Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Brain. Is. Tired.

I think it (the brain) might be misfiring, actually. Maybe a remnant from yesterday's headache. Or maybe it's because I'm immersing myself in uncovering all-things-self-publishing, jump-started not just by continued grappling with the ongoing process of agent rejection but by reading articles such as this and this. Do you have any idea how many folks out there have opinions, blog entries, Web sites, marketing packages, advice, links, etc., that provide insight into the world of self- and independent publishing endeavors? I've found a few good ones, thanks to Scott Nicholson and his list of friendly friends who know what they're talking about. But...omigod...I'm totally overwhelmed.

The myths surrounding the process of self-publishing are numerous; the greatest of them all, which I am embarrassed to admit I've bought into over the years of reading agency and author blogs, attending conferences, and listening to the well-heeled dole out their well-heeled advice, purports that self- and independently published authors are nerdy losers who can't get traditional publishing contracts. But the folks I'm finding online who have had some mad success with peddling their own work, without the help of agents and Big Time Publishing Houses is...inspiring. Interesting. Enlightening. Seems that times they are a'changin'. (For an interesting perspective on just HOW the publishing industry might be able to survive despite itself, read this, a fascinating opinion piece by Computer World's Mike Elgan. Hunh. Whodathunk it?)

I'm obviously on the fence here. But thriller writer JA Konrath has published traditionally and independently, and has a bitchin' blog devoted to his adventures as a scribe making money in this crazy industry (A Newbie's Guide to Publishing). Dude's a bit smarmy, perhaps, but it's definitely part of his charm. I'd have a glass of whiskey with this bloke and just watch him and his friends roast the neighbors. Too much fun.

So now I'm looking for concepts for cover art -- words, visuals, ideas, extracted from the book (thanks, beta readers!) -- to be converted into images in the brain of a sublimely talented graphic designer. I know my limits, and thus won't handle this task myself. I suck at graphic design simply because I am not a graphic designer. Folks think that because I have a camera, and I take photographs, I must have a shred of artistic talent. I don't. Taking photos of people's cute kids, a plastic duck, the neighbor's new puppy vs. designing an eye-popping book cover that screams BUY ME? Two completely different skill sets. Like I said, I know me limits, lassie.

JA Konrath (and others) offer links to some really talented humans (here) who, for a reasonable price, design that all-important book cover and lend some kick-ass legitimacy to self-pub'd work. Think about it -- when shopping on Amazon, Chapters/, Barnes &, et al, if you come across some hysterically pathetic book cover, does it make you want to pay the $.99 or $2.99 and download the e-book for that Kindle/Kobo Santa brought you? Does it make you want to tear into the fiction that you hope is only slightly less lame than the writer's cat draped in velvet and pasted on the front of the book with the help of Photoshop Elements? I promise not to put my cat on the cover of my book. Probably a good idea because I don't have a cat in the story. Just a girl, a boy, a couple of elephants, a circus, and a really, really old book.

What I've learned today (and sort of already knew): Stupid cover art will make you look stupid. Period. There's a reason the Big Publishing Houses employ graphic designers. Even if the writing is brilliant (which, let's face it, just like with music and art, a lot of it is gonna blow chunks--this is true of traditionally published books, as well) and the cover art is completely retarded, no one is going to take you seriously. (And stop being offended by my use of "retarded." It's the perfect word for this scenario.)

In the meantime: I will be interviewing Hannah Moskowitz and reviewing her book Invincible Summer as soon as we can get our hands on the ARC (advanced reading copy, for those who are keeping track). Watch for reviews and contributor posts on Best Damn Creative Writing Blog. Just waiting for the ARCs to come in for books so I can do the really hard job of -- ho hum -- having to sit on my ass and read. Wow, that sounds so tough. And because I'm reviewing, I won't even feel guilty about indulging in some good books. Win-win!

Alas, this post has taken the entire day to write, between breaks to deal with a sick kid and Internet side trips, and now I have to drive another un-sick kid to soccer practice. (Call me a soccer mom and die. Just sayin'...)

Lates, turkeys...

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