Category Archives: religion

Indie author? Lost your cover artist? Don’t panic…

I self-published my comedy novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, last July having spent the previous three years trying to find an agent who would represent me without success. Given that my novel is a religious satire where God comes to Earth to try to save us from ourselves and then finds that an atheist is the only person who can help him, I should not have been surprised that the agents I contacted were less than enthusiastic. The book may be something of a hard sell 😉 Despite this, I was certain that there was an audience out there who would enjoy my work. While I was repeatedly editing the novel and considering the self-publishing route I realised that I needed a striking cover, as all independent authors do, for that is the first thing that a potential reader will see and so a stunning image that grabs their attention is absolutely essential. I made some enquiries and found an artist who was willing to work with me and the image that you see below was the result.

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I was very happy with the cover, I’ve had many people ask me about it and so, when it came to writing the sequel that I never thought I was going to write, ‘Jesus Returns! Here he comes again’, I knew that I needed something that complemented the image that I already had. Unfortunately, this was when my cover artist decided to go AWOL. The last time I had checked in with her, there was a note on her website saying that she was taking time away from her business to improve her skills and come back afresh. Now she seemed to have completely gone off the grid. I emailed her, politely asking whether she would be interested in making a cover for my sequel and that she at least reply to let me know either way. I received no such reply. I waited a while, worked on the manuscript and then emailed again. And then finally, one more time just to be sure. Nothing. Eventually I came to the realisation that I needed to find another artist, that mine was truly out of the game, and that I would just have to accept that I would probably not get another one like the first and that whatever I ended up with would have to suffice, even if it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. What else could I do?

So I again began the tedious process of sending out emails and searching for her replacement with little hope of success. I contacted some artists who never got back to me and then some kind person on Twitter sent me in the direction of Natasha Snow. I sent her an email explaining what I wanted to see if she had any interest in the project as well as a link to the previous cover image. Natasha replied that my last cover was indeed quite spectacular and that she would look into finding suitable stock images and I continued to wait and see whether she could help me.

I needn’t have worried. The first indication I had that I might get the cover that I wanted was when Natasha sent me some links to some stock images that looked remarkably like how I imagined the Jesus of my novels might look. I knew that his image was the key to the whole thing and that, once that was right, everything else could be figured out. So, we agreed on the image and on the details of the design and I sat back to await the arrival of my new cover. When I received the first draft it confirmed that I had made the right choice and that this whole thing was going to work out. I loved it, only minor revisions were even needed to finish the image and, once they were done, I received the rather wonderful image that you see below…

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So, if you’re a self-published, independent author like me who’s lost your cover artist (what are the chances?) then my advice is this: don’t panic, send out some feelers, know what you want and it will most likely work out well, as it did for me. You could also check out Natasha’s website (http://natashasnow.com/) and send your business her way, if you wanted to 😉 You never know, she might make for you as striking an image as she did for me. Here’s hoping!

 

My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, now has TWELVE reviews with an average of 4.4 stars and is available from all electronic retailers. It’s sequel, ‘Jesus Returns: here he comes again’, will be out soon! Also check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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My ‘rambling’ review of Terry Moore’s ‘Rachel Rising’…

So, in case it’s not clear by now, I absolutely love comics. I read as many as I can get my hands on, I have a subscription to Marvel Unlimited (which is well worth the money (http://tiny.cc/m2s3cy)), I borrow what I can get from my local library (which, unfortunately, isn’t much compared to the last city I lived in) and I buy what I can afford to. My preferred means of collecting is in big, beautiful hardcovers, though I am now buying more trades in an effort to support creator-owned series like Bitch Planet, Rumble, Monstress and quite a few others. And every now and then a series comes along and stuns you with its brilliance, like this one. Anyway, onwards…

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Rachel Rising (I’m gonna call if RR for the rest of this post) is a wonderful, independent comic series written and drawn by Terry Moore and I just love it! And one of the best things about it is that my wife also adores it, even more than I do I think. There aren’t that many series that we agree about or where she refuses to let me read the latest volume until she has done so even when I was the one who ordered and paid for the bloody thing! Anyway, RR recently concluded and, when I received the last volume, I started the entire run from the beginning again. It reads incredibly well this way but I had to wonder where Moore had found the time to do everything that he does on this book and release it in a reasonable schedule! It’s staggering how much of his work has gone into this one man show from the writing to the drawing and the covers (as well as, presumably, the editing). His work rate puts the rest of us to shame!

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RR follows our titular character as she wakes up in a grave having been strangled to death. Well, wakes might not be the right word and the question of whether she’s actually alive or dead is never really answered during the series. Not that that is a problem, Moore simply keeps that issue in the background as he explores the rest of his diverse cast from Rachel’s best friend, Jet, to her aunt Johnny to Zoe, a homicidal little girl. RR isn’t afraid to show the darker side of the world and features the highest body count in a small town that I think of besides a movie like The Crazies. And I love the inventiveness that Moore displays in dispatching his characters in all manner of ways. And, oh, the ending of the series. This is how you stick the landing, people! RR reminds me of other brilliant horror comics like Locke and Key where the writer understands exactly how much time they need to tell the tale and they don’t feel the need to go any further. And then you miss it so much when it is done…

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If you like horror comics, or series that are a little different, ones that aren’t afraid to do unusual and epic stories, then you’ll like RR. If you’re a fan of creator-owned tales where the writer is free to cover whatever material they like and do with their characters as they wish, then read RR. As a writer of atheist fiction that explores ancient archetypes, I especially liked how Moore played with religious characters like Lucifer and Lilith and how the entire story tied into tales eons old.

You may have to go a little out of your way to find RR as it’s not available at the usual online sources but you can find it on the Forbidden Planet website. Or you could, you know, go out and find your local comic store and support them instead. RR is well worth the effort! Now, I just need to meet Mr. Moore at a convention, get my trades signed (consider parting with more hard earned cash to get the hardcover) and get a convention sketch of Rachel or one of her co-stars and all will be right with the world. I look forward to it!

 

 

My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, is available now from all electronic retailers. Also check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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One year on: an update on writing, sequels and interesting developments…

A few days ago was the one year anniversary of the day that I self-published ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’ and so now seems like a good time for some thoughts, some reflection and for me to post an update for all that’s happened and that I have been doing since then. The first thing I should say is that I can’t believe that it’s been a year already! It has flown by, as it always seems to do, and what a fun ride it has been including getting some great reviews and appearing on a number of atheist podcasts. The sequel is also proceeding nicely, I’ll talk about this more below, as well as an interesting aside that happened in the past week. Anyway…onwards!

The first thing I want to say is thank you to many people, from the guys and girls who first took a punt on my novel and were then kind enough to write reviews for my book (you all know who you are and how grateful I am to you!), to those who invited me onto their podcasts for chats about atheism, politics and of course my novel. These people have all been remarkably generous with their time and I currently have ten reviews of the book, including three five star reviews, with an average of 4.3 stars out of five. That’s fantastic and you all have my thanks!

As well as writing and appearing on podcasts, one of the other things I have also done this year has been to post as often as I can to this blog on everything from comics like ‘Rumble’ and ‘Mind Mgmt’ to reviewing non-fiction books like Johann Hari’s ‘Chasing the Scream’, George Monbiot’s ‘Captive State’ and many others. I’ve also written about my appearances on atheist podcasts, my recent experience of working in retail again after many years in science, and other random bits like my reviews of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Captain America: Civil War. Basically, anything that’s caught my interest or that I love I’ve written about in the hope that I can persuade others to enjoy the things that I do.

I also wanted to post an update as to the sequel to ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, ‘Jesus Returns: here he comes again’ which is again back in production now that I have been able to find some time to actually do some writing! I am having a blast working on this book, which is now more than halfway done, and I hope to finish it soon now that I have the time to do so (though the real possibility of a decent full-time job in the near future would make this more complicated!). Of course, once the writing is done, the editing process will begin and that often takes as long as the writing, so the release of this novel might be further in the future than I hope. But unlike when ‘Only an atheist’ was released (and I was more than a little apprehensive), I can’t wait for people to read ‘Jesus Returns’ so I certainly have the motivation to keep going!

Finally, I wanted to end on an interesting note that also seems to warrant some discussion. My brother’s fiance is Australian and, on a recent trip back to her homeland, she sent me and my family an intriguing message. She said that she was having a conversation with a friend about atheists like Sam Harris, a fellow neuroscientist and author, and she happened to mention me and my novel (for it is always good to have friends and family willing to proselytise on your behalf). Then something interesting happened. It seemed that her friend had already heard of me and my book and had even seen the cover (which he thought looked like Socrates) but not via me, my twitter account or my appearances on atheist podcasts. There was a brief confusion where it seemed that Penn Jillette may have been the source of the information (I have since confirmed with him on Twitter that he was not) but nevertheless my brother’s fiance’s friend had heard about the book from somewhere, some podcast that was seemingly talking about it.

And this is truly exciting for if people other than myself are now talking about and suggesting my novel to other people then suddenly it feels like this thing might be taking on a life of it’s own. I am aware that this could happen, that the novel might be found by the right person, someone with the right connections  and then things could escalate. And even if this wasn’t that moment, I am still intrigued and I know that event still could happen and that is an exciting thought indeed! So if anyone knows of any podcast or outlet that is talking about my novel (without me as a guest), then please get in touch so that I can make contact with them directly. That would be very helpful.

To sum up, it’s been an exciting year with some standout moments and I hope that the next one is as enjoyable. I’m hoping to finish ‘Jesus Returns’ in the near future and then the novel will be released when I am happy with it. Which will undoubtedly take some time! And then I’ll have to see what happens next in this series and whether or not it will continue (I’m already thinking of a sequel so it probably will). Hopefully the journey that I am on as an Indie author will and bigger things are to come. Here’s hoping!

 

My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, is available now from all electronic retailers. Also check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

 

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Ramblings part 2: self-publishing, and ebooks vs. physical books…

Right, so it seems that I’m supposed to post a blog entry weekly, which seems like a lot of work to me so we’ll see how it goes, but for now I’m keeping up. Here is my second entry, surprisingly on schedule, and this week I’m rambling about self-publishing through websites like Amazon and Smashwords, my chosen method for publishing my debut novel, and the future of physical books and ebooks as it seems to me.

OK, so I’m relatively new to the industry having only self-published my first book, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, a few months ago. I have a second book in this series, entitled ‘Jesus Returns: here he comes again’, in the works and I also plan to self-publish this book when it is eventually finished. But I also have another book, ‘Balancing Act’, which I am currently still trying to publish though the traditional route of finding an agent and having them represent me to a publishing house. So far I haven’t had any luck, but in my opinion ‘Balancing Act’ is a much easier sell to these houses than my other works. It’s a science fiction story set in a near-future dystopia (yup, one of those!) featuring a man whose defining characteristic is that he has a split personality and lives with a significant number of ‘voices’ in his head. These ‘voices’ help him navigate the difficult world he lives in and, for now, that’s all I’ll say about that.

Anyway, I’m getting off topic. I hope that I have more luck finding an agent to market this book, strange as it is, but if I am again unsuccessful I know that will not be the end of the matter, as it would once have been. And that is something that I like very much. I have to wonder how many great, unsold novels there are out there sitting in drawers, waiting to be discovered, never read by anyone besides the author. Now they can all be published on Smashwords (and other available providers) and the battle these days has shifted to getting your work noticed. I recently engaged with social media in my quest to find an audience and, if you are reading this blog that is likely how you heard about it. And though I may not yet be all that savvy as to its uses, I’m enjoying myself and exploring the medium and finding that it’s quite fun.

As for ebooks, well I think it’s becoming apparent that they are the future of publishing. My wife and I recently returned to the UK from living in Canada after almost 5 years and, having settled in, one of the first purchases we made was for a well-known brand of tablet that can be used to read ebooks. I also purchased a subscription to Marvel Unlimited at, in my opinion, a ridiculously low price and I can now read as many comics as I want on this device. Reading books in this way is new to me and I am of course still reading physical books, but I can now see a time when I might not. I’ve grown up reading physical books, I love them, I buy them, I borrow them and I keep them. I have a large collection of graphic novels but I can now see an end to this situation and also that ebooks are, undoubtedly, the future.

Ebooks sales have increased dramatically in the past few years (http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/feb/01/the-ebook-is-dead-long-live-print-digital-sales) and it’s looking likely that, as with physical copies of television shows, movies and music, physical books will likely not survive forever. When choosing between physical copies of the things we buy and electronic files that are easily accessible and do not require storage, the files will eventually win. And, despite my love for books and CDs, in my opinion, actual physical copies should not win. When there is a simple, easy and more direct route to reach your audience it is obvious that physical books eventually will no longer be produced.

However, one ongoing issue I have with buying ebooks is the price. It is not realistic, despite the wishes of the publishing industry, that an ebook, an electronic file that costs much less to make and distribute, should cost anywhere near as much as a physical copy. After all, you’re not paying for all that has gone into making the book: the paper, the printing, the shipping and the physical store (or online retailer) at which you buy the item. And if you take out all of those costs then the price inevitably should drop. The publishing industry knows this, but they do not wish to upset the stores that sell their merchandise, nor for the competition between physical and electronic versions to impact on each other’s sales. And, for the moment, the two seemed to have reached an equilibrium (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/11335718/The-Kindle-is-dead-the-book-is-back.-Or-is-it.html).

I also realised, from seeing people using ebook readers while they travel, that this was my (potential) audience, even without the backing of a publishing company. Indeed, one of the lessons of the rise of independent authors is that publishing companies might not even be needed much longer. Authors will always require the services of agents, editors and publicists but publishing houses are no longer strictly required. They, undoubtedly, can still do things that indie authors, for now, cannot but we shall see for how much longer that remains the case. Until that day I shall continue to seek their services for my, hopefully much more easily marketed, science fiction novel. We’ll see…

Check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on comics, politics, self-publishing and my novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’ which is out now at all electronic retailers! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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Welcome to the blog of Matthew James, author of “Only an atheist can help God save the world”!

Hi there and welcome to the blog of Matthew James, author of ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’! Now, if you’re here because you have been redirected from either Twitter or Reddit then I hope you will give me a chance to convince you to give both my blog and my satirical novel a go. Hopefully you’ll find something you like. My blog is entitled ‘Rambings’ and on it you’ll find articles about comics, movies, politics, and of course my novel, as well as the self-publishing process and Indie authors, of which I am one. Anyway, onwards!

So, my novel asks the question of what does God do when he finds out the extent to which humanity is destroying the Earth? Well, He travels to Earth to talk to us and try to persuade us that we should stop what we are doing and save ourselves and our world. Unfortunately, Heaven has become a bureaucracy that He, due to His somewhat fiery temper, is no longer in charge of and now God must obtain permission from The Committee, run by His former voice, Metatron, to even come to Earth. And when He gets here He finds that the only person who can help Him is an atheist called Jeff. This is as much as I wish to say for I do not want to spoil anything.

I recently self-published this novel on Amazon and through Smashwords and you can find it at all electronic retailers for whichever device you choose to read it on. In an effort to convince you to give the novel a go, here is the opening lines from the book and a review from someone who follows me on Twitter who did just that and really enjoyed it. If you would like some more then there is a sample chapter (about the first 10% of the book) available to read for free at these sites and if you also enjoy that then I hope you will buy it 😉

“Chapter One

In which we meet God and explore the situation He now finds Himself in, we find out who the power behind the throne is, and a decision is reached

Meetings, endless meetings or how God got into this situation in the first place

God was in a meeting. God was always in a meeting and these days they seemed to stretch to eternity. And God could tell you a thing or two about eternity. But these meetings were necessary.

In the beginning it was just Him and He didn’t have to suffer meetings. But the Universe had continued to expand and God, even as all-powerful as He is, had needed help. So he’d created the angels and, for a time, they had all gotten on famously. The angels had carried out His will and pitched in with all of the necessary management tasks that continued to endlessly pile up. They had even helped Him to keep His temper when it all got a bit too much.

So the angels were necessary and God had accepted that. He knew that a smaller Universe would’ve allowed Him more time by Himself but a larger one produced so many more interesting things; worlds to explore, creatures and creations to investigate.”

And here’s the review that someone left me…

“I really enjoyed this book, it’s witty, intelligent, and it has a good pace to it. If you like Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett you will probably enjoy this book. Don’t take this book too seriously though, it’s a comedy caper, not a religious book, but it might have you thinking about life the universe and everything in a couple of places.”

You can see the review, as well as a couple more, here: http://tinyurl.com/pgjd68z

Now, I’m an atheist and this book is very much written with a sense of fun and only a pinch of seriousness. I hope that it combines a little of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy with some of Good Omens and Kevin Smith’s Dogma thrown in. And thankfully that is what those who have read it have been telling me. My pen name is Matthew James, but this is not my real name, for when you publish a book that satirises religion, even relatively gently, it seems a good idea to maintain some distance between yourself and your work. So if you do like what you have read and you buy my book and you enjoy it then let me know on Twitter or Reddit or at the email address below. I’d love to hear from you! I’d also love it if you told your friends and family about the book and helped me to spread the word for that is the only way someone like me can succeed. Cheers!

You can find me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1 and I’m on Reddit as MatthewJames1. You can also email me at onlyanatheist@mail.com if you have something to say.

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