Please judge my book by its cover!

My publisher Second Generation Press has just released the cover of my upcoming eBook novel The New Sense. Take a look by clicking here (then click on the photo to see the uncropped version). It’s amazing how well designer Alex Nereuta managed to capture the essence of the book in a single, striking image. It makes me want to buy a copy!

Alex took hundreds of photographs of a mannequin head after covering it with torn documents from The New Sense. She experimented with lighting, different visual treatments (some versions changed the image to a negative) and camera angles. What’s interesting about an eBook cover is that it has to work as a thumbnail. Alex’s initial favourite mockup looked fantastic but publisher Chris Trudeau and I both felt like one of the other versions was punchier and would therefore be more effective on a website like Amazon or the Apple Store. If the book was coming out in print, maybe we would have gone with Alex’s suggestion.

It was a great process and I was privileged to be a part of it. The New Sense is right on track to becoming an eBook. Now for the Inkle version… and that’s a whole other kettle of fish.

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I made 78¢!

My fiendish plan to publish a pseudonymous eBook short story as a technical test for my upcoming collection and YA novel has been successful beyond my wildest dreams! Someone actually bought it for 99¢! And I made 78¢ of that! I’m rich!! Mwahahahahah!!!

Beyond the incredible wealth I have accumulated, I’m glad I did the test, because it showed: a) I can code an eBook correctly using Smashwords, b) there are subtle differences between how the final product looks on a Kindle and iPad, and c) an interesting cover and blurb really incite curiosity (and in this case obviously led to someone reading the 30% free sample and buying the whole story).

Speaking of covers, I had a meeting this week with my publisher Chris Trudeau and cover designer Alex Nereuta, who presented us various mock-ups. Alex came up with a fantastic concept that manages to perfectly encapsulate the story and theme of The New Sense while adding a feeling of mystery and drama, plus two eggs sunny side up. Okay, not the eggs. Not only is it going to be a great cover, it inspired ideas (and a lively creative discussion) for a promo video. Any Adobe After Effects students out there who would like a chance to work on a cool project for peanuts? Or, if you are such a person and have a peanut allergy, the chance to work on a cool project for a pint of Guinness or maybe even two?

No need to be coy

I had a couple of great working sessions this Thursday and Friday with my publisher, Chris Trudeau at Second Generation Press. And now I no longer need to be coy about what we were working on, because he’s put a first post online about my forthcoming novel The New Sense.

We’ve been restructuring The New Sense for the Inkle adaptive text version. It’s quite the mind-bender, figuring out how to give readers choices, yet steer them through the story so that they don’t miss anything important. Luckily, Chris has a bent mind. Can I say that about my publisher? Anyway, it’s all coming together. The ebook should be out in the fall, and the other current excitement involves the cover, which geniesse (that’s a female genius, right? Or is it a female genie? Either way, she’s good…) designer Alex Nereuta is creating but refuses to show me any sneak previews.

Despite being a Photoshop hack (and with some feedback from the aforementioned Alex), I also managed to design a cover for my pseudonymous short story ebook test yesterday afternoon. I bought a photo on Shutterstock for about $10 and voila, a cheap, yet serviceable cover. I won’t be doing this for my more serious epublishing efforts, but it does the trick just fine for this test. I’ll be creating the ebook with Smashwords during the next few days but won’t link to it from here. Busy week…

The eBook Deluge

Anyone who has ever searched on Amazon (not searched for a specific book, just clicked around until they wonder how on earth they got where they’ve gotten to) knows that there are a lot of ebooks out there. However until I found out just now that there is not only a monster sex ebook series called Cum For Bigfoot, but at minimum eight of them, I had no idea how far the rabbit hole went. Then again, who hasn’t been on a “flirty, fun filled trip (that) soon turns into a nightmare, when an ape-like creature kidnaps a group of young women with the purpose of procreating with them.”? In fact, that was precisely why I quit the cub scouts at age 9. Because ape-like creatures sometimes don’t know the difference between young women and men, as anyone who’s ever been incarcerated in Turkey could probably testify. Happy trails!

Happily ever after…

According to Lost co-creator and Prometheus co-writer Damon Lindelof, “Good stories, you don’t know where they’re going to end.” He’s got a point. What makes a work of fiction great is when you can’t stop thinking about it once it’s done.

This means that you can’t end your story with “And they lived happily ever after.” It works fine for fairy tales. A cottage in the forest made of candy is enough for a story to be memorable to a 4 year-old, so there’s no need to raise any questions about whether the witch’s treasure will corrupt Hansel and Gretel in later life. But for an adult, this is where the story might get truly interesting.

I’d say it’s the difference between dead fiction and living fiction. Like a dead person, dead fiction might be wonderful in a nostalgic way: “Remember when such-and-such happened?” or “I loved the way he dealt with the turbaned guy with the big sword in the market square.” But living fiction, like a close friend or relative, is wonderful because you don’t have all the answers: “I hope things turn out all right for her,” could be what someone might say on sending a daughter off to teach English in South Korea for a year or after leaving the movie theater following the Prometheus end-credits.

Young Adult fiction by definition lies somewhere in the middle. (So does childish adult fiction, by the way, be it romance novels or trashy thrillers.)

My challenge in writing Silent Symmetry has been to find a balance between answering some questions while leaving others open, possibly to be answered over the course of the trilogy. Possibly not.

Now I think about it, it would almost be a good idea to start a story with “And they lived happily ever after.” Maybe I will…