalty payment at regular intervals.

It’s a brave new world, and for the first time in a long time I feel lucky to live in an age where traditional publishing is gun shy of long works of historical fiction from new authors. This is better –so much better! I have total control over my novels in perpetuity, and I have the freedom to write what I like, format it as  I please, and publish on my own timeline. I even have the option of making the book available to bookstores and libraries, although that’s something I want to research further before taking that step.

This has been and will continue to be a journey, but I’m very happy with how far I’ve already come and the road still stretching out before me. I’d like to thank everyone who helped me set this course. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from a man who finds himself grinning ear to ear lately.

Cheers!

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My second e-book, Zulu, is now for sale through Amazon’s Kindle Store

May 14, 2012

Cover_Amazon

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m pleased to say we now have a working link. More importantly, my mother has bought the first copy, so I can now tell everyone else about it. Zulu is currently the 218,622nd most popular e-book for sale in the Kindle Store. I’m pleased to see e-publishing is thriving. With your help, I hope to climb at least an order of magnitude in the rankings. I’m sure there will be a number of updates and additional information in the near future –including a Smashwords link for those of you who do not favour Kindle e-readers– but for the time being I’m just going to say this is a proud moment for me. I hope you enjoy it. If you do, please tell a friend.

Cheers and happy reading!

Now Available at Amazon.com and CreateSpace!

Addendum: As of September 30th, I’ve decided not to publish on Smashwords, focusing all my efforts on Amazon.com. Cheers!


I Will Be E-Publishing My Next Novel, Zulu, Soon

April 30, 2012

Cover_AmazonHello everyone,

As many of you know, I e-published a work of historical fiction, Inca, last summer on Amazon.com and Smashwords.com. It’s been a wonderful experience so far, and  I’m pleased to announce in the next few days I will be publishing my second novel. I’m just waiting for the ISBN number to come through, and then there will be a short delay while Amazon processes the file. I expect I’ll be blogging quite a bit in the next couple of weeks as everything comes online.

When I was fourteen years old I watched a movie called Zulu starring a young Michael Caine in his first major role. The film is an African Western –if that’s a thing– loosely based on the true story of the Battle of Rorke’s Drift, a minor siege that saw a hundred and fifty British soldiers defend a mission station against four thousand Zulu warriors for a day and a night. The redcoats won eleven Victoria Crosses for their heroism, but I came away from the experience with a lingering question, “What would make a man get up out of the tall grass and run against a fortress over and over again, armed only with a spear less than four feet long?” The redcoats fought for their lives and only survived thanks to breech-loading rifles and makeshift barricades shoulder-high. What were the Zulu fighting for?

Being a bookish sort, I went to my library in search of answers. Everything I read left me wanting to learn more. The Anglo-Zulu War was not a straight parallel to the Apache or Sioux wars made famous by American westerns: The Zulu were an iron age pastoral society with a strong monarchy, a thriving economy, and a culture that celebrated service to the State. The assault on Rorke’s Drift was fought exclusively by men in their late thirties and early forties who had missed an earlier  battle where their sons and nephews had won a victory that made the Little Big Horn look like a church picnic. The older generation defied the orders of their King and crossed into British territory to attack Rorke’s Drift so as not to go home ashamed at their lack of accomplishment. They threw their lives against the British fortifications because it was better to die than have their children think less of them. The tragedy of that, the stubborn pride involved, humbles me.

The Zulu Kingdom went on to hold off a quarter of the globe for six aching months, and their final defeat saw their whole world collapse into an anarchy of ashes and dust for the hubris of wanting to live free in their own land under their own laws.

Much more so than the Ashante or the Xhosa or the Pashtuns or any other people ground under the Victorian heel in the later half of the 1800s, the Zulu have echoed through history for more than a century for their proud, doomed struggle. It frustrated me as a fan of historical fiction that nothing has ever written from their own perspective: Every story I found was written from the British perspective, and the Zulu were rarely more than a mass of humanity seen over a set of iron gun sights.  They deserve better than that, and I began writing a story at seventeen that I’ve been tinkering with ever since. I hope it does them justice.

Zulu is the story of four young people: Mbeki and Ingonyama, the sons of a blacksmith; the exiled Matabele prince Inyati, and Nandhi, the daughter of a Northern baron. They grow up in a kingdom on the cusp of a golden age. Their lives are far from perfect, but they make friends and enemies at the Royal Court that draw them into the great events of a people with a culture and history as rich and deep as anything medieval Europe can boast of. The abrupt collision of their civilization with an aggressive foreign power armed with the fruits of the Industrial Revolution becomes their highest glory and their deepest tragedy.

If Inca was my attempt to follow in the footsteps of Gary Jennings’ Aztec, Zulu is unabashedly my homage to the early works of Wilbur Smith: There are love triangles, power struggles, boxing matches, elephant hunting, brush fires, and battles. While most of the main characters are fictional, the incredible events they find themselves caught up in really happened.

I’m excited to share that story with you. Best regards and happy reading!

–Geoff Micks

EDIT: As of September 30th, I’ve decided to stop publishing on Smashwords and focus on Amazon.


My e-book, Inca, is now live on Smashwords

August 14, 2011

Hello everyone,

In addition to Amazon’s Kindle store, My e-book is now also available through Smashwords.

For those of you with Kobo, Nook, Diesel, or Sony E-Readers, this should now work without any issues. Some of the formatting may be simplified during the conversion process, but all the prose is still there.

For those of you who are just running a search on Smashwords, apparently my book is being censored off the list for having adult situations. There’s enough sex and violence in the story that I ticked the box when they asked, but now that I know it limits my visibility I’m going to review the terms and conditions tomorrow to see if I can opt out of it.

I’ll have further updates and details on this soon. In the meantime, happy reading!

Addendum: As of September 30th, 2012, I’ve decided not to publish on Smashwords, focusing instead on Amazon.com. Cheers!

Further Addendum: As of December 30th, 2012, this novel is also available as a trade paperback at CreateSpace!


My e-book, Inca, is now for sale through Amazon’s Kindle Store

August 6, 2011

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m pleased to say we now have a working link. My book is currently the 155,423rd most popular e-book for sale in the Kindle Store. With your help, I hope to reduce that by at least an order of magnitude. There will be tons of updates and additional information in short order, but for the time being I’m just going to say that this is a big day for me. I feel about ten feet tall. I hope you enjoy it. If you do, please tell a friend.

Cheers and happy reading!

Now Available at Amazon.com and CreateSpace!


Update on Inca: Amazon is Processing My E-Book

August 2, 2011

Hello again everyone,

My book is now in the tender hands of Amazon’s self-publishing department. I’ve been told it will be available for purchase within the next two or three business days. They want to make sure I’m not violating their terms and services, and I’m sure I’ll have a happy announcement to make very soon.

In the meantime, I want to walk back an  earlier statement I made: My original intention was to put this out for 99¢. An e-book is a different animal than a traditionally published work, and I was willing to keep the price down to the minimum above giving it away for free. While going through the process of actually uploading the book I was informed that the 70% royalty that is a major argument in favour of e-publishing is only available to works priced between $2.99 and $9.99. If I price my book at 99¢, I will only receive 35% of the proceeds of my work.

I’ve given up the idea of doing this for the money. There’s no advance in e-publishing, and there isn’t a marketing department at a major publishing house driving sales. My book is not going to pay my rent. If I’m lucky, it’ll keep me in coffee money from month to month. That said, 34¢ a book is a lot less than the 69¢ I was expecting. I have therefore decided to price my book at $2.99: The minimum that gets me the royalty my research told me to expect. I hope this doesn’t come across as overreaching. Some rough math says that every one sale I’m going to make at this new price will net me the equivalent  of six sales at my original intention, and I can’t pass that up.

For anyone who made up their mind to humour me at 99¢, I’d like to make the plug that $2.99 is still a great price. I am an avid reader, and my favourite genre is historical fiction. I’ve weaved a great story through true events that very few people have ever heard of before. There isn’t another novel that covers the Inca this way, and when I’m done no one will lump the Inca in with the Aztecs and the Maya ever again. While it’s not fair to mention another author and say you’ve produced an equivalent work, my heroes are James Clavell, Gary Jennings, Colleen McCullough, Sharon Kay Penman, Bernard Cornwell, James Michener, Gore Vidal, Lindsay Davis, Wallace Breem, and Wilbur Smith for his first three decades of brilliant work. I have done my best to honour their precedent, and I’m proud of the book I’m offering for your enjoyment.

Inca includes a map, two glossaries, a prologue, eighteen chapters, an epilogue, and an historical note. If I had kept better track of my research resources my bibliography would easily exceed a hundred monographs both from the University of Toronto’s Robarts Library and from my own personal collection. I started this book in 2000, and I’ve been working on it in one way or another ever since. In the weeks and months to come you can look forward to essays on this blog that will further enhance the experience of reading this book.

It’s worth $2.99. In a hypothetical world where the publishing industry existed today as it was when I was a kid, my one-time agent would have found my book a home and it would have been available in bookstores for around $30 two years ago.  Instead we find it here, and I’m just as comfortable asking for $2.99 as 99¢.

I look forward to sharing my work with you soon. It will cost a little more than I originally mentioned, but it will be a steal at thrice the price.

Cheers!

–Geoff

Now Available at Amazon.com and CreateSpace!


On Editing a Novel-Length Manuscript

August 1, 2011

As I mentioned yesterday, I am within days of e-publishing a novel. It’s about the decline and fall of the Inca Empire from 1470 to 1540, told from the perspective of one of the last survivors of the Inca nobility. I’ll be blogging about this quite a bit for the foreseeable future, and today I thought I’d talk about what it’s like to edit something of the length and complexity of a novel-length manuscript.

There’s an excellent quote by James Michener that I came across the other day. “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.” For me, that’s the whole thing in a nutshell. People think finishing a manuscript means you have written a book, but nothing could be further from the truth. Completing a first draft is like having a baby, but you still need to bring that kid up right before you trust it to interact with the wider world outside of your supervision. If writing is procreation –with all the fun and pain that goes along with that– then editing is the long and tedious but ultimately rewarding process of parenting.

First, a Hard Truth

Let’s start with the complete first draft. You have hundreds of pages on a computer or on a stack on your desk, and there is a powerful temptation to call that ready to go. You are already so far ahead of the people who dabble and daydream about achieving what you have just accomplished. After all, it has characters, conflicts, memorable scenes of triumph and tragedy, and a satisfying heft to it. What more do you need? Well, for a start, I guarantee you it should be at least ten percent shorter. Twenty percent would be even better.

“Ouch!” I can hear you protest. “This is a finished work! Everything I’ve written is there for a reason, Geoff, and wait until you read this part about–”

Nonsense. The sooner you accept the fact that a first draft is an overwritten, meandering, amateurish piece of sputum –as Nabokov so graphically called it– the sooner you can roll up your sleeves and get ready to untangle the spaghetti-esque plotting and bleach out all that purple prose. You have to throw it into a pot and boil out all the sap. William Faulkner told you to, “Kill your darlings,” and it is going to be a long and bloody process. Somewhere buried under all that copy there is a story about people suffering, and it needs to be excavated out from under all that unnecessary dross you piled on top when you had to cover the blank page with all that ink so it would stop staring at you.

Okay, I’ll stop belabouring the point. Let’s get into specifics…

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