These days I'm trying to make progress on my cover for The Single Eye, and considering that I've been working at it pretty steadily since the third week in May, that progress is pretty darn slow.
No, it doesn't look the same as it did then, it looks better. And I'm learning GIMP at a good clip. So all's good, right?
No, it's not. Seems like the more I work on it, the shakier my confidence gets.
I mean, you need feedback, right? And I've asked for it, in my general online writers' group, on Facebook in the authors' group I belong to there, on my personal Facebook page, on Instagram, and in person.
The reaction from ordinary people in person and on social media has been very positive. For them, the proposed cover looks "real." They want to know when the book will be available for sale. They're asking if I've set up preorder. On Instagram I've had some nice Likes from professional designers. Very encouraging. But when it comes to my fellow-writers . . . ouch. The comments and critiques are all over the place, and what one person likes the other hates.
I'm taking in the critique. I note where potential readers might be confused and alter the design accordingly. And I think what I have now is better than what I started with. It might even be Good Enough.
But there's a sick perfectionist urge in me that whispers, "Keep working on it. Keep working on it. Even if it takes till next year or the year after. Keep working on it. You have to please everyone. You never will, it'll never be good enough, but you have to try." But I can't keep working on it. There's a point where I'm going to have to say This Is It, and I need to say it soon.
A lot of people would advise me, "That's why you hire a cover artist and don't try to do it yourself." Yeah, but unless I could afford someone with the chops of a Chip Kidd, how do I know the cut-rate designer I've hired (and right now, I couldn't even afford to hire someone off Fiverr) has provided me a design that's all it should be? I've gotten to the point where even if my cover--- my design or someone else's--- looked like the one on an Amazon No. 1 ten-week bestseller I'd still worry there were ten things wrong with it.
It's sick. So I have to ignore the neurosis and the paranoia, and maybe my helpful critics, too. Which is why I'm not posting any more progress views. I can't let anyone give me the excuse to stay on this hamster wheel.
I've done my best on it, the best I can at this stage. And I should be able to recognise that. After all, I've been an artist, architect, and graphic designer a lot longer than I've been a writer, and I've cranked out some very successful publicity pieces during my misspent career.
And if I think of a way to improve my cover later, I can. Hey, that's the beauty of doing it myself.