Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Best-selling science fiction writer and futurist Matthew Mather. He is the author of CyberStorm and the six-part hit series Atopia Chronicles.
Science Fiction & Fantasy
Matthew Mather - tomorrow -- today
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Matthew is the best-selling author of CyberStorm and the six-part hit series Atopia Chronicles. He is also a leading member of the world's cybersecurity community who started out his career working at the McGill Center for Intelligent Machines. He went on to found one of the first tactile interface companies, which became the world leader in its field, as well as creating a major award-winning brain training video game. In between he's worked in a variety of start-ups,everything from computational nanotechnology to electronic health records, weather prediction systems to genomics, and even social intelligence research. His writing credits include #1 best-selling Atopia Chronicles and CyberStorm novels. He spends his time between Charlotte, NC, and Montreal, QC, hanging out with his bright and beautiful girlfriend Julie and their three dogs and a cat.
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
Congratulations on your book: CyberStorm. Do you have another book on the near future? That sounds like a lead in to your genre. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
I'm working on my fourth book, tentatively called Bluebridge, that is centers around the use of AI in financial systems. It will be a tech thriller in the style of CyberStorm, and should be out pate this summer. I just finished a book called Dystopia, which is Book 2 in my Atopia science fiction series, and this will be released toward the fall of 2014. Beyond that I've written for several anthologies, the most recent is The End is Nigh which is a collaboration with Hugh Howey and John Joseph Adams and just came out on March 1st.
You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? How did you build your following in your niche? Did you use forums, newsletters and methods like that?
To be honest, I haven't used social media as much as I could or should. I do have about 2000 followers on Twitter and Facebook, and about a thousand people on my newsletter...but I don't use them as much as I should. All that I did to gain the following was invite people to follow me or sign up to my advance reading newsletter at the ends of my books!
Do you do book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?
I'm easy to find online, just search for Author Matthew Mather and my blog and Facebook will pop up. Readers can just email me directly from there! I do some signings, but I'm trying to limit the traveling and get back to being a writer more :) traveling definitely eats big holes in my writing schedule...I find it hard to concentrate outside of my home office.
You have great covers. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?
I used to work professionally as a graphic artist, so I tend to have a hands-on approach when it comes to covers. I tend to mock-up a few ideas myself, then pass them by my friends and readers, and from there get some more advanced help in creating the art and design. I think covers are extremely important in marketing a book. A great cover will really help sell the work, and so demands that time and effort be invested in it.
You have written a serial called: Atopia Chronicles. Can you tell us if they had an impact on the sales of your novels? Are shorty’s one of your styles of writing or are they created to give readers a sample of your work? How did rolling out the Chronicles in sections work out vs. the response to the complete set?
I did release Atopia as a series of short stories and novellas, but I only did this was it was my first foray into the writing and publishing world. I originally wrote Atopia as one book of 500+ pages, but after getting rejected by over 100 agents and publishers, I decided to self-publish it. After seeing the success Hugh Howey had releasing Wool as a series of shorts, I went back and rewrote Atopia in a way that I could release as a series of stories. This allows the reader to get hook and slowly enter the story, without needing to commit for all 500+ pages up front. Doing it this way enabled Atopia to get rolling, but once it gained some steam I sold it ONLY as a full novel. It has gone on to sell over 70,000 copies and is still in the top-10 of its categories on Amazon after a year and a half. I always recommend new authors to use the serialized approach...it seems to work.
What writer support groups do you belong to? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?
None, but I do have an informal network of other science fiction writers I chat with from time to time. We usually offer to promote each other's work to social media and even mailing lists. But I haven't ever been a part of any writing groups.
What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?
I think that giving your work away for free sometimes, at least to begin with, is the only way to go. I know it might seem counterintuitive, but the thing you need to remember is just how deep the pool of available readers is. I don't have any hard-and-fast figures, but the pool of active e-book readers on Amazon must be well into the millions, if not tens of millions, so giving away a few thousand copies of your book is just a drop of water in an ocean. The key is just to get anyone to read your work, like it, and start to generate word-of-mouth. Giving your work away in a regular fashion, keeping the initial works short and punchy in length, and using all of the available promotional sites is the key to finding an audience now.
The Chronicles is quite large. How do you manage your plots, characters and timelines to keep your stories going? Do you use any software to keep track of your books?
Ha, no. I write ideas down on scraps of paper and start plastering them against the walls of my office, and then build up my plot arcs on large pieces of art paper. I am very detailed, though. Writing a book is like plotting a military campaign for me. I write down the plot in detail, and then isolate it down into 2-3 pages chunks, and write down a series of details bullet points for each section. I will write a 10-15,000 outline for a 100,000 page book before I even start writing.
What is your method of getting reviews for your novels? Do you seek professional reviews, use social media or do you rely on your reading audience to supply them?
Once you start to get some sales volume, you'll notice that you get about 1 or 2 reviews per 100 sales. By writing a plea for reviews (good or bad) at the end of your book, you can usually get to the high end of this range--especially if you mention you are self-published. This is what I've learned through my own experience as well as through talking to other writers. Of course, everyone should make a request to their own social media circles for readers (Facebook, LinkedIn, friends & work colleagues) and there are some services--BookRooster seems to work. You give them a copy of your book and they send it out for honest reviews to pools of people in each field--but be prepared, if they don't like it, they'll post negative reviews. With the volume of readers I have now, I don't need to do any of this, but when you're getting started, it is difficult.
Congratulations on CyberStorm being picked up by FOX. That is every author’s dream. How did you get to that point in the evolution of the book? Does that challenge you to write a sequel and start a chain of movies?
The success of my first novel, Atopia, attracted some attention, and I used this to sign with a good literary agency in New York--one of my key criteria was that this primary agent also engage with a team for foreign and film and television sales. So when my second book, CyberStorm, came out, this was pitched to Hollywood as well as into foreign markets. The strategy worked well! CyberStorm is now beings translated into a dozen languages worldwide, and was optioned by 20th Century Fox and Chernin Entertainment (producer of Rise of Planet of the Apes), and now Bill Kennedy of House of Cards is rumored to be completing the screenplay. Whether this will get "green lighted" for a feature film production is still unknown--the odds are probably about 1 in 20, to be honest. So I'm not holding my breath...but it would be exciting. For now I'm not doing a sequel to CyberStorm, but writing new, unconnected books in the same genre and style. I prefer the stand-alone book format.
Author's Book List
The End is Nigh
- The Apocalypse Triptych
Famine. Death. War. Pestilence. These are the harbingers of the biblical apocalypse, of the End of the World. In science fiction, the end is triggered by less figurative means: nuclear holocaust, biological warfare/pandemic, ecological disaster, or cosmological cataclysm.
But before any catastrophe, there are people who see it coming. During, there are heroes who fight against it. And after, there are the survivors who persevere and try to rebuild. THE APOCALYPSE TRIPTYCH will tell their stories.
Edited by acclaimed anthologist John Joseph Adams and bestselling author Hugh Howey, THE APOCALYPSE TRIPTYCH is a series of three anthologies of apocalyptic fiction. THE END IS NIGH focuses on life before the apocalypse. THE END IS NOW turns its attention to life during the apocalypse. And THE END HAS COME focuses on life after the apocalypse.
Volume one of The Apocalypse Triptych, THE END IS NIGH, features all-new, never-before-published works by Hugh Howey, Paolo Bacigalupi, Jamie Ford, Seanan McGuire, Tananarive Due, Jonathan Maberry, Scott Sigler, Robin Wasserman, Nancy Kress, Charlie Jane Anders, Ken Liu, and many others.
Post-apocalyptic fiction is about worlds that have already burned. Apocalyptic fiction is about worlds that are burning. THE END IS NIGH is about the match.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Introduction by John Joseph Adams
"The Balm and the Wound" by Robin Wasserman
"Heaven is a Place on Planet X" by Desirina Boskovich
"Break! Break! Break!" by Charlie Jane Anders
"The Gods Will Not Be Chained" by Ken Liu
"Wedding Day" by Jake Kerr
"Removal Order" by Tananarive Due
"System Reset" by Tobias S. Buckell
"This Unkempt World is Falling to Pieces" by Jamie Ford
"BRING HER TO ME" by Ben H. Winters
"In the Air" by Hugh Howey
"Goodnight Moon" by Annie Bellet
"Dancing with Death in the Land of Nod" by Will McIntosh
"Houses Without Air" by Megan Arkenberg
"The Fifth Day of Deer Camp" by Scott Sigler
"Enjoy the Moment" by Jack McDevitt
"Pretty Soon the Four Horsemen are Going to Come Riding Through" by Nancy Kress
"Spores" by Seanan McGuire
"She's Got a Ticket to Ride" by Jonathan Maberry
"Agent Unknown" by David Wellington
"Enlightenment" by Matthew Mather
"Shooting the Apocalypse" by Paolo Bacigalupi
"Love Perverts" by Sarah Langan
Order the Book From: Amazon
Sometimes the worst storms aren't from Mother Nature, and sometimes the worst nightmares aren't the ones in our heads. Mike Mitchell, an average New Yorker already struggling to keep his family together, suddenly finds himself fighting just to keep them alive when an increasingly bizarre string of disasters start appearing on the world's news networks. As the world and cyberworld come crashing down, bending perception and reality, a monster snowstorm cuts New York off from the world, turning it into a wintry tomb where nothing is what it seems...and no one can be trusted...
"A chilling prophecy...well written, a must read for any fan of good fiction." - Ian Peterson, book reviewer for Sci-Fi Readers
"As a member of the Military that does 'cyber' for his job, it's refreshing to finally see a novel that shows how dangerous our transition to an interconnected infrastructure will become without proper safeguards...I couldn't put down!" - Karic Allegra, Joint Interoperability Command, US NAVY
CyberStorm is the newly released novel from Matthew Mather, author of the best-selling hit series Atopia Chronicles. In his other lives, Mather is one of the leading members of the world's cybersecurity community, as well as a real-life tech pioneer and award-winning videogame designer. CyberStorm is a novel for anyone who enjoys insightful, cutting-edge fiction mixed with action and adventure.
Order the Book From: Amazon
Complete Atopia Chronicles
What could be worse than letting billions die? In the future, be careful what you wish for. As the Weather Wars threaten to consume the planet, Dr. Patricia Killiam is in a desperate race against the clock to avert disaster by giving everyone everything they've ever wanted. The question is whether she's unwittingly saving the world, only to cast it towards an even worse fate as humanity hurtles across the brink of forever in a world teetering on the brink of post-humanism and eco-Armageddon.
"So great, I wish I'd come up with it myself...the Atopia series is one of those that will stick with me for the rest of my life." - HUGH HOWEY, author of Wool.
SEMI-FINALIST for the Kindle Book Review's 2013 "Best Indie Novel of the Year" competition.
Order the Book From: Amazon
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