Going Digital with The Crow God’s Girl

Going Digital with The Crow God’s Girl

gordath-woodEditor’s Note: Patrice Sarath is offering a copy of The Crow God’s Girl to a lucky Black Gate reader — just post a comment for a chance to win either an electronic copy or a paperback.

Thanks to John O’Neill and the Black Gate team for letting me share some of my experiences in publishing.

In 2007 I sold my first two novels to Ace Fantasy. I was ecstatic. This was a dream realized. I had doggedly achieved publication after years of writing, submitting, shrugging off the rejections, and celebrating the acceptances.

I cried tears of joy when I held Gordath Wood in my hands. It was awesome. The awesome lasted all that year and the next. I had a very quick turnaround for Red Gold Bridge, but I made that deadline because I was a professional writer.

And then…

That was 2009. It was the height of the recession. No one was buying books, least of all the sophomore effort of a new writer.

And so, after the results were in, Ace turned down the third book in the series, The Crow God’s Girl.

The good news after that, and I won’t pretend it wasn’t a crushing blow, was that publishing had changed. No longer was an orphaned book destined to stay that way. Established writers were selling respectably in e-book form, and I knew there were fans of the series out there who wanted to know what happened next.

So I turned to self publishing.

There were a couple of things I wanted. I wanted this book to have the same look and feel of the other two, so I hired the original artist to create the new cover.

red-gold-bridgeI didn’t want to completely replicate the cover design, but my designer created a cover that was reminiscent of the first two books in the series without slavishly copying it.

The Crow God’s Girl isn’t just a sequel in the Gordath Wood cycle. It’s a standalone novel that can be read first without having to read the other books. The cover helps establish that relationship.

I also wanted a paperback edition. E-readers have changed the landscape of publishing, but there are many readers, such as myself, who still want physical books.

I own a Kindle, but now I enjoy buying books for my bookshelves, the books I know are going to be keepers. So I went with Lulu to self-publish the POD edition.

I would say that if I do this again, I will likely turn to a different POD publisher. Lulu is the most straightforward of the publishers but it’s also very rigid, and I’m not sure that it was the best choice. (For instance, I had no choice in paper weight, which made the book more expensive to print, which was irksome to say the least).

With self-publishing, the author has all the control and all the responsibility. For instance, I did my own proofreading and copy editing. As a professional writer even in my day job, I felt competent at that, but even after the first run-through and first proof copy, there were still errors that had to be fixed.

The next time around, I may hire an eagle-eye proofreader. If you have ever wondered why a book is priced the way it is, believe me, it’s quality control.


I liked having that control, but again, I do this for a living. I had to treat myself like a client, and fact check and edit the way a copy editor would. If you have a laissez faire attitude toward grammar and punctuation or matters of continuity and consistency, hire that part out.

I also really liked having cover input, but I’ve been so fortunate. I’ve never had a bad cover for any of my books. I have heard the horror stories (and seen some really unfortunate covers) but I’ve never had to deal with that.

Still, it was really nice working with the very fine Aleta Rafton and providing editorial input into this gorgeous cover.

I’m at the beginning of this process. The Crow God’s Girl is just becoming available to readers, and the true test is to come. In the meantime, I’m working on other projects because I still think that traditional publishing is the best way for readers to find quality work. Until there becomes an easier way to find self-published gems among a lot of shoddy work, publishers and editors are our best gatekeepers.

Thanks for listening, and comment below for a chance to win a copy of The Crow God’s Girl, either electronic or paperback, your choice. I’ll pick a winner at random from the comments.

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Very thought provoking post. Your thoughts on why you chose to self publish are interesting. And I agree with your sentiments that traditional publishing is still the way to go. But, I wonder what mechanisms can be utilized to act as gatekeepers, however.

Barbara Barrett

I’m finding these Black Gate book reviews to be a great source as well as the handouts from my library and book stores. I can’t afford to buy everything of interest that I see but I at least have access to a large majority of them. “Crow God’s Girl” wasn’t listed in my library’s catalog but they are buying copies and will let me know when I can pick up a copy at my local branch. I’m looking forward to reading it. But, even better, it will also be in the library system for others to read and the word will spread….


A lot of my reading choices come from reviewers that I know have similar interests to my own. From there I read the back cover blurbs. I know what type of fantasy I like and I dont drift to far from that sub genre. Every now and then I find a cover I really like and I take a chance on that.

Sarah Avery

John O’Neill and his crew at the Black Gate blog are pretty good gatekeepers, too. I’ve bought a lot of books based on buzz here, some of them books I’d never seen mentioned anywhere else.

If I were looking to self-publish and needed someone to help with editing, formatting, and design, I’d go to Type Set Inc. (http://typesetinc.wordpress.com/). Selena Green, one of the founders, was a paragon of professionalism when she took on operations of Drollerie Press after the publisher had a health crisis. When it became clear the publisher was not going to recover and the press would fold, Selena brought the whole business, and all of its authors, in for a soft landing. I would absolutely work with her again.

Good luck with the book launch!

Allen Snyder

I already bought all your books, including “The Crow God’s Girl”, when John posted about them a week ago or so. However, I bought the eBook edition–Amazon doesn’t seem to have the paperback–so if I do win, send me the paperback. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I used to be a professional proofreader. I was the proofreader on all the issues of the magazines “Cryptologia” and “Collegiate Microcomputer” from around 1984 to mid-1987. Can’t do it full-time, but one or two books would be easy, and since I already have a full-time, computer scientist salary, I could come cheap. ๐Ÿ˜‰ (And while, in my personal writing, I use the more logical and British method of putting a comma or period after a closing quote, as seen in my first paragraph, when proofing for the American market I’m fully capable of using the much less elegant American style.)


Sarath –

I found your anecdotes interesting as I find all adventures in self-publishing/fanzine type stuff interesting.

‘Self-publishing’, in some form or another has deep roots in F/SF/H.

As there isn’t always a ‘mainstream’ market for whatever a writer or writers want to do, going back to CAS, HPL, + REH.

I find it odd that so many shun or look down even upon self-publishing, I mean several ‘important’ writers of Weird stuff ( that’s my catchall for F/SF/H/+ ) arguably did some of their best work in fanzines which are ( barely )glorified self-pub-mags.

Any ways I come to Black Gate ’cause they pretty much love everything Weird here.

Find another site that will cover Robert E. Howard + Disney Princesses?

You can’t. BG is almost broadminded to a fault.

It’s the site of a Sword + Sorcery mag I suppose, but it gives clues as to some a lot stuff that could be decent or better but is out of the F/Sf/H-mainstream.

I hit up Locus Online and SF site (which I think may be our middle ground ) for more ‘mainstream’ leads on whats going on, what to buy etc.

I know a lot of people IRL whom are either readers or sympathetic to my reading ‘Weird Shit’ + they find leads for me too.

I also like this blog called Other Fantasy Blog/OFBlog.

Dude at OFBlog is well read though it’s mostly ‘true-mainstream’, lit with a majuscular ( ‘we’ don’t say ‘capital’, here this IS Literature! ) L man.

Still I read ‘true-mainstream-capital-L-lit’ myself so it’s useful if not just for it’s far offbeat sensibilities.

Like the fixation on South + Central American works even of non-fiction that are yet be translated into English.

Any ways I’m a ‘believer’ in people doing whatever the hell they want however the hell they want to.

Self-pub? Cool.

Traditional-pub? Cool.

Whatever gets you through the night.

Just get there.


Sounds interesting. I will have to look for the series. Thanks!

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