Small Places is coming!

I’m absolutely delighted to announce that Small Places, my new urban fantasy novel, is available for pre-order, ahead of its launch on Amazon on August 3rd. Small Places joins Jamie, a boy living in a country village, as he runs an errand for a friend of the family to collect medicine from a witch, Melusine, who lives in a hidden forest in the countryside.

Thirteen years later, strange earthquakes and storms are wracking Britain, Jamie’s parents have separated and his mother is suffering from cancer. He returns home to look after her, but receives a mysterious summons from Melusine. Figuring that if she needs him, she may be willing to help his mother, he meets with the witch, learning that the freak weather is being caused by something affecting the earth spirit, Gaia. Mel needs his help to find the source of the problems – and this means travelling to the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, hunting down clues, whilst simultaneously putting up with the irritable witch and dealing with his mum’s terminal illness.

It’s been an instructional (read: slightly painful) process, but I’m thrilled that it’s finally here. Looking back at the process, I finished the first draft on New Year’s Eve of 2019, and ran through preliminary edits by March … and then the pandemic happened and things *really* slowed down. Beta readers enjoyed it, but I did a relatively major re-write after my chief editor (and long-suffering partner) suggested a tweak that affected the entire book. Nonetheless, it’s a better book because of it, and thanks to the changes, we (most significantly) get to meet Jamie’s mum, which also affected a hundred and one other things throughout the book – including the ending!

As ever, you can see the content and trigger warnings on my site – please do consult them prior to reading, or get in touch if you have further questions.

If you’d like a review copy, please do get in touch – the kindle versions are ready for pre-order, and the paperbacks will be ready soon; I had a proof through today and they just need a little tweak. There’ll be a blog tour running with Storytellers on Tour from the 1st August, and merch, goodies and other bits and pieces are also in the works – so stay tuned!

Lessons from self-publishing

I came to self-publishing as a bit of an experiment – I’d submitted Parasites to a number of publishers and hadn’t been accepted, so whilst I worked on book number three, I thought I’d experiment. After all, if it’s good enough for Rocky Flintstone (of My Dad Wrote a Porno fame) then how hard could it be?

Ok, so I wasn’t quite that cocky, but nonetheless, it’s in a platform’s interest to make it easy to self-publish.

But – and it’s a big but – it’s hard to do it well. I read a lot of blogs that say ‘get it right first time because it counts’ and I honestly think that unless you’re some kind of publishing prodigy, that’s going to be impossible. I would say to take it slowly, explore the platforms and bear the following in mind my number one lesson that kindle is easy, print is hard. Your kindle makes it really, really easy to email yourself a pdf and lo and behold, it appears on your kindle. You can check for typos, get your layouts sorted, and generally, Kindle is more forgiving. When I first published Parasites on Kindle, Amazon found two typos in just over a hundred thousand words because I’d been able to edit it a lot.

Print on the other hand, is tougher. You can order author and proof copies, but the option is slightly hidden away! Once you’ve set the size and printing options of your book, you can’t go back. Well, you can ‘unpublish’ but it won’t ever really vanish from the Amazon store. You can, thankfully, change the contents and the cover easily enough – which is just as well because cover art is hard. But again, there are people who will do this for you semi-professionally for a small sum (between £8 and £40) which is something I explored with Fiverr to reasonable success.

I’d also heartily recommend that you download the templates for print that Amazon gives you, which vary depending on your book size, and then go back and reformat your book. The first time I messed this up and ended up with a large book with tiny font. It looked ok, but when I got it right it looked much, much better!

And perhaps most importantly – be forgiving of yourself. You’ll mess up. You’ll learn. You’ll recover. And that’s ok.