So how does it benefit you and what does it mean to me? Well, for the majority of authors, including myself, it probably doesn't provide much of a benefit. It does allow pre-orders to accrue until launch day and on that day all the pre-orders are counted in one lump, which may just raise the visibility of the book a tad higher than without it. It also allows the book to be previewed in advance of the sales period, giving readers a chance to think about it before it arrives. It does provide a structure for the final edit - that is a job that can always be postponed due to other commitments if we're not careful, but a real deadline, well for a completer like me that's the kind of stress that helps.
For the reader, well, it allows you to think about a book and still be the first on the block to read it. Probably not the highest priority for many of my readers, although I do have a loyal core of you that do seem to buy every book I write. For those who like to think they are helping their personal favourite authors, it's a chance to help elevate their profile to let others know about them. It's also an opportunity for authors to reward the loyal and one way that is suggested by Smashwords is to provide those who email evidence of a pre-order the opportunity to receive a promotional code to obtain an existing book from the canon for free. I'll be looking into that as a tool.
So what's Assassin about? Well, it's a return to the multi level novels I wrote in The Journeymen and Skin, that is, it has two stories spread over two time periods interwoven with each other. It's set in the not-too-distant future, in a UK that has temporarily suspended democracy as part of the ongoing war on terror, being run by the congress. It starts during the fledgling congress period at the time of the worst terrorist attack ever to hit mainland UK, a defining moment that reinforces the stance of the government and oscillates between then and events at the time of the fourth congress.
John is an engineer who falls victim to the terrorist attack that destroyed the Queen Elizabeth the Second bridge and almost killed him. While being debriefed by congress agents his family is targeted by a mysterious person known only as Morris, a journey that results with John becoming a gun for hire, a dedicated killer known as the Assassin. He finds himself holed up in a beach hut in Cornwall during a terrible storm with a beach bum who discovers John's secret. They are destined to spend the night stuck in each other's company while the storm plays out and John decides to tell his story of how he came to be the Assassin as a way of proving he means his co-resident no harm. Except his resident isn't all that he appears to be and unknown to John there are a couple of congress soldiers staking out the hut, intent on killing one of them and capturing the other.
As the night progresses, John's tale of his past unfolds as the present develops, and we find ourselves living his story alternately through his eyes and as a remote viewer. Needless to say there is a lot of action throughout the book and the dénouement, currently being crafted, is packed with two concurrent storylines that lead to resolution of the past and the present.
Assassin has been a long time in development, having been started back in 2006 and worked on between other writing projects since. It was born out of events at that period when the UK and US governments both sought to extend the war on terror in part by curtailing civil liberties, moves that were roundly resisted by many people. While the menace that terrorism presents has necessarily resulting in a natural curtailing of our liberties for the greater good, some of the proposals seemed so at odds with what we regard as democracy it looked like we could end up as totalitarian as the states we aim to resist. This book in part looks at what could happen when that battle is taken so far as to remove democracy, and the distorted world it could create. It's not a political statement, nor a libertarian rant against anti-terrorist policies, but it does aim to make the reader consider these in passing.
There will be more information about Assassin and its release date in the near future, as well as excerpts from the book as a taster.
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