Tuesday, March 31, 2009

If You Dream It, They Will Publish It? An Exercise in Dreaming Your Book Cover

A couple of years ago, I dreamed up a book cover for my novel. I spent an hour with some colored pencils and nice paper, drew and wrote and typed and pasted. I drew a lake shore, since the story is about a lake in late summer when the birches are just turning yellow. It was great fun. I even made up "blurbs," those bright one- or two-liners full of nice comments from famous writers about the story.

I put the book cover above my desk. I think I was struggling with my fifth draft then and seeing the cover made me hopeful it would someday be published.

Fast forward, book travels the rounds of agents and publishers for over a year, despair sets in, but book finally gets accepted. Editor is great, loves it, edits it, sends her suggestions. I am impressed: my novel's better than ever.
We exchange a happy flurry of emails, like people do when a baby's coming. Excitement, anticipation, overwhelm.

The book goes into production, gets typeset. Release date is planned. We ask famous writers for blurbs. We talk cover art, jacket copy. I imagine what it'll be like to hold this book in my hand in August.

Each time, this process of birthing a book is both terrifying and lovely. Each publisher is different; some communicate a lot with the writer, some don't. My editor is sending emails, telling me in the same week, "I just love this book. What a superb writer you are," and "Do you have any ideas around cover art?"

Relief. She's been microscopically involved for months and she still loves it. Gulp. Cover art?

Then I remember my book cover exercise. I dig it out of some file. It gives me ideas. I open files of photos and images, go on line for free stock images, dream my cover again. Send her some ideas, which she likes. The cover is born.

But it make me wonder: Which comes first, the dream or the published book? Does dreaming your book (and its cover) create an open door for it to be published? Some people believe that what you imagine, you bring into manifestation, good or bad. Maybe you don't buy this, but in my experience, positive imaging certainly doesn't hurt.

So, try it this week. Design your book cover. See what happens.

Exercise: Set aside an hour, grab a piece of paper or open up your desktop graphics program, and play. Make up blurbs (those two-liners from famous people) for your cover, write your jacket copy, imagine your book published.