Category: science fiction (page 2 of 11)

A Time and a Place Stats

People often ask me how the writing’s going. I interpret the question pretty broadly. As in, how’s the new writing going? Fairly well, thanks.

And: how’s my first novel doing?

There’s no short answer to that question. At least, no short accurate answer.

A Time and a Place has been available just over two years now. I usually tell people that I’m not quite in Stephen King territory yet but it’s going reasonably well, and that my excellent publisher tells me that the book has paid for itself, which I hope leaves the impression that it’s achieved some measure of success.

Whether the book truly can be considered successful depends on who you’re asking, I think. I suspect that any big-time publisher might condemn the book as a complete and utter failure. Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code sold eighty million copies. Compared to that, A Time and a Place has not exactly taken the world by storm.  

The aforementioned big-time publisher might—I say might—concede that the critical reception for A Time and a Place (professional and otherwise) has been reasonably favourable, but they would probably also feel compelled to point out the rather small sample size.

Some novelists, I suspect, might suggest that merely completing and publishing a novel constitutes success because doing so is goddamned hard. While I accept that, most novelists would also admit that that’s not enough. Almost all of us (if we’re being honest with ourselves) would admit that we define real success as massive book sales and wide critical acclaim. On those scores, A Time and a Place can not exactly be considered an unmitigated success.

Still, to be fair (especially to those who helped me with the book), it’s probably performing perfectly fine considering it’s a first novel by an unknown author published by an independent press. I assume all responsibility for any lack of greater success. And I am well aware that the freakish success of an author like Dan Brown is pretty much a complete fluke.

But I’ll let you be the judge. Here are the facts. Let’s start with sales.

As of my most recent Royalty statement, for the first quarter of this year, covering up to March 31st 2019, A Time and a Place has sold a total of 454 books.

Of those, my publisher sold 333 print editions, 98 e-books, 1 e-library edition, and 22 audio books.

Of the 333 physical copies my publisher sold, I sold 134 of those myself after purchasing them from my publisher (at a discount). I gave away 13 books as gifts, another 2 were kinda gifts (I thought the people would pay but they never did), and 1 copy was stolen after a reading at a library (she picked it up off the table when I was across the room. I didn’t confront her. I dunno, maybe she thought it was free).  I have another 18 copies sitting in my basement to have available for readings and book fairs and so on.

I earn 50% of net on any e-books sold, 10% on print (possibly more if I sell them myself, depending how much I charge), 50% on e-library copies, and 50% on audio books. A Time and a Place has earned me a total of $5989.68 since July 2017 when it first came out. Factor in the cost of purchasing books at a discount from the publisher to resell, all the marketing and promotion I do to supplement what my publisher does, along with treating myself to attending one writer’s convention per year, and I’m not exactly getting rich. Actually, technically I’m in the red, if I’m honest about how much I’ve spent on writing related activities since I began all this.  

So yeah, I don’t think I could call A Time and a Place a huge success financially so far.

It’s fared better on the critical front. Reviews have been mostly positive.

On Goodreads, it has been rated 42 times, accompanied by 23 reviews. It currently averages 4.35 out of 5, consisting of twenty-four 5 star reviews, thirteen 4 star reviews, four 3 star reviews,  one 2 star review and one 1 star review. It’s been added to 100 bookshelves, including 45 To-Read shelves.

23 of those 45 ratings have been accompanied by reviews. The reviews range from positive: “Mahoney writes with a practised wit,” “I loved this mesmerising audiobook with its non stop action and adventure,” and “A brilliant, often hilarious, thoughtful and amazing read,” to not so positive: “The second half of the book got a bit muddled for me.” “I think that the author was a bit too ambitious,” and “one of the least likeable protagonists I’ve read in some time.” 

On Amazon.ca it has been reviewed four times. All of those have been 5 star reviews.

On Amazon.com it has been reviewed twelve times (one 3 star review, two 4 star reviews, and nine 5 star reviews).

On Amazon.co.uk, it has been reviewed two times (both 5 star reviews)

Barnes and Noble has two reviews, one 3 star and one 5 star.

On Library Thing it has garnered six reviews (two 5 star, two 4 star, one 3 star and one 2 star, averaging 3.57 stars).

There are a few other reviews out there as well, mostly positive, a couple less so, on blogs and Audible. Some are replicated on Goodreads.

Out of the approximately eighty people who have rated the book, I personally know, am related to, or have met (at least once) around twenty. The rest are complete strangers to me. Personally knowing or having met those who have rated the book has been no guarantee of a positive review; three acquaintances have given A Time and a Place three star reviews.  

A Time and a Place has also been reviewed professionally by Publishers Weekly, who gave it a largely positive review when it first came out employing such words as “skillfully,” “entertaining,” and “great” to describe the writing, but the reviewer also discouraged me from getting too fat a head by suggesting that “occasional segments… distract or feel a little overdone.”

The book is currently being carried in seventeen libraries around the world according to WorldCat, in libraries ranging from Austin, Texas to Madison, Wisconsin to Rangiora, New Zealand, and at least three Canadian libraries that I know of, possibly more (despite having only sold one e-library edition; most libraries appear to have purchased print editions).

Does any of this matter? Of course! Otherwise I wouldn’t have written about it.  🙂  Also, I just thought some folks, especially fellow writers just starting out, might find it interesting.

Does it REALLY matter?

Of course not.

But it sure is a great way to procrastinate.

One final thought. Here’s a great Ted Talk from Albert-László Barabási on how to increase your chances of success in any field, writing included.

Mark Askwith Talks to Ira Nayman at BookMarkit! 2019

Gradually getting the interviews and readings from BookMarkIt! this past May edited and posted. Here’s the latest, with Mark Askwith talking to Ira Nayman, author of the Multiverse series of novels, and editor of Amazing Stories magazine, in a really interesting chat about science fiction, humour, how he got into editing, and much, much more.

Book That Day! May 4th for BookMarkIt!

Maybe you’ve heard of our book fair by now.

It’s called BookMarkIt!, complete with capital letters in strange places and exclamation marks that Elmore Leonard would almost certainly frown on.

BookMarkIt! happens May 4th—Star Wars Day—at the Whitby Curling Club 815 Brock Street North in Whitby, 10am until 5pm, rain or shine.

Special Guest Robert J. Sawyer

Many authors from all over Ontario will be present. Award winning science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer is our Special Guest. Well known producer, author and interviewer Mark Askwith of Prisoners of Gravity fame will also be on hand to interview some of our amazing authors. Which authors? So many to choose from! We are pleased to have Dale Sproule, Sarah Tolmie, Douglas Smith, Bernadette Dyer, A.A. Jankiewicz, Maaja Wentz, Lesley Donaldson, Yahaya Baruwa, and many more. We are also honoured to have publishers Bundoran Press, Brain Lag, and ChiZine Publications taking part. ChiZine authors David Demchuk, Stephen Michell, Michael Rowe and Brent Hayward will also be dropping by.

BookMarkIt! is designed to introduce books to to readers and readers to books.  Our mission is to promote the work of Canadian, Small Press, Independent, and genre authors. All of our resources and efforts are focused on these tasks.

David Demchuk,
Author of The Bone Mother

We are proud to be sponsored by the following terrific and generous organizations: SF Canada, Amazing Stories Magazine, On Spec Magazine, Constellate Publishing, Groupa Concrete, and Bookshelf (Writer’s Community of York Region).   

Our industrious team is active on Twitter (@it_bookmark), Facebook (@whitbybookmarkit), Instagram (whitbybookmarkit) and more. Check us out at www.bookmarkit.ca.

If you’re an author or deal in book related products, it’s not too late to join us. Tables are $75 apiece. You can sign up at www.bookmarkit.ca

If you’re a reader, reach out to us on one of our social media feeds. And by all means drop by the Whitby Curling Club May 4th to meet your favourite—or new favourite—author in person!

Review of a Review

Time now to amuse myself by revisiting the Publishers Weekly review of my novel A Time and a Place.

Generally I don’t react much to reviews. Well, I do write to reviewers from time to time to thank them for taking the time to read A Time and a Place and for writing a review. I will even do this sometimes for less than stellar reviews–hey, everyone’s entitled to their opinion. But I will not engage them or take issue with their reviews, and I’m only commenting on this one from Publishers Weekly, because, well, it amuses me to do so.

And no, in case you’re wondering, I’m not missing an apostrophe when I write “Publishers Weekly.” Apparently they dropped the apostrophe a while back; I don’t know why. Can we take a review seriously from a publication that doesn’t even know how to punctuate its own name properly? Sure we can! Especially if it’s a positive review. 🙂

Now, is drawing attention to a positive review in Publishers Weekly boasting? Of course it is! That is, if bragging about a review of an almost entirely obscure book that’s sold (let’s face it) hardly any copies (compared to say, J.K. Rowling) and written by a completely unknown author can be said to be bragging.

Anyway, onward:

Our anonymous reviewer begins thusly:

“Debut author Mahoney…”

I choose to imagine our reviewer as female. A part of me suspects it’s someone I know. Someone doing me a favour, maybe. A moonlighting friend, say, scoring a few extra bucks writing reviews for Publishers Weekly during her scant precious free time to supplement her meager public broadcasting income.  Why else review a debut novel by a completely unknown author? I have no other evidence to support this conjecture. Whoever it is will carry their secret to the grave.

“…this entertaining, chaotic adventure.”

Whoever the reviewer is, I think I love them. They called my book entertaining! And chaotic isn’t bad, is it? Not if the chaos is entertaining! And who doesn’t like adventure? It seems a very positive review so far.

“…temporal loops where effects come before causes…”

She’s actually read the book. No head scratching on the part of this reviewer. She might even have understood the book better than I did. When I read that line I had to stop and think about it. Yes, effects do come before causes in A Time and a Place. Heck, had anything happened to me while writing A Time and a Place this reviewer could easily have stepped in and finished writing it for me. She understood what she was reading. She could summarize it afterward effectively, pithily. I should have had her write the synopsis and query letter before pitching it to publishers. Could have saved me a lot of time. Maybe got me a better deal.

“Mahoney skillfully (but unsubtly)…”

My head almost exploded when I read that. Skillfully! A reviewer for Publishers Weekly thinks my writing exhibits skill! It almost makes me want to write this blog post well. The word “skill” gives me joy. I spent years writing  A Time and a Place trying to get it right, and not just right but exactly right. Can you say validation, anyone? And from someone who obviously knows how to write well themselves because this is one, well, “skillfully” crafted review. And I’m not just saying that because they think I write “skillfully.” Okay, maybe I am. But still.   

Oh, but then there’s that “unsubtly.”

Was that “unsubtly” really necessary? Could we not have just left it at skillfully? Perhaps that was to ensure that I could get my head through doorways in the future. Okay, clearly she’s saying that A Time and a Place wasn’t quite as subtle as it could have been. Noted. I’ll try to do better next time.

“…moments of comedy, tragedy, horror, and philosophical contemplation of time, free will, and personal responsibility.”   

That pretty much sums up what I was trying to do. I mean, aside from just trying to get the damned thing written. Here our friendly neighbourhood reviewer conveys the sense that she both understood what I was trying to do and maybe even—dare I say it?—appreciated it.

“Despite occasional segments that distract or feel a little overdone…”

Okay, so it’s not perfect. I accept that. I may have been a tad self-indulgent here and there. Perhaps I should have taken out the line about Ridley’s nose that Arleane (the first editor of A Time and a Place) wanted me to cut. You know the one:

Emotion played over Ridley’s face like ripples on the surface of a pond. A pond from which, I might add, his nose protruded like the dorsal fin of a shark.

Again, noted.

Mahoney’s work is great for those who like their speculative fiction thoughtful, eloquent, and messy.”

The final line of the review. The money line, really—the one I quote when promoting the book. Sporting an Oxford comma, no less. As if we didn’t already accept this reviewer’s credentials.

What did she mean by “messy?” Something to do with the plot, I imagine. I don’t really know.  Who cares?  

Not me.

Not after a review like that.     

Here’s the review in its entirety:


A Time and a Place
Joe Mahoney. Five Rivers Chapmanry, $38.99 trade paper (412p) ISBN 978-1-988274-25-6

Debut author Mahoney sends a mild-mannered fellow on an interdimensional journey in this entertaining, chaotic adventure. Barnabus Wildebear needs to know why his teen nephew and ward, Ridley, is acting so strangely. Unfortunately the cause is an ominous entity, possibly a demon, named Iugurtha. She whisks Ridley away to dimensions unknown while implanting mysterious information in Barnabus’s mind that allows him to (sort of) control portals to other dimensions and times. The odyssey that follows bounces him to other planets, the minds of other people and creatures, temporal loops where effects come before causes, and a war against a merciless enemy seeking to steal the knowledge in his head. He’s accompanied by an increasingly vocal artificial intelligence named Sebastian. Mahoney skillfully (but unsubtly) uses Barnabus’s multilayered adventures to yank readers into moments of comedy, tragedy, horror, and philosophical contemplation of time, free will, and personal responsibility. Despite occasional segments that distract or feel a little overdone, Mahoney’s work is great for those who like their speculative fiction thoughtful, eloquent, and messy. (Oct.)

Audiobook Tour: Nina Munteanu and The Splintered Universe Part Three

Here is Part Three of my feature about Nina Munteanu and her audiobook series The Splintered Universe, narrated by Dawn Harvey, presented in association with Audiobookworm Promotions. 

The Splintered Universe is science fiction, published by Iambik Audio, and consists of three separate audiobooks.

In the third book of the Splintered Universe series, entitled Metaverse, Rhea Hawke travels back to Earth, hoping to convince an eccentric mystic to help her defend humanity from an impending Vos attack – only to find herself trapped in a deception that promises to change her and her two worlds forever.

Here’s an audio excerpt from Metaverse:

And just for fun, here’s a selection of proverbs that Rhea Hawke, the main character in the series, is known for using when confronting a challenging adversary or situation. Proverbs that we all can learn from:

“There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but the view is always the same.” Chinese proverb

“Knowledge is learning something every day. Wisdom is letting go of something every day.” Zen proverb

“The acts of this life are the destiny of the next.” Eastern proverb

“Never cut what can be untied.” Portugese proverb

“A little help is better than a lot of pity.” Celtic proverb

“What a fool does in the end, the wise man does in the beginning. “Italian proverb

“Be careful what you wish for; you’re apt to get it.” Chinese proverb

“She who has been bitten by a snake fears a piece of string.” Persian proverb

“He who wants a rose must respect the thorn.” Persian proverb

“A beautiful thing is never perfect.” Egyptian proverb

“Good soyka should be black like the devil, hot like hell, and sweet like a kiss.” Hungarian proverb

“The night hides a world, but reveals a universe.” Persian proverb

“The difficult is done at once, the impossible takes a little longer.” French proverb

“If you can’t dance, you’ll say the drumming is poor.” Jamaican proverb

“A cat pent up becomes a lion.” Italian proverb

“It’s not enough to know to ride; you must also know how to fall.” Mexican proverb

“Each of us must sometimes play the fool.” Yiddish proverb

“The only Zen you find at the top of the mountain is the Zen you bring with you.” Zen proverb

“Beauty without virtue is like a rose without scent.” Swedish proverb

“After the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box.” Italian proverb

“Call on God, but row away from the rocks.” Indian proverb

That’s the end of this special three part series on author Nina Munteanu and her series Splintered Universe. I trust by now you’ve purchased each book and devoured them all. If not, what are you waiting for? 🙂

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