A new cover to judge it by

Back in May, I printed  up a couple of copies of my book, even though it was still a work in progress. I had earned a free copy from CreateSpace by completing the NaNoWriMo 50,000 word challenge. The coupon expired sometime in June, and I didn’t want to see it go to waste.

Even though the book was not ready to be published, it was a great opportunity to see what it would look like in paperback form. I found a nice sunset photo that I had taken at the Grand Canyon. It has nothing to do with the story, but it was a nice picture. I was impressed with the printing and the look of the cover, but I knew I would eventually have to change the cover to give a reader a better idea of what the book was about.

I had vague ideas floating around in the back of my mind, but had done nothing of substance in the past six months. If I was going to make my goal to publish by the end of the year, I needed to come up with something soon.

I took my camera and drove down the coast. I had a certain image in my mind, though I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to make use of it. I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I was mostly scouting on this first past through. Almost as an afterthought, I backtracked to another place off my route and got out to take some actual photos.

Armed with a self-timer, I tried to find a place with a good backdrop and a place to prop up the camera. I used benches, garbage cans, and the bike rack on my truck as makeshift tripods. I took several shots, dashing back and forth, trying out multiple looks, and trying to ignore the odd looks I was getting. I ended up with some good initial shots, and just seeing these first attempts gave me some more ideas.

I went out for another afternoon in a different location. On the second day, I found some spots where I could have a wider photo that would wrap around the book from front to back.

After two days, I had several good shots and started playing around with them in my photo editing software. The more I messed with them, the more ideas started to take shape. I had the back cover figured out, and just needed to go out and re-shoot the new idea for the front cover. But then a strange thing stopped my momentum. Rain in San Diego.

I didn’t get a chance to re-shoot before heading to Seattle for the holidays, so it is still in the idea stage. I am hoping to capture the cover I have pictured in my head when I return. In the meantime, it is back to the less glamorous stuff to get the book ready.

Final cut

I spent the month of October doing what I thought would be a final edit of Share the Road. I wanted to get the edit done before changing my focus to the new book, and I thought that going through the novel would also recharge my writing battery for NaNoWriMo.

If I haven’t lost count, this would be the fourth edit of the book. Each round seemed to dig a little deeper, make finer corrections, but they would also add new things to the story. And each time something was added, it was fresh material that needed to be tweaked and corrected.

For the fourth trip through the story, I decided to print it out. For some reason when something is printed out it is much easier to detach myself, and read what is actually there instead of what I think is there. Problems don’t seem to jump out as readily when I am staring at a computer screen.

Reading through it on paper, smaller problems seemed bigger and I was able to focus in word choice and eliminate some repetition that had slipped through the cracks. When I was finished, it felt like it was about ready for a new audience. I set it aside for November.

December 1st I left the new novel at the halfway stage and returned to Share the Road. It had been in the back of my mind while I struggled with the new story, and I was hoping to get it completely finished by the end of the year so I move on. I sent off a copy of it to a friend for a typo check, and decided to give it a final read-through.

And I am still making changes.

It has been said many times by a number of people, a book is never really done, you just finally have to let it go. If you are fortunate enough to be a professional writer, a deadline forces you to stop endlessly tweaking it. For we amateurs, you have to force yourself to stop in order to move on. A book doesn’t come alive until someone reads it, and if you endlessly rewrite it, it is almost as if it was never written.

This is my last time through. I have a couple more chapters on my read-through, and my typo/grammar check should arrive in a week. I need to get this book out of my hands before I do anymore damage.