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

BOOK PROMOTION AND EVOLVING ART

The award winning first Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mystery

 As I examine the months since the launch of Prospect For Murder [the first book in the Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian mystery series], I realize I have not posted a blog regarding the never-ending art and science of writing for a long time.  I’ve started several, but details of the publishing and promotional processes have interfered with my sharing new author strategiesSince addressing the topic of my artistic vision for the book layout for Prospect For Murder in a previous blog, it has been released in hardcover, downloadable audio and ebook formats, and a 9-CD as well as downloadable audio book. Preparing for the promotion of each version has required re-examination of artwork and descriptive text, as each format varies in size and may appeal to a different target market

successful advertising and branding
Evolving Art and Text That Unifies Book Branding

Authors may separate their work into categories of writing, publishing, and marketing, but each of these activities should unite under a shared roof of unified branding.  And while today’s book marketplace includes many self-publishing authors choosing to offer downloadable rather than printed books, such works must still be accompanied by attractive art and typography to maximize their appeal to the sensory experience of potential readers.

There are many ways to make the appearance of a book pop within the massive listings of any genre.  As mentioned in my discussion of art for PFM, I have chosen to use an Island-themed gold frame based on Hawaiian heirloom gold jewelry to distinguish my book and the promotional materials with which I market it.  

Hardcover, Downloadable E & Audio Books, and CD Audio Book Art

Hardcover Books
Book jacket art
for the hardcover edition of PFM was the first design project I undertook.  After the evocative gold frame was completed, I realized it could be utilized for the entire mystery series.  And, with changes in the metallic color, it will be ideal for other book projects as well. Below is the first version of the book jacket, which was clearly too dark!

Prospect for Murder...in written and audio editions...the first Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mystery

9-CD Audio Book Albums

After I completed recording the 9-CD audio book, it was time to modify the book jacket art.  For the CD albums, my job was to shorten text describing the book and me, as well as the snippets of reviews.  My artist and typographer Yasamine June [you can view samples of her work at www.yasaminejune.com] then adjusted the size and proportion of her original artwork and dropped in my edits.

Downloadable Ebook and Audio Editions
The next task was designing website icons for sites offering the downloadable audio and ebook editions.  Our goal was to enhance a visitor’s recognition of the products being offered.  Therefore we created a conjoined image of the hardcover book jacket and a square edit resembling a CD case.  Wherever possible, this paired image is used to signify that Prospect For Murder is available in multiple formats.

Designing Promotional Materials & Your Author Website

The art of communication is one of the most vital skills a professional in any field can develop to help them in achieving goals and objectives in both their public and private living.  The following tools can be refined to maximize messages to colleagues, friends and the general public.

Artwork
I use the iconic paired image of the print and audio editions of PFM as artwork for both printed promotional materials and my author website.  Without intention, the colors for Prospect For Murder and Imaginings Wordpower were nearly the same, which has greatly simplified my choice in color palette. I am still contemplating where and how I will utilize the gold frame.

Titling
I have used the Peignot font for my promotional business, Imaginings Wordpower [www.ImaginingsWordpower.com] for many years.  Therefore, I chose to use it for the titling of book jackets, my author website, and all promotional materials for the Natalie Seachrist series.  This decision is especially appropriate since many of the historical details used in the series predate World War II.  The Peignot font is an art déco [or style moderne dating from the 1920s], sans-serif display typeface designed by A. M. Cassandre in 1937 for the Deberny & Peignot Foundry in France.  While this font is too stylized for lengthy text, it makes a viable statement for titling and headings.

Author Business Card
Unexpectedly, I discovered that the standard size of a business card and the dark haunting color of the hardcover and audio book art was not suitable to my new double-sided author business card.  To resolve these problems, I created a new image.  I did this by overlapping the frame of the hardcover edition with that of the downloadable audio edition.   In the lower right-hand corner, I inserted the gold hibiscus found in the corners of the frames.  This has proven effective, since the image is always accompanied by text providing my name and the title of the book.

Author Stationery and Forms
With use of the paired image of the print and audio books, plus the Peignot font, there were few decisions to make in creating my author letterhead stationery.  For most purposes, I place the iconic art image in the top left hand corner of the page and all contact information centered at the bottom.  This layout works for both letters and business forms [such as invoices]. 

Communicating Through Emails
Every piece of communication you generate is a marketing opportunity.  And while you may not use an outgoing email layout paralleling your letterhead stationery, you can strategically position artwork, logos, and other information to draw the recipient’s eye.  I put the paired book image and purchasing information in the top left-hand corner of each outgoing email.  For the signature section for all outgoing emails, I have added a link to my author website [www.JeanneBurrows-Johnson.com] my Imaginings Wordpower website [www.ImaginingsWordpower.com] and this blog [www.Blog.JeanneBurrows-Johnson.com].

Logo Notecards
For many years I’ve used what I call logo notecards to extend invitations, express gratitude, and confirm appointments.  For both portrait and landscape layouts, I place a logo in one quadrant of an 8.5 x 11 inch layout, with text positioned diagonally and upside down from the artwork.  The printed result is a sheet of paper that can be folded into a 5.5 x 4.5 notecard that will fit an invitation-sized envelope. 

Postcards
After discovering that postage was the same for a couple of sizes of postcards, I chose a dimension of 8.5 x 5 inches for my author’s promotional postcard.  Beyond displaying recognizable book cover art, this ensures sufficient space for a synopsis and book reviews, plus purchasing options.  The art and descriptive text pop against a simple white background, with a high gloss finish on the front side for durability and flat finish on the back, which facilitates use of a pen for personal messages. 

Sadly, I discovered a typo after receiving an initial order of the postcards.  And having continued to receive positive reviews, I realized I should have printed a small number of the cards initially, to allow for subsequent corrections and additions.  As my publisher has declined to reprint book jackets with the latest reviews, I’m glad my second run of postcards allows me to send out books as samples, or for review or sale with up-to-date information.

Other Promotional Considerations

Websites Displaying Prospect For Murder
As the release date for PFM neared, the number of websites featuring the book increased.  Unfortunately, some had received galleys displaying artwork devised as a placeholder for the book jacket art that was to come.  Without proper notification, these sites would continue to display the galley image as being representative of the published book.  Therefore, I suggest that authors releasing books through publishers or on their own, remain vigilant in cruising the Internet to ensure that the words and images describing them, as well as their work appear as they intend!

In addition, authors need to be aware that many popular websites selling and promoting books do NOT offer an easy means for having books reviewed or even displayed in categorical listings.  Most of the time, an author’s work is only visible if the visitor to a site knows the author’s name or book title.  I strive to see Prospect For Murder displayed under the following categories for each of its several editions:  Hawai`i; Hawaiian mysteries; cozy mysteries; cat mysteries; female authors; female detectives; female sleuths. If you have any tips to help me with this situation, please drop me a note through the contact form on one of my websites…

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

Further 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

WINNING LOGOS & SLOGANS…

…For authors and artists as well as corporations!

What are the elements of your brand?

Design Dilemmas for Authors

While logos and slogans are usually associated with corporations, they can facilitate communication with the public and be key branding elements for any business endeavor, regardless of size or tax status.  And, yes, that includes professional writers wishing to facilitate communication with their readers, listeners, and/or viewers.  The memorable branding messages of successful authors echo the rich palette of words and images used by Fortune 500 companies! 

What comes to your mind when you think of a successful logo or slogan?  Perhaps the first is the iconic image of a cola company that has been in business for over one hundred and twenty-five years.  There have been many artists who have brought their own creative process to the company.  But while its logo has changed in minor ways, the bright color palette, signature font, and swirls of one type or another have remained ever present.  

In contrast, its slogans and other commercial text for their signature product have been altered periodically.   This is not surprising since marketing styles and considerable linguistic evolution have occurred within the same decades.  But with each change, the artistic vision of the company has been consistent—to provide a pleasurable sensory experience to the product’s target market.
Formatting Tips
In addition to any artistic icon, the color choice and fonts utilized in shaping the outward image of a viable brand must be memorable. They must also be appropriate to the product or service, as well as the demographics of the target market.  However, since a business can select a specific slice of their market to target, the style of two businesses within a particular industry can vary considerably.

Consider snack foods intended for children.  Generally, bright, happy colors, images, and simple easy-to-read—or even cartoonish—text fonts are appealing to that market.  But when the ingredients are organic, the use of colors associated with nature is the norm.  In addition, with growing concerns for the environment, recycled and/or recyclable packaging is becoming preferable…at least to parents.

When you know the demographics of your target market, your first decision in establishing your brand may be deciding whether to use your personal or business name without an accompanying image. This may be appropriate if your name distinguishes your business from others that offer parallel products and/or services.  However, the use of an artistic design element not only clarifies what you do, but demonstrates the style in which you operate.  Thus, a black, profiled outline of a woman with luxurious hair, standing in high heels against a deep plum color may convey an ideal image for an upscale salon or spa.  If the figure of a man in a tuxedo were added, an iconic image for a ballroom dancing studio would emerge.

Let’s now consider how we might design a logo for a company we’ll call Inner City Painting.  Beyond the simple use of text, one could use an upturned paint brush with a splash of paint for each of the i’s in the text.  At the next level of complexity, a simple line drawing of a home or a string of commercial buildings could declare the firm’s niche market. 

Aside from clean, non-seraphed text, three primary colors might convey a no-frills provider of basic painting services.  Conversely, sweeping art strokes, an elegant font, and an exotic color palette would suggest a more artistic enterprise.  [See DESIGN DILEMMAS FOR AUTHORS, Part 3:  COLOR, May 30, 2015, regarding the use of standardized colors to ensure uniform coloration in both print and electronic publishing.]

Several years ago, I was working with a local printer whose family had been in the industry in a large city for several decades.  Although the familial entity no longer existed, the branding artwork remained.  It depicted a happy cartoon character inviting the public through their doors.  The style of the figure, his attire and shoes all pointed to another era, but the idea of a friendly chap greeting customers was still a viable concept—especially in this age of impersonal mega-corporations.  With the help of a graphic artist, the image of your friendly neighborhood printer was updated and served to introduce the firm to a new generation of clients seeking full-service printing design and production.

Equally important to an effective branding program is the choice of a slogan, for both individuals and organizations.  Notice that I am using the single noun, S L O G A N.  Too often I find promotional decision makers attracted to complex images and multiple descriptive phrases.  This simply muddies the waters and presents a jumbled NON-MEMORABLE image to the public.

Consider artist John Smith.  He might present himself as:  John James Smith, portraitist.  In this case, his middle name separates the artist from other men named John Smith and the word portraitist specifies his specialty.  Additional, qualifying words and phrases can offer further information that will attract appropriate clients to him.  The following is a simple representation of Mr. Smith and his classic painting:

Portraits in Oil Offered by
John James Smith, M.F.A.

Another issue to consider in textual aspects of branding is punctuation.  Instead of shifting font or using italics, some promotional decision makers complicate a design by ending slogans with punctuation.   I suggest saving punctuation for actual sentences and paragraphs of descriptive text.  I find that the shortest path to memorability lies in simplifying your words and design elements.  

One way to ensure simplicity is by working with branding elements in the sizes you are most likely to see in print.  That means that although your graphic artist may be thrilled to present you with an 8.5 x 11 inch design, have them offer you samples in the sizes of dimes, nickels, quarters and silver dollars.  When you do this, you will quickly see that extraneous strokes and other details are lost in such dimensions and can even prove distracting to the message you are trying to convey with a business card or advertisement.  The size of fonts used for your name and any slogan will naturally have to be proportional to the size of the icon being presented.

With the publication of Prospect For Murder, the first Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mystery set in Honolulu, I have been sorting through old files.  In examining the progression of my own branding, I see that for over a decade, I simply used my name and a few bulleted words to describe my work.  In 1995, I launched use of the word Imaginings in my business name while completing edits for an article I co-authored for Broker World Magazine.  Since I was moving from Honolulu to Tucson, it was part of an authoring strategy for introducing myself to a new locale for my physical business, as well as potential regional, national or even international audiences.  [You might find it interesting to note that at that time I was sometimes told that there was no such word as imaginings.]

Through the years, I have offered clients several products and services to enhance their physical environs, as well as their promotional representations.  While previously using merely a textual presentation of myself, a couple of years ago I decided to design an iconic image that would represent several elements of my career:  Commercial writing, design consultation, and floral art.  I knew that utilizing a pen would clearly represent the largest area of my work.  As I sometimes provided faux painting of accent walls to commercial clients, it seemed natural to also include an artist’s brush.  Finally, as I have offered floral designs to both friends and clients, some form of floral image was indicated. 

What are the elements of your brand!

This icon has evolved over time is used in myriad ways.  Some variations have been necessitated by hardcopy printing vs. electronic presentations:  Boldness and detail; portrait and landscape formats; framed and unframed; isolated or with text.  Despite these differences, the use of gold, blue and plum colors have been consistent and the icon is becoming recognized.

With my writing shifting from commercial writing to fiction, my personal name may become more recognizable.  Nevertheless, I like the elements of this image that sums up my work to date.  However, I think it’s time for the hand of a graphics professional to finalize my signature icon, so that I can empower my image as well as my words as an author.

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

For further tips on branding, please visit my marketing website:
Imaginings Wordpower and Design Consultation.

To learn more about the Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian 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.

FOLLOW ME:
Facebook
Amazon

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

Tips From a Newbie Blogger

Is your pen always at the ready?What can a newbie blogger tell you? Are you expanding your practice of the Art & Science of Writing?Perhaps you’re thinking of beginning your own blog.  Recently I’ve received requests for tips on setting up a blog.  Before launching into how I’ve created and maintain this site, I must clarify that I’m not a techie and do not possess the mental acumen to write the code required to build any website from scratch.

If you are a professional writer, having a blog can be a key feature of your authoring strategies Regardless of whether you are an author, you may be thinking your greatest concern is what you’ll write about.  I suggest that if you feel the need to have a blog, the contents of it are already floating in your mind.  The quality of your output will, of course, depend on your skill set.

Setting up a blog demands many things beyond the writing of text.  Therefore, today I’ll focus on the mechanics of creating a blog. The first and recurring requirement for doing this is having the patience to accomplish the task.  Next on my list of requirements, is my favorite pairing of ingredients in most things I do:  Art and Science.  I place the issue of art at the fore, because without an artist’s inspiration, you’re less likely to create an appealing space that will capture and keep your readers’ attentionPlease note that I’m not suggesting that all of us are worthy of assuming the title of artist.  However, we can reach for the artist’s balance of mind and spirit in exploring color, shape, and overall composition—regardless of the style in which we create our memorable statements.

As to the element of science, whether or not you are a techie, there are sources to help you determine the appropriate building blocks for bringing your vision to fruition.  Your research can begin with querying your favorite search engines This will provide the technical terminology you need to be able to ask intelligent questions during online searches and efficient analysis of tech manuals.

Even if you decide you’re not qualified to build a blog site, this preparation will help you communicate effectively with specialists in building websites.  For by the time you’re ready to launch the building of a blog, you should have established a connection with a reliable techie or tech support company—online, if not in person.

Parallel to my June 2015 blog on Media Relations, I suggest you make the most of every contact you can develop.  How do you go about making friends with techies?  If you are able to move from online communication to meeting in person, take a page from your personal life.  Coffee, lunch, or drinks (not necessarily alcoholic) moves you into a social atmosphere in which you can explore commonalities and a potential working relationship with the person.  Regardless of how you connect, when it’s time to formalize a professional relationship, be specific about your needs and desires Ask the individual or company to clarify the services they will be performing for you and the fees you will pay.  Depending on the parameters of the work involved, a contract may be called for.  If that is so, you may want to consult colleagues as well as an attorney prior to signing a contract or making any payment.

 Personally, although I’ve designed my own websites several times, I am now using website and blog templates provided by the company that hosts my online presence.  Regardless of the tools used, the design of a website or blog is a major commitment of energy and time.  This is especially true since search engines now expect a level of optimization that meets the standards of the latest electronic devices—and those standards never stop changing.  Fortunately, an international company providing templates should ensure that the products they offer their clients are state of the art.  They may also help you with a program of search engine optimization.

Before you feel I have failed to help you in your hour of need, let me tell you how I’ve modified the template for this blog.  Fortunately the templates provided by such a company usually offer varied features and levels of adaptability.  There are some limitations I’ve had to accept, since I chose to accept the parameters of a free template.  For example, while current posts offer my bio at the bottom, it does not appear in posts that have been archived.  Also, without utilizing an add-on menu, I cannot customize items in the contents list to the left of the page—nor can I modify their appearance.  And, although I’ve can choose the text colors of my posts, I am unable to do so for their titles.

Design features in the blog were drawn from my website. Harmonious in appearance, both feature:

My artwork includes a banner with my logo at the top of each page
~  Ivory colored backgrounds
~  Dark blue and plum colored fonts
Favicons with my logo to the left of the URLs

Color is a very important element in any visual project While there are many blues and golds to choose from, I selected colors for my logo that print well in gray scale.  The blue is deep enough to print as nearly black when printed in gray scale.  Conversely, the gold I work with is light enough that it prints as a light gray, allowing the lettering in the blue to be readable.  I should point out that the colors I tend to use are close to, but not exactly web safe colors.  This means that I provide subtleties that most visitors to my website or blog will view; but should a visitor’s monitor and software limit the range of visible colors, their default settings will be close to my design.

The operation and maintenance for a website or blog may rest on trial and error…at least initially.  When I first uploaded posts, I was not aware of choices I could make in visibility.  There were also instances where I failed to notice a typo or changed my mind about the wording of a section of text.  Eventually I recognized the value of choosing the preview option after inputting text.  This allows you to make sure that both the content and its appearance are pleasing.  As a final test, I read the text out loud, prior to hitting the publish button.

Determining the topics I explore in posts is purely personal and often a spur-of-the-moment decision In my weekly authors’ salon, areas of concern and new discoveries arise as we share materials we are reading and writing.  My commentary is also motivated by edits of text that reveal recurring flaws in my own work.  This particular post is in response to repeated questions from readers of this blog and visitors to my website.

When launching this blog, I was reviewing the first three books in a trilogy of murder mysteries set in Honolulu, where I lived for over two decades.  With the launch of Prospect For Murder, I am moving forward with seeking publication of the next two books in the Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mystery Series.  I’m sure that my personal issues with writing and editing will continue to encourage me to examine questions of authorship that may be occurring in your own work.

Finally, I want to thank a couple of readers who sent suggestions for improving the coding used within this blog, and for heightening its search engine optimization.  I’m just beginning to act upon your welcome response by changing the formatting of images from JPEGs or GIFS to PNGs…

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

To learn more about the Conversations with Auntie Carol, 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

Author Design Dilemmas 3, Color



What visions dance in your dreams?Inspiring Rainbows of Color

How many colors are in the rainbows you paint? There are many perspectives on the use of color in the art and science of writing.  But even if I were an expert, this short space wouldn’t allow a comprehensive discussion of color theory [the traditional theory for mixing three primary colors to derive all other colors] or colorimetry [analysis of human color perception]. 

Variables in Color PerceptionMost people can see three distinct ranges of color.  Due to genetics, some women [called tetrachromats] are able to see four ranges of color.   Sometimes a temporary inability to see some or all color is caused by illness, allergies, medication, or hormone replacement therapy.  Even sufferers of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] may notice a decrease in perception of color.  And, did you know that one out of twelve men and one out of two hundred women have color vision deficiencies? 

Choosing Color Palettes For Artwork to Accompany Text.   As discussed in my blog on engaging a reader’s senses, I believe that analysis of one’s genre provides the answer to many publishing questions and can help solidify authoring strategies.  Empowering your words as an author can take many forms.  One author I know brings a minimalist approach to her creative process in selecting art for a children’s book.  She believes that faint sketches without full form, shape, or color will encourage children listening to or reading her prose to bring images from their own minds to their reading experienceThis minimalist approach may be ideal for poetry and historical fiction.  However, it would be at odds with the hard-nosed writer’s voice usually employed in a police procedural and would lack clarity for many non-fiction projects.
Art and Science of Writing
While minimalism is a specific art movement, the term may be used generically to describe the overall expression of modern art in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  Beyond an escape from classic realism, modern art focuses on the artist’s desire to interact with the minds and life experiences of his or her audience members.

Consider More Than Personal Preferences When Selecting Color.  If you are new to wordsmithing, you may not be thinking about branding But you might want to consider establishing the foundations of the brand for which your writing will be noted someday.  And just as an effective editorial process dictates that writers carefully select modifiers to create a scene rich in sensory images, a distinctive color palette can be one element in a design aesthetic that harmonizes with and even intensifies the impact of text.
Writers’ Guidelines
Beyond technical research you conduct regarding coloration, there are several issues to consider.  Does the style of your writing reflect your taste in art?  Do you like the detail of classism or the sharp clean lines of modern art?  Are you drawn to bright primary colors or muted subtle tones?  Do the peach and aqua tones of a sunset in the Southwest reflect your taste and your work? 

Regional Coloration Differences in regional color can be indicated by the dialect[s] of your characters, as well as the scenes you describe.  Growing up in Oregon, I was accustomed to the dark green of Douglas fir trees and the mosses that grow on them.  The palm trees in Hawai`i are pale in comparison.  In Arizona the array of green is mixed, depending on topography, season and the amount of rainfall.  So which green would be most appropriate to your project?

The Juncture Of Style And Color.   In children’s books, hard-edged cartoon-like solid color images (like those a child might create) may be ideal.  But regardless of the style of art you select, the bright saturated colors associated with modern art are popular with and stimulating for young children.  Conversely, the sometimes dark tones of animè lend a sophisticated note to projects for both adults and older children.  For most genres, classic realism is appropriate.  To present images realistically, considerable detail and subtleties of color are usually required.

Articulating Your Artistic Vision is vital.  Since it is unlikely that you will be the artist shaping the images that will highlight your writing, you must be able to describe your desires to whoever is in charge of publication.  I suggest writing a paragraph outlining the specific elements you are seeking.  As with a journalistic endeavor, an inverted pyramid structure is useful.  Begin with an overview of the style you desire and then move on to specific issues like color.  If possible, use technical terms an artist or printer will understand.  For instance, consider specifying the tones and shades of colors you prefer. 

When viewed under varied lighting, a color’s tone [intensity of color] or shade [how bright a color is] will be perceived differently. Personally, I have found it challenging to use what I have termed a plum color in artwork for Prospect For Murder [the first book in the Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mystery series].  While my artist Yasamine June [view her work at www.yasaminejune.com] generated a wonderful color for the book jacket, subsequent applications for the audio book and some promotional materials have deviated from the color and/or tones she utilized.

Samples Of Your Preferred Palette and style will greatly aid the person executing your artistic vision.  These can be drawn from many sources:  websites; books and other printed material; fabric and clothing; pieces of art.  Consider offering the images of famous paintings.  Simply naming a type of art or an easily referenced artist will communicate your wishes.  Personally, I am drawn to the delicate images of classical Asian paintings, as well as the neo-classism of Maxfield Parish who was known for his use of saturated colorUnfortunately, since his work ended mid-twentieth century, a young artist may be wholly unaware of his work.

You can also provide numerical descriptions of colors.  Paint Stores offer samples of colors, with numerical coding as well as alphabetical names.  Printers can provide numbers for the Pantone® colors of ink used in most hardcopy printing.  And remember that you do not have to access a graphic art program to provide the color model numeration of computer font colors.  Simply mark a section of text within a word processing program and examine the ranges of colors available under the drop down arrow for font color.

I should caution you that identifying a color is no guarantee of how a printed product will arrive at your doorstep.  Have you ever seen two editions of the same book, printed by the same company following the same instructions?  Even in hardcopy printing, variations in color can occur because of differences in batches of ink or toner, the moisture content of the paper used, and production executed on innumerable types and conditions of equipment.

A final consideration in our discussion of color printing is publication via downloading from the Internet.  If this is how your work will be published, you should consider using colors designated as “web safe.”  Again, there will be varied results in what is viewed by your readers.  If nothing else, variations in monitor settings can prevent uniformity in how myriad viewers will experience a color on your website or in your book. 

Before we leave the topic of color, let’s consider the historical and classical interpretations of color.  Some colors, like the royal purple from Tyre, Lebanon, were originally drawn from rare and precious sources.  To produce even small amounts of the Tyrian colorant, thousands of Mediterranean sea mollusks [scientific name, murex brandaris] were needed for the dyes with which luxurious garments for ancient royals were fashioned.  Another historically rare color was the crimson worn by Roman legionnaires and wealthy matrons.  Traditionally associated with power and wealth, this color was obtained from the kermes vermilio planchon, an insect that grows on the kermes oak tree [quercus coccifera] of southern Europe.  Although the means for obtaining and utilizing dyes and paints have changed dramatically through history, their inner meanings have remained linked to aspects of nature.

Yellow and Orange – Associated with the sun and gold, these happy and bright colors are used for many attention-getting purposes.  Depending on their tone, they may be linked to base and deeply discounted items, or conversely, to the richest and most valued products.

Red – Traditionally linked to sunsets, fire, blood, Mars the planet and Mars the Roman god of war.  Red is now often associated with signature holidays like New Year’s, Christmas, and St. Valentine’s Day and certain nations like China.   This vibrant color calls attention to anything depicted in it.  It is sometimes associated with licentiousness and the concept of Satan.

Purple – Blending blue and red, this rich color is remains linked to the concepts and value of royalty, power and wealth.

Blue – In its deepest shades, blue speaks of clear waters and skies.  In many religious expressions, it is associated with holiness and purity.  This color is often utilized by financial and insurance institutions, as well as myriad industries dealing with healthcare that wish to be considered honest and dedicated to be well-being of their clients.

Green – Representative of health in nature, it is often used for health and environmental topics, products, and services.

White –  Reflects light and embodies the presence of all colors of light.  While many substances in nature are white, animals having pure white fur are rare, and therefore their pelts were historically associated with the power and wealth of royalty.  Once difficult to achieve in pure form, white colored clothing was often valuable regardless of the type of fabric.  The color is historically linked to purity, cleanliness, goodness, and perfection. 

Black – Absorbing all colors of light, it is actually the absence of color.  Obtained by the mixing of all primary colors, black is sometimes associated with darkness and evil in historical religious written materials.  It is an excellent background for both vibrant and subtle colors.

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

For examples of sample color palettes, please also visit:  https://www.ImaginingsWordpower.com/color/plays_on_color.html

Additional discussion of the nature of color is provided at: https://www.imaginingswordpower.com/wearing/wearing_your_brand.html.

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 Conversations with Auntie Carol, 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:
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Authors Den
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Blogarama
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Hometown Reads
Midpoint
Smashwords

Communicating with Every Sense

Sense Memory:  Words For The Eye and Palette

Are you communicating with all of your senses? The art of communication largely relies on visual and aural stimulation.
~  An author communicates with the written word.
~  A dancer creates a visual message with his or her body.
~  Actors and public speakers communicate with the spoken word and their bodies.

In the past, the sense of touch helped to share the message of written words, as finely tooled leather-bound tomes invited the reader’s fingers to trace the lettering on a book cover.  Even the sense of smell may be involved, as the carved leather fostered anticipation of the remarkable thoughts within. 

Today, all five of the senses of the writer’s audience may be involved through the communication tools of our multi-media civilizationBeyond the realm of streaming radio and audio books, there are audio messages being sent into space that may not be heard for thousands or even millions of years.  We are also at the brink of attempts at smell- or taste-athon forms of entertainment. 

The goal of any communicator is to ensure that their readers, listeners, and/or viewers will respond positively to their message.  Sometimes the process for achieving this is straightforward, even mechanical.  At other times, the gathering of ingredients for connecting with one’s audience seems happenstance if not magical.

A successful advertising campaign is an example of how this process can work.  Most of us are accustomed to extending our minds beyond a limited promotional image and message to the full experience enjoyed when actually partaking of the featured product or activity.  Whether viewed in a full-page magazine ad or television commercial, the sight of a glistening golden turkey on a platter is expected to invoke memories of holiday feasts shared with our loved ones…rather than the reality of a studio of near-strangers focused on taking pictures of an artificial bird glued to a platter and painted with an oily brown glaze.

Sadly, the perception of truth can be more important than truth itself.  For example, I recall being instructed about the art of opening doors, shaking hands and kissing on stage.  I quickly learned that the natural ways of performing these tasks were irrelevant. The actors had to adjust their movements to make the audience feel comfortable with the actions necessary to theatrical performance.

To ensure our audience will be accepting of the images we have created, the artful wordsmith must do more than employ accurate vocabulary.  This is one reason that translation of text from one language to another is so difficult.  In fact, in addition to being an editorial process, it is a fine artMerely selecting a word that correctly describes something does not make it a successful choice:  The descriptive word you eventually choose must evoke the most appropriate image to both your genre and your audience.

Consider how you might employ the following words and phrases:  Azure, blue, and sapphire; highlighted, revealed, and shone down upon; bright, luminescent, and sunny; juicy, moist, and succulent; boar, ham, and pig.  Depending on the scene being described AND your audience, the text you compose from these words will differ.  While the word blue may be appropriate for an advertisement, a children’s book and a romance novel, the same cannot be said for luminescent, azure, and succulent.

As adults with sophisticated English vocabularies, we may envision immediately the magical sparkle of a luminescent sky and the moist deliciousness of a pork loin described as succulent. However, these word choices would be inappropriate for a children’s book intended for a beginning reader.  Our creative process may draw on a rich palette of images within our mind’s eye, but it must be tempered by the realities of the genre in which we are working.

Refining our writer’s palette is one of the most important authoring strategies we can employ, regardless of whether we are working on fiction or non-fiction projects.  In my work as a practitioner of the art and science of writing, I seek to create a juncture between language and the sensory organsI do this by striving to balance carefully chosen nouns and modifiers within an appropriate structure to provide my targeted audience with a rich sensory experience that they will accept within the current genre.  

There is, of course, no right or wrong decision in the scenarios you create as a writerThe options are many.  The choices are yours.  But as you work on any project, consider the demographics, as well as the expressed responses of members of your audience.  In the end, your word selections should be guided by determining the effect you wish to create in each passage…

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

For examples of sample color palettes, please visit:  https://www.ImaginingsWordpower.com/color/plays_on_color.html

Further discussion of the nature and impact of color is provided at:
https://www.imaginingswordpower.com/wearing/wearing_your_brand.html

Tips to enhancing your writing may be found in:
Empowering Your Words, February 2015
Creating Fictional Characters, March 2015
Sidestepping Writer’s Block, April 2015
Communicating with Every Sense, May 2015
Energizing Narrative Passages, September 2015
The Author Recycles, July 2017
Balancing Text & Space, February 2017
Book Series Adventures, April 2018
Drawing on Sense Memories, July 2018

To learn more about the Conversations with Auntie Carol, 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:
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Amazon

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

Design Dilemmas 2, Fonts

Confronted By a Fantasia of Fonts

You’ve completed your research for a writing project.  You’re through composing and editing the text.  What a relief!  But if you’re in control of printing and/or publishing the finished work, you’re probably facing several decisions about its appearance.  While there are clear differences in design for hardcopy and electronic publishing, you may find that layout is not an issue—if your text is being dropped into a predetermined format, as in an existing website or magazine. 

Whether or not this is the case, you may need to select and apply the fonts that will present your message to the world If you have written a piece of fiction, you may be facing fewer considerations.  In this scenario, the sections of your piece may not exceed a title page, table of contents, preface, prologue, chapters, epilogue, and acknowledgements.  If so, a single font family may be ideal for the entire work—with variations in italics, all-caps and bold face. 

But if your piece is non-fiction, you may have additional elements, such as:  An Introduction, Afterword, and Appendices; Glossary and Index; Graphs and Charts; and, Photographs, Pictures, and Illustrations.  While simplicity in visual elements is ideal in any reading material, you will want to ensure your presentation has a positive impact on the readerAnd this may require the use of more than one font family.

Your first consideration in font families is the choice between serif typefaces [historically referred to as Roman typefaces by typographers] and sans-serif [Gothic] typefaces.  Unfamiliar with the term serif?  You’re not alone.  A serif is a small tic or line placed on the ends of letter strokes.  To compare these two categories of typefaces, let’s examine the differences between the classic Times New Roman and Arial font families.  While the former looks fancier with its little tics, the latter is straighter and bolder. 

But before you declare the cleaner look of Arial ideal for all purposes in our modern world, consider the issue of eye fatigue.  When we stare at the same kind of image [i.e. a uniformly straight font] for very long, our eyes become tired…and when that happens, your audience may lose interest in the message you have worked so hard to produce.  Therefore, consider using a mix of two or three font families that will make the various parts of your work pop.  Not only will this lessen the chance of your reader becoming tired, it may increase the likelihood that he or she will remember your key points. 

In general, for both print and electronic purposes, sans-serif font families are ideal for section titling, and sub-categories or menu labels.  This bold lettering says, “Stop and Pay Attention to Me.”  Although you may not be able to lessen the number of words used in a title, if you limit menu labels for website and other electronic publishing to one to three words, they will be memorable.  Conversely, for the body of your text, you may want a serifed typeface, that allows the letters and words to flow from one to the next, while minimizing eye strain. 

Before moving on, let me clarify that I am NOT suggesting you go wild, using a wide mixture of font styles and treatments in hopes of looking artistic.  While I have suggested using three font families, in most cases, two of those would be non-serifed fonts for titling and menu labels.  Titling might be in classic Arial [in bold], while the labels of menus might feature a smaller and tighter font such as Arial Narrow.  For wide, easy-to-read text, I prefer Palatino Linotype rather than the Times New Roman that most computers will default to, if the specified font is not loaded. 

There are many details to the history of the design and use of fonts that reach beyond the scope of this discussion.  One is the mathematics of font spacing, which you may find mentioned in your own research of the topic of fonts.  Simply stated, a monospaced, fixed-pitch-or fixed-width font is non-proportional, meaning that each letter and character occupies the same amount of horizontal space.  This is in contrast to a variable-width font, in which the space between letters and characters depends on the actual space a letter requires.  Since an “I” requires less space than an “E,” a variable width font may be helpful if you have a limited amount of width. 

Let me also make a few comments on the judicious use of italics.  While some design specialists are allergic to any use of them, I think italics are appropriate in some cases:  Differentiating a slogan from the name and contact information of an individual or corporate entity; emphasizing a word or phrase within a large body of text; replacing quotation marks to indicate dialogue or a character’s inner thoughts.  For me, I base my decision on using fonts on one key issue, How effective will this form of highlighting be?  The answer often rests in examining the length of verbiage surrounding the text you propose to italicize.  The overuse of any element reduces its effectiveness.

A similar evaluation should help you in determining when to use a bold font.  Consider business cards that offer every letter and character in bold…Without a variety of shapes, color and emphasis, the reader is likely to be indifferent rather than impressed.

In closing the book on fonts for today, let me say that your ultimate choices will depend on your individual taste and style.  To help you refine the process of choosing fonts, I recommend you collect a number of business cards (and maybe a couple of brochures) and consider the elements that appeal to you.  Spread the printing samples out on a neutral background and ask yourself, “What does the text style say about the featured person or business?”

~  Is the presentation organized and easy to read?
~  Do I relate to the person or business?  Do I trust their message?
~  Does the message reflect current standards for the industry or genre?

If you find yourself responding negatively to the sample materials, envision how you might improve both the message AND its delivery.  As to your own work, ask yourself two questions.  “Is my proposed use of fonts going to accomplish my goal of impressing the reader with my message?”  And, “What will my choices in fonts and other design elements tell readers about me?” 

My signature font family is Peignot For titling and limited amounts of text, I often use a mix of the Peignot and Arial Narrow fonts [see the logo at the top of this post].  By embellishing these non-serifed fonts with varied treatments of sizing, texture, and color, I hope to announce that I’m progressive in perspective yet respectful of elements of classic design.  Do you think I have accomplished my goal?

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 Conversations with Auntie Carol, 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