Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Telling a Book By It's Cover

Since I'm nurturing my entrepreneurial spirit by self publishing my first novel, Postcards from the Desert, I get to make decisions other authors might not get to make.  The big one I keep coming back to is, what my novel will look like?  I have to choose or design a cover. There are professional services one can contract to have this done, and I may still do that, but I want to have some input.

Everything I've read regarding choosing a cover has been helpful.  You want something that is going to look good both as a thumbnail image (for ebooks) and on a paperback, if you're going that route as well.  I am.  I plan to publish both as an ebook and in a paperback form.

But how to choose?  I've been looking at other novels to see what sells, and then I've gone through photographs I have taken, or friends have done.

I've gone through different stock photo websites.  Looking for something I want to purchase the right to use. I've enlisted the help of a friend of mine, who is a graphics designer to help me out.  We'll see what he says. Above, are just a few of the mockups I've tried. I've still got time and should probably get back to editing, but this keeps me reminded I am moving forward.  This is really happening.

You might not be able to tell a book by it's cover, but it certainly can't hurt to have the right one.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Chipping Away

As I go through what I hope are the final edits of my novel, Postcards from the Desert, before the big proof read, I'm struck at how subjective editing and revising is.   I've had several beta readers look at the manuscript and I've made changes along the way as I see things that need tightened, or cleaned up.  I took their feedback to heart and made changes when necessary, or in some cases chose not to change something they suggested because it didn't feel right to me. I keep referring back to their notes when I get stuck or discouraged.  Through this process I've become very aware of my inner perfectionist who needs this to be perfect and my inner critic who tells me if it's not perfect, I should give up. Revising is hard because there are an endless variety of options.

Some writers say it's like making a sculpture. You chip away at the clay until you get the piece you're looking for.  As a photographer, I'd compare it to cropping a photograph. You change the subject of the photograph by removing the things that distract from it and displaying the things that compliment it. Revising a story is much the same way.  It's in the revisions the theme and "moral" of the story begin to emerge.

I look at my first draft and see how I'm miles from that now.  Almost everything was there, but it was surrounded by a lot of words that distracted from the subject.

Since I decided early on to self publish this novel, I don't have someone from a publishing house saying "Lose this character, or drop that subplot, or add another antagonist," so I ultimately have to make the decisions about where this is going. I like that freedom, but it's also scary as hell. What if I'm wrong?

Ah, my perfectionist!  Always ready to assume the worst.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Favorite Time of Year

For some, summer is the favorite time of year.  Hot days spent at the beach, or in a swimming pool.  Balmy evenings partying on the patio. Playing in the garden. Vacations. Relaxation.  For me, autumn is my favorite time of year.  It's a time for slowing down.

This summer flew by.  I wanted to stop and enjoy it, but work kept me way too busy.  You would think being in theatre it would be the opposite, but alas, I had a lot of planning and training to do before the new season begins (next week).

Now I can take a break and finish those projects I've been picking away at, like the final edits of my novel, and getting some R&R.

Of the many things I love most about autumn, being outdoors is my favorite.  Taking a hike in Yellow Springs, or camping in West Virginia, both have a way of soothing my soul.  The daytime can still be warm, but the evenings are cool enough for a sweatshirt and hot apple cider.

Okay, I'm pushing it a bit here.  Labor day weekend is coming up to signal the unofficial end of summer, but those chilly nights are still several weeks away.  I'll have a little more humidity to endure first. I can manage it because I know what's coming.

Apple cider. Walks in the woods.  Football. Crunching leaves beneath my feet. Lots of photography. Sweaters.

I think I'm already there.