That Moment When…

minimal_logoLast week, my publisher and I looked at a lot of pretty pictures. No, we weren’t surfing pr0n, but for a writer it was essentially the same thing.

You see, it turns out for a book to release in October, it needs to be in a catalog in January. More specifically, it needs marketing text, a working summary, and a cover.

Enter Mark Teppo. The man has a truly impressive rolodex, and every time I go somewhere with him, I meet somebody new and learn more about the publishing industry. Plus, he has an absolute gift for inspiring me, and when he brought up the cover deadline last month, I put my thinking cap on and tried to select a scene that would sell my book to people I don’t know.

You know, the book I hadn’t written yet. The book that that at the time was more than a little nebulous in terms of plot and scope.

We first mentioned cover treatments before we’d even settled on a contract. It was very early in the creative process, and I could count the number of completed scenes on two hands and still be able to give a decent movie review. But those early images were very mainstream, and in fact the ones that resonated with me did so because they’d already been used on science fiction books. That I owned.

So it was back to the drawing board, so to speak. Mark knew somebody who was willing to cut us a deal on some spec treatments. So having just finished a chapter, and brimming with nerd rage from various Christmas broadcasts, I sent along a few hundred words describing a pivotal early book scene and we settled in to wait.

We didn’t have to wait long. Within a week, we had five very different visions of my universe to look at. Which was awesome, since we’d paid for less than five, but I’m glad the designer went the extra distance. Because several really popped, and we spent the week after that tweaking and twisting our expectations until this

Mira picked her way across a broad field of scorched grain. She’d heard this part of North America described as “rolling fields of gold,” but she and the gennies had done more than enough rolling for the day. If the column of smoke rising from the downed shuttle behind her wasn’t a clear indication of what had happened, the craters their unplanned landing had left across the countryside would remind people for years to come.

We’re alive. That’s all that matters.

turned into this


Go ahead. Take a moment. I certainly did. Especially after Mark had to go and open his mouth while we were on the phone, and said “Yeah, that’s going to really look good on a dust cover.”

Dust Cover. The piece of paper that surrounds your words and announces their awesomeness to the world. A component not of an e-book, or a mass market paperback, but of an “I believe in this author, and this book” print run of heavy, hardcover books.

I was going to have a dust cover. I have a dust cover, or at least the beginnings of one, and an ISBN, and a press release. I have a book coming out this year that will be on shelves in local booksellers and big chains alike.

Because that was the moment. The moment when I knew.

This book is going to look awesome on your shelves, so the words inside have to be the best ones I can possibly write. How do I know? Because it looks pretty good sitting on my desk, where it now serves as an uncompromising motivator every time I sit down to write.


Every time I don’t feel like writing, or want to play video games, or even just want to goof off for a couple hours, all I have to do is look at that mockup, and remember That Moment When.



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