Greetings folks! This is the post I delayed from yesterday, announcing that the inevitable has finally come to pass; the #SPFBO adventure of my debut fantasy novel The Exercise Of Vital Powers reached its conclusion at the weekend after missing out on an unlikely place in the final, having been pushed into second place by Devil’s Night Dawning by Damien Black.

Now that my elimination from the competition has been made official, a tiny part of me actually feels a little disappointed―which is funny now that I think about it. When I submitted my book to Mark Lawrence way back in May, I was utterly convinced I was wasting my time. I didn’t believe for one moment my first novel would make any kind of impression given that it would be just one of three hundred titles competing, some of which were authored by well established names within the indie publishing scene, plus Harry Connolly and Rachel Aaron who both have several traditionally published books to their names.

If I had been told at the time that The Exercise Of Vital Powers would not only progress to the semi-final stage, where it would have a one-in-six chance of advancing to the final, but that it would also be responsible for the early elimination of two books considered to be favourites to progress from my group, I would have been more than happy with that.

As it was, the only thing I was really hoping to gain from my participation in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off was (at best) a half decent review I could use to maybe entice readers to give my book the time of day. In the end I got so much more than that. SPFBO judge Kaitlin Grey not only gave The Exercise Of Vital Powers a glowing review, she also went above and beyond her duty by being incredibly supportive of me and my book, to the extent where I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to state that 99% of the readers now interested in my novel were persuaded by her enthusiasm for it. So, although logically I should be disappointed to miss out on a place in the final, I can’t in anyway regard my participation in this year’s SPFBO as a failure.

There is a well known adage that “every cloud has a silver lining,” and in this instance there are a couple of positives about not continuing to be involved in the SPFBO contest well into the new year. The first is that I can now follow the progress of the rest of the competition without stressing about my own involvement. Secondly, I can now focus on what the future holds for me as an indie author moving beyond this year’s SPFBO.

So, what does the future hold? Well, starting with The Exercise Of Vital Powers, early in the new year I am going to begin preparing a revised second edition to be released to coincide with the one year anniversary of its initial publication. I have several good reasons for wanting to do this, the principal one being that I’m not oblivious to my book’s lack of editorial polish. Securing the services of an experienced line editor to smooth out the rough edges should go some way to taking the quality of my writing up another level, and in doing so making The Exercise Of Vital Powers an even better novel. Secondly, having made the decision (post publication) that The Exercise Of Vital Powers will no longer be a stand-alone novel, the release of a revised second edition will allow me to relaunch the book and convey its new status as the first book of what I hope will be a five book series. (I’ll make an official announcement about that early in the new year.)

The difference between the first and second editions won’t just end with a more polished edit of the story; there will also be an improvement in the presentation, in the form of new cover artwork. I’m currently in the early stages of putting together a list of potential artists/graphic designers who can produce enticing, original looking covers, not just for The Exercise Of Vital Powers but for each subsequent book of the series so they have a uniform appearance. There should also be additional content in the form of maps (which I chose not to include in the first edition as I didn’t think it was worth the hassle for what was intended to be a stand-alone book), glossaries and possibly a bonus deleted scene.

In addition to the revised ebook and paperback editions, I am tentatively considering an audiobook version, too. But this possibility is entirely dependent on getting the narrator I want. There are only two names on my shortlist, both are voice actresses who are not known for audiobook narration, one of whom is probably far too big a name and too in demand in her day job to be a realistic choice. If both are out of the question, audiobook versions will probably be permanently off the table (unless my backup plan of talking one of the librarians at my local library into thinking about a career change inexplicably succeeds).

Moving beyond The Exercise Of Vital Powers, I am currently writing the sequel which I would ideally like to publish in the summer of 2018. For the moment I will simply refer to it as my WIP or Untitled Sequel (even though I actually know what it will be called), and I will hopefully be in a position to start revealing details and promoting it in the Spring, well ahead of the publication date. I am also planning to publish a couple of novelettes before the release of book two, but my priority at the moment is finishing the novel.

Finally, I’ve decided it’s long past time that I get a mailing list set-up so I can send readers who subscribe a quarterly newsletter which I will start sending out in the new year, plus other occasional updates on what I’m doing. The mailing list is up and ready to go, and I will give details about it later in the week so keep your eyes peeled for that.

So that is (hopefully) what 2018 looks like for me in the wake of the end of my #SPFBO adventure.

 

Thanks for reading,
Ian