The Martian, Rejection, and Finding Your Reader

This is a good assessment of why these days you can succeed in publishing if you can connect with readers who will love your book, even if traditional publishing tells you it won’t sell. At a smaller scale, I guess I’m proving that with my Human Legion books. A few years ago they would have been rejected by all the top publishers because ‘no one reads military sf any more’. Year-to-date I’ve sold 66,000 — hardly Andy Weir territory, but enough to live off 🙂

Annie Cardi

Recently I read The Martian. It’s been the big buzz book over the last year or two, with a new movie out. Usually I don’t dive into a lot of the best-seller adult list, but I decided to give it a try after getting recommendations from friends in the sciences who enjoyed it. Psyched by the idea of a sci-fi novel that was heavy on the sci, I requested a copy from the library and (about four months later; thanks, Matt Damon), I read it.

It was fun and exciting. Mark Watney was a clever protagonist with a good sense of humor, and the rest of the astronaut team felt real. The science was well explained to the reader and seemed feasible, like manned missions to Mars could actually happen in my lifetime. The dynamics between NASA and the media and international governments felt genuine. Reading it, I could totally imagine this as a…

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The latest science fiction bestseller charts

The Human Legion

Here’s my latest trawl through the science fiction top 20 bestseller and bestselling author charts on The point of these posts is twofold. Firstly it’s an opportunity to celebrate what’s hot right now in science fiction in books (and beyond), and secondly it also gives me a few minutes to rest my brain from my day job of writing my own science fiction books. My last trawl through the charts was here, and a long-winded mission statement here. Data was captured on 24th October 2015, but I’ve been looking in on the charts most days since my last post.

Authors who caught my eye this time include Douglas E. Richards, S. Harrison, Joshua V. Scher, Rysa Walker, Tim C. Taylor and Joshua Dalzelle. Spontaneous celebrations erupted throughout the world this week as people called Joshua welcomed the news that two authors of that name are currently in the…

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This week’s science fiction bestseller charts

My most recent trawl through the science fiction bestseller charts.

The Human Legion

Here’s my latest trawl through the science fiction top 20 bestseller and bestselling author charts on The point of these posts is twofold: it’s an opportunity to celebrate what’s hot right now in science fiction in books and beyond, and I write it in chunks to give me a few minutes at a time to rest my brain from my day job of writing my own science fiction books (and with a book launch later this week, I need that occasional break). My last trawl through the charts was here, and a long-winded mission statement here.

Authors who caught my eye this time include Andy Weir, Margaret Atwood, and Kameron Hurley. Chart positions were captured on 2nd October 2015.

Top of the bestselling books was The Martian and the bestselling author was Andy Weir. No surprise there. With the movie version of his book appearing in theaters…

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What’s really hot in science fiction: part 2

Dalek sand cats. Taken from last week. If I get a chance, I’ll do some more chart rundowns this afternoon. I’ve got a book to release, though!

The Human Legion

Welcome back to an occasional series of posts on what’s hot in science fiction, concentrating on Amazon’s science fiction bestseller charts. For a discussion of what I’m up to, and why I want to move away from bullying and arrogance and onto celebrating success, see part one.

Defending the beaches against the sandy alien horde. Defending the beaches against the sandy alien horde (that looking nothing at all like cats!).

Let’s start with the top-20 bestselling science fiction books on I scraped the data last week (I had a busy weekend building sand daleks on the beach which is why I’m posting a few days later), so if you follow the link, you will get a slightly different picture. I’m escalating a request to Amazon for permission to replicate their chart data, but for now you’ll have to click the link.

The book bestseller chart shows a view of recent unit sales for paperbacks, hardbacks, eBooks…

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What’s really hot in science fiction: part 1

My manifesto for touring through the science fiction bestseller charts. Taken from my Human Legion website.

The Human Legion

Science fiction is flourishing!

Adult SF book sales are up sharply. The past few years have witnessed an explosion of vibrant new literary talent. I believe that more science fiction authors are earning enough to support themselves and their families as a full-time writer than at any time in history. No wonder the scene is so healthy. Although I hear some traditionally published mid-list authors telling of their pain at falling sales right now, overall there’s never been a better time to be a science fiction author, or reader.

But, wait! I’m only talking about books, and that’s such a small part of the SF scene these days. If we look beyond books we can see the huge popularity of science fiction in video games, comics, tabletop miniatures, cosplay, LARP, board games, TV shows, movies, and audio dramas.

Here in the UK we saw a gaming convention last weekend (video…

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Imagine a mashup between superheroes, aliens, robots and zombies…

SARZ1Imagine no longer! This week saw the launch of the ultimate mashup novel series, the SARZVerse series by author Mark Boss. I came across Mark last year when I picked up his 5-star gangster novel One Bullet, and have been in touch with him since then. A few months ago I was proud to beta read this new Superheroes Aliens Robots Zombies series. If the idea of the ultimate mashup gets you slavering in anticipation, then while you’re waiting for the next book in the Human Legion series (nearly done…) I recommend you try Mark’s trilogy of short novels. Mark won’t let you down.

They’re all out now for a bargain launch price (free if you’re on Kindle Unlimited) and you can find the first one on here and here

Lots of news about my own projects to follow soon…

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Who is Ian Whates?

The Human Legion

My co-writer, Ian Whates, is going to be vital to the conclusion of the Human Legion series. I’m sure fans will be curious to learn more about him, so I’ve interviewed him to reveal his darkest secrets. At the bottom are some links to his most recent novel which is Deal of the Day on Amazon.

Now read on…

Mr. Whates can often be spotted at science fiction conventions. Mr. Whates can often be spotted at science fiction conventions.

TIM: So, Ian, I’m trying to think how long we’ve known each other. About 2008, I think. Even before we’d met in the flesh, we’d unknowingly encountered each other as aspiring SF writers because we were both getting published in the same SF magazines. In fact, it was a magazine that brought us together. I used to subscribe to Interzone, which is the premier British magazine for short SF fiction. Within Interzone’s pages I enjoyed the stories of an author…

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Dying in the service of the Human Legion

Guess some of these titles are going to need altering...I’m quiet because I’ve been busy! I’m over 60,000 words into the fourth book of my new series, The Human Legion. I’m writing this with my new partner, Ian Whates, and that’s going very well indeed.

Just passed 55,000 sales of the series so far in 2015, which is encouraging.

Unfortunately, not everyone has made it this far. Today I wrote the death scene for a favourite old character. I don’t enjoy doing this half as much as some fans seem to think. However, this is military science fiction. To my mind, if you write about the military at war and no one you care about ever gets hurt, then that’s insulting to the real men and women who put themselves in harm’s way on our behalf.

For more on the Human Legion, head over to

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Author United’s letter to the Department of Justice

There’s been a big fuss in the small world of publishing news recently because a letter has been written by somebody called Douglas Preston, and signed by some very important people who wish to return the publishing industry to the good old days when it was largely controlled by six big corporations (or maybe five now that Penguin and Random House have merged). It’s a big deal for me because this letter represents a direct threat to my livelihood. The text is long and boring and with lots of details that won’t make sense to publishing outsiders (or insiders for that matter). So I’ve taken the liberty of cutting out 99% of the words and rewriting it in metaphor. The essence of this very important letter remains unchanged. Indeed, I think it shines with more clarity in my version than in the original.


Dear Department of Justice,

Every year exploitative meat producers throughout North America and Europe force consumers to purchase turkey meat for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The resulting damage to the producers of other meats, and vegetarian alternatives, is devastating, a clear abuse of monopoly power, and incompatible with America ideals of liberty, free speech, and the unfettered flow of foodstuffs. We urge you to stamp out this abuse by investigating the market-abusing suppliers of turkey products, and declaring Thanksgiving and Christmas illegal.


Turkeys United


For a less metaphorical treatment of this self-serving attack by Turkeys United on book consumers, see this in-depth article by JA Konrath.

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LaveCon 2015 report

A report of my recent convention panel duties. My son was impressed when he saw his dad on the YouTube link. Well, I say impressed. What he actually said was: “you don’t look as embarrassing as I thought you would.” In other news, I passed 54,000 sales of the Human Legion books tonight. Not bad for the first seven months.

The Human Legion

Downton Abbey.

In the past few years, whenever I make new friends in America, and they realize that I’m English, they will often say: ‘Hey, I love Downton Abbey.’.  Of course, we all realize the world of Downton Abbey faded away long before I was born, but you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise if you had seen me last Saturday morning as I drove in my open top roadster through rolling green countryside, under perfect blue skies, on my way to… a country mansion: Sedgebrook Hall.

The country mansions of the upper classes that used to be dotted throughout England still exist, except they’re now mostly training centers and hotels. Last weekend, Sedgebrook Hall was home to one wedding party, perfectly manicured grounds filled with rabbits, and nearly two hundred sci fi nerds.

This was Lavecon 2015.

I’ve been to literary-themed science fiction conventions before, but this was different. Lavecon…

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