Last year, as you may know, was not a great one when it came to my writing career. This year may be different.

A week or so ago I got an email out of the blue from Jason Pinter. I’ve met him once in person and known him via the internet for years (he kindly blurbed THE LEVELS back in the day too). Late last year he launched Polis Books, signing up an array of fine writers, and also Dave White and Bryon Quertermous, presumably as the result of a lost bet.

Anyway, it turns out he must have lost another bet because he wanted to know if I wanted to sign on to Polis, handing over North American rights (and gaining better North American distribution, promotion etc.) to All The Novels - the three “writer’s cut” versions of my ex-Penguin books, the last of which remains unfinished, plus the two full-length ones out under the Sean Cregan moniker. Any new material could then be considered as, if, and when.

Just like that, as you do.

And I though about it for a few seconds, double-checked my instincts against sources in the know, and said, “Yup, sure.”

And that, as they say, was that. (Bar a minor delay sourcing a scanner to swap contracts; I don’t own one.)

This means Polis will be (re)publishing THE TOUCH OF GHOSTS, THE DARKNESS INSIDE, BURIAL GROUND (if it retains that title), MURDER PARK, and DAY ZERO across North America, and, of interest to MURDER PARK which is largely set there, the Philippines, over the course of the next few months. And all the books will be coming out under the ‘John Rickards’ label. (Elsewhere, in particular the UK where ‘Sean Cregan’ has/had print readership and I didn’t want to garble my already horribly mangled publishing history any further, the rights remain mine and it’s business as usual.)

This is awesome, and I’m looking forward to seeing everything pan out. Polis is a digital-only (or, with the possibility of print arrangements in the future, perhaps “digital-first”) publisher, very young, run by a very smart guy with years of publishing experience as an agent and a writer, and a sharp weather eye on the future. It certainly fits the ideal of the smaller, leaner publisher that’s quicker and much more adaptable than the traditional names, but still handles the donkey work faced by those self-publishing as well as having access to publisher-only outlets and promotional capacity, and doing crazy things like paying up-front and performing QA on output.

(“Why give up the independence of going indie, John? 70%, complete control, etc. etc. buzzphrase buzzphrase.” That previous list of things is why. I’m not a self-promoter at all, and the books, while well-received, haven’t really torn up any trees. They earn a bit, but nothing to get excited about. I still have a foot in both camps, with the shorter material still mine, and the longer stuff outside N Am. I’d like both sides to work. But trying to make a real go of it everywhere sucks time and energy I’d rather spend doing something else, and if anyone’s in a position to make the best fist of publishing in the future - and to find readers for books - it’s outfits like Polis (and Angry Robot, etc. etc.). The contract’s not a shackle, royalties are considerably higher than major standard, and the potential benefits are huge. So there.)

The particularly pleasing thing is that MURDER PARK now has a publisher, and an extra crack at finding a proper audience, because of all the books that’s the one I’d most love to see do well.

So there we go. And now I have to go and finish hacking BURIAL GROUND into shape. I have a deadline.