DYNAMIC AUTHOR PORTRAITS

Jeanne Burrows-Johnson
Jeanne Burrows-Johnson, author, narrator, inspirational speaker

This year has taken wholly unexpected turns for everyone in our world. For too many, this has greatly impacted professional as well as personal well-being. Despite challenges to health, commerce, and public safety, I believe this period of global transition may prove productive for creative individuals and organizations. The following is the first of several suggestions for maximizing this unsought opportunity for enhancing our daily living ,as well as our event planning.

MAXIMIZING OUR RE-EMERGENCE
Let’s begin today’s conversation by considering how the global environment has benefited from the absence of traffic on the road and the re-modelling of some segments of manufacturing. None of us can predict how this may influence decisions that global leaders will make, but we can endeavor to see that our own work reflects progress on many fronts. Like a butterfly emerging from a caterpillar’s cocoon, each of us can come out from this challenging period of global blight with a re-orientation of our lives. From our personal appearance to that of the products and services we offer our multi-cultural world, we can magnify a new dynamism that will benefit more than our individual avenues of activity.

THE AUTHOR’S VISUAL PRESENTATION
Regardless of changes that may occur in the evolving retail marketplace, it’s likely that my books will continue to be sold—at least via the Internet. Fortunately, this ensures the longevity of my visibility. Therefore, it behooves me to ensure that the images I project reflect my inner self, which I have endeavored to embed in my writing. Most of us have heard the adage that an author or artist, should create works that reflect personal knowledge and experience. I have always strived to do this despite a narrowing path of the latter days of my life. Hopefully, the breadth of my creations will continue to demonstrate both my personal and professional growth.

DYNAMIC IMAGES FOR AUTHORS
There are many ways in which our images are utilized for branding and promotion. These can include business cards and brochures, websites, blogs, and interviews with the media, as well as the book jackets and bookmarks used by those of us who are authors. Sometimes pictures taken during events offer an active view of projects in which we are currently or previously involved. But given the casualness with which such pictures are taken, it is often more effective to use studio produced images that can be shaped and re-shaped to ensure the impact one desires for multiple purposes.

IMAGES FROM THE PAST
The first photo in the above pair was taken during a public speaking event at a service club’s meeting. As you can see, there are extraneous items surrounding me. So while this picture is ideal for discussing the purpose and content of that particular talk, utilization of this picture for other purposes required the adjustments that I made in the edit shown below.

MY AUTHOR PORTRAIT
As noted in my blog of March 2020, I initially viewed this year as an ideal time to introduce a fresh look in my marketing materials. In contrast, since my personal appearance has not changed greatly, I chose to retain the professional photograph shot during the publication of Prospect for Murder. A few refinements were required to render that image effective. You see, my preferred photos were taken at the end of the shoot in a space whose air was treated by evaporative cooling rather than air conditioning. The result was that my hair was somewhat flat. Fortunately, I have a friend who copied, pasted, and tweaked my hair.

Other aspects of arranging my portrait included an elegant jacket and necklace, books to my side and a colorful Asian fabric as a backdrop. These choices combine to project an intriguing representation of the trio of Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mysteries which feature many pan-Pacific components. The one new element in my self-introduction is presenting my picture in a circle…I wonder if I could substitute the spines of my own books for the classic volumes beside me?

In considering images you will want to use, remember that your goal is to acquire a rich palette of images of yourself and your work. To achieve this, I suggest that you examine the many individual and group photos you may have already–in both hardcopy and electronic files. Even those from your youth may prove useful in discussing your personal and/or professional journey through life. And for each one, be prepared to shape multiple images that will prove effective for varying purposes.

Wishing you the best in your creative endeavors,
Jeanne Burrows-Johnson, author, design consultant, and motivational speaker

~ Another blog you may find of use for promoting creative projects is at https://blog.jeanneburrows-johnson.com/2017/01/book-promotion-and-evolving-art/

To view samples and reviews of my work [including Murders of Conveyance and the other Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mysteries] please drop in at my author’s website JeanneBurrows-Johnson.com. You’ll even find Island Recipes that might inspire your own creativity!

For more ideas to strengthen your Wordpower© and branding, please visit my marketing tip website: ImaginingsWordpower.com

FYI CAROL BLONDER, the lively host of NETWORKING ARIZONA interviewed me earlier this year. CLICK BELOW to catch the podcast. To learn more about Carol’s continuing connections with Arizona business professionals, visit her website https://networkingarizona.net/.

FOLLOW ME ON:
~ Facebook
~ Amazon

~ Apple Books
~ Audible
~ Authors Den
~ Barnes and Noble
~ Blogarama
~ Book Bub
~ Cozy Mysteries-Unlimited
~ Good Reads
~ Hometown Reads
~ Midpoint
~ Smashwords

EVENT DISPLAYS

This year has begun with new technical and artistic challenges…ranging from that computer I mentioned in my last post to creating visual elements for events. My latest project is refining my displays for book fairs and other opportunities to visit with current and prospective readers. This has led to revisiting several artistic standards. One would think these issues had been solved at the onset of my event planning long ago…

WHERE TO BEGIN
 Images of the Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mysteries are my starting point for most visual projects these days. Even when I’ m introducing other projects, the center of my public interaction is this series.

EVENT DISPLAY ISSUES
Most of the events in which I participate feature displays on at least one half of a rectangular luncheon size table, approximately six to eight feet in length and two feet in width. In the past, that has meant utilizing small posters, about 11 x 17 inches presented on tri-legged frames of wood, metal, and/or acrylic. These images have centered on a single book or project, which has meant an ever-growing number of items over the last few years. Even when I diligently refresh my tablescape during an event, by the end of a day there has been an accumulation of clutter.

With the current trio of titles within my mysteries, I decided that 2020 would be the year to introduce a fresh look. One that could be maintained easily throughout a day I have the opportunity to greet current and potential readers—or even organizations that might like me to present a motivational talk or seminar. With increasing emphasis on personal marketing, this seems especially prudent!

I began this undertaking by examining the books and other materials I want to present, as well as the decorative touches that visually present the Hawaiian Islands. The books themselves are offered in both hardcover and softcover editions. Accompanying signage is needed to highlight eBook and audible editions that are available at various online and brick-and-mortar locations.

FINDING DISPLAY MATERIALS
A visit to a local store fixture outlet fulfilled several of my desires.

~ Acrylic stands for over-sized postcards, bookmarks, and business cards

~ Clear plastic sales bags that display my book covers

~ Colorful bags for customers wishing to present gifts

~ A three-tier acrylic stand to hold three or more books per shelf

This last item is proving especially useful. While I am concerned about the stand’s fragile material, I find it preferable to the heavy weight of metal and wood alternatives I have been using. Properly wrapped, the stand will be easily transported to distant locales, such as the Hawai`i Book and Music Festival. Best of all, regardless of the surface on which the stand sits, my award-winning book covers shines brightly upon it!

SIGNAGE
I found myself staring at signs in every direction of the showroom. From the front door to the walls and counters, display cases and bins, text and images alerted me to the joys of an array of “toys” for introducing my products…and myself. Hmm. In the past I’ve simply enlarged book covers, matted them on gold cardstock, and laminated them.

But this is 2020. Something sturdier and more elegant is desirable. With a trio of primary products, a triangle seemed most appropriate for the 18×24 poster I was planning. My next question was sequencing. Should I place the books in chronological order? Or, should I emphasize the last publication.  Because that book, Murders of Conveyance, recently won First Place of Fiction Adventure-Drama in the 2019 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards, I opted for the latter option.

Murders of Conveyance

FINALIZING THE POSTERS
Now we turn to the details that took several days to finalize. I considered colors and textures for a background. Eventually, I realized that the jewel tones of my book jackets scream out for the classic jewelry store option of simple black. The issue of fonts also arose. In short order, my wonderful artist, Yasamine June, sent me the necessary information to present promo text in the same font as that on the book jackets.

Initially, I was delighted with my creation. The image of each book sat on a black background with harmonizing text in gold. But somehow the overall image was incomplete. Then, as I stared at each volume in the series, I experienced an ah-ha moment. What was missing was the lovely gold framing I had had Yasamine design for me. It is based on Hawaiian heirloom jewelry, and features a hibiscus flower in each corner!

After a wonderful feeling of accomplishment, I remembered there might be events for which a larger poster [22×36 inches] might be appropriate. So, I increased the size of my images and text and added book reviews!   

INTRODUCING MY NEW DISPLAY
On March  14-15, 2020, I had planned to unveil my new look at the Tucson Sisters in Crime Booth at the Tucson Festival of Books. I envisioned the larger poster mounted on a grid at the back of the tent, with the smaller one being positioned on the top tier of my acrylic stand, with the series’ books framing it. I would complete the new tablescape with a few battery-operated lights, shell leis, and a gold palm tree! Unfortunately, due to the cancellation by leading authors facing travel challenges caused by the Coronavirus, the Festival was cancelled…

Fortunately, on Sunday, March 22, I’ll be introducing myself at a Meet & Greet at the front of the Tucson East-side Barnes & Noble Store [5130 E. Broadway Boulevard] from Noon – 4:00 p.m., WHICH SHOULD BE RELATIVELY SAFE, AS IT’S NEAR FRESH AIR. I’d love to meet you if you’re in the area…otherwise you will find pictures on my Facebook personal and professional pages, as well as my next blog…

FYI CAROL BLONDER, the lively host of NETWORKING ARIZONA recently interviewed me.  CLICK HERE to catch the podcast on the KFNX 1100 website…or below to hear it directly. To learn more about Carol’s continuing connections with Arizona business professionals, visit her website https://networkingarizona.net/.

Interview with Carol Blonder of Networking Arizona, March 6, 2020

Wishing you the best in your creative endeavors,
Jeanne Burrows-Johnson
author, design consultant, and motivational speaker

~ For other tips on branding elements, you might want to check out some of the items mentioned in this blog on book promotion and evolving art.

To learn samples and reviews of my work [including Murders of Conveyance and the other Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mysteries] please drop in at my author’s website JeanneBurrows-Johnson.com. You’ll even find Island Recipes that might inspire your own creativity!

 For more ideas to strengthen your Wordpower© and branding, please visit my marketing tip website: ImaginingsWordpower.com

FOLLOW ME ON:
~ Facebook
~ Amazon

~ Apple Books
~ Audible
~ Authors Den
~ Barnes and Noble
~ Blogarama
~ Book Bub
~ Cozy Mysteries-Unlimited
~ Good Reads
~ Hometown Reads
~ Midpoint
~ Smashwords

SUCCESSFUL COVER ART

Successful cover art is the product of teamwork. In November 2018, Murder on Mokulua Drive [the second Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian mystery] won several awards. Notably, it won Second Place for Published Fiction in the 2018 Arizona Literary Excellence Contest. This was due in large part to the superb editing of Viki Gillespie, who has helped to refine each of the books in the series. Like Prospect for Murder, MOMD also won First Place for Cover Art Design in the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards, where it was also a Finalist in the Cozy Mystery Category.

 Let’s examine how the winning cover art for this series has been achieved.

TEAMWORK
Regardless of what you do in life, one of the major keys to your success is teamwork. Even when you are the primary producer of a product, you will be relying on the merchandise, talents, and skills of others. If you are an artist, you utilize a variety of products to create your art, and usually employ a framer to present your finished work to the world. Authors, whether self-published or working with a publisher, are likewise dependent on the output of others to finalize their creations. First, capturing their thoughts depends on a variety of manual and electronic tools. Succinct editing services are also required. Then there is the issue of layout, fortunately provided to me (along with overall publishing skills) by Geoff Habiger of Artemesia Publishing. Of course, he cannot complete his work without the final art designs brought to fruition by fine and graphic artist Yasamine June.

MY APPROACH TO ARTISTIC PROJECTS
While I possess some skill as a design consultant and can produce certain graphic art elements for marketing materials and my websites, I lack the tactile skills to produce truly refined artistic images. So where do I begin art projects? First there is the overall concept, generally driven by text I have already composed. For a book cover, the first consideration is determining the images that will evoke the essence of the story I need to highlight.

Fortunately, when I began writing the series, I composed timelines, chapter synopses, and descriptions of settings and characters. Even a cursory review of these elements reveals a list of those that may be appropriate to a book cover and supportive marketing materials. While some authors create new art for each of their works, I chose to present certain images with consistency including Miss Una, Natalie’s silent but fleet-footed feline companion and images like palm trees and ocean waters reflecting Hawai`i. In addition, I have conceived a recurring gold frame based on Hawaiian heirloom jewelry. I also utilize pagination folio art that I designed, and a gold hibiscus flower that Yasamine has refined. At the point that I have a list of elements that might be good for book jacket art, I begin roughing out a tentative layout in a graphic art software program.

ARTISTIC DEVELOPMENT
As I examine my list of suitable artistic elements, I manually draw a few pictures that fit the requisite portrait layout of a book cover—knowing that the final product can easily be converted to a square layout for an audio book. So where did the award-winning cover of Murder on Mokulua Drive begin?

First of all, Natalie’s life has shifted from a high rise in Waikīkī to a cottage in the beach community of Lanikai on the windward side of the island of O`ahu. Next was consideration of the fact that the murder in this story occurs at night. What does this add up to? A nighttime beach scene which includes the Mokulua islets, the moon, a palm tree, footprints in the sand, and Miss Una. Additionally, although I will not be completing the design, I try to allow space for the insertion of Titling in my signature Peignot font so that there will be no overlapping of images and text. Here is the initial layout I sent to Yasamine.

How did Yasamine’s magic polish this concept?

Since this is the second book in the NS mysteries, I had been through the publishing process for the series once. Additionally, I was able to draw on my experience as art director for the well-received multi-author anthology, Under Sonoran Skies, Prose and Poetry of the High Desert. For that project, I featured a picture I shot of the desert at sunset from my back lānai.

Whatever your artistic needs may be, I urge you to be involved in the process, even if you are unable to finalize the images yourself. The input you provide to a professional artist will ensure a product that reflects your own work and the goals you may be setting for future projects…Here’s a look at the before and after images for Murders of Conveyance!

As noted, the award winning book covers for the Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mysteries [as well as that for the forthcoming Conversations with Auntie Carol] were designed by Yasamine June. Her many talents include: Creative Direction; Fine art; Graphic Design; Illustration; Photography; Typography; and Videography. You can learn more about her at YasamineJune.com/about.

Wishing you the best in your creative endeavors,
Jeanne Burrows-Johnson

author, narrator, design consultant, motivational speaker

Discussion of art is available at the following blogs:
Authors Design Dilemmas 1, April 2015
Confronted by a Fantasia of Fonts, May 2015
Rainbows of Color, May 2015
Winning Logos & Slogans, October 2015
Quality Book Production, February 2016
Harmonizing Branding Elements, August 2016
Book Promotion and Evolving Art, January 2017
Balancing Text and Space, February 2018
Successful Cover Art, December 2018

To learn more about the Natalie Seachrist Mysteries, including Murders of Conveyance [Winner, Fiction Adventure-Drama, 2019 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards], Island recipes and other projects, please visit my author website at JeanneBurrows-Johnson.com.

For more ideas to strengthen your Wordpower© and branding, please visit: Https://www.ImaginingsWordpower.com.

FOLLOW ME:
Facebook
Amazon

Apple Books
Audible
Authors Den
Barnes and Noble
Blogarama
Book Bub
Cozy Mysteries-Unlimited
Good Reads
Hometown Reads
Midpoint
Smashwords