Friday, December 20, 2013

How to judge a book's covers

Beyond writing a good book, and creating the perfect title, the next critical element for a book's success is your book cover.

The 12-15-13 New York Times book review section has a disappointing photo piece titled The Best Book Covers of 2013.  It's hard to judge but I see better covers every day. How are these the best?  Of the twelve shown, I honestly only like the final one "The Art of Sleeping Alone."

As the columnist Nicholas Blechman (the Book Review's art director) quotes book designer George Salter, regarding a good jacket ... "must be in perfect accord with the literary quality of the book."  I agree but can't see why the covers chosen fit the bill. It sure does prove how difficult and how subjective the world of cover design is. It is becoming more difficult to settle on a cover that pleases the publisher's sales team, marketing department, and of course, the author. But again, it is of critical importance, whether your book in on store shelves, display racks at airports, or a one-inch image among thousands of other books sold online every day.

I realize it's no easy task to convey the book's tone along with an eye-catching cover, but it is a crucial element of your next book.

To see the slideshow of all twelve, visit

Monday, December 9, 2013

Journalism by robots? Whoa....

This comes from Meg Weaver, publisher at
Copyright (c) 2013 Wooden Horse Publishing.
The Long Good Read is a very special project from The Guardian, the British newspaper, and The Newspaper Club, a company that prints small-run DIY newspapers. The Long Good Read is produced by robots.
Before writers of all kinds get worried about the future of their careers, maybe we should call it “repurposing” rather than “producing.”
The Long Good Read is a collection of articles from The Guardian selected by algorithms for their lengths and their interesting content. A human then selects the articles appropriate for the issue. These are then laid out by another software tool and printed by The Newspaper Club. 500 copies are then distributed for free to another Guardian experiment, a coffee shop in East London.
You can read the whole interesting story in an article by Nieman Journalism Lab. It ends with a quote by The Guardian’s head of technology, Jemima Kiss, speaking about print: “It’s not the medium that’s in trouble; it’s the business model.”

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Author marketing ideas to last all through 2014

This collection of 89 good marketing ideas comes from Caitlin Muir, a social media maven.

Instead of being overwhelmed by 89 more things you should be doing, consider tackling just one category per week or month.  The categories themselves will help keep you organized...

1. Increase your web presence

2. Build your fan base

3. Cultivate community

4. Make some extra money:  (Note her reference to MyBookTable, a WordPress plug-in you can use to sell books and make affiliate money from online book sales.)

Also, on a related topic, Amazon previously refused to keep Illinois authors in their Associates program, where you could earn money by leading people to amazon to buy your book. They have now reached an agreement with Illinois to allow authors back in the program. This would be in addition to what you might do using the MyBookTable plug-in from WordPress, which would allow you to also sell your books directly, not just through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. 

Good luck!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Again, the loss of handwriting looms

If you're sweating over the fast draft you wrote in NANOWRIMO, or sorry you stopped along the way, pick up a pen and write a while. To inspire you, herewith an excerpt from Andrew Coyne's essay in National Post, entitled: Losing Longhand Breaks Link To The Past:

"I’ve been writing on a computer for more than 30 years. But I can tell you I would feel something vital had been lost if I could not express my thoughts longhand. Often when I am stuck at the keyboard, unable to find my way out of whatever mental cul-de-sac I have put myself in, I will pick up a pen and start writing — and the words start to come again.

This is not by accident. You’re using different parts of the brain. Typing is file retrieval, remembering where a letter is. With handwriting, you create the letters anew each time, using much more complex motor skills. Whether it’s the flowing motion of the arm, or the feel of the page under your hand, or the aesthetic satisfaction of a well-turned “f”, it seems to engage the more intuitive, right-brain aspects of cognition."

Read Coyne's full essay here.