Interview with Cobble Publishing author Thomas Webb

We wish we could claim credit for this one, but we can’t! This is all Thomas. Great interview that digs deep into the background of Stalemate: Clockwerk Thriller Book One. He absolutely nails what we loved about this book when we chose it for publication. On the surface, it’s an action-movie-thriller. When you dig deeper, it explores questions of diversity in a really interesting alternate history setting. Read it for pure escapism and fun, or read it for something we think is really groundbreaking in SciFi. Thomas won’t be offended whichever reason you chose to enjoy his work ;)

See the interview on Thomas’ Facebook page HERE.

Asunder: Melody's Song Book 2 is live!

Asunder: Melody's Song Book 2 is live!

Picking up where Awaken leaves off, Asunder follows Melody as she comes into her power, and has to deal with the awful consequences of her actions. A growing shadow covers the land, and no one is safe! This book will leave you on the edge of your seat until the final pages.

In celebration of the release of Asunder, the first book, Awaken: Melody's Song Book 1 is on sale for one week only! Get it for $0.99 in the US & UK or find it free on Kindle Unlimited.

 

The Ban of Irsisri is live!

Mark E Lacy's newest title, The Ban of Irsisri, is live today!

This book is for fans of classic fantasy and is chock full of action, adventure, and creativity. There are epic quests, evil sorcerers, ancient artifacts, and an imaginative world that is filled with danger! The title reminds us of Robert E Howard's Conan written in NK Jemisin's vivid prose. Yes, it's that good!

If that sounds interesting, then follow the link below and click on the cover for a FREE Look Inside!

Available on eBook, paperback, and in Kindle Unlimited.

Burning Tower: Benjamin Ashwood Book 5 is live!

Our latest release, Burning Tower: Benjamin Ashwood Book 5 is live on Amazon! Classic, 90's style farmer with a sword epic fantasy adventure. This is our most popular series, and hundreds of thousands have been sold!

On release day, this title hit #1 in Epic Fantasy and #101 in the entire Kindle Store. Wondering what the fuss is about? Try the first in series Benjamin Ashwood or if you're already caught up, go straight to Burning Tower! Both titles are free with Kindle Unlimited.

 

Open Letter to Indie Bookstores

At a lot of writer's and publisher's conferences, the discussion naturally centers around getting books into bookstores. Seeing that huge order for Barnes & Noble nationwide (or Waterstones, for you UK folks) is the dream. Obviously, that's a huge hill to climb, and almost impossible if you're not one of the Big 5 Publishers or have a contract with one of the 3 Big Distributors. Most indie authors and small presses don't bother to attempt that hill, because the odds are terrible.

Instead, everyone focuses on the indie bookstores, those scrappy survivors who made it through competition from Borders, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. Everyone loves indie bookstores, and everyone wants to support them. Every content producer wants some purchasing manager at the indie bookstore to fall in love with their title, and give it prime placement in the store. Small content producers absolutely would love to partner with small retailers, and I think it's probably true that everyone wants to see that happen. It's a natural fit, right?

Not so fast.

The unfortunate truth about the current industry is that indie content producers and indie retailers are not a match made in heaven. In fact, they are very rarely at match at all. Indie bookstores primarily sell products from the big gorilla corporate publishers and indie authors have - BY FAR - the most success on the biggest corporate gorilla of them all, Amazon.

Step aside for facts: There are approximately 1,000 Indie authors/small presses making $100,000+ a year on Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing platform according to Jeff Bezos. Through Indie bookstores, I'd guess there might be 3 or 4 making that kind of money, and they probably all do it producing regional content instead of genre fiction. I'm not aware of a single independent SciFi or Fantasy author earning a living wage by selling books through indie bookstores. Think about that...

Why is that? Primarily, the big corporate producers have the scale to go sell individually to indie bookstores. They have sales staff in the hundreds, and publicity budgets in the millions. An indie bookstore knows that if they stock The Next Big Thing, the publisher and distributor will pour cash into promoting it nation wide and the title will sell itself. It's a push from upstream out to consumers, instead of the bookstore having to pull people in. That's why for indie content producers, they have a consignment model. Consignment means the indie content producer hands over the book - and some cash - and then the bookstore will bother to stick it on a shelf, probably in some weird "local shit" section that no one will check unless they're looking for children's books for a gift or bike trails.

It makes sense, except, that model leaves the indie bookstore with zero competitive advantage. They do not control pricing (the publisher sets that), they do not control release dates (publisher), they do not control the promotion (publisher), they have nothing to offer on that title that Barnes & Noble or Amazon cannot offer - and actually a lot less since those guys have enough power to influence the producers, negotiate better discounts, have some price control, etc. Aside from proximity to your house, or a desire to shop at an indie store, there's no compelling reason to visit them unless they do something B&N or Amazon does not do.

So, what can they do?

Step aside for facts: 3 of the Top 5 Epic Fantasy debuts in 2016 were indie published (as measured by number of ratings on Goodreads, ie, all ratings, not just success on Amazon. Those 3 beat every traditionally published EF debut on Amazon...). Those 3 include our 1st title, Benjamin Ashwood. So, said differently, 3 of the Top 5 debuts in the category were Not In Bookstores!

The first idea is obvious, right? If you are an indie bookstore, go find the content that is resonating with readers and put it on your shelves! If you sell Epic Fantasy, why are you not selling 3 of the Top 5 debuts?! And bookstores wonder why Amazon is eating their lunch...

Next, specialize! Find a niche, and do it better than any other bookstore in the area - including the big guy B&N (let's be honest, that shouldn't be difficult). Some stores do this, and they are the ones that are really finding success. Mystery focused stores are common - why aren't there Romance, SciFi, Fantasy or Thriller stores? ProTip: Romance, SciFi, Fantasy, and Thriller are the top selling eBook categories. Anyone stop to think it is because the only way to get to the most popular books in those categories is online, because the majority of the top sellers are not in stores? What if you could buy those books in a store that had knowledgable staff willing to direct you to something you'd enjoy? I'd shop there.

This goes hand in hand with specialization. Partner with authors! Host book release parties for new authors no one has ever heard of (let them bring people, beer, and wine!), have popular indie authors come and do talks - not just about their books but expand it to cover the genre, which will bring a wider range of readers. Put books on the shelves, and instead of asking for cash, ask authors to do a little promotion for you. Any indie author will shout recommendations from the rooftop for a store that has their book on the shelf. Authors have access to exclusive lists of thousands of readers, want us to send them your way? Local authors bring people with them. If a local author, even if they are not famous, shows up at the store with 20-30 friends for an event, that's 20-30 people Inside Your Store! And on that note, if an author is bringing people to you, don't charge them for that privilege...

Become an influencer, or partner with one! Have a blog with quality book recommendations. Steer readers to books they will enjoy, instead of steering them to shelves full of stuff they have no way to evaluate in timely fashion. This is Amazon's secret - the Also Boughts. That's why they sell books, because through their algorithms they know what that reader might like. Bookstores should do the same, push hot leads! This is easier of course if you're specialized. But, you say your staff doesn't have time to read through piles and piles of new books? Find someone who does. There are tons of blogs out there. Partner with them, and have shelves featuring their picks! Ie, Super Awesome Fantasy blog rated these as the Top 20 Books from 2017! There will be some standard fare in there, and some interesting choices. Choices that B&N won't be offering. Or, let the market decide, and feature Top Selling books instead of just Top Promoted By Corporations on that special table in the front... That's what readers want, quality recommendations - give it to them like Amazon does!

Take price control! What, you say the Big 5 Publishers and the Big 3 Distributors won't give you price control because you're not a big enough account? Guess what, indies would love to give you price control. Pay me a fair price, then do whatever you want with that title! I don't care if it's full retail or 50% off. You do you, and handle the retailing. That's the way it works in every other industry, but not in Books because retailers are not choosing to take the power that is sitting there and waiting.

Coordinate your purchasing decisions amongst your peers and step outside of the traditional supply chain. The distribution pattern for books is ridiculous, and makes no sense. That's because it's controlled by a very small group of players. It doesn't have to be! With pooled purchasing decisions, you could allow indie content producers to do print runs instead of print on demand, and with cheaper printing costs, the discounts offered could be vastly better. Want a 60% discount from suggested retail price instead of 40% - AND you get final determination on that price if you want to discount to the reader? There's nothing stopping that from happening...

At the end of the day, the book retail business IS being disrupted. eBooks, Amazon, etc have changed the face of how books are sold. If retailers do not adjust, they will not survive. Many - but certainly not all - indie bookstores are still attempting to live in the past. All we're saying, is step into the future with us indie content producers. We're already there! It doesn't have to be the scary, Amazon dominated future, if you don't want it to be. Make an honest effort to partner with indie content producers, and I think indie bookstores will be surprised by what is possible.

</rant>

Andrew

Stalemate: Clockwerk Thriller Book One is out today!

Thomas Webb's debut, Stalemate: Clockwerk Thriller Book One is out today! An alternate history steampunk thriller, this book has it all. Airships, beautiful assassins, heroic soldiers, aether bombs, spies, and political intrigue. It's a non-stop actioner that we're sure you'll love.

You can go HERE to find it on Amazon and click on the cover to Look Inside for a free preview or one-click and buy today. Free in Kindle Unlimited, eBook on Amazon, and print on most major online retailers.

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Tanya Schofield - 3 Question Interview

Cobble Publishing author Tanya Schofield had her debut on April 17th. If you haven't checked it out yet, Awaken: Melody's Song Book 1 is already getting excellent reviews. To share a little bit more about Tanya, we conducted a short form three question interview. Here's what she told us:

CP: Your debut book Awaken is out on April 17th (see link above). Can you tell us a little bit about it, and who should read it?

TS: In simplest terms, Melody’s Song is the story of a girl finding her voice in a world that wants to silence it. Awaken is the beginning of that story. Because everything I do is character-driven, the book (and trilogy) features people making a difference, resisting injustice, accepting themselves in spite of their flaws, pursuing power, sacrificing their humanity ... all mixed in with the basic things, like loss and love and betrayal and family. Plus, there's a bit with a dog.

Who should read it? Everyone and their hairdresser, of course! (Welcome to the closest I ever get to self-promotion.) It's technically a YA Fantasy (with some adult themes,) but if you're a grown-up and you like stories, give it a try. My daughter's a grown up, and she likes it. So, there's that. 

CP: What inspired the Melody’s Song trilogy?

TS: Dungeons and Dragons, if we're being completely honest. I'd love to have some impressive tale of allegorically finding my own voice as I experienced-- *falls asleep just thinking it* YeahNo. It started as an AD&D campaign. (that's second edition, for the infants in the crowd.)

Fun fact - Melody started out her life as a bard. And if you want to go waaaaaaay back in the archives, I'll tell you that Bashara was originally Melody's pet skunk, and once upon a time Jovan and Kaeliph burned down a church full of nuns. So, things have changed a bit from the beginning.

More fun facts - through the years, when people heard I was writing a fantasy book, they would say "put my role-play character in it!" I totally did. Half the cast is people I played the LostSouls MUD with (that's "multi-user domain" for non-decrepit readers. It's what old nerds did on the intertubes before MMORPGs. Text-based, yo. Imagination. *pours one out for my Garou homies*)

CP: What interests do you have outside of telling stories?

TS: I am a fan. TV, books, even video games... Primarily Supernatural, but I have entire lobes of my brain dedicated to other universes. Dr. Who, Sherlock, Firefly, Harry Potter, Harry Dresden, Discworld, Welcome to Nightvale, Dr. Horrible, Gravity Falls, Lord of the Rings (my daughter's name is Galadriel,) Everquest, Dragon Age ... I just love spending time in other people's worlds.

I've also been a tarot reader for over 20 years, I enjoy tea and am borderline obsessed with musical theater, I was once a Boy Scout, I'm a rabid minimalist, I have 8 tattoos and turquoise hair, I speak fluent .gif and can talk for ages about how .gifs are the natural evolution of language circling back to the age of hieroglyphs (and I will pronounce it "jif" when Jod Himself comes down from heaven and corrects me,) I'm fatally allergic to dogs, I name the inanimate objects in my life (my car's name is Abby,) and my single driving goal in life is to live a tiny life in a tiny house with a tiny cat by a great big ocean.

Thank you Tanya for taking time to answer our questions!

You can find Tanya on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/iamtanyaschofield or on her website at: https://www.tanyaschofield.com. We recommend following Tanya on Facebook and signing up for the newsletter on the website. Free short stories, personal insight, and all of that. Or, find the book HERE.

Happy reading!

Awaken: Melody's Song Book 1 release day!

They want her dead, but she may be the only one strong enough to save them.

We couldn't be happier to release Awaken: Melody's Song Book 1 out into the world. This title is our first Young Adult Fantasy, and it's a good one. The book follows the title character as she's forced out of the only home she's known into a strange, and dangerous world. Along the way, she meets two brothers who are fleeing from an evil Duke. Realizing they have a common cause, they team up to evade the Duke's soldiers, and they learn of a looming threat to all mankind. Both wonderful and terrible things happen, but we don't want to spoil the fun!

If you enjoy Young Adult Fantasy with mature themes, try Awaken today!

NetGalley

Cobble Publishing is on NetGalley. If you are a professional reader/reviewer, please keep an eye out for us! Currently, our upcoming title from debut author Tanya Schofield, Awaken: Melody's Song Book 1, is available for download. In the next couple of weeks, we'll have Thomas Webb's debut, Stalemate: Clockwerk Thriller Book One.

Wonder if our books are right for you? Check out Awaken's featured review:

"This book was given to me by Netgalley for and exchange of honest review. Thank you!
I can't explain how surprised I was and pleased with this book. It's been a while I read a book in one go. I stayed up till early in the morning to finish it. Love every minute of it. 
Imagine you grow up in closed society and you think your powers are something normal but onr day everything is taken from you and the outside world is not the same place as where you lived. From now on Melody has to face her fate and slowly to find out about the outer world-cruel, unfriendly to magic even deadly. Her ability to sing magic is nothing seen for thousands years. But can she be the one destined to change this world or destroy it. 
Every minute in this book is please. Fast paced, refreshing new magic and more. 
Definitely read it"

Announcing Awaken: Melody's Song Book 1

We're thrilled to announce the official release date for Awaken: Melody's Song Book 1. This is Tanya Schofield's YA Fantasy debut. It follows a young girl, Melody, and two brothers as they flee from a powerful lord and learn about an ancient evil that threatens all. The book is filled with action, magic, and romance. Once you start, it's impossible to put down!

Awaken arrives on April 17th, but for those who cannot wait, we have a free sample of the first two chapters HERE.

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New Author - Mark Lacy

Cobble Publishing is pleased to announce a one book deal with author Mark Lacy. We will be republishing a title previously called "The Dream Tunnel Sequence". DTS is an epic fantasy in a tribal setting, filled with mysticism and action. It's written in stunning detail and will transport readers to a world far different from our own. The retitled DTS is expected to release later this summer.

Stay tuned to all of the latest Cobble Publishing news including a pre-publication sneak peak of this title by signing up for our Newsletter.

New Author - Tanya Schofield

It's been a busy week at Cobble Publishing. We're happy to announce another three book deal with debut author Tanya Schofield.

Schofield's first book, Melody's Song, follows a young woman who's been held apart from the world, until her home is attacked and destroyed. With the help of a ranger from her past, and two brothers, she escapes. She has no experience with the outside world, and the dangers that exist for someone like her, a magic user. Soon, she learns how deadly the threat can be. With the help of the brothers, she begins to understand the evil lurking beneath the surface, and how she may be the only one with the power to stop it.

Melody's Song, the first of a trilogy, will be released in the Spring with Book 2 to come later this year. It's a fresh, action-packed, young adult fantasy. Sign up for our newsletter for the official release date, a cover reveal, and a free sample prior to publication.

New Author - Thomas Webb

Cobble Publishing is pleased to announce a three book deal with debut author Thomas Webb. Webb's first book, Stalemate: a Clockwerk Thriller is scheduled for publication in the Spring of 2018. It is a steampunk alternate history set in the American Civil War. It follows Colonel Julius Montclaire as he is sent on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Clockwerk soldiers, airships, beautiful assassins, spies, sword fights, and gun battles - this book is packed full of action and will keep you on the edge of your seat from the first page until the last.

Orbit Class of 2017

Cobble Publishing has a lot of submissions we're reviewing and a lot of potential authors to put in our pipeline. To prepare, we've been busy beavers dreaming up marketing ideas. We're borrowing heavily from the playbooks of scrappy Indie publishers, but we're also looking at the big guys to see what they are doing. Orbit Books (Hachette's fantasy imprint) has a great promotion running right now, and I love the concept. They've taken their Class of 2017 Debut authors and discounted everyone's eBooks to $2.99.

As a publisher, I like the promo because it is creating strong Also Bought's within their catalogue, which could pay off with months of cross-selling. Without getting too technical, it's a virtuous circle where once you get hooked, you'll be reading Orbit Books for half the year. I wanted to mention it in the News, though, because in addition to Fantasy writers, we love Fantasy readers. And readers, this deal is too good to pass up!

The countdown clock says the deal is already over, but I just checked on Amazon and everything is still discounted. Go fill up your Kindles quick! I suggest starting with Nicholas Eames' Kings of the Wyld (this book is officially the competition, but I still can't stop myself from recommending it!), then moving to Anna Smith Spark and RJ Barker.

 

Orbit Class of 2017

Still here? My second favorite thing about the promotion is that Cobble Publishing's titles appear to be outselling almost every one of Orbit's (at least on Amazon). Interested in how you can be a part of that success? Check out our Submissions page.

Happy reading!

Andrew

Release Day and Incoming Authors

Cobble Publishing's latest title, "Empty Horizon: Benjamin Ashwood Book 4" debuted at #202 in the overall Amazon Kindle store on its release day. We were pleased with the result and are over the moon with the early reviews that have been pouring in (4.9 stars on Amazon, 4.59 on Goodreads). With such positive reviews, we hope word of mouth propels this book to even greater success! The Benjamin Ashwood series has sold over 85,000 copies now, and Empty Horizon is taking the series to new heights - if you are a fan of traditional high fantasy - go check it out HERE.

We're also pleased to announce that several new authors are interested in coming into the Cobble Publishing family. We still have a few legal hoops to jump through to get the contracts signed, but as soon as they are, we'll be making announcements here and giving some information about our upcoming release schedule. Stay tuned!

If you're interested in becoming a Cobble Publishing author, please visit our Submissions page for more information.

Andrew

Motivational Monday

Last week, Brandon Sanderson released his latest book Oathbringer. It shot to #1 in the Amazon store and Brandon held the spot as the #1 author in the Amazon store (and the world) for several days. He has since been eclipsed by JK Rowling, but is holding onto #2. Both of these author's personal stories are familiar to fans of Fantasy, so I won't go into details, but I think it's worth thinking about where they are now and thinking about what is possible.

Every author is somewhere on the mountain of success. Some people are struggling to get into the foothills, some people are at base camp, some people are making the climb higher. A few people, like Sanderson and Rowling, appear to have reached the top of the mountain.

Except, in the last few weeks, I've seen online ads for JK Rowling's books and Brandon Sanderson has been on a major book signing tour. They're still marketing, they're still climbing, they don't think they're at the top. I've come to realize, as I think they have, there is no top of the mountain. There is no final place of success. You can always climb further. Whether you've got a manuscript not even mom has read, or whether you've got sections of Disneyland dedicated to your story, you can keep going.

That's exciting to me, and motivates me to try harder. Chances are, I won't be Sanderson or Rowling, but I can climb higher than I am today. Tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, I can be more successful than I am now. Importantly, there is no limit to that success - there is no limit to MY success, or YOUR success. Maybe someday we will get to their level, maybe we'll go higher.

A little over 20 years ago, neither Sanderson or Rowling had published a book. Neither one of them knew the level of success they would achieve. Where do you think they'll be in 20 more years? Where will YOU be in 20 years?

My goal - 20 years from now I want to be publishing your books, and writing a blog post about how you are motivation for the next generation of writers.

We'd better get climbing.

Andrew