Return Home

Why I’m Releasing My New Novel Online (for Free!)

Thursday, March 28th, 2019 | Posted by John R. Fultz

A Few Odd Souls Fultz-smallWhat do you do when you’ve written a novel that’s so weird and unclassifiable that it doesn’t seem to “fit” anywhere? Well, you can throw it in the fireplace and watch it burn along with all your hopes and dreams. Or you can self-publish.

Self-publishing doesn’t have the stigma it used to have. There are plenty of self-publishers who sell thousands of books–many of them in e-book only format. Apparently there is a set of skills and procedures that can lead to self-publishing e-book success. However, self-publishing traditionally in either paper or digital format involves far more marketing and “business” work than simply turning over your latest manuscript to a publisher. As a writer, I’m interested in telling stories. I don’t care much for the other aspects of self-publishing: marketing, management, promotion, etc. I’m in this game to WRITE, not to market, promote, or run a business.

I want to write good books/stories and find readers who might enjoy them. So I thought: Outside of a traditional publisher, and without jumping through the hoops of e-publishing, what is the quickest, easiest, and least painful way to get my new novel to readers across the globe? I pondered this question for many months. Then I heard about a guy named Andy Weir.

MartianWeir wrote a novel of hard science-fiction entitled The Martian. After being rejected by literary agents and publishers, he decided to release his book online, one chapter at a time, for free reading at his website. Cut to a few years later and the book garnered so much attention it not only got traditionally published, but ended up on the NYT Best Seller’s List four weeks in a row. After that, The Martian became a hit movie, and Andy Weir became famous.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the connection or the inspiration. I don’t expect to get the results that Weir got, but I’m grateful to him for showing that it is possible to establish a direct connection between a novel and the readers–without the involvement of Big Business Publishing or navigating the labyrinth of self-publishing as it exists today. Like Alexander cutting the Gordian Knot in half, Weir reached through the red tape and touched his audience with a story that thrilled, amazed, and entertained them. In doing so, he found a route to the top of his field. So here I am with the best novel I’ve ever written (technically it’s my fifth novel, if you’re counting), and wondering what in the world I’m going to do with this beautifully weird baby that nobody seems to want. Every baby needs love, and every novel needs readers.

Therefore, I’m releasing A FEW ODD SOULS on my website, one new chapter per week for 22 weeks.

I’m also illustrating it. Each chapter is accompanied by an original illustration inspired by that chapter. Flexing my artistic roots and getting back to my love of pen-and-ink illustration. A FEW ODD SOULS blends together several different genres including fantasy, weird, horror, sci-fi, sword-and-sorcery, post-apocalypse, time travel, and alternate world fiction. It’s a strange beast, but overall it’s what I call a Weird Fantasy Epic. When Andy Weir put his book online, he wasn’t expecting to make money from it. I earn a living from my day job (I’m a high school teacher with 14 years experience). Any money I make from writing is “bonus” money. All of which is a fancy way of saying that I’m not in this for the money. I’m in it to tell great stories, and to reach as many people as possible with them.

Chapter 1 (now available) introduces SVETLANA, one of the book’s three main characters. Chapter 2 features INSPECTOR CRAG, while Chapter 3 introduces HARMONA. The viewpoints of these three central characters will alternate from chapter to chapter, until they converge at some point down the road.

Click on over. Have I got a story for you…


  1. Sounds intriguing; think I’ll give it a look. Don’t worry, I won’t expect it to be The Martian!

    Comment by Brian Kunde - March 28, 2019 4:13 pm

  2. Ha! Oh, it’s definitely NOT hard sci-fi.

    It’s a weird thang.

    Thanks for reading, Brian!

    Comment by John R. Fultz - March 28, 2019 4:21 pm

  3. Take a look at wattpad, inkspired and other platforms like that as a way to extend your reach. Also, since you also illustrate, maybe making some banners and trying to buy some banner space on Uncanny or Clarksworld or some other semi-pro zine. They aren’t very expensive. It is promotion, but since you would also be supporting a worthwhile project, I think it is easier to justify over the labyrinth of the current self publishing scene. Anyway, best of luck to you.

    Comment by shadowphoenixpt - March 28, 2019 5:36 pm

  4. Thanks, shadowphoenix! I really don’t feel like I need any of those platforms you mentioned–they’re unlikely to bring me any more readers than posting on my own website. Also, I’ve got a day job teaching AND other writing projects to work on, so I’m not planning on doing any advertisements–I’d have to pay for those, and I’m trying to leave money OUT of this equation. (Unless someone wants to deliver a large check to me–I wouldn’t say no to that.) :)

    Comment by John R. Fultz - March 28, 2019 5:43 pm

  5. Best of luck! It sounds like a fun book.

    I’d be leery of Wattpad and sites like it, at least for now. When that industrialized plagiarism scandal broken few weeks ago, one of the things that came up a lot was that the person running the operation had her minions from Fiverr scraping whole chapters from different authors’ sample chapters on Wattpad.

    Comment by Sarah Avery - March 28, 2019 8:02 pm

  6. Thanks, Sarah! Luckily, I have no interest in any of those platforms. I have my own website, so why not use it? (I mean for something other than posting blog entries once every few months.)

    Comment by John R. Fultz - March 28, 2019 11:01 pm

  7. will definitely read it!

    Comment by jerrine - March 29, 2019 7:48 am

  8. I wish you the best in this, John. You were one of my favorite Black Gate authors. You’re very talented in your craft, and I hope you draw many more fans.

    Comment by Matthew Wuertz - March 29, 2019 6:21 pm

  9. Aww, thanks Matt! You’re too kind. :)

    Comment by John R. Fultz - March 29, 2019 8:31 pm

  10. UPDATE: I’ve actually been posting about two chapters a week–going faster than I originally planned. Two a week seems about right. Tomorrow I’ll be posting Chapter 11, which marks the mid-point of the story with 11 more chapters to go. The artwork for Chapter 14 will be extra-special: Legendary BATMAN artist Kelley Jones is inking my pencils for that one.

    A FEW ODD SOULS — in yer face like butter.

    Comment by John R. Fultz - May 4, 2019 12:49 am

  11. Just a gesture: Here is one of my own freebies.

    Comment by AMP1972 - May 23, 2019 2:50 am

Comments RSS  |  TrackBack URI


Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Black Gate Home
This site © 2020 by New Epoch Press. All rights reserved.