Fantasy Book Book
Back in March I was having an extremely bad day. I can't remember the reason why. After work went home and started digging through my stack of galleys in my closet for something to read. The problem was that nothing in that stack really matched my mood. Basically I wanted something simple that didn't require me to think at all. I started hunting around online and finally settled upon something with the truly terrible sounding title of "The Galactic Mage"
This book was a self published ebook. I bought it for .99 cents on Amazon and started reading. The story was basically about this guy who was I assume a fantastic re-imagination of the author, who was -- I'm assuming this from the writing -- suffering from asperger syndrome. There was also a secondary story line about a woman; though I am positive the author (by the way he wrote the character) had never actually spoken with a woman in real life.
The book was bad, but I kept reading anyway... that was just the kind of mood I was in. Then something strange happened. About a hundred pages in, the story line took a really interesting turn. For about 75 pages, the book became sublime. The author, probably through sheer dumb luck, was writing at a level I would happily share with my book group. Then the rest of the book happened and the awfulness returned.
I put my iPad down and thought about it for a while.
In theory there is no reason why a self published ebook must be bad. I follow a number of literary agents on twitter, and I have to admit that as a result of reading what they actually say amongst themselves my opinion of them has plummetted. Over and over they keep tweeting variations of "If you can't catch my interest in 30 seconds, then you are wasting my time" Which seemed to me like they were looking for good sales people rather than good writers.
Thus began my experiment. Over the course of about three months I must have read between 200-300 ebooks. Most of them were terrible. Nanowrimo novels, books that were basically just D&D adventures, Books that desperately needed to be edited, books that had good ideas but terrible execution, books that had great execution but terrible ideas. There were a handful that were decent, maybe as good as an average book on our self.
I will admit that I was having a lot of fun. Sometimes even the most unpublishable book can have an element that is worth reading. It was fun to think that I might have been the only person, other than the author, to have read some of the things I've read.
A week ago Thursday that changed. I picked up a book that I didn't have any expectations regarding. The cover was terrible. The title "Blood Song: Raven's Shadow book 1" was an example of everything that is cliched about genre writing.
At 4:00am I realized I couldn't put the book down. I needed to go to work, and but it was just so damned good. I considered calling in sick to finish it, but... At best in my search I had hopped to find something we could do a store print run on Opus and maybe staff pick it. But this book was different. In bed, I tossed and turned and tried to sleep. Then I pulled out my iPad, opened up my email account and wrote to Trudy our Penguin rep, and begged her to get one of their readers to give it a shot. It was a spur of the moment thing. But the book was without any doubt a bestseller, and more people needed to enjoy it as much as I had.
Trudy wrote back to me a couple hours later to tell me that she had forwarded my comments to the Penguin Science Fiction editor. I began telling people about the book, and a couple of my friends who read it, admitted that they had had as hard a time putting it down as I'd had. One guy complained to me that he'd had plans that weekend and that he hadn't wanted to get sucked into a book.
Exactly a week later, I got an email from the book buyer at Penguin. She had just offered Anthony Ryan a three book contract. Hopefully he will take them up on the offer, because I look forward to seeing him on our shelves.
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