Category Archives: iTalk

Cover Design I: Think like a true designer master white space

You want to design a great cover for your novel, master white space.

White space can be the empty space on your covers, the space between graphics, margins, fonts, gutters, lines, objects. Any clean area on your cover. White space does not necessarily have to be white. If the background of your cover is green, then your white space is green.

Achieving balance between the images and the fonts on your page gives your cover a crisp, clean look. In fact, taking account white space is the mark of a true designer.

Why does white space even matter?

Because the eye loves clean and hates clutter. Just look at the example below.

Which is more pleasing?

I love to think designing a cover is the same as designing an ad for a professional magazine.

How many ads do you see out there with multiple pictures cropped and smashed together using masking? Probably next to zero.

Less is always more. If you are not a designer and are working on a limited budget, do not feel pressured to use a lot of masking techniques to create a cover that looks like every other book out there on the market.

Below are some examples of covers and ads that make good use of white space for your cover design inspiration.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Clean cover on a budget series intro: A hard knock life for a new adult fantasy romance writer

So you are on a budget, but you want an awesome cover.

Your Photoshop skills are nonexistent or so-so, and you have little time to master Photoshop. What do you do?

You create a clean cover design focused on manipulating fonts and one image. In my series over the next couple weeks I will talk about: fonts, white space, and themes.

I will showcase my own journey with designing my cover.

This came after months of meditation and research.

As a new adult fantasy romance / paranormal romance writer, I found the steps I had to take after finishing my novel harder than the ones I had to take while writing. I designed like 10 covers before I finally found one I could agree with. Those covers will be revealed in the process.

I utilized Indesign for layout. This allowed me to move fonts and pictures around so much easier than Photoshop.  It helped me to create this.

A story featured on Wattpad and Fictionpress.

Your aim is not to oddly blend contrasting images the eye knows do not belong together.

Your goal is to create a clean, crisp poster look almost. Think E.L. James and Twilight. Something when we look at it, we might not go WOW!, but definitely will not go EEEEWWWW.

Nothing may not turn off readers more than published rough drafts, but a gaudy cover design will surely do you in for good.

Here are some good tips.

  1. Use readable fonts, meaning stay away from cursive or grunge unless these fonts can be made big.
  2. Try not to use more than 3 fonts on a cover.
  3. Use san-serifs for headlines such as your title, and serifs for your subtitles.
  4. Find a good balance between the white space and the objects on the page.
  5. Stick to a central theme – when you are not using advanced techniques, you do not want to go in mixing several pictures together trying to create a collage.
  6. If you want to set your cover apart, find a symbol that can truly represent your novel.

Serif fonts are fonts such as Times New Roman, and are further explained in this nice article on Wikipedia.

Blending multiple photographs in an image is an advanced technique, something we often forget because we want to achieve what the big dogs do.

My motto: always go with the black dress with pearls if one is out of ideas. In other words simplicity always wins the day.

I will help you achieve this simplicity over the next few weeks. Hopefully, it will help you achieve a clean cover that will lead to more sales. In the meantime, start cover shopping in your book genre. Find designs you think you can actually achieve. Do not be afraid to be inspired. Meaning, do not go and steal, but let it guide you in your process for designing your own cover.

If you are starting research early, then you have time to visit Lynda.com and watch a Photoshop series to learn how to create a cover.

Also if you would like to help others grow in this process, post links to covers you found and think can inspire others.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The One-star review game

Everyone likes to trash novels with criticism.

It’s like we’re sticking it to the man for wasting our time.

I am one of those people who enjoy reading the bad reviews. Sometimes bad reviews just tickle me so much, I have to get the book to see if what the review claimed was actually true.  E.L Jame’s Fifty Shades of Grey is one example.

For those who are well established in the publishing industry, a bad review can work to your favor. For those who are not? Well, look on the bright side. No one grows without criticism. If everyone is telling you they loved everything about your book with wide smiles and bright eyes they are probably lying. Especially if you are an unknown writer just starting out in the craft.

I practically had to call one of my close friends a liar and beat him over the head with my unfinished manuscript to get him to tell me the truth. Finally, he came out and said, “the opening is choppy.” Good grief, like truth kills!

My belief is when you get to the level of Shakespeare, then you can write a one-star review about Shakespeare. For other writers, sorry, you are fair game. Do not worry, it only takes like three hundred years after you passed. Not long at all for those residing in Heaven or Hell. And if people are still talking about your book three hundred years after you passed, you can wear the Shakespeare ribbon.  By then though, you probably won’t even care.

Speaking of games, I found a delightful e-mail devised by the Golden Star Finalist, Heather McLachlan. A retired teacher and navy veteran,  her blog offers lots of Navy pleasure for the eyes.

From Heather McLachlan: The one-star review game

Just don’t worry about the one-star reviews. Like someone else
here implied today, you’re nobody until somebody hates you.

To make those of us with one star reviews feel better, I give you…
The One-Star Review Game!

The rules: Easy. Just guess the book associated with each following
review taken directly from Amazon. Give yourself a star for every one
you get right. (The solution guide is at the end.)

Good luck!

The Reviews.

A: I think I got about a quarter of the way through it and hoped it
would get better. The story is hard to follow, too detailed about
mundane things. The story line is so slow I just gave up.

B: I was not entertained by this work. Boring does not begin to
describe this drawn out waist of bookshelf space. I got more enjoyment
out of mocking the work with friends than reading it. So there you
have it. I would rather fornicate with sheep than re-read this book.

C: this is probably the most boring, unoriginal and derivative story I
have ever read. It is not interesting and was a waste of my time.

D: What I noticed the most in the book is the usage of the many five
dollar words […] Not only those words made the book difficult to
read, they helped to provide detachment for me from enjoying the story
and being immersed in the tale.

E: [The author] needed dough, and [Title] provided it for him. Some of
[the author’s] other pieces are also primarily fluff, but they were
fluff in a more cerebral fashion. [Title] simply panders to the lowest
common denominator.

F: Ugh, this series is terrible. In fact, everything by [Author] is
terrible. Reading his work is like pulling teeth.

G: I have read this book, and found it boring, and unentertaining. The
mystery elements involved are nothing new, and the ending is lame. If
I could give this less stars, I would. Perhaps if there had been a
plot twist, or maybe an exciting scene, or a further explanation of
the murderer (the solution(s) still dont seem to explain all). I hated
this book, and would not reccomend it to anyone.

——————————————————–

A: Pride and Prejudice

B: Jane Eyre

C: Harry Potter

D: A Christmas Carol

E: Romeo and Juliet

F: The Lord of the Rings

G: Murder on the Orient Express

Enhanced by Zemanta

Nominated for awards: Sharing love by sharing self-publishing tips and resources

Emily Guido, author of The Light-Bearer Series, has kindly nominated me for the Versatile Blogger and the Kreativ Blogger awards.

Being nominated means you have to follow certain rules such as: revealing seven interesting details about yourself, nominating others, displaying the awards, and recommending other blogs.

Being that I have not been blogging for very long, it was hard for me to nominate others. I will be updating the nominations till I have seven.

That said, I focused on creating a list of 27 resources for self-publishers  that include information about aggregators, options for blog tours, and examples of  great blogs.

Being nominated makes my heart flutter. Not only that, but Guido has graciously connected me with Simon Food Favourites, a food blog that is ranked number two by Urbanspoon.

Filled with gorgeous images of delicious selections, Simon also has an article posted on the history of the Kreativ Blogger award.

If you want to read about the Kreativ Blogger award or find exotic dishes to spice up yours and your characters’ love life, then check out Simon Food Favourites.

The Versatile Blogger asks me to list 15 websites and the Kreative Blogger award asks for 7 blogs. Combining the requirements allowed me to create a nice URL list that I hope you will find very useful.

Here are 7 things I know you do not know about me:

1. I am a theatre lover and performer

2. I love poetry:

Snippet of a poem I wrote in college.

Transformation

Among things that irked, my husband wanted me to wear the burqa, the niqab.

A modern, white chef in sultry Miami, who would have known?

He beat me until my bones were globs

Of soy milk—not full, because we were vegetarians. Read more.

3. I should probably seek therapy for my Sunkist addiction.

4. I absolutely love, love, love diversity, so every book I write has characters from all walks of life interacting with each other.

5. I act out loud concepts for novels in front of my mirror.

6. Sushi, sushi, sushi – love me some Asian cuisine.

7. I drink water.

Nominated blogs

  • Roxie Hanna – I wrote a wonderful article on the fun loving spirit of Roxie. Her blog is filled with must-know news and great “no-fee” writing opportunities.
  • Vanessa Wu – I am not a fan of Erotica even though I am considering reading Fifty Shades Of Gray. Vanessa Wu’s interesting reviews piques my interest. Not to mention her headlines are always so vogue.
  • DA Fletcher – Though a new blogger, it is interesting how this author ties in the main character of her novel to every blog post.
  • Vickie King – She is an established author who gives an endearing look into her life as a writer.
  • Lady Romp – This blog is a must, filled with inspiring stories of strong women.
  • Miranda Baker – Her article Where Is The Sexy? won me over.

Great Blogs

  1. Publishing Basics – Great resource on Self-Publishing
  2. Angelina Kace – love the menu titles
  3. Paranormal Romance Blog (Harlequin)
  4. Bare-Foot Executive – Though not a paranormal, UF, or romance blog, I thought the  color scheme and clean design of this blog warranted being put on the list
  5. Mary Ann Reid and Alphanista – love the professional and clean appeal of this author’s website and blog

Aggregators

  1. Great resource on ISBN with comparison chart on aggregators, even though some of the information on aggregators is outdated.
  2. 12 Sites For Ebook publishing
  3. Check out David Carnoy’s article on Aggregators on CNET

Blog Tour Options

  1. Smart Bitches, Trashy Books – This is one of my favorite blog designs.
  2. The Bookish Brunette  – If you like edgy banner design, this brunette can handle it.
  3. Book Soulmates
  4. Parajunkee.com
  5. Lola James
  6. Myreadingpile.com
  7. Cupcake and a Latte
  8. Creative Deeds Reads
  9. All Thing Urban Fantasy
  10. Confessions of a Bookaholic
  11. Redheads Review It Better – for the steamier side of urban fantasy and romance
  12. The Book Vixen
  13. Obsession With Books
  14. Bewitching Book Tours
  15. Romance Book Craze
  16. The Bookshelf Chronicles
  17. TE Garden Of Books
  18. Fiction Vixen
  19. Dear Author
Enhanced by Zemanta

Designing the Interior of your novel

Whoever believes interior design is an art must be deathly in love with the craft.

I find it to be a science more along the lines of physics.

Even though I am not a novice, using Adobe Indesign to construct the interior of my novel was not as easy as I imagined.

After laying out the margins correctly:

.25 inch margins (that is what Createspace recommends) I find .50 inch margins to be cleaner.

.75 inches for the gutter

There were other points I had to consider such as:

How many blank pages would I have in the beginning of the novel?

There has to be a copyright, acknowledgements, and so on.

Not only that, but there also has to be enough  blank pages so that my first chapter would end up on an odd page.

If one is also looking at novels, they might have noticed that blank pages are starting to be styled as well.

How much space would I leave for my page numbers and where would I place them?

Out of a slight desire to be lazy, I modeled my interior design off of Stephanie Meyer’s New Moon. If she can do without a title and author in the header, so can I.  

How am I going to design the opening of each new chapter?

It is industry standard never to indent the first paragraph of each chapter.

It can, however, be stylized with the first few words in all caps or through the use of drop caps.

How am I going to show breaks in the chapter?

Page breaks are also never indented. Many do take liberty with the style of the page breaks.

I have seen them styled with four asterisks or a simple space of .25 in leading.

I had to ask myself what fonts do I desire to use for my chapter headings, page numbers, footers, and so on.

This was the hardest decision to make, forcing me to find a font that would speak to the mood of my novel.

Always erring on the side of simplicity, I just chose one of the fonts I used for the cover of my novel.

Finally, how am I to organize this information, so that I have one coherent style across my manuscript?

Organize everything in paragraph and character styles once you have got the look of the first chapter.

My biggest mistake was going through a discovery process as I went through each chapter.

I found out how I wanted to break my chapters in chapter one, but did not figure out the font for my chapter headings till chapter twelve.

This forced me to have to go back to the beginning and update my character and paragraph styles over and over again.

Such a process added hours onto my work. Mind you, I had chosen to use the Adobe book feature, thinking it would be easier to organize and manage the chapters.

Once everything is organized into character and paragraph styles, it is just click and point from there.

Curious about Adobe Indesign?

Adobe Indesign is used primarily for layouts and can be a great tool for interior design.

I sharpened my skills with the program utilizing Lynda.com.

To sum up the entire article, here are some tips to constructing a clean manuscript:
  1.       .25 in outside margins at least (I like .50)
  2.       .75 in gutter (inside margins)
  3.       Size 12 pt or 14 pt for body copy
  4.       1.5 * (font size of body to determine the leading)
  5.       Test and plan all in chapter one: chapter fonts, page number fonts, header information, chapter openings, and page breaks
  6.       Master paragraph and character styles
  7.       Do not indent the first paragraph in a chapter
  8.       Do not indent chapter breaks
  9.       Use .25 in for paragraph indents
  10.       REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW for orphans and widows, awkward spacing, and mistakes
Intimidated by design?

Do not be. Anyone who is on a budget can construct the interior of their novel.

My suggestion is, never feel one has to be extravagant. Readers are reading for the story, not for the interior design.

I do have to admit, interesting and unique interior design can sometimes be the icing on the cake.

Check out one of my favorites, The Forever Girl by Rebecca Hamilton, an author who will soon be featured on my blog.

Her interior and exterior design is awesome.

 

Editing: Making every word spectacular

Superheroes Wear Faded DenimEditing is key to getting the type of novel that leaves your reader turning to the last page and going, “WHY!? WHY DID IT HAVE TO END?”

My debut novel, Superheroes Wear Faded Denim, has gone through three years of writing, four drafts, numerous critique groups, and endless writing workshops.

The novel ended 452 pages and has been cut to 398.

Each draft evolved.

What began as a story about an artsy college student who wars against her BFF for the heart of a wealthy bachelor has grown to be a story about a socially awkward college student’s sleeping habits saving mankind.

Of course my story would have never been more than just another girl meets boy if it had not been for my mother reading my very first draft, and uttering, “it’s boring.”

Even though I was a romance writer trying to appeal to a mother who lives off James Patterson novels, I took the advice.

Editing might be key, but without good advice, editing is misguided.

I found critique groups and creative writing classes to be very useful in shaping my final drafts.

When I showed my mother the third draft, I was getting a thumbs up.

Still the third draft was not the final.

I took the advice of writer Kathryn Bain, author of Breathless, and utilized NaturalReader.

Anyone who wants to self-edit their book needs to invest in a product that will speak their words.

Combing through my pages with that product one last time really saved my manuscript.

 

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Brenda Jackson: James Patterson’s fraternal twin with darker skin

Harlequin Art Exhibit, NYC, 5/29/09 - 136 of 145
Harlequin Art Exhibit, NYC, 5/29/09 - 136 of 145 (Photo credit: rtbookreviews)

My mom once told me that Brenda Jackson was referred to as the African American female James Patterson because the best selling novelist spat out more novels than a laser printer.

Read her biography, and it’ll have you wondering if the woman ever leaves her computer.

As stated on her website, she has written more than 90 novels and novellas, and has 3 million books in print.

Most of her writing career was accomplished in the wee hours of the morning just before she headed off to her 9-to-5.

Just read this Florida Times Union article that says she completed 50 of her novels while working at State Farm Insurance.

Sort of makes me feel bad when I come home from my new job only to vegetate on the couch. Not to mention in my spare time I do a lot of theatre.

Although I want to get like Jackson, sleep is so important to me, I sort of live to sleep another day.

Yet if I were to follow the advice of all the authors who have presented in the Romance Writers of America and Sisters In Crime workshops, I would find a nice schedule to write, update blogs, twitter, and all the lovely business of writing.

This most likely means my blogging will have to become confined to Friday, Saturday, and Sundays.

Good news is I will soon feature advice from authors such as Emily Guido and Devan Sipher. I am in the process of recruiting more writers and bloggers who wish to share their love of writing and success with you.

Enhanced by Zemanta