Tag Archives: Reviews

Sisyphus and The Long Tail

Another small press closes its doors. One that has been run sensibly, with a good business head and great books. One that hasn’t madly over reached or got itself into trouble in anyway. So why has it closed?

Well I guess it’s time to speak frankly about the realities of running a small press.

We have over 50 titles out. One has made a profit. A non fiction one. Two others have come close to covering their costs. Then Nun & Dragon counts as profitable because it was done on pure profit share right at the start. It has probably paid for the first couple of years of the URL.

Creating and producing books costs money. In the case of FS, we’re working with people who are willing to take mates’ rates and token payments, but that’s still money. More if it’s an anthology, or has extra artwork. Add to that the costs of author copies and postage, my gods the postage The books are print on demand for us, so that’s printing and shipping in the US to the UK, around £60+ to get the books here, then I post them all on.

So a paperback, of which we sell more, takes roughly £1.00 per copy sold. 70p to the author in most cases. 30p to us. So, to cover costs of the average anthology we need to sell around 1,350 copies. Of each book. And again, these are at the greatly reduced rates for work that we’ve negotiated with friends and people who want us to do well!

This is before we look at the costs of going to events, web hosting, marketing materials, launch events – even an accountant because we are a Ltd company now so we need to do formal business accounts. The annual return to Companies house. It all adds up. We don’t offer many hard copies for review because of the cost. We don’t submit to many awards because, even if you only have to send copies, it’s a cost. Every time we try an advert somewhere new… it’s a cost and a massive risk.

all of the books indie table at Nine Worlds

all of the books indie table at Nine Worlds

The funds come mostly from what the accountant charmingly calls ‘director loans’. Those come out of our day job wages. If we can’t afford to go a friend’s birthday it’s because the money is sunk into getting a book out.

And none of the accounting includes the time myself and my business partner and Mr Fox put in. There is neither the time nor the money for holidays, and much of my time is spent on the verge of burnout. If I seem to nap a lot it’s because I haven’t slept well since Nun & Dragon came out.

Running a small press occupies most of my free time and most of my disposable income. It’s a labour of love and boundless hope and optimism and waking up at 3am worrying about the costs of the latest thing and the lack of sales for my authors and whether the last book went out with typos we’d missed and a million other small things.

If I am saying NO a lot more often it’s because it’s the only way we can survive. I still need to get better at it.

More presses are looking to Patreon to help keep them going, or Kickstarter so books are effectively no or low risk. Many people running small presses have other jobs which either subsidise the press or subsidise the bill paying or both.  Some small presses are folding, it just doesn’t pay. Brexit and the uncertainty and additional costs it brought with it – another nail in the small press shaped coffin.

Thing is, as a business, few small independent presses really make sense. We don’t. Oh, we believe we can get there but it’s a long way and we tell ourselves that we have to survive that little bit longer to start to see that upswing.

BUT…

In a time when large publishers are tightening belts and taking fewer chances on those quirky projects and cross genre works, small press is a life line for a lot of writers. Authors who don’t want to do it all alone, who want editing support, professional cover art, and the business aspect managed by a trusted partner. It’s a lifeline for readers who want something a little different, a way of discovering new voices and new stories, of trying something that fills a peculiar niche or appetite.

If you want to help, if you want to keep your favourite presses open, if you want those unusual little projects to be published… the simple truth is they need more sales. You don’t have to buy all the books yourself – there are other ways you can help. Tell people about them! Review the books! 50 is a magic number on amazon, but 10 is the minimum for any kind of impact, or to even be considered for a lot of marketing systems. Share posts and retweet. Help build word of mouth. Come to their events and their tables and enthuse because honestly just seeing people there and hearing that we are loved can help get through the next month of bleak sales. Put them forward for fan awards, many of us are too dignified to sneakily do this ourselves, but those nominations and long lists mean the world, they mean someone is paying attention. Tweet nice things to the authors because when they get their sales figures and meagre royalties your words help them believe it’s still worth it (like Tinkerbell and the clapping thing).

Moments like this, keep us going.

Moments like this, keep us going.

Small presses may not always be as professional and business-like as larger ones. They may not always go into it knowing everything they should. But the hard truth of it is, if it weren’t for our naïve passion, most of us wouldn’t exist at all.

Not The Fox News: One Weird Trick To Help EVERY AUTHOR EVER

Hi everyone, welcome back to Not The Fox News. The Sun is shining, the weather is good, awards season is in full swing and we have a special correspondent to fill you in on what you missed. Former President and full time fictional person Jed Bartlet!

 

 

Yeah that about covers it.

I know, I know some of you will go ‘Oooh what’s occurring?. So,  google ‘Hugo awards 2015’ start reading and be prepared for realizing it’s somehow  a week later and you’re crying and angry and muttering ‘How? How can so many words that mean SO LITTLE be generated for so, SO long?’.

Because the internet, bunky. Because the internet.

Which is depressing. This sort of dusty ethical brushfire war has been going on for longer than a lot of people have been alive and it’s not slowing down any time soon. Worse still, it can feel very tempting to jump in and declare that you, are in fact, there to save the day. I did.

See. Not just you. Oh and nothing happened aside from one thing; I got distracted. I took my eye off the work I should be doing and tried to fix a problem that wasn’t mine to fix. That’s why so much of this stuff is so tiresome; it’s an ideological conflict in a village, a West Side Story dancefight with no dancing but way too many crappy response posts. Not to mention a mystifying belief that Fisking is the nuclear weapon of debate when it’s not even the nuclear weapon of Fisking. (DO NOT CLICK THAT LINK IF YOU ARE SQUEAMISH. Or haven’t seen Daredevil yet.)

There are some interesting, good pieces hidden in the conversation, certainly. But the operative word is most definitely ‘hidden’.

So, world’s most rubbish kaiju battle going on in the genre, vast amount of signal being swapped out for noise, you caught in the middle, no sign of Cherno Alpha. What is an internet savvy, articulate, positive reader like yourself to do?

Well, there is that one weird trick…

1-Read a book. There are LOADS of them. A lot of them are great. Go pick one. I just finished this and it’s top. This too.

2-Have opinions about that book.

3-Write a review. It doesn’t have to be a magnum opus. It can be two lines or forty. It can be a full scale blog post or just ‘I really liked this, especially the characters.’ Write how you write. Talk about what you loved. Talk about what you didn’t. Look at the experience of your interaction with the book and the things that make your heart beat faster or that you really want to tell other people about. Make a note of them. Write up your notes. Congratulations, it’s a review.

4-Follow the two rules. Firstly, run a spellcheck. I have friends who have dyslexia and similar conditions who sometimes worry that the problems that causes them prevent them from doing this sort of thing. That’s where your spellchecker comes in. I have other friends who sometimes don’t believe in the second draft as a stage of their process or a philosophical construct. On occasion those friends are me. That’s where your spellchecker comes in.

-4b-Don’t be an asshole. If you read your review back and chortle at the creative ways you’ve insulted the author, you’ve done it wrong. There’s a whole conversation about if negative reviews have value that I don’t want to go into here. Firstly because I like you people, secondly because I don’t really want Jed to keep headbutting the desk and thirdly because they do, with one qualifier; don’t be an asshole. If you didn’t like a book, explain why. If you’re personally offended by the book’s existence and feel the need to vomit your electronic bile over the internet, don’t bother. That vacancy was filled a very, very long time ago.

5-Post your review to your blog, your local Amazon and Nook sites and any others you want to and GoodReads. Some of you, like me, will view GoodReads as a cruel User Interface joke inflicted on us all by angry time travelling developers from 1991. That’s fine. It is. But post it there anyway.

Also, about Amazon, I know a lot of people have problems with them as a book seller. I know they’re all valid concerns.

I also know every single author in history enjoys being paid, eating and being able to pay bills.

 

So, to sum up: Every single review for a book helps. If you hated it, say why but make sure you follow 4 and 4b up there. If you loved it, say why. But please, please say it and say it in as many places as possible. Here’s some good places to start:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon Germany

Amazon Japan

GoodReads

Nook US

Nook UK

Because every single time you post a review, you do four things;

-Express your emotional response to a piece of culture using the largest megaphone in human history.

-In doing so, release much needed brain space to go fill with the next piece of culture you encounter.

-Help an author not only get more visible but feel like everything they went through getting the book to print, or indeed, electron, was worthwhile.

-Make this a more positive space for us to all be in.

One weird trick, four positive outcomes. Looks like good value to me, what do you think Jed?

 

Awesome. See you next month, folks.

 

New Release: Akane

G Clark Hellery’s new YA sci fi / fantasy novel ‘Akane Last of the Orions’ is available now!

Akane cover

When the Shadows arrived on earth, everyone assumed they were another benign alien race looking to live peacefully among us. However, they soon showed there true intentions and now the only person between them and the annihiliation of human race is Akane, one fo the last Orions. On the run from the police and not knowing if she can trust even her oldest friends Akane must uncover the full power of the locket passed down through her family. Will she be in time to save her family and the rest of the human race or will the Shadows drag them all into darkness?

We are looking for reviewers for the book so please contact adele @ foxspirit.co.uk if you are interested.

 

Reviews 5 : latest news

Our latest releases have had some great reviews so I wanted to share those.

The Stars Seem So Far Away

Books Abound among others has left some lovely feedback for the book on Goodreads : For me, there was a very distinct essence to the prose that I loved. It wasn’t too flowery and seemed to reflect the state of their world. Beautifully nuanced in all the right ways

And novelist E.P. Beaumont had lovely things to say : The narrative compels through spare suggestion — short story on the boundary with poetry — and implies a world of vast sweep in its pauses. The Stars Seem So Far Away is set in a post-apocalyptic Far North, where much of the middle latitudes of Earth have become uninhabitable and streams of refugees have found their way to cities built where currently nothing lies but tundra.

Emily Nation

The Tentacled Tribunal has lovely things to say about our Cornish Assassin : McQuay’s novel bears the grungy, post-apocalyptic DNA of 2000AD, Shadowrun, Tank Girl, or Mad Max.* These are post-apocalyptic cyberpunk westerns, where the plains are nuclear ash wastes, and the bandits and crooks jostle for position between cyborgs, mutants and crazed artefacts from a bygone age of horror and violence. But where 2000AD is entwined with 80s satire and brash Americana, and Mad Max has a more arid outback mania to proceedings, McQuay’s Emily Nation is intrinsically bound to the author’s home; Cornwall.

Reviews 4: Down the Rabbit Hole

Weirdmage

Tales of Eve edited by Mhairi Simpson

‘The quality of the storytelling is very high here, above what can be expected from any anthology. It really is consistently very good throughout. Every author in here has delivered something that they can be proud of, and something which I have really enjoyed.’

Fox Pockets: Piracy edited by Adele Wearing

‘It is short, as are the stories in it, and it is all the stronger for it. This is excellent for those that want some short fiction that will fill a few minutes now and then. For those that like their fiction to come with a piratical leaning, this is an absolute must.’

Neil Williamson

Fox Pockets: Piracy edited by Adele Wearing

‘Did I mention the cover design? How much I love it? No? Well I do. Look to your left. See what I mean? I reckon artist Sarah Anne Langton has created something truly iconic with this set of simple elements and limited palette.’

Liquorice UK

Weird Wild by G Clark Hellery

‘The mix of styles and genres, incorporating elements of thriller and fantasy works well on the whole and the descriptions of the wood are wonderfully vivid and rich, beautifully capturing the eeriness of the setting.’

Killer Aphrodite

Requiem in E Sharp by Joan De La Haye

‘As you all may know, Killer Aphrodite is run from Pretoria and we are well aware that sometimes the truth is much more terrifying than fiction… especially around these parts, which means that De La Haye was able to capture the truly gruesome realities that we have to face more often than not and turn it into a book that will give you a proper scare. ‘

White Rabbit advert 2

A whole bunch of carrots… or reviews for White Rabbit by K.A. Laity

Alasdair Stuart : This is supernatural fiction mixed with noir, coffee and incense, whiskey and blood, all swirled together in a novel that’s compact, punchy fun. Life is messy, death is too.

Antonio Urias : White Rabbit is fast paced, pitch perfect noir with a well-developed fantasy world and tight characterization. Highly enjoyable.

Crimeculture : Laity’s writing is punchy and readable and she has a knack for slang and banter. The whole style of the genre mash-up keeps the reader on their toes, because with noir, the supernatural and the Carroll-bunny theme all in play, we never know what’s coming next.

Reviews 3 : A few good men

Continuing the review round up series. More soon.

The Eloquent Page

Fox Pockets: Shapeshifters edited by Adele Wearing

‘Traditional horror rubbing shoulders with steampunk, dark fantasy and science fiction, I felt spoiled for choice. Fox Spirit have left the submission themes for the Fox Pocket series deliberately ambiguous and this ambiguity has paid dividends.’

Breed by K.T. Davies

‘Brash, bawdy and with more chases than you could shake a big northern hammer at, Breed is fantasy caper that’s bucket loads of fun. Davies’ writing continues to evolve and delight in equal measure always retaining that joyous, blissful escapism that drew me to her work in the first place.’

Tales of the Nun & Dragon collected by Adele Wearing

‘The best news is that each writer has brought their ‘A’ game and produced something that works well as a standalone but also fits seamlessly into the collection as a whole. I was spoiled for choice with all the differing, iconoclastic interpretations of the nun and dragon theme.’

Oasis by Joan De La Haye

‘Oasis treads classic Romero-esque ground and has a suitably downbeat ending that I really enjoyed. I have to admit I do enjoy my zombie stories to be grimmer than grim and I’m glad to say this novella delivers on that score.’

oasis cover 600x800

The Cult Den

Blood Bound by Sarah Cawkwell

‘Cue a totally unexpected plot twist and an eventual final battle worthy of any blockbuster movie, and you have a highly satisfying conclusion which still leaves enough questions and possible openings for a continuation.’

The Shockwave Writer

Tales of the Nun & Dragon collected by Adele Wearing

‘If you have ever lived in Britain then “Nun and Dragon” will  almost certainly make you think of a country pub, much like the name “The Vat and Fiddle” in Nottingham or “The Goat and Tricycle” in Bournemouth. I seriously suspect the many of the Nuns in this book would be more at home in “The Wicked Lady” in Wheathamstead.’

 

Reviews 2: The Tony Lane Edition

Tony has been a supporter of Fox Spirit since it beganand has consistently given us honest, largely positive reviews. He’s also on occasion hosted interviews with our authors, artists and even Aunty Fox. I have attempted to collect all his reviews so far here.

Emily Nation By Alec McQuay

The Velocity of Constant by Hardeep Sangha

Drag Noir edited by K.A. Laity

Billy’s Monsters by Vincent Holland-Keen

billys monsters - front coversmall

Breed by K.T. Davies

King Wolf by Steven Savile

Burning by Joan De La Haye

The Girl at the End of the World Bk 2 edited by Adele Wearing

The Girl at the End of the World Bk 1 edited by Adele Wearing

White Rabbit by K.A. Laity

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000448_00023]

Warrior Stone by Rob Harkess

Fox Pockets: Guardians edited by Adele Wearing

Tales of the Fox and Fae collected by Adele Wearing

Oasis by Joan De La Haye

The ‘Lost’ Second Book of Nicoletto Giganti (1608) translated by Piermarco Terminiello and Joshua Pendragon (A Vulpes book)

Fox Pockets: Shapeshifters edited by Adele Wearing

Tales of Eve edited by Mhairi Simpson (shortlisted for Best Anthology with BFS in 2014)

Noir Carnival edited by K.A. Laity

Fox Pockets: Piracy edited by Adele Wearing

Blood Bound by Sarah Cawkwell

front-back-cover-final

Requiem in E Sharp by Joan De La Haye

Weird Noir edited by K.A. Laity

Tales of the Nun & Dragon collected by Adele Wearing

Huge thanks to Tony and everyone who has reviewed our books for their support. It means a lot to us.

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Reviews

A little while ago the wonderful Starburst Magazine (a must for all SF fans) reviewed a few of our titles. We wanted to flag them up here too. Click the titles for the full review.

The Lonely Dark by Ren Warom

‘Author Ren Warom writes in a free-flowing, personal and highly evocative way. This is a tale of introspection and much of the action takes place in the protagonist’s mind. What could have easily become a drawn out exercise in navel gazing becomes a thrilling journey into the unknown, fraught with both paranoia and self-discovery.’

Drag Noir by Various, edited by K.A. Laity

‘One of the nice things about the small press is that you tend to find more original and clever ideas amongst them, especially when it comes to anthologies. Fox Spirit Books tend to specialise in seeking out new talent and coming up with bright new themes. Drag Noir blends two things that work so well together it now seems obvious. The grim, gritty and hyper-sexualised noir genre and the glorious world of drag. Both share similar histories, and it’s easy to imagine a top hat and tails wearing Gladys Bentley rubbing shoulders with the characters from The Postman Always Rings Twice.’

cover_ld02

European Monsters by Various, edited by Margret Helgadottir and Jo Thomas

‘EBooks have been a boon to the small press, allowing many independent publishers to produce work that would otherwise be too expensive. This has also meant that paper and ink books created by such companies have become much less common. So it’s nice to see that Fox Spirit’s latest anthology is not only available in the old fashioned format, but that it’s also beautifully produced and illustrated.

European Monsters is a gorgeous collection of tales of unnatural creatures, dealing with the rigours of the modern day. Each tale picks a creature from myth and gives us a short but sweet snapshot of its existence.’

And The Future Fire is currently working its way through Girl Vol 2 but gave a balanced and positive review of Girl at the End of the World Vol 1 here.

‘The very cool small press Fox Spirit Books have brought out an anthology of apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic stories with women protagonists in two volumes. Edited by Adele Wearing, the generally high-quality The Girl at the End of the World (or at least the first volume, which is all that I have read—a review of volume two will follow from another reviewer) covers several different areas beneath the umbrella of apocalypse, from the personal to the world-shattering, from the absurd to the terrifying.’

If you are interested in reviewing Fox Spirit Titles please contact adele@ foxspirit.co.uk

More free fiction & a Christmas request

We have updated the free fiction page with a Christmas story by Vincent Holland-Keen set in the same world as The Office of Lost and Found and the recently published Billy’s Monsters.

billys monsters - front coversmall

Pop over to the Free Fiction page to enjoy ‘Jingle Bells’ and other free downloadable stories from Fox Spirit Writers.

Check back over Christmas as we will be adding more.

For even more free fiction check out the podcasts listed on our ‘Ssh I’m reading‘ page to have stories read to you for nothing!

Now the request…

The best thing you can give an author is a review and we would like to ask that if you have enjoyed any Fox Spirit title this year you take a few minutes to post something on Amazon or Goodreads about it and let other people know it’s worth a read. Our huge thanks in advance.

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Monster Giveaway!

Tweet the link to an amazon review of a Fox Spirit title posted by you anytime in Oct or Nov 2014 using the #eumonsters along with retweeting the link to this giveaway to be added to a draw for the chance to win your choice of YA novel ‘Billy’s Monsters’ and amazing horror anthology ‘European Monsters’ both in paperback.

Breaking that down

To be included you need to retweet this post on twitter, post an amazon review (any country) of a Fox Spirit title and tweet the link using the hashtag #eumonsters

We will check the hashtag at the end of November and add you all to a prize draw where five names will be selected at random. Please make sure you are following us so we can reach you. @foxspiritbooks

There are five paperback copies up for grabs and winners get to choose between Billy’s Monsters and European Monsters

If you also have a blog we will be happy to provide review copies of available titles as ebooks including Drag Noir and Wicked Women as soon as they are available. Please contact adele@foxpsirit.co.uk if you would like a review copy of any of our titles, include a link to your blog and title your email ‘Review Copy’ so I can find it easily.

Art 3_Kieran_to Vikja story

art by Keiran Walsh for European Monsters