Five years ago was a very strange time for me. I was working, but unemployed. I had published books, unpublished books, and was ardently collecting Honorable Mentions from prestigious literary contests.
In short, I was broke, and in desperate need of a new gig. Enter my friend Mark Teppo, frequent collaborator and purveyor of contracts. Mark and I had spent the summer of 2013 trying to “crack the code” of science fiction, something both of us had been writing for some time, but never seemed to make any money at.
This was particularly important to Mark, who had just started a a small press, and was looking for a big as life, airport pageturner with which to launch a science fiction imprint. After a few drinks one night, he finished the one in front of him, put the glass on the table and laid down in no uncertain terms exactly what he was looking for.
“I want Richard K. Morgan and Joss Whedon’s Starship Troopers. Can you write that?”
My response was to down my own drink, and give him a resounding “yes.”
I say this all happened five years ago, because today is anniversary of the day I set Mark the first chapters of what would eventually become my novel HOMEFRONT. So it’s only fitting that today I announce more big news, in that I am now the publisher of record for that book.
This has been some time coming, as the vagaries of a small press weren’t really set up for the types of books that Mark and I wanted to do. I finished a sequel to HOMEFRONT in the summer of last year, and made some serious progress on a third volume in that universe before i sat myself down for a chat that went something like this:
Self: “You’re not getting paid for this book. You don’t even have a promise to get paid for this book. Slow the fuck down.”
Me: “But, BOOK”
Self: You have three other unpublished novels. Get paid.”
Something like that, anyway. There may have been drinking involved.
Mark and I tried to publish BEHIND THE LINES, but there are some very real roadblocks in our way. First off, I was roughly 18 months late with the book (because reasons). Secondly, although it’s a critical darling, HOMEFRONT initial hardback presentation hit with a resounding thud, late in the year and with a graphical error that all but guaranteed it would not sell unless faced out.
Also because reasons. And by the time we got a superior paperback with a far superior cover out the following summer, I was already an almost-was. e-book sales were okay, but there were returns enough to kill the book before it could really find its legs.
A fairly common tale for first-time novelists in the 20th century. But in the 21st, writing about the 27th doesn’t have to be a one-and-done prospect.
Mark and I talked at length earlier in early 2018 about turning the two volumes (one published, one not) of the Transgenic Wars into a trilogy instead, and relaunching the franchise with an aggressive series of short novels to follow. After an afternoon of scene juggling and additional plotting, I had a 2 year plan for 5 new books, and over more drinks we agreed to revisit the project in the summer.
Our next big conversation on the matter was in late June, and involved the words, “If you were to ask me for the rights to HOMEFRONT back, you could probably have them.” Since I was already preparing to do just that, and since in fact have my own small press with which to lose money, I jumped at the chance. We negotiated the transfer, and started waiting out the channel while HOMEFRONT went slowly out of print.
To the point where when last month Amazon.com put the ebook on sale for some reason, I had to scratch my head and wonder who’d been collecting the money on those books since we asked them not to. Mark and I bent our heads over our keyboards, and a few days later, for the first time in four years there were no “new” copies of my novel for sale online.
Sort of. You see, I have this small press, and a website attached to said small press, through which I sell signed copies of HOMEFRONT. And as of a few minutes ago, I’m also selling e-books.
Although selling is a somewhat generous term, since the price I’ve set for them can be found in even the emptiest of pockets.
“Why?” you might ask. What has possessed the man to give away a thing he’s worked on for so long, that he’s spent money, blood sweat and tears to accomplish?
Well, I’ve finished that trilogy, you see. And very soon, I’ll have some even more important news to share.
Stay tuned, true believers. Year 6 is going to be a wild ride…