Friday, March 24, 2006

Review of Hal Spacejock Second Course

Nice to see an SF review in the mainstream press - actually, it's more than nice ... it's highly unusual.

Update (4th Aug 2006): The review mentioned above was published in the Adelaide Advertiser and also appeared on their website. Since then, the website has been rejigged and the reviews have gone in the reshuffle.

However, you can still see links to other HS2 reviews here


Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Publicity pile-on

Author visits are one of the most rewarding things about getting a book or two into the shops. I wrote the Hal Spacejock series for adults, but it's also suitable for kids 12+ so I'm lucky enough to be invited to schools as well as other events.

My publisher has two publicity demons fielding requests for author visits, one for young adult (schools, kids lit events, etc) and the other for adult-oriented visits like gatherings of librarians and book buyers. That's on top of media interviews, which tend to be close to launch date.

Nyanda and Rachel do an excellent job, and I make a point of saying yes to every event they offer me no matter where, when or what it is. In fact, they've now taken to accepting on my behalf and letting me know afterwards. (Easy? Me? Hell, I'd go to the opening of a coke can.)

And now that I'm working full time from home I can go out on a whim ;-)

Over the next few months I've pencilled in half a dozen appearances of one kind or another, and it's really getting to the stage where I have to double check before I say 'yes yes, put me down' However, one word of advice: If you find yourself in this situation remember to keep writing, because that's where NEXT year's appearances will come from.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Writer meme from PBW

This was taken from a post on PBW's blog. The idea is for published writers to share their thoughts on a set of comments, thus helping those hoping to get published, or those who have been published and are wondering what happens next. I've posted the questions in bold, my answers in plain. If you're published or have any insights on the questions, please replicate them on your own blog and post a comment on PBW's blog so others can find your take on them.

1. How to Go Pro: What happens after you get The Call? What are the stages the book in process goes through? What you can do as an author to help it happen and be as painless as possible, etc.?

The most important thing, in my view, is to listen to your editor. You will need this person's help, and they will need yours. There's no room for precious author syndrome - save that for when you're rich and famous (and then watch people moan that your books aren't as good as they used to be.)

Your editor will tell you where your book is lacking. Do not ignore these comments. Your editor may make suggestions on how to fix these problems. Feel free to ignore these suggestions and come up with your own. Work as a team and remind yourself your editor is working with you to make your book stronger.

2. Staying Pro: I'd like to see more on how to KEEP selling, or how to organize my time (and) Once you start selling the plan is to keep selling and have a nice long career. Pointers?

Forget everything else and write more books. That's your job. If the first don't do so well, you can submit new and better books under a pseudonym.

3. Budget Marketing: What can be done about marketing for writers with a $2k advance?

Talk to the publicist at your publisher. Decide whether the money is better spent on behind-the-scenes stuff like entries in bookstore catalogues or front counter stuff like bookmarks. Ask them what they would do with $500, $1000 dollars to promote the book. A decent author website is a good start.

4. Trouble-Free Marketing: Can the writer do anything to avoid looking like a newbie dork (about marketing)? How does the little guy get some attention without attracting trouble?

Talk to your publicist. Don't duplicate their efforts.
Every time they set you up some publicity, go along and give it all you've got. Say yes to everything, and do it. If you hold out for major media events and let them down over smaller, more personal items like school and library visits, you're sending the publicist a message. How do you know who's going to be in the audience, anyway?

5. Real Sales Numbers: How many books really did sell last week? How many copies of each book on the best sellers lists (and the midlist as well)? Which venues are selling (online vs main stores vs independents).

Your publisher will know.

6. What's Selling, and What's Not: I'd like to know what novels publishers are wanting now and the best way to keep up with the markets. How can someone check their idea with what is coming out on PW or the other publishing trades? What is the science behind it?

Forget it and write what you love.

7. Author Abuse: What exactly constitutes Bad/Poor treatment from a publisher (excluding poor sales, thin to no marketing, or normal business-related problems)?

If your editor leaves and the book is orphaned, you're probably in for a rough time. Getting angry because your publisher won't take out full page ads for your book only demonstrates a lack of knowledge about the publishing industry.

8. Ambient Wisdom or Myth: I wish if I knew if I were doing the right thing, rewriting my 300K novel into a trilogy, because the ambient wisdom is a first-timer can't sell a 300K book.


9. Real Deal and Not Blowing It: What do you do when you actually hear from an agent/editor who wants to represent/publish you? What kinds of documents are you going to be required to complete, what knowledge do you need, is it inappropriate to fly out just to hug the person, what are pitfalls that will make sure your book never sees daylight...what happens when you get past the hard part?

Order a couple books on contracts (Kirsch, for example) and read them cover to cover. Listen to the editor/agent, and don't feel you have to reply to every question immediately.

10. Any Age Discrimination: Are agents and publishers scared of first time authors over the age of 50?

No. You could write a book a year until you turn seventy or eighty.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

First review of Hal 2

Satima Flavell just posted a review of Hal Spacejock Second Course on the Specusphere website. Did she like it? Hate it?

See for yourself

The book is gradually appearing in stores and libraries across Australia. Enjoy!

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Announcement lists - ego trip or useful tool?

About a year ago I set up an announcements list for the Hal Spacejock series. Every now and then I post a news update, which might contain links to new reviews, details of overseas releases and so on.

After seeing so many people miss out in the latest Hal draw (306 entrants, 10 winners) I've decided to run some kind of contest through the announcement list from time to time, which will allow me to give away more copies of my books.

If you'd like to be in on it, just visit the mailing list signup page The list runs on my own server, which means nobody else will get hold of your details, so feel free to sign up. The link above will also give you access to the mailing list archive, so you can see the kind of thing I send out.

The single biggest reason for the mailing list is to let people in the UK or US know when Hal Spacejock is available in their market, and believe me as soon as I have news it'll be broadcast on every channel I have at my disposal ;-)

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Match the first line to the author and win ... Baby clothes! (Other lesser prizes available)

Roll up, roll up and enter the exciting Andromeda Spaceways #22 contest. This post contains a list of all the original fiction that will be published in the upcoming ASIM #22, edited by Tansy Rayner Roberts.

Head on over there and give it a shot. Baby clothes are not to be sniffed at ... really, they're not. You could also win a subscription to Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, a publication I happen to have a hand in. (Unlike the baby clothes)

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Three Hal 2 Things

Hal 2 is officially out, although it'll probably take a couple of weeks for copies to trickle into stores. It's an Australia/NZ release only at this stage.

I've announced the winners of the Hal Second Course draw (via email), but if you forgot to enter you can always put your name in for the next draw.

Bookstores North of Perth now have their Hal Spacejock bookmarks, so if you happen to live in Belmont or Joondalup, or anywhere in between, you can go in and ask for a set. South of Perth will be covered later this week. On my travels I saw 1 - 3 copies of the first Hal Spacejock book in every store, which is pretty good going six months after it came out. (Good going in that they haven't sent them all back yet, and that seeing none at all on the shelves would have been very bad.) When they add all the Hal 2 books to them it'll take up a nice little spot, unless they do the bookshop thing and ship back all the first Hal books when the second ones arrive ;-)

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)