The roads to self-publishing are many and varied, as are the promotional opportunities
Last month I commented on the fact that some independent authors are missing the opportunity to promote themselves alongside their work. Later, one of the authors I had included in the preview tweeted to say that she was going to take steps to rectify this.
Like any other career, the job of being an author is a learning curve. You don’t suddenly “know it all overnight”. You might work out the mechanics of publishing your own work, but promoting it and developing a profile might come much less naturally. Some independent authors, including Joanna Penn—whose latest historical novel I feature this month—have now not only gained a huge following for their work, but are valued and sought-after commentators on the business of being an independent author. Ben Galley —author of Bloodrush, one of my Editor’s Choices this month - is a consultant on self-publishing, and it shows in his own work (it should!).
I suppose it is your right to self-publish; and be damned if you are going to reveal any information about yourself. Where Penny, the author of Chances: My Story of Love, Sex and a Second Chance is concerned, I can see why she has chosen to remain anonymous, given the explicit content of her memoir. But generally the paths that independent authors have taken to self-publishing are so diverse and interesting that I feel slightly frustrated when I can’t know more about them.
When Sorrows Come
P 9781781323434 / E 2940150088351
Compelling and evocative historical début novel set in western Ukraine during the Second World War. Anna’s family is torn apart by the brutality of Stalin’s troops when they enter her village in 1939. As the war rages, her community, like many others, is trampled and desecrated by Bolsheviks and fascists in turn, as the USSR and Germany fight for dominance in the east. But Anna is a resilient survivor. When her lover Petro joins the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, she too decides to help the partisans in their fight. Her determination grows despite losing many of those she loves, but bravery is no guarantee of survival. Dziedzan is a retired teacher from Nottingham who now writes full time.
Bloodrush: Book One of the Scarlet Star Trilogy
P 9780992787158/ E 2940150023628
“Magick ain’t pretty, it ain’t stars and sparkles. Magick is dirty. It’s rough. Raw. It’s blood and guts and vomit.” In this tale of blood and magic, murder and family, Tonmerion Hark is forced west across the Iron Ocean to the very brink of the Endless Land and all civilisation when his father is murdered. He pitches up in Fell Falls in Wyoming, where he attempts to unravel his father’s death. The only person who can help him is a faerie named Rhin—a 12-inch-tall outcast of his own kind. This intricate, engrossing steampunk fantasy with a Western setting has an arresting cover, and includes a list of songs that have inspired Galley’s work. A shining example too of how to promote yourself to your readers alongside your work: dark fantasy author Galley is a self-publishing consultant who also runs indie-only e-book store Libiro.com.
High in the mountains of Civil War-era Tajikistan, rebels abduct inspirational UN peace negotiator Rahul Khan, and the lives of his friends around the globe begin to unravel as a consequence. His former lover Tessa can’t bear the thought of a world without him. Lance, a dedicated aid worker, has used Rahul’s friendship to avoid facing up to the gaps in his own life. Hugo, his UN supervisor, feels responsible for the abduction and is driven to uncover the truth. Tajik translator Nargis owes Rahul a personal debt but has secrets she cannot share. As hopes for Rahul’s survival fade, all of them must find ways to live without him. A terrifically absorbing, topical and quietly affecting novel of interlocking worlds and relationships. Commonwealth Writers’ Prize winner and former aid worker Molteno takes inspiration from a life lived across cultures.
Golden Handcuffs: The Lowly Life of a High Flyer
Not an erotic romance as the title might lead you to surmise, but a gritty, fictional exposé of the Square Mile, by an “accidental” novelist—and “champion of the underdog” — who knows of what she writes, having worked as a junior investment banker. Abby Turner spends four years studying quantum mechanics and thermodynamics and then gets a job as a lowest of the low analyst at City investment bank Cray McKinley. A tale of greed, sexism and soul-selling ensues.
Crime and thrillers
The Lying Game
Paul Darling has lost his short-term memory and has forgotten where he is now, how he got there and why there is a dead body in the next room that looks just like him. His mind flashes back to his mundane childhood in Bournemouth, which he escapes from by becoming a skilful liar and fantasist. After a move to London, his rise is rapid and he soon has friends in high places, an aristocratic girlfriend and a job at the Daily Mail. And then everything starts to go wrong. Contains topical themes of political and media manipulation and the invasion of privacy.
Scaring Crows: Joanna Piercy Mystery Series No 5
PB 9781845839024 / EB 2940150227194
Tanker driver Dave Shackleton finds all is not well at Hardacre Farm when he arrives to collect the morning milk. The cows are running loose and the farmers are nowhere to be seen. In the farmhouse, he discovers the bodies of Aaron Summers and his son Jack, killed with their own shotgun. Sweltering in a heatwave, DI Joanna Piercy must solve a double murder; and when she discovers that Aaron also had a daughter, Ruthie, she launches a massive search to find her—alive or dead. Atmospheric crime novel set in the Staffordshire Peak District.
J F Penn
Gates of Hell: An Arkane Thriller Book 6
PB 9781505886603 / EB 2940150118263
High-profile and bestselling indie author Joanna Penn with the latest in her Arkane series of erudite supernatural thrillers. Dr Morgan Sierra is drawn into the hunt for a supernatural Key when the last of the Remnants is murdered at the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Sierra and fellow agent Jake Timber race against time to decipher clues left behind by Kabbalah scholars and follow the trail of the Key, from Spain to Israel and the Czech Republic, before the Devourers and the Polluted of God emerge from the Gates of Hell to ravage the earth.
Romantic and erotic fiction
Fudge Berries and Frogs’ Knickers
Enjoyable and witty romantic comedy in which dizzyingly rich “It Girl” Poppy is left high and dry when her father (“my daddy, my knight in shining Armani”), multimillionaire Minister for Family, is charged with fraud and her bank account is frozen. This puts not only her champagne lifestyle in jeopardy, but also her impending marriage to compulsive gambler Roddy. She takes refuge on a houseboat on Regent’s Canal, and discovers she has a hottie for a neighbour. Renham, whose style has been likened to that of Sophie Kinsella, is the author of appetisingly entitled novels such as Croissants and Jam and Coconuts and Wonderbras.
At Home With Mr Darcy
PB 9781910522028 / EB 2940150235427
The Austen Addicts are back for a sixth romance. Celebrated actress Dame Pamela Harcourt has organised a summer treat: the first Purley Hall Jane Austen holiday to the Derbyshire home of Mr Darcy. Katherine and Warwick, Robyn, Doris Norris and the rest of the Janeite regulars come along for the ride. But then hardened journalist Melissa Berry joins the party. Fearing a stitch-up, the friends rally round, hoping to convince Melissa that the only way is Austen. Chintzy, certainly, but good, clean fun. Suffolk-based Connelly is a prolific author of romantic comedies.
PB 9781781321652 / EB 2940150223554
Cornwall, Spring 1833. Desperate to escape her tyrannical stepfather’s plan to force her to marry the revolting Baron Josiah Whaley, Charis Landon flees Carwinnion Manor and embarks on a treacherous journey across the country, disguised as a stable boy. Fate steps in when she encounters Tristan, the heir to a great estate, and the two fall in love. But can he guarantee her the protection she so gravely desires? A captivating period West Country romance by a prolific author who describes herself as “83 years young”.
Helen Scott Taylor
The Army Doctor’s Forever Baby
This latest sweet contemporary romance by a prolific author introduces us to army doctor Captain George Knight, who is career-focused and eager to see action. When he helps out fellow doctor Sandra Fisher after an accident, he’s not looking for romance. But Sandra is pretty, and has secret hidden depths that fascinate him. When he’s sent away to fight in the Falklands War, pregnant Sandra faces her own battle for survival. Can their love survive the heart-breaking test that fate has in store for them?
Science fiction and fantasy
The AnaSwitch: Cloaker Chronicle One
PB 9781780884332 / EB 2940150089723
“Poor Reader . . . you have no idea that you are perched on a precipice.” Helanar Gatwick thinks she is a human named Ann Hare, but actually her mother is an Elf and her father a Cloaker. When Helenar finds an innocent-looking book, it sets in motion a dangerous quest to find the missing AnaSwitch, to which she is the heir. The opener in an intricate six-part fantasy series with YA appeal, inspired by Lemony Snickett’s A Series of Unfortunate Events and J R R Tolkien’s The Hobbit. There’s an impressively detailed note on elfish pronunciation, but no information about the author, sadly.
The Faslane Files: Volume One
PB 9781505629316 / EB 2940149994700
In a Royal Navy bunker deep beneath the bank of a Scottish loch, 100 men, women and children are beginning a new life. An outpost for the remnants of humanity, their mission is to find food and fuel and help reboot the human race, in a world rendered uninhabitable by a giant asteroid strike. Safe from the poisoned world above, they begin their task with vigour. But their new home is not all it seems, and beneath them a terrible, slithering danger lurks. Claustrophic and gripping futuristic horror.
PB 9780993177323 / EB 2940150148918
This sophisticated science-fiction début by a Herefordshire author is a transplanetary adventure that takes place in the aftermath of an explosion on a space station that leaves no trace of the bomber. Sebastian Thorsson knows evidence doesn’t magically disappear, yet when he and disabled ex-marine Aryx travel the galaxy to find the cause, there appears to be no other explanation. Can he unravel the mystery before his family, home and entire race succumbs to an ancient foe?
Young and new adult fiction
Blindsided (By His Game #1)
In this glitzy New Adult erotic romance, Leah Veronica—daughter of a Hollywood actress—tries to make it as a fashion designer without trading on her famous name. When she meets Corey Johnson, the handsome but cocky LA Vipers quarterback, she is determined to remain impervious to his charms. But her sassy indifference just makes him more determined to get her into his bed. Devon-based author Hart has written New York Times and USA Today bestsellers.
Biography and memoir
Penny with Andrew Crofts
Chances: My Story of Love, Sex and a Second Chance
PB 978-1910453018 / EB 9781783016266
Should you give your first love a second chance? Yes, according to this intense and jaw-droppingly explicit memoir of lifelong love and attraction, ghostwritten by Crofts. Penny and James were inseparable teenage lovers, until they were forced apart by their differing family traditions and expectations. They both made doomed marriages to other people, before realising that they could not be happy unless they were together. Eighteen years later they were reunited: older, wiser but no less in love. Since then they have led fulfilled lives of wealth, fulfilment and erotic experimentation.
An Eye for a Tooth: The Teeth of Animals
Written in an accessible style to fill a gap in popular science books, this explains how important teeth are to animals, how they function and why they are different shapes. It describes the teeth of dinosaurs, primitive animals, sharks and rays, lizards, snakes, crocodiles and alligators as well as mammals; and concludes with sections on human evolution, evolutionary niches and the future of teeth. Helpfully, the author is a qualified dentist.