Category Archives: News

Mid-year update

I’ve been neglecting this blog lately, but I thought I’d dust it off to give an update on the state of the next book and some other bits and pieces.

Next novel

I’m hard at work on the sequel to The Unbound Man, tentatively titled The Lordless City. Right now I’m about a third of the way through the first draft. What, only a third? Well, yes. Progress has been slower than I’d hoped, largely due to life stuff unrelated to writing. (Such a pesky thing, life — always getting in the way of what you really want to do.)

The good news is that beginnings are always the hardest part of a story for me. I hope and expect to pick up speed from this point on. In fact, it’s already started to happen. I’m pretty happy with the chapters I have so far, and I’m excited about where the book is headed. If you enjoyed The Unbound Man, I think you’ll like this one, too.

Short stories

I have several of these at various stages of completion & submission, but no news to report just yet. It’s possible that one of them might make its way onto Amazon in the not too distant future. Stay tuned.

The Great Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off

I entered The Unbound Man in Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO for short). It received a lovely review on Bookworm Blues (about halfway down the page) and was named winner of its sub-group, but unfortunately just missed out on the overall group win. Well, I say ‘just’, but in all honesty I have no idea where it might have been positioned among the other sub-group winners. Still, it’s nice to look at that review and imagine that The Unbound Man was this close to becoming a finalist, isn’t it? (Yes, it is.)

The SPFBO has really highlighted how much great self-published fantasy is out there these days. I’ve come across a number of books which I now want to read (and not just finalists, either). If you want to know more, D. Moonfire has put together a handy reference page with details of every book in the contest. Some of the data is still being added, but the page is well worth a look.

KDP Select experiment over

Six months ago I removed The Unbound Man from non-Amazon ebook retailers and enrolled it in KDP Select to try out the promotional tools and the (then quite new) Kindle Unlimited program.

Three months ago, after a successful promotion and some encouraging Kindle Unlimited sales, I extended the experiment for a further ninety days, largely to see if the KU performance would continue.

Now, with that second period of ninety days almost over, I’m bringing the experiment to a close. In the next few days The Unbound Man will drop out of KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited, and will begin to reappear on Kobo, iBooks, and elsewhere.

The reasons are pretty straightforward. I was never particularly happy with giving Amazon exclusive rights to ebook sales (as I elaborated on in some detail in that first post). Nonetheless, if KU sales had continued to show some momentum, that might have been enough to make me think about extending the arrangement for another three months. But that simply hasn’t happened. At this point I’m in a position of excluding all non-Amazon platforms for the sake of a handful of KU sales, and that’s simply not worth it — on any level.

So the experiment ends. It’s a disappointing conclusion, but not an unsuccessful one. The goal was to discover what KDP Select had to offer, and that’s been achieved. Now I can begin to explore some non-Amazon alternatives, starting with the other main ebook retailers.

So if you’re a KU reader who hasn’t yet picked up The Unbound Man, get it while you can! Soon it will be gone from that program — though it will of course remain available on Amazon as an ordinary purchasable title.

And if you’re a non-Amazon ebook reader, thank you for your patience. The Unbound Man will soon be available at your preferred retailed once more. I hope you’ll check it out!

Kindle Unlimited, three months on

Three months ago, with a slightly immoderate amount of handwringing, I pulled The Unbound Man from Kobo, iBooks, and other ebook retailers and enrolled in KDP Select. I did this with some fairly hefty reservations about Amazon’s exclusivity requirements, but I felt that a three month experiment was worth running. And I promised that when the three months were up, I’d assess the results and decide whether to continue the experiment or wrap it up and republish the ebook outside Amazon.

So here we are, three months on. What’s happened?

The first two months of KDP Select were disappointing to say the least. Regular sales continued to bump along, but Kindle Unlimited barely registered. Some writers have reported KU taking over half or more of their sales, but in the case of The Unbound Man, KU accounted for little more than 10% of total units sold. At Christmas the result looked pretty clear. KDP Select was doing nothing for me. When the ninety days expired, I’d end the trial and move on.

Then, in the week between Christmas and the new year, I ran a moderately-successful promotion (100+ sales in a couple of days). The residual post-promotion sales tailed off after a week or so… but in their wake, starting early January, an interesting thing happened. Kindle Unlimited sales started to pick up.

In the last few weeks, regular sales have more or less returned to where they were prior to the promotion, but KU sales have increased dramatically to roughly double the number of regular sales. And that’s not just people who grabbed the book during the promo and took a few weeks to hit the 10% mark — the sales rank has had repeated boosts from new KU readers downloading the book. In raw numerical terms, it’s still not huge, but it’s a definite shift from the pre-promotion pattern.

Maybe it’s just a blip in Amazon’s imponderable algorithms. Maybe the book is actually starting to get a bit of traction in the KU market. Maybe it’s a mixture of both, or the result of some other factor I’m not aware of, or mere chance. Who knows?

Whatever the case, I’ve decided to extend this experiment by another three months. If these results are an indication that The Unbound Man is starting to get some traction, it would be silly to throw that away. And if they’re just a blip, well, that’s fine too. Three months from now I’ll have another chance to pull the pin and turn my focus to other distributors.

Medium to long term, my outlook remains the same. Wide, non-exclusive distribution is still where I want my books to be. Perhaps, when I sit down to write another of these updates in late April, that’s where we’ll be headed.

Let’s see what the next three months bring.

UPDATE (Apr 2015): The experiment is now over. Here’s why.

An experiment and an apology

It’s now a little over six weeks since The Unbound Man was released. My original plan for distribution was to simply make the book available as widely as possible — ebook and print, Amazon and everywhere else. After all, the more channels a book is available in, the better the sales. Right?

Well, maybe. I’ve had a handful of Nook sales, and a few from iBooks. I’ve had no sales at all on Kobo. And now, with the initial excitement of the release fading, it’s time to take a step back and look at what other options there might be.

I say options, plural, but there’s really just one big one: KDP Select, which opens the opportunity for inclusion in Kindle Unlimited (among other things), but which also means making the ebook edition exclusive to Amazon.


As a consumer, I hate retailer exclusivity. The idea that I can buy something only from one particular store just because of some deal cooked up between the retailer and the supplier leaves a bad taste in my mouth. When it happens to something I especially value — like, say, a book by a favourite author — I feel like my love for something is being used against me, to compel me to shop with that retailer even if, given the choice, I’d rather go somewhere else.

Like I said: yuck.

But the hard fact is that right now I’m nobody’s favourite author. And whatever the odds of that changing might be, they’re even more remote if hardly anyone comes across my book in the first place. I want to look out for my readers — but first I need some readers to look out for.

So, in the spirit of experimentation, I’m pulling the ebook edition of The Unbound Man from non-Amazon retailers and enrolling in KDP Select. I’m approaching it as a three-month trial period, to see what difference (if any) the promotional and other benefits make to sales and to general visibility. When the three months are up, I’ll assess the results and decide whether to sign up for another three months, or whether to end the experiment and republish the book on other distributors. The print editions will remain available in all outlets while this is going on — you’ll still be able to get paperbacks and hardcovers from online retailers like the Book Depository, and order them through your local bookstore.

I fully expect that before too long, quite possibly as early as three months from now, I’ll call an end to this exclusive arrangement. I don’t see myself staying with KDP Select in the medium to long term. I want to make my books as easy to find and to buy as possible, and that means wide, non-exclusive distribution. But in these early days, I have to find a balance between distribution and discoverability — and today, that means trying out KDP Select.

To anyone who shops for ebooks somewhere other than Amazon: my apologies. I hope to make The Unbound Man available on your preferred platform again soon. Until then, please bear with me as I give this different approach a shot.

And to anyone on Kindle Unlimited: look out for The Unbound Man to become available there in the next couple of days. I’d love for you to give it a try!

UPDATE (Jan 2015): I’ve decided to extend the experiment by another three months. Here’s why.

UPDATE 2 (Apr 2015): The experiment is now over. Here’s why.

It’s a book!

The button has been pressed, and The Unbound Man is at last making its way into the world. It’ll take a few days to reach all of the many fine bookselling establishments around the place, but the ebook is already available on Amazon and Smashwords, and the paperback is also available on Amazon. Keep an eye on the Books page on this site for links to other major retailers as they become available.

Believe it or not, it’s now more than seven years since I first began work on the novel that would eventually become The Unbound Man. It’s been pointed out to me that today’s release is a bit of a milestone, one which is probably worth marking in some way. And you know, I think there’s something to be said for that. Yes, I’d say a small celebration is definitely in order.


Right, that’s that taken care of. Now, about book two…

A new website

The new website is finally up! And a good thing too, with the release of The Unbound Man now only a few days away.

I’m especially pleased to be able to show off the beautiful maps that will be included in the book. As good as they look in the printed proofs, I think the maps look even better here in those lovely sepia tones. All three maps are by Maxime Plasse, and I hope very much to get Max back to draw some additional maps for the remaining books in the series.

I have several additions planned for the site in the coming weeks and months. First up will be a new release mailing list, which should become available within a week or so. After that — we’ll see!