Commercial publishing or staying indie

Note from 2001: this was written in 2013 and does not take into account sites like Scribble Hub, Royal Road, and others that allow sharing novels or serials with an audience that is already interested in finding something new to read.

I’ve been told, and not always by people who could be expected to be rather biased in my favour, that the novels I write are on a par with what’s available commercially – works that were actually picked by an editor from a publishing house as being something they want to offer.

At one point, I did try to get my two earlier novels published. It was a half-hearted attempt, I admit, so it isn’t much surprise that not much came of it. One editor of a small publishing house was very interested in one, but due to I believe the economy and a conflict between the partners, it collapsed before that got far. I was disappointed, I admit. I actually preferred the idea of a smaller publisher than a big one where I’d be just one more new writer of that season’s lineup.

However, I finally concluded, and not as a matter of “Fine, I didn’t want to anyway” sour grapes, that it was just as well. Continue reading

Urban Fantasy vs Other-World Fantasy

Note from 2021: subgenre definitions within fantasy are difficult to pin down. “Urban fantasy” in this post has the older sense of “fantastic elements in a more-or-less realistic modern setting,” and “other-world fantasy” was an attempt to avoid the epic connotations of “high fantasy.”

Creating a world, if you do it right, is time-consuming work, but can be extremely rewarding. On the other hand, urban fantasy has a lot going for it–despite being a bit disorienting for some readers when they encounter it for the first time.

In some ways, it’s easier. You can take descriptive short-cuts. If you mention a silver mini-van, your readers are going to visualize it without needing extensive details. Characters can drop by the fridge for a drink, or the hospital emergency room for a crisis. When you’re using a setting in another world, you’re going to have to provide considerably more detail about the vehicle used–what’s powering it, how many wheels, covered or not–or the food storage facilities or the emergency medical services available. The more inventive you are with your world (and being inventive is, as far as I’m concerned, a good thing), the more you may need to describe.

Continue reading


There are millions of blogs already in existence, does the world really need another one? No, probably not, but that doesn’t stop anyone else! So why not?

What’s this one about? Very simply, it’s about writing. More specifically, writing novel-length fantasy. It isn’t about getting published by a “real publisher”. Nor is it about grammar and fine points of style (though I can’t promise there will never be a post touching on it). It’s about the creative part of the process, when you actually sit down and tell a story, and about the editing process, when you look at the raw material and decide what to do with it.

What authority can I claim for anything I say? None. Nor do I want any. Writing is a creative process that has no right or wrong as far as the process or the end result. Whether what you have in the end has commercial potential is another matter altogether, as is whether it’s going to be of any interest to any readers you manage to find. Nonetheless, if you’re happy with the result of your efforts, that’s enough reason to do it. Possibly, then, the answer to the question isn’t “none,” it’s, “the best,” because what I’m going to talk about is how it works for me personally, a subject on which I’m the one and only true expert, and not how it works for you, which honestly I know nothing about. Maybe what works for me will be some inspiration or some help to someone else; maybe it will give a few non-writers some insight into the process. Or, maybe, this will be of no interest to anyone except a few of my friends, which would also be okay. Continue reading