John Williamson’s time to shine

John Williamson’s time to shine

Today, assuming you’re reading this the day it came out (Friday), is the last day you can buy The White Rajah at its offer price of 99p/99c.

I’ve put The White Rajah on offer to kick-start sales of ‘The John Williamson Papers’ ahead of the release of the second volume, Cawnpore, on Friday 10 September. (That’s on Kindle: a paperback will follow soon.)

Why am I republishing all three of the John Williamson Papers years after they first came out? Partly it’s that my experience with the James Burke stories shows that my books sell much better when I’m marketing them (albeit quite badly) than when I leave the job to a publisher. The White Rajah and Cawnpore were first published by a tiny US outfit (JMS Books) who did an astonishingly good job. The moved to substantially bigger publishers in the UK proved to be a mistake and sales of the trilogy never matched the positive reviews they got. I’m hoping to do better this time around.

More importantly, I think (hope) that these are books whose time has come. There has been a lot of talk in the media (mainstream media and social media) about how we need to look more critically at our colonial past or, alternatively, how we need to celebrate the days of Empire. What these books tried to do was to look at the moral ambiguity of ‘the Empire Project’, which was neither the selfless act of a beneficent Britain that it used to be presented as, nor the unalloyed evil that it is often regarded as today.

If you are interested in getting some idea of the realities of colonial rule, the John Williamson Papers are perhaps a good place to start. And if you just want adventure and battles and a different sort of love story, then you can just enjoy them for that.

The John Williamson Papers

I’ve now got a draft of the next Burke book in a fit condition for it to get its first beta read. That’s always my wife and she can be harsh, so if it survives that it will go out to a couple more beta readers and then we’ll start the move towards publication. One of the joys of being self-published is that I can move at my own pace rather than having my schedule dictated by publishers

While Burke marinates quietly, I can finally get on with republishing Cawnpore. People on social media often make quite a song and dance out of showing the covers of their new books but I really can’t work up that much artificial excitement: so, without more ado, here it is.

Cawnpore is the second book in the John Williamson trilogy. Unlike The White Rajah it has been little changed since it was published by the US small press, JMS Books, ten years ago. Why publish it again?

Well, ten years is a long time – long enough for me to have been through two UK publishers who took the book on but didn’t offer much in the way of marketing support. It did well on its first US publication and sold a few more when it moved to a UK publisher but sales in the past few years have been negligible. I have learned, though, since I took back control of the James Burke books that there is an untapped market for my writing and that people will buy the books if they are promoted. I’m better known, too, with five James Burke books already published. So I’m hopeful that there will be more interest in Cawnpore now than there was a few years ago.

The John Williamson Papers are a very different series from the James Burke books. They are set in the mid-19th century and are rather more serious in tone. They are first person accounts, written in the style of the period, so they demand a little more of the reader, but I think they offer more back. They do have adventure and battles but there is rather more politics and Burke’s doubts about the morality and worth of a lot of the killing he is involved in are much stronger with John Williamson.

Each of the books in the trilogy stands alone, but they are written as a cycle, starting with John Williamson in England signing on for a voyage to Borneo and ending in the third book with his return to England. If you want to start the trilogy at the beginning, The White Rajah will be on offer at just 99p from Saturday 28th of August to Friday 3 September. 99p is the Kindle version, of course. The White Rajah is alsoavailable in paperback for £6.99. Because I think The White Rajah is a serious book deserving serious presentation, it is also available in hardback for £14.99: it does look rather nice.

I won’t go on about why you should read The White Rajah – mainly because I’ve talked a lot about that in recent months. (If you’ve missed it, have a look HERE.) I hope you’ll give The White Rajah a go and enjoy reading it.

I’ll be talking about Cawnpore next week. Meanwhile, because I really don’t want to make a song and dance about cover reveals, here is a poster with the covers for the whole trilogy.