During the spring of 2000, my last semester as an undergraduate at Frostburg State University, the professor for my course, Literature of the Environment, was going through the process of getting her latest manuscript published. She is Barbara Hurd, and her book is Stirring the Mud: On Swamps, Bogs, and the Human Imagination, which I recommend highly.
She shared with students the struggles and frustrations she was experiencing battling editors to determine a title for her book. (Yes. She wasn’t FREE to say, “This is what I want MY book to be called, and this is what I want the cover to look like.”) I remember thinking how unfair. Why would anyone want to spend all of that time creating something so personal just to have some marketing “expert” TELL YOU, the creator, what to call your work and with what image it should be associated? Not fair. Not fair at all! (If you go to Amazon, you’ll notice that the cover for the Hardback is VERY different from the cover of the paperback edition of Stirring the Mud. I wonder if Dr. Hurd had more input on the paperback design? Hmmm? Doubtful.)
Fast forward to today and to Kindle Direct Publishing (the self-publishing program I used). The artist has TOTAL creative freedom and TOTAL responsibility for the final product. It’s a beautiful thing. I could have paid someone to edit beyond basic copy edits, I could have paid a marketer to come up with some catchy title options, and I could have paid a photographer and/or graphic artist to design and format my cover design. But me, I am stubborn and have that I-can-do-it-myself attitude. After all, this could be my only chance to publish, and I want it to be what I want it to be (even if the end product isn’t as beautiful and perfect as a marketing guru or professional photographer and designer could make it.) But it is Mine, all Mine!! Hehehehe!
The first step was deciding on a title. I had been calling it “The Story of a Sociopath” with the subtitle of “The Birth and Evolution of a Narcissistic Sociopath.” Upon reflection, I realized the title needed to be shorter, with a forward drive, and the ability to capture someone on a personal level. (Thanks, Jody Miller!) Many iterations later using this as my criteria, and my title was finalized: Escaping the Boy: My Life with a Sociopath.
The next step was to make the cover design. I have limited experience with Adobe Creative Suite and graphics. Most of that experience is with Photoshop. To make it easy on myself and for my book to remain familiar to my dedicated readers and followers, I chose to use the image of the statue of Eve, which has been front-and-center on my website for months.
But where in the world is Eve? Really. Where and when did I take that picture? (And yes, I took that picture, Boy, not you, so rein in those lawyer hounds.) I photographed Eve in October 2008 in Pere Lechaise Cemetery located in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, France.
While the boy visited the graveside of Jim Morrison for an agonizing second time during our short visit to the capital city, I made my way north along a tiny path that led me to a narrow and steep concrete staircase blanketed in ivy. Upon reaching the top and final step, I saw her. Eve. And she moved me. The day was overcast and misty from rain. I was sad and frustrated. I missed my son (who was only 3 at the time). Eve comforted me. And confused me. Is she ascending or descending the steps? Is she moving forward and reaching for the apple or stepping back having decided against it? I snapped the picture just as the boy found me.
One thing is clear about Eve: she has a choice to make. What will her choice be and will it be the best choice? What choice will YOU make?