Look, you’re a smart person. I’ve just spent a whole week listing reasons why my book is going to be free, and why you should take a few seconds to download it for free this weekend. But I know none of that matters. You are a discerning individual, who makes decisions in their own time –in their own way.
So if this doesn’t convince you, The Seven Reasons My Book is Worthless:
And here’s the one where I stop being self-deprecating, and lean on the Vainglory Lever.
In my unbiased opinion, Spell/Sword is the most important book currently available in print. It’s cheeky, unbalanced, not professionally edited — it’s peppered with the mistakes that a Level One Fantasy Author, such as myself, is bound to make. But it doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter. Because I’m on to something. I’m up to something. I’m taking a swing at the whole epic fantasy genre. Tropes and troubadours and troubles and trousers. I want to break it and honor it and love it and push it screaming off a cliff.
And I’m doing it wrong, I’m making mistakes. But in the rubble I will stumble into moments of glory and wonder.
Reason #7: Because It Isn’t
I wrote a book! I worked very hard on it, and damn if it isn’t unique and spiffy.
Run down to the bookstore, or glance over your Goodreads lists. How many of them have all of these things?
– fairy tale mythos
– an eel-powered juke box
– a female protagonist with no romance subplot
– a male protagonist who uses a sword, but isn’t really that good at it
– roller-skating frogs
– a long lost civilization whose technology and architecture have completely defined the modern era — but are only barely mentioned or explained (Trust me, it’s for your own good. If you get me going about the Precursors, the Arkanic civilization, the books are going to get really, reeeeaaaaallly long.]
– lesbian bards who’s sexual preference is of almost no interest or relevance to the narrative
– foreshadowing that doesn’t resolve in the same book (it’s episodic story structure, DEAL WITH IT)
– bunnies with mechs
– villains who aren’t
– heroes who aren’t
– the only book that lives in what Terry Pratchett called the ‘consensus fantasy universe’.
– one really mean turtle
– The Gray Witch [shudder]
This book is my first controlled stab at establishing Swordpunk, and even through all my anxiety and hubris — I think it matters. I think my work matters. I think there are a lot of people who can pick up the melody, and will want to sing along.
I’m going toe to toe with authors with a lot more experience, the armory of a publisher at their back, and let’s be honest, almost as much talent. I’m never going to get there if more people don’t read the book, and join the Swordpunk Army.
Or I could be wrong. I could be talking a great game, and the book is still garbage.
One of the many difficulties of being a self-published, broke-ass author is exposure. You don’t have a publisher’s marketing department behind you, you have no prior work to lend credence to your work, your operating budget for publicity is whatever cash you can scrape together after you pay rent, utilities and your re-occurring subscription to Jams and Jellies of Eurasia Quarterly.
Your only recourse is a slow-slog. Word of mouth from your friends and family helps, but it’s a trickle. You go from blog to blog, hat in hand, begging for reviews. Throwing rocks every which way on the internet, hoping the book will hit the right person at the right time.
I’m throwing darts at the cosmos, here.
So, when the chance arrives to throw more darts, it’s an opportunity that cannot be missed.
Reason #6: Dragon*Con
I’ve gone to this convention for the past several years, but this time I go as an Underground Sensation.
I’ve printed up some T-shirts for my kind friends and Brand Ambassadors who will be attending, and in their pockets will be hundreds of business cards. Simple cards advertising the Free Kindle version of Spell/Sword.
I just have to hope and pray that people take them, that people find them where I hide them, that con-goers won’t find it weird to find stacks of these arranged like a ziggurat in the Men’s Bathroom at the Hyatt.
There’s no special code or anything, the book is just going to be free on these dates.
In a crowd of 50,000-100,000 nerds, dorks, and geeks – there must be a few that can catch what I’m laying down.
Hey! In the remote chance that you read this AND you find one at the Con — take a picture of yourself with it, and send it to me. I will be completely flabbergasted and gin up some sort of reward for you.
I am a creature of avarice and cynicism. Pure altruism, idealistic devotion, working on faith — these are all grand, wonderful things that I have a serious problem operating with. If I’m doing something, if I’m working towards something, I need there to be a concrete goal. A carrot on the end of the stick. I want my paycheck. I want my experience points, and if I break all the jars there better be some fucking rupees shining inside.
So, how am I able to keep working on my self-published fantasy series? A difficult task with innumerable pitfalls, hurdles, frustrations, despairs, and sorrows — a task with little immediate gain, far less ultimate reward…and an atom’s breadth chance of eventual success in the world at large.
Come close, let me whisper it to you. What I see at the end of the road, my dream job.
Reason #5: The Dream
I wake up in the morning around 8:30. I lay in bed for a bit and collect myself, maybe thumb through the internets conveniently distilled onto my phone. Then I get up, conduct my morning toilette, walk the dogs, feed the dogs, pet the dogs. Household tended to, I head to my office.
At first it’s just a desk in the back of the house, but slowly as time passes it morphs into an office. Some quiet corner made of brick and steel, with comfy leather chairs and an upstairs loft where I’ve constructed a nap room.
I sit down, sometime around 9:30-10. I flip open my noble Chromebook, or jab the spacebar of the hulking computorial behemoth I’ve purchased with my latest writing advance.
And then I write.
I write stupid stories, and funny stories, and stories full of blood and woe. Stories about Jonas and Rime and their long, strange journey.
And somewhere out there in the stranger world, people pay to read them. They pay me enough that this is all I need to do.
Some hours later, friends wander into my office and I stop working. I go for a long late lunch, then come back to my office to write some more.
I knock off in the early afternoon to beat the traffic, and because it’s time to go pet the dogs.
I walk home, planning the evening and letting the day’s stories settle and writhe in the weird back 40 of my brain.
The next day I do it again.
That’s my dream. My carrot, my XP, my rupees in the jar.
That’s why the book is free. Because that dream is way better than the buck I’ll make from you buying it.
Spell/Sword is not an epic trilogy. It is an episodic dodecasaga with extra walnuts and chocolate syrup.
For those of you that have read the book, fear not! There is a Grand Plan, a Tragedy Writ Large, a Plot If You Will. But instead of cramming it all into a neat Star Wars/Lord of the Rings box — it’s in a shiny manga box. Each book is designed to stand on its own as the adventure du jour, the Beast of the Week, almost like tuning into an hour-long anime — but slowly at first, then with alarming regularity the shape of My Nefarious Design will be revealed.
Spell/Sword is my first book, and my pride and love for it is embarrassing. But what keeps me pushing it, keeps me bullying friends and strangers to give it a try, is the excitement of where we are going — of what comes Next.
Reason #4: The Next One is Coming
The second book is called The Riddle Box and it picks up a week or two after the events of Spell/Sword.
And before you ask, yes, Jonas and Rime have already lost the wyvern. And, no, I will never explain how.
If you don’t read the first one, how will have any chance of reading the second one, where this absurdity takes place?
“I have a sword,” Jonas finally spoke up. “Though, Funnicello confiscated it.”
“It is most likely stored in his quarters, guardian. As well as a few other simple blades and—” Lord Bellwether took a breath to finish his sentence, but was forestalled when the bard finally sprung from his pose of studied apathy and bounded up a few stairs, then turned placing his fists on his hips.
“I have a weapon,” Geranium sang.
“Err. What?” Father Andrew raised a hand in confusion.
“The greatest weapon, the only blade any true Bard of Gate City could need,” the tall man in the cobalt coat let his voice fly up a careful scale, the last words an arpeggio.
Rime bit down on her frustration and slogged back through the blood to throttle the bard. “Can’t you all tell? He’s been waiting to say this, he’s been dying to perform this little scene and I won’t—”
Trowel, Coracle and Neriah all shushed her,then turned their attention back to the bard. All of the female guests. Rime spluttered.
Geranium the Eruption snapped his pink-neon fingers.
“Lady Moon-Death, come to me!” He held his hands up high with ecstatic abandon.
A metallic twang came from the second floor, a gryphon-roar of music. The black guitar howled through the air and stopped directly above Geranium. It lowered itself slowly, a quick rainstorm of notes spattered from the strings. The bard’s face was beatific, and he cradled the instrument close as it came to him.
“Forever, my love,” he crooned.
The three female guests applauded, and were quickly joined by the priest and the almost forgotten actors across the lobby.
“Thank you, thank you,” Geranium smiled with thousand-stage familiarity.
So get on board, dammit! Or you’ll never read the part where Jonas investigates a giant safe shaped like a cow.
Here’s a short list of people in my life who haven’t read Spell/Sword.
My sister in law
My girlfriend’s parents
My former roommate
President Barack Obama
My Pen Pal in Japan
35% of my D&D Group
Jonathan Franzen [big surprise, there]
Lev Grossman [he isn’t allowed]
It’s the sad truth of self-publishing. You’re always trying to expand beyond your social circle and break through to new readers, fresh readers, readers who you can’t drive to their house and stand over them while they read it.
And, as is clear, I’m not even getting 100% permeation of my kith and kin.
I’ve made the book an Amazon exclusive for several reason — but one of which is the ability to make it free like this at regular intervals. I’ve never understood why so many self-publishers are nervous about this, becoming over-covetous of the trickle of money you get for each sale. Right now, it’s WAY more important that people read the book than buy the book.
After the initial burst of interest in the book on release, it’s slowly dwindled to a slow, agonizing grind. A book here, a book there., a new review this week, a few stars doled out on Goodreads that week. I’m really hoping that this Free-stravaganza will help get my book out into a wider circle.
Every new -sucker- reader is another win in my book. And FOR my book.
If you held me at gunpoint, and put my feet to the fire, and drilled down, and wouldn’t take no for an answer, and just didn’t let it go, and whined a whole lot about it, and made it a huge deal, and kept that up for a fortnight and demanded that I tell you what Spell/Sword is about — then I would probably still shrug.
It’s kind of about a lot of things. Adventure, genre-defiance, gonzo ridiculous action, minotaurs, music, entropy, bunnies, sorrow, death, etc. etc. etc.
But way down at the bottom, in the guts of the thing, it’s about Friendship.
Reason #2: Friendship
BLECH. Really? That’s the big theme I want to toss my literary cap at, like Sean Connery at the beginning of most of his James Bond movies? MS. MONEYPENNY IS NOT IMPRESSED.
She is never impressed.
There’s a lot of darkness in my little world. [And in my head as well, but that’s another conversation]. Lots of evil and sorrow and just shitty, shitty maturity and growing up that Jonas and Rime have to deal with. Even in book one, they both have a lot of shadows gathering around them. Rime is going slowly insane, Jonas is a deserter running away from some dark times. Unlike most fantasy protagonists that at least get a chapter of idyllic chilling in their author’s version of the Shire, I dump both of them onto the page in the rudest way possible. Jonas is drunk and in a pitched fist-fight with an ogre, Rime just committed a calculated murder to protect herself from betrayal. They both appear in battle, in trouble, with no one to stand at their side.
KIND OF LIKE LIFE, MS. MONEYPENNY.
It sounds super banal even in my head, but I’ll go ahead and type it. One of the many stupid epiphanies that I’ve found in my life, is that friends make the difference. Knowing that you’ve got some goddamn backup in this world is all that keeps your feet moving some days.
The core of the book is my boy and my girl learning that they are better when they work together. Two people, two travelers against the world. Neither is quite complete apart, and together they can go toe to toe with the nastiest things my peapod brain can devise.
Because it gets worse. It gets so much worse. That’s the truth of the world, our world and mine. It always ends, and most often it ends with tears. Youth and joy and glory and adventure all fade, everything falls to dust.
WOW. That got depressing.
But that’s the point. Friendship is the shield, the bond that will not break. It’s one of the few weapons we, and Jonas and Rime have to keep them going.
SO YEAH. Navel-gazing aside, the book is going to be free in just over a week.