Debut Epic Fantasy Novel’s 1st Birthday: The Blighted City

Happy book birthday! It’s The Blighted City’s 1st birthday today. Aww. It has been a tough year for the novel, with a very slow start, understandable for a self-published no-name author’s debut. But things did begin to improve in the last half of 2018 when I entered The Blighted City into SPFBO4. The contest kicked off in August, and, after gruelling months of nervous anticipation, during which I was sure that I’d fall at the first hurdle, mid-November came and suddenly my novel was named as a semi-finalist. I nearly fell off my chair when I saw the news. There isn’t yet an SPFBO review for The Blighted City but one has been promised, so I will try to patiently wait for it to surface.

Other than that, the novel received some excellent 4 and 5 star reviews (and, yes, a 3-star) from eminent book bloggers such as Nick T. Borrelli (Out Of This World SFF Reviews), Josh Mauthe (The Library Police), Cameron Scaggs (Nerd Book Review), Susan Hampson (Books From Dusk Till Dawn), Charles Phipps (Booknest), Rebekah Teller (Kreative Joose), Calvin Park (later to join Bookdragon’s Nest) and booktuber Becky M. Without these fine folk, The Blighted City wouldn’t have reached as many prospective readers and new fans as it has, and I owe them a debt of gratitude for taking a chance on a ‘nobody’ author.

I was also lucky to receive a review from the esteemed Tom Lloyd, Gollancz author of the Twilight Reign series. Tom is, by his own admission, tough with his ratings and reviews of books and, although his review was a 3-star, he did state and holds to the fact that he “thoroughly enjoyed it”. Retrospectively, I took a chance on Tom’s debut novel Stormcaller when I saw it on the shelves of a bookstore in 2009. If anyone would have told me then that I would later become an author in my own right and would receive a review from Tom (whose book I “thoroughly enjoyed”), I would not have believed them.

Some other authors have been kind enough to review The Blighted City over the last twelve months, including the aforementioned C.T. Phipps, A.M. Justice, Lee Conley, Martin Owton, Cameron Johnston, Allan Batchelder, Bonita M. Gutierrez, and, last but never least, Electa Graham.

I met Electa online in 2014 when she had just published her third novel, Blood & Reign, and we quickly became friends. She has since published three more novels and two novelettes and has more in progress. In 2015, Electa and I went through big changes and difficult times in our separate lives. We were there for one another as much as we could be in our limited capacity, and we gravitated closer until our friendship grew into a relationship which has stayed strong despite the miles and the ocean that lie between us for the majority of each year. She has been my rock and my gravity.

So, here I am, one year after publishing my first novel, but what good is a one-trick pony? Truth is, the marketing of The Blighted City (plus a writing funk that lasted many months) took up my entire time from January to November and, although approximately 1000 copies of the novel are out there in the world on people’s bookshelves or digital devices, it has received 0 reviews on Amazon Australia, India, Mexico, Japan, and all European sites. On the plus side, it has received 1 review on Amazon Brazil, 3 on Amazon Canada, 12 on Amazon UK, and 18 on Amazon US (also 3 on Kobo during an underwhelming trial run with Draft2Digital, after which I put the book back on Kindle Unlimited). Following the semi-finalist news, my confidence and muse were given enough boost for me to commence the next mammoth task, that of writing the second novel in the umbrella series of The Fractured Tapestry. In late-November I started writing the as-yet officially unnamed novel (although I do have a secret working title), and the manuscript is currently 40,000 words long. It’s a first draft, of course, so some of those words are notes, and a few of the scenes and chapters do need to be scrapped and rewritten, but I mean to put the effort in throughout 2019 and hope to have a finished product by the end of the year.

Other than the not-insignificant accomplishment of being chosen as an SPFBO semi-finalist, The Blighted City currently has an audiobook in the works which will hopefully be released later in 2019, plus agreements have been signed for translations into Spanish, Portuguese and Russian.

It’s not easy being a writer who’s legally blind and lives alone, can’t drive and struggles greatly outdoors as well as on the internet. The difficulties and obstacles which all authors face are multiplied many times for me. This is, perhaps, the biggest reason why The Blighted City remained mostly unknown for its first six months of life. Eventually, the headaches, stress, eye-ache and grim perseverance did pay off, but, due to being on a low income, I never could give the novel the polished level of production it deserved, most importantly some excellent cover art and a beautiful map. Perhaps it will get those one day, but my focus now is on the second novel.

If you have (or haven’t) read The Blighted City and you would like to support my future as an author who is able to publish not only a great story but also a great-looking book inside and out (editor, cartographer, cover artist), you can do so in any or all of the following ways:

  • Buy The Blighted City
  • Read The Blighted City
  • Review The Blighted City on Amazon and Goodreads
  • Share your review of The Blighted City to social media
  • Link me to your shared review on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit or WordPress
  • Download my free short stories, particularly Night Of The Taking
  • Read Night Of The Taking
  • Review Night Of The Taking on Amazon and Goodreads
  • Share your review of Night Of The Taking to social media
  • Link me to your shared review (see links above)
  • Tell your friends about The Blighted City, both online and in person
  • Buy me a Ko-Fi which will help support the production of a high-quality second novel

2018 was a slow-burner, but The Blighted City did achieve gradual success. I’m excited for the translated editions and the English-language audiobook to be released, and I hope to see a continuation of reviews appearing on Amazon and Goodreads for the English paperback and kindle editions. Here’s to an even better 2019 and, if all goes well, the release of a second novel which will outshine The Blighted City on every level. Thanks for reading, and thanks for your support.

Scott Kaelen


2 thoughts on “Debut Epic Fantasy Novel’s 1st Birthday: The Blighted City

  1. Scott- The Blighted City is fantastic. You should be very proud. I know how hard it is to self publish and market and sell books. I’ve been at it since 2014, and just hit 58 reviews for The Werewolf Whisperer. It’s a long and arduous road we’ve chosen to travel. I have to constantly push myself to keep it up. But we love telling stories, that’s what drives us. And the wonderful thing about books is that they can always be discovered by new readers😊
    So, get on to the next story because I can’t wait to read it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Bonita! Yep, it’s a tough road and a constant uphill climb when it comes to marketing. And I’m really no good at blog posts (which is why I rarely do them). Definitely prefer the writing of the stories, and I am pushing myself to do a little every day (well, most days). The next one will be a big step away from The Blighted City, and I’m very glad to have you on board for it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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