A Short Plea for Help

It’s been two years since Gallow was published by Gollancz. In the normal run of things the third book in the trilogy would have come out about now and I’d be submitting the manuscript for a fourth (or not) having been contracted (or not) for more at some point over the last six months. But that’s not how we did this. If you’ve been reading the series then you know that all three came out in consecutive months and then . . . an awful lot of nothing.

I’d like your help to change that. The first series has sold . . . adequately. Adequately, so you know, means it hasn’t earned back its advance but has tipped in to profit (whatever that means). Adequately means thousands of copies, not hundreds and not tens of thousands. Most of all, adequately means it hasn’t sold well enough to get the forces of sales and marketing remotely excited, but it has sold well enough that they don’t run away with their fingers in their ears the moment anyone corners them about it. Adequate isn’t great, but it’s enough to be grateful. So if you bought some Gallow, thank you.

Now to the matter of more and where I need a little help: My editor at Gollancz is keen. I’m keen. I’ve got outlines. They’re stronger for the wait and are stories that will at least match The Crimson Shield for both ferocity and pathos. I don’t need your help to sell more copies of The Crimson Shield or the Fateguard Trilogy omnibus; what I need help with are the three shorts Gollancz published earlier this year.

Shorts? What shorts?

Well exactly. Three little stories, 10-20k words each that tie up some loose ends left hanging at the end of The Last Bastion. You want to know what happened to the Eyes of Time? The drowned tomb under the lake? There’s The Anvil, in which Arda gives Gallow a taste of his own medicine. There’s Solace, in which Mirrahj does Gallow’s job for him; and there’s Dragon’s Reach, in which Oribas meddles with things with which perhaps he shouldn’t.

I need your help. These have not sold adequately. That’s going to make sales and marketing nervous. We’re talking tens of copies. I probably need to get that up well into the hundreds. Maybe it’s because they’re only e-books, but you know what? If one person in ten who bought one of the novels in e-book form had also bought one of the shorts, I wouldn’t be writing this. It shouldn’t matter, but in a market where publishers are generally looking to reduce the number of authors they publish, it could become a handy excuse.

So what am I asking for? I suspect the problem is more that no one knows they’re there. If you’re a Gallow fan who just didn’t know they existed, here are the links! Buy them! Spread the word! Think of it as a bit like a Kickstarter – pledge £1.99 to Amazon and if we get enough, maybe more novels will happen – but even if we don’t you still get your story.

The Anvil: King Valaric wants some dirty work done by someone who knows their way around a forge, and Gallow isn’t around.

Solace: Gallow, Mirrahj and the Eyes of Time

Dragon’s Reach: Oribas can’t say no to another Aulian tomb.

I can’t promise that Gollancz will go for more if the shorts suddenly pick up. I can’t say for sure they won’t if the sales stay as they are. I can say that it’s hanging in the balance and here’s an opportunity to try and make a difference.

Need more incentive? Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. If this works and tips the scales, I’ll write another short, free to download for anyone.

Gallow is, to an extent, in your hands now.

Thank you.

- Nathan Hawke

A Short Update (2/9/2013)

Cold Redemption came out while I was on holiday so it didn’t get much attention from me. At least two people have read it, according to Goodreads. It’s a bit early for any reviews but there are a couple more for The Crimson Shield.

At the Falcatta Times, they’re not so sure. “All in, it was an OK book but for me, I’m going to wait to see what the others have in store before I pass full judgement though.” Which is a shame, because I know the reviewer is a huge Gemmell fan and I thought I’d done better than that.

I did a guest post for the same site about Grimdark and what I think it is and what I think it isn’t. The gist of it is that I don’t think that Gallow is Grimdark because I have my own idea of what Grimdark means. Other people disagree on both counts.

Fantasy Book Critic “I felt that at times that the fighting swamped the story. Yes it’s all thrilling, epic stuff, but I thought the novel really shone when the focus was on the dialogue and interaction between the many interesting characters. Their observations and world-weary humour made this an enjoyable read for me.” I’m glad they liked the humour. The thing with Gallow and most of the rest of the characters in this, they don’t have inner demons tormenting them (with the possible exception of Medrin). They wear themselves openly. There’s not much to find out about them because they’re up-front about who they are? Does that make them shallow?

(That site has one of my favourite reviews on it. I have a long memory)

I suppose the main thing I have to say is that I don’t think there’s going to be another Gallow story next summer, so for those who like the character and the style of the stories, I’m sorry. Gollancz are holding off on any offer for further stories until they see how these ones do. Given the parlous state of genre publishing at the moment, I’m not holding out much hope. It takes a publisher the best part of a year to process a manuscript from submission to publication (unless they crash it through the system, but that rarely happens) and there won’t be another manuscript until I can see a home for it. Bills to be paid and all that jazz.

Reviews Round-up

Gollancz have done a round-up of what people have been saying about the Crimson Shield over here. To be honest, the SFX quote is a bit of a cheat. It’s particularly gratifying, though, to see some other writers who I know were and remain fans of David Gemmell apparently enjoying Gallow.

You can follow the progress of Edi’s Lighthouse reading Gallow here.

Short Stories Live 27-06-13

The following short stories are now lie on the interactive map:

Medrin and the Magician (location Sithhun)

The End of Farri Moontongue Part 1 (Temple of Fates)

The End of Farri Moontongue Part 2 (The Ice Mountain Sea)

The Fateguard (The Temple of Fates)

The Screambreaker (Vanhun)

Selleuk’s Bridge (Selleuk’s Bridge)

Grumpy Jonnic (Andhun)

The Crackmarsh (The Crackmarsh)

Valaric the Wolf (Tarkhun)

The Edge of Sorrows (The Vathen)

Witches’ Reach (Witches’ Reach)

First Review for the Crimson Shield

The first review I’m aware of for The Crimson Shield is up at Parmenion Books, and it looks like Gallow had done his job for at least one reader. The comparison to Gemmell’s Rigante is particularly pleasing for me personally. I did study some of David Gemmell’s work quite closely when writing this series to try and understand how he makes his heroes work. I think his best heroes were heroic not so much through what they did but through what they inspired in others. And isn’t that a large part of what fiction is about?

First Impressions

“A good, uncomplicated Viking-ish fantasy – A great mix of bloodied axes and brave warriors, an honest hero and the war that gets in his way, so all good stuff!” – Tom Lloyd, author of the Twilight Reign series.

I’ll take that as job largely done then.