In honor of the Magic City MonsterCon (which I’m attending all weekend!) I’m doing the cover reveal for my newest writing project: The Devil You Know.
You can read the first four chapters of the book (what will comprise “Episode 1” in the final product) right now at Wattpad! Here’s a link: https://www.wattpad.com/user/TuckerAuthor
Two alien races vie for control of Earth amidst a human population decimated by a merciless plague, famine, and war.
Meanwhile, the denizens of Hell grow restless. The apocalypse they were supposed to instigate and revel in is happening without them…
Doing their best to create new lives in the aftermath of the chaos triggered by the aliens’ arrival, Abraham Black and Neri White come from backgrounds about as different as their last names would indicate. Yet, together, they may hold the key which allows humanity to remain the primary tenants of Earth. The question is: how much are they willing to give up to save the world? Their memories? Their lives? Their souls?
I’m describing this story as a Post-Apocalyptic, Epic, Suburban Fantasy… with Aliens. Yes, I think it’s going to be something unlike anything you’ve read before and I’m very excited about it. The story is more adult in nature than my previous works and it’s in the final stages of editing and rewrites and my goal is to have it available this winter, hopefully in time for the holidays.
So, without further ado, here is the cover:
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below and I hope to see some of you this weekend!
Got your attention?
I’m a writer. How could I possibly, truthfully express the sentiment in that headline? Well, let me tell you a story…
My mother is an avid reader, mostly of thrillers and mysteries, and she had a number of bookshelves, stocked with her favorites from over the years. Recently, she had the carpet replaced in her home and, rather than going to the trouble of reshelving most of those books when the new carpet was in and she could return her furniture to the rooms, she decided to sell the majority of those books to a used book store.
About three years ago, she made the reluctant plunge to ebooks. I say reluctant because she didn’t think she’d stick with it initially. Now, you’d have to pry her kindle from her cold, dead fingers. She’s discovered dozens of Indie authors (it helped that her son is one of them) and spends far, far less money on reading material than she used to, all the while enjoying the activity just as much as she ever did, perhaps more.
The paper books from her dusty shelves, which included pristine, hardback copies of Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler, and Jonathan Kellerman best sellers, didn’t hold the nostalgic value they once had. She had no interest in rereading them, so it made sense to take them to a used book store and get a few bucks for them.
Billings, Montana isn’t a huge town by most standards, but we have a number of used book stores. We stopped by one on our way to lunch, thinking to drop the books off, quickly collect a few dollars, and hopefully pay for our meal with the “windfall.” Our visit was indeed quick, but not for the reason we supposed.
“We’re not buying any books,” the clerk explained. “In fact, we’re having a big sale right now to try to pare down our inventory.”
Hm. Okay. No big deal, we thought. We’ll just try another store.
We accumulated strikes two and three faster than Casey from the Mudville Nine.
Resigned to not being able to pay for our lunch, we visited the library after we’d eaten, seeking to donate the books.
“Could you bring them by when we have our big book sale in the winter?” the lady at the front desk asked. “We really wouldn’t have any place to store them until then.”
The library doesn’t want books? It’s not like these were outdated software manuals. Tom freaking Clancy!
We ended up dropping them off at our local GoodWill. The attendant took them with a slight frown on her face.
Being a relatively well informed writer who’s steeped in ebooks, I knew the digital world has been gaining ground on the world of dead trees, but this experience really drove the point home. I remember buying and trading used books as a kid — and as an adult — for many years. Proprietors were always happy to see me come in with a box of books, because they knew I’d be trading them for more reading material and they’d generate some churn in their inventory. Now? Those stores wouldn’t even take books in trade, because their shelves were already packed to overflowing.
And people wonder why the big publishers are doing everything they can to keep ebook prices as high as possible. Their businesses are built on paper. When anyone can publish a book in electronic form and have it appear on the virtual shelves of the largest bookseller on the planet, right next to Tom freaking Clancy, where is the incentive to spend years playing the agent-to-acquisition-to-publication lottery? Especially when the payout for that particular lottery is getting smaller and smaller with each passing day.
Before long, paper books will be a novelty item, only sought out by collectors, much like vinyl records are today. Vinyl aficionados claim digital is too clean. They like to hear the hisses and pops that records produce. I suspect the same sort of folks probably like ink smudges on their fingers from printed pages as well.
Personally, words carry the same impact for me, whether displayed on a screen or paper. A good story carries me off to another world, regardless of the medium in which it’s presented.
Books are worth much more than mere paper and ink.
Amazon just spent nearly a billion dollars — yes, that’s with a Carl Sagan “B” — to acquire Twitch.tv. What is Twitch? It’s a site used mostly by gamers to live stream and record videos of themselves playing video games. Some of the users have hundreds of thousands of subscribers to their channels and sometimes tens of thousands of people watching at any one time. Not only can you watch the action, but there is a chat function as well where the streamer can interact with his/her viewers and the viewers can interact with each other.
Why is this significant? Other than the huge chunk of cash, it shows a glimpse of where Amazon is headed. They recognize that content is king. The more content they have available on their devices (Kindle, Fire TV, Phone, etc.) the more Amazon becomes a destination for their customers. Rather than creating the bulk of that content themselves, Amazon is looking to the grass roots — Indies— to fill their gadgets with fun and interesting things to see and do.
Twitch streamers are almost directly analogous to Indie authors. They are creating content and trying to find an audience. Each has their own personality, talent, and unique ideas on how to present their channel.
Books aren’t special snowflakes as some have bandied about recently. They are entertainment. As such, they compete with every other source of entertainment out there for the attention of the public. Writing a good book is a difficult task. So is writing a song, or creating a video or a game. We’re all vying for eyeballs. The big difference these days is we don’t have to have middlemen (publishers, record labels, distributors, etc.) to make it happen. We have direct, immediate conduits to those eyeballs and I, for one, am immeasurably grateful for those conduits.
A petition was created last night/this morning on Change.org to help clear some of the air surrounding the Amazon vs. Hachette dispute and Amazon vs. the Big Publishers in general. Here’s the link so you can read it in full and sign if you feel it’s appropriate for you. I signed it to show support for my readers and also in support of letting all sides of this story see some light of day, not just the Hachette side.
I watched an hour and a half video last night from the New York Public Library regarding this increasingly nasty dispute. One of the participants (the man next to the moderator on the left side) writes The Passive Voice blog and expressed some of his opinions in finer detail in a post here (since the moderator kept feeling the need to cut him off). Because I’m sure most of you don’t have that much free time lying around, I’ll hit some of the high/low lights here:
James Patterson referred to himself at first as a wounded gazelle, then amended it to simply gazelle. (That gazelle pulls in approximately $90 million per year through his publishing enterprises)
A lawyer repeatedly called the Department of Justice “silly” and “stupid” for its ruling against the Big 5 publishers when they tried to fix ebook pricing.
The same lawyer also said that, “Lower prices are not always better for consumers [readers].”
The agent/moderator claimed that many important works (largely non-fiction) would never get published without traditional publishing bankrolling those projects.
A medium sized publisher claimed his company had published works they knew wouldn’t see a return for “twenty or thirty years” simply because they felt the work was important to present to the world.
Another lawyer/author claimed Amazon’s search engine was pay based and was unclear where he uncovered that information.
A university professor insinuated that self-published works aren’t edited.
Patterson finished by equating Amazon’s actions to book burning.
Fear was the watchword for the discussion. Fear of Amazon. Fear of monopolies. Fear of loss of revenue and livelihood. I understand these fears, especially the last one as I encounter it nearly every day. But these are mostly fears of a possible future, one which may never come to pass. Where is the fear or anger at what already exists? Big Publishing has operated as a monopoly (an oligopoly technically) for decades. If they were competitors, don’t you think one or more of them would try offering better terms to their writers in order to attract the better ones to their company? Yet this is not the case. Author contracts are nearly identical between all of the major publishers. Rights are signed away for life plus 70 years. Authors receive advances of $5000 or less for work that has often taken months or years to complete. And they are paid twice a year from an antiquated and inscrutable accounting system that allows bookstores to return unsold books in the thousands.
Now, Amazon — and indeed Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, and others — has created a way for authors to publish their work and receive fair payment for that work. Readers now get to decide whether a book is worthy of their attention or not, rather than a handful of suits in a Manhattan high rise. This new technology has big publishing running scared, just like the photography and music industries before them, and they are doing everything they can to hold on to the business model that has brought them comfort and joy for many, many years.
I feel bad for the Hachette authors who are now caught in the crossfire of this dispute — which is likely only the first of several by the way. They have no control over how their publisher handles its business, so they lash out at Amazon instead. In most cases, I’m sure, those authors were simply thrilled to have a publisher take on their books. Terms of the contract weren’t negotiable, by and large, so they simply signed and celebrated. I might have been one of them if I’d been offered that choice several years ago.
It’s time, however, for authors to stop being treated like indentured slaves. Embrace freedom and independence. Yes, the unknown can be frightening, but it’s only unknown if you make the choice to remain ignorant.
To the thousands of readers who have enjoyed my work, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You too, have won independence through this revolution in publishing. Works that would have never seen the light of day years ago because the publishers didn’t know how to market them are available in the thousands. There are more worlds to discover out there than ever before. So, go forth and read to your heart’s content and relish your independence.