A sequel to my bestselling THE NORTH

north cover KDPnorth new

A quick bit of backstory on this book.

I wrote the first draft of THE NORTH during NaNoWriMo in 2012. I wanted to see if I could write a zombie novel that had a uniquely Canadian flavor. At the time I’d been reading zombie books by masters of the craft like David Moody and I was particularly inspired by Irish ZOMPOC author Wayne Simmons. He wrote the bestselling FLU which is such a damned good book because it has regional flavor to it. I mean, who knew, right? A zombie book could take place in Belfast so why can’t it take place in my hometown of Calgary Alberta Canada? (World famous for its hockey team that once won a Stanley Cup when dinosaurs ruled the Earth and also host to ten days of western-themed madness each July, the Calgary Stampede.)

My then agent and I worked on the book. Revised the hell out of it, but two years later she and I parted company just as my YA publisher Strange Chemistry Books imploded and I just wanted to get the project out there to see if it would sell. I didn’t know the market for ZOMPOC books but I did know that readers of the genre can’t get enough of it so I thought the book might have a chance if I self-pubbed it. So, I did just that … and for a year it sold quite well. Unfortunately the sales slid off and THE NORTH languished for a year before I contacted Severed Press who offered to publish it at the same time I decided to self-publish and they agreed to do a reprint of it.

It was a smart move on my part because THE NORTH has been selling really well since its re-release in May of this year. The book is rarely below 10K in the Amazon rankings. It pops in and out of the Top-100 for post-apocalypse books and I am getting emails from folks wanting to know when the sequel will be out.

So, I guess I’d best answer that question.

Q: WHEN IS THE SEQUEL TO THE NORTH COMING OUT?

A: ONCE I WRITE IT AND GET IT TO SEVERED PRESS AND WE EDIT, REVISE, FORMAT, ETC.

Q: OK, SO WHEN IS THAT?

A: I WILL KNOW BETTER ONCE I TALK WITH THE PUBLISHER SO I CAN’T COMMIT TO A DATE YET.

Q: WELL HOW MUCH DOES THAT SUCK?

A: A LOT. I KNOW. I SUCK TOO.

The good news is that I am writing it. I even have a title: THE PARTISAN. And here’s a snippet:

 

Journal Entry: 16 November 0310 HRS ZULU

Sunray has my sister.

He took Jo and will kill her if I don’t find some bullshit resistance base that he wants to wipe off the fucking map. Talk about going full Darth Vader.

The end of the world was six months ago. Everywhere you turn there are creeps. Masses of shambling, rotting husks that will rip into your flesh and eat you alive. We don’t know what caused Day Zero and it doesn’t matter at this point because the old world; the one with smart phones and text messaging and not finding your ass swarmed by throngs of walking cadavers is gone forever. The new world is one where you live by your wits and where the only thing that matters is getting through each day in one piece.

I know the name of the name of the place Sunray wants me to find: Carlsbad Farms. I learned of it after my fighting patrol raided a coulee that was defended by some of his assets in an attempt to save a handful of locals the crazy fucker had caged up in a pen with the creeps. Only they were all infected. Those poor people were truly the living dead: still alive. Still aware that when they breathed their last, each and every one of them would turn into a creep. There are moments when I have to wonder if it is an inevitability for all of us: to die and then come back. To wander the snow covered countryside as part of a mindless procession whose sole purpose is to fucking eat those few of us breathers still breathing.

I killed those people in a post-apocalyptic version of euthanasia. They asked me to shoot each of them in the head so they wouldn’t become the stuff of nightmares. I had no choice and now that grisly scene of mass mercy killing is burned into my subconscious with the intensity of a branding iron.

My name is David Simmons. My eight-year-old sister has been taken and I’ve got to make this work, but for the life of me, I don’t have a fucking clue how. I’m just a sixteen-year-old kid, but Sergeant Green left me in charge of the last living remnants of the King’s Own. We busted out of our armoury and headed for some place called Sanctuary Base after hearing a weak broadcast on UHF. It’s supposed to be zombie-free but I have my doubts. And getting there is now a secondary matter because Sunray, a Major J.T. Martins from the battle school in Wainwright has seized a huge swath of land and named it Eden. It’s martial law and he’s got roving patrols, armoured equipment, probably a shit pile of diesel to power everything from Coyote LAVs to fucking Leopard II battle tanks.

And the guy is bat shit crazy, so there’s that.

There were eight of us when we escaped the city. Now Dawson is dead, Kenny was killed trying to save Jo, and Pam Cruze has a fucking hole in a leg that she’s bound to lose if I can’t find wherever the hell this Carlsbad Farms place is.

Sunray has provided me with G-Wagon a trailer full of Jerry cans of diesel. Melanie Dixon, Doug Manybears and Sid Toomey are going on a long range patrol to see if they can find where the shit this Sunray bastard hangs his hat. And me? I’m going to link up with this resistance if it kills me and costs Pam her leg because we need to save Jo and wipe Sunray out. Period. Full stop. He won’t give me back Jo and I know that the moment I meet up with his forward element to inform them of the location of Carlsbad Farms, they’ll put a bullet in my brain and either kill Jo or do something altogether fucking vile with her. So we’re leaving in five. We’re going to head east. We’ve got a radio and we’re going to scan the frequencies to listen for anyone with a pulse putting out a broadcast. Sunray will be listening too and I know that he’s got his own recce elements tailing me. If we do link up with the resistance, it’s a crap shoot as to whether they line me and Cruze up against a wall and shoot us each in the head because they might be as crazy as Sunray.

I hope that won’t happen. I hope they’ve got a few tricks up their sleeve because we aren’t going to make it to the fabled Sanctuary Base; the place that is supposed to be zombie-free and the reason we busted out of the safety of the armoury and escaped the city in the first place only ten short days ago.

We’ve lost friends and family.

The creeps might fucking get us.

Survivalist nut jobs might try to take us down.

Sunray will kill my sister if I fail.

I have to make this work. I just have to. Somehow.

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Read the first 6 Chapters of THE NORTH!

Wondering what my book is about? Want to sample a smidge? Here you go – enjoy!

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So I Self-Published THE NORTH – Release Day Thoughts

menorthI have no idea whether this book is going to sell. I hope it does because its sales will determine whether I start writing the second in a planned trilogy.

I had offers on the table from a couple of small publishers but as mentioned in an earlier blog post, I didn’t see there was anything they could offer that I couldn’t already do myself.  I came very VERY close with a publisher I could only dream of being published by, but they felt the market was flooded with zombie books and would have difficulty getting sales in an over-crowded market.  And maybe they were right, who knows?

So, this is a brand new work and it’s 100% self-published. I did hire an editor to clean up the manuscript and it went through a series of reads via beta readers, so thank you beta readers. Will I self-publish again? Beats me … it’s a hell of a lot of work and I’d really rather be writing than formatting and dinking around with Adobe Illustrator for the cover art. I honestly don’t know where authors who have been successful at self-publishing find the damned time to write new stuff, there’s just so much to do. At any rate, here are some things I’ve learned since deciding to self-pub this project:

1) It’s a lot harder to get retweets promoting the book. Could be due to the fact that people don’t want to get spammed. I try to limit my promotional tweeting.

2) It’s been hard to get likes on Facebook – possibly the same reasons.

3) This one surprised me: it was really hard to give away e-arcs! I only managed to giveaway twenty-three of them in total!

4) There were a total of 8 pre-orders on Amazon.

5) It was up for pre-order over at Smashwords and I didn’t sell any. Actually, all of my books save for POLTERGEEKS and STUDENT BODIES are available at Smashwords and I have sold precisely none. All of my sales have come from Amazon – draw your own conclusions from that.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at right now. I shall give it the old college try and see if I can make something resembling a success out of this book. I’ve learned that outside of hiring a publicist or spending a boatload of money I don’t have, my marketing efforts will be limited to social media. This is nothing new for me – I didn’t have any real marketing support for my two Strange Chemistry Books titles so I got the word out the best I could. The sales were abysmal. I suspect the sales for all the Strange Chemistry Books authors were/are abysmal, hence the reason they shut their doors less than two years after opening.

I think that experience also had a lot to do with my decision to self-publish THE NORTH. I’ve had bad luck with two publishers in a row now – it tends to wear a person down.

Anyway, I do hope you buy my book. I think it’s a great read. It’s pretty bleak. It’s pretty dark. It’s pretty hard to find hope when the world burns … but hope can happen.

Enjoy THE NORTH! If I sell enough, I will write the second one. You can get it at Amazon in print and Kindle format and over at Smashwords for epub! (The ebook is on sale this week only for $1,99 at Smash and Amazonistan!)

SC

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Got Zombie? The North in Animated Gifs – BOOK GIVEAWAY

north-KDP-coverIt’s done. It’s available now in print, and as an ebook. THE NORTH is a pretty damned dark book if I do say so myself. It’s got zombies, teenagers hanging by a thread and trying to stay alive while the world around them burns. It’s got non-stop action and a lot of twists and turns and a shock ending that you won’t see coming. So here’s some animated gifs that will help articulate what I’m talking about here….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Walking Dead Twd animated GIF

Movies Zombie animated GIF

The Walking Dead Zombie animated GIF

Car Tank animated GIF

Cat Crazy Cat Lady animated GIF

Alpine Blizzard animated GIF

Blizzard Driving animated GIF

Blizzard China animated GIF

Apologies For The Abysmal Quality Don Draper animated GIF

Interested yet? I hope so – it took more than two years and a lot of revision to get it done. This is a completely different kind of book for me – where POLTERGEEKS was light and airy and STUDENT BODIES was snarky and dark, THE NORTH is bleak & terrifying and cold because it’s a crew of teenage orphans and the story of their escape from the city to a place they hope is safe. But how can anyone be safe when dead walk and the living are just meat? I hope you read it and get a kick out of my attempt to write the Great Canadian Zombie Apocalypse novel.

Oh and hey … I’m giving away copies of THE NORTH. Five of ’em! Want to win one?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Self Publishing Confession: Why I’m Self-Pubbing my next book

 newnorthcoverI’m fond of this cover art because I think it encapsulates the bleak , flat and grey landscape for my forthcoming YA post-apocalyptic thriller THE NORTH. I wrote it three years ago and it’s been through a hell of a lot of revision since I penned it during NaNoWriMo. It’s the zombie apocalypse, or rather, six months past Day Zero – the day when the old world ended … but the zombies aren’t the primary antagonists, they’re just another hazard for my group of teen soldiers as they fight their way out of a city ruled by the dead in a pair of barely serviceable armoured personnel carriers and into open country where a bigger, more sinister danger threatens to end them.

THE NORTH is the first of three books, I plan to release the second installment in October 2015 and the final book in October 2016. I’ve decided to self-publish the first one in spite of the fact that I had a perfectly good offer on the table from a respectable independent publisher of zombie/post-apocalyptic books. Why?

Because I didn’t see anything they could offer that I wasn’t able to do myself.

There was a higher than standard ebook royalty offered, I turned it down. I was offered the rights back if it didn’t hit the top 100 in the first six months. (For post-apocalyptic books). I was offered the cover art even if it didn’t work out. And after spending two weeks humming and hawing about it, I politely declined.

My experience after five published works is that authors are continually in a cycle of self-promotion. Sure, the publisher has 20K likes on their Facebook page and likely a built-in fan base for their books, hell, I’d probably get a nice initial bump in sales from that. But then I spent some time on Amazon and researched post-apocalyptic books including the ones with zombies … there are some huge sellers there and a heck of a lot of them are self-published and priced competitively.

I can still do a blog tour. I can still giveaway e-arcs (which I will be doing in the next couple of weeks so email me at info AT sean DASH cummings DOT ca if you want one for review). I can still post it to Facebook and Twitter. I really didn’t see how this publisher’s marketing efforts save for the 20K likes on their Facebook page would be any different from what I and thousands of other authors do every single day.

And one final thing:  I have control of the price. Had I signed on, that would have been gone. (Not to mention world rights, translation rights, etc, etc, etc.)

You know, it’s a great read. I had one publisher with some big bestselling books under their belt love the story to death and want very much to publish it, but they were worried it wouldn’t sell because the market is flooded with zombie books. (Even though this isn’t exactly a zombie book, but I digress and the numbers of sales for self-pubbed zombie books would indicate there’s still a very strong market, so perhaps he was thinking bookstores as opposed to online?)

Anyway, it’ll be an adventure. I hope it sells. I hope it sells so much that I can get new hair, a fur coat and a 1967 Mustang. It might not sell, but then again it might not sell if it was traditionally published. I know the risks. I know it’s on me now.

And that’s just fine.

It’ll be released on October 6th for epub, Kindle and print via Create Space. Oh, and you can pre-order it today …how cool is that?

Here we go!

PS. I am in love with the cover art for this one 🙂

 

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