Iris' inks.

Putting the cart before the horse, or, how I’m commissioning cover art before getting published

Or, how I’m commissioning cover art before even getting an agent. I know this plan seems to have hubris all over it, but hear me out.

  • First, I’m not stupid. (Unless you’re only thinking of the part of this plan that’s going to cost me a lot of money. In that case, I might be. But let’s talk about that later.) I know that there is an order of operations here: get an agent, get a book deal with a publisher, then do this kind of thing.
  • Second, I have wonderfully talented friends. I love collaborating with them, as you can see from older photo prompt posts on this blog.
  • Third, it’s my party and I’ll do it if I want to.

My friend Iris is an artist/graphic designer who has recently been doing work with hand-lettered typography. It’s beautiful stuff that’s right up my alley. Her regular posts on Facebook showing her works in progress gave me an idea… why not ask if she’d be interested in creating a book cover for me?

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I have an idea of it in my head, you see. And I’d love to see that idea exist, no matter what. Now, I’m no stranger to art. I can draw and paint, but there’s something… legitimate… about hiring a professional to do this kind of work. I want to have a gorgeous framed copy for myself and gorgeous digital copies to send out, should I choose.

Also, I barely had enough patience to muster acceptable-looking cursive on my new chalkboard label kitchen canisters (below). And I have a canvas with a fourth of a painting finished that’s been propped up against my bookshelf for like two years. So, no, if I want this art done right, I cannot do it myself.

It took me a really long time to get these to look even this good.

It took me a really long time to get these to look even this good.

Iris and I met at a coffee shop the other day. I told her why I thought she’d be a good fit for what I want, and I summarized the story for her. She made my Grinch heart grow a few sizes by saying that it sounded like exactly the type of book she would read. I told her my vague idea of the illustration. She made my inner art geek do a cartwheel by saying that she was thinking of the exact same thing.

Here are the scenarios that could happen with this:

  1. I go through all the above steps and the book gets published; however, the publisher prefers to use its in-house artist/graphic designer to create cover art.
  2. I go through all the above steps and the book gets published; they like Iris’ art and let it remain the cover.
  3. I spend the rest of my life trying to get this book published; it never happens, but I have the cover art I envisioned.

No matter what, I will have the cover I want. Even if it’s just for me.

Commissioning an original piece of art is no joke, and it’s not going to be cheap, either. I’ll eat Ramen noodles for as long as it takes, if that’s what it takes, to pay for this. Even if nothing comes of the book itself, I know I’ve done something big, and I’ll have two beautiful things to show for it – the story, and the art.

The book map! Cover images pointing to the location where the story takes place.

High school English, DIY-style

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My sister is now a 10th grade English teacher. Of all the people on the planet to end up as an English teacher, my sister is not high on the list of names I’d predict, for a few reasons:

  1. She hated school.
  2. She really hated English.
  3. She doesn’t read or write all that much.
  4. She really, really hated school.

However, there are a few reasons that I am also not surprised by this new career:

  1. When she sets a goal, she meets it.
  2. She’s one of those super annoying people who is good at everything, even on first attempts.
  3. She’s always been excellent with kids of all ages.

Now there are two of us literary types in the family. We came up with some fun ideas to decorate her classroom, including my contribution – the book map.

I would have totally geeked out over this map in high school. My book club geeked out over the idea and helped me come up with titles. It’s been an English geek fest! (For everyone except the students, anyway… they aren’t terribly impressed so far.) Unfortunately, some of the titles I’d chosen for stories in Central and South America, Canada and the Middle East didn’t print well, so there are holes in the map. Also I realized I’ve read a woeful lack of almost anything that takes place in the Orient. But these things can always be added, and suggestions are welcome!

For the other decor, my sister and mom channeled their inner Native Americans and used every last piece of the carcasses of murdered buffalo books to create window banners out of pages and a mobile out of spines. A few inspirational posters and writing guides, and the room is good to go. It’s not as decked out as some of the other teachers’, but I like its minimalism. It keeps the important things in focus – reading, writing and awesome maps!