The story behind the story, part six: Making-of

It's getting real!

Finding a cover photo for my book on training my young Icelandic Horse Helgi was more difficult than expected

September 2023: Finding a cover photo

Long before the book was done, I knew exactly which photo I wanted on the cover: A shot of my trainer Johanna Tryggvason instructing me as I ride Helgi on a circle around her. So now, when the editor asks for a cover photo, I send her that one. She sends it on to her graphic designer, who instantly rejects it: While both Johanna and I look okay in the photo, Helgi’s head is blurry. How could I not have noticed that?

The search for a better photo turns out more difficult than I expected.
More than one photo that I consider is just as blurry as that first one. Another photo is overexposed, and on several others, my face is obscured, either by looking down, or by a shadow falling on it.

But finally, I find a photo that the graphic designer can work with.

Two days later, a first cover design arrives in my inbox. And I love it!

I have a couple of nitpicks, which are corrected in short order. Now I have to be very patient and wait till it’s time to let the world know that it really is getting real:


My book has a cover!

October 2023: Information for bookstores

Now that the book cover is ready, it’s time to start collecting the marketing material for the book: Author bio, relevant keywords, a rough table of content, and, first and foremost, a short description of the book to entice the reader.


That description will appear as the book teaser in online bookstores, and cannot have more than 630 characters.


Those are 630 important characters!

My editor sends a first draft, and I want to add a few things. Meaning, I need to start tightening so those things will fit in.


Every character counts!

That turns out to be quite an interesting challenge. The text cannot be longer than specified, but it also should not be much shorter, since we want to make use of the available space to entice a potential reader.

The text goes back and forth between my editor and me a few times, and in the end, we come up with a version that has exactly 630 characters. Bingo!

Marketing information for a book on horsetraining: author bio, search keywords, ToC, and a book description

Addtional photos are needed to document the story of training my young Icelandic horse Helgi

Oktober 2023: Details, Details

After the information for all bookstores, there’s one more task to complete for online bookstores: They can put up several photos in addition to the book cover.


I go looking for suitable pictures. Ground work, riding in the arena and on the trail, liberty work, circus tricks … Oh, right, and don’t forget the author photo!

Looking through all those photos, I realize that there’s another task to be tackled: Some of them, a photographer friend took for me, and I need to buy the rights to publish those photos in the book.


Oh, and then there’s this organization that collects licensing fees from libraries, copy shops and the like, and distributes the monies to the authors. I need to contact them and sign a contract so they can do this for me.
Lots of details to be considered!

November 2023: Editing, rewriting, editing

The book is due at the publisher’s Real Soon Now. I am still busy with the rewrite I mentioned in the last blog post.


Johanna obligingly reads through the changed chapters once more, and comes up with a lot of helpful input. Of course that means more editing for me.

But, slowly but surely, the book turns into something I’m pretty happy with.

I can only cross my fingers that the readers will feel the same!

My trainer Johanna Tryggvason helps with editing the book on training Helgi

With the help of a professional graphic designer, the interal layout of the horsetraining book ends up looking great!

February 2024: The internal layout

My editor has read the book from start to finish, and pronounced it good without the need for significant edits. Whew!

Now the text goes to the graphic designer, who does the layout and places the photos where they’re supposed to go.

The result is much more impressive than I’d dared to imagine.


It looks right smart!

I make a suggestion or two, which my editor approves.

Once the graphic designer has incorporated them, the layout is just about perfect to my eye.

Wow, I hadn’t known what a huge a difference a professional design can make!

March 2024: The back cover. And off to the printers!

One last highlight before the book goes to the printers: The back cover design is due. I hadn’t yet considered this: What kind of photo should go on the back of the book? And what do we want the text to say?

Since the cover photo emphasizes the traditional side of Helgi’s training, I suggest using a cover on the back that shows the less conventional things Helgi and I tried during that first year of training. My editor writes a first draft of the back cover text, and I add a couple of sentences before both text and photo are sent to the graphic designer.

The resulting cover lacks a certain something, so we add a second photo and change the way the text flows around the photos. And we have a back cover!

Now it’s off to the printers.

The back cover shows the less conventional side of my trainging with Icelandid horse Helgi

The book made it to rank #6 on Amazon!

April 2024: Only a few weeks till it comes out!

I’ve found a new thing to obsess over: The Amazon sales rankings.


My book is in the category pets/horses on German Amazon. I keep enthusiastically clicking reload in my browser and watch my book rise from rank 2000 or thereabouts to 400 – and then drop again.


And then it suddenly is number 74!


I find a new tab, called „new releases“, and there my book is in the top ten!


It’s a short triumph though, the books ranking starts falling almost immediately.

I can’t wait to find out how the book does once it officially comes out at the end of the month!

If you'd like to read more about the process of writing and publishing a book, stay tuned!


The next installment will tell you how it feels to have the book officially come out.

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