Back in 2010, my second ever traditionally published novel hit bookstores courtesy of the UK publisher, Snowbooks. It’s called FUNERAL PALLOR, the second in my Valerie Stevens urban fantasy series. It’s basically a book about blowing the crap out of zombies and laying the beat-down on some necromancers. There are headbangers with a zombie plow, a fully sentient zombie named Caroline who is Val’s sidekick. And I introduced a new character – TIM REAPER. The guy who can’t be killed.
A funny thing happened. The feedback I got from readers was unanimous: when is there going to be a Tim Reaper book? Those were the salad days for urban fantasy. Round about 2012, traditional publishing hit “peak urban fantasy” with the market now flooded with paranormal romance eclipsing urban fantasy. I can’t prove it, but I think that to the average reader, the cover art for UF books and paranormal romance looked pretty much the same. And certainly all the paranormal romance was shelved alongside urban fantasy at the bookstores that I visited. Anyway, I started writing TIM REAPER in 2011 and got it off to my then agent in London. We spend the next twelve months revising the crap out of it and, unfortunately, we missed the bus. By the time we were ready to submit, UF was over unless you were an established brand or you were writing something like my books POLTERGEEKS and STUDENT BODIES – urban fantasy aimed at young adults.
My agent and I parted company in 2014 because she’s primarily a children’s and YA agent and I wanted to write adult stuff. She’s fabulous. I would be with her today if I only wrote children’s books and YA. She couldn’t sell the project and recommended I try finding another agent. So … I spent the rest of 2014 back in the query pits and the project I queried? IMMORTAL REMAINS – A TIM REAPER NOVEL. (I also self-published my YA ZOMPOC thriller THE NORTH because I was generally disgusted with publishing all together after my YA publisher Strange Chemistry Books went under less than three years after it arrived on the publishing scene with much fanfare. (Incidentally, THE NORTH sold very well for about a year and a half. Then the sales dropped and it’s now available as a reprint with Severed Press and selling quite well again, thank you very much.)
I did get a number of full requests from agents but they all passed stating that UF was “a tough sell these days”. In January 2015 I finally found a new agent – Lane Heymont from The Seymour Agency. He got the book out there and we got a lot of full requests but after a year of submitting, this spring he said that he’d exhausted every contact and that UF was such a downer in traditional publishing that he actually submitted the book as “contemporary fantasy” hoping we might get lucky. He did a great job for me on the project and I have no complaints. But now I had this completed novel which is, in my opinion, the best thing I have ever written and no publishers were jumping at it. (I came very close with an Canadian publisher who offered the best rejection I have ever received as a professional author). In short … urban fantasy is dead in the traditional publishing world.
What did I do next? Well, I researched. I started looking into urban fantasy and dark fantasy on Amazon, checking out the rankings. What did I learn? That UF and DF are selling very well for a large number of authors who self-published it. I mean there is some excellent cover art and great stories on Amazon. Some really cool series that by rights, should be in your local bookstore under one of the Big 5 publishers.
I had a choice to make. Let my completed project sit on a flash drive and collect dust until some day in the future when traditional publishing decides that urban fantasy is “in” again? Or should I throw caution to the wind and self-publish?
The choice was very clear. I like getting paid. There would be no way for IMMORTAL REMAINS to make me any money sitting on the flash drive, so I decided to go for it once more. And I’m going all in this time because I believe in this book. A lot of people worked hard to make this a great read – my former agent, my new agent, my wife, my writer’s group. The project has been revised now a total of ten times since the first draft. It’s ready to go. It’s a fantastic read. Tim Reaper is an amoral death spirit who really wants to become human. He hasn’t aged a day in a hundred years because he switches bodies when the one he is occupying breaks down. Try to imagine Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer as a grim reaper in human form. And Reaper has some allies: Carol Sparks – a Halifax homicide detective who made the mistake of actually touching Reaper and learning that she would be shot to death in eight years. There are demons, angels and those working for both sides. Of course we can’t forget the premise: there’s a serial killer on the loose and his victims are angels. Only Reaper can stop him and if he doesn’t it’s end-of-days for the human race.
I’ve also included bonus material in the book – the first chapter from the second book, entitled, THE GIRL ON VICTORIA ROAD.
So there you have it. Maybe I can make a success out of self-publishing the book. I sure hope so. I hope that readers buy the book and fall in love with the world I’ve created. Tim Reaper is a bad boy gone good – clumsily, I might add. I was very fortunate to receive a cover blurb from the author of The Collector series as well as The Killing Kind, Chris Holm. He liked it and do you want to know something? I’m a huge fan of Chris Holm’s work. During those days over the past four years when I thought this book would never get published and when self-doubt kicked in, I went back an re-read his blurb. If a cool author like him thought the book was fantastic, then maybe I don’t suck as an author.
I’m going to post regularly on the sales figures for this book. I really believe IMMORTAL REMAINS can do well if I can grab enough people’s attention.
Right now I’m looking for reviewers. If you’d like a review copy for your Kindle or Kobo or Nook, let me know in the comments below and I’ll fire off a copy to your email. IMMORTAL REMAINS is available now for pre-order on Amazon and on Smashwords.
Here we go!