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).

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.

I Love the Smell of Printer Toner in the Morning

This morning I printed Welcome to The Fold for the final time. All two and a half inches of it.

This will be the last time I read through a book that has taken me ten years to write, before it’s edited for the last time and published in two parts this August/September. It’s a good feeling, but also a sad one, but nothing justifies a decade of solitude and introspection quite like a big pile of warm laser-printed paper. Except seeing your work on the shelf of your local book store, probably, though that’s currently far off on the horizon.

Enjoy the gratuitous knee shot below, free of charge.

Welcome to The Fold final manuscript

Squeaker the Pigeon

I found this little bugger sitting in the road yesterday afternoon.

He was half frozen and near death, and there was nowhere I could put him where his mother could find him (I initially put him on the path, at which point a passer-by almost trod on him). So we took him home and got him drinking and eating, but I assumed that he’d die during the night.

But the little bugger proved stronger than that, and my kind-hearted girlfriend Emily not only looked after him at work all day but found a shelter in Leigh that took him (or her) in. She also, against my advice,  made the mistake of naming him Squeaker.

According to the woman who ran the rescue Squeaker was in reasonable shape, and not suffering from dehydration or malnutrition. He might just make it, though I guess we’ll never know.

For once, a story with a (possibly) happy ending. I don’t partake in many of those.

Initial Character Designs from The Scribe

I’m currently working on the character sheets for my webcomic The Scribe, which I aim to beginning publishing here on a page-per-week basis this July/August. The series, which follows pretentious failed writer Bartelby Butler as he struggles to come to terms with the past, present and possible future of a relationship that never was.

The series will take place over three separate timelines, each of which is essentially set in an alternate universe, and will be drawn in a completely different art style. How these narratives overlap, intertwine and contradict one another will provide a mystery which will run throughout the first 6 issues (of a planned 36 issue series).

Check out a few images below, of protagonist Bartleby and love interest Morgan. No, I’m not the worlds greatest artist, but to entirely honest I never intended to be; I consider myself a writer foremost and illustrate out of necessity.bartleby-charactersheet-yellow-blue

morgan_charactersheet-yellow