As much as I would LOVE to release Meet the Lidwells! right now at this very moment, I’m still not entirely happy with a few things related to it.
The cover, for instance. I’m still not happy with it. I’ve thought through a few layouts, played with a few in Photoshop, and I’m still not happy with it. To be brutally honest, at the moment it looks like the original cover of Jonathan Franzen’s Purity, which I so mercilessly tore apart upon its release. And the last thing I want to do is make it look like I’m saying …but hey, if *I* make a cover like that, it’s art! Come on, Jonc. Face the facts. That ain’t how it’ll work out.
Thankfully, during one of those nights where I’m lying in bed after lights out, thinking about my writing when I really should be trying to get to sleep, I realized where I was going wrong, and came up with an excellent alternative that I’m quite certain I can pull off. Which means that sometime within the next week or so, I can start working on the improvements.
As you can see in this outtake I did a few months ago, my original idea had some merit, but it also looked like I threw it together in about five minutes. It looked too sparse, too unfinished. I need to do more with it, but I wasn’t sure what. The piece that needed to stay was the image of the six silhouettes; it’s an important plot point in the first third of the book, as it’s the cover of their debut album.
The error I made was that someone looking at the cover without looking at the book wouldn’t know that. I realized this was the same exact issue the original Purity cover had — I learned much later that the woman’s image is in reference to a passport photo. Having never read the book, I would not have known that if someone hadn’t told me.
This meant that I had to figure out how to get the point across that these silhouettes are something important. And that late evening, I realized that it didn’t have to be an album cover, per se. In the book, that ‘iconic’ image of the Lidwell kids didn’t originate as their album cover, but as a flyer for their first shows.
Which gave me an altogether different canvas to work with.
SO! This means that I have some more work to do in creating this cover, but I know exactly what I can do with it, and how. And even better, I can once again pull it off on my own! Self-publishing FTW!
I’m telling you all this, because this is how a writer, especially a self-publishing one, should think about their product. There will definitely be times where you get stuck on certain parts of your project, where you can’t quite figure out how to fix it. You’ll waste time trying all sorts of things that won’t work. The temptation to say ‘screw it’ and call it done can be quite high sometimes. Or worse, you’ll talk yourself into believing that your half-assed attempt will be understood by everyone else as a brilliant move. You’ll be getting close to your self-imposed deadline, or even fly past it, and want to kludge something just to get it out there. I’ve hit these roadblocks plenty of times.
Thankfully, my stubborn will kept me from taking that route. As long as I kept telling myself there was a better way to do this and that I just had to figure it out, I was fine with releasing it a little later than usual. All I had to do was work through this roadblock. And I’m happy I finally did!