Guest blog: Gail Z. Martin

Once again this year, I accepted Gail Z. Martin's invitation to be part of her Days of the Dead blog tour. In this guest blog post, she elaborates on traditional publishing vs small presses vs self-publishing.


Getting Published—One Goal, Many Routes

By Gail Z. Martin

Over the course of my career so far, I’ve published with a Big New York and Big London traditional publisher, various small presses, and gone indie (self-pub). Right now, my books are an active mix of all three paths, and I’ve never been happier. Which is right for you? That depends.

For many authors, they consider ‘making it as a writer’ to mean published by a traditional publisher and available in bookstores. That’s certainly still possible, although the average advance is lower than it used to be, and publishers now begin relationships with authors expecting it to only last for a few books (unlike the long-standing ‘mid-list’ stable of writers who might spend decades with the same imprint). Nearly all of the traditional publishers require an author to be represented by an agent, and want to know that the book is already completed before extending a contract—particularly for a writer without a track record.

Working with a big traditional publisher comes with bragging rights, and can check something off the bucket list. It’s validating, and an ego boost. You won’t have to worry about arranging for editing, proof-reading, cover design or formatting because the publisher handles all that. Of course, you also won’t have any say in those matters, either. Hate the cover? Too bad. Disagree with the editor? You may have very little ability to dissent, even on changes that you feel substantially change the story. You’ll owe 15% of everything you earn on those books forever to your agent. As far as royalties go, depending on your contract, you’re likely to get about 10% - 15% of the price of your paperbacks, and 25%-40% of ebooks and audiobooks, after you’ve earned out any advances, and you’ll be paid twice a year. Big publishers also keep an additional percentage of your earnings back in case your books are returned by stores. You’ll also still need to do most of the marketing for your book because the little bit the publisher will don’t won’t be enough.

Small presses still cover the cost of editing, proof-reading, cover design and formatting, but may offer you more input and listen to your suggestions. Advances are unlikely, or will be very small. Royalty percentages will be about the same as with the big traditional publishers, but without an advance to recoup, your royalties usually pay from publication date. You’re likely to get paid either quarterly or twice a year. Since bookstores don’t tend to stock books by small presses, you don’t have to worry about that reserve against returns percentage. Many small presses accept unagented submissions, so you get to keep that bit extra, too. You’ll need to do most of the marketing.

Indie publishing requires a commitment to the business side as well as the creative side. You’ll need to track all of your sales and royalties for tax purposes, as well as your business-related expenses. You’ll still need to hire and editor and proofreader, as well as a cover artist and possibly a formatter. This can quickly add up to thousands of dollars, but skimping on these pieces is likely to make the book look unprofessional, which hurts sales. You’ll make larger percentages on the print and ebooks (depending on the price of the finished book), but you’ve also got bigger expenses to recoup. You now have to do all of the marketing. On the other hand, you can choose/commission your cover art, you aren’t forced to make editorial changes you don’t agree with, you can bring out books as quickly as you want, and you can write whatever you please since there is no gatekeeper to approve your proposals. Amazon pays monthly, although KU and other circumstances may affect that.

Right now, my backlist is with the original large publishers, our new audiobooks are under contract to a large audio production company, we have three series under contract with a small press, and we publish everything else indie. We love the freedom of being indie, but we also value the things we learned working with the big publishers and the support of our small press publisher. Experiment and find your own best mix!

What’s new? Plenty! Sons of Darkness (Night Vigil Book 1) and Inheritance (Deadly Curiosities Book 4) are now on audiobook. Monster Mash and Creature Feature are the newest Spells Salt and Steel books. Witch of the Woods and Ghosts of the Past are the newest in the Wasteland Marshals series, and Black Sun is the latest Joe Mack Adventure. Coming soon: Fugitive’s Vow (Assassins of Landria Book 3) and Reckoning (Darkhurst Book 3).

My Days of the Dead blog tour runs through October 31 with brand new guest blog posts, giveaways and more! You’ve got to visit the participating sites to get the goodies, just like Trick or Treat! Get all the details about my Days of the Dead blog tour at

About the Author

Gail Z. Martin writes urban fantasy, epic fantasy and steampunk for Solaris Books, Orbit Books, Falstaff Books, SOL Publishing and Darkwind Press. Urban fantasy series include Deadly Curiosities and the Night Vigil (Sons of Darkness). Epic fantasy series include Darkhurst, the Chronicles Of The Necromancer, the Fallen Kings Cycle, the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, and the Assassins of Landria. She and co-author Larry N. Martin write the Spells Salt and Steel, Wasteland Marshals and Joe Mack Shadow Council Archives Adventures. As Morgan Brice, she writes urban fantasy MM paranormal romance. Series include Witchbane, Badlands, Treasure Trail, Kings of the Mountain and Fox Hollow series.

Find her at, on Twitter @GailZMartin, on, at blog and on Goodreads Never miss out on the news and new releases—newsletter signup link Follow her Amazon author page here: On Bookbub: On Instagram: Pinterest:

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This week's New York Times Bestsellers (October 19th)

In hardcover:

V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue debuts at number 4.

Alice Hoffman's Magic Lessons debuts at number 6.

In paperback:

Stephen King's The Institute is down one position, ending the week at number 2 (trade paperback).

Nora Roberts' The Rise of Magicks debuts at number 4 (trade paperback).

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is down one spot, finishing the week at number 6 (trade paperback).

Matt Ruff's Lovecraft Country returns at number 10 (trade paperback).

This Virtual Night

It's been a long time coming and the novel is finally here. C. S. Friedman's first book in nearly four years. After a stint writing YA, the author went back to her roots, to the science fiction genre where she started her career way back in 1987.

You may recall that writing the Magister trilogy took a lot out of Friedman and she needed a much-deserved break from that sort of story. That series was by far her most densely written, aggressively dark, and adult-themed work, and it took six years of her life to complete. Exhausted, Friedman wanted to write something shorter, something more linear, with a plot that wasn't as convoluted, with a much faster pace. Something that her younger fans could relate to a bit more and that her adult fans would enjoy as well. Whether or not The Dreamwalker Chronicles managed to do just that depends on who you ask. As I said before, I understand why SFF authors like Joe Abercrombie and C. S. Friedman would want to try to tap into the lucrative YA market. They are not the first and they certainly won't be the last. All I can say is that I'm happy that they have both reached the end of their YA series and will now concentrate on adult-oriented speculative fiction works. That's how they each made a name for themselves and the genre needs such authors writing at the top of their game.

Around the time Dreamweaver was published, Friedman announced that her next work would be set in the same universe as the novel This Alien Shore. This really got me excited! Even better, the author is now working on a sequel, which will turn this into a trilogy.

This Alien Shore was published in 1998, so it's been a while. Fear not, for you don't need to have read the novel to fully enjoy This Virtual Night. Both works are set in the same universe and are equally enjoyable, yet they can be read independently.

Here's the blurb:

Returning to the universe of New York Times Notable book This Alien Shore comes a new space opera from an acknowledged master of science fiction.

When deep-space travel altered the genes of the first interstellar colonists, Earth abandoned them. But some of the colonies survived, and a new civilization of mental and physical “Variants” has been established, centered around clusters of space stations known as the outworlds.

Now the unthinkable has happened: a suicide assault has destroyed the life support system of a major waystation. All that is known about the young men responsible is that in their last living moments they were receiving messages from an uninhabited sector of space, and were playing a virtual reality game.

Two unlikely allies have joined forces to investigate the incident: Ru Gaya, a mercenary explorer with a taste for high risk ventures, and game designer Micah Bello, who must find the parties responsible for the attack in order to clear his name. From the corridors of a derelict station lost to madness to an outlaw stronghold in the depths of uncharted space, the two now follow the trail of an enemy who can twist human minds to his purpose, and whose plans could bring about the collapse of outworld civilization.

Dark and complex worldbuilding has always been an aspect in which Friedman shines. This Alien Shore was a sprawling book, filled with cool concepts and big ideas. This sequel is not as dense and is written in a much smaller scale. Indeed, with the groundwork laid out by its predecessor, This Virtual Night can focus on the plot and not have to rely on worldbuilding. The author provides whatever information the reader might need by filling in the blanks when necessary, but otherwise one misses nothing for not having read the prequel.

In style and tone, this new work is not as dark and brooding as past SFF novels by C. S. Friedman. Not "light" by any stretch of the imagination, but This Virtual Night is a more fun and entertaining space opera than what the author has accustomed us to in the past. Have no fear, for it's still a convoluted tale that builds on some of the concepts that were introduced in This Alien Shore.

The bulk of the characterization is made up of the perspectives of two protagonists. Ruisa Gaya, an Outrider who wakes up in Tiananmen Station after a mission that has gone terribly wrong, and Micah Bello, a game designer falsely accused of an attack on a space station. When he barely escapes a murder attempt, Micah finds himself stranded on the abandoned Shenshido station, where things have taken a turn for the worse. Though Ru and Micah take center stage, I feel that the story would have benefited from fleshing out the supporting cast a little more. Especially Ivar and Jericho, since they play important roles in the greater scheme of things.

Although it takes a while for the storylines to come together, This Virtual Night doesn't suffer from any pacing issues. Things are never dull and the tale progresses at a good clip. The novel is a fun romp and a fast read. Virtual reality, hackers, a diversity of alien races that are offshoots of mankind, politicking, intrigue; that's C. S. Friedman's latest in a nutshell.

Looking forward to the final installment in this trilogy!

The final verdict: 7.75/10

You can read an extract from the book here.

For more info about this title, check out these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Silvia Moreno-Garcia's Mexican Gothic for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (October 12th)

In hardcover:

Jim Butcher's Battle Ground debuts at number 2.

Naomi Novik's A Deadly Education debuts at number 12.

In paperback:

Stephen King's The Institute maintains its position at number 1 (trade paperback).

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is up two spots, finishing the week at number 5 (trade paperback).

Margaret Atwood's The Testaments is down four positions, ending the week at number 9 (trade paperback).

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Mark Lawrence's One Word Kill for only 0.99$ through the following Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA. If you're interested in the sequels, you can get the entire trilogy for less than 4$!!!

Here's the blurb:

In January 1986, fifteen-year-old boy-genius Nick Hayes discovers he’s dying. And it isn’t even the strangest thing to happen to him that week.

Nick and his Dungeons and Dragons-playing friends are used to living in their imaginations. But when a new girl, Mia, joins the group and reality becomes weirder than the fantasy world they visit in their weekly games, none of them are prepared for what comes next. A strange—yet curiously familiar—man is following Nick, with abilities that just shouldn’t exist. And this man bears a cryptic message: Mia’s in grave danger, though she doesn’t know it yet. She needs Nick’s help—now.

He finds himself in a race against time to unravel an impossible mystery and save the girl. And all that stands in his way is a probably terminal disease, a knife-wielding maniac and the laws of physics.

Challenge accepted.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (October 5th)

In hardcover:

Christopher Paolini's To Sleep in a Sea of Stars is down nine positions, ending the week at number 13.

In paperback:

Stephen King's The Institute maintains its position at number 1 (trade paperback).

Margaret Atwood's The Testaments is down five positions, ending the week at number 5 (trade paperback).

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is up five spots, finishing the week at number 7 (trade paperback).

Matt Ruff's Lovecraft Country is down one position, ending the week at number 14 (trade paperback).

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Margaret Atwood's The Testaments for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

Margaret Atwood's dystopian masterpiece, The Handmaid's Tale, has become a modern classic—and now she brings the iconic story to a dramatic conclusion in this riveting sequel.

More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid's Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results.

Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third voice: a woman who wields power through the ruthless accumulation and deployment of secrets.

As Atwood unfolds The Testaments, she opens up the innermost workings of Gilead as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes.

Quote of the Day

Each man is, within himself, an alien landscape to all others.

C. S. FRIEDMAN, This Virtual Night

For more info about this title, check out these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Kate Elliott's Black Wolves for only 0.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

An exiled captain returns to help the son of the king who died under his protection in this rich and multi-layered first book in an action-packed new series.

Twenty two years have passed since Kellas, once Captain of the legendary Black Wolves, lost his King and with him his honor. With the King murdered and the Black Wolves disbanded, Kellas lives as an exile far from the palace he once guarded with his life.

Until Marshal Dannarah, sister to the dead King, comes to him with a plea-rejoin the palace guard and save her nephew, King Jehosh, before he meets his father's fate.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (September 28th)

In hardcover:

Christopher Paolini's To Sleep in a Sea of Stars debuts at number 4.

Susanna Clarke's Piranesi debuts at number 9.

In paperback:

Stephen King's The Institute maintains its position at number 1 (trade paperback).

Margaret Atwood's The Testaments is down four positions, ending the week at number 10 (trade paperback).

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale returns at number 12 (trade paperback).

Matt Ruff's Lovecraft Country maintains its position at number 13 (trade paperback).

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Peter F. Hamilton's Salvation for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

Humanity's complex relationship with technology spirals out of control in this first book of an all-new trilogy from "the owner of the most powerful imagination in science fiction" (Ken Follett).

In 2204, humanity is expanding into the wider galaxy in leaps and bounds. A new technology of linked jump gates has rendered most forms of transporation--including starships--virtually obsolete. Every place on earth, every distant planet mankind has settled, is now merely a step away from any other. And all seems wonderful...until a crashed alien spaceship is found on a newly-located world 89 light years from Earth, harboring seventeen human victims. And of the high-powered team dispatched to investigate the mystery, one is an alien spy...

Bursting with tension and big ideas, this standalone series highlights the inventiveness of an author at the top of his game, as the interweaving story lines tell us not only how humanity arrived at this moment, but also the far-future consequences that spin off from it.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download George R. R. Martin's Fire and Blood for only 3.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

With all the fire and fury fans have come to expect from internationally bestselling author George R. R. Martin, this is the first volume of the definitive two-part history of the Targaryens in Westeros.

Centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones, House Targaryen—the only family of dragonlords to survive the Doom of Valyria—took up residence on Dragonstone. Fire and Blood begins their tale with the legendary Aegon the Conqueror, creator of the Iron Throne, and goes on to recount the generations of Targaryens who fought to hold that iconic seat, all the way up to the civil war that nearly tore their dynasty apart.

What really happened during the Dance of the Dragons? Why did it become so deadly to visit Valyria after the Doom? What is the origin of Daenerys’s three dragon eggs? These are but a few of the questions answered in this essential chronicle, as related by a learned maester of the Citadel and featuring more than eighty all-new black-and-white illustrations by artist Doug Wheatley. Readers have glimpsed small parts of this narrative in such volumes as The World of Ice and Fire, but now, for the first time, the full tapestry of Targaryen history is revealed.

With all the scope and grandeur of Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Fire and Blood is the ultimate game of thrones, giving readers a whole new appreciation for the dynamic, often bloody, and always fascinating history of Westeros.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (September 21st)

In paperback:

Stephen King's The Institute is up five spots, finishing the week at number 1 (trade paperback).

Margaret Atwood's The Testaments is down four positions, ending the week at number 6 (trade paperback).

Matt Ruff's Lovecraft Country is down two positions, ending the week at number 13 (trade paperback).

Cixin Liu's The Three-Body Problem debuts at number 15 (trade paperback).

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (September 14th)

In hardcover:

Timothy Zahn's Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising debuts at number 9.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia's Mexican Gothic is down two spots, finishing the week at number 14.

In paperback:

Margaret Atwood's The Testaments debuts at number 2 (trade paperback).

Stephen King's The Institute debuts at number 6 (trade paperback).

Matt Ruff's Lovecraft Country is up seven positions, ending the week at number 11 (trade paperback).

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

For a limited time only, in Canada you can download every single installment of Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files, even the Battle Ground pre-order, for only 2.99$ each by following this Amazon Associate link!