Cover Reveal: THE CARDINAL RULE
If you’ve been watching me on Twitter the past couple weeks, you know I’ve been eyeball deep in what I’ve been referring to as “The Impossible Task”. It wasn’t an impossible task save that I hoped to get it done in about three days and, uh, well, as you see, it’s now two weeks later… :)
Anyway, the Impossible Task was the deep-dive revision of my 2005 “action-adventure romance*” novel, THE CARDINAL RULE, which was originally written under a pseudonym, and languished in relative obscurity for reasons completely beyond my control. I am completely thrilled to finally republish it (and soon, also, its two sequels) as a C.E. Murphy novel. Although they were never terribly well known, they were well-enough liked by those who read them that over the years people never stopped asking whether there would be more Strongbox Chronicles. I’m delighted to tell those readers that yes, there will be new books in this series. Not right away, because I’ve got a lot of other work to do, but there will be more someday!
When CIA Agent Alisha MacAleer’s cover is blown by ex-lover Frank Reichart, she’s forced into a spy game that draws a curtain back on a world she never even suspected existed….
The clandestine Sicarii have hired Brandon Parker, the brilliant, estranged son of Alisha’s handler, to develop an artificial intelligence capable of enforcing their divine right to rule. No one, not even Brandon’s father, imagines he can do it—not until Alisha herself faces one of the AI’s battle drones in combat. It’s suddenly a race between the CIA, the Sicarii, and Alisha’s mercenary ex, to see who can keep—or steal—the AI for themselves.
No matter which way Alisha turns, she faces new dangers and heartbreaking betrayals. In the end, she has no choice but to adhere to the cardinal rule…
Trust no one but yourself.
*I am terrible at industry romance. One of the readers for the original book said, “This is the least romancey romance I have ever read,” and I’m afraid 15 years and a thorough revision have not made it any more romancey. It’s a rollicking good adventure story, though!
The Author’s Preferred Edition of THE CARDINAL RULE will be available soon!
a reversion of rights
I got some of the best news of my writing career last week and I’m still OVER THE MOON about it.
Lo These Many Years Ago, I wrote a trilogy for Harlequin’s quick-to-fail Bombshell line, which were meant to be action-adventure romances, James Bond type stories where the heroine was the Bond character.
The line flopped badly for a lot of reasons, and the books I wrote never made any money, but I had a WONDERFUL time writing them and always wanted to do more. In fact, despite the books not doing well, despite it having been the better part of 12 years since they were published, despite everything, I’ve had readers ask regularly over the years if I ever *would* do more.
Well, there was a problem with doing more. It’s stupid and complicated but basically it goes like this:
I didn’t have the rights to publish the books myself. Those rights resided with Harlequin, because right-to-publish is basically what they’re buying when they give you advance money. And there’s always a clause in the contract that says under what circumstances those rights can revert to the writer, and what the publisher has to do in order to retain the rights. In these contracts, I wasn’t even supposed to ask for rights reversions for 5 years after publication, and the publisher had the right to reprint them within 18 months of me asking, if they so chose.
And those contracts were signed before the E-Book Revolution. So there was *no* language in them defining out-of-print in a world where e-books could be produced for almost nothing*…which meant that when the 5 year window *I* had to wait was up, they turned around and released e-books of the trilogy…which then sold basically No Copies At All, because they were under a different name, there was no demand for them, etc etc etc.
That happened two more times over the next EIGHT YEARS.
Now, there was no actual reason for the publisher to keep the rights. They were making no money off the books. They wouldn’t even re-release them under the CE Murphy name, where they almost certainly WOULD have made money. But every time I asked, they found another market to release them in as e-books, and thus re-started their 5 year window.
SO! The problem with writing more books in the series was that I could either:
1. write more books and NOT MENTION the first three, hoping that the lack of sales would someday allow me to get the rights back, or
2. write more books, talk up the first ones, try to get them selling, and therefore be certain I would *never* get the rights back, or
3. spend years gnashing my teeth and trying to get the rights back without talking about them very much, much less writing more.
I chose option #3 and my friends and family will attest to the SHEER FRUSTRATION I have vented over the past decade about the whole situation.
Eventually there were digital amendments added to the contracts, which gave me some of the language I needed to argue my case, and I put in Yet Another Reversion Request.
AND THIS TIME I GOT THEM BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mes amis, there was actual screaming involved. Like, fist-pumping foot-kicking incoherent bellows of joy. I kicked my feet so hard MY SOCK LITERALLY CAME OFF. I may have cried. I’m nearly crying right now, writing this blog post, in fact. I am SO HAPPY to have these books back and I am SO EXCITED to FINALLY GET TO DO WHAT I’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO DO WITH THEM!!!!!!!!!!
I’m working on revising the original trilogy. Not LOTS of work, but some: updating the dated stuff (to my huge amusement, my heroine was carrying data around on a mini-CD, which was like the Height Of Awesome when I wrote the books *laughs and laughs and laughs*), trying to future-proof it a little, fixing some continuity errors, etc.
Once the revisions are done I’m going to run a Kickstarter for new cover art and book layouts. Kickstarter backers will get the revised books right away, and they’ll be re-released to the general public probably around the middle of next year.
Then over the next several years, I’m going to write the sequels on the side and run little Kickstarters for editing, cover art, layouts, etc. Backers will get the books more or less as they’re written (I’ll be doing the Kickstarters AFTER the books are written @.@) and eventually, when the entire series is finished, I’m going to do a year-long book-a-month release to put the whole story out almost in one big chunk.
I am SO EXCITED OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG I CANNOT WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIT I AM SO HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPPPPPPPPPPPPPPYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!!!! *KICKS SOCKS OFF AGAIN*!!!!!!!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
*E-books cannot be produced for almost nothing up front. All of the heavy costs–paying the author, editing, cover art, book design, copy edits–still have to be done, and that costs money. However, in this case, because books had already gone through all of that, producing e-books was cheap and quick.
Crowdfunding: What’s Up Next
I’ve ended up with some FAQs about what I’ll be doing next for crowdfunding/Kickstarter, so I thought to close this series out with a poll, which I’ll post shortly (ETA: I have posted it! It is here! You should be able to vote by logging in with FB, G+ or OpenID, I think, so if you don’t have an LJ account, fret not!), and a tackling of the FAQs. Surprisingly (or, y’know, not), the most common question is:
So will you be doing this again?
Um, yes. Yes I will. :) The next campaign will be the ElectriCity graphic novel, in fact, and you ought to start seeing some serious squee coming down the line about that in about a month. Because OMG. *OMG*, it’s going to be cool.
Will I eventually be able to buy “No Dominion” even if I didn’t get to participate in the Kickstarter campaign?
Yes. At some point it’ll be made available through Some Other Means. I don’t currently know what those means are, but will keep you posted.
Does this mean you might Kickstart the next book in The Inheritors’ Cycle (THE QUEEN’S BASTARD books)?
…I might. I really don’t know. The idea has obviously crossed my mind, but it’s also already been a loooong time since I wrote those books, so perhaps they’ve cooled off. Also, the price point for a novel would be a lot higher, and the number of copies of THE PRETENDER’S CROWN that sold (about 5,000) do not necessarily convince me that I have access to the right readers to make that particular project work. It’s a lovely idea, but I don’t think it’s reality-based.
How about “Take A Chance”? Is there any chance you might go back and do more of that comic?
Yes. Yes there is. A lot of things have to shake out first, and it’s not going to be a this-year (or possibly even next year) project, but it’s on the really short list of things I’m thinking about doing.
Oooh! What about the Strongbox Chronicles? Could you crowdfund some of those?
I could. I might even love to. There are literally *dozens* of Cate Dermody books I could potentially crowdfund, and the Strongbox Chronicles were huge fun to write. But it makes me utterly crazy that the first books are essentially lying fallow, and I don’t want to do anything with the rest of them until I have a definitive idea of the first 3’s eventual fate.
Okay, and what about HEAVEN CAN WAIT, that YA book you’re writing the first 3 chapters of as part of the “No Dominion” awards?
Do not tempt me. That way lies madness.
Or maybe your climate change trilogy?
Or perhaps Something Mysterious that is very close to your heart and has been on a back burner for (dear god) twelve or thirteen years now that we don’t actually know about?
Here’s the thing that’s really striking me about crowdfunding: it opens up the possibility of simply working on whatever I want to next, rather than necessarily working on something I’m absolutely certain is commercially viable.
I mean, don’t get me wrong: I will continue to publish traditionally and will be very happy to launch the projects I’ve got on proposal as commercial, traditional works. But for the side jobs, the things I just really want to do and don’t know if I can sell straight off? The idea of being able to see if I can get support to go ahead and do them is mind-blowing and wonderfully freeing.
Now, whether it’s actually *possible* remains to be seen. “No Dominion” was preposterously successful, but it was the Walker Papers universe, and it was Gary, who is possibly the most beloved character in that universe. (Seriously, my mother threatened to never speak to me again if I ever did anything really bad to Gary.) I have no idea if a new project would meet with such enthusiasm. Obviously it would be nice to *think* so, but I can’t really know without running it up the flagpole.
Still, the idea is pretty compelling, and it’ll be very interesting over the next few years to see how it all plays out. There are things I can’t or won’t do out of concern for pissing off my traditional publishers, but for projects that seem more of a long shot or which are more collaborative, like graphic novels, this is really a hugely exciting time to be a creator.
And to wrap this all up: thank you, everybody, for your patience with this series of blog posts, for your questions and comments, and for your astonishing support.