Out now: Disunited

DisunitedGood news, everyone! You can now buy Disunited for Kindle in the usual places, such as Amazon UK and Amazon US. It’s also available for Kobo, and via Lulu for other ePub-capable ereaders.

In the next few days, fingers crossed, the book will also be available for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch on the Apple iBookstore. And within a week or so it should appear on Amazon in paperback form.

UPDATE Feb 1st: It’s also now available for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, and on Amazon in paperback.

As usual the cover has been designed by Blogshank. I love it.

The story’s just over 97,000 words in total and the paperback runs to 326 pages. Fans of Thora Hird, and I know there are many, will be delighted to learn that she does indeed make her traditional ceremonial appearance.

As always I’m grateful for any and all feedback, positive or negative. Feel free to leave reviews on Amazon or wherever you park your cursor. Tell your friends! Buy it for your family! Convince me I should narrate the audiobook!

But first, I’m going for a lie down.

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2012-2013

Happy New Year! I thought I’d take a few minutes to write a short review of my 2012 and how I see 2013 unfolding.

My plan for 2012 was to write and publish as many stories as I sensibly could – a mix of mostly shorts with some longer form stories of about 40K words, at the hotly disputed novella/novel border. I didn’t set a concrete target for how many, but I imagined a pipeline of sorts: in parallel I’d be writing one book, revising a second, and publishing/pimping a third. I wanted to end the year with a pleasing body of work for sale and an increasing trickle of revenue.

Of course, no plan survives contact with the enemy.

In 2012 I wrote many words: over 200,000 for sure. The bulk of Till Undeath Do Us Part was written in 2011 but it increased in length in 2012; and I wrote all of The Pink and the Grey and the first draft of my next novel. The balance of the word count went on stories I decided, for one reason or another, to shelve uncompleted. They remain in suspended animation: I hope to resurrect at least one eventually, even if only the core concept and the title remain.

I can’t truly say I met my goal for the year. But to publish a novella and a novel in one calendar year across a whole bunch of formats ain’t so bad, and I’m aiming to rattle through the remaining stages of the next novel as quickly as I can. Two novels and a novella in roughly twelve months sounds very good to me.

As to sales: well, I still suffer from invisibility, and that’s something I need to address in 2013. I’m grateful to So So Gay magazine for reviewing both books — and even nominating Till Undeath Do Us Part for Best Book of 2012 — but so far that remains the only publication to take a punt on either book. These reviews — unbiased by rose-tinted friendship — give me the confidence to keep writing, keep publishing, even when the gremlins of self-doubt mutter dark words in my ear.

That’s not to say I don’t value the support and kind words of my family and friends, especially those who’ve bought one or both books and evangelised on my behalf. It means a great deal to me.

What’s my plan for 2013? I wish I could say same as 2012 and carry on as before, but that’s not possible. I’ll write as many stories as I can, yes: but I can’t live on dust and air and junk mail. So I suspect I’ll be writing less for myself, and more for others. I have plenty of ideas that I’d love to flesh out into stories, if I can. I want to revisit St Paul’s College from The Pink and the Grey, and see if I can resurrect one of the suspended stories. We’ll see.

The first goal, though, is to publish the new book as soon as I can. And since a deadline doesn’t exist unless you tell someone, here it is: it’ll be out by the end of this month.

In the media

Review by So So Gay: The Pink and the Grey

Leading and fast-growing online LGBT lifestyle magazine So So Gay has reviewed The Pink and the Grey, awarding it four stars. I’m happy with that – who wouldn’t be happy with a review that starts “Undefinable and brilliant”?

Read the review

Interview for Stonewall Times

The internet-based role-playing game Star Trek Online has a large and active community of LGBT players, Stonewall Fleet, and there’s a community magazine called Stonewall Times. A few weeks ago its editor interviewed me about Till Undeath Do Us Part, and has kindly given me permission to reproduce the interview here.

Read the interview

The Casual Journalist

The Register has a short piece on the ebook formatting problems of JK Rowling’s new book The Casual Vacancy. It’s a shame the quality control wasn’t up to much for what would undoubtedly be a highly popular ebook.

But what really irks me in the article is this comment:

But as some have noted, the steep cost of the ebook shouldn’t be blamed on Rowling: It’s the taxman’s fault in Brussels.

Many publications, including printed books, maps and charts, magazines and newspapers, are zero-rated, but ebooks are classified differently because they are subjected to VAT.

Let’s pick this apart.

First, as one of the commenters on the article said, ebooks aren’t classified differently because they’re subject to VAT: they’re subject to VAT because they’re classified differently. Rightly or wrongly (wrongly, in my view) ebooks aren’t classified the same as printed books, which are exempt from VAT. This wrinkle can legitimately be blamed on the hypothetical Brussels taxman.

OK, so how much of the £11.99 Amazon currently charges for the book is VAT?

Amazon’s European tentacle is registered in Luxembourg, which means Amazon charges customers Luxembourg’s VAT rates. For ebooks, this is 3%. When I self-publish through Amazon I set the price excluding VAT: I poke at a calculator to work out how to make the number displayed by Amazon, which includes VAT, be the price I actually want people to pay.

Without the dastardly taxman in Brussels imposing VAT, The Register’s correspondent would have to pay the significantly cheaper price of… £11.64. Why, with that 35p saving he could buy almost… something.

And even setting aside the VAT issue, you couldn’t blame the ebook’s high price on Rowling. She’s not the publisher. I dare say the contract she has with her publisher is more to her favour than most traditionally published writers enjoy — I wonder if she receives a better royalty rate than the standard miserly amount? — but I don’t believe she’s allowed to set the price of her books.

Incidentally, Amazon is currently discounting the hardback version of The Casual Vacancy from £20.00 to £9.00. The ebook version currently costs £2.99 more than the hardback.

That’s what The Register should be complaining about.

Out now: The Pink and the Grey

It’s done. The Pink and the Grey has been published for the Kindle, for Apple’s iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, and as a DRM-free ePub from Lulu.

I’ve created a page where you can read the blurb and find links to the book. I’ll update that as more formats come onstream, as a stereotype in braces would probably say.

Stats fiends: it’s 81,867 words long. In a standard 5in by 8in paperback format that’s about 280 pages. And yes, I am planning to release it in print form if you’d prefer an actual paper copy for your groaning bookshelf.

Hey, why not buy the ebook in all its formats and the print version? Why not buy a dozen copies to give to your friends? It makes an ideal Christmas present. Look, just buy it, will you?

I love the cover, which shows a shield not unlike that of St Paul’s College in the story. It’s designed by Mike Smith, creator of the excellent Blogshank blog. (He also writes and illustrates children’s books, so while you’re book shopping you should buy his Edward Hopper and the Carrot Crunch too — available for iPads and iPhones.)

Mike has also produced a new cover for Till Undeath Do Us Part in the same style. None of the story has changed but if you want to buy another copy I shan’t stand in your way. The new cover shows a detail from the stained glass of the west window of King’s College chapel, the magnificent medieval building that plays a part in the story. I simply cannot stop looking at the two faces. Wonderful, expressive — and very appropriate to the story, I think. (As I write, Amazon is still showing the old cover. I imagine there’s some caching somewhere. I twiddled all the necessary bits, I think.)

I guess I now have a brand. All I need are some sales…