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Soldiers of the 30 Years WarGuest blogger Kieran Mathers continues his journey towards self-publication. If you missed the earlier instalments, you can find them here: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3.

I’m still waiting for things to develop. The Darkness Embraces is currently sitting in my Copy Editor’s in-tray and I’ve realised, in re-reading, that my manuscript is actually still a mess so I’m going to go through it again and alter the more egregious mistakes. (I changed tense half way through several sentences, for example. Very frustrating).

Meanwhile, I’m working with my artist on the front cover.
Now, it’s easy to assume that if you give someone a vague set of ideas – in this case darkness, night, 17th Century, fantasy – that they are going to create the perfect image of what you want. When you are writing a brief for any sort of work, I’ve realised through my mistake that the more specific the brief, the better the work will fit what you expect.

In this case, having received the initial sketches, I suddenly realised that my artist and I had different ideas. She had created a work of power, of war on horseback with cavalry charging forwards. It was a good idea and it fitted my brief rather well, when I went back to re-read what I had said to her. Sadly, it was completely different to what I had expected.

This is where I learnt a crucial lesson – know what you want before you ask for it.

Magnus The Micromutt - cover

This is why it pays to hire a professional cover artist

I talked the problem through with family, one of whom is also an artist, and we came up with an alternative which I think will really work. This is a good thing. It would have been an even better thing if I’d come up with that idea before I commissioned the work in the first place. It would have saved me two or three weeks of intellectual wibbling and wobbling, and saved my artist some time and effort as well.

So that’s another lesson – do not expect your artist to do your imagining for you.

In other news, The Brothers Baern is approaching completion. I’m still technically homeless but staying with family in Scotland at the moment, and I’ve been using the trip as a writer’s retreat.  The book’s almost 100,000 words long now and it’s going to be a little longer still when it’s finally finished. It was supposed to be about the same length as The Darkness Embraces (50,000 words) and, once it’s edited, it’ll be closer to 80,000, which is more what I want.

I really want to get it done soon because next month is publication month, when I unleash The Darkness Embraces on an unsuspecting public and the The Witch on an uncaring publishing industry. Scared? Moi? Not in the slightest. (Eek!)

Now, where’s that cup of tea?