Saturday, September 23, 2017

You’re Supposed to be Embarrassed, Right?

Scott D. Parker

When you look back on your former work, do you get embarrassed?

For the past week or so, I have updated the interior layouts and covers for the paperback versions of my four mysteries. I took the paperbacks offline back in May when I updated the ebook covers and put them in Kindle Unlimited. It was an experiment and one that is, slowly, getting some traction. To be honest, the western side of things, under the S. D. Parker pen name, has been doing much better.
Anyway, I pulled up the earlier versions of the files and went to work. The covers were relatively straightforward. I used the existing cover template, paste on the new front cover, then updated the spine and back copy. Now the four books all appear from the same family: same cover template, same wrap color and font, with little pictures of the other three books on the back cover. The interesting thing was using the first book as a go-by and literally copying/pasting the cover on top of the other three novels in order to line up every font and square. Adobe Illustrator is a powerful tool and I know I’m probably only scratching the surface of its capabilities.

It was the interiors that made me gasp a little. They all look fine, but my sensibilities have matured since I initially created those interiors back in 2015 and 2016. My eye had improved and the details I now want to present were not there in those older versions.

For example: the font on the chapter headings (i.e., Chapter One) were all visually the same but in terms of styles, they were all over the place. There are few things are monotonous as going through each chapter, highlighting the chapter head text, and then applying a new style to it. But it is accomplished now. And I kept ULTERIOR OBJECTIVES they way it already was: simple Arabic numerals. Other than that distinction, all four interior layouts now appear the same.

I admitted to myself a little bit of embarrassment over the matter. Sure, all the books were fine in and of themselves, but as a whole, they were not as unified as I wanted. Now they are.

I’m looking forward to seeing the proofs that’ll arrive sometime next week and then putting the paperbacks on sale again.

As an independent author, the learning process never ends. Yes, we writers are always in school when it comes to crafting our stories. But the nuts and bolts part of the job—like layouts, covers, and marketing—is also a constant learning process as well. As much as some of the parts of my interiors made me cringe here in 2017, I also had internalized one crucial lesson:
Do the best you can with the knowledge you have acquired up to a certain point and then release the book into the wild. Do not wait until you think you have it perfect because you will ultimately never release it. Use your knowledge to make the next project the best ever. And then the next.

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