October 9, 2021 - A Day with Photoshop Elements

Saturday, October 09, 2021

I’ve been watching a lot of NaNo prep YouTube videos lately. NaNo is short for NaNoWriMo, which is short for National Novel Writing Month, which happens in November. Since I’m about ready to start a new book, it’s good timing for me. I’ve also been beta reading a book on Writing and Marketing a Bestseller by Elana Johnson. I love her writing books. She’s a high-energy person (usually), writes a ton of novels every year, and makes really good money.


NaNoWriMo recommends having a cover for your NaNo novel to make it more real, and Elana is a big fan of pre-orders, for which you also really need a cover. And a blurb, but that’s a different problem. Since I’d started designing a cover for the new series I’m about to start a few months ago, I thought I’d pull it up and make the modifications I’d intended several months ago, like replacing the watermarked “try” images with purchased artwork. I started to do that late yesterday, only to discover I’d totally forgotten the techniques I’d mastered in creating the mockup.


Can you say “frustration”? I seriously wanted to cry. Photoshop skills don’t come naturally to me, and I’d spent so much time figuring some stuff out when I designed the original cover, none of which stuck with me. On top of that, I couldn’t find the pink index card where I noted how to do some of these things. (It’s probably still packed in a box somewhere.) I told myself to calm down, that being hangry was amplifying my frustration, and that I should think about it another day.


Of course, I woke up a 6:00 AM and, after feeding the cats and making coffee, the first thing I did was turn on my computer and open up Photoshop Elements. But, knowing I needed a refresher, I first spent a couple of hours watching videos from two different classes I bought earlier this year. This was followed by long sessions of relearning how to do a few things and learning different ways of doing others, until I finally had an acceptable cover for book one.


Since I was in the groove now, I copied that and made modifications to suit book two. (I’m not crazy. When I do my own covers, I stick with a single design that I can make minor changes to for each book. I’m not a professional cover designer who can make each cover unique. I’m not even sure that’s a great idea.)


You know, people think about a writer as someone like Kathleen Turner in Romancing the Stone, sitting and typing madly all day long. Or Richard Castle, who lives in a penthouse and effortlessly turns out books with hardly any work at all. But there’s lots of other tasks now, especially if you’re an indie. Yesterday’s lengthy project was trying to come up with titles for these new mysteries.


I thought I had come up with a clever idea of adapting song titles for the books, but after the first clever idea, nothing came to mind. So first I spent several hours making a list of song titles related to what I’m writing. Then I spent another span of time looking through word lists that would go with them. In the end, I only came up with a title for the second book, and I’m not sure whether I’ll keep it or not. If you have a publisher, they come up with the title. Even if you think you’ve got the perfect one, they’ll most likely change it.


Anyway, I’m glad tomorrow is Sunday, which is my day off. Then Monday I’m going to have to really dig in and start plotting the book so I can write it.

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