Today is January 8, 2018. It would have been David Bowie’s 71st birthday.
In honor of him, I was supposed to be launching, as a stand-alone project, Smith & Jones: Young Americans. That’s my short story about two teachers trying to navigate their relationship post-breakup. The story is complete and the images for the cover and associated campaign are done.
But my cover designer didn’t do her job.
I gave her many chances to make things right, but at the end, it became impossible to continue a professional relationship with her.
It felt like such a betrayal because we had worked so well before. I had hoped that she could push through, for this project and for the sake of our relationship as friends.
But that didn’t happen, and now a major project is stalled because a professional I believed in didn’t make good on her promise.
I wish her well and hope that she is able to treat future clients better than this.
I’ve learned a valuable lesson in this process, though.
First, always keep maintain a portfolio of qualified contractors when you are in this business, from designers to cover models to interior layout. When your main person falls through, it helps to have someone step in as a qualified substitute. And believe me, I know all about qualified substitutes.
Second, even when you think you’ve given yourself enough time to finish a project, by the time you put it in the hands of a contractor, make sure you have a lot of time built in, in case of snafus. I mentioned previously that Yours in the Bond is not scheduled to be released until September 2018. That’s likely not going to change, especially now.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, when you’ve reached a certain point in your career, begin auditioning contractors who are not your friends and are not likely to be. The lines between business and personal will always get blurred in the arts, but they don’t have to be. When a contractor is not doing right by you, you should be able to terminate the business relationship without any consideration of your Christmas card list.
Now the good news is that I now have a contract with another designer for this project, and our conversations as professionals have led me to some decisions about the future of this project.
It will still be completed. That’s most important.
It will no longer be titled Smith & Jones: Young Americans.
It will now be a longer anthology of my work!
Friends, the fact is that I have a good deal of unpublished poems and fiction, as well as previously published essays. I also have some chapters from a potential autobiography I was working on that I think are ready to be seen.
I am a novelist first and foremost, but this anthology is a great way to throw some of my work out there while we all wait for my next novels. It will also be a nice introduction to people who are not familiar with my longer work and want to dip their toe in the water. Finally, this is also a good way to use a new designer for a standalone project and not worry about whether the look fits in with my other work. In other words, I can still be on the lookout for new designers for Yours in the Bond without feeling bad.
I am happy with the professionalism of the new designer and I’m excited to see what she does. Yes, this was supposed to be the birth date of my tribute to David Bowie, but it has become something greater–the day that I stood up for my career and moved forward confidently as an artist and as the owner of this business–and of my own brand.
I think I’ll listen to some Bowie tracks to celebrate.