Marketing space opera

A link dump for my reference:

Marketing books as an independent author – Doug Dandrige for SFWA

Probably the biggest marketing boost I gave my books was doing a Kindle giveaway. The book has to be exclusive to Amazon, which causes some people problems. But I have sold a lot of books on that platform. I schedule the book for a freebie, normally the whole five days they allow every ninety. I went to the Author’s Marketing Club site and used their free submission tool to alert a bunch of sites that my book would be free on those days. I also found a few others, as well as a bunch of Facebook pages that do the same thing. I blogged about the giveaway a couple of days before the start of the promotion, and tweeted it as well. I set up Hootsuite to tweet about twenty-five times a day so I could cover all time zones. On the day of the promotion I increased my own tweeting, and posted to every Facebook promotion page I could find. I also tweeted at twitter addresses that follow book giveaways. Three days into the promotion I did another blog post to inform people on how the promotion was coming, and to let them know the book was still available.

The first book I promoted this way was The Deep Dark Well, and I gave away 4,100 copies. Since then I have sold 5,500 copies of that book. I did giveaways of several other books that didn’t do as well, either in the freebies or the later sales. But when I released Exodus: Empires at War: Book 1 it flew off the Amazon hard drives. Later, book 2 of the series did the same, and that made my success. Some people say that the freebie promotion no longer works, but I ran a promotion on Exodus: Empires at War: Book 1 and gave away 4,900 copies. The next month I sold more than five hundred copies of each of the five Exodus books already out, including book 1, and book 6 sold faster than any of the previous books in the series. Again, I went through all the steps I outlined above, and it really helped my overall sales for May, which (as of the date this post was written) was my best month ever.

How to get started in SF self publishing – Bennet R Coles IO9

When you’ve finished your manuscript, revel in its genius and take a moment to dream about how rich and famous you’re going to be. Seriously, enjoy that moment. But then come back to reality and understand that no author can produce their best work without an editor. A professional editor – not your buddy who has an English degree. Give your manuscript to friends and family for feedback, absolutely, but before you even think about publishing your work, pay the money and hire a professional editor.


There are thousands of sci-fi community groups online, and they’re usually wide open to new members. The future fans of your book hang out in these places, and because they like the same sort of sci-fi you do, you’ll probably enjoy mixing it up on the forums about existing sci-fi books, movies and TV shows. Your purpose here is to make friends and, ideally, become a bit of an opinion leader through your witty, succinct and profound commentary – or just being yourself, that works too. You absolutely do NOT want to start peddling your book as that is generally frowned upon.

The key to engaging your community of future fans is to start early – months before your book is even launched. Be sincere, be friendly, and be actively engaged. When your book does launch, it’s totally okay at that point to announce it to your community, because by then you’re a known entity and people kinda like you. After your launch, though, you need to get back to just being a frequent contributor to the discussions, although a link to your book’s webpage at the bottom of each post is a perfectly acceptable way to offer ongoing, soft promotion.


A long running podcast on this very subject:

Subnormality found a steady gig

The clip below has nothing to do with space opera, or anything I would be interested personally, BUT if I had the funds, Winston Roundtree would be my first choice to illustrate a 64 graphic novel.

He has now a steady gig with Cracked, who do not need my help promoting themselves, but I’m going to post this anyway. Here is some of his work at its rambling monolouging best:


Subnormality began as a webcomic which routinely has SF subjects. Check it out here.

That is all.

The shape of graphene structures to come


A team at MIT has developed the means to translate 2D graphene sheets into 3D graphene structures. Graphene is a two-dimensional array of carbon atoms which has 5% the weight of steel, but 10x the tensile strength.

According to MIT news: 

The new findings show that the crucial aspect of the new 3-D forms has more to do with their unusual geometrical configuration than with the material itself, which suggests that similar strong, lightweight materials could be made from a variety of materials by creating similar geometric features.

The findings are being reported today in the journal Science Advances, in a paper by Markus Buehler, the head of MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) and the McAfee Professor of Engineering; Zhao Qin, a CEE research scientist; Gang Seob Jung, a graduate student; and Min Jeong Kang MEng ’16, a recent graduate.


The team was able to compress small flakes of graphene using a combination of heat and pressure. This process produced a strong, stable structure whose form resembles that of some corals and microscopic creatures called diatoms. These shapes, which have an enormous surface area in proportion to their volume, proved to be remarkably strong. “Once we created these 3-D structures, we wanted to see what’s the limit — what’s the strongest possible material we can produce,” says Qin. To do that, they created a variety of 3-D models and then subjected them to various tests. In computational simulations, which mimic the loading conditions in the tensile and compression tests performed in a tensile loading machine, “one of our samples has 5 percent the density of steel, but 10 times the strength,” Qin says.

It is worth noting that the models in the video are thousands of times the size of the actual thing, which is still in the computer simulation stage of actual reality. “Actually making them using conventional manufacturing methods is probably impossible,” Buehler told MIT news.

The new structures, when actually produced (they’re working on it!) have uses from large scale construction materials to small scale filtration mediums.

Original Source:



A bit more about Interstellar Gateways

As I plowed through my final manuscript edits (that’s right!) one of the big changes, at least in my mind, was the location of the interstellar gates.

When I first imagined them, they were fixed points at the edge of the solar system in question. I even had notes that placed it half a light year directly above the solar north pole.

This is nonsense – they orbit. Every damn thing in a solar system orbits some other damn thing in the solar system. So the gate goes around the sun in a polar orbit (so 90 degrees off of most of the planets) at about 100 AU. Don’t hold me to the 100 AU – that’s just where I diagrammed it. But outside most of the planetary orbits, for certain.

If you were curious, Station IX (and Station X) follow that orbit in what would be the gate’s Langrange 1 point.

Did I mention that I finished the final edits?

I did!

(And we celebrate with whisky, like the barbarians we are…)

Interstellar Gateways

Traversing interstellar distances in a rational human time-frame is always the big, wooly hobgoblin of space opera. If you hew closely to Known Physics, the task seems well nigh impossible. The journey will be sub-light speed, and take decades if not centuries.

I didn’t have the patience for that.

So I took a few steps back from Known Physics, and some marginally possible physics give us more hope. At this level of hardness, there are a multitude of possibilities.

The main one in use in the 64 era are fixed wormholes, properly referred to as interstellar gates. These are not human technology, but leased from the Consortium – a broader, galactic civilization which humanity has just joined.


The gates require a structure on both ends which support and maintain a dimensional wormhole, allowing instantaneous travel between the two points. So someone has to get to point B – somehow – and build the other end of the gate.

There are other downsides:

“Of course, wormholes were not entirely safe. They were kept stable by a matrix of negative matter, which human science had yet to clearly identify, much less produce. If that matrix failed, the wormhole could spontaneously close, which might only obliterate whatever was inside it at the time, or it could implode into a black hole.

Which was why the gates were always constructed at the edges of a solar system.”


At the start of the Frontier Era – the start of the 64 – Humanity has only a few gates at their disposal:

  • Sol Gate which connects our dear old solar system with Proxima Centauri. This puts you in range for Proxima Hub, and several other gates.
  • The Centauri Gate which connects Proxima Centauri with Alpha Centauri A/B. This puts you in range of Ramses Station, and Osiris, the most inhabited planet outside of the solar system.
  • Tau Ceti Gate which connects Proxima Centauri with the distant Tau Ceti system. This puts you in range of human-inhabited Baldur, Asgard station, a hot gas giant called Thor, Odin, almost twice the size of Jupiter, and Loki which has variable gravity.
  • Epsilon Gate which connects Proxima Centauri with the Epsilon Eridani system. Humans do not own or manage this system, but have access to the gate. This puts you in range of the Tesseract, a 3 dimensional shadow of a 5 dimensional object that serves as district HQ of the Consortium, and Looking Glass, the interstellar gate connecting to Procyon, and from there, other points further within the Consortium proper.


The Vengeance


Art by Tony Padegimas

The Vengeance was the most advanced ship of its day, born of the fiscal magic of the Turin Tyranny, when money flowed like water – so long as it went to war. Humanity, at the time, imagined themselves at a stalemate with the Magothi. The Vengeance was one of three ships built to break that stalemate by bringing the fight to them.

That first mission was supposed to be the last – an attack on the Magothi homeworld, do as much damage as possible before you are destroyed. Show them the price of battling humans. It would be discovered upon arrival that Epsilon Eridanni b was little more than an outpost that the Maggothi essentially leased from the Consortium.

In that 70 year journey, the Turin Tyranny had fallen, and the Second Fed had made contact with the Consortium, which, in turn, imposed a cease fire upon the Magothi. By the time they got there, the war had been over for twenty years.

Now the Vengeance, along with its captain, were antiques, statistical outliers in that they somehow kept flying. The Fury and the Justice had both long been cannibalized to keep the Vengeance in space.

One of 64 is a novel that will happen

I have a signed contract from a solvent publisher to produce One of 64, the first novel in what could become a sprawling series of space opera hijinks.

Radion Media, my publisher, projects a late January 2017 release date (which is really fast for these things). This means I will have the book in my hand in time for summer convention season.

So this blog, having been dormant for so long, will now become a thing. We’ll talk about the future as far as it can be foreseen, some of the influences behind the fiction, and of course progress of the work itself.

As the spacers say, See you next time around.