Author Archives: Carl Doherty

About Carl Doherty

Carl Doherty has written about movies, video games, comic books and literature for almost a decade, forging ill-informed critiques for numerous websites, blogs and publications that no one has ever heard of. His debut novel, the epic fantasy comedy Welcome to The Fold, is available now on Kindle here (UK) and here (US).

Twin Peaks - "Let's Rock"

April 2018 Update: Let’s Rock!

Wowsers, somehow nearly five months have passed since I last blogged here, and I’ve no idea where those months went. Should you find them, please tell them that I love them and just want them to come home.

Actually, I do know where those five months have gone – on a community comic book celebration (not a festival!) that will hopefully be in a fit enough state to announce soon. For years I’ve avoided working with others, but this year looks to change that, with a fair few collaborative projects on the horizon. Maybe, at the tender age of 37, I’m learning to compromise. Well… just a little.

The comic project in question has proven a conflicted one for me, in that I’ve met some really interesting, enthusiastic creatives and comic creators, but it’s also reminded me why I declared long ago that I’d no longer collaborate unless serious money was involved. The project keeps stalling, often for weeks at a time, and I’ve exhausted countless hours on one particular element that it’s becoming increasingly apparent won’t bear fruit.

Oh well, onwards and upwards, and elsewhere things are galloping ahead. Earlier in 2018 I had the pleasure of editing my partner Emily Babb’s debut These Unnatural Men, a haunting dystopian novel set in a near-future where euthanasia is a controversial reality. It’s a fantastic read, with an ending that left me gobsmacked and pursued my thoughts for weeks. Emily is publishing it under the Bothersome Books imprint for now, but I can see a wily publisher snatching it up soon.

 These Unnatural Men - Emily Babb

While I’ve worked as an editor for small magazines and marketing teams, this was the first full-length novel I’ve ever edited (that I didn’t write) and it was a far more grueling experience than expected. It’s tough to look at something with both passion and a critical eye – particularly when you know you’d enjoy the book in question far more were you not responsible for its quality control. Start enjoying yourself too much and you forget you’re supposed to be editing. Nevertheless, working on These Unnatural Men has certainly helped me greater question my own writing and publishing process – as doing graphic design for a living has made me a more confident artist. Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves of our own progress.

Anyway, not enough people visit bothersomebooks.com enough to notice, but the site is getting a bit of a revamp over the next few weeks, to accommodate the new author and a slew of works that I plan to publish throughout 2018. Welcome to The Fold and These Unnatural Men will be receiving physical copies soon, the former some three years after its digital release! I finally yielded and went halves on a 10-pack of ISBN numbers with Emily, so that’s another publishing hurdle overcome.

Those ISBNs will come in handy for future works, and I’ve got a 6,000-word short story (To See Beyond the Skyglass), at least one comic book anthology (Four Short Stories About Depression) and my second novel, vegan(Vn), all lined up for this year or the beginning of 2019. Exciting times indeed!

Yeah, 2018 will see the release of my first comic project, for which I recently bought a Surface Pro 2017. It’s an odd beast, a hybrid that does everything well albeit seldom without a hiccup, and illustrating on it has so far been an absolute joy. I never really got on with my Wacom Cintiq 12X, and the Surface Pro’s size and portability has upped my efficiency considerably in the fortnight that we’ve been together. This one’s a keeper.

Frabnz kafka sketch

Winter 2017 Update: So Late So Soon

The past year has been defined by peaks, troughs, and nowt in-between, but in early December I got to take my first true holiday in nearly three years. Prague during its Christmas fair was a beautiful thing, and while we spent much of our time there drinking mulled wine in the freezing cold, I did get to visit two great museum exhibitions. I’ve always loved Alfons Mucha’s art, and it was great to finally see large lithographs of what are arguably the origins of modern comic book art.

The second exhibition was at the Kafka museum, which affected me in a profound manner that I wasn’t quite prepared for. I guess I came away from those few hours immersed in Kafka’s misery wondering if it was all worth it. I also saw some painful parallels between his life, or rather the way he approached life, and mine. Yes, I’m that ostentatious.

I have henceforth vowed to chill out a little, and try and find a better life/work balanced, but things have been so hectic since my return that such resolutions seem a distant luxury. December is a month of deadlines and a few exciting potential projects (more on those soon) that would have pushed me to the brink even if my mother hadn’t announced that she was moving, and that I would have take all of the crap I’d left behind when Emily and I moved into our cramped little flat. All of a sudden I’m too busy to dwell on Franz bleedin’ Kafka and his existential woe. Sometimes reality steps in to disrupt any possibility of creativity, and there’s not much you can do but wave a fist at the sky and scream “screw you reality!”

Also, I guess this is what happens when you hoard thousands of comics and books. Seriously, up until yesterday I had kept every comic and children’s annual ever given to me. That’s not a healthy way to live, and I’m genuinely considering making the gradual move to digital.

So roll on 2018, then. It’s not escaped my notice that I’ve yet to finish my second novel, vegan(Vn), and I should probably change some of the publications dates on this site. However, there will be a few new releases from me in the upcoming months:

  • Yes, Welcome to The Fold will be getting a physical release, and a long overdue move beyond Amazon exclusivity.
  • I’ll be publishing a 4,000 word short story, To See Beyond the Skyglass, next month at the latest. It’ll be super cheap on some ebook platforms, and free on others.
  • I’m going follow this up with an attempt to push beyond my fear of collaboration with a comic anthology, Three Short Stories About Depression, later in the year, though I’ll probably publish each page on Shelf Abuse as and when it’s done.
  • My long-gestating web comic project The Scribe will finally hit the internets as soon as Three Short Stories is complete. It makes sense to warm up with a few short stories before moving onto what I plan to be my opus. I certainly wish I’d done that with Welcome to The Fold
  • I’m also applying for an Arts Council grant to develop a “top secret” comic book project. In other words, I won’t embarrass myself by announcing it until I know the outcome.
  • Vegan(Vn) will hopefully see release at the end of 2018. It all depends on whether I can get through the year without complete upheaval compromising my schedule. However, the first few chapters will be available early into the year, in some naive effort to generate positive buzz.
  • Tales from The Fold won’t be happening until 2019, if then. I’m not done with Harvard Standt yet though, hell no, he and I just need to spend some time apart.

I’ve noticed that more and more people are visiting the Bothersome Books website and Facebook page, so I’ll endeavour to post monthly updates from now one. Because I’m also well-aware that the world is thoroughly invested in everything I do and eagerly awaits my every announcement.

Script Planning

Spring 2017 Update: Now Where the Hell Was I?

Yesterday we were halfway through 2016, so I decided to indulge in an afternoon nap. Suddenly, we’re hurtling through 2017 at dizzying speeds. At this rate, I’ll be long dead by next month…

Anyway, the end of last year wasn’t a particularly pleasant time. I got thwacked by the jolly double-whammy of poor health and depression, and the entire world seemed to be demanding money I simply didn’t have. Fortunately, I started 2017 with a fair bit more cash coming in from web and graphic design work, and while this increased workload stalled my various personal projects, I’m now (hopefully) back in full force. With a bit of luck, this may be the first year in which I’m able to balance earning a living with finding the time and finances to write and market my work.

I haven’t blogged on here since last September, then, but it’s clear from my inbox that people do actually read the nonsense I post, so I thought it time for a few updates:

bothersomebooks.com will be getting something of a makeover, and be better integrated into my blog, Shelf Abuse. I’ll be posting more extracts from my upcoming second novel and the occasional short story, as well as some art and various titbits of creative crap that’ll probably be of interest to nobody but me.

Speaking of that second novel, vegan(Vn) will hopefully be completed and available digitally by the end of 2017, early 2018 at the very latest. It’s been a rather unpleasant project to research, albeit one I feel is important and prescient. nevertheless, I want the damn book out of my life ASAP. I’ll start posting extracts of it soon, alongside a cover concept that I’m rather chuffed with.

Physical copies of Welcome to The Fold are imminent. I wasn’t happy with the first Amazon print, and the book’s page count makes it almost impossible to sell at a reasonable price, so I intend to release it as a more expensive collectable and focus on selling the digital edition at a lower price. Live and learn, I guess. vegan(Vn) will be a fraction of Fold‘s page length and hopefully prove a far easier book to market.

While I have by no means abandoned the Welcome to The Fold sequel that I spent a good year developing, I don’t intend to return to it any time soon. It’s an even more ambitious and convoluted work than the first, and I don’t want to invest another decade on a single project right now. The short story anthology Tales from The Fold will happen sooner, if probably not this year, though some of the short stories within will be published on this site later this year.

The Scribe is still on hold, much to my dismay. I still plan to develop a few comic book projects soon. Given my limited time I’ll probably have to find an artist for them, and I’m not too keen on working with others when I can’t commit to a consistent schedule. But who knows, maybe 2018 will open all sorts of windows. Preferably figurative ones, as my mood has been dipping into dangerous territory with alarming frequency.

All other books mentioned on bothersoombooks.com are also on hiatus for at least the next six to twelve months while I work on a business site, Shameless Pug, a flashy online portfolio, a Shelf Abuse overhaul, and do my best to merge these outlets into a single cohesive social media plan.

On a more positive note, I’ve been invited to judge an upcoming comic book awards, of which I’ll disclose more soon. Indie comics have amazed and surprised me these past few years more than any other art form, and it warms my cockles to see the medium slowly evolving into the mature and diverse storytelling device it always had the potential to be.

South Park

Self-publishing: Price vs Length vs Girth

While wandering clueless around the London Book Fair earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to see the manuscript for Alan Moore’s epic Jerusalem. It was a towering monstrosity, a paper-based monolith granted its own private space in the centre of a round coffee table, so that passers-by could stop and marvel at its height.

I’ve always had a weird size envy when it comes to novels, and longed to write something that could be used as a Cluedo-esque deadly weapon. But Alan Moore and is Alan Moore, and he’s earned the right to break the rules, and write material of a length that no publisher would otherwise deem cost effective. As has George R.R. Martin and his burgeoning Song of Ice and Fire volumes.

Jerusalem - Alan Moore

About halfway through writing Welcome to The Fold, I realised that at over 200,000 words it was getting too damn long and considered splitting it into two volumes. Ultimately, though, however I worked the divide it never felt like a comfortable split; the narrative was already too deep into development, and I’ve always felt that works of literature or art work best in the format their creators originally and instinctively intended.

One day, when I finally finish work on my time machine, the first thing I’ll do is head back to 2008 and slap twenty-something Carlos around the cranium until he sees sense.

Gearing up to release the physical copy of Welcome to The Fold, I’ve had to face the consequences of my ambition, and accept that it’s simply not going to be possible to self-publish physical copies of the book (now around 165,000 words) and make a profit, or even sell the book at a reasonable price. Even at the larger 5.5 x 8.5″ dimension I’ve begrudgingly settled on, I’ll need to sell paperback copies at over £12 to make a penny of profit. Simply put, nobody is going to place that level of bet on a new author.

welcome-fold-proofs

Oh well, the digital copies are still there for those who’ve embraced modern technology, and maybe they’ll enjoy it enough to want to splash out on a tangible souvenir… On to my second novel, then, which will be around 150 pages in its entirely. vegan(Vn) is virtually a glorified novella, and I’m happy with that. I can sell vegan(Vn) for £6-8 and still receive a reasonable royalty.

So if anyone’s made it this far, and is in the midst of writing and/or planning promotions for their first novel, please take my advice, and the advice of publishers, agents and literary sites everywhere, and keep your first effort under 120,000 words. That’s around 300-400 pages, depending on font size and page dimensions, and can be sold at a discounted price as part of a promotion without losing its author money.

Now, back to work on that time machine, so I can… oh, sod it, I wouldn’t listen anyway.

The Welcome to The Fold Proofs Arrived… and I Hate Them

Even as I first started writing Welcome to The Fold, I always had a lucid vision of the finished book in my mind. What it would look like. How it would stand out on the shelf. How it would smell. How the pages would taste after being sautéed in garlic oil.

A decade later and I’m now staring at a proof of the physical edition, which comes some 18 months after the second book of the digital edition released, and nigh on 6 months after the combined digital edition.

And I can’t stand it.

Maybe it’s my deficiency as a designer that’s to blame. Maybe I’m just impossible to please. Maybe CreateSpace’s print job simply isn’t up to my normal standard.

Either way, I’ve finally made a bunch of amendments and sent off for a second trilogy of proofs, two of which will probably be forced onto associates I pretend to like but secretly resent. Here’s a few things I picked up from my first foray into printing novels via Amazon’s CreateSpace service:

White Paper vs Cream Paper

CreateSpace prose books come in two flavours: white and “cream”. I made the mistake of opting for white paper, thinking that it would contrast pleasingly against the “liquorice” matt cover. This couldn’t be further from the reality, and the end result looks a little, well… cheap.

This is not to say that the text isn’t cleanly and clearly printed, but that my eyes are used to reading black text on an off-white page. The pure white lends the book the feel, for want of a better term, of a work of academic publishing. And, let’s face it, nobody wants to read novels that remind them of university.

welcome-fold-proofs

Digital Printing Cover Woes

CreateSpace books, more specifically their covers, are printed digitally, as opposed to lithographically. Given how good modern digital printing technology is, there’s not much of a difference… except on large areas of the same colour, where there’s something almost indiscernibly washed out about the end result. Unfortunately, Fold‘s vector-based cover, with its off-black background, suffers from this miniscule sacrifice in print quality more than a photograph or painted image on gloss paper would.

It should be noted that I work in marketing and design, and probably apply a more critical eye to such things than most. Overall, though, I was very impressed with CreateSpace’s product.

Typefaces Make all the Difference

Yes, it’s an obvious tip to have to emphasise, but nevertheless…

In my day job, when designing with new promotional material I tend to spend considerable time analysing the competitors and market to find a font that a) the target audience will find familiar and reassuring, but b) is distinct and adds a bit of creative flair. myfonts.com’s WhatTheFont! is really useful for finding out what typefaces other designers are using.

For the first Welcome to The Fold proofs, I pulled a few random fonts out of my ass, shoved them on the front and back covers and sent the damn thing off to print, and I’ve no idea why I didn’t spend longer looking at books of a similar genre…

Oh well, at least a few valuable lessons have been learned.

Welcome to The Fold - Carl Doherty

Welcome to The Fold Combined Edition Available Now

My first novel, Welcome to The Fold, was originally published in two halves. The two main reasons for doing this were time and sanity: I had a very limited supply of both throughout 2014 and 2015, and needed to divide the 165,000-word behemoth into two manageable portions.

Well, 2015 saw my partner Emily and I finally buy and renovate our first home, so what was supposed to be the pivotal point in my literary life got pushed back in favour of building a kitchen and clearing out the decade’s worth of crap our bastard dear homesellers left us.

Fortunately, that ordeal is now firmly  behind us, and I can fully concentrate on marketing Fold, as well as finishing my second novel, the “animal rights thriller” vegan(Vn), which has been a surprisingly smooth ride so far. My first novel took me eleven years to write, my second will hopefully take no more than eighteen months.

Practice makes perfect, or at the very least makes slightly better.

Anyway, I’ve finally combined the two parts into one volume, which should makes things far less confusing for new readers – “The Last and the First: Book One Part One” is indeed a bit of a mouthful.

Due to demand from people who’ve yet to embrace digital readers, I also plan to release a physical version of Welcome to The Fold in the next month or so.

fold-omnibus

This is not the only thing being combined; quite appropriately, I’m merging both Shelf Abuse and Bothersome Books, in order to better systematize my blogging and marketing… and once more, hopefully retain some semblance of sanity. Two sites is just too much for one man. Bothersome books will move from www.bothersomebooks.com to bothersomebooks.shelfabuse.com, though the original URL will still take you where you need to go.

My Indie Picks on SF Signal’s Mind Meld

This week I contributed to Hugo Award winning sci-fi blog SF Signal’s brilliant Mind Meld feature, in which a question is posed to a group of like-minded writers.

This week the prompt was:

What non-mainstream Scifi/fantasy Graphic Novels do you recommend?

For some reason I found this extremely awkward to answer, but tried my darndest to mention a range of indie titles I’ve recently enjoyed that I believed others may not have heard of.

http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2016/03/mind-meld-sff-graphic-novels-you-might-not-know-about/

 

2016 “Spring” Update

Well, I’ve just had a bit of a shock: not only is it now 2016, but we’re nearly quarter of the way through the damn year. Also, it’s now technically spring and I’m writing this with my fingerless thermal gloves on. Oh sweet miseries of life.

Anyway, if you’re reading this then chances are you’re one of the brave few to have actually ventured as far as Bothersome Books. Emphasis on the few; despite having worked in web design and SEO for the best part of a decade I’ve not actually applied any of my marketing magic to my own projects, and sometimes feel as though I gave birth to Welcome to The Fold and then abandoned it screaming in a dank alleyway.

But hey, it’s 2016, for what that’s worth, and with the renovations on my new home finally out of the way (we actually have a working kitchen!) I can concentrate on bringing the world the following wonderful creations:

The two Welcome to The Fold volumes will be combined into one this March/April, shortly followed by a physical edition and a number of non-Kindle digital versions.

The Scribe, my first foray into comic books will be hitting the metaphorical shelves very shortly. It’s been an exhausting project, one that’s taken the best part of a decade to fully realise, but more on that soon.

My second novel, vegan(Vn), will hopefully be complete and published by the end of the year. After Fold took me 11 agonising years to complete, I’m amazed that I’ve managed to write it this without encountering any major hurdles. The book is practically writing itself. vegan(Vn) is a dark, horrible book that combines my three major obsessions: animal rights, David Bowie and Hitler, and I’m not sure I even like the damn thing myself, but that’s the joy of self-publishing. I get to put it out there and move on. The next child will be of a far sweeter nature.

I also plan to release two Fold sequels next year: a short story anthology set within that universe, and the first instalment to the follow-up, which will be released in several novella-sized instalments. I had intended to get to work on these straight after publishing Welcome to The Fold, but that book left me seriously drained, and I wanted to pursue other genres and mediums. A semi-autobiographical graphic novel and a “vegan psychological thriller” seemed the perfect antithesis.

Taking a break from The Last and the First series proved a good idea, as I’m beginning to miss Harvard Standt and Amadis Ambersand, and itching to return to my magnum opus of sorts. Art is funny like that – sometimes you’ve got to push something aside in order to realise how much it means to you.