Monday, July 25, 2011

Marketing Books Through YouTube

I started a second YouTube channel to promote books I'm making myself. Making "book trailers" seems a little silly, but it's apparently a very accepted form of marketing.
Have a look, if you like:

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Girl Who Married a Werewolf

This is something I've been wanting to do for a while: A collection of Swedish folktales translated into English. I know there are some books on Scandinavian folklore out there already, but they're either pretty analytical or mistakingly collecting stories written by Scandinavian authors. While said stories take inspiration from folktales, they're not the real deal. One book called "Swedish Folktales" is actually a collection of fairy tales, written by various Swedish authors in the early 1900's. The big draw of this book is not the stories themselves, but the illustrations by Swedish artist John Bauer, so do look it up.


My little book "The Girl Who Married a Werewolf, and Other Creepy Folktales From Sweden", however, IS the real deal. Most of the folktales are pretty creepy, so I decided to make this fact the theme of the whole book. I was introduced to local folktales by my grannie Ebba, who may have thought she'd scare me out of my wits with her tales of trolls and grumpy brownies. Instead I was fascinated, and when I learned to read I went out I got myself an even larger dose of scary folklore.
This book, like my other books, was published through Lulu. So far I’m very happy with their services, though I can’t say that I’m rolling in profits from my literary ventures. But then, very few self-published authors are. I’m looking into the ebook trade now, trying to get to grips with how to better get my stuff out there. It’s not just about making money off my work –I really want people to read it. Then they can go off hating or enjoying it as they will.

There are 17 illustrated stories in all, with a little introduction covering the structure and purpose of the Swedish folktales. There’s also some info on some of the creatures that appear in the stories. At the end of the book are notes on the stories and a map showing where all the regions of Sweden are. My country is divided into 25 regions, sort of the way the US has states, with their own governing power. Some tales are more prominent in some regions than others. For example, tales from Denmark have slipped over to Skåne, which is Sweden’s southernmost region.

Now I should probably get my head round to doing some comic book work. As far as I can tell, it’s easier to get an audience for your comics, than for your crime novel, if you don’t have a big publishing house backing you up.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Being Busy..

My continuing adventures with Cyberwizard Publishing have given quite a bit to do during this year. I thought I'd go through my contributions in rapid succession.

First of all, the delightful "Jack of all Trades" by K. C. Shaw. It's a sort of pastorale everyday period drama, with dragons, elves and magic thrown in for good measure. I had a great time reading the manuscript.

 "A Fistful of Hollers" is a collection of humorous western tales, often with a tinge of sci-fi or fantasy. I'm not a western fan per se, but I enjoyed illustrating this one.

 "The Simian Transcript" collects several of David C. Kopaska-Merkel's highly original short stories. Again, another great read.

I spent my summer vacation producing illustrations for two books simultaneously. First out was "Between a Roc and a Hard Place" by Danny Birt. This book has won at least one award since its publication.

The other book was  "Knight Terrors: The (Mis)adventures of Smoke the Dragon" by Nicholas Ozment,a humorous fantasy containing all the staple trapping of fantasy literature, while managing to both make fun of them and use them as clever plot points. I had a great time illustrating this one.

Still... I don't think I'll do another job for Cyberwizard. Things are not working out the way I hoped for me and my own book projects, so either I'll find some other publisher or just get the stuff out through Lulu, which isn't the worst thing that could happen, although many small-press publishers would have you think that's the case. There is great animosity towards Lulu, and I can't understand why. At least not so far. I've had only good experiences with them.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Partners In Crime (Or At Least In Publishing)

The last two years or so, I've been producing illustrations for Cyberwizard Productions. This small, but valiant, publishing house is still trying to get a proper foothold, but has already published a number of very good fantsy and sci-fi books. Those are the only ones I've read, since I've been illustrating some of them. The writing is as good as some of the fantasy bestsellers I've read, and sometimes even better.

Through friends of friends, I got in touch with Kelly Christiansen at Cyberwizard Productions. She took a fancy to my art and comissioned some illustrations for the humorous fantasy/sci-fi anthology Strange Worlds of Lunacy. After that I did art for L. Frank Baum's American Fairytales (not yet published).

Just published, however, is Night Ship to Never, another anthology, collecting the sci-fi poems of David Kopaska-Merkel and Kendall Evans (some examples of the illos shown below).

And there is more to come...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The first, shaky steps!

I decided to create another blog about my self-publishing efforts, apart from my regular Loneanimator blog, which is really about my other creative endeavours. I thought this would be fair, since I am devoting quite a while to making my own books and may have some info on the process that could be interesting for others.

The reason I got into self-publishing was strict necessity. In 1994 I started collecting folk-tales from Blekinge; the region in Sweden where I live. I had found that nothing had been published on the subject for over ten years and that the older books were rare and in various states of decay. So I spent about a year collecting stories from archives and people who could still remember a tale and tell it. I worked with my high school buddy Daniel Johannisson on the text and provided the illustrations myself. The original idea was that the book would be illustrated with photos depicting scenes from the stories. This proved to be more ambitious than I had predicted and almost a full year was spent working with props, puppets and costumes. Not to mention finding backgrounds that were fitting. My friends acted as photo models.

Eventually we abandoned the idea and I settled on doing ink drawings instead.

So after about a year and a half the book was finished and Daniel and I started looking for a sponsor for our project. Now; there are several institutions in Sweden, some local, that provide funding for book publishing, especially on subjects such as history, folklore and the like. They all laughed heartily at us and sent us home with the attitude "That's very nice boys, but you're not qualified to write a book on this subject". We spent ten gruelling and humiliating years trying to find someone to help us finance the printing. Eventually I blew a fuse, cursed all our backbiters and decided to publish the book print-on-demand. This was cheap enough to pull off, though I had to do it myself after Daniel had left the project. The company Books On Demand printed "Blekingesägner" ("Folk Tales From Blekinge") in 2004 and offered enough distribution through libraries and online sellers for the book to actually make quite a bit of money back.

The funny thing is, this book hasn't sold that well in Blekinge but is doing much better in the rest of the country.

A friend at the newspaper I was working at at the time helped me put the book together for printing. It had to be delivered to Books On Demand as a print-ready PDF. They can do it for you, at the tidy sum of about $500. The once-for-all fee for publishing the book through that company was $300. So getting your books printed in Sweden aint exactly cheap.

After this first book I decided to do another one, as a sort of extension from the first project. I put together a book about "oknytt"; a collective expression for supernatural beings like trolls, gnomes, fairies, goblins and the like. "Fältguide till Oknytt" ("A Field Guide to Oknytt") was published through Books On Demand the following year and made an even better profit. The book contains descriptions of over a hundred different creatures from the folklore of many countries. It has apparently appealed more to the fantasy crowd than the ones strictly interested in folkloric research. Both books were printed as paper backs with black and white interiors.

I have had no luck in interesting professional publishers in taking on my material. Apparently my art is "un-marketable" according to Swedish publishing firms. That's why I decided to get my books out of Sweden entirely and into the English-language market. More about that in a while.