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Saturday, 18 July 2015

Occasional book reviews and independent publishing

I have a fondness for independent publishing and the self published. Not least because i am self published myself. But also because independent publishing is not the main stream, and in it you find the occasional gem.

One of the hardest things for an independently published book is to get reviews. Unlike large publishing company's the independent doesn't have the resources to send review copies out to newspapers, magazines, and other media. Building a following is much a matter of word of mouth, on line reviews with Amazon and other retail sites. and with third party sites like Goodreads. And most importantly hoping that people who read and enjoy your books tell other people about them. 

There are other ways to find an audience, if your a genre writer then setting up stall at the right cons can help get your books noticed. You can if you have the finances pay for marketing. You can encourage book groups and others to read your books. But the best and most successful way to build a readership is to ask your readership to offer feed back. Get enough good reviews on Amazon for example and Amazon will be more likely to put your book forward in searches and ask you to partake in special offers. The same can be said for Goodreads and other outlets.

To return however to the difficulty of getting reviews as an independent writer it occurred to me i can at least do my own part in trying to help other writers find an audience by occasionally doing book reviews on my blog. No point complaining about the difficulties of getting reviews if I don't try to redress them myself . So in that spirit i am going to do book reviews here every once in a while. With the criteria been that they are independent books , and I have read them. The latter been a tad important. 

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C.G.Hatton's Thieves Guild series.
Book 1  Residual Belligerence


C.G.Hattons Thieves world series I came across at a sfi fair in Stockton and the title jumped out at me. The first of a four book series its starts out with the wonder premise of the shadowy thieves guild, operating in a human galaxy divided by the two power blocks of Earth, heart of the old empire, and Winter the frost bound world of cold hearted corporate separatists. With the between a no mans land, of semi independent planets which a cold war is fought over.
The thieves guild plays both sides of the line, under the direction of 'The Man' a shadow within a shadow. While the bulk of the action is around Zach Hilyer a guild operative who's last assignment went badly wrong, there is a wonderful prelude to each chapter which offers a window into the wider universe as the Man talks to NG the head of operations. C.G. uses this to great effect, giving out hints like bread crumbs of the wider plot of her universe. Ominous at times they draw you in, until your reading each chapter with anticipation not only for what is happening in the main characters POV but what is happening beyond and what the next slither of a clue will be from the Man. 
The main action is well paced and involving. Reminiscent of Iain M Banks in how it moves along, letting the world take you in without explaining every detail as some hard sfi has been known to bog itself down in. Yet remaining coherent and well constructed through out. You get a great sense of the universe in which Hil lives and it revolving not around him but happening in the back ground. Characters come into the story and then depart but your left with the scene they are still in the universe doing things off screen. When they reappear in the later books you find out they definitely have been up to things and not sat idle waiting for the heroes to need them. 
There is a great depth to the thieves guild universe that grows with the series but is there right at the start with hints in the shadows of the Mans conference table and walk on characters. You know there is more going on behind the scenes. Which feels like a  whole universe the way good sfi should. While the main plot moves along with a fast and frantic pace that pulls you along and makes the books hard to put down. 

the first book is now free on kindle, and well worth a read. though i suspect it will drag you into the series,