Lantern Leaf Press

Voyages Into The Fantastic

Cover Story

From My Self Publishing Files – A look at the inner process of self-publishing.

Remember the writers’ “inner journey” I’ve mentioned in past blog posts? It’s this shocking concept that, while writing, you might learn more about yourself than you expected or wanted. Well, I proved it again big-time during the last couple months, and cover art is to blame.

Now I knew going into the publishing process that I am one of those people who really value certificates. I am a ‘master the level’, ‘other people know best’, and ‘whatever you do, don’t get mocked’ kind of girl, so working my way to the point where I was willing to stand up and self publish my own stories took a lot of guts.


I mean, let’s face it, one of the beautiful things about traditional publishing is that you have this big company saying “This work has value and is good, so we’re paying for it.” And for the self-publishers, well, there are stereotypes. Lots of stereotypes, of the hard to push through kind. Thanks to my certificate-need, it took me roughly ten years of writing to finally reach the place where I knew my writing was good enough to publish. Which means a happy ending, right? “Author beats fear of inadequacy by working her tail off and accomplishing something she can be proud of.” I had it all figured out and defeated.

Ha. (Did you catch that? Here, I’ll say it again.) Ha. Just as soon as I emerged from the first wave—dripping, yet gorgeous—I found myself facing another. The dreaded cover art.

Laugh if you want, but cover art blocked my entire writing process at a deep level for longer than I care to admit, and I’m still wrestling with it. Know why? I’ve put in my time as writer and can hold my head up and know what I’m talking about, but with art, not so much. My cover art skills are limited to being able to look at a picture and go “yes,” or “no,” with no reason besides my gut, and no clue how to sound like I know what I’m talking about. The very idea makes me freeze up.

It took a long talk with a friend to be able to identify the problem. In short – if I want cover art I have to be humble. I have to admit when I don’t know what I want, and I have to recognize the fact that I will take up the artist’s time. And, as much as I squirm, I have no control over what they think of me for my inexperience.

For me, even approaching an artist is frightening. My lack of art-savvy makes me feel humiliated, even if the artist is kind. Sometimes more-so if they’re kind.  Hey, even just showing potential covers (that I didn’t design!) to friends to get their opinion is a tangle of insecurities.

I do not claim to have this figured out or whittled down to size, but at least I’ve noticed it’s going on. Noticing and clarifying are half of the battle for me. And for the rest of it, well, here’s what I plan to do –

  • Intentionally talk with people who will give me real feedback, and can listen while I try to figure things out.
  • Avoid freezing over vague fears and difficulties. For instance, if I catch myself using shield words  like “stressed”, I’ll stop and try to figure out what I’m really feeling behind the word.
  • Let go of the illusionary certificate and slowly back away.
  • Give myself permission to let this be my first story, and leave room to get better and better with each new story, cover art included.

You’re probably hoping to see the cover art in process now, aren’t you? Sorry, you’re going to have to wait a bit. But it will be soon, because I’ve got a wonderful someone to do the nuts and bolts for me while I supervise and give confusing opinions, and I’m ready for this process to move forward.

What’s been blocking you in your art? Have you gotten specific with it yet? The results might surprise you.


  1. As much as you might fear working with an artist, the artist may dread trying to figure you out and hearing something like “I’m not sure what I want, but I know that’s not it!” 🙂

    It’s all about communication. Make lists of what is important to you. Show examples of other books you like and don’t like. Try to describe your reasoning. Bridge the gap between your world of words and the artist’s world of images.

    And don’t forget to enjoy the journey!

    • Rebekah

      August 24, 2014 at 9:06 pm

      An excellent point! Now I want to sit down with some artist friends (in a non-work-oriented time) and ask them questions about how to speak their language. I realize it will be different from artist to artist, but the exercise wouldn’t hurt. I know I have trouble when non-word people try to explain what they’re looking for in a story or poem.

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