It’s up!

There’s nothing more satisfying than having a book out there for sale. It’s done. It’s out there. And I’m happy with it.

That last bit? That’s the hard part.

I’ve written here about some of the trouble this new book, Devils of the Endless Deep has given me. This was a rough one. There were false starts, full-on blockages, hand-wringing, hair-pulling (and for me, that’s not easy), and weeks of second-guessing. Why all that?

Looking back on the process of writing Devils of the Endless Deep from this contented place, it’s becoming a lot more clear to me that, yes, there was some depression at work, pressures from outside the creative process that put a damper on the flow of my “creative juices,” whatever that means. But ultimately what caused me the most problems with Devils of the Endless Deep was that the original idea sucked.

There, I said it.

I had written the outline for a bad book. The story had little or no motivation, especially for the villain. Why was he doing all this? Answer: I had no idea. Would he plausibly do any of this? Answer: No. What are these monsters—how do they work, what are their strengths and weaknesses, and why are they attacking Smogland? Um . . . huh?

I had written an outline for a novella that broke basically every one of the most important pieces of advice that I’ve offered authors here and in The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction. Unmotivated villain? Check. Hero with no personality? Got it. Monsters that follow no internal logic and are just there to provide artificial danger? Done.

What the hell was I thinking?

Anyway, all that being the case, it’s easy, now, to understand why I found this book so hard to write. There’s nothing harder to write than a bad story. But maybe this is where the depression came in, or the slavish devotion to an already-blown deadline: I kept trying. I would literally throw myself against this story, unable to recognize that the reason I couldn’t figure out how to write it is that at least subconsciously I knew how bad it was—it just wasn’t there, and I wasn’t doing the one simple thing I most needed to do.

I’d stopped thinking.

Or, more accurately, I wasn’t allowing myself to stop, take a deep breath, look at that lame outline, and think my way to a better story.

Finally, with some moral support from fellow Abyssals Cat Rambo, Mel Odom, and J.M. McDermott, and by outing myself here on Fantasy Author’s Handbook, I finally did just that. I re-thought the whole thing, beginning to end.

I sat down and thought about it.

The first follow-up novella for The Fathomless Abyss series.

Sometimes I scribbled notes in the margins of that outline. I deleted entire chapters—even chapters I’d already written, and that’s hard, saying good-bye to work already done. But that’s better than publishing work that sucks, so every writer needs to be prepared to do that.

If I really described in detail what I did to make Devils of the Endless Deep a novella I’m blissfully happy with I’d have to spoil the story. And I’d rather you read it than see it as a learning experience. I’ll give you a few months, at least, but eventually, we’ll get into what was wrong, exactly, and how, exactly, I fixed it.

But for now, I present, for your consideration, the 100% less suck edition of Devils of the Endless Deep, the first follow-up novella for our shared-world experiment that began in Tales From The Fathomless Abyss. If you haven’t had a chance to read Tales From The Fathomless Abyss yet, please start there. And to make it easier, we’ve gone ahead and reduced the price of the anthology to only 99 cents for both the Kindle and Nook editions. Read that, then Devils of the Endless Deep, also available right now in both Kindle and Nook formats.

Now only 99 cents!

And by now I hope everyone realizes that you do not need to own either of those devices to buy and read these books. Both Amazon and B&N offer free apps for Android and iOS. You can read Kindle or Nook e-books from any smartphone, tablet, or PC. I even gave you the links there. No excuses!

I’m proud of this one, and for many reasons. This story showcases me following my own advice, and doing the one thing that no matter how good you are, how long you’ve studied, how brilliant your ideas, you will still have to do:

I worked my ass off.


—Philip Athans




About Philip Athans

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Writing Monsters. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, (https://fantasyhandbook.wordpress.com/) is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.
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  1. Anne Brown says:

    I LOVE this post. I am so glad Phil spilled his guts for all of us to learn from. I have seen too many authors who think every idea that falls out of their brain is a shiny gold nugget. And there are too many wanna-be authors who don’t understand how hard it is to write good fiction (emphasis on GOOD) and that writing is work. Phil, congrats on seeing your way out of the quagmire you were in and having the fortitude to finish the book!

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