Indie Tips Friday: It’s OK to mourn what you’ve lost (but let it go anyway)

blogging-bonanza-bugI’m celebrating the countdown to launch on Tuesday of Truth, Dare, Double Dare, Promise or Repeat: On Finding the Meaning of “Like” in 1982 with a month-long blogging bonanza, which means I’ll be blogging here every day this month about my book, about memoirs in general and about the launch.

On Fridays during this crazy blogging bonanza month, I’m be writing about different aspects of self-publishing. Let’s call this Indie Tips Friday. Having self-published two previous books and helped several other authors publish their own works, I have a little experience to share with other aspiring publishers. Today I’m tackling painful edits.

* * *

In any creative work—any quality creative work—there’s going to be some brilliance that’s left on the cutting room floor.

A term used in the film industry, the cutting room floor refers to unused footage not included in the finished product. There’s always garbage leftover because not everything works in the first (or second … or 50th) take.

Cutting anything is painful for an artist because oftentimes the junk took just as much creativity and introspection as the jewels (writers count every word—cutting them feels like a slap in the stats!). So to cut it feels like we’re losing something important. But just as Michelangelo had to remove some valuable marble to reveal the true beauty of David, so do we.

With Truth, Dare, Double Dare, Promise or Repeat: On Finding the Meaning of “Like” in 1982, there was a lot of chaff I didn’t mind leaving behind, but I’m sorry enough about losing my first cover concept that I’m going to blog nostalgic for it today.

This is the “lost cover” of which I speak:

cover 4 rgb

It got some votes in my cover contest, yes, but in truth, it appeals to the generation who lived through 1982, not today’s generation, for whom my book is geared.

The lost cover started with this image:

Love Graffiti

This is a picture of a graffiti wall in tribute to John Lennon, who was assassinated in 1980. I loved how the graffiti artist created his letters, and I knew I wouldn’t find a font that reflected the unique shape of every letter.

So I created my own.

First I typed up a cover so I could place letters exactly where they needed to be to be centered and fill the space of an 8.5-by-5.5-inch book cover, and then I drew the shapes around each letter. Here’s that first draft:


At this point in the creation of the manuscript, I had a secondary progressive story interwoven with the main story. That story was cut, too, but I used the original page from 1982 on which it began to trace the letters of the cover. Like graffiti, it added texture to the main lettering and you can still read parts of my ball-point pen handwriting behind the title: “Part I: A Novel Idea: Chapter One: Gwendolyn Joy Hayes.”

A Novel Idea

then I used colored markers to “paint” my graffiti, using the John Lennon wall as inspiration.


At this point, I couldn’t use a marker to add the white highlights on the tops of each letter that the graffiti artist must have created with white spray paint. So I scanned in the page and opened it in Photoshop, which has a spray paint tool. How handy! I also used the program to remove the notebook holes on the left; I started drawing new ones but abandoned the effort for some reason I can no longer remember.

cover without notebook holes

All this to say, the lost cover required a lot of creativity that ended up on the cutting room floor.

But I had fun. And isn’t that one of the most satisfying elements of creativity?

* * *

final-ecover-rgbTruth, Dare, Double Dare, Promise or Repeat: On Finding the Meaning of “Like” in 1982 is available on Amazon on Tuesday. Look for it!




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