Bernard Jan is a Croatian writer and a poet with a strong passion for his artistic creations. We met on LinkedIn where he shared one of his works with me (A World Without Color) and having gone through his choice of words and being a writer myself I found his works very interesting and decided to do an interview of him so I can take you, our readers into his world.
Bernard is a brilliant writer in that he communicates directly from the heart. This is what I personally enjoy about my favourite writers. His published books in English are A World Without Color and Look for Me Under the Rainbow, plus a number of poems, both in English and Croatian. In his pipeline are two books to be published: Cruel Summer and January River.
Enjoy the interview here below:
How did you start your writing career and how much are you satisfied writing today?
My professional writing career started rather suddenly, at the outbreak of war in Croatia in the 1990s. At some point in life we think about what we have achieved and what we want from our life. It is war and sudden threat of death that triggered those questions in me. So, I wrote to document what was going on, to tell future generations what kind of trauma and tragedy people here have experienced so they never happen again, and to leave my legacy. Hopefully, a good one.
What is the main idea behind the title “A World Without Color”?
The main idea by the title A World Without Color is to tell a true story, to describe to the detail after the last three days I’ve spent with my cat and how my world looked back then. It was the world without color, in which all joy and hope disappeared, the world where my family and I counted days, hours and minutes when we would say a final goodbye to our beloved cat. Those were the hard days with no light on horizon when many dark, and even suicidal, thoughts occupied my mind.
Why that choice of a photo on the cover of the book?
The photo on the cover of my book is a selfie taken by Zach Singh with his cat Oswald. Zach is a young and talented photographer from New York City and Columbus, Ohio I’ve met on LinkedIn and Twitter. When I saw this photo first time on his Twitter feed, I knew this is the perfect photo for my book cover. The beauty of it and its strong emotion were what I’ve been looking for to portray on the cover of my black and white world. Zach gave me permission to use it and this is how A World Without Color got its face. With sadness I must say that six months after the publication, Oswald, the cat from my book cover, passed away. On the New Year’s Eve of 2017, I’ve received the news of his death from Zach’s mom. It was a very sad ending of the year.
When you first came up with idea to write this book, did you know it was going to be a success in the market and how did you go about the book promotion after publication?
Honestly, I didn’t plan to write this book. My mom wanted me for years to write a book about our cat, but I pushed that idea aside. Until the moment for that eventually arrived and our world turned gray and sad and empty. Writing Marcel’s story was more a necessity than something planned. Since I was very suicidal, putting that story on paper and getting all that emotions out of me was my means of survival. This was the only way to keep my sanity.
Readers have accepted A World Without Color rather well and it got excellent reviews. Some of them told me it helped them cope with their own loss. Unfortunately, the sales didn’t follow great comments and feedback I was receiving because of the lack of my marketing plan. Until I’ve self-published A World Without Color, I was a traditionally published author in Croatia.
Switching to an indie author in the English-speaking language on the international market was a challenge. I had to learn everything about publishing: I had to find a good editor, learn how to format the book, find a book cover designer (here I want to thank Mario Kožar from MKM Media for doing such an amazing job), figure out how to publish the book on Amazon and then how and where to market it. Marketing is the hardest part of the self-publishing process and I can’t say I enjoy it.
I used Kindle Direct Publishing promo days, promoted it on my social networks (Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads, Steemit) and other platforms where I had my profiles, via my newsletter and submitting it to contests and reviews. If you ask me whether I could have done more, my answer is yes. There is always more we can do, there is always that striving in us to do better.
Looking back from when you first published the book, what would you say has been the most helpful marketing strategy for the book?
I think the most helpful in marketing my book were free and bargain promo weeks on Amazon KDP, sending queries to reviewers and alerts to my subscribers along with tweeting about it. I didn’t have a marketing plan or strategy back then but was promoting it along the way as I was learning things.
Other indie authors helped me a lot with their advice and/or tweeting about my book. Authors and readers who wrote reviews and blog posts about it. Those were fantastic opportunities for the book promotion. Their support was amazing. The word of mouth and the reviews I have received are the best recommendation for my book.
How do you describe the success of the book till date, both from the point of view of sales and readers’ response?
The readers’ response is amazing, sales could be much better, ha-ha!
From the level of affection, what does this cat represent to you?
Marcel was my world. Losing him I lost a part of myself. He was my brother, my friend, my comfort and joy. He was my everything. The love we gave each other can only be understood by those who have experienced that kind of unconditional and pure love with their animals.
If you were to give three short messages that summarize the book, what will that be?
Three short messages that summarize my book are the three words from its cover: “Powerful”, “Emotional” and “Honest”.
Do you want to add anything else, maybe a message that I did not mention?
For those of you who have animals, love them truly, deeply and unconditionally. Regret nothing when time comes to part with them. Embrace the pain because that pain keeps them alive. Cherish the nice moments you have had together and let those memories guide you and help you on your path of being a better and selfless person.
My plea to everyone is to please be kind to animals. Treat them with respect and compassion like you would treat each other. Show them empathy, do everything you can to prevent cruelty to them. Life is short and we are just a flicker of time on this planet. So why not make the best of that time by doing good deeds to others. It will help us to be remembered for sympathy and have us as examples worthy of following once we are also gone?
Spread love, kindness and tolerance, and share what you love with those who appreciate it.
Thank you very much dear Bernard. To know more about Bernard and his beautiful works, visit his website, check out his books and follow him on social media. The links are here under. Thanks once again Bernard and continue to write.
Obehi Peter Ewanfoh