Treeskull Stories, done in time for Halloween

It’s done. Amazon currently list the paperback and Kindle versions separately but they will merge the listings in a few days.

Other eBook formats are available from Smashwords, and hopefully I’ll figure out how to get through Smashwords’ anthology rules to reach a wider audience. It’s easy with single author books but has become a chore with anthologies like this.

I have to work out how to sell eBooks direct. I can get them converted into all kinds of formats and really the whole thing could be automated so readers can get copies when I’m asleep. Print books, well, I’d have to keep a stock of those and have no idea how well any particular one will sell, so that’s a risk. I can leave that side of things to Amazon.

Right. Couple of days to catch up on sleep and then back to it. There’s lots to do…


Treeskull Stories in press at last

I have gone through the tortuous process of loading the third Underdog Anthology onto Amazon (print and Kindle) and Smashwords (eBook in various formats). It’ll take a day or so to start showing up. Finally I can call this one ‘done’.

There are already six stories in for the Christmas anthology so that’s already a definite. There might or might not be an Easter one next year, it depends on how much interest there is. Easter is a tough subject, much more than Halloween or Christmas. Still, you never know.

I’ll post links as soon as it becomes available. Meanwhile, there’s work to do…

Update – Forgot to mention, the print copies will sell at £4.25. I’ve set fixed prices on the print version to see how well that works out. It’s a good one to try it with because there are no royalties to worry about – if it hits zero or negative profit, nobody else is affected.

The Kindle version is tied to the dollar price so it’ll vary depending on the exchange rates.

Oh, and the full cover looks like this –

Remember, only the print version has interior illustrations.


I’ll have to tease a little longer on ‘Treeskull Stories’. I had a late entry, hours before the deadline but as it was before the deadline I had to deal with it. It’s good, so it’s in. Just waiting for the ‘About the Author’ page for that one and we’re ready to roll. It’s possible that I will have author copies in the authors’ hands in time for Halloween this year. This one topped 130 pages, not too shabby and should be cheap.

Here’s the contents list (now finalised) –


Lee Bidgood
Cobalt Blue

Stephen W. Duffy
All Change

Mark Ellott
Tout Passé, Tout Cassé, Tout Lassé
Ghost Riders
The Eagle

Roo B. Doo
Trick or Treat

Justin Sunshine
Casual Labour

H. K. Hillman
Bernie’s Bargain
The Macbeth Trio
Oak and Holly


As I’ve said, the interior illustrations will only be in the print book. The eBook will, as usual, contain the back cover from the print book but the illustrations really only work as facing-page images at the start of each story. Also, it’s a pain in the arse trying to get all e-readers to accept them.

The Christmas anthology is building up, I’m going to take a few days off dead once the Halloween one is in but then it’s back to full speed. I’m accepting stories for that one now.

Meanwhile, I have a 100,000 word novel to go through and some fast ones. An abridged Cultish from Hugo Stone, a French book of stories from Dirk Vleugels and a collection of all the Morning Cloud stories from Mark Ellott – including the new Christmas one. All of these are pretty much completed and just need formatting. ‘Jessica’s Trap’ and ‘Samuel’s Girl’ only need new covers and they can go out too. I’ll mesh this with novel editing so there should be a raft of books coming out in time for Christmas.

There has been a real blast of spam on the blog of late. None of it gets through, but where I usually have around 3 or 4 spam messages a day, today I’ve had over 100. All on one post. ‘Why Big Food Will Lose‘.

I don’t see why that post in particular is one someone would want shut down. The spam isn’t even about food. Most of it is blocks of meaningless drivel or adverts for Viagra. Nothing to do with the subject matter.

Meh. The spam filter is doing its job. I’ll check before deleting to make sure no innocent bystanders get caught by the Spaminator while it’s in its current killing frenzy. Still, I do wonder – why that post? I thought it was pretty unremarkable.

Then again, maybe I’m assuming too much intelligence in that spammer’s head. Maybe they just spam at random.

24 hours to go…

I have now formatted the print and Kindle versions of Treeskull Stories, the third Underdog Anthology, but there is still time for a last minute addition. 24 hours of time. I don’t mind delaying publication by a day or so to include another story but no more than that. If there’s nothing to add, I’ll start uploading just after midnight tomorrow night.

All author contracts are signed, all formalities complete. If you sent in something and have not heard from me then it’s gone missing somewhere. Let me know if that’s happened!

There are interior illustrations in the print version but not in the eBook versions. There’s a simple reason for this – interior pictures are incredibly awkward to get to display properly on all the different sized screens out there so I’m not doing it. Besides, those who buy the print book pay more for it, so there should be a perk, I feel.

I’ll put it on Smashwords and try getting through their new and bizarre rules on anthologies. Sooner or later I’m bound to work out exactly what they want.

24 hours to crunch time. Roobeedoo did suggest it would be appropriate to publish a Halloween anthology on Friday 13th but considering the chaos I had with the Easter one, I’m not chancing that! Besides, I set a deadline of midnight GMT on the 14th and I’m obliged to stick to that.

In the meantime I’m working on expanding my collection of empty whisky bottles with a new one. Glenallachie, a Speyside single malt from Aberlour, Scotland. Might be part of the Aberlour stable of whiskies or might be a separate distillery, I don’t yet know for sure. It’s very nice although on the pricey side (not the ‘aarrgh!’ level of pricing, but the ‘think about it a bit’ level) so I probably won’t get it very often. It’s good to try out new whiskies though.

Any stories that miss out on this one, if you can give it a Christmas slant, that anthology will close on December 1st. I’ll need extra time to deal with the Christmas chaos.

In between, there are other books to deal with.

Here’s another of the interior images, a clue to the story. I’ll post one more before publication of the book.

{update} Done. One late entry just before the deadline but it’s already edited and inserted. The book will get uploaded tomorrow (Sunday) and as long as there are no issues it will be available well before Halloween.

Four days

I have assembled the Treeskull Stories into its earliest stage and sent it to the authors so they can check their parts of it. It does mean all authors get to see the whole (so far) book but they all get a copy or more anyway and since I can’t yet pay much, any perks are always a bonus. So far it’s weighing in at roughly 120 pages depending on how the formatting pans out and whether any more stories arrive.

I have to close this one on the 14th October. It has to be ready to be ordered and arrive in time for Halloween. After Halloween, people won’t be so interested and will be looking for Christmas books. I think we should have a Christmas book. It might not be quite what they expect.

I tried to do one last year but ran out of time and didn’t have enough stories unless I filled it with mine. That would have made it a ‘H. K. Hillman with supporting features’ book. I’m not interested in that. It’s not what Leg Iron Books is about.

This year the Christmas anthology is looking much better and I’ll be ready to start taking more stories for it on the 14th October. It will close on the 1st December because the Christmas period is chaotic and it will need to be ready early.

So if you have a Halloween story, it has to get to me by midnight on the 14th or I can’t do it. I need a couple of days to edit it and find/make an illustration for it and then fit it into the contents. I also have to set up the internal links for the eBook, which isn’t hard, but takes time.

The Treeskull Stories have already passed my 100 page limit for being worth the work of publishing. It’s a definite go. There is room for more, if you have one.

But please don’t send it at five to midnight on the 14th because a load of other people might do the same. Then I’d have to go with whoever gets there first.

Christmas stories for the next one, the deadline is midnight on December 1st.

That’s GMT for all times, by the way.



Halloween update

Okay, so far, here is the contents list for the next anthology. I have to close submissions on the 14th (midnight, GMT) so there’s a little time left. This time I am determined to have an illustration for each story, so after midnight on the 14th I really can’t take anything new. There were delays outside my control on the Hollow Bunnies book that meant the book didn’t show in time for Easter. This time I’m going in early.

The contents so far –

Lee Bidgood – Cobalt Blue

Roo B Doo – Trick or Treat
– Afterword

Stephen Duffy – All Change

Mark Ellot – Tout Passé
– Ghost Riders (A Morning Cloud story)
– The Eagle

H. K. Hillman – Oak and Holly
– The Macbeth Trio
– Bernie’s Bargain

I’ll also have to write a short foreword.

There is still time for a few more if you want to get in. The illustrations are a combination of heavily Photoshopped photos and hand drawn ones and combinations of the two. Mark Ellott has provided his own, and that helps a lot with my workload (hint to those who plan to send a story at five to midnight on the 14th).

Interior images have to be monochrome. A single colour image will put the book into silly prices. As always, the anthology will be priced for absolute minimum profit because they are more advertising vehicles for Leg Iron Books than anything else.

Here’s a sample image, the one for ‘All Change’ –

Yes, it’s a ghost train variant. A new twist  🙂

I will need an ‘About the Author’ page from all authors. Those who are repeat offenders, I can just re-use the ones from the previous books unless you want them updated. The author page is yours, you can say what you like there within the bounds of legality and promoting your other work is absolutely encouraged.

Authors can elect to be paid in cash (£10 per story) or in books. I will price this as low as possible, I aim for no more than £5 per print book and the absolute minimum on eBook. I can send authors an eBook in any format they want for free and spreading that around is allowed. It’s not piracy, it’s advertising. If you can get a review then that’s even better.

One thing I have to take into consideration is the Smashwords rule that all the author names have to be on the cover. That means the Smashwords eBook cover will be plastered with names and will look untidy but it’s their rule, so I have no choice.

This one is a definite ‘go’. There will also be a Christmas anthology, the rule there is simple. It has to be based at Christmas. Any genre as long as it’s Christmas. Anything from the whimsical to the horrific. It can be Christian or Saturnalia or ghost story or science fiction or whatever takes your fancy. The only rule is that it has to be at Christmas.

And it has to be good. That’s never been a problem so far.

Working, boss. Working here.

Underdog Anthology Three (Halloween 2017) is taking shape and now has a Morning Cloud story from Longrider to add to the list. I am working on a story based on the cover image – which looks like this at the moment. It could change, but probably not by much.

There will be a bit trimmed off around the edges for the print book. I already have an idea for the back which will give me a canvas for some text.

I still plan to have a monochrome illustration for each story. I’ll deal with those – unless any authors have a particular image they want to use. It has to be monochrome and you have to have copyright. No internet pictures, nothing that will get you sued.

The cover picture is of a little bit of decoration in my garden. It was there when I arrived and I’ve left it alone because, well, I like it. I took new photos today. It looks better now the tree has regrown a bit.

There might be a change in the Leg Iron Books pricing structure, especially for eBooks. Currently all prices are fixed to US dollars which means that they change in every other currency, depending on that currency’s status against the dollar. Smashwords don’t allow fixed pricing in each country but Amazon do allow it.

The trouble is, if the Smashwords (or any of their retailers) price drops below the Amazon price, Amazon will get all shirty and might pull the books from their site. So I couldn’t use fixed pricing on Amazon unless I could also do it on Smashwords.

However, Smashwords are working on allowing fixed pricing by currency. That will mean I can set prices (for eBooks at least) that don’t fluctuate with the currency exchange rate.

I’m going to have to be very careful with this. I don’t want to have a book go into ‘negative royalty’ territory which would mean I’d have to pay Amazon to sell it! I will investigate this new system and see if negative royalties is a possibility. If it looks safe, the book prices won’t wobble around as they do now.

I am determined that every book sold makes a profit, however miniscule, and every sale generates a royalty for the author. No creative accounting here, I’m not that good with money. I keep my accounts very simple indeed.

The Smashwords version of that cover will have to have all the author names on it. It will look a mess but they insist. I still haven’t got the Easter anthology through their tortuous system but this time, I am forewarned. Authors get paid anyhow, these anthologies pay a flat rate for one use of the story and breaking even on that is entirely my problem. One day…

I have three weeks to finalise this one so if you have a story still to go in, get writing. If you miss this one I’ll be doing a Christmas anthology, number four, and that won’t have to be scary stories. Just Christmas themed.

It already has four authors in it and I have plenty of old Christmas tales I can recycle – including a few that aren’t in my own anthologies.

Of course, mine aren’t all that cheerful.