Thursday, 3 December 2015
Writing a book usually takes 6-12 months. How do you write it, and start selling it, in just 14 days? Can it be done?
Yes, it is unusual, but not unprecedented. For example, Michael Moorcock, one of my favourite authors, used to write his books in the Eternal Champion cycle in about a week. He wrote more than 50 of them.
You might think writing and publishing a book in 14 days means you have to work very hard, but it does not. As you might know, I work with process improvement. Have a look at this computer simulation of two projects:
The reason why the blue project finishes faster, is that it uses something called load balancing. You can load balance almost any process, including writing and publishing books.
As it turns out, with writing and publishing, load balancing works great! Writing, and publishing, a book in two weeks is entirely feasible, and you actually work less than a writer trying to do the same thing in 6-12 months.
And, of course, if you write, say, one book per month, while your competitors have finished and published one book, you have finished and published, and gotten paid for, 6-12 books.
That is pretty good. Also, with every book you write, your sales per book tend to increase, at least if you write well enough to make your readers want more of your books. For me, being able to reduce lead times in this way, means I can take on more work. It also means my management consulting customers know they get the real deal.
Saturday, 21 November 2015
LESS!, one of the most fun book projects I have ever worked on, is now available on Swedish online book stores, Bokus, Dito, Bokon and Adlibris. The book is also available on Amazon, and in hardcover on Lulu.
I have blogged about the contents of LESS! in my management blog. Here, I'll write a little bit about the design, starting with the cover.
All management books I have published, well, only two so far, use the same basic design with a black field on a white background. I always put something on the cover that has an element of orange.
It is important to me that the cover has some link to the contents, and since this is a book about business transformation, what better symbol than a butterfly?
Also, one of the authors (you'll have to read the book to fin out who,) used the lifecycle of a butterfly as a metaphor for business transformation in the book, so putting a butterfly on the cover felt like the right thing to do.
I felt that that would make it easier for readers to trust the authors, and building trust was necessary, because a lot of the things in the book, about budgetless financial systems, short strategy loops, queueing theory, and so on, are controversial.
That is also why each chapter starts with a brief biography, helping to establish the credentials of the author.
|Donella Meadow's System Intervention scale. Managers tend to focus on the low leverage interventions to the left, when they ought to focus on the high leverage interventions to the right.|
Diagrams were another important feature. We had lots of diagrams! When you set out to explain a lot of complicated stuff, you need to simplify. We used diagrams to do that, and also took care to keep the language simple. I ran all texts through readability index calculators to help ensure that the language itself did not obfuscate the ideas and logical arguments.
LESS! is a thought provoking book, and I do hope it can help kick off real improvements in leadership and management practices, and in how we organize and collaborate at work.
Wednesday, 18 November 2015
Tuesday, 10 November 2015
|It is amazing what an intrepid adventurer can find right outside Gothenburg.|
The past few years, my friends and I have done our best to turn Gothenburg into a city of adventure, horror, and wonder. Here are some of the highlights.
Noir – Hard Boiled Detectives
|The Pizza Box Lightshaper|
|Peter Markusson as The Shooter|
The Martian invasion
|This picture turned out to look a little bit too realistic. When I published it, some people thought it was the real thing.|
I did a mini-project, where I used my iPad, and apps like LensFX and Snapseed, to produce a series of pictures from the little known Martian invasion in the 1970´s. I released the photos one-by-one.
As I released each photo, I also wrote a little story snippet about the invasion.
Horrors from Beyond
|Callisto Utriainen as a Deep One|
If you have read horror stories by H.P. Lovecraft, you will probably see that this is a human/Deep One hybrid.
This is a subject I plan to return to...when the stars are right."Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn""In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming."
|The Girl Who Wanted Eyes for Christmas|
Savage Super Heroes
|Petra Brewitz throws a car! Poor Julia Reinhart, who is inside.|
That was the premise of Savage Heroes, a series of pictures where superpowered characters really let loose, and the carnage that follows.
|Savage Heroes: Warzone!|
The Batman and Spiderman shot was a bit of pro bono work for Superheroes Against Cancer.
Running from Dinosaurs
|I wrote and directed A Rift in Time, but there were several photographers in the team. This picture was taken by Julia Reinhart.|
A Rift in Time is a photo comic book project. We were a team of eight people who spent over a year creating a time travel comic book adventure, complete with dinosaurs.
I wrote the story, and directed the photography, but we were several photographers, and most of us also played roles in front of the camera.
Turning Gothenburg into a prehistoric, 65 million year old landscape, on zero budget, was a bit of a challenge, but it worked out alright.
|Three pages from A Rift in Time.|
Another benefit of the look was that we could speed up the composite work in postproduction, because we did not need to match light and shadow as carefully as we would otherwise have had to do.
|Callisto Utriainen and Tristan the T-Rex|
For the picture above, I used my son's plastic toy T-Rex. I added organic looking skin texture from the same fish photos I used to create the human/Deep One hybrid horror photo.
|The Thing in the Forest|
Gothenburg may seem a bit sleepy at times, but between the detectives, monsters, superheroes, and time travel accidents, the city is much more exciting than it looks.
Recently, I did something I have wanted to do for a very long time: I created a full-scale superhero team slugfest picture!
The idea was to create a picture that could work as the centerfold in a Marvel or DC Comics superhero comic book adventure from the 80´s or 90´s: A messy, complicated fight, strong colors, and heroes and villains that really let loose with their powers.
I wasn't alone. We were 12 people who worked together to create the picture. Here, in comic book format of course, is how we did it.
Sunday, 23 August 2015
|Write and sell are the themes of Lennart Guldbrandsson's book Write Like a Pro.|
This is a guest blog post by author Lennart Guldbrandsson. Lennart writes about how we made the cover for his 10th book Skriv som ett proffs (Write Like a Pro).
I'm leaving the word to Lennart:
During late spring, my book started to shape up nicely. I would definitely make my deadline and have it printed and ready for the massive Gothenburg Book Fair. What was still missing was a good cover. Indeed, what was missing was even a good idea for a book cover.
This was my 10th book but for various reasons my earlier books didn't have as much pressure on them. The first books were private affairs which meant that I did the covers myself. The others were books that I ghost wrote for others, which meant that other people designed the covers.
But this book was something else. It was a commissioned book – and it was a guide about writing and getting your book sold. That meant that everyting about the book needed to be above reproach. No typos. Good typesetting. A really great text on the back cover. And a kick-ass cover.
I didn't even have to think about whom I would turn to for such a cover photo. I have been photographed hovering, with several clones of myself, and hiding impossibly behind a thin tree, and more.
Memorable photos, all, by Henrik Mårtensson.
Meeting with Henrik at the Gothenburg City Library, we talked a lot about different possible effects that a book about writing could have on its cover. But our meetings became something more. They came to change my thinking about my book. I discovered that I needed to know more about my book – what tone did it have? What did I hope to accomplish? What feeling did I want to convey? Really detailed thoughts.
Writing a book, for anyone who haven't done it, is a time-consuming project, and even if you've done it several times, you always learn new things. But these talks with Henrik were some of the most enlightening moments of my writing career.
We browsed through several sections of the library, picking up books here and there, dissecting good and bad cover photos alike. We combined ideas, writing down and sketching rough cover photo designs. There were several times I just wanted the process to be over, ”just take a picture and let's be done with it”. But then we had another brilliant idea. And another.
Naturally, we tested a lot of alternatives. Could we imitate that photo that we found online? Could we get that effect to work? All the while, thinking about tying it to the analysis of my book, so that the photo would tell the same story that the book itself did. Could we illustrate that well enough?
All that work did pay off, handsomely. When we were ready to take the photos, we knew exactly what we wanted and what we needed to do on set. It minimized the time to shoot the photos, so that it almost felt anticlimactic. Setting up the scene, lighting the set, focusing the camera and then clicking away until we got a winner took a lot less time than you'd expect considering that we had not only one but two effects in the same photo.
It didn't take long for Henrik to perform his photo manipulation magic on the cover photo. In the end I think I gave him two comments on the photo about things to change, and since we were already on the same page about the tone and goal, he had already started working on those changes before I even asked. It once again proved that all that preparation stuff paid off.
In the process of taking the photos for my book cover my appreciation for the difficulties and possibilities of portrait photography has increased immensly. As has my respect for Henrik as a photographer. And I really look forward to next time. Better start working on book eleven!
A note from Henrik:
Lennart's excellent book can be bought from any good bookstore in Sweden. If you want to buy it online, I suggest you try:
Saturday, 22 August 2015
My eBook about street photography in Gothenburg has been released on Bokus, Adlibris, and Publit. The book is in Swedish. An English language translation will be available, but I am not promising a due date yet.
I ran a series of street photo courses this summer, and wanted to give everyone who took the course an easy to read, short, and very focused book covering the same things I covered in the course, and going a bit beyond.
Street photography is more than knowing your camera, and how to use it. It is a bit like nature photography, you have to know the right places to shoot. So, I wrote about fourteen photo tips, and fourteen great photo places in Gothenburg.
You will find tips on how to connect with other photographers, how to find out about events in Gothenburg, and other things you need to know when shooting in my home city.
I did go beyond technique, and wrote about how to think as a street photographer. When I started out shooting in the street, I did what everyone else did, and I did not get any good pictures. I started rethinking my approach, and met Gothenburg photographers like Petri Olderhvit, Julia Reinhart, and Madlén Hjelmroth, which helped me change, and vastly improve, the way I used my camera.
|This picture was chosen for the image gallery at 1x.com, the world's best, curated photo website.|
Friday, 21 August 2015
|This is the pitch I made in Fototräff, the photo meetup network.|
|Panels from pages 1, 8, and 10 of the A Rift in Time comic.|
|The team spent a lot of time lugging photo equipment around in parks in, and near, Gothenburg.|
|The A Rift in Time exhibition at Planket drew a lot of attention.|
Friday, 14 August 2015
The A Rift in Time photo comic has been released. It is available on several Swedish online stores, including Publit, Adlibris, and Apple iBooks.
A Rift in Time will also be available on international stores, like Amazon, and Lulu very soon.
We are also releasing a line of A Rift in Time products: T-shirts, mugs, and more, at the new A Rift in Time online store.
Monday, 6 July 2015
I am running a street photography course in Gothenburg on Saturday, 11th of July.
You can bring any kind of camera, from a camera phone, to a professional DSLR.
We will take a walk, look at some of the best spots to shoot street photos, and you will get tips and learn useful techniques.
After the photowalk, we'll go to a café, show each other photos, and talk about how to improve our photography.
When: Saturday, 11th of July 2015, 2.00 PM to 5.00 PM
Where: Kungsportsplatsen, at Kopparmärra (the statue), in Gothenburg
You can sign up for the course at simplesignup.se.
Sunday, 5 July 2015
|A photo like this will become illegal on July 9th, 2015, if if the EU parliaments votes yes to a proposal for an ill-considered new law.|
The proposal explained: A Good Thing Gone Bad
The Facebook FUBAR
The Death of Photojournalism
The Map Mishap
The Movie Mortuary
The Human Rights Hiccup
We should always keep in mind that copyright regimes may under-protect authors, contrary to what is usually assumed or expected. This is because “subsequent right-holders” (e.g. producers, publishers, distributors etc.) typically exercise more influence over law-making than individual creators, and may have divergent and possibly opposing interests to those of the creators.
– Farida Shaheed, UN special rapporteur in the field of cultural rights
Copyright exceptions and limitations are tools that can – and therefore should – be used to ensure that States abide by their obligations in the field of human rights, in particular the right to freedom of expression, including artistic expression, and the right to take part in cultural life.
– Farida Shaheed, UN special rapporteur in the field of cultural rights
Take a stand!
Thursday, 2 April 2015
I had been on a photo job, and decided to walk along the harbor to my next working location. I came upon this scene at a location called The Temple of the Winds.
I had been shooting architecture with a wide angle lens, so I quickly changed to a zoom lens, and started taking a series of photos, while slowly walking closer.
This was the best shot I got, before whoever sat there changed her position.
Getting a shot like this does not happen often, but it does happen if I bring my camera.
When I started shooting some years ago, I always had my camera ready. Over time, I became a bit lax. I always had the camera with me, but far too often it stayed in the backpack.
Recently, I resolved to always have my camera ready, and to go for more photo walks.
It paid off.
So, definitely more photo walks in the near future, and I'll keep my camera ready.
Thursday, 19 February 2015
Fotosnack! is the, to my knowledge, first Swedish photography videocast. This is the very first episode, produced by Ooh Shoot and Photo Meetup in Gothenburg.
I am very happy to be part of the project. It was started by Julia Reinhart, Petri Olderhvit, and me, but we are getting more people involved. A lot more people!
Thursday, 12 February 2015
Callisto and I had agreed on a theme for the shoot: Dark, very dark! That did leave a lot of room for creative interpretation.
Callisto is no stranger to shiny, sharp objects, i.e. knives and swords. It just so happens, Petri had everything we needed.
|Callisto and the T-Rex|
The shoot went very well. Callisto is great fun to work with, and so is Petri.
|Throg the Troll's Last Mistake|
As you might suspect, Tristan the T-Rex and Throg the Troll have got a bit of makeup.
|Tristan the T-Rex, without digital makeup|
|Throg the Troll|
As you can see, the technique works very well. The Throg the Troll doll has much less texture than the T-Rex, so he required more work in post.
I'll write a detailed tutorial about how to create pictures like this in a photo book I am working on. I will of course write about the Dream Warrior picture too.
Be seeing you!