Shadow of an Empire Preview

Shadow of an Empire is a new novel set in the world of Indrim, where steam-industrialization combines with magic to forge an empire that spans a continent. Salitore Amazd is an adjudicator, a legally-approved roving arbitrator of law wandering the Indrim Empire’s Outlands keeping the peace. When a trainload of full of dangerous prisoners bound for the worst prison in the Indrim Empire escapes in his territory and announces an intention to lead the Outlands in a revolution against the rest of the empire, and implicates Salitore as an accomplice, Amazd is forced to join forces with a member of the Imperial Inquisitors to try and clear his name.

Right, I need a better back copy than that, but this is spur-of-the-moment. Anyway, enjoy a free preview of Chapter 1 from the Beta for Shadow of an Empire! Coming this Spring!

As you might guess, everything you’re about to read is owned in its entirety by me, Max Florschutz.

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Shadow of an Empire Beta Call!

I know I said there would be a news post on Tuesday. And then that … got derailed by a lot of work. As did Wednesday, as I was half-dead from lack of sleep and honestly didn’t trust myself to rub two sentences together.

But after a long, hibernation-like sleep, I am ready to deliver the news that, you’ve all guessed by now from the title. Shadow of an Empire is going into Beta! Which means it’s time for the Beta Reader Call!

See, the Alpha Readers are done with Shadow, and I’m simply catching up with their changes and revisions, which I should be done with in another day or so.

They liked it. Quite a bit. Suffice it to say, it’s a pretty wild adventure, the Alpha Readers loved the universe, magic, and setting, and they were quiet pleased with everything that went down. No major changes were needed, thankfully, though as you would expect, there were a number of minor changes, tweaks, and small sections where things were polished a bit. All in all though, it was a pretty clean draft.

But all that is bringing me back around to the point. The point, readers, is that it’s time for the Beta Reader Call! That’s right, Shadow is about ready for the Beta Read, which means I’m looking for some Beta Readers!

Those of you who have Beta Read before (you know who you are) are automatic shoe-ins. I should still have your contact information in my master reader file, so even if you don’t leave a comment, you should be getting an e-mail in the next few days as Shadow breaks out of Alpha.

Now, what about those of you who before have not done Beta Reading but are looking to hop in? Wondering what Beta Reading is? Well, it’s pretty simple: It’s typo and error hunting. The plot’s been polished, the paragraphs keyed in. Beta reading is about finding misplaces apostrophes, accidental capitals, misspelled words … all the nitty-gritty detail stuff. Typos, functional errors, misplaced letters, double-punctuation … all that jazz.

Once that’s done, Shadow of an Empire goes into the copyedit … and from there … it gets listed and gains a release date, and I can start working on The Dusk Guard: Hunter/Hunted.

So, interested in being a Beta Reader, former or new? Drop a line or a comment. It’s time to get this book out!

Op-Ed: The Fall(out) of Barnes & Noble

This is a post I’ve wanted to write for a while now, but basically been bouncing back and forth on exactly how since while I have some insight on the subject … I really don’t have a lot compared to some others. Put plain and simply I don’t deal with Barnes & Noble. At least, not as an author. Very rarely, as a customer, but that frequency has dropped from a couple of book-buying visits a year to a visit every couple of years, and even then it’s rare that I walk out with something.

Which doesn’t paint a rosy picture of their business in the first place, if my and my friends experiences are anything to go by (or B&N’s own reports). But as an author, I don’t deal with B&N at all. Most notably because I’m indie, and B&N has never really had much to offer authors in that regard.

Oh sure, you could sell on their Nook service for a small royalty. But the Nook has always been such a niche market that it never really seemed worth it. Now that B&N has cut the Nook, that seems like a smart proposition (especially considering I heard nothing but mixed messages from it when it was around).

Right, I feel like I’m either getting ahead of myself or slightly off-topic. Only slightly, as B&N’s treatment of the Nook does seem to illustrate how we get to today. But let’s wrap that back in. Effectively, what I’m saying is that while I’m curious and intrigued about what the fallout of, well, we’ll talk about that in a moment, but let’s just call it “it” for now, is going to be … I’m on a side of the publishing industry that doesn’t rub up against B&N too much, so a lot of what I think could happen is mostly speculation—light speculation—about the shockwaves rolling through a side I don’t really know. I know there’s going to be a lot of fallout, just as one knows when a nation topples that the status quo has just been upset … but in the spirit of that analogy I’m on the other side of the continent, or maybe even across an ocean. All I know is that when someplace like Rome falls, everyone feels it.

That clear as mud? Okay? Well, then let’s talk about “it.” The big deal. I’ve talked about it before on here, but only in passing. To put it simply, however …

Barnes & Noble is going under.

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The Indie Hypocrisy: Reactions

Wow, guys. Just wow. I’ve been floored by the reaction to The Indie Hypocrisy. And with good reason.

Let me put it this way. My top post of all time for number of hits was 2016’s You Just Keep Pushing Me Away, a commentary piece on the lack of research in Literary writing that, over a few days, racked up 7,000 hits. Since a lot of other posts only range around 500 to two or three thousand, that 7,000 in a few days has definitely been the peak so far. That post had hits from all over.

But even with that, how many comments did it accrue? Just 20, including my own responses.

Meanwhile, The Indie Hypcrisy had nothing close to that. It’s still sitting at just over 200 views. Not bad, but nothing like YJKPMA. At the same time, however … Those of you who read TIH definitely had a lot more to say than those who read YJKPMA. At this exact moment, TIH is standing tall, I believe, with one of the largest comment chains in recent memory. To whit, between this site and my fanfic profile (where a short intro to the post also goes up), TIH racked up a grand total of 62 comments.

Best part is, these weren’t just the “Huh, sounds good” kind of comments. These were thoughtful comments, either pitching in with suggestions as to why such a disparity could be, questioning or pointing out the differences of indie books and other indie genres, or even discussing points raised by other commentators.

Ultimately there were far too many posts for me to reply to them all individually. At least, not if I wanted to keep up with my day to day job. But at the same time, there are probably a decent number of readers who never ventured into the comments, and there were so many comments made, with some really good points or at least perspectives, that I did want to come back to it as soon as I could.

Which, of course leads us to today’s post, which has seen me spending the last hour sifting through all of these posts, tallying their topics and approaches, and bringing them together here. Because while I do still have to get back to editing on Shadow of an Empire, I think a lot of the points raised by readers are important and worth talking about.

So, here’s how it’s going to go. I’ve gone through and categorized a lot of the comments on TIH, grouping them by topic, and I’m even going to go ahead and quote them, especially when they elucidate a point well in their own words. However, I’m also going to do this backwards. I’m going to start with some of the more “one-off” suggestions and comments, and then we’ll work our way down to the most common suggestions raised and discussed by the group. That’s right, the most supported and discussed concepts are going to be at the bottom.

Now, if you haven’t yet at this point, I do highly recommend that you read The Indie Hypocrisy before starting, since all of these comments are in relation to this singular post. But that accomplished, and my thoughts on the matter read, let’s see what others had to say!

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Op-Ed: The Indie Hypocrisy

Yup, an opinion piece. Kind of an odd one, too. But why not? After all, I finished the first draft of Jungle yesterday. I’m in a good mood. It’s been a while since the last one. And this topic has been on my mind for a good week or so; seems as good a time as any to bring it up.

Last week I had an interesting encounter. I was on a forum devoted to discussing video games (bear with me, this gets back to books fairly quickly) when something unexpected happened. In a thread discussing indie games and how great they were (games that are built and published without the oversight of a game publisher, just as indie books are written and published without the oversight of a book publisher), a group of posters started going off against indie books.

It was the usual argument. How could any book be good if it hadn’t been “approved” by some publisher. Publishers “only approved” good stories so anyone who wasn’t publishing through them was clearly not good enough to bother looking at. Publishers had all the editors, so an indie book would be rife with errors. You know, the usual junk that gets spouted off.

But what really made this whole chain jarring was the fact that this was in a thread devoted to discussing how great indie games were, games that did the exact same thing indie authors did—eschew a publisher in favor of their own efforts to bring a game to the world. So what it had boiled down to was “Indie games are great, indie books are horrible” and the same reasons for one being great were being espoused as reasons for the other being terrible.

This got me thinking about indie books and indie markets in general. It’s not hard to find someone slamming indie books on the internet. In fact, it’s just about the standard reaction. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that, at least from what I’ve seen, indie books are the only place that this happens. Everywhere else, indie is embraced by the majority.

And that doesn’t add up.

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The November Patreon Supporter Reward is Here …

… and it is a big one!

How big? Well, let’s just say that as thanks for their support this month, Patreon-goers are getting an early look at … drumroll please … The first chapter of Jungle.

Yup. Which, by the way, I’m in the last few chapters of. At last. This book has swollen far past what I expected. Editing it will be a nightmare. But at the same time … Well, I’m not going to say anymore.

Anyway, if you’re a Patreon supporter and read Colony, what are you hanging around here for? Don’t you want to know what happens next to Jake, Anna, and Sweets? Sure you do. And given what happens in this opening chapter, I— Well, I’m not going to get ahead of myself. But I expect you’ll have questions for me.

So quit hanging around here and hop on over to November’s Patreon Reward on Patreon! And if you’re not a Patreon Supporter yet, it’s pretty easy to do. In return for helping support Being a Better Writer, you’ll get access to monthly supporter rewards, which range from early looks at chapters and stories, to behind the scenes stuff … to even some exclusive stuff long before anyone else, such as a look at a short story for More Unusual Events!

Cool, right? All that’s yours to look at for supporting! So get on over there!