Comfy Old Shirt

Mar 09, 2023 by Gency Brown

What does that wrinkled shirt with a button missing say about you? You’re casual and approachable? Or that you didn’t care enough to present your best self?

I’ll admit right up front I don’t walk around like a page out of Vogue, but I try always to be clean, pressed, and coordinated. I hope that says I respect myself and your friendship enough to make the effort when we go out, and that I have something interesting to offer.

One of my favorite Guy Clark songs is ‘Stuff That Works’, which talks about useful things that aren’t fancy. It says, “I got an old pair of boots that fit just right. I can work all day and dance all night”. There’s a place for the tattered tee shirt or cut-off jeans, and I have my share. They wouldn’t be my choice when we go to a nice restaurant, concert, or book signing.

When it came to the cover of my first book, A Right Fine Life, I wanted it to be the right jacket. No pun intended. It needed to represent the story, the characters, and the long hours I spent creating something people would want to read. I only have one chance to impress and interest a reader perusing the over-crowded book shelves.

This week I received the cover art from my publisher, and I’m happy. Honestly, I felt scared, as I knew the publisher had the final say. Would it be too formal, too dull, or too much like a cartoon? Which seems to be a trend in fiction these days. I filled out their form about the cover art and could even select the artist from their stable of eight. The questions ranged from tag line, blurbs, author bio, to suggested books they could research to get a feel for what I was looking for. Then the big one. They asked what I had envisioned for the cover of my book. I gave them three ideas to work with and they listened.

The email accompanying the artwork stated I had three days to report back any GROSS errors. That would be something like a misspelled word, a fiddle instead of a guitar. GROSS errors. Nothing else would be changed, as their art committee had already approved it.

Because I’m with a traditional publisher, I had great help. This has been a big step for me in the process.  I’m thankful it went so well. If you are self-publishing, don’t shortchange this important step. Spend the time and money to get it right. It is the first impression of your work for your reader. We dressed mine in shiny color, intrigue, and a guitar. My main character, though in the shadows, is probably in a crisp button-down shirt, severely creased Wrangler jeans, and polished boots with dust from the hay on the floor of the barn.

Thanks for all the positive remarks I’ve received about this cover. I’m proud to put it out there, and yeah, I’m pretty darn comfy with the whole thing.

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