Finally! Book number two of three before Christmas.
It took a bit of doing, but after the release of The Tangled Forest last month, I've just re-released Lucid.
Lucid was the first novel I ever wrote, mostly to see whether I could make the word count. It was written during nights in Rwanda, when I had no television, few books and the internet wasn't capable of streaming video. I got a lot of writing done back in the good ol' days.
It was then shortlisted for the Luke Bitmead Bursary for New Writers in 2009, which was a huge boost of confidence.
Eventually, it was picked up by Netherworld Books, the third of my novels to be published. Netherworld are an impress of Mirador Publishing. The parent press has the reputation of being a vanity press, charging authors money towards the publication of their titles, however Netherworld weren't. I've never been charged a penny towards publishing. It was a long time ago now, but the reason given, over an enthusiastic phone call, was that they wanted it enough to publish off their own back.
For that, I am grateful. Again, small successes such as these are key to building a fledgeling author's confidence. Though, of my three publishers, they're definitely the one I've had the rockiest relationship with.
The first issue I hit was that they were going to publish the manuscript as is, without any editing. This is practically unheard of. If a publisher takes on a book, they clean it up, at the very least give it a spit and polish. Nope. Not Netherworld. So, I enlisted the help of a friend to proof it.
Second issue - I never liked the cover. The cover image was fine, but the font always reminded me of SmartArt from a Word package. Other than cringeworthy typos, there's little worse for an author than being lumbered with a cover design they don't love. As every novelist knows, cover design is nine-tenths of the law. That's what sells books.
I also didn't like the way the cover pushed the book as purely horror. Yes, there's some of that, but that isn't all that Lucid was about. There was a lot of other stuff going on there as well.
Every night we go to sleep and dream, but what if dreams could wake in our world?
Oliver Ryan suffers from sleep paralysis. It’s so bad that he’s afraid to invite anyone home in case he wakes screaming – or worse.
His dreams are so vivid they feel more real than his waking life. Each night he visits the Church of Shattered Hopes, where people cry blood, watches helplessly as horses devour themselves, or shoots himself through the head because a Hollywood star told him to.
His salvation appears to lie in Welsh witchcraft and psychoactive drugs, yet they also open the door to a world far worse than he could have imagined.
What does the brutal killing of a young girl in 1968 have to do with the recovery of a local coma victim? Ollie is unwittingly thrown into the role of detective.
Something else that bothered me about that particular publisher was the impersonal nature of their marketing strategy. There was one very brief release article, then once a quarter I'd receive a royalty statement with an attachment talking about ways to market my book, from how to write a press release to The Ten Commandments of Being an Author. Later down the line, when I became involved with Ghostwoods and saw what a proper, tailored marketing campaign involved, I felt a bit sore about the lack of personal support. It very much felt like they were trawling for material they could churn out as fast as possible with little input into the author-publisher relationship. Royalties en mass.
Fair enough, everyone gotta eat, but that didn't leave me feeling good about the relationship, and it certainly didn't shift books.
When, after six years, Netherworld decided it was no longer viable to keep the title in print, I breathed a sigh of relief. Pretty much every author dreams of being able to go back and edit their earlier work - this was my chance. Having just completed my first self-published novel, The Tangled Forest, I knew that I could make a better job of it. I went back through and edited out many of the typos I'd noticed the first time around (probably made a few new ones in the process), switched the format to 6x9", and slapped on a new cover that I really like.
So, here is the re-released result of my efforts.
Lucid Mark II.