The Range – it’s launch time!

Dauntless_by_Christina_Deubel

The image above, Dauntless, was painted by the talented Christina Deubel. Not only is it a wonderful piece of artwork, one I have spent many hours staring at, but also the cover for my novel, The Range.

After what has often felt like an eternal struggle of finding time to write and edit, my novel is finally ready to be set free.

Before I show you the cover itself, and reveal the all important release date, I’d like to share the evolution of my book with you.

Written on a whim

The Range began as a passing idea, a piece of writing created around a what-if question. I intended to post it here as a short story, one told from the point of view of a video camera that captured scenes before, during and after an apocalyptic event.

The earliest file I have is dated 19th August 2010. It was called ZombieJuice at the time because I thought it sounded cool.

After running out of steam at around 35,000 words, I stopped working on it for a few months as I couldn’t find a way to tell the story I wanted purely through the lens of a video camera.

In February I returned to it and changed the point of view to third person. I figured the camera would still be a useful tool, but maybe if it was passed from one character to another it would enable me to tell the story of various characters struggling through the big bad event.

I managed to squeeze another 10,000 words into that version before again running dry in February 2011.

That was infuriating because I had begun to see there was a decent story amongst the dregs, yet I couldn’t get to grips of how best to tell it.

Change to The Range

Draft 4 of ZombieJuice was the last title of that name before I changed it to The Range in June 2011. It was about that time when it dawned on me that I could keep a single point of view, but instead of the video camera why not use a character to tell the story?

Problem with that change of heart was adapting what had become a large bowl of spaghetti, each strand being a point of view. In the process of changing point of view from video camera, to third person, and then to first person, I had a mass of narrative with so many contradictions and flaws I came close to binning the entire project and working on something else instead.

By Draft 3 of The Range I had churned out 58,000 words. After printing it out and offering it to friends to beta read, I wasn’t sure how it would be received. Mixed reviews. Some raved. Some tore it to shreds. I left the story to sit and wallow in shame until July 2012 when I dug it out (yet again) and read through it.

I was starting to feel like that distant relative who rarely visits.

Yeah, it was awful. We’re talking real trash, dear blog reader. Though there were some gems here and here, slithers of the good stuff worthy of being saved.

Drafts 3 to 5…slow progress

Minor adjustments don’t call for a fresh draft, but big changes to plot of additional chapters, sub-plots etc mean a new save is best practice. Just in case. You never know when you might want to go back and see where you went wrong, or insert a scene you chopped out from a previous version.

At times I was frustrated by the writing process and more than once I almost decided to dump the first person point of view (again) and try a third person multiple points of view. Did I have the energy to redo the whole thing? Was this a sign I was writing the wrong story?

slowprogress

During gaps between edits I spent time writing short stories for my blog, and even participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and wrote 50,000 word incomplete novels in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Future projects perhaps.

I thought if I did something else and took my mind off The Range, I’d return to it with fresh eyes and finally see a way forward.

Almost there…right?

In the autumn of 2013 I decided enough was enough. I had to grab this unruly beast and make it dance to my beat. Up until then I’d been pantsing the writing, making it up as I went along. And that had led to a lot of contradictions and continuity errors.

I’d never liked the idea of mapping out a plot before hand. It felt like cheating somehow.

In quiet moments, driving, staring blank at the TV screen or that fuzzy time just before I fell asleep, I’d ponder how I wanted to tell the story. What was missing? Why wasn’t I moving forward with it in practice the way I saw in my head?

arewethereyet

So I plotted it all out.

All 42 chapters were each given a mini synopsis. Who does what, where, when and why. Who dies. Who lives. Changes marked in red fonts, and so on.

Around that time I made the decision that the scope of the story would extend beyond a single novel. I cranked out a similar plot structure for a second novel, The Holt, so when it came to writing I’d have a solid framework to work on, and goals to aim for.

That left a major problem. One I knew had been building since around Draft 3.

The flashback.

Up to Draft 6 I had a flashback slap bang in the middle of the story and it occupied a sizeable chunk of the book. Flashbacks can be used to great effect but in this case it wasn’t going to work.

It was too long and would serve to piss the reader off by dragging them away from the main story, force them to read through back story before dumping them back in the action.

friendsflashback

So I chopped its head off.

And reattached it at the start.

That was a good moment, the best so far, and the first time I really began to see The Range as a complete story.

Fans of Friends will get that picture.

Draft 7: The Final Frontier

After adding a few more scenes in key places, so they’d key in with the sequel, I created an HTML file and previewed it on my kindle. I published a post, The Range is coming! about how excited I was that The Range finally seemed to be a real thing rather than a collection of words I played with on the screen.

Other than editing for silly errors like “the the” and “he his” and so on, I was nearing the point where I’d have to unleash my baby into the world and let it fend for itself.

That’s scary shit.

I’ve read so many ebooks from Amazon by amateur and first time writers. Some bad, some good. I like to leave well-balanced reviews on Amazon and Goodreads because after all the hard work an author has put into their project, I believe they deserve quality feedback.

Now I’ll have to prepare myself for reviews on my own baby. Good or bad.

Christina Duebel & Dauntless.

Ever since Draft 5 I’ve had an image in my head of what I wanted the cover to look like. I researched books of a similar genre but I found they all tended to have the same theme – apocalyptic scenes, blood, gore, zombie blah blah, biohazard signs…blergh.

That wasn’t for me.

I wanted something different. The Range is set against the back drop of an apocalyptic event but the real nature of the story is one of friendship, loyalty, honour and love, values I hold in high regard.

For a few years now I’ve been a fan of artwork created by Christina Deubel, and the first short piece I published on my blog, Ground Fall, was inspired by one of her paintings, Resilience. Since then I’ve written numerous short pieces using her paintings as a source of inspiration.

To say I was overjoyed when Christina offered to let me use her painting, Dauntless, as a cover for The Range, is a serious understatement. And when I saw it…damn, it was like she’d reached into my noggin and crafted a painting from my imagination.

It matched what I wanted perfectly. Dark and forbidding to show despair, yet bright and colourful to reflect hope.

One guideline I’ve read when publishing an e-book is never to do your own cover. Since Christina worked on the painting, I knew I had enough graphic design experience to add the final touches. The number of book cover versions I created around her painting is well over 40.

Hours and hours staring at the screen, trying to figure out text placement, colours, styles and sizes.

Even now I still can’t decide which of the final 2 designs I like.

The Range – covers.

So, dear blog reader, here’s where I humbly request your input.

Below are 2 covers. I’m happy with the design, but which one to choose?

Take a look, you can click them to go large.

Cover A

the range book coverA

Cover B

the range book cover B

I like both, and I can’t figure which looks better.

I would be most grateful to you, dear blog reader, for your thoughts on which one to go with.

Finally, the launch date!

This has played on my mind a great deal in the last few months. The big question is, when will it ever be ready? Honest answer, I have no idea.

I knew I had to stop tweaking and fiddling with it at some point. Even now I find it hard not to open it up and start flicking through, searching for the smallest detail to change.

In September I came close to announcing a launch date of the end of October, but something made me hesitate.

I wasn’t entirely happy. I had to do one last check and read it again. I spotted a few errors, silly things really. Yet as I write this I wonder how many are still there, lurking, ready to be pointed out by eagle-eyed readers. I’m confident I’ve found them all.

I’ve read books by world-class authors and have spotted errors. Maybe I’m just worrying too much.

Anyway…

The launch.

Oh man, this is scary.

Okay.

Deep breath.

The Range will be launched on

Friday November 28th, 2014.

It’s done.

You know, I almost want to delete that, delete the entire post and postpone just so I can read and re-read it again and again, editing and fiddling.

Yet at the same time I want to share my book with people.

And wait for the reaction.

Like I said, scary shit.

Before then I’ll set up my author profile on Amazon and one on Goodreads. I’ve researched how to publish on Amazon kindle and The Range will be free for a time, a month or two, to encourage folks to take a gamble on a new author.

I’m not sure if I’ll do a print on demand version via Amazon CreateSpace straight away. I’d like to, so we’ll see nearer the launch date.

Right now I’m happy I have a deadline. It makes all the hundreds of hours writing and editing feel like they were worth while. Funny thing is I never worry when I post a short piece on my blog. I crank out the words, give it a quick proof read and hit publish.

But this feels so much more real.

A real book. Written by me. It’s got my name on it and everything.

Scary as hell but holy shit I’m excited!

Oh, about the sequel.

I’ve already written 150,000 words of The Holt, which will be around 250,000 when complete. By comparison, The Range is 148,000 words, so the follow-up will be considerably bigger.

I’m aiming to finish the first draft around April 2015, so factoring in editing and whatnot, hopefully I can publish on Amazon around September 2015. Rough dates for now, but who knows how much they’ll change.

As for the third book, The Retreat, I haven’t mapped out the entire plot yet, just bits and pieces, but I have it in my head, which is okay for now.

So there you have it, dear blog reader, the cover/s and the date.

All I have to do is click the little Publish button on my WordPress panel and it’ll be a real thing.

Okay, no messing about.

…click

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34 thoughts on “The Range – it’s launch time!

  1. Congratulations! You should be very proud of all your hard work. I like the first cover better, but they’re both beautiful.

    If you need any reviews, I’d be happy to get one ready for your launch date, if that’s something you’d be interested in (on my blog, Examiner.com, and Goodreads and Amazon). Best of luck!

    • Thanks Tamara! I’d very much welcome a review, and thank you for the kind offer. I’ll be working on the final process in the next week or so to get things ready for the big day!

    • Thanks Michael, I have to say I’m leaning toward Cover A as it feels like she’s looking toward the future rather than Cover B where she seems to be looking back on the past.

      Marketing budget is somewhat limited, so I plan to drop an ad with Bookbub who over decent prices and have a decent audience, and given that The Range will be free for a time I’m hoping it’ll gain some traction from that advert.

      I’m not a fan of people spamming Facebook or Twitter with their sales gimmicks, so I plan to grow interest a little at a time. Baby steps essentially as I learn what works best.

      For any future readers of this post, I’d like to point out that Michael Willets has his own novel, Lake Fear, available on Amazon here

      I recommend that one to fans of good action and a decent chunk of thrills and suspense.

      After editing my reply I noticed that the link changed into a cover of Michael’s novel, how cool is that!

  2. This is so exciting,after all your hard work, Dave, and a must read for me.

    That cover is amazing. I like ‘A’ best, but have no idea why. It’s just my gut reaction. You are so lucky getting an offer like that from an artist of such exceptional talent.

    Do you want me to do a launch day promo over on my blog? This is the one I did for Sara Crowe on her publication day, so something along those lines, perhaps? http://sarahpotterwrites.com/2014/04/03/yay-its-publication-day-for-sara-crowes-young-adult-novel-bone-jack/

    Then perhaps a follow-up interview after I’ve read your novel?

          • Not giving up. Just submitted direct to a publisher today, as I’ve had some full ms reads in the past via this route, but none through literary agents. The trouble is, that there aren’t many publishers left who will consider direct submissions.

            • I’m impressed with your determination. It has just crossed my mind to take a look on Amazon as I’m sure you’ve mentioned you have pieces published there. I’d love to read some of your work.

              • No, I haven’t anything published on Amazon. There’s another Sarah Potter, I believe, who has some things there, which means that I might have to call myself Sarah C. Potter, so as to not get muddled with t’other one.
                The only thing I’ve had published is a short story in the Aesthetica Creative Works Annual, 2011, after I was a finalist in their competition. That story was a quirky science fiction romance.
                I did once try a novel on Lulu but took it down, as I thought they were charging too much money for it!

    • I admit I’ve swayed back and forth between the two many times, and though I feel Cover A is calling me, a gut instinct as Sarah puts it, whenever someone suggests Cover B I think “Hmm, yeah, maybe that one then…” so maybe a coin toss?

  3. Cover B Dave!

    ‘If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives’ Lemony Snicket.

    Glad you ‘clicked’. Proud of you xx

  4. How exciting! 140,000+ words is quite an accomplishment (from my perspective, anyway). Can’t wait to read your book, Dave. Sounds fascinating (especially from what I’ve read on your blog of your writing style already). Oh, and congratulations!

    • Thanks Leigh! Like I’ve said before it’s both exciting and scary to now have an actual date, whereas before it was just something that lived in my head and on my computer. It feels so much more real now!

        • Oh man, trigger warnings on novels are a weird thing, and I’m not sure if I’m in favour or not. It sort of makes sense so readers have a guideline of what to expect in the story, and since movies have a rating system then why not books too?

          On the other hand, by giving away such warnings you might push away a section of readers who might otherwise enjoy that book as a complete work, rather than pointing out a few key areas that might scare or upset them, which don’t encapsulate the nature of the story.

          That said, the phrase “trigger warnings” leans toward highlighting bad things, so why not have a fair system where scary/upsetting themes or sections are balanced with uplifting/fun parts?

          So, in answer to your question, I’d give the following trigger warnings for The Range:

          (Taking a hint from movie disclaimers)

          The Range contains scenes and themes that may:

          Make you smile.
          Scare you when the lights go out (in the story not real life).
          Make your heart beat a little faster.
          Remind you of the close friendships you have.
          Prompt you to question what is really important in life.
          Make you remember how scary night time was when you were a child.
          Remind you that loyalty, honour and love are traits that should be cherished.

          Yes, there are scary bits, suspense bits, thriller bits, swearing here and there but not too heavy, but then the overall theme is indeed focussed on friendship, courage and doing what is right in dark times regardless of how hope may be all but lost.

          • Love how you’ve turned, as you rightly said, the negative terminology of trigger warnings toward some highly positive moments like smiling and questioning/thinking and reminders of the big stuff of life. Hmmm, really, really liking this seemingly contradictory idea of yours. The cover looks excellent, too; dads can be a great help, can’t they [I loved his note to you, though I sort of felt like I was intruding to read it]. In any case, bravos all around, Dave!

  5. Hi Dave,

    Your regular readers won’t know me, as this is my first interaction with your site. Maybe I should become a ‘regular’ too. Who knows?

    I think A – she’s looking to the book’s opening, rather than towards the spine, which on a subliminal level could be indicative of closure. But I would prefer the title a little lower as in the second one. Not intruding above the skyline has greater aesthetic impact.

    I particularly like the tag line at the top. Brilliant. How did you come up with that?

    Having read a couple of the early drafts, and understand the pain you’ve been through, I’m looking forward to reading the final version.

    It goes without saying – I’m immensely proud of you. Well done for sticking with it and seeing it through. Good luck.

    Graham Farmer.

    • Hey Dad! Folks, meet my dad, a fountain of knowledge when it comes to writing.

      Maybe you should become a regular and join in!

      I’m grateful for the comments, and Cover A is calling to me. I’ve just edited the image, lowered THE RANGE bit so it feels less intrusive to the painting.

      You now where that tag line came from, for which I owe you great thanks! It captures the essence of the story very well.

  6. As to the cover, I honestly cannot choose. I like Mr. Farmer’s reasoning above. Also, I think I was reading in a digital photography book that most people look to the right of an image first (most right-handed people, I’d reason, and they are the majority), so it makes perfect sense to me to have the heart of the painting on the left, drawing our eyes to the right, where we’ll see the horizon and title. Oh, I do wonder, though, with cover A how the “The” of the title might look lined up (flush, I guess you’d say) with the end of the word “Range.” I’m not a graphic designer by any means, however. My 2 cents’!

    • Yes indeed, I see the reasoning behind that. Also, even though ebooks don’t have a physical spine, it makes sense for the girl and the tree to be against the digital spine. And to add to your left/right handed thing, we read left to right, so again the girl being on the right looking the left makes for a more aesthetically pleasing image.

      About the “The” on the title, I tried to move it to the left, so the spine of the T was flush with the R of Range. Problem was the horizontal line of the T stuck out too much to the left and looked weird.

      Here’s what I’m hoping is the final version.

      Thanks to my Dad for his pointers!

      The Range book cover

  7. I hope this is going to work, I’ve tried to leave you comments and it never works, I just wanted to say that I’m thinking of you today the 28th!! Congratulations, you must be so excited to see all your hard work come to fruition. All the best Michelle

      • Brilliant, so glad it’s done! I’m crossing my fingers that it’ll be a huge success and I’ll be able to say I know a real author. I’m so sorry but I’ve tried sending you messages so many times and it doesn’t work. I still read your blogs and love them. Take care and good luck.

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