One book leads to another...

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Jackets Optional

Not that it’s happened in my area yet, but doesn’t the very name, September make you think of cooler days?  That alone is something to write about, don’t you think? In whatever form the stimulant arises, be it anticipation, longing, or absolute awe, seasonal colors uniquely present invaluable license to fill your heart and thoughts with restorative outlooks of uncomplicated change.  I tend to write a lot of poems – or move the furniture around, this time of year. How about you?

Now that I’m halfway through the revisit, revise, rewrite and rejoice segment of the project I told you about last month, my thoughts have wandered toward the cover. Perhaps it’s too soon to be concerned with what should be the last concern. However, it is the first glimpse readers have into the world of words you’ve created for their enjoyment.

And cover options are apparently endless: Graphics or illustrations, color glossy or black and white (I rather like the combination of both). Conversely, in one entire section of the family library (maybe a 1000 books), very few had covers as we know them today – let alone graphics. The title and the author’s name were neatly embossed on paper-covered cardboard, and thanks to Lewis Carroll, sometimes on the spine. A room full of mysteries, right? Trial and often shocking error led my young self to realize I shouldn’t always read a book without a cover. And then, beginning with children’s books (rightly so, I say), dust jackets became more than just for book protection. Indeed, they became so popular that nowadays an original jacket of a first edition of “The Great Gatsby” can sell for 20k while the original book itself might only garner a thousand dollars. So, are jackets still optional? Decisions, decisions.

But, hey! It’s Be Kind to Writers and Editors Month and if you haven’t yet finished writing that epic novel, you can sharpen your writing skills with any of the many great resources offered by the Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by Alex Cavanaugh, right here and right now on this first Wednesday of the month, when IWSG members convene through blogging, Facebook, and Twitter to talk about whatever is on our writing minds and agendas. See what we’re all talking about here.

As to the Optional IWSG Question of the Month, ‘‘Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing?’’ Oh, absolutely! I’ve giggled myself silly after slipping off a snowflake, followed a homeless hero on the way to make a bank deposit for a ghost, and cried myself to sleep after killing off (Earl had to die) the only fictional hunk I ever truly loved. No regrets, just writing ;-)

Happy Writing!


  1. Hi, diedre!

    It's great to see you again, dear friend! I hadn't given dust jackets much thought before now. It is interesting that they were originally throwaway, sometimes removed in the store at the point of purchase or otherwise discarded by the customer at home. Eventually the economics of book publishing dictated that the jackets would bear most of the catchy, ornate artwork used to attract readers. I can understand the value and collectibility of old books with their original jackets intact and in fine condition. It is the same in the vinyl record collecting world. A 45 rpm single with original picture sleeve can fetch the seller a tidy sum as long as both disc and sleeve are in NM (near mint) condition. Few collectors acknowledge that the grade "mint" even exists because an item has certain flaws and defects straight from the factory even before it goes into circulation.

    Yessum, I am amused and often laugh at my own writing. As long as I get the joke it matters not if anyone else does. That's liberating.

    Enjoy the rest of your week, dear friend diedre!

    1. Hi Shady!

      I keep thinking (hoping) all things 'work' will smooth out so I can blog more. Sooner or later, I guess ;-)
      I wonder if the judging a book by its cover phrase came with or from the advent of more expressive jackets and covers.
      I did know that vintage vinyl can be quite valuable, but now it's my turn to say I hadn't considered the 'covers' ;-) Not acknowledging mint grade sounds a bit sneaky, but I understand the reasoning behind it.
      I'd been watching the kids playing video games when 'Slipping off a snowflake' came to mind. The kids hadn't even noticed it in the video game, but when they read it in the story they cracked right up!
      Thanks for coming by, dear Shady!

  2. I didn't realize it was Be Kind to Writers and Editors month! How nice! :)

    1. Hi Raimey!

      Isn't it though? And I'm glad they're celebrated together since you can't have one without the other ;-)
      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Now I wish I had some really old dust jackets.
    Good point that there weren't always covers. And yet now they are so important.

    1. Hi Alex!

      So do I ;-) I cringe at thought of all those old books we let go at a yard sale.

      It does seem as if the allure of come-get-me colors and text has surpassed the thrill of the opaque unknown. I guess I can live with that ;-)
      Thanks for coming by, Alex.

  4. It's "Be Kind to Writers and Editors" Month? I had no idea! Wow. But the universe isn't being so kind to me right now. lol That also explains why I have clients waiting on me to do edits this month. :P

    I love to fantasize about my covers when the story is done and I'm working on perfecting it. That's actually the best time to think about the cover to know what you want when it's time.

    1. Hi Chrys!

      Yessum, and as an author AND an editor you should definitely be more at peace than you are just now. But no worries, this too shall pass - or give you something new to write about. Just be safe, ok?

      I look forward to hearing more about your newest story. Having that much progress at the onset is a good sign it will be a masterpiece!
      Good to see you, Lady Chrys!

  5. HiYa, dIEDRE ~
    Unless there's something about it that I find really attractive (which is pretty rare), I almost always throw away the dust jackets on books I buy.

    There's just something about a book with no jacket -- all one color -- that I like. Seeing a whole bunch of colorful book spines standing in a bookcase just looks somehow 'cheap' to me. I don't know why. (Maybe just because I'm a weirdo.)

    ~ D-FensDogG
    Ferret-Faced Fascist Friends

    1. Hey there, Reno!

      Being the adventurous kind, discovering the story behind the blank cover was most always the best part of the journey for me.

      Not that reading is ever boring, but if covers are essentially 'tour guides' imagine the ingenuity required to hook, keep and deliver to the readers what was promised in the brochure. No pressure, right?

      I must confess I have accidentally torn one dust jacket, but as titles are embossed on all spines these days I wasn't too dismayed ;-)
      Thanks for your thoughts, Reno!

  6. I love the idea of cooler weather in September. Usually that's not the case where I live, but this past week we've gone from 90s to high 70s. It's been divine!

    Best of luck picking out a cover. Maybe doing that will help you finish your book sooner? :)

    With Love,

    1. Hi Mandy!

      I once had a clear idea of how I wanted the cover to look. This last time around (revisions, etc) has me rethinking it. Not that the story has changed, but trends sure have.
      Thanks for coming 'round and enjoy September!

  7. Finally we are getting some cooler weather in mid-September after a grueling heatwave that sent my electric bill skyrocketing. I don't often use our A/C, but there were a number of days when I just had to.

    I tend to take very good care of my books and that means keeping the dust jackets in as pristine condition as I can. When I read a book I'll usually set the jacket aside and replace it when the book is ready to return to the shelf. I still have books that I purchased 50 or so years ago with their original dust jackets. To me discarding a book cover is akin to keeping a vinyl LP record and tossing out the cover. For some albums the cover was the best part.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    1. Hi Arlee!

      Our A/C has been working overtime ever since monsoon quit like a faucet and temps shot right into the 100s again. Evenings are dipping below 90 now so relief is on the way - I think.

      I'm careful with dust jackets too. I leave them on to protect the book. Gazing at my library, I can't name more than a couple books that I've even peeked at the original cover of ;-) I wouldn't know how to preserve an LP without a cover, yet CDs are often stacked on top of one another.
      Sending continued cool weather wishes your way!

  8. I like the changing weather and cooler days at this time of year. There's a distinct smell to autumn too. Have fun with your cover choices.

    1. Hi Nick!

      Oh, so do I. No matter how subtle the seasonal changes are here in the southwest, it's still a comforting reminder that nature remains in charge ;-)

      Fun. You may have pinpointed the underlying issue in this whole cover choosing process! I need to dispense with the stress and get back to enjoying the process - Thanks, Nick!

  9. Better late than never, I need to make time at the start of the month when IWSG blog post happens.
    I love September. I have worked a great deal in and out of the house.

    1. Hi Ann!

      Good to see you - anytime ;-)

      The seasonal director of nature’s wondrous stage, September welcomes autumn’s calm as summer’s harshness fades. It’s my favorite time of year to be outdoors!

      Enjoy September!


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