Simon Haynes's Blog

August 10, 2014

Talk about being so busy you neglect the important things ... such as forgetting to tell everyone that Hal Spacejock 7: Big Bang is available in print and ebook on Amazon, Kobo, B&N, Smashwords, etc.

The first two books in the Hal Spacejock series are also available in german translation (Bastei Lubbe, print & paperback, Amazon and other retailers) - The first one is called Ein Robeter Namens Klunk, and the second is Helden Heulen Nicht.

The first Hal Junior book is also available in italian - Amazon and Kobo, ebook only at the moment but the paperback is on the way as well.
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Published on August 10, 2014 07:48 • 7 views

June 25, 2013

I'm writing and releasing Hal Spacejock 7 in ten installments of roughly 7000 words (4 chapters) each.

Parts 1-5 (the first half of the book) are already available on Amazon and Kobo.

When part ten is published I'll release the entire thing as a single novel, as per Hal Spacejock books 1-6.

There are several reasons why I'm writing and releasing Hal 7 in parts, but these are the major ones:

1. Something new for the fans every week or so, not every year or so.
2. It's really keeping me on my toes, and I'm enjoying the challenge.
3. I find it much easier to focus on writing, editing and releasing each part - far easier than trying to prepare an entire novel.
4. No plotting! I'm just working 3-4 chapters ahead, instead of knowing every little detail in advance. That gives my characters freedom to make different choices when the moment arises, and then I type like crazy to keep up with them.

Anyway, half a novel in 3-4 weeks proves it's working, and the feedback so far has been great. As for productivity, I'd be more than happy to release 3 Hal novels, 1 Harriet Walsh novel and a Hal Junior novel every year ...
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Published on June 25, 2013 06:51 • 80 views

June 2, 2013

It's been a while, but I've been spending my time writing novels instead of blog posts. Since the last update I've released Hal Junior 3: The Gyris Mission, and now Hal Spacejock 6: Safe Art.

Full details on the Hal Spacejock website: http://www.spacejock.com.au/Hal6.html


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Published on June 02, 2013 05:15 • 46 views

July 29, 2012

LoNoWriMo is local novel writing month, and this is my second in a row. LoNoWriMo is where you sit down at your computer and write a novel in a month, without the fanfare and public suffering of NanoWrimo.

To sign up for LoNoWriMo, just open your word processor and start typing.

Last month I wrote a 30,000 word middle-grade novel which I'm currently editing into shape. This month I'm writing Hal Spacejock 6. My target is around 65,000 words over July and August, and last night I cracked 45,000. The draft is going well, and it shouldn't need much editing to get it into shape. (Famous last words.)

Sales of my Hal Spacejock ebooks really took off in July, partly due to the release of the fifth novel in the series, and partly due to lots of people buying the books. Heh.

Hal Junior has been quiet on the ebook front for the past 7 or 8 months, but in July sales are about ten times average. I dropped the price of Hal Junior 1 and 2 to 99 cents for a while, to increase visibility. When Hal Junior 3 comes out, I'll set the first book to free and price the other two at 2.99 or 3.99 each.

Some people have asked me whether it's still worth bothering to publish paperbacks, and my answer is 'it depends'. If you're looking to spend big on jacket art and design, interior layout, etc, then you really have to ask yourself how many copies you're likely to sell. (Right now, the Hal Spacejock ebooks are outselling paperbacks by 100 to 1, but despite that I will always offer printed editions of my work.)  Another strategy is to test the market with an ebook first, and only go to paper when the ebook income justifies it. It still hurts if you have to spend four months royalty on jacket design, though, which is why I said 'it depends'.

So, what's your strategy? Ebook only, ebook and paperback, paperback only or chasing a publishing contract?[image error]
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Published on July 29, 2012 20:43 • 70 views

July 26, 2012

Dean Wesley Smith just posted an article on Fear in publishing. Whether you're writing for a trade publisher, chasing a publishing deal or looking to self-publish your first novel or short story, it's worth reading.[image error]
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Published on July 26, 2012 02:23 • 37 views

July 24, 2012

A couple of months ago I decided to get serious about writing. I'd just finished another day of talks for primary school kids, where I told them you only had to write 250 words per day (less than 10 minutes typing) to complete a 90,000-word first draft every 12 months.

That got me thinking about my own pitiful output over the past 12 years. I completed the first Hal Spacejock book in 2000, and the fourth in 2008. I had plenty of time for writing, and yet I managed just four novels?

Granted, when my series was picked up by a publisher in 2004, I rewrote the first three books. Even so, it's always taken me a year or two per title, and eventually I accepted I was a slow, steady writer.

Then came Hal 5, which took me almost five years to write, with four false starts along the way. I wasn't slow and steady at all, I was just slow. (Let's just ignore the fact I finished NanoWrimo six times. Each of those efforts was another Hal 5 in the making.)

So, after my talk, in which I told everyone else how to write a book a year in ten minutes a day, I thought it was about time I started listening to my own advice. I started with 250 words a day, and quickly upped it to 500. (Hey, two novels a year. Can't beat that!)

After a couple more weeks I upped it to 1000 words per day, and in that mode I started - and finished - the Hal Junior 3 first draft in the month of June. A 31,000-word novel in a month, which only needed a light edit for publication? It was like the curtains had been drawn back.

As we entered July I decided to write 1500 words per day. It was a bit tougher this month, because I was in the middle of a large programming job, I went on a week's holiday with the family in the second week of July, and I also prepared and published two novels and a short story collection in ebook and print editions - including doing all the layouts, jackets, etc.

Despite that, after 24 days my word count sits at 30,370 for the month, which is just under 1300 per day. That's almost eight Hal Spacejock novels per year, or fifteen Hal Juniors. That's not so slow, and could almost be called 'steady'.

In the old days I'd have said sure, but what about the three months of editing for each book? Fortunately, the faster I write the easier it is to keep the plot and characters fresh in my mind, and I've become ruthless about ignoring 'better ideas' and 'yes, buts ...' which involve rewriting half the novel. If it's that clever I'll save it for the next book, or the one after. I'm also writing a shorter length, which means fewer subplots to clutter things up.

So, what prompted the renewed vigour, apart from heeding my own advice? The speed of ebook publishing, that's what.

For two-three years I suspected Hal Spacejock 5 would be released, and it would sell a handful of copies to people who vaguely remembered Hal 4 from 2008. With that gloomy prognosis in mind it was hard to stay motivated. However, as sales of Hal Spacejock 1-4 continued to rise on Amazon and Smashwords, I began to realise Hal 5 might find an audience after all.

And it has - I've no idea whether it will last, but Hal 5 has pulled in $250-$300 a week in royalties since its release. A midlist author with a publishing contract and a $10,000 advance would laugh at that, until they multiplied $250 by 52. And they'd probably cry real tears when they realise I get paid monthly.

"Oh sure," you say. "But Hal 5 has just been released. Sales will drop off."

Actually, no. That's how trade publishing works - you release a title, make a splash, and a couple of months later your book has disappeared from stores. With ebooks, you go the other way. An ebook is released and sales climb as time goes by and the book makes it onto 'also bought' lists.With trade published books if you don't get buzz and instant success on release, you're almost certainly a goner. With ebooks you can take a much longer view, slowly building a career over several releases. It's a bit like bookselling used to be, before mega-chains and computerised box shufflers took over.

Can I prove the sales won't fall? No, but I have data on another of my titles. Hal 2 is outselling 'new release' Hal 5 by 10-20%, and Hal 2 has been out on Kindle for almost 12 months. Sales are still climbing, too, and all my books got a nice boost after the new release. Even if Hal 5 drops back to the sales of Hal 4 (Approx $100/week), by then I should have Hal 6 out and it all starts over again.

Incidentally, one of the reasons I'm no longer trade published? Stores weren't interested in carrying the earlier Hal books. They would have put Hal 5 on their shelves without any of the earlier titles, an insane move driven by accounting rather than smart business sense.

That's why I'm a new writer. I'm this close to being able to support my family and write full time. I can see a future, maybe just one or two years down the track, when I'll be able to sit at my computer and type my silly novels, and I'll know I'm not just chasing an impossible dream.[image error]
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Published on July 24, 2012 20:57 • 31 views

July 23, 2012

Hal Spacejock 6: Safe Art - I've completed 28,000 words in 24 days. Target 65,000, and I'm hoping to have the first draft done by the end of August.

Hal Junior 3: The Gyris Mission.  The first draft is complete at 31,000 words, editing is in progress and the draft paperback layout is in place. Cover art under way. Hoping to get it all ready during September, with a release date towards the end of the month. (ISBN for the paperback is 978-1-877034-24-4)


October will be Hal 6 editing month, and I'm looking to release the ebook towards the end of November. However ...

November is Nanowrimo, and this year I intend to write a brand new novel featuring another character from the Hal Spacejock series. It'll be more gritty than the Hal Spacejock books, and it should satisfy my itch to write a proper thriller.

It's possible Nanowrimo will delay Hal 6, but not by much.

After that I have a half-finished Hal Junior 4 novel waiting to be restarted, and Hal 7 is already 2/3 complete. Deadlines are a bit nebulous this far out, but assuming December '12 to write Jnr 4 and Jan/Feb '13 to write Hal 7, then Jnr 4 could be out in March '13 and Hal 7 could be April/May.

On top of that, Albert Aribaud, the translator who did such a good job on the French edition of Hal Spacejock book one, is currently working on the translation of Hal Junior: The Secret Signal. Very preliminary estimates are for a December completion, but that's just a wild guess at this stage.

I'll also have more translation news soon. Hal Spacejock really is spreading his wings, isn't he?

Obviously these deadlines are subject to change, and they depend very much on how much programming I have to do to pay the bills. My ebook income for the past 6-8 months is the only reason I've been able to write and release more books: I can point to the income and convince my family this writing business isn't just a hobby, and the long hours I spend at the computer really are worth it.

This isn't some lame author plea to buy my stuff, it's just a fact of life. For the first time in the past 15-20 years I can afford to devote more than odds and ends of spare time to my writing, and my output has increased enormously.

I hope your own projects are coming along - please feel free to comment below, letting me know what you're writing and how much time you're managing to put in every week.
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Published on July 23, 2012 22:59 • 45 views

July 19, 2012

You've probably noticed this blog can be a little ... sporadic. Over the years I've blogged about every aspect of the writing process, but after publishing seven or eight novels there's not a whole lot of new stuff I can say about it. ('Put your bum in a chair and start typing' sums it up.) So, during the writing of a novel I don't tend to post to the blog very much.

It's only after each novel is complete, when the dust settles, that I look around and make observations on the state of publishing, self-pub, ebooks, and so on. That part is changing all the time, and timely info is useful. For example, five years ago hardly any (non-US) writers had heard of ITINs and EINs, but these useful numbers have become a hot topic over the past year or so.

To rewind a sec, when I'm flat out writing I don't write lengthy blog posts. What I do, quite a lot, is post to twitter and my facebook author page. Those are the best places to keep up with me during the writing process.[image error]
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Published on July 19, 2012 18:16 • 35 views

July 14, 2012


After seven years touring Australia and New Zealand, interstellar freighter pilot Hal Spacejock has finally arrived in France. Fortunately, he missed the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre, but I'm afraid the Eiffel Tower now resembles the Leaning Tower of Pieces. Mr Spacejock blamed his flight computer, which refused to fly on the left.
So what does Hal's visit mean to you, a keen science fiction fan who enjoys fast-moving, humorous novels with space travel, robots, double-crosses and more incompetence than a gathering of Finance ministers? Well, thanks to the hard work of Albert Aribaud, the intrepid hero's first adventure is available right now* in French translation. Marvel at Hal's lack of skill, gasp at the Navcom's bold chess moves, and try not to wince as a 200-tonne spaceship lands in all the wrong places.

* Currently available in ebook editions via Amazon Kindle [link up soon] and Smashwords. iTunes, B&N, Kobo and Paperback to follow shortly.

Hal Spacejock se pose en France !
Après sept années à parcourir l'Australie et la Nouvelle-Zélande, Hal Spacejock, le pilote de transporteur intergalactique, arrive enfin en France ! Par chance, il a manqué l'Arc de Triomphe et le Louvre, mais en revanche la tour Eiffel va devoir être rebaptisée "tour Fêlée". Monsieur Spacejock en rejette la faute sur son ordinateur de bord qui aurait refusé de voler à gauche.

En quoi cette visite du héros de Simon Haynes vous concerne-t-elle, amateurs éclairés de science-fiction qui appréciez les romans bourrés d'humour, d'action, de robots, de trahison et de plus d'incompétence qu'un sommet de ministres des Finances ? Eh bien, grâce au dur labeur d'Albert Aribaud, la première aventure de notre intrépide héros est disponible dès à présent (*) en traduction française. Émerveillez-vous de l'inaptitude de Hal ! Restez sans voix devant les coups d'échecs audacieux de Nave ! Essayez de ne pas paniquer tandis qu'un vaisseau spatial de deux cents tonnes s'approche du sol partout où il ne faudrait pas...
* Actuellement disponible en format électronique sur le Kindle d'Amazon et sur Smashwords [link]. Édition papier à suivre prochainement. [image error]
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Published on July 14, 2012 19:35 • 30 views

July 5, 2012

I just posted Chapter Three of Hal Spacejock 5: Baker's Dough to my website. Chapters one and two are available from the same page.

The release is due any day now, and I'm releasing a chapters for free until the ebook is published.


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Published on July 05, 2012 01:23 • 40 views