I just wanted to give a quick thanks to Maureen H for her recent review of Veneer. I tend to look at my books as always increasing in quality, and yet it’s Veneer, my second book, that continues to outsell the others. I don’t know why that is. From the reviews, it seems people really enjoy the concept of augmented reality, while others like the characters themselves. Some people don’t like the book at all, but who has time to think about that?
Whether or not Maureen’s review is 5 stars or 1 star, I’m just glad someone is still reading a book from 2011. I’m glad they liked it enough to review it. It makes sitting here morning after morning, slogging through Draft 3 of Hybrid Mechanics just a little more bearable.
When it comes to reading reviews, I only ever check my author page at Amazon. How many times a day I check that page for new reviews isn’t relevant. It’s the only place I really want reviews–good and bad–because that’s where people are making the decision to buy, and for some reason, the reviews tend to be… better (?)… than the ones at Goodreads. Maybe there’s something about Goodreads that brings out the vitriol more easily than at Amazon. There are a lot of good reasons to avoid the site altogether, but we don’t have the time today.
Still, every once in a while, I’ll head over there and see if there has been any movement. Typically, there hasn’t, but today I noticed a couple of new reviews for Veneer that I hadn’t seen before. Here is my favorite:
This might be the first time someone has described one of my books as a “novel of ideas,” which I like to think is true for all of them. It’s easy to get over-excited about technology, to want to describe a future so advanced and awesome that you forget to include characters and actual conflict.
I’m not sure if I accomplished what I set out to do with Veneer, but I enjoy the book for its themes, specifically the idea that we don’t need augmented reality to hide our true motives and true selves. Take away the tech and the story could have just as easily happened in our time.
Lastly, for most of the writers I know, writing is a passion that exists outside the scope of sales, reviews, and acclaim. Not that they’re better than that, but the passion is going to be there whether the book is #10 or #100000 on Amazon’s best seller list. So when you get a favorable review on Goodreads or Amazon, take a moment to enjoy the abstract emotional connection you made with another human and then move on, the same way you’d do with a negative review.
In my novel Veneer, residents of Easton live with a shared layer of augmented reality that covers almost every imaginable surface. To change the color or design of an object, they simply have to reach out, touch it, and imagine something different, a process I named reconciliation. I find it fitting that a reader looked at the cover of Veneer, imagined something different, and decided to reconcile something new. Sure, the technology is vastly different, but the result is the same.
I stumbled upon the website of Justin Pérez, a graphic designer and fellow University of Texas at Austin grad (hook ‘em!), during the third hour of my daily Google search for mentions of my books. Imagine my surprise when I discovered he had redesigned the cover for Veneer.
I reached out to Justin to let him know how much I liked the new cover and to ask about the circumstances surrounding the redesign.
The prompt for the project in my graphic design class instructed us to redesign an album or book cover. I chose Veneer for several reasons. The main reason being that I found the book interesting. Secondly, because the book was relevant […] to today’s discussions regarding emerging technologies and their societal affects.
When I went to UT, I remember sitting in 20th Century Short Stories thinking about whether my stories would ever be discussed the same way we were discussing The Yellow Wallpaper. Since I don’t write short stories anymore, and since UT is not likely to add a 21st Century Erotic Dystopian Cyber-Thriller Novels class anytime soon, I guess I’ll have to settle for Veneer showing up in a graphic design class elsewhere on campus.
What are the odds that a UT grad writes a novel that a UT student discovers years later and uses for a class project? You see, Professor Ghose? My stories did go somewhere.
I am and will likely always be hopeless when it comes to cover design. Using Jonathan Foerster’s Sonnet artwork as the cover for Veneer seemed like a great idea at the time. The imagery matched up well with the scene where Rosalia describes her nightmare to Deron. But all I did was slap a title and a name on pre-existing artwork. Despite how awesome Sonnet looks as a standalone piece, the final product didn’t feel like a real cover. Later, when I hired Lauren Ellis to do the Perion Synthetics cover, I realized that this kind of thing is better left to the professionals.
If you’re wondering what goes on in the mind of a designer:
I wanted to incorporate several elements from the book’s plot, but also keep the cover as minimal as possible. For the redesign, I decided to include a piece of fabric as the main backdrop for the cover. It is meant to represent the veil/veneer AR technology can create. The fabric slowly transitions from red (representing Rosalia) to black & white (alluding to Deron’s inability to perceive the veneer). The fonts are sans serif to echo the futuristic tone of the book.
Naturally, I had to share the redesign with my friends.
Sunshine said, ooh! That cover makes it look like “adult” reading.
Elizabeth added, That was my first thought too. Veneer meets 50 shades, coming to a book store near you. Lol.
LOL indeed, Elizabeth. Though, according to some reviews, Veneer is already 50 Shades. So I guess Justin’s cover does indeed, as he puts it on his website, “more accurately represent the book’s plot.”
It turns out that Justin and I share the same trepidation about the potential downsides of augmented reality. Veneer takes it to an extreme, but in the next five to ten years, we’re likely going to see advances in AR that have significant impact on how we interact. You thought people got lost in Second Life or World of Warcraft? Imagine how bad it will be when they’re actually there. Or at least, when they think they are.
I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Big thanks to Justin for choosing my book for his project. Authors are often crippled by self-doubt, so it’s refreshing to see someone discover my book and enjoy it enough to want to make new art with it.
Head over to Justin’s website at justinperezdesign.com and check out his other work. If you decide to hire him for a project, just make sure it’s done by the end of the year. I’m gonna need him for the cover of my next book!
Then maybe, just maybe, another UT student will redesign it five or six years from now.