Hard SF for Connoisseurs "Real page turners in the footsteps of Clarke & Heinlein"      

TONY HARMSWORTH'S SPACE & SCIENCE FICTION BLOG

TRADITIONAL OR SELF-PUBLISHING?

Iíve spent the past three years following all the recommendations to get an agent and/or a traditional publisher.

This route is called ĎTraditional Publishingí and is probably the most likely path the average author would follow. You send out query letters to agents with the first three chapters or 10k words of your novel and they assess it. The process of getting them to read your submission can take between a few weeks and many months and many of them get annoyed if you send your work to more than one agent at a time.

Well, Iím afraid, the more you try to follow the guidelines, the more you realise that agents usually donít bother to ever reply to you. Of all the submissions Iíve made over the last three years, only a dozen have taken the time to write back and say they are not interested, even agents who claim on their websites to reply to everyone have not responded at all.

Iíve been published now on Wattpad, Amazon, Kindle, LuLu, Createspace, Kobo and Barnes & Noble etc. for about three years. On Wattpad, my stories have been read thousands of times with a very high like ratio.

Women's Fiction Hot List on Wattpad The latest Wattpad surprise was to find out that THE VISITOR, which has a female main character, has actually made it to the top of the Hot List for Womenís Fiction! See the image. Click the image to enlarge.

Analysing some of the stats from these lists, you can see that THE VISITOR has had 53,600 reads and 7,500 likes. That is a ratio of 14%.

If you look at the ratio of other books in that list, you start to appreciate how much better-liked my books are to others. Other in that list:

THE MARVELS OF PRAIRIE CREEK has 43,000 reads and 3,500 likes. A ratio of 8%.

NOWHERE USA has 6,200 reads and 608 likes. A ratio of 9.8%

DIARY OF A BROKEN DOLL has 174,000 reads and only 2,700 likes. A ratio of only 1.5%. Fewer than two in every hundred readers have clicked its Ďvoteí button.

The Visitor cover My other books perform similarly to THE VISITOR so this indicates to me that my writing is of a certain standard. These are my other SF books:

MINDSLIP 14,000 reads and 2,900 likes = 20%

GREEN DOOR 7,600 reads and 1,900 likes = 25%

MOONSCAPE 4,600 reads and 1,400 likes = an amazing 30%

My part-complete novel FEDERATION Discovery has 2,500 reads and 600 likes = 24%

I know itís possible to twist statistics to suit your needs, but it seems to me that my work is extremely well liked, averaging more than 20% likes per read.

How come, then, is it that not one single agent ever asked for anything beyond my first three chapters either in THE VISITOR or MINDSLIP. Something is wrong somewhere and I am beginning to think that it is in the nature of the science fiction market these days.

All of my books, except, arguably, FEDERATION has a grounding in real science. It is hard science fiction. Although there is an invented plot, alien or situation in each of them, real science is used to solve the problem and resolve the outcome.

Looking at most other books in the SF genre I find that they are full of dragons, impossible science, fantasy worlds or heroes with super powers. Spiderman-type beings are all very well, as a fun concept, but almost every event in which they participate is physically impossible i.e. defies the very laws of physics which hard SF tries to follow. Superhero culture seems to have taken over films currently, also.

I really canít imagine myself writing a story wherein a human transforms into, say, an octopus and goes about rescuing other sea creatures. Sadly, such an impossible scenario appears more likely to end up on Waterstoneís shelves than a realistic astronaut encountering a dormant parasite in a crater on the moon (MOONSCAPE).

If Iím not going to change my dedication to realistic science fiction, then it appears that I must change my whole approach to getting published.

I think I have settled on the way I want to move forward. More in my next blog. You can follow my successes and failures.

A SELECTION OF READERSí COMMENTS SINCE LAST TIME

Comment on MOONSCAPE

Oh, I HOPE this evil alien sucker is dead....

When someone writes a comment like that, you know youíve hit a nerve!

Comment on THE VISITOR Ė Chapter 4 - Artefact

Another chapter that held my attention. If I have a gripe it is that, given the description of the device, I don't find the immediate assumption of "alien" to be plausible. Alien-looking, sure. But from the very first description, before they looked at the wires in more detail, I would conclude either some hush-hush experimental military gadget or somebody's idea of a joke before I'd conclude 'alien'. In an age when rich men send their personal sports cars out past the orbit of Mars, 'joke' is really more likely than 'alien'. The scientists in the room (which plausibly include your MC, from her qualifications), would fall back on basic training and only accept 'alien' when all other hypotheses have been eliminated. From the story perspective, I can see starting with doubt and speculation about secret military things and rich men's jokes, and a nagging, growing, too-embarrassing-to-admit sense that it is truly unworldly, would work at least as well as this jumping to the conclusion, and perhaps even a lot better for creating some tension. Better still if the device starts to do something that eventually rules out all alternative hypotheses. Just the thought that occurs to me. I'll carry on ...

Gil

The above is the best type of comment as it challenges the actual premise of the story. Yuri and Evelyn immediately recognise that they are dealing with an alien artefact. Gil reckons it is too soon to jump to such a conclusion. This is a very difficult situation to resolve. The problem an author experiences is how much detailed description to put into a situation. To carry out all the thought-paths Gil suggests could run into more than half a chapter. Doing that slows the book down and the critique of my original version criticised me for putting in unnecessary detail. Sorry, but I was guilty. The result is that the current version of the story does not include all those convoluted thought-processes. So, Gil is right, they did jump to a conclusion that it was alien, but, and this is crucial, they could see it and Gil could only read about it. Such comments are amazingly valuable because you have to justify your writing decisions to yourself.

Comment on GREEN DOOR:

Hi Tony, another very interesting and entertaining story, I salute your fertile mind and will continue to work my way through your writings.

Why you are having trouble finding a publisher defies logic although when reading the so-called appraisals of your stories I can see your problem, they are stuck in an Ideological rut and are too intent on the technical side of writing.

So many sci-fi stories are about war and fighting it is refreshing to find a writer who thinks out of that particular box!

Best wishes, Graham.

I think this comment emphasises the points I was making earlier.

THIS WEEKíS SPECIAL OFFER

Buy a signed copy of THE VISITOR and Iíll send you a signed copy of MINDSLIP free of charge. This applies to all copies bought until my next news blog. This is a fabulous offer for those living in the UK as signed copies are posted from my home in Scotland.

However, if you live somewhere else in the world Iíll give you the same offer on ebooks. Buy THE VISITOR ebook and get the MINDSLIP ebook free.

That does not mean I won't post signed books worldwide, just that it tends to be quite expensive and most of the cost is in the postage. You can see the cost for each country on the following page. Prices appear in the drop down list against each book. Remember, you only buy The Visitor. Every purchase will get the free Mindslip.

Click this link for the purchase page. You can use any credit or debit card through the PayPal platform.

Tony Harmsworth 14th January 2019


COMMENTS ARE WELCOME

I have disabled auto-commenting owing to flat-earth trolls. To make a comment, please click on the link below and I will receive it by email and post it once I've checked it. Thanks. Apologies for any inconvenience. Click here to comment.


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AUTHOR & BOOKS


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COMMENTS ETC.

Comment on THE VISITOR

Good day. I was very surprised and really enjoyed reading this novel. So tired of reading books where the authors are more interested in financial gain than a thought provoking idea such as the pitfals of religion and how first contact might impact on this. Thank you for a excellent read


Comment on MOONSCAPE

Oh, I HOPE this evil alien sucker is dead....


Comment on GREEN DOOR

Hi Tony, another very interesting and entertaining story, I salute your fertile mind and will continue to work my way through your writings.

Why you are having trouble finding a publisher defies logic although when reading the so-called appraisals of your stories I can see your problem, they are stuck in an Ideological rut and are too intent on the technical side of writing.

So many sci-fi stories are about war and fighting it is refreshing to find a writer who thinks out of that particular box!

Best wishes, Graham.


Comment on MINDSLIP

I had thought Stephen King wrote the best horror novel I'd ever read (The Long Walk) until I read Tony's Mindslip.

Horror blended with sci-fi in a unique way. One of the best half-dozen books It's been my privilige to read.


Beta reader's comment on MOONSCAPE

You have created the most terrifying monster alien! Even the Borg cannot match this thing.


Comment on Chapter 30 of MINDSLIP - same person

Again on bus, this time balling my eyes out!


Comment on Chapter 13 of MINDSLIP

I was sitting on a crowded bus, I couldn't stop laughing.....best line in the book


Comment on GREEN DOOR

Great story!

Loved the concept of time travelers trying to rectify history.

I liked more than Mindslip, because it is more technical. Practically no errors so not much I could point out.

Keep up the good work.


Comment on a rough draft of the now complete MOONSCAPE

Cool story. It could definitely be developed so much more but is also fine just the way it is.

The Visitor and Mindslip are still my two favorite stories of yours.


Email received on THE VISITOR

I finished reading The Visitor a couple of days ago and have been thinking about your book a lot.

I grew up reading sci-fi by authors such as Fredric Brown and Ray Bradbury and then went on to Heinlein and Clarke and others. I enjoyed your story as much as I enjoyed reading many of theirs, and I agree with the socially critical messages which you deftly wove into the plot.

A visitor whether a traveler from another planet or from another town can make us look at ourselves from another perspective. I hope that your book inspires all who read it to take a long critical look at the state of humanity.

Keep on writing!

Holly


Comment on Chapter One of THE VISITOR

What a way to leave us hanging! An invisible enemy too... Fabulous. My only comment would be that I couldnít picture what they were wearing clearly. Perhaps a few sentences on that so we can picture them right from the get go? Perhaps from a glimpse at her reflection in the window? Canít wait to read more. G


Comment on Wattpad after having read GREEN DOOR

What an AMAZING STORY!!! I enjoyed every single chapter! Extremely well done in making such a complex topic so enjoyable @TonyHarmsworth! I hope you are considering applying for multiple awards with this. It truly deserves wide readership and praise. I canít wait to read your next story! All the very best, G


Comment on Wattpad after having read THE VISITOR

Hi can you please send for me some of your other book titles .They are actually wow!


Comment from an old schoolfriend

I've read all three [science fiction paperbacks] and can't wait for the next. They are all very different, showing that you are not a one-trick pony. I especially appreciated the way you understood how to write Green Door as a novella whereas Mindslip and The Visitor were novels, where you took the time to really develop the characters. And the way you weaved horror and sci-fi in Mindslip was stunningly clever.


Comment on THE VISITOR

Such a wonderful story!! Thanks for sharing. I loved it ?


Comment on THE VISITOR referring to one particular chapter

Beautifully written chapter. I've got tears ? flooding eyes. Very very emotional.


Comment on THE VISITOR

I love it! You describe the science so well and the way you write takes me to Eve's reality. She's brilliant.


Comment on MINDSLIP

Oh man! You evil, evil man! You made me choke. Well, I heard many women wish some men had the chance to experience first hand the joys of giving birth. Lol.


Comment on MINDSLIP

Iím in absolute awe at this book itís so amazing to read on a Saturday or whenever. Thanks for writing it. I appreciate good works like this.

Kazuna


Comment on THE VISITOR

Great hard scifi from a developing leader of the genre, strong characters living in a thought-provoking world all too similar to our own. A real page turner in the footsteps of Asimov, Clarke and others, highly recommend.

Amazon Review


Comment on MINDSLIP

Chapter 31 made me cry.

Male pensioner

Hope it wasn't how bad the writing was! TH


Comment on THE VISITOR

5.0 out of 5 stars Space is full of wonders and this book portrays a possibility.

Format: Kindle Edition

Spent part of my spring break reading this book. I couldn't put it down. It's an exciting story, with characters I've connected to the past few days. The ending is sad, but there's a sort of happy ending if you have an open mind about life.

C.L. Trujillo


Latest comment on GREEN DOOR

Wonder, you created wonder. Congratulations.


Loch Ness Understood email:

"Well done, Tony, an absolutely fantastic read... felt compelled to leave a review on Amazon.

"One of the final chapters about you having a stroke is much scarier than any monster...hope you are keeping well. Anyway... my review:

"Always been fascinated with the unexplained...ghosts,ufo,s,loch Ness monsters etc etc. Tony begins his story just like me as a sort of believer then digs deeper into the world of fakery,hoaxers and scientific study, and ends up involved and embroiled in the industry that basically keeps the monster a reality... a fantastic insight into Tony and Adrian Shine's life covering all the history of the loch from ice ages, to dodgy business deals, the photographs to sonar scans... also Tony describing the humble beginnings of the loch Ness visitor centre to what it is today.a major tourist attraction... if you believe or if you don't believe, the monster's legend will never go away and this is a fantastic book that adds reality to the fantasy..."


THE VISITOR comment: Jessicaf5377

Omg I LOVED it!!!!!! Please please write their adventures! I wanna see the cool stuff you come up with in the other worlds!

Sidenote: I'm so embarrassed to say that I guarantee that's how our world would act and come across to them if an alien did come! Makes me sad and disappointed. Maybe that's why we HAVEN'T been visited publicly, if there is such a thing. They know we couldn't handle it and we would just take advantage of the technology and never grow emotionally and mentally. :-(


LOCH NESS UNDEFRSTOOD comment: Angela Young

Read many books on the mystery of loch Ness. This is by far one of the best and also one of the most well written and an honest and incisive true account...fantastic read


THE VISITOR comment: "A fast paced scientifically accurate plot that is thought provoking and predictive of technological development based on todays devices. An enjoyable read that I highly recommend."


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