By Julian Fernandes
I was immersed in my work, it was some of the most fun I’ve ever had. A whirlwind of things started to happen. I was writing, editing, approving art, marketing and gaining followers on social media and finding new creatives to contribute. Sergei was starting to render illustrated pages for Book 1, it was awesome to see my ideas come to life through another person’s vision. GD Penman turned in an outline that would fit perfectly into the world I had in mind. He’s creativity was a gem and I was anxious to see what he would deliver for our mutant pirate story. Nathan Banks was submitting parts of Book 3, a fantasy sci-fi hybrid, taking it in a direction I hadn’t expected, but ended up pleasantly surprised. Christina titled her story Homestead Hunts, it would be Book 8 and the first fully planned for our second release. She didn’t divulge much of her story to me at the time, but with the creativity she’d shown in her application for Book five’s mutant pirate story I knew she would bring something special to the table. We also found artists for books three and four. The EFC world was growing. This series was going to be something epic!
I was using the character designs as marketing tools to get more followers and the response was good. I joined so many author and reader groups I could hardly keep them straight, over time I weeded out the groups that had little to know activity concentrating my efforts on the groups with more action. Joining groups and becoming an active member of the indie author community was new and not easy to navigate, some groups had a lot of in-fighting between authors, others were there to help each other. If you are an indie author, be careful which groups you join and who’s advice you take, there are a lot of people trying to help, but there are also people that will try to bring you down. The first marketing mistake I made was sharing the Earth’s Final Chapter news too often, but I pulled it back a bit and people responded positively, no longer getting bombarded with my work; the lesson is pace yourself, and make sure the posts you share contain new content.
Soon it was time to get into hiring again, we still needed another editor and I was ready to bring on an artist for book two, three, and four. I posted the jobs on the freelance site I’d been using. After a few days of applicants, we hired author/ editor Mandy Gardner, a well-traveled Canadian living in Mexico, she started right away on the stories that had been completed thus far. Our hope being that she would continue through the first five books, if not more moving beyond that. The first artist we hired for book two flaked out, he had too many time constraints and dropped out after realizing he was over committed. Luckily, we found Leonardo Guinard, a Brazilian artist. He was fast and he’s character designs were great. In only a handful of days he pumped out an entire milestone in his contract and was on to page designs. The contract between Leonardo and Sergei’s styles was a good complement going from one book to the other.
Our next artist was John Hawkins a marvelous talent and our first artist from the US, we brought him in to illustrate book three. He worked independently, not sending as many proofs or design stages as other artists, but when we finally received some of his characters, we were blown away, they were detailed and amazing! Sharing his designs with Nathan Banks the author of book three, titled Brother Leon, he was also blown away by Johns talent. I knew immediately I wanted John to be involved again in the EFC series after this first contract was done.
Maria F Loscher was next to be added to the team. A Venezuelan artist just starting to get into the illustrated world. We contracted her for book four, a Lady Gladiator story, with some outlandish concepts and difficult scenes she had her work cut out for her. Maria was easy to work with and always obliged any changes we requested, not as accomplished as the other artists we had hired she pushed herself and rose to the challenges we presented her with. I always wanted Earth’s Final Chapter to be something bigger than a series, I wanted it to be something new author and artists could work on and then use to build their following, have some cool things to show other perspective clients, and be something that they could say was the place they got their start. We were doing that and much more, it was an amazing collaboration.
It wasn’t long before GD Penman finished Book 5, and Christina finished Book 8, each new completed story helped to deepen the Earth’s Final Chapter lore. The work each contributor turned in kept the marketing flowing on social media platforms and the excitement continued building. In my gut I knew it would take time, but I felt this was going to be something special.
One of the first major milestones for Endless Ink and the EFC series was when Sergei finished Book 1: Avinon. It came out beautifully, with awesome illustrated pages accompanying a good story. Working with Sergei was great and we wanted to show one more facet to the EFC series, we wanted to show that some artists and authors would return again, it wasn’t just going to be new contributors all the time. With this in mind we offered Sergei the opportunity to jump right into the next contract, illustrating GD Penman’s mutant pirate story, titled, Chibuzo: The Goblin Shark. Without hesitation he accepted and after reading GD Penman’s work he was excited to continue building this series with us. In this first volume of stories, we laid the ground for the future of the series, but we also started to show the bones of how we would deliver these epic adventures. EFC was a serial series, with new and returning creative contributors, a global story-line, within a fantastical world, crossing genre and weaving little bits of each part together, but each story was still able to stand alone.
In between marketing, inspecting art, and planning, I was writing book six, our first two-part story in the series. It wasn’t until I wrote it that I knew it needed to be two parts, it was just too big. Book six was our first story set in Africa, pitting a rebellious group of defectors against the globally oppressing force from the past. The series was growing and spreading, I was finally starting to see a bigger picture come together.
In a handful of months, I went from an idea on paper to a few completed stories, multiple authors, artists, editors, and our first book was almost ready. I decided we would release the digital copies of books 1-5 together in the summer of 2017, but first I needed reviewers, accompanying poster art, and a website. I had so many things going on it was only the fact that we worked together as a group that we were able to get it all done. I was learning a tone too, a bit of trial by fire, helpful advice from the indie community, and quality contributors were my professors.
One of the biggest lessons was that collaborating can help on many levels, but the key is to find people to work with that are as excited about your stories as you are. Excitement is important, it will keep you both pumped up for the work that needs to be done, and if it’s genuine it will help with the marketing too, the people involved will be spreading the word, because they are proud of what they are doing and believe in it. I am proud that 90% of those who have worked on Earth’s Final Chapter are people I would love to work with again and they have contributed multiple times to this crazy big idea, for this I am very grateful!