I’m at a point where even talking “reviews”, “PR”, “marketing” or “sales” makes me depressed…
You’d think that being an author is about writing books, poems, plays or stories. Alas, like in any job, that’s only part of what we do every day. And for every book we write, there’s a cycle to follow: inception, research, writing, editing, proofing, marketing, selling. You could of course infinitely detail my description, but it’ll do for the sake of this post. And in order not to attract unwarranted critique, some of these things concur simultaneously, some continuously. But let’s keep it simple. Right now, as I type these words, I’m in a state of limbo. The official marketing & PR activities for my recent book, Last Winter’s Snow, are long over, and I’m in this waiting room at my publisher’s, waiting for my edits back from my editor. So I begin to think about marketing it. I’m in no place to write right now (see other posts about why or what it takes to get into the zone) so I try to spend my time planning for the next release.
The joy I felt when Natasha Snow and I were working on this cover is all but gone, replaced by an emotion, not unlike that conveyed by the cover image…
Disease is scheduled for an October 26th release. In indie publishing, that’s a long time. I know people who put out two novels or more in that time. By then, I need to have a plan for how to make the biggest possible splash for my budget. Over the years, I’ve learned what works for me, and what doesn’t. To make it easy, lots of (good) reviews early on is a good thing, book tours on the other hand yield no tangible results. I blog a bit here, I will attend one more big convention (the book is scheduled to release timed for that), and I’ve already put out a trailer, as I always do. Not that it sells copies as such, but I find it a valuable tool to convey the atmosphere of the book. Images and the musical score help me paint that picture. Hopefully, it doesn’t scare people away.
However, as I tackle each of these tasks, I feel a dread, a sensation as if I were dragging my feet through newly poured concrete. I have no energy, I don’t enjoy it, and I sure as hell am not looking forward to the tasks at hand. I go through the motions of it, but even going on Facebook and seeing my author friends out there pouring their heart and souls into marketing and PR, some more eagerly than others, some taking steps I wouldn’t dream of, is becoming something laden with negative emotions.
Convention will have you know that you need to be out there, or you won’t sell. And I guess it’s true enough, but I just don’t want to anymore. I am tired of the conventions, the round genres this square peg is hammered into, I’m tired of perfect naked bodies everywhere, I’m tired of having to put myself and my family out there all the time, and I feel a sense of shame and guilt for doing it. Before you judge me, I know that I have a choice, and no one is forcing me. Also, this isn’t some insane plot to make people “pity buy” my books. I am well aware that doesn’t work, at all.
I know all that, and if anything, that makes it worse, because I really do not have anyone else to blame but myself, but oddly, it is the reality of the industry, that readers are more interested in our personal lives, and the drama we endure/create than our books. They read those in a handful of hours and then quickly return to the drama online.
This year’s publications, one’s out, the other one is yet to be released.
I have been following a new author in recent weeks and was able to partake in their joy of the early and fast success of a great debut. I feel no such thing with regards to my coming book. Dread, yes, joy, none. And I’m not sure if this is something we all go through at times, if it is the lack of success finally taking its toll or if this is simply me, being tired of it all? I honestly don’t know. But I do know that while I go through the motions of my marketing and PR, plan for a successful (as it can be given my tiny niche) release of Disease, my heart’s not in it. It was when I was working on the cover with my cover designer, but that was a couple of months ago. Something happened, something I can’t quite put my finger on. There are things already planned for my release I wish I could avoid, and I’ve made some tiny adjustments to e.g. my GRL costume, to make it a bit easier for me given my current situation, even though, as a whole, it is the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced in terms of transformation. I may (or may not) tell you about it some day.
For now, a question, to other (more seasoned) authors: have you been in this position? Have you had this dread of having to go through another release? How does one get over that? What pointers can you provide to work through it? Hopefully, your insights might help not only me but others who feel the same. And if you’re in a similar place like I am right now, know this: you’re not alone. There’s two of us now! 😉
As always, your insights are welcome. Feel free to comment or share. If you like my writing, feel free to subscribe to my monthly newsletter (top right on this page) with competitions and hopefully interesting reading, the next one due next week. Interact with me on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and/or Instagram. Have a good week.
I’m not sure who profits more from my writing: me or my readers…
We often talk about how a writer’s life affects their writing, and you know that I think this question to be boring, irrelevant even. Alas, we still keep talking about it. But the opposite? The question of how writing affects me or other authors came to my mind (again) this weekend. It is somehow tied to the question of why we write, but not only. Here’s the thing: I know that a great many of my colleagues write because they don’t have a choice (to make a long answer short and simple), the words just keep pouring out and we find ourselves vessels to hold them in our novels, stories, poems and plays. For some of us, writing is deeply therapeutic, a form of cheap psychotherapy. But that’s not what I had in mind today. No, I wanted to talk about something else entirely, based on my trip to Sápmi this past weekend. Care to join along?
The cover for my novel Last Winter’s Snow.
I know an author for whom writing was a form of working through her childhood (sexual) abuse, others (myself included) write about things that have touched us personally in one way or another, from abuse to illness, relationship conundrums and family challenges including the death of loved ones. Stories are woven from our lives’ experiences, so far so good. But what about the opposite? How do our stories affect us? I’ve just returned from a four day trip to Sápmi, to the land where my latest novel, Last Winter’s Snow plays out (in part). I had already traveled to Ammarnäs in January for research, and I had to promise my Sami guide and my hotel manager to return in the summer. I wasn’t entirely sure why, but I try to be a man of my word and I did return last week, as promised. I also took along my own extended family for the trip.
What I found has had as deep an effect on me as my first trip, and I’m not entirely sure (in fact I can’t make up my mind) as to which is better: Sápmi in the summer or in the winter. What I did learn however is that the two places are completely different. It’s like coming to a different world altogether. Here are two pictures to highlight this difference, although I’ll be honest and admit that my phone camera, as good as it may be, doesn’t do reality justice:
There are traces of Sami cultures everywhere, but they’re invisible to most of us. This, for instance, is a trail marker. Photo: Private
Another Sami marked birch, but look at how different the forest looks… Photo: Private
The summer in Sápmi is very short, as there’s still snow in April and well, the first snow can easily fall in late August. Mother Nature is rushed and it seems as if life virtually explodes all around with dozens of different varieties of colorful flowers, grasses etc. Up on the mountain, the birds are nesting, and there is a sweet fragrant smell in the air, mountain flowers needing an extra strong scent to attract pollinators.
I took my husband on a long hike to visit the lake that is prominently featured in my book, and the sight took my breath away. I feel extremely fortunate that my writing has taken me to such a beautiful place, again. And it’s not just Mother Nature putting on a display to leave eternal marks in my memory, the people of Ammarnäs are still as friendly and welcoming as then, and it may not come as a surprise that we are already planning our next trip. The journey hasn’t just affected me, my entire family was taken by the ethereal beauty of Sápmi. My dad, normally not very fond of Sweden and our rigid DIY attitude to service and our cool approach to each other, was almost in a trance state the entire weekend, his emotions deeply affected by the landscape, and it was he who wanted to see this in the winter. Needless to say that it made me happy to see him and my family so content. Even my husband, normally not the emotionally outgoing person (he dreams of achieving a Vulcan Kohlinaar) thanked me profusely on one occasion for having taken him and our son along on the trip. Another ego boost for the author.
I am lucky, and this really isn’t the first time I’ve been to visit a place of my writing to complete my journey with my characters. Here’s a photo my dad took three years ago, as I reached a very important point in Haakon’s journey in The Fallen Angels of Karnataka. You can tell by my self-embrace how emotional the moment was for me (unaware of the picture being taken):
From this jetty, my protagonist travels to his private island, an inheritance of dubious character… Photo: Private
And just last Christmas, while in Cartagena, Colombia, I visited the beach where two of my characters had an important philosophical argument about the limitations of “for better or worse” in a relationship:
On this beach, Jonathan’s grandson and his boyfriend have a very important discussion about what they expected each other to do in case of a severe illness or accident. Jonathan’s Promise. Photo: Private
But that’s not the only thing. I also learn from reading other authors, from having my own views and preconceptions challenged. I’m no perfect being, far from it, and while I read my colleague’s books, I learn a lot, not just professionally about the actual “craft” or “art” of writing, but also philosophically. Reading about other people’s point of view, seeing life lived through someone else’s lens is extremely valuable. Be it the experience of coming from a slightly different culture, or a radically different one. But also what it means to have a completely different human experience. I’m readily admitting to being small-minded and conceited at times, and reading (as well as my own writing research) helps me become a somewhat better person.
Last, not least, I also learn from my readers and my author friends, as well as other people I’ve met through my work. Things I never knew I needed (wanted?) to know, from fat phobia to the impact of living a life caught between gender expectations and your own reality, how to be a better chef, the impact of large breasts on your body, to being sexually or psychologically abused as a child, to risking to lose your child to your own rapist or, to complete this kaleidoscope of lessons, living life in a wheel chair, getting a little worse, day by day. No one mentioned, no one forgotten, but thank you to all for your stories, your experiences. Somehow, they all find their way into my subconscious from where my brain will knit all new stories.
I may not earn money as an author, but writing and being an author has certainly not been a vain exercise. I’ve learned more than I have in many other professions before, not just about other people, but also about our planet. Allow me to finish the post with the usual question about your experiences and a couple of photos to really drive home the point of just how lucky I am to be alive and being able to travel and learn:
Isn’t this gorgeous? Just a simple stream, but absolutely breathtaking. Photo: Private
The mountainous region of Sápmi is breathtaking, with lakes, moors and tundra, and always a slightly sweet scent from all the flowers. Photo: Private
If you like my writing, feel free to subscribe to my monthly newsletter (top right on this page) with competitions and hopefully interesting reading, the next one due next week. Interact with me on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and/or Instagram. Have a great week. If you want to comment, go ahead. I like to see my posts as conversation starters, so let’s talk to each other…
PS: Speaking of “talking to each other”. I saw this commercial for Heineken today. Have a look. You may agree with me, that it is something worth sharing…
The parenthesis about editing shouldn’t be necessary, but sadly it still is, because far from all authors edit their work
I am curious: how do authors and writers edit their work. But sadly, I’m aware that a lot of people don’t, at least not by a second set of professional eyes. I can’t believe that there are still books published that have not been properly edited, but alas, just last week, I had the following exchange with a friend who recommended me to read the book of another author. This is what she said about it:
“…he finally self-published it, in the end, which is a shame, because it needs another round of editing…”
Self-publishing has (had) a bad rap because of sentences like the above for a long time, undeservedly, because let’s face it. A lot of great books aren’t published through traditional models because most larger publishers today are too niched. If your story doesn’t fit the mold, you won’t get it out. Self-publishing is, therefore, the answer for a lot of authors. However, editing isn’t just a problem for self-publishers. I know at least one publisher I will never read again, because of how bad their editing is. So, once and for all, here’s my recommendation to authors: edit, edit, edit, and make sure you proof your texts, too!
My next novel, my eleventh, took me a lot longer to write than the first. New doubts and lessons learned needed time to be applied. And I self-edited more than ever before. The manuscript is now with my external editor.
But how do you edit? There are of course many ways to edit your work, and in this post, I’ll let you know how I’ve worked, and how my process has changed and hopefully improved. Mind you, and this is the only time I’ll say this: editing is not a one-stage rocket. You can edit your own work to a degree, but EVERY work (no exceptions!) needs a second set of eyes. And I am sooo tired of hearing people saying they can’t afford a professional editor. What do you do if you can’t afford the bus ticket? Ride it anyway? Or do you abstain and walk? Take the bike? Not even a professor in English can edit their own work, simply because you lose sight of your own writing, you can’t see the individual trees in the forest anymore.
Now, how do you edit? I’ll start with my own process. When I first began writing, I had no clue about editing or proof reading. I wrote my texts and sent them off to my editors, and eventually got back their comments and fixes. Trust me, no fun. English isn’t my first language and yeah, I am definitely not one to see trees in the forest. Wow! But, I knew that my language skills were limited, and I had learned from a publishing debacle in 2010 (a book that had been edited and proofed by a professional publisher, or so they claimed) that bad editing won’t primarily affect the publisher, but the author. I took the hit. The comment about the first edition of Common Sense is still up there on Amazon and it hurts, still, after seven years! To fix those errors was one of the main reasons I decided to put out a second edition…
So I learned, hired editors. For my fourth novel I even hired two editors (just to be really, really sure), which turned out to be a really bad idea, because the two editors, as good as they each are, have different ideas about how to structure things, how to polish a text, and I almost ended up losing both of them in the process. These days, I use my publisher’s editor(s), which simplifies things for me, and I trust them implicitly to bring out the best in me, not to push their own agenda. However, I learn from the feedback from them and try to put that feedback to work in my future writing. We literally talked about literally once. The word is virtually gone from my writing today, to just make one concrete example.
Here’s my workspace as shown in my current novel. Manuscript to the left, the support document with the timeline & notes to the right.
In the last couple of novels, I made sure to not only work on my manuscript, but I also keep a second document open, with notes. I know that some writers swear by Scrivener to do this, some use the header and footer section, but none of that worked for me. The second document side-by-side to my manuscript on a full screen helps me to keep time lines straight, names and places right etc. Because here’s the deal, an editor will look at several things (this list isn’t complete, I’m sure):
- consistency: does the manuscript make sense, is the overall story tight, interesting enough, are conflicts resolved etc.
- continuity: does the same car return which left in the morning (I’ve seen the opposite…), do people age accurately etc.
- plot holes: do people disappear without explanation, what do you see when you stand and look out over a place, etc.
- Grammar: yeah, they do look at your language, your sentences, structure, dialogue, repeated words etc. As I write in American English, my editors use the Chicago style guide. There are other style guides, particularly if you use other flavors of English or other languages.
- Typos: yes, even that, if they catch them, among all of the above…
Let’s face it, editors are humans, too, and much of what they do above isn’t always guided by the AP or Chicago style guide, but often by preference. You can resolve consistency issues several ways, and the same is true for continuity, and yeah, preference is very individual. These days, when I work on my own stories, I try to make sure to send a manuscript without consistency or continuity issues, or plot holes to my editor. For my latest manuscript, I even used grammar tools to try and minimize the work for them. Have I been successful? That remains to be seen. We haven’t really begun the editing process yet. But Debbie is welcome to comment. I do know that I will have missed grammar and typos, and I know that in the editing process, words are added and dropped, leading to new issues to look at.
I do try to put the lessons from the previous manuscripts to work in my next story. I really do, and for every book, I edit more and more. I read my books aloud, I even printed my most recent manuscript, for the first time, to see it with different eyes. I’m really curious to see if it’s made life easier for my editor. But, no matter what, an external edit remains a given!
The writer of this post in Central Park, NYC. May 1, 2017. Photo: Alina Oswald.
Once we are done, the manuscript is proofed, by at least three sets of eyes. Again, “trees in the forest”. After working on a manuscript for a few weeks, an editor will lose perspective. That’s where proof readers come in handy. We all put it aside for a while and then read it again. My publisher uses reading software to have the novel read out loud as a tool. That way, they hear instantly, if something is amiss because the software will mispronounce misspelled words. A great tip. Do we find all typos in this process? I hope so, but I also doubt it.
However, and this is really the main point here: editing (and proofing) isn’t about finding that last typo, it’s about getting rid of a text’s big and small problems because they are the ones you want to catch. You want to read about them in e-mails from your editor, not in reviews from readers. By then it’s too late and your reputation damaged. This is my process, but how do you edit? How do you work with your texts to make sure they are the best possible versions of themselves before they reach your readers? Tell me, because I’m sure there are other ways that I might profit from, not to mention the fact that my blog is read by a lot of new writers. I’m sure they’d appreciate hearing about other people’s processes, not just mine because what might work for me, might not work for you…
If you like my writing, feel free to subscribe to my monthly newsletter (top right on this page) with competitions and hopefully interesting reading. Interact with me on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and/or Instagram. Have a great week. If you want to comment, go ahead. I’d like to see this post as a conversation starter, so let’s keep talking.
A friend of mine is writing a story, and they doubt themselves. Is it really for anyone to write a book?
Writing, it seems it’s almost all I’m ever thinking about. To write a book. Sometimes it’s my own writing, doubt about how good it is, or how bad? Sometimes I’m in awe of other people’s writing, and I could just name ten random names of friends here (google “review” on my blog to find some of the people I admire), but I won’t. And then I end up in a conversation with a friend, writing their first story, and I’m immediately taken back to my first attempts at writing fiction. For me, the first story more or less just poured out of me. I had a 54K novel in ten days. For me, it wasn’t the writing aspect that was challenging. The challenge was to see the value of my writing.
Am I any good? Is my writing any good?
My first book was one that “had” to be written. I had to get my own story out of the way before other stories got to see the light of day… My next one will be Opus XV!
Now, this post isn’t about my self-esteem. I am very well aware of my intrinsic human value, and for most of the time, I understand that my writing is “good”, not Man Booker or Nobel good, but good. Good enough to be published, right? I’ll get back to that point. One of the first things I remember doing when I was done with my story (which was Family Ties, btw.) was to send it out to a few alpha readers, friends, acquaintances. I was so naïve that I actually asked openly on Facebook. I learned right there and then that this wouldn’t be a good way for me, for a couple of reasons. A) seven out of ten of these acquaintances never got back to me, and b) their feedback wasn’t helpful. No blame on them. This is entirely on me. You can’t expect a butcher to give you feedback on baking. They might, but maybe you better ask a baker from the get-go. Over time, I learned to trust professionals instead, reviewers, authors, my editors, publishers. And I realized they wouldn’t lie to me, at least not if they were serious about being in the industry.
But this post isn’t about me. It’s about how you learn how to trust your talent when you’re new. Maybe you haven’t even written your first words yet. Maybe you’re where my friend is, a few thousand words into a story, not knowing if and where the characters will take them. Maybe you are one of those writers who’ve finished a book, maybe more, maybe you’ve been rewriting it for years, decades even, and you just don’t dare to submit it to a publisher because you doubt yourself. Well?
Here’s the deal: there is only one way you’ll ever know if you’ve written the next great novel. You have to let a professional read it. I remember my bonus mother, Anne Madariaga. She was a brilliant journalist, working for a local newspaper in Arizona, and she wrote a novel. I recall her telling me about it. That was in 1985. Sadly, when she and later her husband passed away, I couldn’t find the manuscript, and we’ll never know just how good her story was. Yes, I’m convinced it was good, but on the other hand, thinking about it is mute. She’s dead, the manuscript lost. Don’t let that happen to you!
My next novel, my eleventh, took me a lot longer to write than the first. New doubts and lessons learned needed time to be applied.
You may doubt yourself, fine, we ALL do. I seriously doubt there’s any sane author out there who doesn’t (or didn’t) doubt themselves at some point in their early career. Some even later, I think some of the greatest authors doubt themselves their entire life. However, what made them great in the first place was the fact that they made the jump into the unknown, submitted their first manuscripts to someone, to read it, and give them feedback.
Now, here’s a caveat: some of you will hear things you may not want to hear. Some of you will hear that your stories aren’t engaging, your characters not likable or believable etc. I have read manuscripts that fell into that category, and nothing is more difficult than to talk to those writers, but at least they found out. They got confirmation from someone who knew.
It is this fear of being told “you suck!” that will keep some writers from ever submitting their manuscripts. But in the end, it IS the only way to find out. So what are you waiting for? One more caveat: some of you who might read this, might be inclined to send me their manuscripts. While I appreciate that, I may not be the right person. Just saying. While I try to be kind and as gentle as I can, I am not known to mince words, and my feedback is honest and pretty straightforward, which is, of course, rough if the work I’ve read sucks. And I’ve read some pretty bad stuff. However, I’ve also read amazing stuff, with horrible grammar (coming from me, take that with a pinch of salt), but engaging stories and really, really relatable characters, people you feel you’ve known all your life.
I’m not sure if that’s of any help to you, but I still think you should go forward! Finish your story, show it to a professional. It’s why you wrote it in the first place. Good luck!
If you like my writing, feel free to subscribe to my monthly newsletter (top right on this page) with competitions and hopefully interesting reading. Interact with me on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and/or Instagram. Have a great weekend. If you’d like to contribute, let me know. If you want to comment, go ahead. I’d like to see this post as a conversation starter, so let’s keep talking.
I just one year’s time, our reality, or at least our perception thereof has been altered (forever?) What does this mean for authors?
Reality v fiction: my husband and I greatly enjoy watching TV shows on Netflix. After long days of work, to just turn off your brain and binge watch a Marvel series or something else is liberating. Sometimes we end up talking more about what we see on the screen than actually paying attention to the action. We watch “The Arrow” and talk about how violence on the screen is depicted so much more graphically than it was just a few years ago, or – as we’re currently watching “Madam Secretary”, how this show about an American Secretary of State feels more like fantasy than reality, given that all the “awful”, “horrible”, and “reprehensible” acts the show lets various other countries unleash upon the U.S. are now coming directly from DC itself. Maybe Secretary McCord could take on the real White House and State Dept for a change?
All around us, our perception of reality (and what does as honesty) is changing and I keep getting the sense that it is changing in ways that were unthinkable just a few years ago. An American president who is boasting about his sexual assault on women, whose constant lying and conniving has us… No, wait! Let’s go back to the sexual assault part. I need no more examples. Would Obama have been elected after boasting how he’d grab women by their pussies? Of course not. Neither would Senator McCain or anyone before them. President Clinton was almost impeached for having consensual sex with an intern! Just as a perspective. Yet we seem to have accepted that it’s okay today, for the U.S. President to behave that way (and then some).
It’s not just in the U.S. I just listened to a press conference by our own PM about an IT outsourcing scandal where, much like the Russian debacle in the U.S., new meetings and details have come to light almost every day. Just today we learned that four government departments had been in the know about this for over a year, yet no one informed the minister in charge. And we’re not talking junior ministers nobody cares about: defense, interior, justice & economy. All four knew, knew that secrets of state and super sensitive data could be adrift, yet no one cared to act until a few months ago. And they all blame their underlings, others and each other. As a citizen it makes you wonder. Why does no one come clean and tell it all?
In another really warped world, our sense of justice has become so dominated by this sense of “me, me, me” to the last millimeter, that people are capable of unleashing all hell about literally nothing, as this scary article in the Washington Times demonstrates. I’ve always felt that political correctness can be pushed too far. And we wonder why the “silent majority” (which doesn’t really exist as such) votes for people like Trump who promise them a return to the good old days of the e.g. the fifties or medieval times. I attended an author-writer conference two years ago where we discussed “triggers” in great detail, and I was flabbergasted at the claims and demands from readers that we trigger-warn about literally everything and anything. In the end, we’d have books with more trigger warnings than text, because, let’s face it, even Corn Flakes could trigger someone to have a mental breakdown. We’re not just talking rapes or cold-blooded murder with a tea spoon… Trust me, some people really are going ALL the way in their demands for things, and in their radicalism, they don’t take prisoners and have no room for compromise. Common sense? R.I.P.!
What does that mean for our societies? Well, two things. People lie more openly, more brazenly and with less risk of being caught. I mean if Trump lies on a daily basis, why shouldn’t I (be allowed to)? Raising kids, to be honest people, is about to become really challenging… Fiction and fantasy are finding themselves in a space where the lines between what’s real and what’s not get blurred, not to mention that our fear of offending anyone scares us into writing what’s on our mind. Already, writers for U.S. comedy shows find it hard to caricaturize their own regime, as the reality is so warped. And looking at a show like Madam Secretary, where the U.S. is portrayed in the light we were all brought up under, a beacon of light, a fighter for freedom, democracy, and civil liberty, becomes almost painful to watch, as it’s so unrealistic. Almost a joke, but the laughter gets stuck in our throats. Six months, that’s all it took!
For authors, the impact might be felt the most in genres that deal with politics: thrillers, or books dealing with current affairs, but I think there is a risk that even other books, looking at social issues, family relationships etc. will face increased scrutiny and criticism from readers. Is the storyline graphic enough? Is what is credible, believable changing, do we (now) get away with unworldly claims in our books? I just edited a short story with several sensitivity comments. Yes, I get it, but what about realism? What about that certain people talk a certain way? Do I really have to choose between being untrue to my characters and my story or being bashed by sensitivity Taliban? I don’t know, but I wonder how writing is affected by the Trump era, beyond cheesy erotica poking fun at the president’s lack of substance. What is your take? Do you feel your sense of “reality” being challenged? Do you feel that your sense of justice has been affected? I’d like to hear from you on how you feel that the writing community is reacting to the changes in our world. Are we still writing about the big issues or are we bogged down by debates around the shape of the dot on the i? I for one am confused…
If you like my writing, feel free to subscribe to my monthly newsletter (top right on this page) with competitions and hopefully interesting reading. Interact with me on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and/or Instagram. Have a great week.
Disease is the story of one man’s struggle with Alzheimer’s, and ours, to get the cover done…
This is how we were welcomed home yesterday. Today, the sun is shining.
I normally blog under the #MondayBlogs heading on Mondays, but that hashtag doesn’t approve of self-marketing, so I’ve omitted it today. We came back from vacation yesterday, a sun-filled three weeks around the Italian peninsula so to speak with excursions to Croatia (Split & Dubrovnik), Montenegro (Kotor), and Greece (Olympia & Athens). Upon our arrival back here in Gothenburg we were greeted by a depressing sight of rain and various shades of gray. Fifty? I wouldn’t know. I didn’t count them. Anyway. I wasn’t going to talk to you about my great vacation, even though I will tell you one anecdote further down, but this post is about the Disease cover reveal, my upcoming novel about Alzheimer’s.
One of two of Natasha’s original design ideas. Twelve plus iterations later, we were done.
I won’t hide the truth from you. Disease is a novel that is as much about me as any book. The fear of something being amiss is at the very core of this story, and it begins the day our protagonist learns that he suffers from early-onset Alzheimer’s, a particularly vile variety of the disease that affects people as young as fifteen. Life still ahead, yet stamped with a brutal “best before” date. Here’s a “tentative” blurb. As most authors, I abhor writing them. Why write fifty, sixty or more thousand words if you could do it in 100?
But alas, blurbs are a necessary evil:
When journalist Hunter MacIntyre is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, he realizes that his life is about to change, not to mention that he’s been handed a certain death sentence. Alzheimer’s is a disease affecting the patient’s loved ones as much, if not more: Hunter’s partner Ethan and their five-year old daughter Amy. How will they react to, and deal with, Hunter’s changing behavior, his memory lapses, and the consequences on their everyday lives? Disease is the story of Alzheimer’s, seen through the eyes of one affected family.
Working on the cover for Disease wasn’t easy. Just ask my cover designer Natasha. I don’t think we’ve ever gone through so many iterations and design specs to get to the final product. There were even times when Natasha was about to give up, times when I consulted with other designers, but in the end, I liked the original direction we were heading, and we persisted. I think it pays out. You can find some early versions of the cover here, to give you an idea just how difficult this process was. But alas, let me show you the final product, before sharing one more morsel of the story with you, below (remember my vacation?):
The final cover for Disease. We worked on this for a long time, to get the right feel, the right “temperature”, not to mention the fog, the foliage etc.
One of several abandoned design ideas.
How do you like the cover?
I think the tree is a great symbol for our brain, and both the fog and the dead branches stand for the effects of Alzheimer’s. Anyway, I also promised you a tidbit of my vacation and how it relates to the book. We spent a few days down in the south of Italy, in a small town called Praiano, on the beautiful Amalfi coast. On our last day, we ventured into the small town of Amalfi, to wander, explore and have dinner. In the book, there is a wedding scene which takes place in Amalfi. When I wrote it, I knew I’d travel there, but I hadn’t been there myself. In the story, the couple getting married does so at the end of a jetty, on a small elevated platform of sorts. I had no idea whether that would be possible in real life or not, and quite frankly it doesn’t matter because those are the small freedoms we are allowed to take as authors. Imagine my surprise when we were sitting there, at the end of the jetty, taking amazing pictures of Amalfi when suddenly a bride and groom appeared on the jetty to have their pictures taken… You really never know, but it’s always nice to be realistic, even in the smallest details, right?
Amalfi, on the coast bearing its name. Isn’t it a beautiful town? A perfectly romantic backdrop for a wedding? Well, seems I’m not the only one thinking so…
Here they are, the happy couple walking out on the jetty to have their wedding pictures taken. Incidentally, they later dined in the same restaurant we did.
Anyway, I’m glad we finally managed to get our cover done, and this also means that I can focus on other aspects of the marketing of Disease, which btw. is due October 26 from Beaten Track Publishing. I’ll work on the book’s own page here on my website, and get pre-order forms out for my final convention this year. If you are attending GRL, you are lucky, because you’ll be able to buy the book (and read it) before anyone else in the world, as I’ll be selling it exclusively at the convention, two weeks before publication. As a little treat to all those amazing fans out there who spend so much time and money to see us authors once every year. They deserve a little something extra.
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