Today on The Book Review Café I have a guest post from Dane Cobain author of Former:lay The Rise And Fall Of A Social Network, unfortunately I haven’t had time to read the book, as I have numerous deadlines for books I need to read for blog tours, but the book description has certainly piqued my interest, and I will certainly be adding this book to my TBR pile
The History of Former.ly: The Rise and Fall of a Social Network
Releasing a novel takes a long time. It’s not just a case of planning it out and writing it; there are also the seemingly endless round of edits and the passes by your proofreaders, the cover design and the marketing plan, as well as a full launch and its ongoing maintenance.
For me, my most recent novel – Former.ly: The Rise and Fall of a Social Network – was a labour of love. It took a total of three years from start to finish, and a whole lot of heartache along the way.
Former.ly is a social networking site for the dead, which allows users to sign up and to post updates which are visible only to themselves, until the day that they die and their profile goes live to the public. It’s like a private journal that will be immortalised forever in the event of your death, and the book explores some of the different ways that people use it.
I classify it as a piece of literary fiction, mainly because it’s hard to classify. Most people don’t realise that before a writer puts pen to paper and gets their first couple of sentences down, they have to put in a hell of a lot of research. They say that you should write about what you know about, and I know about social networking sites; I work in social media marketing during the day, and so I make it my business to learn as much as I can about how they operate.
Now, I’m of the generation that grew up along with the internet; in fact, I was born in 1989, when Tim Berners-Lee first launched the worldwide web. The internet had been around before that, but not in the form that we know it. The internet – and internet culture – is something that I’ve grown up with. I wanted to reflect part of that in the novel.
Former.ly also marks the last novel that I’ll ever write by hand. In fact, I posted a little video on my Facebook page that shows just part of the handwritten manuscript. Writing a manuscript by hand has its advantages, but speed isn’t one of them. Still, it helped me to get absorbed in the story and the characters, and to develop an almost physical bond with the manuscript.
Writing Former.ly created another interesting problem – the speed of social networking sites means that things get obsolete quickly, and so I had to make a concentrated effort to ensure that the book was future-proofed. The three year delay from start to finish meant that some of the initial references had to be updated during the editing stage just to make sure that they still made sense.
And there was one other thing that had a serious bearing on the story. About halfway through its creation, I suffered a nervous breakdown, and I was out of action both at my day job and as a writer for about three months. Eventually, I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome and anxiety disorder, two medical issues that will stay with me for the rest of my life.But I won’t be beaten by it. I funnelled it into the novel, and gave Dan – a web developer and the novel’s protagonist – many of the same symptoms and issues that I had to dealt with. If anything, I overdid it in the first draft, but Pam Harris – my kick-ass editor – helped me to iron it out and to pull the story together into a cohesive narrative.
This is where I give a big shout-out to Pam, who’s played more of a part in the history of Former.ly than anyone else has. No book is complete until it’s gone through a round of professional editing – that’s one of the things that I learned when No Rest for the Wicked, my first novel, was picked up for publication. Sure, you can copy edit your own work, if you’re good enough; you just can’t step back and take a look at the project as a whole, or offer guidance on how to further develop it.
Now, three years after I first started work on the project, I can finally hold a physical copy in my hands, and I couldn’t be happier. I think it was worth it; I hope that if you read the novel, you’ll think it’s worth it too. Oh, and give my regards to Flick when you meet her.
About Dane Cobain
Dane Cobain (High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, UK) is an independent poet, musician and storyteller with a passion for language and learning. When he’s not in front of a screen writing stories and poetry, he can be found working on his book review blog or developing his website, http://www.danecobain.com. His debut novella, No Rest for the Wicked, was released by Booktrope in the Summer of 2015.
When Dan Roberts starts his new job at Former.ly, he has no idea what he’s getting into. The site deals in death – its users share their innermost thoughts, which are stored privately until they die. Then, their posts are shared with the world, often with unexpected consequences. But something strange is going on, and the site’s two erratic founders share a dark secret. A secret that people are willing to kill for.
Paperback: 198 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (1 May 2016)