Showing posts with label Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Writers on the Move Contributor Carolyn Howard-Johnson Talks Book Covers


 
 To One Degree or Another

Why and How Your Book Cover Is Always Your Business 

Most authors start dreaming about their book covers well before their manuscript is ready to publish. They start paying attention to what they encounter of the internet, which is often more disinformation than something they can or should use. One of the least helpful tells them that if they are going the traditional route, they should expect their publisher will not welcome their ideas or expertise (if any exists) to be used under their trademark. In fact, an effort on the part of the author will be an annoyance. Basically, they are told to butt out. Actually, the professional thing an author should do when they have a question is to ask—in the publishing process or—even better—in the contract-signing process.
 
My series of books for writers is a case where these naysayers were wrong. The publisher of Modern History Press made an effort to work with the book cover designer I used when I was self-publishing the series. We ended up with his designer and both publisher and designer accepted most of my suggestions or helped me understand why it wasn’t viable. In fact, occasionally they asked me for ideas or suggestions.
 
That is the reason authors—no matter how they hope to publish or how they end up publishing—will benefit if they start considering what their book cover should look like beyond what they see in their dreams.
 
Here are five things that an author can do to better prepare them for whatever role they play in the publishing process:
 
1.     We can learn a lot about what makes a good book cover by just looking at the best of them--in airport bookstore windows and in our favorite bookstores.
2.     We can learn a lot about what not to do by looking at book covers on Amazon where they are often only thumbnail size. I got a reminder about the importance of bookstores as I was scrolling through the books offered on an online book promotion service as I was trying to decide which books to retweet to my 40,000 plus publishing industry followers. I had to bypass many that might have otherwise worked for me but for lack of a prominent author's name on the cover. A cover must feature the name of the author big enough to be seen from a distance or in an image shrunk to accommodate the layout needed for online bookstores’ formats. That author name should be defined by color, outline, font style and more to be read. You’ll see some with the authors’ name in three-dimensional gold foil! Keep in mind you, the author, may one day be a star and it will be your name people remember, not necessarily the title of the book.
3.     Even poetry and fiction authors should watch how poorly (and well!) some book covers use subtitles. It’s a good idea to jot down ideas that occur to you and put them into Notes or some other file.
4.     Pay attention to the way front and back covers blend into the design of the spine. Having a hard delineation for what can be an imaginary line can cause big problems for a printer. (You may end up publishing independently and will be ahead of the game if you’re aware of this before your select your professional designer. You will be her or his partner and boss.
5.     Pay attention to the covers of already-published books in your genre. It will teach you what you like and what to avoid. 

So here is the new book cover of my recently published  second edition of my booklet "Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers" (Modern History Press). I broke the "rules" and suggested a larger author name for my problematical name, a very, very long one. I quickly learned, all my “advisors” had been wrong. Victor Volkman, the publisher, was able to magically improve it by using what is widely regarded as the most easily read font of all, Times New Roman, using more contrast in color, and choosing a font that doesn't take up a lot of space—that is the letters are naturally narrower than in some other fonts. And he did it by using a readily available font—no special, expensive font design needed! And we were able to keep the retail price of the book down by using an appropriate image from an online catalog. They are sometimes reasonably priced, but they are often free. You’ll probably have to poke around a bit on image services to find the perfect one for your book.


Note: I am fussy about what I called “canned images.” Some authors select something that other authors found useful, many others. See the suggestion about paying attention to books in your genre that have already been published.
 
Now you can do this for the next book you publish with Kindle Direct Publishing or anywhere else that offers handy (and frugal!) cover templates. Remember what I tell my clients. "You may love Stephen King.  But quick! Name all of his books. OK, name three." You can see that your readers remember you better than they remember your titles--even if you are as famous as King. 
----
Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. The books in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers have won multiple awards. That series includes The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor which won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award. How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically launched to rave reviews from Jim Cox, Editor-in-Chief of Midwest Book Reviews and others:
 
“How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically [and other books in the series] could well serve as a textbook for a college Writing/Publishing curriculum.”

Share on LinkedIn
https://www.linkedin.com/
And more via the icon bar below:


Saturday, September 5, 2020

Carolyn Howard-Johnson Shares Frugal Book Promoter Tips and Myths

Editing IS Marketing:

Boning Up on First Impressions


By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers

First impressions are important. We all are aware of that as we brush our teeth and try to unknot the rat's nests from the back of our hair each morning. In fact, first impressions are part of our marketing efforts, too. Whether we authors are trying to get an interview or a TV appearance or marketing our books using e-mail or social networks, editing is an essential part of that first-impression effort. Generally that first effort is a query letter or proposal. Thus editing equals great first impression. That makes it an integral part of a marketing campaign.


Here are a scattering of helps gleaned from my HowToDoItFrugally Series of books (https://howtodoitfrugally.com) but especially my Frugal Editor (http://bit.ly/FrugalEditor) and the fun little booklet, Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers (http://bit.ly/LastMinuteEditsII), just released in its second edition by Modern History Press,  
 
Five Editing Myths Waiting to Trip Up Your Campaign to Market Your Work
•    If your English teacher told you something is OK, it is.
(Nope. Language rules and style guidelines have changed since you were a sophomore.)
•    If a manuscript or query is grammar-perfect, you'll make a great first impression.
(No! Lots of things that are grammatically correct will annoy publishers, agents, and other gatekeepers like feature editors.)
•    Always use your Spell and Grammar Checker.
(Maybe. Some well-known editors suggest you don't use it at all, but The Frugal Editor gives you dozens of ways to make it your partner instead of your enemy.)
•    Your publisher will assign a top-flight editor so you don't need to worry about your manuscript.
(Maybe, but don't count on it. Besides you can be a better partner for an editor—whether she is assigned to you by your editor or you hire one for yourself-- if you know something about the process; you'll know better when to nix her suggestions! In any case, I suggest hiring an editor of your own before you submit your manuscript and you’ll love my Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips (bit.ly/LastMinuteEditsII) for building the confidence you need to say no an editor no matter how professional she is.
•    Formatters and editors will take care of the hyphens, ellipses, and all the other grungy little punctuation marks that English teachers avoided teaching because they didn't know how to use them either.

(Chances are, you'll catch even great formatters and editors in an error or two if you know your stuff!)


Five Things to Avoid for a Pristine Query Letter
 
We are selling our work when we approach any gatekeeper, an editor, an agent, a contest judge. Here are five little things to avoid so you'll look like the professional you are.
 
    Don't tell the gatekeeper you always wanted to write. You can think of something more pertinent to your cause (and something more original!) than that.
    Don't use the verb "quote" when you want the noun "quotation." Some stylebooks will tell you that it's OK, but agents can be a picky lot. Use zero-tolerance grammar rules for your queries.
    Don't pitch more than one book at time. You want to give just one your best shot.
    Don't call your novel a "fictional novel." By definition, a novel is fiction.
    Don't overdo exclamation marks, question marks, or the use of sentence fragments. (Yes, fragments are acceptable when they're used for a good reason.).
 
Here's one last suggestion for fiction writers 'cause they're so often neglected when it comes to marketing. Avoid using italics for internal thought in the synopses sections of your marketing tools or in the sample chapters you must include. Italics are being used more and more these days, but using them often becomes a crutch that enables writers to avoid writing great transitions and point-of-view. The best agents and publishers will recognize it as such.

 

----


MORE ABOUT THE GUEST BLOGGER


Carolyn Howard-Johnson, an award-winning author of both fiction and nonfiction, a former publicist for a New York PR firm and was an instructor for the renowned UCLA Extension Writers' Program for nearly a decade. She is an editor with years of publishing and editing experience including national magazines, newspapers, and her own poetry and fiction. Learn more about the author at  https://howtodoitfrugally.com. Her The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't won USA Book News' best professional book award and the Irwin Award. The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success TheFrugalEditor is top publishing book for USA Book News and Reader Views Literary Award. The Great First Impression Book Proposal: Everything You Need To Know To Sell Your Book in 30 Minutes or Less is a helpful little booklet available at at the link above and is now in its second edition from Modern History Press.  . And don’t miss another booklet Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers: The Ultimate Frugal Booklet for Avoiding Word Trippers and Crafting Gatekeeper-Perfect Copyhttp://bit.ly/LastMinuteEditsII, also from Modern History Press. You can get all Carolyn's books at the How to Do It Frugally link above.

 





Techniques for Cultivating Creative Writing Ideas by Deborah Lyn

Make cultivating ideas part of your writing process. Creative writing needs inspiration—motivation will follow quickly to get that personal ...