My blog now has a brand new page... an important page... a page brimming with the finest of merch (a.k.a. swag) for purchase and enjoyment. Keep reading, or go directly to my new merch page, right now. This is all because of my most recent idea, which is that by creating some merchandise for my books I will have a great way to promote my writing, and maybe also generating some income through an entirely new revenue stream. My thinking is that the more I earn from writing and associated merch, the more time I can dedicate to actually writing instead of the stuff that takes me away from writing. 

I do my writing alongside a day job but I consider it more than a hobby. It’s a passion, a calling, a process that allows me to spend time building worlds and stories and sharing them. When a book is done it feels great to take a breath and gaze at something I have spent my time creating and crafting. But it is so easy to get distracted from it. There are the distractions of the day job, obviously, and also the compulsion to compare myself to other, more successful authors, who seem to be able to dedicate all their time to sitting in a shed writing sci-fi. I’m talking specifically about Alastair Reynolds, who quit his job with the ESA and now writes full time in his garden, but this life of solitary creativity is the goal of many, many authors.

A Message from the Author

I write sci-fi novels that belong to a series called Dark Galaxy, which starts with Galaxy Dog:

What starts as an ordinary invasion of an alien planet brings to light an ancient archeological site of huge importance. A young man called Knave makes a life-changing discovery there and rises from a lowly position as an infantry trooper to become a player among the powers of the galaxy.

The entire series is available to buy from Amazon.

Anyway, I’m hoping that selling a few t-shirts, and assorted other products, will turn out to be lucrative. With my T-shirt millions I will then be able to purchase a house with a garden, build a shed, and write full time, just like my sci-fi heroes. I kid, I kid, of course... I don’t imagine merch will ever generate more in profit than the books themselves. But that is no reason not to give it a try. I already have book covers, which I own the rights to because I created them myself, so I’m most of the way to creating the merch already. Not to do it is just ‘leaving money on the table’ as they say.

I see two main reasons why, as an author, I would want to create physical merchandise, and those are, A) to sell to my existing fans or followers, and B) to promote my book to people who might not otherwise see it. I can imagine somebody browsing Redbubble, who would never browse Amazon in the same way. they might even be attracted by my book and want to find out more. As covers, the designs are very promotional, displaying the title and my name in large readable text. I even debated adding a link to this blog in the graphic but decided against it.

The book cover file I uploaded to Smashwords, Amazon, Draft2Digital and the like when I published the book also works well with no adjustments for T-shirts, tote bags and the like. The cover image was already large in size, to make sure it didn’t look fuzzy printed on the cover. And I used assets created in Blender and GIMP (which are free graphics programs) and that allows me to change the size of each cover image as required. I can also use GIMP to downsize the promotional images for the merch for use in small spaces such as the column on the left of the blog. The image of a mug below is truly tiny.

For the tiny quantities I am likely to need, print on demand (POD) is really the only option. There are a bunch of companies out there who offer a selection of items, which are printed only after being purchased, with no need for me to hold any stock. The two leading players in the market are Redbubble and Society6. I decided to go with Redbubble because Society6 just wouldn’t play ball with my slow upload speeds on my garbage Internet connection.

So, the merch is now here and my diehard fans now have another way to financially support my writing and demonstrate some 'brand loyalty'. It also means I have some extra content to share via the blog as I launch each new merch item. If there is any particular item of merch you want then simply let me know in the comments below or by email.

While I was doing creative merch-related stuff I decided to also spruce up the look of my promotional images for the actual books, which are after all the whole point of this blog. For example I made a pretty image of a stack of books instead of the boring cover shot I have been using up to now. You can see it in the left column of the blog, assuming you aren't viewing the blog on a mobile device.

And I also created a very pretty image of Galaxy Dog on the Apple Books interface. My sales on Apple Books have been very good recently, in fact it has been my best performing retailer, and I want to use the image to push those sales even more.

I also made an image for Forever Young. Anyway, enough of all this, why not check out my new merch page? And just a reminder that the best way to support this blog is to buy one of my books. Simply go over to Amazon, or Kobo and get one.