Kalleron: Great Reviews and Imminent Releases
It has been a long haul to get to this point. Although the initial chronological instalment in the Kalleron series is pending imminent release (hopefully no later than early May), it has taken seven years to get here. In my first blog post, The Beginning in the Middle, I explained why I published Book IV first. To summarise, I spent a few years submitting to, and receiving rejections from, various agents; none of whom were keen to take on my work. In a huff, I wrote another book in the same universe, advancing the timeline by 100-years. It sounds strange to say that, ‘in a huff’, I wrote a 128,000-word book, but I did. I sourced it to various people (friends, family, and a random contact on a tech website I help moderate), and they were all impressed. Despite further agent rejections, I knew Hammer & Glass was more than ‘good enough’ to be bought and read by strangers. I published Hammer & Glass, Kalleron Book IV in November 2022, via Amazon. In a short-sighted move, I released it three months before setting up a social media account. Without marketing, it drifted into a vast ocean of books and authors, and was effectively lost at sea. I’ve since opened an account on Instagram (the least hateful of social media channels) and have reached out to several book-bloggers. These lovely people don’t ask for money, neither do they promise to read your book. So far, I’ve had two reviews back for Hammer & Glass, and they’ve been excellent. One reviewer, chronicallyreadingandcats, whose 5-star praise was rewarding to read, says:
A lot of the plot is developed through character interactions and dialogue rather than narration of observations.
This was the advice fantasy agent and editor John Jarrold gave to me. In a paid for critique (lots of red on those pages), he warned of too much narration in story-telling. I took that to heart when I wrote Hammer & Glass. He still rejected it, but it didn’t matter. My work isn’t mainstream fantasy, it’s easy to reject if the market isn’t so obvious.
Another reviewer (the first for Hammer & Glass), thebookbeardreview, posted their positive take on Insta and his personal blog pages – link here. He had equal praise for the story and the writing, and coming from a person with professional experience in literature reviews, it was an affirming moment. My book is good enough to recommend to others. These are folk I don’t know, and they loved the story and how it’s written, or they found it
compelling, worthwhile, and original.
I’ve not received many reviews, (eight so far—whoo! Yup, sarcasm) but they all mention the same thing: the interactions between the characters are excellent; it feels real. Their conversations aren’t staid and afflicted by genre inflections. That is what I wanted to create. A story with individual characters, not a fantasy with copy and paste hero templates. People and drama: that’s what makes a bloody good story. The fantasy element is secondary.
Reviews are going well (even in their limited numbers), which makes me think of the impending release of Book One. Will it be any good? Will I disappoint those who loved Book IV? I’ve pushed the limits of editing with this one. According to a software editor, my style score is 98%. It means, by whatever metric is used to record it, that my writing is grammatically and thematically sound. 98% sound. It feels nice, but it doesn’t mean that it’s ‘me’; you know, my style. So, my very final draft edit (number five), will be to trawl through the 127,000-words and see if I can pull a little more of each character into the prose. If I can do that without disrupting the grammatical flow, then it’ll all be good. Once that’s done, and I’ve an external proof read returned for corrections, I can export to software publishing tools and start the actual process of building the ‘book’. Add a couple of world maps (general and local), pop in a title page, a bio; that sort of thing. The cover is ready, both paperback and eBook. It’s so close.
I hope it’s received well, but even then, it’ll not change anything. I’m still a self-published author, and no matter how good a read the book may be, my exposure is so limited, the financial rewards are far lower than you’d imagine. Whatever you’re thinking, lower your expectations some more. Lower. Really, it’s that bad.
You think I’d be put off by the lack of income—I’m not. Not yet, anyway. The support from my wife means I can pursue this calling and write the many books that exist inside my head. The rest of Kalleron, 2-3 more years of work; the eco sci-fi fantasy, 6 months; the precursor to M7RRORS, 6 months; and the adult orientated fairy tale, 6 months. Seven more books, and a rewrite of Hammer & Glass to make it publisher perfect. But above all of that, I know people enjoy my stories. My audience might be vanishingly small, but the numbers only reflect the lack of marketing. The appreciation of the story is there. And it’s that understanding that makes it all worthwhile. I don’t need a million pounds; I just need you to like what I do.
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