When I resolved to publish the two novels in my Heart of Darkness series as eBooks, I figured I was all set. The books had already been edited and re-edited; I had the future plotlines mapped out in my head. That was everything, right?
Of course not. My wife — aka “Queen of Internet Research” — cautioned me, “Everything I’ve read says you need a great cover that really catches the eye.”
I hadn’t thought that far ahead. I’d always dreamed of being picked up by a major publishing house that had its own artists.
I mean, I like fantasy art as much as anyone, but I’m good with words, not pictures. I had no idea how to locate a good cover artist.
So I asked a friend of mine who is an artist to do it. He begged off, citing his current, non-artistic workload. Nor did any other personal connections pan out.
Ahead of me yet again, my wife told me about several options she’d read about on the internet. The most interesting was a contest where artists compete for the prize of being your cover artist. You are presented with several custom options and only pay if you accept one.
An intriguing concept, but I wanted to know more about my prospective artists. So my friend recommended deviantart.com. There, my wife and I posted a job description and waited, though not for long.
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It took me years to complete the first draft of Oath of Six, the first volume in my fantasy series The Heart of Darkness.
I wrote the prologue pretty much straight through, but then lost steam. After muddling through chapter one, I skipped ahead to the epilogue because I was more sure of the ending than the beginning. I then returned to working on the second chapter, only to jump to the end again, and then back to the beginning. My productivity was even more inconsistent than it sounds since I would stop writing for weeks at a time.
After I did finish, the readers of my first draft kept saying the story started off too slowly. I had to admit there was a lot of backstory and world-building in the early chapters. However, isn’t that the norm in fantasy novels, I argued. An author spends almost as much time creating the world as he does fleshing out the characters and storyline.
Interestingly, my initial readers unanimously agreed that the early material bogging down my story didn’t include the earliest part — i.e. that prologue that I wrote so easily. They were referring to the first eight or so chapters where I was dithering my way through, stopping and starting, jumping around. No doubt my readers had sensed my original inability to immerse myself in my storyline.
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