Friday, November 22, 2013

Holiday Hiatus - Links to Review

We do not add new content during our Holiday Season. Instead, we offer a collection of links for you to peruse. We'll be back in 2014.

Creating a Fabulous Book Launch Event

Marketing Outside The Box by Marci Nault: For her Book Launch Party – she  decided to cross-promote with local artists, wineries, theater companies, comedy clubs, and caterers. The outcome? A party that would’ve cost over $5000, but instead was only $200. She signed more than 100 books, and in this post she shares what she did to make that happen!

Have an Ebook Launch Party: This is a great example for an author to launch one book.

Insights on The Writing Life

The Authors Road: A collection of author interviews offering insights. Look through their collection for your favorite authors. This project is labor of love from George, Salli & Ella: "We are doing this to honor one of America’s greatest natural resources — its writers."

Hugh Howey: Remembers the best days of his life as a writer, and why they were.

Insight on Who Reads Your Books

Wise Ink: The difference between Active vs. Passive Readers

Seth Godin: The cycle of media, fans to feeders

Insights from Publicity Professionals

Publicity Professionals Enhance the Author Persona - Sharon Bially of Book Savvy Public Relations  

Enjoy our Book! 
Enjoy cruising around all the posts and tips here on our blog. 
And Don't Forget:

Gary D. Robson Book Signing Tips for Authors: 

While you’re at it, engage the staff. Be pleasant. Chat with them (when there isn’t a customer waiting). Offer to sign a book for them. Make them want to send customers over to your table. This will pay off in spades the next day when they’re telling everyone how wonderful you were and showing off your books. The signing is only the beginning. If they like you (and you wrote a decent book, of course), then they’ll hand-sell your books for months. On the flip side…

Don’t monopolize the staff. Keeping the employees from doing their job does not lead to happy store managers!

Happy Holidays and Have a Joyous New Year!
Therese and Morgan

Friday, November 15, 2013

Marketing Children's Books: It's All About Your Characters

At the PNBA (Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association) Fall Tradeshow, we presented our "Push, Pull, POP, Seamless Self-Promotion" class as part of the Author Track of speakers. One of the many cool people we met asked a series of questions about how our advice would be applied to authors of children's books. To be honest, we've been so focused on novelists and memoirists we had to give this topic some serious thought.

Morgan says: I've been an avid reader my entire life, so it was easy for me to name my favorite books from my childhood. Paddington Bear, Winnie the Pooh, Madeline <she's the reason I studied French throughout grade school...and I still have Paris on my bucket list>, and Barbar were among my favoritesWhat I quickly realized is that I remember the characters' names, but I honestly couldn't remember the authors! Roald Dahl and Dr. Seuss were the only author names that I could recall, but they are also authors that I've researched and re-read as an adult.

As we researched site after site, this pattern held true with only a few exceptions: children's book authors have character based websites and promotions. Children tend to ask for books based on topics and characters. "I want to read dinosaurs" or "I want to read Angelina Ballerina" have both been uttered by any number of children around the world.

Common Children's Book Website Content:

  • All pages include images of the characters and used colors and backgrounds that are in line with the book artwork, setting, and color palette.
  • There is information about the author. Older books like Madeline and Eloise include a more exhaustive history of  the book series, artists, and author(s).
  • Most sites had a tab especially for child focused activities and extra content. For example, the Paddington Bear site includes a "Make & Do" tab that has links to craft projects and printable bookmarks and postcards. The Princess Cupcake Jones website has a "Print & Play" page that includes downloads for games, puzzles, and crayon friendly images.
  • All of the sites included a contact page for inquiries.
  • Most sites included a means to sign up for a newsletter or fan club.
With regards to other marketing activities for children's book authors, Princess Cupcake Jones has her own Facebook page. Again, the character is the key focus of this page. The author, Yellya Fields, posts pictures of little girls dressed as her character.

Points to Ponder:
  1. As a children's book author, are you currently engaged in character focused marketing?
  2. For all authors: How are you engaging your audience with extra content?

Our dear friend, Gary, is an author of children's books. In his 7 Book Signing Tips for Children's Author post, he provides great insights from his personal experiences. The first two tips are below this text. Check out the link to see all seven tips.

  1. No cursive. I was born in 1958, so handwriting was a big thing in school. We learned to write beautiful cursive script, and that’s what our generation uses for formal occasions. Today’s children, however, are often not taught cursive. Schools in our area have dropped it, and many others around the country as well. If you handwrite a clever little note to the children, odds are they won’t be able to read it. This doesn’t apply to the signature itself, but…
  2. Who Pooped signatureUse a clearer signature. When I’m signing a check or a legal document, my signature is a scrawl. If you didn’t already know my name, you’d never be able to decipher the signature. As grownups, we get this. An illegible scribble is the standard for signatures. Little kids don’t necessarily get it. If the family is plopping down $11.95 for a copy of my book, I figure the least I can do is make it readable. I know kids who don’t read cursive won’t be able to read a signature, but the letters are close enough to identify if you know what you’re looking for. Speaking of which…

Friday, November 8, 2013

Marketing Nonfiction Books: Persona & Topic

Advice offered to us after our last workshop is that we should modify our book so it applies to nonfiction authors. Our personal opinion is there are loads of wonderful How To books for nonfiction authors to build their author platform, especially if it is a How To or Specific Topic platform. Writer's Digest Books and Magazines are chock full of decades of advice for authors to become known as being an authority on their topic.

Jane Goodall is a great example of the whole package for a nonfiction author. She's an author, speaker, scientist, activist, and so much more. She has a message, she's an authority, and she has presence! Both in person and how she dresses, speaks, poses, and interacts with primates.

Jane did not struggle to create a persona, she just followed her passion and took the advice of professionals in marketing, PR and web design. 

Memoirs are 100% the professional nonfiction writer in a specific and genuine Author Persona With a Topic. 

Therese Says: I had the opportunity to read Judy Johnson Berna's memoir prior to publication. The story follows Judy's relationship with her foot, that had been an aggravation to her life activities, her whole life. Eventually she chose to become an amputee. Really? Choose to cut off your leg? 

Yes, and it's a wonderful and personal journey that she shares with readers who have no reason to make such a choice. But it's also an inspiring story of how to assess the need for positive, if highly radical and often discouraged, change. Judy is also honest regarding how to adapt to when what's holding you back is suddenly gone. There can be a whole new set of challenges!

The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan: Is basically a story about a young mother getting diagnosed with breast cancer, shortly before her father also begins cancer treatments. This sounds pretty depressing but it's a wonderful story of growth, the layers of a life, family, and so much more. This is Kelly's story, Kelly's family, Kelly's beliefs and what makes it a fabulous nonfiction story is the voice. Kelly's, of course. 

In both of these examples, there is no need to create a persona because their persona IS The Story, and there are very specific topics. 

Judy's topic revolves around breaking barriers of perception as to the physical value of a limb and the objections of the medical community regarding the choice of a patient to choose their treatment. The story has expanded exponentially since it was written.

Kelly's topic is her perception of the details of living that touch our emotions, and memories, and enrich our lives. She's now a motivational speaker.

For An Entirely Different Persona - The Bloggess aka Jenny Lawson is raw, irreverent, uses colorful language and sometimes expresses such highly offensive ideas that she is beloved, by at least three people. Her topics are - whatever catches her attention at the moment.

She has a blog - of course - and her persona picture is worth a look. 

The Bloggess is Jenny Lawson's interactive persona and she's funny. And she battles severe anxiety disorder, RA and a bunch of other challenges. Which means, her persona is also now part of her personal power and how she has become beloved by more than three people. 

My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor is a memoir of a brain scientist who analyzed her own stroke as it was happening to her, then created a whole new platform of information about brains, our insight, the universe, and all kinds of great stuff. Her TED talk includes holding a brain out for the audience to observe and then explaining what it's like to be free from the filtering of the logical and tactile side of the brain. LaLa Land sounds pretty good.  

This is a perfect example of picking and choosing aspects from the Real Person and becoming a Persona with a specific story, style, and message. Dr. Taylor presents herself as the authority she is, on her topic, the brain, then presents her transformative experience that is wilder than a near death epiphany. She glosses past her six year recovery and appreciation for those who cared for her, but does so with quick emotional punches. Then she returns to the story of molecular and universal connection, freedom from the physical body, and her message that peace is only a thought away. 

In many ways, marketing a nonfiction author is easier because there is a specific topic, a level of authority and professionalism, and an easily defined potential audience. Unless it is a memoir, then it needs a stronger persona, message, and dedication from the author for spreading a unique message that is timely.

There is always the potential for a viral sensation no one expected. It happened back in the 1980's with a tiny little memoir as a young man spent time with a mentor, during his final days. There was no internet back then, yet this simple little book was marketed to numerous publishers in the hope it would earn enough to offset Morrie's medical bills. Mitch Albom was a sport journalist and beat the pavement through numerous rejections to get this book published. Finally a small press agreed to do a small print run. Within a few years, millions of copies were circling the globe.

Therese says: In my humble opinion, Tuesday's with Morrie,where the main character dies at the end, touched a chord and became a viral best seller not so much because Morrie was exceptional. It was more because Mitch was the compassionate and genuine persona who was transformed while writing the story, and readers took his journey as their own. Otherwise, it's just a really ordinary though sad story. It was the author that made the difference. 

Now, there is a current book that I would love to see become a viral sensation...

ADULTING, How to Become A Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown, and her voice, and topic, and Persona is a delight!
It's like a cross-genre nonfiction How-To/Memoir. And yes, that really is her on the cover.

Author's need to be grown ups about their career, topics, persona and marketing. :D

Engage the customers, but don’t be pushy! Don’t sit at your table like a lump and wait for people to come ask about your book. Say hello! Tell them you’re in the store signing your books. Then, if they don’t make eye contact, or they act uninterested, leave them alone.
Hand people your book. This is an old bookseller’s technique. If people are holding a copy of the book in their hands, they are much more likely to buy it.

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Small Press is Born

The True Story is - book publicist Jessica Glenn of Mind Buck Media, was the speaker at an event on May 11, 2013 and Therese was the coordinator. Jessica had already checked out this site and as she and Therese met in person that first time, Jessica stated, "If you have a workbook, I have a publisher for you." Ten days later, first contact was made, and someday we'll all be saying... the rest is history. 
It was a busy four months from first contact to published book, so we asked Shelley for her story. Though there's many layers to this story, here's how an elementary school teacher became a small press publisher. 
Shelley Says: My third grade teacher was Mrs. Grant. She made such a positive impression on me that I decided that very year, that I was going to be an elementary school teacher when I grew up.

I earned my bachelor’s degree in education at Oregon State University, and got my first job, as a kindergarten teacher, the year after graduation. I spent the next sixteen years working as a teacher, primarily with fifth grade students. During that time I grew to love children’s picture and fiction books, and started a private library of my own.

When our daughter, Caitlyn, was born, I chose to be an at home mom. From the time she was old enough to walk, my husband, Roy, and I began reading aloud to her every night before bed—and continued to do so through her grade school years.

Once Caitlyn started kindergarten, I began volunteering in her classrooms and that continued through grade school as well. I also substituted at her school and often took my classes to the library for check out, became familiar with what was popular with the kids, and added to our home library each year.

When our little girl moved on to junior high, volunteering opportunities in the classroom were scarce, so I began spending two days a week in the school’s library, shelving books, helping kids find the books they wanted, and doing checkout duties. That was my introduction to young adult novel series. I worked there for three years, and when Caitlyn was a sophomore in high school, I switched over to volunteering in that library.

Shelley C. Moore - Publisher/Editor (and Roy!)
Gazebo Gardens Publishing
It was during her senior year in high school that I made the decision to start a publishing business. A close friend had written several books and wanted to get them published. He didn’t want to self-publish and be a “vanity press”, as he put it, and came to me for help. He knew about my teaching experience, about my private book collection, and about my time volunteering in Caitlyn’s school libraries. He also needed my help with editing—which is something I enjoy. He’d self-published one book through iUniverse, and was not happy with the results. He asked me if I’d be willing to learn how to get a book published through more traditional channels, rather than self-publishing channels.

With Caitlyn growing up and soon to leave the nest for college, I was ready and able to invest the time in a new career. I knew I’d need something constructive to do where I could use my teaching and volunteering skills, and in an area where I’d enjoy my work. My experience teaching, volunteering in libraries for children of all ages, our extensive home library of children’s and young adult books, and my love of reading and editing, all seemed like a good base on which to build an independent publishing company. So, I agreed to give it a try, and help my friend publish his books.

It took me two years to learn the business. I spent a lot of time researching publishing online, reading articles and books on the subject. I joined several organizations, including Book Publishers Northwest, the Independent Book Publishers Association, a national organization, and the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association. All these organizations have websites with information about publishing and offer resources to independent publishers, and some have meetings and  newsletters. There are also many other sources for publishing information like CreateSpace, BookBaby, and blog sites.

I had to learn about ISBNs, BowkerLink, copywriting, the Library of Congress registration system, and companies like GoDaddy. Then there's the details about how to properly format books for printing, locate printers who could do POD (print on demand) and small runs, research distributors who would except books from small publishers, and how to get a book reviewed. It was a slow, arduous process, and I sought help from experts in sales, marketing, publicity, and printing for advice as well researching online and reading articles. It takes a real time and energy commitment to start a small publishing business.

Today, after a lot of trial and error, many mistakes, a lot of research and expert advice, an extremely challenging learning curve, financial and moral support from Roy, and hours, and hours, and hours of hard work, Gazebo Gardens  Publishing currently has eight authors under contract, and we’re talking with several more about publishing their books. It’s a really wonderful feeling to help new authors get their “babies” published and out into the world—no matter what the genre. Caitlyn is now my partner in our little business, we have three imprints to cover all ages and genres of books, and we’re looking forward to success in the coming years.

Thanks Shelley! This really is a team effort. 
And that team includes authors, publishing professionals, and booksellers. So here's some more tips...

 Don’t undercut or bypass the store. Want to piss off a bookstore owner? Hand out bookmarks that say “available at Amazon.” Tell people they can get your other books at the store down the street. Tell customers to call you direct for more copies instead of coming back to the store. Even worse, sell books out of your trunk right after the signing. The store has worked hard to put this event together, spent money on promotion, and showed their faith in you by providing space in the store. Return the favor and send them business.
If you’re doing a reading, bring a personal copy of your book. Do not take a new book from the bookstore’s stock, crease the pages, and read from it during your talk!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Book Signing Tips For Authors by Gary D. Robson

The true bonus of networking at events such as the PNBA Tradeshow is being able to expand our horizons and now we’re able to bring that same benefit to our AM101 readers.

Gary D. Robson, author, bookseller, and tea expert, has been compiling Tips for Authors for that significant event: Signing and Selling their Books directly to readers In A Bookstore. He has graciously agreed to share his tips here, and as he has lots and lots of tips, consider this your introduction.

Gary D. Robson has just released his 23rd book, Who Pooped in the Cascades? It is part of his children’s series that has sold over 350,000 copies. Selling that many books means he’s done a lot of book signings, and made a lot of mistakes. As the owner of a (very) independent bookstore, he’s also hosted a lot of book signings over the last 12 years, and watched a bunch of other authors make mistakes. 

Hopefully, this article will help you to avoid some of those mistakes.

We will continue to post his tips with our weekly posts.


As an author who also owns a bookstore, I have a rather unique perspective on book signings. By this, I mean I’ve seen a lot of them from both sides of the table, and I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t.

You cannot simply expect the bookstore to do all of the work for you. A successful book signing is a partnership, and it requires at least as much effort from you as it does from the store. If you just show up at the scheduled time and expect incredible results, you are going to be disappointed. Here are 7 tips for making the signings work for both you and the store.

1.      Help with promotion. You’re an author. You probably have a website and/or a blog. You’re probably on Facebook and Twitter. You probably send out an e-newsletter. (If you’re not doing any of these things, why not?) Once you’ve finalized a book signing, tell everyone about it! Help the bookstore spread the word. It’s your book, and nobody can talk about it better than you can!
2.      Send promotional materials to the store. Sometimes, especially with new authors, I have a devil of a time finding a good hi-res photo of the author or the book cover to use on our posters and announcements. When you confirm the signing, ask the store manager if photos would be useful. If you have any little giveaways, like buttons or bookmarks, send some in advance for the bookstore’s promotional display.
3.      Communicate your special needs well in advance. Do you need a second chair at the signing table for your spouse or assistant? Do you need a projector, screen, or computer for your talk? Do you use a wheelchair and need help setting up? Do you need an easel for your signs or props? Do you need to leave right at 6:00? Do you need to be paid on the spot for books you supply? Figure it all out in advance and tell the bookstore — preferably in writing (email or letter).
4.      Let the store know when you get to town. As a bookseller, it frustrates me when an author is coming in from another state, and five minutes before the signing starts, I have no idea whether they’re a block away or caught in traffic in another town. If you’re running late, call and tell them. As my wife says, “If you’re not five minutes early, you’re late!” When you arrive, drop by the store and tell them you made it. Then (if you have time) go out and grab some dinner or whatever else you have to do. Speaking of which…
5.      Do what you need to do before the signing. Booksellers don’t like telling customers, “Yes, the book signing was supposed to start now, but the author is having a smoke/going to the bathroom/buying a soda/calling home.” Take care of everything in advance and be at your table ready to go at the scheduled start time for the event.
6.      Be prepared! Bring a spare pen in case you run out of ink. Bring a little notepad where people can write down the spellings of their names. If the store doesn’t have a coffee shop or tea bar, bring your bottle of water or thermos of hot drink (save the booze for after the book signing, please).
7.      Speaking of pens, bring one that dries quickly. Especially if your book is printed on glossy paper, you don’t want to close the cover and have the signature smear or transfer to the previous page. If the paper is thinner, make sure your pen doesn’t bleed through.

Web site and writing/personal blog:

In addition to his books and technical manuals, he’s written hundreds of articles for magazines, newspapers, encyclopedias, and websites. He’s written for a wide variety of publications, from the World Book Encyclopedia to Renaissance magazine, on subjects ranging from cattle to computer hacking.

Gary’s first foray into historical fiction is coming out next: a series of interconnected short stories entitled The Myths and Legends of Tea.

Watch for: Gary D. Robson Book Signing Tips for Authors:  on Future Posts

Friday, October 18, 2013

PNBA 2013 Recap

This is only one corner of the  Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association (PNBA) Fall Tradeshow and it was awesome for us to spend days surrounded by books and book lovers. We learned a lot, and that we have lots to learn about the layers of producing, distributing, and selling books. It was great that many of these industry professionals were thrilled with our little book, our message, and workshop. We were also thrilled to be able to offer this blog site as a repository for so many examples of good marketing, creating author events, and more.

It was a marvelous opportunity to be featured authors, autographing our book for our fellow authors as well as for librarians, publicists, agents, booksellers, and others who have made their passion for books into their profession. It was fulfilling to have so many ruffling the pages of our book and talking about how to put our advice to use, for themselves and to help each other. It warmed our hearts!

Experts in cover design, formatting, distribution, selling, and Marketing (Of Course!) wanted to chat with us and our publisher. It was suggested we create additional books to broaden our audience base. Libraries don't like to shelve books that encourage readers to write, draw, and tatter the pages so if we want to reach library patrons (and we do!) we'll need to create another version of this book for those shelves.

We have events and presentations scheduled through the Spring of 2014, but also have to keep our own career advice front and center. We're writers and novelists first, so we'll be working on our novels before we create another marketing book.

We saw lots of great displays but that's because it was a huge room full of professional exhibitors. Instead of looking for examples of marketing to post here, we spent our time ruffling the pages of many books and chatting. Everyone in the room was as passionate about books as we are.

For another impression of this trade show - read Keely Burkey's post for the student run publishing house at Portland State University, Ooligan Press.

Our friend Kristina McMorris was a featured author and she's also our primary example of a Great Author Website that we use in our workshop.

When we met our publisher on June 4th, Shelley stated she wanted to be selling it at the PNBA Tradeshow on October 6, 2013.
Yep, four months from contract to autographing!

Fortunately we had spent a week brainstorming a proposal for this book, so we knew it was a doable venture even with our very busy schedules. This summer may forever remain a blur in our memories, but we'll never forget how thrilled we were to sign our author names that first time, especially since everyone was so enthusiastic to have one of our books for their very own.

For an entirely different conference experience - Check Out this post by our Friends at Wise Ink and the 12 Things We Learned at the 2013 Writer's Digest Conference West.  

Friday, October 11, 2013

Book Page Organization

One of the most important pages on your website is your BOOKS page.  
This is your personal bookstore and all the books are face out on the shelves so the covers are doing their promotional job.

George R.R. Martin, is a very prolific author and he has a nice drop-down menu with the BOOKS link on his navigation bar. This is a professionally created and maintained website and is almost an explosion of all kinds of a fan-centric experiences. 

Yet, this is a classic and organized website, and easy to navigate. Here's a good opportunity to see how the professionals apply the basics of website design and organization. Look at the banner, it's his name on a simple background with a crest.

While not easy to read in this picture, each one of his books is designated as to its inclusion and place within the series, or as a stand-alone novel. 

Neil Gaiman is also a prolific author but doesn't have quite the explosive experience of colors. His navigation bar is a jumble, but the "works" link brings us to a clean page with easy choices. 

What interests you most about Mr. Gaiman? "He is listed in the Dictionary of Literary Biography as one of the top ten living post-modern writers, and is a prolific creator of works of prose, poetry, film, journalism, comics, song lyrics, and drama."

For Authors who write in multiple genres, organize your books by genre and add a link to your navigation bar, with a nice drop down menu, like Paty JagerShe designed and maintains her website but did so with advice and support from professionals.
Delilah Marvelle is an entirely different experience. The level of heat and flavor of the stories is revealed with the colors, the level of clothing, and the positions of the characters.

Delilah Marvelle thinks and writes in series where a different couple is featured per romance but relating to the same time and events as the other books in the series. While each book is also written to stand alone, there is greater value to the reader when it is easy to determine which book to choose first.

The whole point of studying the public presence of prolific authors is for you to decide, do I want to be a prolific author or a one-book-wonder with a single message? Both objectives are valid and awesome.

All we promote and provide on this blog is how to present your choices in the best light. We really don't care what you do, but if you do something, we care that you have the option of doing it - well-done.

J.A. Konrath is another highly prolific author and he's got one of the cleanest and easiest to navigate books pages.  The book list on this page is a classic Table of Contents. There's all kinds of fun stuff on the rest of his website, but when it comes to his books page, it's simple enough to make us applaud!

One click on the title of a book take you immediately to The book Cover and Blurb!
Followed by links to every where this book can be purchased, with price and format included!

Then in the bottom left corner of each book section, separated by nothing more than a line, is [top] that returns the reader directly to the table of contents.But, even better, this page is easy to scroll up and down and see every cover, blurb, and point of purchase.

For the author who has only a few books being promoted, Kristina McMorris has a classic and stylish books page. 

She not only includes colorful links to all the locations where her books can be purchased, but there's a nice text box that includes information for booksellers, and distributors. 

The similarities of all these websites need to be highlighted. They are all very individual and give a flavor of the author persona and the stories.

If your book is available in both print and e-book, say so and be sure to include links - especially if your e-books are available via different outlets than your print books. Check out our books page to see how we've showcased our book links and included information wholesale outlets (bookstores) will need to find our books.

Friday, October 4, 2013

When You're Ready for Business Cards: Part 2

Terri Patrick Business Card:

Therese says: I never had a need for business cards. My goal when attending conferences was to get business cards from agents and editors so I could contact them through the postal process, which took months - or longer. This process only changed in recent years.

But now I have a digital book and my website to promote and I need business cards to do so. I really liked the font used for my title and name on the book cover and tried to duplicate that on my business cards. When my order from VistaPrint arrived, I noticed the yellow fonts were a wrong choice. The color contrast looked better in digital than in print.
Three days later I realized, I hadn’t included my email address on the card! Oh well.
The cover of my novel only takes up 2/3 of the back of the card, leaving space for my autograph or notes. I made up labels of my email address then trimmed them by hand to fit on the edge of the card next to the cover.
Notice how the red title still pops in thumbnail size.
The bonus of having business cards was almost immediate, we were at a picnic last month and someone mentioned I write books, and interest buzzed. As I handed out my business cards I was asked to autograph them. The thrill I got from that lasted for - well - I can still feel it.

C. Morgan Kennedy Business Card:

 Morgan says: I've used this card design for years (long before AM101 was created) and I still love it! It screams urban and dark, but the streams of light suggest hope. Like Therese's cards, mine were produced on Vistaprint. Orange is my favorite color and there it is peaking through the copper and brown hues providing a nice contrast for my website address text. This card was specifically designed for my adult, futuristic, urban fantasy series. My manuscript pitch is on the back of the card, so that agents and editors will have a name and a face to link to my pitch. When I do another print run of my cards, I will do a version that doesn't have my story synopsis on the back of the card to have two versions of the same card: one for  agents and editors and one for everyone else. By the way, this business card and pitch worked for me - my manuscript was requested by a number of agents and editors. While my adult novel is making the review rounds, I started working on my next novel - which gave birth to Morgan Mechan. This card and affiliated website designs will continue 'as is' with only minor updates until my futuristic, urban fantasy sells. At that point, I will need to transition the site from a pre-published to a published author site.

Morgan Mechan Business Card:

Morgan says: My Morgan Mechan cards and website were pulled together at the last minute. I was invited to be on author panels at Portland's Gear Con in July. I still don't have my steampunk author persona portraits done, but there is plenty of room to add a picture when I'm ready. The back of this card is blank. Once my young adult steampunk adventure has a cover image, I will add it to the back.
 Notice that my business cards and website banners match. In fact, I used elements form the same vector illustration. This image uses my all time favorite color palette: chocolate browns, burnt oranges, deep golden rod yellows, and light sepia tones....perfect for a steampunker!
A steampunk owl in a top hat with goggles will be my avatar until I get pictures taken. My website banner and Morgan's Compendium blog banner are also coordinated to indicate a transition in content via the banner titles. I am very pleased with how these designs work together to promote my steampunk persona. They reflect the steampunk aesthetic, while giving me the flexibility to create a wide variety of stories and characters.

Author Marketing 101 Promo Cards

Our graphic card is used as a handout for workshop attendees. During our first year as Author Marketing Myth Busters, this was a simple venture and we felt a one item handout and a simple blogspot would be proactive and sustainable. Both cards represent our process in one glance. We'll still run this blog for fun, with FREE advice, but our graphic needed an upgrade as it now applies to our book. It's the same message and process but you can see the difference a professional designer can add!

Previous Posts on Business Cards:

Mirror Your Business Cards and Website

When You're Ready for Business Cards 

Friday, September 27, 2013

AM101 Graphic Design Case Study

Morgan here with a quick case study on our Author Marketing 101 graphic design. Almost three years ago, Therese and I started meeting to chat about the publishing industry and book marketing. We certainly have come a loooonnnng way, since those initial meetings. 

I remember us preparing for our first big presentation as a marketing maven duo. We spent hours designing the graphic below using the basic drawing tools available in Microsoft PowerPoint.

Our original graphic created
in Microsoft PowerPoint.
Here are some of the thoughts that went into our graphic design:
  • We often say and write "PUSH, PULL, POP" in that order. But POP is at the top of our graphic, because POP is the top goal - the sale. Most of what authors do for promotion (bookmarks, giveaways, book signing set ups, etc) are specific for the point-of-purchase.
  • Former advice for authors on how to Push their books was to be "shameless" in their promotions and most authors cringed at being so crass. The marketing "shame" is Wrong! 
  • Pull marketing was misunderstood by most of our audience - and hard to explain even for those of us who understand the process.
  • The circles represent that POP, PUSH, and PULL are all balls to juggle and with some practice can be easy and fun to do.
  • PERSONA is truly the dynamic core of all your efforts. Your Persona ties your books and your career together, since YOU are the creative life force of both.
  • Your Banner is like any flag or pennant, so fly it proudly wherever you go online or in person, and put it on everything so it's easy to find you/your books in the crowd.
  • Your website is a Point-Of-Purchase and your home base to Push and Pull your career.
  • Social media allows you to Push out information and Pull readers to you.
  • The large circle represents "Seamless Self-Promotion."
  • I must admit, the color choices were kinda random. Therese is a water bound chica and I just love this hue of orange. Blue is cool and calm, Orange represents heat and flash. We each have loads of blue and orange in our respective closets - go figure!

The first version produced
by our graphic designer.
As we began to work with Gazebo Gardens Publishing on the cover design for our book, we asked the designer to jazz up our graphic. And, indeed, he really jazzed it up!

While fun, we thought this was a bit too much for our audience. PUSH and PULL both seemed overwhelmed by their icons and 'Banner' got lost in the shuffle. But, this initial reboot did get us thinking. Here's where all of our debates and planning for our initial design really came in handy. We were able to step back, think about our audience, and focus on how this graphic is a visual representation of a process that has many layers and flavors, but is all-inclusive.

Below is the final version of our newly revamped graphic.<Ta-daaa!> Now we have two different blues and orange to work with in any future collateral designs. {Notice that the blue in the outer ring is also the primary blue for our book cover and is now the background color for our new website / blog header. It is also the color for the font used on our navigation bar.}

Why so much thought? Well, we knew we were going to share this graphic for many years. So, we wanted to make sure it represents our process at First Glance. That's also part of our message - that First Glance is your chance to catch a readers attention. This graphic also has deeper layers. Notice that we purposely put an extra space between 'social' and 'media', since it is your socialization through a variety of media (online networks, TV, radio, print) that are your Push & Pull. This concept goes beyond what we narrowly define 'social media' to be, today.

The final version of our revamped graphic. Woo-Who!!

Now I know you are thinking, I write fiction, how does this topic pertain to me? 
I have one name for you: George R. R. Martin. HBO created a Join the Realm website to allow users to create their own Game of Thrones family symbol / banner. Okay - I know that we all don't have HBO's deep pockets to back us up on our world building. And I also know that we all don't write fantasy stories. Think outside the box for a second and consider the following:
  • Maybe your story features a group of women and/or men in some sort of club. Does that club have a symbol? or a pair of 'traveling pants'?
  • Maybe the small town that is the setting for your contemporary romance uses some sort of symbol to represent the town. (My claimed hometown of Portland, OR is also known as The Rose City.)
  • Perhaps there is a high school or boarding school in your book. (The Harry Potter Series has symbols / logos for each of their school houses.) Maybe a mascot or symbol could provide a hint about a character trait / flaw or plot twist. (Slytherin snakes or Gryffindor lions, anyone?)

Questions to Ponder:
  • Do you use any symbols, talisman, crests, or shields in your writing? If so, what do they mean? Have you added this information as extra content to your website?
  • Do your covers represent your stories well? Are there any hidden meanings layered into the design?
  • Does your website represent your writing and genre well?
  • Have you ever considered creating a logo, symbol, talisman, crest, or shield for the series of books you are writing?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Cover Fonts: Terri Patrick Case Study

Therese was fortunate to get a variety of options to pick, from Soul Mate Publishing, regarding the cover of her novel. This couple in a clinch is a good representation of the characters and the flavor of the story, aside from his hair being too short, and hers is too long and blond.
Chosen image out of 9 Mock Ups

What can we tell about the story from these Mock Ups?
  • It's a contemporary romance novel. 
  • There are beautiful people. 
  • There's a windy beach. 
  • It's got a fun and sensual flavor. 
  • It's not a bare-skin-steamy or erotic story. 

Therese says: Some of the other Mock Up covers, by Ramona, had different people and poses which were easy to dismiss and I wanted my name on the bottom, instead of across my heroes head. After that, there were a few Fonts in various Sizes, Colors, and Placement, to consider. I like the chiseled from stone look because it feels both whimsical and enduring.

If this image was the only "Final" - I would have been THRILLED.

But! There were Four "Final" versions with different font colors. There were TWO choices that were perfect covers! Which to choose? I'd hate to choose one then regret I didn't choose the other. So here's what I did. I copied my two favorites into a file and emailed them to my sisters and two friends. My friends instantly chose the one above with a whole list of reasons.

Available Now!
Here's the actual cover - and why:
  • While waiting to hear from my sisters, who were not as responsive as my friends, I asked my husband his opinion and he liked the red title as he's a bit color blind. 
  • I also shrunk both images to Thumbnail Size, and the blue title blended into the background. It didn't stand out at all! 
  • My sisters, and their (color challenged) husbands, also liked the red title, and the subtitle in white, instead of both in the same color.
Now, months later, and having reviewed all my options, I'm still thrilled with this cover. I really like this font for my name and title! I tried to replicate it on my business cards - but that's another story.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Raw Photo to Finished Cover: Delilah Marvelle Case Study

Morgan here with a mini cover design workshop and case study. Today, we will examine Delilah Marvelle's cover for Lady of Pleasure. Not only is Ms. Marvelle an amazing historical fiction author, she is also an incredibly supportive friend. (I swear, whenever we ask her for help, she says, "Yes" before we can finish asking the question!)

Lady of Pleasure is the third book in her five book School of Gallantry Series.  The first two books in the series were traditionally published. She is now in the process of self-pubbing the last three books. (Note: She does plan on redoing the covers for the first two books to bring them inline with the last three cover designs.)

Ms. Marvelle worked with Jenn LeBlanc at Illustrated Romance for the raw photo. In fact, she paid for the rights to use the stock photo below exclusively.  For the images for Night of Pleasure and Master of Pleasure, Ms. Marvelle was on site for the photo shoot to help stage the exact poses she wanted.

After procuring the raw photo, the final cover design was completed by Seductive Designs.

Raw photo and finished cover
Cover Design Notes - Take a moment to examine the two images above and note the following:
  • 'Delilah Marvelle' is in a traditional footed font. The font color really pops due to the contrasting color chosen.
  • The book title is centered and in a loopy font that works well for historical audiences.
  • The raw photo uses cool colors and tones, while the finished cover uses a warm color palette.
  • The heroes hair color and style were changed.
  • A red, textured curtain was added to the background.
  • A ruby earring was added to the heroine.
  • The entire cover screams historical! The reader knows, even at first glance, the story genre and the type of story they are purchasing.
Overall Comments:
  • Notice that it is the details that really help the cover come together - a tweak here and there can help you customize a stock image for your books.
  • Titles don't always have to be centered and the font choices should be made with your genre and subject matter in mind.
  • Your author name should be clear and easy to read!

Ms. Marvelle approaches all of her projects with a clear idea of how she wants the finished product to look. Not everyone has an artistic eye for design - which is why there are professionals who can help guide you through the design process. When working with designers, it is always good to take a moment to contemplate and write down your thoughts on images, colors, and feelings you want your cover to convey. Before approving the finished design, look at it in full size, thumbnail, and black & white. 

Whether on the shelf or online, your cover is what PULLs your potential reader to your book at the Point-of-Purchase (POP) with the goal of creating a SALE!

Therese says: Delilah's been exploring all different types of media promotions and has a few book trailers. My favorite is the one where my friend Andy is the narrator.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Cover Design Advice and Examples

Given our recent adventures with our Author Marketing 101 Guide & Journal cover art, we decided to dedicate all of our September posts to the art and theory of cover design. To introduce this topic, please find informative links and tips below.

Per Deborah Cooke/Claire Delacroix from Take It or Leave It posted July 25, 2013
"The cover is part of the marketing and promotion budget for a book, and may consume all of that budget for a midlist or debut release.
Traditionally, the cover is the one thing that every potential reader sees. They might not see ads in magazines or hear radio ads. They might miss reviews and endcap displays or blog tours. But they all see the cover of the book before they purchase it, so the cover is the most important piece of marketing that exists for any given book. A publishing house will always spend money on creating a cover for a book, and often will use the entire marketing budget on it. The cover is even more critical to building sales in digital, because the cover has to communicate the tone of the book, the sensuality, the genre and subgenre, and be consistent with the author’s branding – and it has to do all that when it’s two inches high in thumbnail."

Deborah has additional advice regarding the Author Name on her post: What's In A Name? August 1, 2013

Delle Jacobs is a veteran and queen of the Indie Publishing World, for years, and even designs her own covers. These are screen shots taken from her blog/website. 

Take note of the following:
  • Ms. Jacobs website banner is in line with the tone and themes of her books.
  • Notice that her name is prominent and clear on each cover - even if you'r not able to read the book title in a cover thumbnail image, "Delle Jacobs" can be clearly read.
  • For the most part, there is a high contrast between the background colors and the title / author name font colors
  • Crisp, footed fonts can be easier to read than swirly fonts in tiny thumbnails
  • Each covers feature images related to the story tone and content <yes, some people miss the mark on this point>

Now that you know all there is about making an awesome cover for your novel - review How To Make A Cover Designer Cry.

For more great information, check out the blog for the Scarlet Ruger's Book Design Agency. Her '4 steps to making a bad book cover design look good' is loaded with solid info.