Book Review: Altar of Influence by Jacob Cooper

Early this year, I ran across a gem of a self-published fantasy: Circle of Reign by Jacob Cooper. I knew the author from the SFFWorld forums, so I decided to give his book a shot. I ended up really enjoying it.

I think I liked his prequel, Altar of Influence, even better. Cooper has done a great job with his characters, his world, and his plot. In this one, he expands the backstory of some of the characters and events mentioned in Circle of Reign.

Cooper has created a world that feels both different and vibrant. There are quite a few characters, but they’re easy to keep track of. The writing isn’t always perfect, but it didn’t bother me. I was so lost in the world Cooper created and in his great ability to write extended action scenes.

I think you can start either with this book or with Circle of Reign. They’re both great reads that prove some self-publishers are doing it right.

Rating: 9/10

Embracing variety.

One of my biggest struggles as a writer has been the tendency to engage in all-or-nothing thinking. I can self-publish OR I can trade publish. I can write adult OR I can write young adult and middle grade.

Lately, I’ve been working hard to change those ORs to ANDs. That’s part of the fun of self-publishing. You don’t necessarily know what’s going to happen. One type of your writing could take off, and it might not be the type you expect.

I’ve also heard that variety can be very good for some authors in self-publishing. The more you put out there, the more you might attract readers to all of your work who might never have found it in the first place. I know I’ve sought out books outside my preferred genres if they’re by an author I like.

Thankfully, with my writing, I won’t be too crazy in my genre spread. Generally speaking, I write fantasy and science fiction across adult, young adult, and middle grade age categories. I figure I can’t be the only person who enjoys reading these genres regardless of the age group.

That brings me to another advantage of self-publishing. It’s given me the freedom to be the author I want to be. If one book doesn’t sell, I can always move on to another. Obviously, I’d like to make a good income from self-publishing, but that is no guarantee. At first, I’ll be content if I can make back the money I’m spending to publish the books (I’m talking cover art, editing, etc.). IMPORTANT: You should never pay a publisher to publish your book. You can do just as well on your own with lower costs.

At some point, I’m hoping I’ll see the positive effects of having a large backlist. From what I’ve read, that’s how most self-publishers achieve success. Once they have out a lot of books, people who like one book or series are likely to check out what else the author has written.

It’ll be a while before I reach that point. I’m a fast writer, but I’m not that fast.

For now, I’m hoping to enjoy the ride. As I stated in my last post, I’ve submitted a request for cover art. That process should start in mid January. I’m hoping to release Sunweaver sometime in February with Empire of Chains (the first in another series) following shortly thereafter.

I’ve also begun work on my middle grade fantasy series again. I know that MG is notoriously tough to self-publish, and that’s why I’m not starting out with it. If all goes according to plan with that, you might see its release sometime next summer.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that something else will grab my attention in the near future. I have a few YA ideas that are asking to be written. There’s also my other epic fantasy series, The God War.

In all, that’s going to be a lot to consider, but it should also be fun. After all, I’d write these books even if I couldn’t self-publish them.

I sent out a request for cover art today.

So I decided it was time to stop debating. I’m going to self-publish, and it’s time to get a good cover. I went with Deranged Doctor Designs because I was impressed by their body of work. If everything goes well, I will hopefully have a great cover in a few months, and then I can publish the book. I’m actually doing what will probably be the final read-through right now. Well, there might be another one or two because I’m paranoid about publishing something with grammatical errors or typos (and therefore being one of those self-published authors.

I’m really excited to get Sunweaver out for the world to read. I know I won’t attract a ton of readers at first, but I hope I can find enough readers who love the story even half as much as I do.

As for Empire of Chains, I’m putting it on hold for the moment. I need to decide if it’s truly the type of story I want it to be. Don’t get me wrong. I like it. I’m just not sure if it’s the best it can be.

We’ll see. I might change my mind on that.

I also think I’m going to get back to my revision work on Watersong (though I’m still not sure if that’ll be the final title. Any feedback on it would be appreciated). I’d like to publish both series (it and Sunweaver) at the same time.

I hope I can keep up the kind of pace I need to do that.