Hey Writer, Trust Yourself
I recently wrapped up the process for creating the cover to my debut novel. My publisher’s designer sent me a couple of different variations, and after a little back and forth on different ideas, I chose the cover for my very first traditionally published book.
It was interesting.
I say that because, at the end of the day, the decision for what my cover looked like belonged entirely to me. I’m not sure how it goes with big publishers, but the front of my book looks exactly like I want it to.
It looks like this:
I’ve shown it to my kids, my co-workers, and random people in the grocery store, and everyone agrees the cover looks cool. Intriguing. It sort of lures you in.
Heck, I even shared the pre-order link on my social media accounts today, and immediately made a sale.
So I know the design is solid.
But I’m still nervous.
What makes me nervous is that this is MY call. Me. My very first book to ever see the printing press of an actual publisher, and I’m the one deciding major selling features like the cover.
After years of writing, sharing, submitting, rejection, growth, and reinvention, I’m still learning that I don’t know everything about this writing gig. And I worry sometimes that what I don’t know will keep me from being successful.
Meanwhile, the truth is that I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned how to write a novel. I’ve learned how to submit. I’ve learned how to query, how to pitch, how to sit down face to face with a publisher and tell him exactly what I want in a contract — and get it.
I should trust myself a whole lot more than I do. And chances are, so should you.
Sure, there is always room for someone else’s perspective. I have people I trust that read my stuff, and I already mentioned that I shared my cover with folks in order to get feedback. We are made better by voices we trust.
But those voices don’t have the final say. We do.
Us — the writers.
And we know a lot more than we think.
We may not have data to back it up, or extensive experience in the market, but we do have something that shouldn’t be discounted:
The soul of our projects living inside us.
We’ve lived with the words, the characters, the stories, for longer than anyone else. We’ve toiled over the works we’ve created, and while wise counsel is essential, we shouldn’t listen to other voices at the expense of our own.
We’re the ones who’ve brought this story — this magnificent beast — to life, so dammit, we shouldn’t be afraid to speak our minds. To share our opinions. To ask for something we feel strongly about.
There’s a chance that the cover I chose might not be the best cover for my book, but I loved it and felt like it captured the feeling I wanted to evoke. I wanted the 8-year-old me to like my cover, and 8-year-old me is VERY excited to see what’s behind that door.
Writer, when it comes to your work, don’t let your voice stay confined to the page. Let it roar in defense of your art if need be, or speak into decisions with passion and candor.
No one knows you better than you. Be your own best advocate.
After all of the work you’ve put it, you owe it to yourself.