Why I am talking art on a writing blog.

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I have, at last, found enough time to catch my breath and write a new, long overdue post for this blog.

You see, I have had a busy start to this year.

First was the publication, in January, of my first children’s book, The Rabbit Joke, which is designed primarily as a ‘read to me‘ book.

A book for parents or older siblings, to read to the younger ones. The Rabbit Joke lends itself to being read to groups in schools and kindergartens too.

The Rabbit Joke is an outsized, hardcover, fully illustrated, perfect bound, landscape book, from https://www.peecho.com/print/en/263512

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In February, I released ‘Life in the War Zone’ a collection of stories, based on true accounts, of what life is like living between warring factions in an area of conflict.

Life in the War Zone takes a serious, no holds barred look at the devastation and trauma of life in the battlefields of the Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Israel, Palestine, Libya, Lebanon and El Salvador.

Ebooks are available direct from me, via my website. http://paulznewpostbox.wixsite.com/paul-white

Paperbacks from Amazon.

USA https://www.amazon.com/Life-War-Zone-collection-personal/dp/1542338700  

UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Life-War-Zone-collection-personal/dp/1542338700

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Also during February, I published a ‘Coffee Table’ book called ICONIC, or to give it its full title, Iconic – Legends of music immortalised in art.

Iconic is an 8 x 8 inch, hardcover, perfect bound, glossy, book, containing a number of my own artworks, portraits of some of the most well-loved musical talent ever known, such as David Bowie, Amy Winehouse, Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis and many more.

With each portrait is an abridged biography of each artist, covering their life and times. https://www.peecho.com/checkout/14716200169619823/279042

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March saw the publication of The Pussers Cook Book.

This became an instant hit and an Amazon bestseller. It is still, as I write this over a month after the books launch, at number three in its Amazon category.

The Pussers Cook Book details twenty-two of the best loved dishes, served on Royal Naval ships circa 1960’s to 1980’s. Along with the recipes, there are plenty of jokes and tall stories, some legendary myths are also dispelled!

You do not have to be a sailor to enjoy the Pussers Cook Book. It makes the perfect gift for a freind or loved one.

Paperbacks from Amazon. goo.gl/eTwfWN  

Hardcover from my printers.  www.peecho.com/print/en/282666

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You will see by this, why my time this year has been at a premium.

Now, I have touched on art, as in the title of this post, by mentioning my tribute to the great musicians in the book, ICONIC. Which clearly shows the link between writing, books and art.

As do all those millions of books with illustrations, photographs, pictures and images inside. Let alone the amazing and wonderful artistry shown by many book cover designers.

In that respect, books and art are almost inseparable, and never exclusive.


But there is more…

Art has always been a ‘go to‘ place for me, when I need to rest my mind from concentrating on writing. Whilst my form of art, digital painting, is still a creative discipline, it is creative in a totally differing way to the mindful concentration needed for writing.

In that respect, I find creating digital art relaxing, even ‘freeing up‘ the subconscious mind to continue its own creative endeavours, whilst I take my consciousness on a holiday of colour and form.

The problem arises, much as it does when writing, or I should say, when one has finished writing and has published their book.

Who will see it, who will read it, who will buy it?

It is all well and dandy to have a book, three books, ten? Sitting on the shelves getting dusty and covered in cobwebs. What we want, what we need is someone (Many someones) to come along and actually read our words.

The same is true of art. What is the point of creating wonderful, thought provoking, stimulating images if they are simply going to be stored as a digital code on a memory stick. If they are never going to be made onto a canvass, or a poster, or even printed onto a tee-shirt or coffee mug?

Both of those scenarios are, in my humble opinion, a total waste of time, effort and creative energy.

So…what to do about it all?

I have done a few things, in between launching and promoting my books! And I am unashamedly promoting them here. After all, why should I not?

Firstly, I have made a Facebook page to help direct people to my works.

The main site is my artwork website, where you can browse through a selection of works albums and find links to the other places my work is available. https://goo.gl/pyPI7i

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I have a compilation of distorted portraits I call my ‘Boggle Eyes’ collection available on Fine Art America. There are additional collections to be added to this site soon. https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/11-paul-white/shop

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I have a couple of designs with Threadless and shall slowly add to these as I create new work for that site.  https://paulwhiteart.threadless.com

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Finally, I have a few pieces of art, more graphic design oriented, on a site called Redbubble. https://www.redbubble.com/people/DesignPeeJay/shop?asc=u

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If you are an art lover and would like to support my endeavours in this field you can help by becoming a patron, at patreon. As an artist’s Patron you will receive an range of benefits in return for your ongoing support. https://www.patreon.com/paulwhite

That is why I am talking about art on a writing blog.

Thanks for reading this…if you have read this far!

I will be back to posting my normal Ramblings from now on.

Cheers, Paul.

 

 

 

 

 

One reason why I don’t give my books away.

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Because I have worked hard, very hard in making the book a reality.

The uninitiated may feel that is a glib remark, but it is not, if you consider….

I first had to come up with the idea, a notion of a story and ensure it had a start point, a good tale to tell, one which draws to a satisfactory conclusion.

That is, it has a beginning, a middle and an end.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Then try it now, in the next few seconds. Say these words aloud….ready….go…”My story begins when……

Well, come on. You said it was easy, so what’s keeping you?…… OK. Times up.

Let’s move on.

I shall say ‘we writers’ from now on, have an outline of a story in our head. We know where we want it to start. We may even have a few words which may become the opening lines, when we start writing.

Each writer has their own way of plotting and constructing a novel. So, for generalist purpose I am adopting the supposition this is a writer who plots onto a story line…to a degree.

For the next few days we shall be breaking down the sequence of the story in our mind, transcribing it onto a plot graph, a timeline of planned stages. This is something we shall change numerous times over the next few days. We shall have the characters, particularly the protagonist, face challenges they must overcome. We will build his/her character as realistically and as humanly flawed as suits the plot, and will have our readers empathise, at some stage, with the antagonist. Possibly disbelieving in the actions of the hero….who may yet actually be the real baddy!

This is the type of conflict associated with plotting the story. Already at this stage the story wants to take charge of the author, as later, during the writing of the first draft, so shall the characters. They WILL take on a life of their own. They WILL wake the writer in the early hours of the morning, banging on the door of new concept. The same characters WILL, on another night, keep the writer awake until the sun rises just so they can move forward, continue their journey within the unfolding pages of new manuscript.

Most authors become almost, if not entirely obsessed with writing the tale. Some seem, even become unsociable, withdrawn. Because the story must be told, it must be typewritten onto paper or into computer memory. If the writer stops, or is distracted for too long, the thread begins to fade, the momentum halted, the spirit lost. The new lives, those characters created start to wither, even die.

Writers are, in the worlds they create, Gods among characters, guiders of destiny and givers of fulfilment, destroyers of life, of societies, of cities and planets. The author is omnipotent. It is a role, a responsibility we take seriously. It is a heavy burden we bear.

Come the end of the first draft and an entire year’s supply of coffee beans. I/we, the authors, sit back in our chairs and breathe a sigh of relief.

It is short respite.

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Soon our noses are back at the grind stone. We now need to read, edit and re-write the entire work. A first draft, no matter how carefully crafted, is just that. A first draft.

Now we really start work. No longer are we flying in full creativity mode, now we are in a roll-your-sleeves-up and get stuck in approach to the task.

Generally, this stage takes twice as long as the first. Deleting words, sentences and replacing them…or not. Moving paragraphs or rephrasing entire sections of the manuscript. Rearranging the position and order of entire chapters, even deleting them…or writing new ones. There is no limit to the fettling undertaken at this stage.

Once we are (reasonably) happy with draft number six/seven/ eleven? We congratulate ourselves and add a tot or two of whisky into the large mug of rich black coffee, our drug of choice.

Happily, we tell our copy editor we are ready for them to scan our documents. Oh, she says. (Not a sexist remark, simply the fact I have found most of the best editors are women), you need a line editor before you run it past me!

So, weeks later, with some alterations to plot and structure you eventually pass the manuscript over to your copy editor…..and wait…and wait, which is a good thing. Annoying, frustrating, but good.

You see your editor should be busy…if she is not that could indicate no one wants her services? The second reason you should be happy to wait is you want a thoroughly good job done, don’t you? Therefore proper, good, concise editing with a comprehensive feedback means taking all the time required to do the job right. Right?

Everything is not lost during this time, because you have to have a cover. If you have not yet made any advance towards having one designed, now is a great opportunity, it will take your mind off waiting for your editor.

Unless you are a graphic designer of illustrator I would leave the cover to an expert. Even if you are an artist I would, at the very least, consult with one. You see a book cover is NOT what most people (readers/ writers/authors) think it is.

Comes the day when your book cover, both paperback and kindle versions are ready. You are excited because your manuscript has just arrived back from your editor….the pages listed with notes, amendments and suggestions.

Now, instead of moving forward, instead of getting a step closer to publication you must revisit you story. Once more you sit and work through the entire manuscript, making alterations, altering tense, reading those suggestions and editorial input regarding clarity, flow and all that other stuff.

Three days later, in a foul mood and with a raging headache you stab the send button returning, the now amended manuscript, to your editor.

This is when you wonder where the last year of your life has gone. This is when you look out of the window and wonder why it is snowing…in June…only June has long passed. You missed it.

You were living in your own Neverland, guiding your characters away from disaster and death. Now, all of a sudden life seems so much more….empty.

The story is with your editor. The cover made. Time seems to hang about endlessly, waiting…tick-tock, tick-tock.

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After a day or two of doing virtually nothing it all gets too much. You plan a launch date, but not too soon. Then you organise a thunderclap, a blogging chain, advertising, a cover reveal and whatever blows your frock up.

Hay, guess what, your manuscript is back, this time there are only a few notes, easy stuff to sort out. So, you do. It only takes the best part of a day this time.

Now you can busy yourself again. This time you need to format your manuscript into book form. One for each type of book, i.e. paperback and eBook, but also for the platforms you may be using, Createspace, Lulu, Smashwords and so forth. Of course, you can have a professional do this, or you can seek the help of a fellow author…all work well if organised properly.

The next stage is proofreading. Each format needs to be proofread. You can do a first run yourself, pick up on any errors made during formatting, check the margins, headers, page numbering, kern and such. But, I bet you will miss a shed load. So have other eyes, preferably an experienced proof-reader, one with a good track record, even someone recommended.

So, you press the send on your keypad again and hey-ho the formatted manuscript(s) is/are off to your proof-reader, who will pick up on any punctuation, capitalisation, space and…other issues you WILL have missed.

ONLY after you have fixed all those errors will your story, which up to now has just been a manuscript with a working title, become a book.

Upload to print…. congratulations. It has taken you around eighteen months of blood, sweat, tears and toil. Of mood swings and social deprivation, headaches, doubts, pain, fear and uncertainty to turn your dream into your baby.

Well done you.

NOW YOU WANT TO GIVE IT AWAY?

That is (one reason) I don’t give my books away.

Paul White.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When drinking beer is good for writing books.

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Like most writers I am constantly on the lookout for inspiration.

Generally, I am not actively seeking out any particular stimulus for any particular reason. It is simply that as a writer part of my mind has become conditioned, has reached a high level of sensitivity to my surroundings and the nuances of everyday events than the average person.

I see creativeness, find revelation and muse in simple things. Things which many, if not most, would pass-by without paying it/them any attention.

For me many of these occurrences of mind wind-up becoming a story or part of a larger plot. Some form the basis of a character or their characteristics, such as gait or speech.

The results of such musings are not always formed or acted upon in the instant; many mature (or fester) within my mind for long periods before oozing onto the page, or become a work, or part of a work of art.

As an instant and an explanation take today’s shopping trip. A simple journey to a local store to pick up a few basic necessities such as fresh milk and bread.

I was walking towards the rear of the store where, as with most shops, the bakery is located. I happened to pass along the isle where the beers and wines are kept as I headed towards the bread.

Glancing at the stock on the shelving as I passed I noticed the names and labels on the bottled beers, the handcrafted, small brewery beers.

I am not certain about the United States, but here in Britain these small ‘Micro-breweries’ have seen a massive upshot in sales as they produce wonderful tasting beers with some of the finest ingredients. This results in a wondrous array of amazingly tasty ales, stouts, porters and beers. All, without doubt, superior to anything the massive multi-conglomerate, mega commercial breweries can achieve.

However, regardless to how good any individual beer may be, the result is a highly competitive market. Excellent for the consumer and lovers of fine ale, like myself! But it poses a problem for the breweries.

Question: How do they make their beer stand out from the crowd?

Answer: Give your ale an amazing, funny, rude or otherwise outstanding name and a label to match.

So…as I was scanning the shelves I started to read the names. Some made me chuckle, others puzzled me to the extent I had to pick up a bottle and read the back label.

What these beers names and labels had achieved was similar to that of a great book cover and title. It made me pick it up and read the back cover ‘blurb’.

That got me thinking.

Now, when I say thinking I do not mean structured concentration. I mean a million flitting thoughts running amok through my mind. That is how I think, that is how my brain tackles incoming stimuli!

I cannot even start list the number of various factors involved with such geometric thinking. Unless your cognitive neural pathways and patterns operate on a similar basis to my own, you could not begin to conceive the process.

I shall however share this one with you. Simply because if I did not this entire post would be irrelevant!

Many of the aforementioned beers had wondrous names. Names I am sure would make amazing book titles, or at least part titles.

Maybe you are seeking that catalyst, that idea for a title to your current work in progress? Then why not take a look at this list?

They sound like possible names for novels to me, even though they are names of twenty of those beers I passed on that stores shelves!

What do you think? Please let me know as I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject; that is as soon as I have finished this bottle of Pale Ale!

 

UNDERCURRENT

AXE EDGE

13 GUNS

PRESSURE DROP

HARDKNOTT

BEARHUG

MONK LUST

GOOSE ISLAND

DEAD PONY

SHNOODLEPIP

DOUBLE MAXIM

SCHIEHALLION

DUCK DUCK GOOZE

SPITFIRE

SNECK LIFTER

STREAKING THE QUAD

EFFINGUUD

CRAZY IVAN

BADONK-A-DUNKEL

DARK BLACKMIST

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Cheers!

Rambling Away Again

Rambling Away Again! OK so the title is a little indulgent on my behalf.

You see, the words ‘Rambling Away’ was the title I gave my first ever magazine style newsletter. That’s going back a few years now!

The long term result of that first newsletter is now my core business, CQ International Publishing.

It was not something I planned…it organically evolved and took me with it!

You can read about how CQ developed and much more inside this newsletter, my first for quite along time!

As usual just ‘click’ on the cover image to be whisked to the magazine reading page and enjoy!

Thanks, Paul.

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J.B.’Author Interview with Paul White

 

IN THIS BRAND NEW SERIES (J.B.’S AUTHOR INTERVIEW SERIES) I’LL BE INTRODUCING YOU TO SOME OF THE FINEST AUTHORS AROUND. YOU’LL GET A PEEK INSIDE THEIR MIND AND THEIR PROCESS.

 

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Today I meet Paul White. 

J.B. Taylor – What inspires you?

Paul White – Wow, what an interesting opening question. There are so many things that kick start my imagination. A picture, a smell, a sound, a partly overheard conversation, clips from a film, a scene from a television drama.
One of my favorite sources is the radio, I listen to Radio four, a BBC station it has wonderful interviews covering a myriad of topics from the arts to medicine and world affairs. I often listen to this station when I am driving and, besides the road, there is nothing else to distract you from listening. It is surprising how many ideas can come out of a twenty minute drive!

 

J.B. Taylor – What’s your favorite book?

Paul White – Another unanswerable question! I have so many books I love and all for different reasons.
I will give you two. I read both when I was a young man and both have stayed with me over the ensuing years, so I take that resonation to be a sign that they are special books.

The first is ‘Down by the Dockside’ written by Deirdre Cash under her pseudonym Criena Rohan. It is about a plucky, literate girl who grows up in poverty in Port Melbourne during the Depression, marries a sailor during the war and loses him in a fight at Christmas in 1946, teaches dance and consorts with the criminals her childhood pals have become, it’s a lively and endearing tale of Australia in the 1930s and 1940s.

The second is Do Not Go Gentle by David MacCuish.
The book focuses on Norman MacLeod, growing up in the tough Depression-era town of Butte, Montana.
After his father succumbs to a mining-related disease, young Norman leaves school and also begins working in the copper mines. Following the death of his closest friend in a mine accident and the moving of his mother and sister to relatives back East, Norman enlists in the Marines.
The book follows MacLeod through boot camp, life on and off base, and then to the South Pacific where MacLeod and his fellow Marines face both their fears and the Japanese.
On leave in the U.S., Norm visits the wife of a killed comrade, and begins a relationship with her. Filled with gritty scenes and no-holds-barred dialog,
I think Do Not Go Gentle is a minor classic in the field of novels about men at war and the effect it has on families and communities.

Ok, so that was longwinded, but you asked!

 

J.B. Taylor – If you were asked to unload a 747 full of jelly beans, what would you do?

Paul White – Park it up and slowly eat my way through the contents!

 

J.B. Taylor – Where do you like to write?

Paul White – Anywhere I can get my head down and concentrate without too many interruptions. I have an office at home, but a café, hotel lobby or gardens can be good too.

 

J.B. Taylor – Which Harry Potter house would you belong to?

Paul White – Never read Harry Potter, not seen the films either…am I the only one?

 

J.B. Taylor – What is your favorite word?

Paul White – That changes frequently, however at the moment it is however. However, that may change soon!

 

J.B. Taylor – What is your least favorite word?

Paul White – Hate. It is overused in general conversation and rarely is its true definition realized by the speaker. In writing however, (did you see what I just did there!) there are no bad words, just words.

 

J.B. Taylor – What was the first story you ever wrote, and what happened to that story?MiriamsHexL

Paul White – My first true story, a proper one with a beginning, middle & end, is Miriam’s
Hex
. There is a long back story about how I have come to resurrect Miriam’s Hex from a dusty box in the loft and have published it as an eBook novelette.

 

Miriam's Hex new

The story of how that happened is included in a special edition of Miriam’s Hex, which is ONLY available directly from me…if you like would a copy just click on the link above!

 

 

J.B. Taylor – Tell us about your process: Pen, paper, word processor, human sacrifice … how do you write?

Paul White – Generally, I use a PC or Laptop and type directly into a word document.
But for making notes and writing ideas down I scribble into small pocket sized notebooks. I have several of these scattered about the house, the cars and in lots of jacket pockets.
Occasionally a notebook has been washed and tumble dried. Not good!

 

J.B. Taylor – What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as a writer?

Paul White – Besides becoming a writer!

Paul White – Rushing out a book with over excitement and thinking that was it. You soon learn to take more care, get it edited correctly, re-write and tweak. Over and again if necessary. Doing things right pays dividends in the end.

 

J.B. Taylor – What else are you working on?

Paul White – I have a number of projects. There are three main ones. One of those I need to complete before…two of them I need to complete…in fact all three need to be completed before the others!

But…let me highlight the novel I am working on. It is called ‘Floyd’.

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Floyd is an escaped psychopath, a fugitive out on a mission of vengeance, against all those who were involved in having committed.
It is a thriller/slasher/ blood and gore story, BUT with human and emotional elements woven in between the main events, rather like sutures pulling a wound closed!

 

J.B. Taylor – In a perfect world where you could cast your book for a movie, who would you pick for your main characters?

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Paul White – I would love one of my books to become a movie, or my short stories a TV drama series, what a nice dream.
In that ideal world, I would love to use unknown people, maybe ones who have never acted before. Members of the public like you and I.
Imagine walking up to someone in the street, who catches your eye and asking if they would like the leading role in a new Hollywood or Pinewood movie! Wouldn’t that be fantastic?

 

J.B. Taylor – When you complete a story, do you let it go? Or do you like to stop and think about what your characters might be up to, what they might be doing?

Paul White – I used to just let it go, put it to bed as they say. (Whomever ‘they’ are?)
But now I leave it for a while, weeks, maybe a month or two. Then I return and read the work, making critical notes. That’s when the real nitty-gritty work starts.

 

J.B. Taylor – Are you a panster or an outliner?

Paul White – Oh, most definitely a panster! I write from the heart, from gut feelings with only the roughest skeleton of a premise. The story and the characters evolve with me, sometimes in spite of me, as the book progresses.

It is not until I am half, or more of the way through, do I lay out some formal course to the conclusion and, I only do that, because the second half of a book is far harder to write than the first.

Maybe I should write the end before the start next time around. Do you think that might work?


You can check out Paul’s books HERE

or, if you want to know more about the author, visit his website HERE 

 

 

See you at the top…Looooser!

Here’s the ‘thing’ that’s been buzzing about my mind.

I am not sure how many of you will have had similar thoughts, but in my normal rambling style I shall scribble on, hoping all this will make some sense by the end of the post!

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As we all know, the indie publishing game is a bit of an uphill struggle. We have to compete with the ‘big boys’, the traditional publishers, who themselves are battling to keep up with the changing markets to retain their ‘share’.

We then have Amazon, love it or hate it, you cannot ignore the grip it currently has on the retail marketplace. Not one other online publishing organization has the same muscle or clout as it does. Combine this with the control it exerts over independent authors by way of royalties, market distribution and promotions, it is no wonder most authors struggle to make a decent income via Amazon.

Yes, there is Lulu, Kobo, Smashwords and a plethora of smaller organizations but, as yet, not one has found a formula or format which can challenge either the mainstream publishers and/or the Amazon group of companies. Until then, your books will still ‘have’? to been seen on Amazon webpages to reach a worldwide customer base.

The next challenge we, as indie authors, are faced with is the real downside in, my humblest, opinion. Bad books. By bad books I do not only mean badly written novels in relation to grammar, punctuation and spelling, I include dreadful formatting and ghastly covers too. It is these ‘bad’ books which give rise to unhealthy journalism regarding independent publishing.

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One terrible book is like a dead carcass to hyena; the press pack will tear into the story will zealous abandonment and spread doubt about the validity of small and independent publishing to all our potential readers.

On average I suggest, without reference to statistics, it takes about a year to write a full length novel; say a book of around 80/100K words. That is a lot of investment in one’s time alone, not counting the monetary input for editors, proofreading, formatting, cover design and what-not. Therefore, is it not in our own interest, if not duty, to ensure that we produce the best quality work that we are able to achieve; one that, as a minimum, reaches the quality of the vastly more experienced mainstream publishing houses?

After all, it is they who spend great sums of money on marketing and product research, in their battle to build and keep their own percentage and position in the marketplace. Should we not consider their standards to be the minimum value we seek to achieve with our own works?

Personally I believe they should.

Another moot point to consider, one which I find both amusing and annoying, is that you, yes you are my competition and a fellow author. In that context I find myself claiming as ‘sort-of’ ownership towards you.

You see, I would rather have a reader choose to buy my book rather than yours. Yet I cannot help myself for wanting you to do well too. Okay, in a perfect world the reader would buy both! but we do not live in a perfect world. In that respect one must, to some degree, consider all other authors to be a competitor. In doing so it gives us the incentive to write better, present our books better, make them look better, which is all good, honestly!

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None of the above means we have to be enemies, on the contrary. Those of you who know me know that I do a great deal to help and assist indie authors in every way possible. That is because I believe that the entire indie publishing world benefits, beyond measurement, when we all pull together, when we work as a team against all the outside pressures and conflicts of interest that challenge us.

So yes, I want to win. I would rather sell my book than yours; but we are on the same team and, at the end of the day, what I really want is for ‘our team’ to come out on top. If that means I miss out on the Gold, Silver & Bronze so be it; as long as I have been a valuable member of the winning team and get to hold the trophy high, I will be happy.

See you at the top…..looooser!

A bit about…Designing your Books Cover.

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I shall try to stay away from as many technical words and as much jargon as I can.

Also, as designing a book cover can be an emotive subject, almost as much as writing the content. I shall say that the following are my personal observations and views, they are not a definitive or an absolute. I do not think any opinions regarding forms of art can be so.

Please feel free to comment, add your own insights and feedback regarding this subject.

So, where to start?

For this I shall take a tip from the famous philosopher Winnie the Pooh, who said, “The beginning is a very good place to start!”

Your manuscript is completed, edited, re-written, polished, edited, beta read, proofread, edited, formatted and is now ready to go to print.

You are ecstatic. This is your masterpiece.

Now all you have to do is get people to read it.

To do that you need to sell lots of copies. (Unless you simply want to give it away?)

To sell lots of copies you need to attract people to your book.

To do that you need your masterpiece to stand out from the crowd.

Standing out from the masses of other books means having a great cover.

NOT a good cover, a great one.

That’s it.

Simple…

NO?

You are right.

Creating a great cover is not as simple as it first seems. All those thoughts and ideas in your head need transforming into a visual and onto relatively small area AND you need the title, maybe a sub-title, a sub-heading, or a catch-phrase. Then there is your name, you want that on the cover too, don’t you? Oh, and the back-cover ‘blurb’ you need that…now what about some graphics, images on the rear cover too? Is there enough room for that and the bar code?

That’s a lot to consider.

Yet that is only the most basic ‘stuff’! Colour, Images, illustrations, copyright, text style, point size, trim, bleed…oh, you have not though this far ahead yet?

OK, let’s get basic.

Firstly, you have to get rid of any preconceptions you have. (Not easy).

It is almost impossible to detach yourself from your book, your story, ‘your baby’. But you must if you want a cover which will sell your book.

Nobody but you will ever see, or feel your story as you do. Each reader will have their own personal interpretation.

That is how reading works.

Don’t get caught in the trap of believing otherwise.

Creating a cover is like a black art. It is a totally different skill to writing. Please do not confuse the two.

A book cover’s paramount job is to communicate the book’s content and convey information concerning both what the book is about and what the book is like.

The front and back flaps have something to say and experienced readers may find clues in a summary statement or author’s note. But the text and graphics on the cover deliver the most immediate and indelible impression. A cover’s imagery can establish character, setting, and plot. A cover’s style can suggest tone, mood, and narrative quality. And extraordinary covers employ both elements in synergy.

 

Second step, be sure of your target audience. That is the people who read the same genre as your book. (Known as demographics in the trade!)

You need to ascertain what they look for in a cover, what it is that attracts them to pick up a book, to read the back jacket and ultimately buy.

Big publishing houses spend a fortune on researching this, millions of pounds a year. An amount I doubt you have to spare, even after scrabbling down the back of the sofa.

So use the big publishers as your research, this will only costs you time.

Check out other authors book covers in the same genre, particularly the mainstream published authors. Walk around the store, surf the net. See what the new trends are. Make notes, take photos, make a ‘like’ board.

This is a good starting point.

 

The next step is to decide what you want the cover to ‘say’. I am not talking about the use of words (yet); I am simply speaking of image perception.

Here are a two simple rules:

Don’t Show Too Much of Your Character

It may be tempting to show your book’s main character on the cover, but this usually is not a very good idea. Most readers prefer to use their imagination to depict the story and characters in their own head.

Be Simple, Strong and Symbolic

Refrain from depicting a specific scene on the cover of your book.

It is better to be more symbolic or iconic with your cover design. Try to come up with a simple eye-catching idea that anyone will understand upon first sight. Keep in mind that most people will see your book as a tiny picture on a bookstore website or out the corner of their eye in a bookstore. In either instance, a strong, simple, symbolic cover is much more likely to catch their attention than one that is complicated or cluttered.

 

 The next consideration is the text.

What typestyle (fonts) to use.

Do not use any of the following fonts (anywhere!): Comic Sans or Papyrus. These fonts are only acceptable if you are writing a humor book, or intentionally attempting to create a design that publishing professionals will laugh at.

Please, no font explosions or special styling. Usually a cover should not contain more than 2 fonts. Avoid the temptation to put words in caps, italics caps, outlined caps, etc. Do not be tempted “shape” the type either.

Where to put your Title and Authors name; Top, middle, bottom, vertical, horizontal?

The title should be big and easy to read.

This is more important than ever. (Many people will first encounter your cover on a screen, not on a shelf.)

Do not forget to review a thumbnail image of the cover.

Ask yourself this; Is the cover compelling at a small size? More people are buying books on a Kindle or mobile device, so you want the cover to read clearly no matter where it appears.

You should also anticipate what the cover looks like in grayscale.

 

Now, back to the artwork.

Rule no. 1, Do not use cheap clip art on your cover. I’m talking about the stuff that comes free with Microsoft Word or other cheap layout programs.

Rule no.2, Do not stick an image inside a box on the cover. This is known as the “T-shirt” design. It looks extremely amateurish.

Rule no.3, Avoid gradients. It’s especially game-over if you have a cover with a rainbow gradient.

Rule no.4, Avoid garish color combinations. Sometimes such covers are meant to catch people’s attention. Usually, it just makes your book look freakish!

After all this, if your head is not spinning from the do’s and do not’s I will be surprised. Let me make it simple with a great example of excellent covers.

The bestselling author, Sophie Kinsella’s novels have about everything that is right when considering a book cover.

These romantic comedy covers have not been created by accident. They are specifically designed and crafted via Penguin Random House.

Clearly the target audience is a, young, twenties something, fun, flirty, feminine female.

Best known for her ‘Shopaholic’ series, the main images on these covers are of highly stylized woman, with a clutch of designer carrier bags, against a background suggestive of location.

Here are three examples which follow all the rules (do’s & do not’s).

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These are my suggestions for a great book cover:

Keep it simple.

Avoid clutter.

Only hint at the content.

Go with the latest trends in your genre…OR…

Take a punt at something ‘outside the box’ (but tryto keep within these guidelines).

Below are some covers I love, even my own award winning designs…Oh, didn’t I mention I also design covers for Indie Authors…how remiss of me!

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If you would like to contact me about cover design, please feel free to email me at paulznewpostbox@gmail.com Please put ‘book cover enquiry’ into the subject bar.

Thank you, Paul.