- Home > Archive: May, 2009
This is the second of a four-part series about the release of Terra Incognita: THE EDGE OF THE WORLD (novel. Orbit Books) and Terra Incognita: BEYOND THE HORIZON (rock CD, ProgRock Records) on June 2.
Part 2. Music and Words—Epic Fantasy Novel, Epic Rock CD
In Part 1, I described our efforts to begin building steam for the release of the novel Terra Incognita: THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, months before its release. However, I had actually begun another part of the project almost two years earlier, during the planning and research stages of the novel, which would make this an innovative and unusual project: Not only was “Terra Incognita” an ambitious fantasy novel, it was also a groundbreaking crossover music CD with performances by some of the legends of rock.
Since I began writing my first stories, I have always been influenced by music, especially the genre known as “progressive rock” (Rush, Kansas, Styx, the Alan Parsons Project, Pink Floyd, Dream Theater, Tool, A Perfect Circle, Lana Lane, Asia). Many stories, scenes, even entire books blossomed from the CDs playing constantly on my stereo. My first novel, RESURRECTION, INC., was entirely inspired by the Rush album Grace Under Pressure, which I acknowledged in the dedication.
However, not only were many of my stories inspired by music, but a lot of the music I enjoyed was inspired by science fiction and fantasy. Progressive rock clearly has a genre focus, and the two audiences have a lot in common.
I had become friends with Shawn Gordon, who owns the record label ProgRock Records, and we discussed the possibility of tying together a novel and CD as a sort of synergistic, crossover project. In 2007, as I began work on Terra Incognita, I suggested to Shawn that this might be the perfect subject for such a creative endeavor—an epic novel and an epic CD, written by the same author. Shawn immediately saw the potential and brought aboard accomplished keyboardist/composer Erik Norlander (Rocket Scientists) to write the music and produce the recordings (he was also our keyboardist). I had enjoyed Erik’s solo work, and I particularly loved the music and vocals of his wife Lana Lane (“the Queen of Symphonic Rock”). Erik and I began corresponding, exchanging novels and CDs.
For our crossover album, Terra Incognita: BEYOND THE HORIZON, I adapted a storyline from the 600-page novel, a part that I thought could best be enhanced in music format. I worked with my wife and frequent coauthor Rebecca Moesta to write the lyrics to all the songs. Erik wrote the music, Lana sang the demos, and the whole thing started to come together.
It turns out that a lot of the singers and musicians I had admired for years were indeed fans of SF/F and often fans of my novels. We put together a “supergroup” of some of the top names in the business, creating a band called ROSWELL SIX. Vocals by James LaBrie (Dream Theater), Michael Sadler (ex-Saga), John Payne (Asia feat. John Payne) and Lana Lane. David Ragsdale (the violinist from Kansas) came aboard, along with Martin Orford (from IQ, who came out of retirement to perform on our CD), Gary Wehrkamp (guitarist, Shadow Gallery), Kurt Barabas (bassist, Under the Sun), Chris Brown (guitarist, Ghost Circus), Chris Quirarte (drummer, Prymary), and Mike Alvarez (cello).
Altogether, the 13 tracks on the CD tell part of THE EDGE OF THE WORLD. In addition to the lyrics, I wrote connective text in the CD booklet, which contains interior art by multiple-Hugo-winning artist Bob Eggleton. The unique aspect of the combined CD and novel attracted attention from both the music and book business, and Orbit Books and ProgRock Records were able to cross-promote. The novel and the CD were set to release simultaneously, and Orbit arranged to send out packages containing both items to an extensive review list.
In the course of my career I’ve had over a hundred books published in many languages, with many bestsellers, but this project has been a dream come true, a creative synergy unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my career. Listen to the music, read the novel—and enjoy. (Sample tracks are available at www.MySpace.com/Roswellsix.)
–Kevin J. Anderson
This will be a four-part series on the background efforts behind the release of a book.
Part 1: Building Steam
Writing the novel isn’t enough.
In these days of numerous demands on the audience’s time and interest, an author can’t just deliver the finished manuscript to a publisher and trust that everything else will happen automatically. When the book itself is completed, a lot of the writer’s work is just beginning.
Although I’m a prolific author, each new book release requires specific attention, a plan to ensure that the right audience knows about it, most particularly in certain cases where I, and the publisher, feel we really have something special. And that’s definitely how we felt about THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, the first novel in my new fantasy trilogy “Terra Incognita.” It’s an epic story about sailing ships, sea monsters, and the crusades, set in a time and place very much like our Europe during the Age of Discovery. It has a sweeping story much like my “Saga of Seven Suns,” with a large cast of characters and a strong relevance to modern conflicts. After I turned in the novel to my editor at Orbit Books, we were convinced that this was the sort of project that warrented going the extra mile, for all of us.
The release date for THE EDGE OF THE WORLD is June 2, 2009, but we started building steam at least seven months ahead of time. I did part of this work myself; Orbit took care of part of it from their end. Together, we pulled off one of the most organized and widespread marketing pushes any of my solo novels has ever received.
Even before the final manuscript was turned in, I sent the first 100 pages plus an introductory letter to the publisher’s entire sales staff, so they could get a handle on what “Terra Incognita” was all about. I recorded a short video, also posted on YouTube, in which I described the genesis of the project and my fascination for old maps, voyages of discovery, and the old Prester John legend. I began to post blogs about the novel, the research, and the writing process. I uploaded the cover art as soon as it was available.
The techno-wizards at Orbit developed a remarkable flashy widget that animated part of the cover art, contained a brief description of the book, the full cover text, the first three sample chapters in the novel, the author video described above, as well as two songs from the associated rock CD (more on that in Part 2). In March, we debuted the widget on www.wordfire.com and asked fans to share it on their MySpace, FaceBook, or other websites.
We designed and printed up 2500 full-color pads of sticky notes to promote THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, which were distributed at library conferences and science fiction conventions; we also used them as prizes to encourage fans to share the Terra Incognita widget.
In March, I gave a speech and presentation at New York’s famed Explorer’s Club to a crowded room of world-renowned explorers, celebrities, and publishing bigwigs; every person in attendance received a special advance reading edition of the novel.
We were beginning to build up steam. In the meantime, I was hard at work writing the manuscript for Book 2, THE MAP OF ALL THINGS, making sure the trilogy remained on schedule.
And all of this was still three months before the release of the book. We were just getting started.
—Kevin J. Anderson
Many aspiring writers send me e-mails asking for advice on many aspects of the publishing and writing business. Two blogs I would strongly encourage you to follow are by David Farland (Dave Wolverton) and Kristine Kathryn Rusch—both are bestselling, award-winning, and prolific authors, and both know what they’re talking about.
Kristine Kathryn Rusch posts a regular Freelancer’s Survival Guide with topics that are spot on. You would be wise to read, and follow, what she says.
Dave publishes his “Dave Farland’s Daily Kick in the Pants,” a thorough and interesting series of tips and observation. I hope you find them valuable. To get on his e-mail list, contact him at email@example.com
Tor has developed a striking new banner for THE WINDS OF DUNE. The novel won’t come out until August, but we would very much appreciate if you’d post it on your MySpace, Facebook, or other pages.
“<p><a href=”http://us.macmillan.com/thewindsofdune“><img title=”The Winds of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson” alt=”The Winds of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson” src=”http://us.macmillan.com/CMS400/uploadedImages/TorForge/Non-Menu_Items/windsofdunebanner.jpg” border=”0″ /></a><textarea><a href=”http://us.macmillan.com/thewindsofdune“><img title=”The Winds of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson” alt=”The Winds of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson” src=”http://us.macmillan.com/CMS400/uploadedImages/TorForge/Non-Menu_Items/windsofdunebanner.jpg” border=”0″ /></a><br /><br /></textarea></p>”
Also, I was recently on a podcast called Chronicles of the Necromancer, talking about various projects. Listen here.
Last night, I was a guest for 45 minutes on an international progressive rock program. More worldwide airplay for the Roswell Six/Terra Incognita songs. Listen to the program.