As I’ve mentioned before, I’m working on a two-book work of traditional, not-deliberately-funny fantasy. At this point the text is close enough to done that I need to put some serious thought into what the covers are going to look like. I’m not entirely sure how it will all come together, but for now I’m just trying to brainstorm ideas and maybe toss together some mock-ups of possibilities using stock images from the web (since any efforts of mine to create visual art would end up looking like an in-game screenshot from Kingdom of Loathing).
There’s a dramatic moment in the first book where the action and scenery would make an excellent attention-grabbing image… and which just happens to feature, as this post title suggests, a naked guy. On my cover I’d only show him from the waist up, of course, because I don’t want Amazon’s butt-finder software to auto-push my book into the “Adult” category, but I’d like to try doing something with this scene.
I have some very specific ideas about the look, pose, and physique* of Mister Naked Guy, and I’ve been trying to find some images that are at least close to what I’m looking for. So in short, I, as a heterosexual male, have just spent several uncomfortable hours painstakingly scanning through the search results on various stock photo sites for the key phrase “shirtless man”. And I’ve just gotten started.
It did seem to me that my 15 year old daughter walked by a little more often during my search than she normally does when I’m sitting at the computer, but that could be my imagination.
* Muscular but not bulky – leaning a little more toward Bruce Lee than Bruce Banner
I’m hard(ish) at work on my next pair of e-books, which involves some modifications to and editing of a mostly-finished five-part story that’s been languishing on my hard drive for years. I seem to have lost the crudely drawn map I’d thrown together way back around 2006 or 2007, so I’m in the process of re-creating a (hopefully nicer) new one. After playing around with a few demos of fantasy map-making software and tinkering with a number of tutorials involving procedurally-generated map outlines, I ran across this excellent set of tutorials and ended up mostly following the advice contained there. Since I already had a vague idea of the shape of my continents and needed a few prominent features to be at specific places, this option gave me the most flexibility but relied heavily on my mostly non-existent artistic talent.
This is very much a work in progress: I haven’t placed any cities yet or added place names or added any textures to the land or water, and I need to do some tinkering with the forested areas as I’m not satisfied with their look yet. Should I make them denser? Less variation in the tree types or just drop certain of the tree images? Maybe just replace them entirely – but with what? Should I keep the color scheme or turn it all into a sepia/antiqued look? Dots for the cities, or images – keeping in mind the eventual e-book pictures will be smaller than this example? I’m not a design guy in the slightest so any constructive advice would be appreciated.
In any case, here’s a preview of the world where these upcoming books are set. Click to view the full size image (I kept the master copy big just on the off chance there’s ever a need for a high resolution print out):
I’m not totally sure what the status of my book is at this point on Smashwords – they keep rejecting it for things like blank space at the ends of paragraphs. But for whatever it’s worth I’ve filled out one of their author interviews, the results of which can be found here.
I’ve also been making some progress on revisions to my long-mostly-finished (but languishing on my hard drive for several years) traditional fantasy work which will probably end up as one or more e-books under the title Spirit’s End.
The Sillymarillion is now listed at Smashwords, which means it can be purchased directly from there and also from Barnes & Noble, Scribd, and numerous other online outlets. The Smashwords release coincides with that site’s Read an Ebook Week event where books are offered at deep discounts (or even free) – so from March 2nd through 8th it will be available there for
99 cents $1.50!
(Edit – I added the book to the promotion in the wee hours of the morning and tried to do 99 cents, but it wouldn’t let me go lower than $1.50 unless I wanted to give it away for free… and after a few hours’ much-needed sleep this fact had gone >poof!< out of my mind.)
After much tinkering with e-book formatting and in spite of the fact that Amazon insists on turning the last page of the table of contents into the default opening page of the book, The Sillymarillion is now an e-book! For the moment it’s exclusively available from the Kindle store, but in late November when Amazon’s 90-day exclusivity period is over I’ll be releasing it in other formats through other venues.
I’ve also added a page of some of the artwork from the book and concept art my wife created while it was being written. The e-book version includes these images in a new appendix, but by sizing them to fit on the screen for most e-book readers, I sacrificed some display quality on newer devices. To make up for this, I’ve made them available at a somewhat higher resolution here.
I had the eBook version of The Sillymarillion all ready to go – I’d converted it to EPUB format and used Amazon’s own tool to convert it to MOBI and preview it. Then I uploaded it to Amazon and was told it had errors that were probably due to being converted by a non-Amazon tool (which, as I mentioned, was not the case).
Amazon recommended a tool called epubcheck which I downloaded and used to produce a list of errors… but now what? Looks like I might have to learn the EPUB file format and do some manual editing, then hope Amazon can convert my fixed version…