I’ve already, kinda, possibly reported this already, but here’s a more comprehensive round-up of where I am right’s-wise:
The reversion of the rights to The Secret War and The Hoard of Mhorrer should occur by June next year, to give the remaining paperback and hardback stock time to be sold. Whatever stock is left will either be remaindered or pulped.
This does mean that the current editions of the paperback of The Secret War will be the last for some time, and the last published by Macmillan. So if you want a copy of the book, you’d better buy it before June. Ditto with The Hoard of Mhorrer, which will not be published as a paperback by Macmillan and there will not be another print run of the hardback.
Once they’re sold out, they’re sold out, folks.
It also means that no more foreign rights can be agreed, including any media rights. Until I jump into bed with another publisher, I’ll be dealing directly with foreign publishers and anyone else wanting to do stuff with the books. Which is a little daunting, I admit, but it’s only the difference between being a father and an uncle. Relying on a publisher to deal with all the messy bits means you don’t get bogged down with, i.e. rights sales, printing costs, publicity and fine-tuning, and is like handing back the baby when it soils itself or starts screaming for a feed. As a new father, I can appreciate the hard-work required to take on these responsibilities myself, but like fatherhood I can imagine it being quite rewarding. Whether or not I can take this responsibility on full-time, we’ll see, but it will stand for an interim period until I decide where to go with the books.
So where do I go from here? Well, as the weeks have progressed the options are clearer for me. With the rights to the books returning to my control next summer I can approach another publisher with an attractive package. A package that includes two published novels that have done alright on the sales front, that have been sold to two major foreign markets, i.e. Germany and Spain, with a continued interest in the remaining books. There’s also the opportunity to tinker with the first book again, to remove the inconsistencies and flaws that, to the author, are quite annoying.
The Secret War was written largely in my twenties and it shows to be honest. It’s a debut book, and most debut books have weaknesses. It will be a good exercise to revise some of the prose, (not the story, I might add – I’m not George Lucas, you know?) which would bring it up to the standard of writing in The Hoard of Mhorrer.
Then there’s books 3 and 4 of the Secret War. The Traitor of Light is shaping up to be a handsome novel and I’m very excited about writing it (just ask Sarah how distracted I am at the moment – but then Sarah’s used to me abruptly tuning out as I ponder the finer details of the next project).
The Fortress of Black Glass is at the green-lit stage too, with much of the research and plotting already complete. I could quite easily continue writing The Fortress of Black Glass after The Traitor of Light – writing them back to back and delivering both books for publication over the space of two to three years.
And then finally we have The Black Hours, the book I’m concentrating on until the New Year. There’s still a lot to do on this book, but I’m happier with The Black Hours than I was with the Hoard of Mhorrer at this stage, and from the reactions of those who have read it, The Black Hours has promise and may well form part of the package above, or it might be pimped as a one-off to an indie publisher.
Or even self-published.
I’ll also be looking to get an agent in the New Year. I have no doubt that things are hard for agents at the moment, as they are with anyone linked to the publishing business, so getting one won’t be easy. Genre writing might appear to be faring well, but it only appears that way. Look deeper and you can see trouble there. For me, I think the next two to three years will be a struggle in terms of genre publishing as the recession takes its toll and publishing struggles to get by generally.
Thankfully, that won’t affect my writing. I’m not writing to put bread on the table so there’s not much financial pressure to deliver to a deadline or to someone else’s requirements. I will be writing what I want to write and when I want to write. I’m pretty disciplined when it comes to these things and I don’t need a carrot or a stick to write a book. I do it because I love writing.
For the reader that’s a good thing, because it means I can concentrate on what matters most: getting the books written, written well and then I can worry about how they’re going to get to you, the reader.