Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Writing 101: Why You Have to Micromanage

I had a bit of trouble getting a cover together for my most recent (finished) book. Well, that’s a euphemism. The truth is, I bought like 5 covers. I wish I was exaggerating that number even a little. The first 4 times, I was way too considerate of other people’s creative process. I’ve learned that when you self-publish, even if you don’t do every little thing yourself you have to micromanage every little thing about your book. If not, you’re going to end up with half a dozen covers that you can’t even use.

Every Little Breath You Take

As an indie author, you don’t necessarily have to do everything yourself -- but you do have to direct all of it. Even if you hire an editor, a trailer-maker, a graphic cover designer or a guy to write your Tweets, you’ve got to tell them in explicit detail exactly what you want and what you expect. Because, as I learned, you’re just wasting time and money if you do otherwise.

It’s fine to give people a little bit of creativity, but they’re going to need to figure out how to exercise that creativity within the extremely strict boundaries that you set. If you’re buying a cover, make a mockup of a cover first. It doesn’t matter if you’re a terrible artist, because that’s what you’re hiring the designer for. But you’ve got to give them an idea of what you want. Tell your editor that you like semicolons and exclamation points, and to lay off your punctuation (or whatever it is). Give the trailer designer some images you find yourself, and a good idea of what you want the trailer to say and show. Don’t tell them to do whatever they want, or give them too much freedom, because most of the time you won’t like the final results.

To put it simply, you have to micromanage. Give clear instructions, show examples and be direct about what you want. That’s pretty much the only way you can be sure that you’ll get it.

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