I’ll Be Speaking . . .

I’ve been invited to give a talk on book cover design for the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia on March 2, 2015. I’ve prepared a PowerPoint presentation and have gathered a stack of books with different finishes, papers and bindings to use as examples. I even managed to find a 3d book cover, which was pretty awesome. If anyone has any ideas or suggestions, drop me a line.

Not-So-Christian Publishing Schemes

by Cathi Stevenson There are “creative” ways to get your book on the best sellers’ lists without the bother of having to wait for sales, reviews or even writing a book that’s popular. This is a repetitive scandal that breaks again ever few years or so with different players. I’ve seen it so many times since I started working in the self-publishing industry 15 years ago, that I hardly bat an eye any more. The writers of this article did their due diligence though, and it shows how using these questionable method can backfire. The Huffington Post covered the buying of reviews last year. You can actually get a review on almost anything for $5. Another article about buying reviews ran on The New York Times site back in 2012. Many retailers have made attempts to thwart both practices, but even after exhaustively weeding out the cheaters, it’s only a … . . . Read more

Buzz Around the Web (Part 3)

by Cathi Stevenson Resources Worth Checking Out Here are some resources from other countries, or older resources that still have a lot of valuable insight and information to share. The Guardian (UK news source) has expanded greatly since launching on the Interwebs and they have an entire section dedicated to self-publishing. Many well-researched and interesting articles Dan Poynter is referred to as “the guru of self-publishing.” He was doing it back in the ’70s, before it was cool. He has a newsletter that allows authors to introduce new books, ask for subjects to interview and lots of useful, short articles. Check out ParaPublishing.com If you’re looking for an editor (or any book production professional) who has proven herself, then check out the awesome freelancers at Mediabistro.com. The downsizing of publishing houses can work to your benefit. The brightest and the best are going freelance.

Buzz Around the Web (Part 2)

by Cathi Stevenson When Authors Go Bad Article here about an author behaving badly. Describes how author Kathleen Hale targeted and stalked a reader for giving her a one star review. Yikes!! And double yikes!! to this “humorous” piece Hale herself wrote about killing animals. In case you’re into this sort of thing, here’s another interesting story about an author chasing down a reviewer, with far more serious results. The reviewer claims the author actually attacked her and hit her on the head with a wine bottle. You don’t have to do much to attract this kind of attention it seems. In June, I judged the e-Book Cover Design Awards over at The Book Designer and received a series of very weird e-mails in response to a casual comment I made about a cover. I’ve also been the subject of two blog posts — one about a project I had … . . . Read more

Buzz Around the Web

by Cathi Stevenson Author Websites Heard some great things about a new WordPress theme that’s designed specifically for self-publishing authors. Easy-to-use interface, and book covers above the fold. It’s $35 at Creative Market. It was offered for free for a while, but none of those links appear to be working any more. Publisher Woes Lots of buzz about money troubles at Ellora’s Cave. Writer Beware has the scoop. Hugh C. Howey Taking a Few Hits Howey’s unbending defense of Amazon is irking a few people. Salon writer Rob Spillman is the latest to take a shot at Howey.

Give Your Book Layout the WOW Factor in Two Minutes

by Cathi Stevenson It really is the little things that count. Things that many people might not consciously notice when they’re there, but miss when they’re not there. This is true even when laying out a book. Spacing between lines, words, the type of numbers you choose, the font, drop caps…these are all essential elements that need to be considered if you want a book that is both pleasing to look at and easy to read. Book layout really is an art. That might be hard to believe in this world  of technology, where it’s possible to do such work by merely choosing a few options in some software program. But, if you take just two minutes — literally, to watch this video, you will learn a few things that can take your book layout from boring and amateurish, to sleek and professional. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOruWL2FOCs  

10 Tips for a Professional Book Layout

by Cathi Stevenson A book that has been professionally designed will appear more polished and appealing to potential buyers. These formatting tips are not limited to the front cover of a book. There are many ways to enhance the look and readability of  back cover text and interior layout. 1. Don’t make your line width too long. Many people assume the solution to too much text is to either drop the point size or extend the trim size or margins. This is not the case. No matter how much space you have, no line should exceed about 70 characters. After 70 characters, the reader has to blink and readjust his or her focus, then determine where the next line is and travel back visually to the beginning of the new line. Long lines make this a tiresome, frustrating task. No one will struggle to read your text. 2. Make sure … . . . Read more

The New Old in Cover Design

by Cathi Stevenson Amy Weiss-Meyer posted an interesting blog over at New Republic. In it she discusses the return to the chunky fonts of 1970’s-style book covers and quotes Chip Kidd, who isn’t really thrilled over the new trend. (If you’re new to the biz or have been in a coma for the last few decades, Chip Kidd is the reigning guru of book cover design, creative genius at Alfred A. Knopf, star of information-rich YouTube videos and Ted speaker. If you haven’t seen it, you should check out his Ted talk, it’s pretty funny). I’m not a fan of some of the fonts or layouts, but I have always loved a text-only cover, which many of these are. Regardless of anyone’s likes or dislikes, the trend seems to be gathering momentum. Weiss-Meyer cites several examples, including Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl, but chunky fonts are popping up … . . . Read more

Color Control for Print and Online

by Cathi Stevenson Color is tricky at the best of times. If you want exact color management for your book cover design (such as a particular shade of blue for a university logo), you really should use something called spot color. Spot colors are specially mixed ink colors. Like the paint you purchase for your walls, spot colors, or Pantone Matching System (PMS) colors, are mixed according to pre-determined recipes. Each color in the PMS spectrum has an assigned number. When a client picks a number, the ink is mixed according to that recipe. It’s usually more expensive than process color (4-color) digital printing, which I will explain in a moment. If you are using an offset press though, the fewer colors you have, the lower the cost, so going with spot colors could be beneficial. The most common ink choice would be black and one or two other colors … . . . Read more

Visual Vibration: Lose It

Crazy Woman Drinking Wine

by Cathi Stevenson It has to be discussed…again. Visual vibration. So many independent publishers don’t seem to think it’s an issue and I’d bet my last chocolate-covered almond it’s resulting in lost sales. What is it? Visual vibration is caused when two bright colors are mixed together on a book cover or website or ad and they create an “afterimage” effect. It’s almost as if a dancing halo has been placed around the word or shape, making it nearly impossible to look at the image for any amount of time. It’s painful. It’s the last thing you want happening on your website or your book cover. You can avoid visual vibration by introducing a less vibrant, neutral color to the mix.