Revising Leah

January 11, 2009

Proof Copy: First Look

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 10:01 am
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In my last post, I discussed how worried I’ve been that the back side of my book cover wasn’t going to turn out well. I even started designing an alternative back cover just in case my fears were realized.

Well, my fears were indeed realized. Late yesterday, my proof copy arrived, and I found that not only does the back side of the cover look obviously pixelated (even more pixelated, in fact, than it did in the PDF file from which the cover was generated), but my attempt to soften the pixelation by slightly blurring the image has failed spectacularly: the image looks both pixelated and blurry.

Only three visitors to this blog voted on the two back cover options in my previous post (and those votes resulted in a three-way tie), but it looks like my decision has been made for me. There’s no way I can use Option One. Option Two is in.

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January 9, 2009

Tell Me What You Think (Poll!)

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 1:37 pm
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I’m still waiting for the proof copy of my novel to arrive, and as I wait, I continue to second-guess my design for the back cover. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m worried that the image on the back will be obviously pixelated, and while I like the idea of a large detail of the front cover painting on the back, too much pixelation will make the cover look really, really amateurish.

But I’ve also felt uncertain about the design in general. Even if the picture is not over-pixelated, I’m not sure if it’s the best design. With that in mind, the other day I started designing a new back cover, one with a smaller, crisper image and a quote from the novel.

So I want to know from you, kind visitor, which design do you think is better (that is, which looks more professional and/or aesthetically pleasing)? Click on the images below to see a larger image, and then participate in the poll at the end of this post. And maybe leave a comment if you have suggestions to make. I’m eager to know what people think.

Option One

Option One

Option Two

Option Two

Option One is what I have right now. Pros: the image fills the entire back cover, an idea that I rather like. Minimal text. Cons: Too much pixelation. I’m not a fan of the shape of the blurb; it’s triangular because I’m trying to avoid letting the text get tangled in the girl’s hair, but it’s not a perfect triangle and that kind of bugs me.

Option Two is the possible new design. Pros: It looks clean and simple. It’s hard to tell, perhaps, but the font color here is dark green. I thought that would look better than a lot of black text on a white background. I like how the detail image is focused on the book the girl is holding. Cons: That’s a lot of text! (The quote at the top of the cover is, in fact, an edited, shortened version of what appears in the manuscript, but it’s still really long.)

December 19, 2008

Blurb: Version 2.7.3

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 12:40 pm
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So far, in the epic struggle between author and blurb, the blurb has been kicking the author’s butt. Blurbs are such tricky things to write. They’re poems, really, where every word must be chosen with care and arranged in just the right order to achieve the desired effect in the reader (in this case, to generate interest in my novel).

But I think I might have finally reached a turning point. Last night, before bed, I worked on the blurb some more. At last, I might have found my blurb. Before I get to that, though, let’s recap the string of misses that I’ve written since Thanksgiving:

  • Alone and shy, 14-year-old Leah Nells has lived her life in isolation, with only books to keep her company. But when she begins ninth grade, she finds herself thrust into the complicated and confusing world of high school. And when she falls in love with a boy from her class, she must choose between  the girl the world expects her to be and the girl she is.

  • Introverted and shy, 14-year-old Leah Nells has lived her life in isolation, with only books to keep her company. But when she begins ninth grade, she finds herself thrust into the complicated and confusing world of high school. And when she falls in love with a boy from her class, she must choose between the girl the world expects her to be and the girl she is.

  • Introverted and shy, 14-year-old Leah Nells has lived her life alone, with only books to keep her company. As she starts high school, she finds herself lost in the complicated and confusing world of high school. And when she falls in love with a boy from her class, can she find a way to fit in yet stay true to herself?

  • Introverted and shy, 14-year-old Leah Nells has lived her life alone, with only books to keep her company. As she starts high school, she finds herself lost in the complicated and confusing world of high school-especially when she falls in love with a boy from her class. Can she learn to overcome her shyness and be the girl that her classmates and her parents expect her to be?

  • Introverted and shy, 14-year-old Leah Nells has lived her life alone, with only books to keep her company. As she starts high school, she finds herself lost in the complicated and confusing world of high school-especially when she falls in love with a boy from her class. Can she learn to overcome her shyness and be the girl that the whole world expects her to be?

As you can see, I have an idea of what I want to say and how I want to say it, but I’m struggling to find just the right words and phrases. (Story of my life, actually.) One strategy that I’ve been using for these blurbs is to talk out loud. I’ve found that while revising the novel, when I came upon a sentence that sounded strange or confusing but didn’t offer an obvious solution, talking out loud — attempting to describe to myself what I mean to say — helped me find a solution to the problem. I’ve used that technique as I’ve worked on this blurb. Here’s the current version, written late last night:

Introverted and shy, 14-year-old Leah Nells has lived her life alone, with only books to keep her company. As she starts 9th grade, she finds herself lost and confused within the perplexing social universe of high school — especially when she falls in love with a boy from her class. Under pressure from her parents, her classmates, and the whole noisy world, can she become the girl she wants to be?

Today, when I look at this version of the blurb with fresh, rested eyes, I’m still happy with the first and third sentences, but the second sentence, specifically the phrase “the perplexing social universe of high school,” rubs me the wrong way (I think I need to do something about the word “social”, which sounds too formal to me — and “perplexing” might not be the best word either). I still have work to do, but, for the most part, this version of the blurb passes the same test that I use for all of my writing: can I read it without cringing or rolling my eyes? For this blurb, I can.

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