Here’s a different angle on behind the scenes. You might already know, but Seven Graves, One Winter was ‘the’ book to really kickstart my professional writing career. I had published it independently, what many call self-publishing, but a big French publishing house spotted Seven Graves, One Winter and The Ice Star on Amazon, and they wanted it. Long story short, I went on the hunt for an agent, and I was picked up by a reputable agency in Copenhagen with some big A listers among their authors. Suddenly, I was propelled into stardom (cough, ahem… not quite) and I envisaged rock star moments in my future! Jane wasn’t wild about the rock star moments, or even the red carpet – hey, I was dreaming big – so we agreed I would find suitable stand-ins. Enter Lars for the red carpet, and Christian who was more than a little eager to empty the minibar and trash the hotel room. All we needed was a guitar!
However – spoiler alert – that’s not what this post is about. 😉
The subject of this post is my covers. I was spotted by the French publishing house with cover number #1. That’s a photo I took from close to my house in Uummannaq, Greenland, looking down onto the heliport. Change it to black-and-white, add a splash of blood, and Bob’s your uncle. I had a cover, and I had been spotted. This was May, 2018. I self-published Seven Graves on Valentine’s Day, 2018. Not bad for an unknown author with a homemade cover.
Fast forward to the whole agent adventure, and I was very close to signing away pretty much everything. But, when the agency was caught up in publishing The Chestnut Man, I had a rethink and decided to keep my English rights. Best move I ever made, even though I didn’t know it at the time. I went on to have a mini rockstar moment – minibar, no guitar – and began to appreciate just how glacially slow the publishing industry is, and how they don’t really pay peanuts, more like peanut shells, once they’ve been crushed underfoot on the barroom floor, that is. Oh, and you have to share a percentage of said shells with your agent.
You’re looking for traditional publishing? Yep, they’re just over there. Keep walking!
Anyway, with my English rights grasped in my sweaty hand, I revamped the cover. I chose another photo – royalty free and free to use – from a website (an aside: this is the same website from which my Portuguese publisher sourced at least one photo for one of my traditionally published covers) and I splashed an excerpt on the front of cover #2. I did a variation of this one with quotes from authors I met at Iceland Noir in November 2018. I was still with the agency, but arranged all these events and festival attendances myself. Although, Spain and Portugal were on the publishers’ dime (and deducted from my peanut shells).
I ran with this cover for a few years, and then, discovering 3D art, I went all in with cover number #3. Like it or loathe it, I LOVED it! I felt my time had come, and I could “do stuff” rather than just stick a photo in Photoshop and plonk some text on top of it. Even though, that first one did all right. 🙂 But, I have struggled a little with the 3D images, especially the ones with people. Or, rather, just the Greenland Crime series, really.
However, I have been developing skills (I call them skills, anyway) and have begun looking at things differently. My covers have never been traditional crime novel covers, but then I don’t write traditional crime stories. But I do want to at least lean in that direction. As I’m headed to Iceland Noir again, it feels like the right time to do it. The image above is the rendered image from the 3D software. The icebergs are rocks with a snow shader added to them. The big one above the raven is actually a 3D asset supposed to resemble Uluru in Australia. Add a snow shader and sink it into the sea and you get instant iceberg! 🙂 Add a few fences, a raven, and a background, and, honestly, this looks like a scene from outside our window in Greenland.
One could also say it is almost photo-like.
So, coming full circle from cover #1 to cover #4, it’s a photo with text plonked on top and a splash of blood! 🙂 Yep, I’ve come a long way!
Hmm, as Maratse might say!
Chapter 9 is now LIVE for all patrons, from the “Behind the Scenes” tier for 25 DKK and up, on my patreon page.
There’s a lot to read on my patreon page now, not just Seven Graves, One Winter. Please ask if you want to know more.
Alternatively, you can buy Seven Graves, One Winter (digital and physical formats) starting from $0.99 USD.