Men of Bronze 10th Anniversary

The Agony of Covers

In a few weeks’ I’ll be re-releasing an edited, updated version of Men of Bronze as an e-book.  Later, I’ll re-release it in paperback and hopefully audiobook.  This has meant going back to my original manuscript and creating a new clean master document formatted for e-books.  It has also meant agonizing over a new cover.

It is not hyperbole to say a book’s cover can make or break a book.  A large segment of the reading population use the initial draw of the cover to gauge their interest in what might lurk beneath.  It’s a reader’s market, folks.  With so many choices out there with which to occupy their time, a book has to grab them EVEN BEFORE page one — which means an eye-catching cover and compelling synopsis.

Good covers can be expensive.  Even licensing a pre-existing image can run into the mid-four figures or even five figures.  Hiring a world-class artist, hiring a cover designer, hiring an editor . . . these can quickly eat your budget, but they are so necessary!

I’ve been attempting the low road, as my budget right now is pocket lint and warm wishes.  The “low road” involves scouring the Internet for public domain art and going around, hat in hand, to my artistically-inclined friends to see if they can mash them together for me in Photoshop.  Yes, I’d rather license Frazetta’s “Atlantis”, but that would mean the loss of one working kidney (I inquired).

And, the low road does have some surprising twists.

Here’s the first offering, from my friend Yoshi.  He’s a 3D artist and modeler who knows the business end of Photoshop:

MoB 1

I want your opinions, Gentle Readers.  What makes a cover stand out for you?  And, if you were a publisher, what sort of cover would you envision for Men of Bronze?

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Men of Bronze 10th Anniversary, Self-promotion, Writing

The End of an Era

I started my career as a writer in 2005, with the publication of my first novel, Men of Bronze.  The biographical novel Memnon followed in 2006; both were published by a relatively new house called Medallion Press.  I recall being flown to New York City to attend Book Expo in ’05 — which coincided, that year, with the release of Men of Bronze.  Medallion bought the cover of Publisher’s Weekly that April and proudly displayed the cover, the Corinthian helmet with its Eye of Horus, that became the brandmark for Men of Bronze.  A giant banner was hung from the rafters of Javitz Center; an invitation-only release party was held in midtown Manhattan, replete with actors dressed as characters from the book.  It was heady and intoxicating . . . the fairy-tale all writers dream about.

Men of Broze 10Yr

 

Memnon was met with far less fanfare.  While held by some to be my strongest book, it has been my least read book.  It struggled.  Its shepherd, my editor at Medallion, had left the company.  There was some chaos, and it lapsed into relative obscurity with only a single-printing in hardcover.

I moved on.  Medallion moved on.  Books were planned; some were written, some not.  Time marched on.  Then, this month, some twelve years after the first publication of Men of Bronze, I petitioned and was granted a reversal of all publishing rights.  Men of Bronze and Memnon are now, officially, out of print.

What this means: the Medallion editions will vanish from sales channels.  A few hardcover copies of each remain, and the e-book editions will be withdrawn from the various retailers.  But, it also means that in the coming months you can expect to see new editions from me — new covers and newly-edited texts, in print, digital, and hopefully audio editions.  All culminating in a prequel novella featuring a young Hasdrabal Barca!

While I’m saddened that the Medallion editions are no more, it’s exciting to see what the new world of hybrid publishing has to offer.

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Twilight of the Gods, Writing

Wednesday Snippet

Here’s a peek from the opening chapters of Twilight of the Gods (Grimnir #2):

Silence returned.

The dull echo of thunder rolled down from the north.

Úlfrún exhaled, then, her breath coming in ragged gasps. She staggered over to Heimdul’s body and grasped the butt of her axe with her good hand. Úlfrún worked it back and forth; then, placing one foot on the back of the slain man’s head, she wrenched the blade free.

Grunting with effort, she struck him again. And again. With each strike came the slaughter-house sound of butchery – the popping of gristle and snapping of tendons, the soft squelch of bloody tissue parting beneath the edge of her axe, the rasp of splintered bone on steel as she drew it forth again; on the third blow, Heimdul’s head came free from his corpse.

Úlfrún stooped and caught it up by its mane of blood-matted hair. “Odin!” she roared, brandishing her foe’s severed head toward the northern horizon. “Odin! Look here! Look . . .”

She reeled, a sudden sick weariness robbing her of strength. The clouds overhead boiled and throbbed; the evergreen trees around her swayed like supple maidens, dancing to a tune none could hear. On the field where slayer met slayer, only the slain remained . . . and they, too, soughed and sighed before her blurring vision – a sea of red and white, of flesh and blood and riven mail, whose steel-edged combers threatened to break above her.

“O-Odin!”

Úlfrún of the Iron Hand took a dozen steps before the sun’s pale light suddenly dimmed. She sank down onto the crust of snow, then toppled to the side with Heimdul’s hair yet caught in her fingers. She lay still, and like a soothing coverlet the darkness rolled over her . . .

Úlfrún Ironhand

Úlfrún of the Iron Hand

 

 

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