A couple of years ago, my agent of 15+ years and I broke up. At that time, I decided to take what I knew about the book biz--from decades as a bookseller/bookstore owner, writer, and publishing exec--and handle my own career. I would write what I wanted to, and work only with publishers who understood what I wanted to do, who knew the genres I wanted to write in.
How's that going? Glad you asked.
As of right now, I have four books under contract, and a fifth (already written) that should have a contract any moment now. I've done some comics work and some short fiction. And now I'm trying something entirely different--a serialized novel, through Amazon's Kindle Vella program. You have to have a Kindle or a Kindle app to read it, but the app is free and should work on any device.
Serialized novels are new to me, but they're not new. Back in the old days, newspapers used to run serialized novels. Charles Dickens's The Pickwick Papers is widely considered to be one of the earliest successful serialized novels--proof of concept, if you will. More recently, the pulp magazines serialized novels. More recently still, Stephen King's The Green Mile first appeared as a serial novel, albeit in skinny little books instead of in a magazine or newspaper.
I've published 50-some novels, won some awards, earned some readers. But this is a fish of a different color, or something.
The book? It's called Flesh of All Sorrows (bonus points for you if you recognize the relatively obscure reference). The description you'll see at the Vella site is this: Newly minted police chief Danny's Mansfield's father, a former chief, became locally famous by catching the town's most notorious serial killer. When it seems the real killer isn't in prison, Danny risks destroying his father's reputation, his brother's political career, and his mother's legacy to learn the truth. Meanwhile, the grandson of the original killer has discovered the old man's trophy cache. He's a supremely troubled young man in search of an identity. And he thinks he's found it...
It's about cops, killers, the modern West, courage, betrayal, love, fear, and honor. It grew out of two different areas--my friendships and interactions with police chiefs from different Arizona cities, and my extensive research--including reading, writing, lecturing, and teaching--into the minds of murderers. Most specifically, serial killers and mass murderers.
It's intended to be the first in a series that will not only explore how killers are made, but the nature of police work in a changing world. This one is set pre-pandemic, but the next one will look at cops in the age of George Floyd's killing, the "defund" movement, etc. Ripped from the headlines, you might say.
Of course, there'll only be a next one if Flesh of All Sorrows is successful. That's where you come in.
The first four installments will be live on Tuesday, July 27. I'll post here when they are. The first three are free, but after that you have to pay to keep reading (in tokens, which I'm guessing will not be the physical kind you earn at Chuck E. Cheese). I'm hoping you'll try the first three and be intrigued enough to keep going. Beyond that, I'm hoping you'll be enthusiastic enough to tell friends, to tweet, Insta, Facebook, whatever your favorite way is to influence your posse. Because I won't have a big publishing company (or a small one) behind me. It's just me and the faceless anonymity of Amazon. Jeff Bezos has billions, but he's not going to spend a nickel of it to promote my book (or, y'know, pay his warehouse workers a living wage). Especially if he sees this.
So please read. Please spread the word. That's the only way this serialization thing works. I'll keep the installments coming. The book's already done. It'll be complete on Vella, a week at a time (though I can speed that up if there's demand--I'm not sure yet, and don't know if anybody is, what the optimal interval should be. You can also "thumbs up" and "Fave" the installments, which will push it up the Amazon food chain.
Updated: It's alive! It's alive!