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.

A year and two months later…

Hi, y’all!

Just in case anybody still gets notifications about this thing: an introductory (re-introductory?) post.

It’s been a really long time since I blogged here. I’ve missed it. But that pesky business called life got super intense and unpleasant for a while there, sucking all motivational energy right out of me. The good news is, I can say with confidence that I’m on the other side of that nasty bout of depression that I last wrote about. The bad news is, I think it’s something I’m going to have to deal with forever, off and on (hopefully more off).

So, an update:

The job

The same. I still love what I do, but it’s getting more stressful financially, so we’ll see what happens with that.

The living situation

About to change. I sold some of my furniture and am in the process of going through all possessions “Keep, Sell, Donate”-style in preparation for a move in January. Where am I going? No clue. But it will have to be somewhere because I’m likely not going to be able to afford my apartment anymore when the lease renewal comes up.

Family

A little wear and tear – moves, divorces, car accidents, surgeries – but overall doing fine.

Friends

Another one from the college/AMC days passed away last month. And my BFF Dianna (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!) hit a rough patch in NYC and is now overhauling everything with the goal of moving to LA at the beginning of next year. Reconnected with some folks, disconnected with others. Just a lot of that life stuff happening. But for the most part, things are good here.

Health

Improving! 41 pounds lost and counting. Thanks, Weight Watchers!

The book

Revived. I hadn’t touched it in about a year, but recently looked at the first chapter again and spent like 5 hours fixing it up. I’ll be going through the rest of it, doing the same, and then it’s back to researching agents and querying, querying, querying. Just so y’all know, I have no regrets about this delay. I think I needed the time to make myself better, and that will make my work better. All good things.

Creativity

Still here. It waits, FYI, for us to get our shit together and use it. I’ve painted a bit. Helped my sister DIY-decorate her classroom (more in a future post). Redecorated my place a little. Still make up random choreography in my living room. Oh, and I have an idea for a whole other book, this one magical realism, which I don’t even fully understand to begin with, but that’s definitely what it is.

So there you have it. Here I am, ready to get going again. Everything is a big question mark right now, but I’ll keep y’all posted. If you’re reading this, thanks for coming back. It feels good to be here again.

The bus stop is super encouraging.

The bus stop is super encouraging.