Thursday 31 May 2012

Best Laid Plans, etc...

Lookit! A blog post!

I've been pretty busy of late trying to get my anthology together. I wanted to release it for my birthday, mid-June, although I think I might, realistically, be looking at late-June. So this is a kind of 'where I'm at' blog.

The other reason today is a good day to do this is that tomorrow is June. Tomorrow things start to kick off. The first contributor story on my drabble website 101 Fiction goes live tomorrow. A wondrous, dark, nuanced little piece called Dismissed, by the talented Pete Newman.

Then next Friday the second contributor 101 is from Lily Childs, which is a privilege and an honour. A lot of people reading this will already know Lily, but if you don't, and you like your fiction dark and rife with horrors, then I urge you to check her out. A real talent on the rise.

101 Fiction is a pretty big deal for me. It's me dipping my toes in the waters of the wider world...

But I mentioned an anthology, right? A collection of thirty three short stories and flash fictions. I've been working on the cover for a while now, and I'll no doubt write a whole blog on that when it's finished, but what I can give you now is a little peak at the work in progress. It's not finished, but any comments would be really helpful, and please don't worry about being overly critical. Honesty is way more important to me.

If 101F is a big deal, this is massive.

It's kind of an experiment in some ways, I want to see what happens, but it's also me putting my work on the line. It's mildly terrifying.

I've been working on it for a while already, working on the introduction, the selection, the order, the blurb, the cover and, of course, the stories themselves.

Every part is important. I work in a bookshop, and we get plenty of self-published books thrust at us, and they instantly scream self-published. The blurb is badly written and the cover badly designed. And I can't help but wonder if this is a true reflection of the work inside, or whether they thought that a book it took two years to write and edit and polish (hopefully) was only worth a couple of hours work on the packaging.

You shouldn't judge a book by the cover, they say. But everybody does, don't they?

It's actually coming together now. I can see that, but at the same time, all of these parts, everything that needs doing, and needs doing right, seems insurmountable at times. It scares me, honestly.

As does the idea of actually putting the thing out there. I'm not expecting mega bucks, or mega sales, but feedback scares me. This isn't like throwing up a story on a blog, this is the real thing. People should expect perfection, and that's what I want to give.

So that's June, you  know... two fairly big things (and lets not forget my birthday in there, somewhere). Oh yeah, and then, July 1st, this blog will be two years old. For those who remember last year's Xeroversary, we'll be partying again this year. I've got some great writers lined up for you, I really can't wait.

I'm gonna go curl up in the corner and panic now... ^_~


  1. Lovely cover. And you are right, people do judge covers. Well, great luck in June; it will be busy. I just published one short story as part of a school project, and I'm still exhausted.

  2. Hey John,

    Exciting times! :)

    You asked for honesty so...I'm not sure about the cover. I'm going to think about why that is and if it's still true tomorrow and the day after but right now I like the components (especially the feathers) but I'm not sure they go together.

    It's understandable that it's so scary but I think the fact you're so worried and working so hard is actually a good thing. I for one have faith that whatever happens, it'll be worth a look.

    Good luck!

    1. I did ask for honesty, and I think first impressions are definitely important. I have a few ideas myself about why it doesn't quite work for me too, yet, and I think it's pretty much as you say, but if you do think of anything specific then let me know. =)

      Thank you, Pete. ^_^

  3. I'm intrigued by the square puzzle pieces. I found the feathers distracting from the title. I tried decreasing the size of the icon to see what it's going to look at a more accurate size in a lineup and it actually seems more readable at the smaller size. Did you try coloring the inside of the title letters with grays or anything?

    1. Thank you, Aidan.

      I have been looking at it in various sizes as I've been working on it, conscious of the fact that I want it to look good large, and obviously when it's thumbnailed too (as you say, for when it's in a lineup).

      Interesting that Pete liked the feathers but you picked up more on the puzzle pieces. The letters are white, but partially opaque.

  4. That's exciting news, and I can relate to all that you are saying. I'm about to release my first novella - something I have been working on and off of for the last 4 years. I too wanted a good cover, something that reflects the story and yet attracts the reader - I hope I have achieved this, a preview of it is on my blog. I'm nervous about feed back and reviews, but hey John you're a wonderful writer - you shouldn't be I'm sure everyone will love your anthology. ^_^

    You asked for comments and criticisms on the cover so here goes:

    I showed your cover to my husband who is a graphic designer and his comments were, the overall effect is a little bland, the title needs to stand out more from the background and the title appears to occupy the whole width of the cover which doesn't seem to look right.

    1. Thank you, Helen. And the critical feedback is appreciated. =)

      I was actually going to reduce the top line of the title text in my next session, I'll have a look at the overall title sizing too. I can see the bland comment, I think I wanted to keep it quite minimal, but at the same time, I think it lacked something, hence using the jigsaw pieces and the feathers, which I think has then become a bit mixed in terms of elements.

      I've had an idea to make the background more interesting too, if I can make it work... ;)

  5. Well I hope the comment has helped rather than upset - I think you will sort it out and resolve it. I saw your comments on mine thanks.

    1. Yes, definitely helpful! I would rather people are overly critical now, than I look back on it in a year's time and think, "why didn't someone mention that..."