COUNTDOWN TO PUBLICATION: 20 Days---Cover Design
Contributor
Written by
Victoria Mixon
March 2010
Contributor
Written by
Victoria Mixon
March 2010
We spent last weekend re-working the cover for my book. You'll notice it has a much bigger font now, especially that one pivotal word, so it will still be readable on the thumbnails that Amazon and Barnes & Noble use. This is one of the joys of indie publishing: you not only get to design your own cover, you get to mess with it right up to the very point of publication. I called in everyone I could find. I put it out on Twitter. I solicited help through my blog. I posted three versions of the book cover and asked for votes, and then my husband and I put together a fourth version based on the feedback and asked for votes on that. It was an amazing experience. Here's what I learned: people love being asked their opinions. I got the most incredible variety of responses---not anything even remotely resembling a consensus (these are creative types I was asking), but extremely explicit analyses, votes and re-votes, discussion and interpretation. I certainly won't forget the compliments! And when we created the fourth version based on the responses to the other three, a really surprising number of people said, "Of course that's the one. Of course." I got advice from an editing client who went to Barnes & Nobles and researched spine design, which was corroborated later by a book designer. Another voter, a writer and graphic designer, pointed me toward his own book design, which gave me an epiphany about back cover design. Amazing. And still I edit. I'm mentioning this again to make the point that self-editing goes on. . .forever. It's like that stage of housebuilding, when we built our house a few years ago, where we had the walls up and were putting in the electrical wiring and plumbing and everything else you need to put it before you can enclose it all with siding and drywall. Someone asked me during that time, "How's your house coming? What phase are you in?" and I said, "The one that never ends." There is a part of me that still, three years later, lives in that stage of housebuilding, the one that was never going to end. Self-editing is like that. I'm also winding up a series of interviews on my own blog with other authors who have self-published: She Writes member Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos (whose book, SILENT SORORITY, is up for "10 Best Books for Spring" on More magazine), long-time self-publisher Bob Spear, who is blogging about his experience of re-entering the world of publishing after a break of many years, and the owners of the Literary Lab, who published a collection of winners from their short fiction contest as a charity event for the non-profit writing group (voted for by their readers) Write Girl. I even took the revolutionary step of re-vamping my website so all the Category links go where they're supposed to go! I know---such ambition. I'm also having a nervous breakdown this week. This happens with books. Sonya Chung talked about her anxiety attack the week before publication. It's just like the period before you get married. As I recall, I was a walking wreck for almost a month and then woke up the morning after my wedding with a completely clear head. Sonya? Is that going to happen?

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Comments
  • Victoria Mixon

    Hi Sonya! Yes, there are so many things about publication in general that are both blessing and curse. However, I got into writing for the joy of polishing a sentence to the best of my ability. I can't tell you how horrified I was when my nonfiction book, CHILDREN AND THE INTERNET, came out with having been even proofread. My agent actually demanded that it be recalled and edited properly, but of course that didn't happen. So now I'm kind of reveling in the opportunity to work and work at it. In fact, we're going to release my book in e-version first so I have a little more time to step back and let it cool before I issue a permanent print version.

    That's hilarious that you read the most polished sentence at your readings! I wonder if anyone notices?

    Yes, the weird calm. It's like the eye of the hurricane. Maybe it's only weird because it's the polar opposite of all the intense, focused work that goes on directly before?

  • Sonya Chung

    That's an interesting analogy, Victoria. There is something weirdly calm and clear that happens when all the preparation craziness is done, and there's nothing left to do but just let the thing happen. I think of it maybe more like election day?

    The option to keep editing up until the last moment -- boy that must be both a blessing and a curse! As I go out and do readings, I am constantly editing, marking up my copy, cheating by reading the better sentence instead of the one that's on the printed page (shh, don't tell anyone!).

  • Victoria Mixon

    Thanks, Pamela! I am starting to feel like I've gone into post-adrenalin, "Oh, what the heck?" Either that or it's just because it's Saturday.

  • Thanks for the shoutout, Victoria. Much appreciated.
    Ah, yes, the pre-publication nervous breakdown...the adrenalin rush! Very excited about your impending delivery ;-) ...