How to design a great cover.

Bit of a cheeky title that one, as I am not a designer and my suggestions for my book covers so far have fallen pretty short of the mark. I  always know the sort of thing I want but in a vague, non specific way. When it comes to the concrete, I can’t quite visualize it, nor do I have the language to convey my idea to those who can.

I do know however the importance of a good cover.

A great cover tells readers exactly what type of book they are looking at. A thriller will look very different from cozy crime; Chick-lit from a literary work. So finding the right one is vital. A good one draws your target readers, a bad one means they won’t even pick up your book.

Once genre is established, then the next step is convey the feeling of the book. For “Picking up the Pieces” I wanted something warm, contemporary and sophisticated. It needed to suggest that this is a book with a feel good factor, but one that also deals with some more serious issues, albeit in a light hearted way.

Much of the conversation between the three main characters takes place around a table with wine, or coffee, tea and cake, or most importantly chocolate. These therefore were the images I wanted on my cover. And once I knew what I wanted I knew just where to find them.

My sister Anuk Naumann is an artist. She paints landscapes and interiors and  she agreed that I could use her images for my cover design. She sent a selection for me to choose from, which I then send out to target reader, all of who plumped for exactly the same one.

Anuk's Cat 6

From then on it was over to Peter Colborn, editor in chief of Penkhull Press to produce the most brilliant cover.

Front over for Blog

When the proof came back from the printers, I knew we’d done it. Not only was it right for the book, it was a beautiful cover in its own right.

So many thanks to you both, Anuk and Peter.

To re-cap

  1. Genre is key.
  2. Tone and feeling vital.
  3. A great cover is a thing of beauty and until we go back to bands of colour a small bird, should stand on its own as a good piece of design.

 

 

 

 

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Breaking through writer’s block.

Got an great idea for a new novel but can’t get started? When that happened to me recently I discovered a great way to break through the block.

The sea at Kerala
I went on holiday.

After months of wrestling with the problems of structure, I decided I’d had enough. We were going away to Vietnam and Laos for two weeks and I wasn’t going to take my lap top, or notebook, or anything even remotely to do with writing.

At the last minute, however, I weakened and packed laptop, for purposes of emailing only, and notebook, because I can’t go anywhere without one, not even to the supermarket.

Am I glad I did.

After a night at the airport hotel, we checked to Terminal 4 at Heathrow. Mike had booked us in to a lounge and after a leisurely breakfast I sat back in my armchair to read the paper and look out of the window.

At this point I have to admit that I love airports. I love watching planes take off and land, I love the feeling of being suspended between the ordinary every day and the unknown. The rest of the world is out there, places I’ve never been to and might never visit. Watching fellow passengers, I wonder where and why they are travelling. What awaits them at the end of that journey.

As my mind wandered that Thursday morning, the ideas came flooding in and the new novel took shape. I saw and heard my, up to then elusive main character, gained insight into her motivation and behaviour. Grabbing my notebook and pen I began to write.

So, unblocking Tip #1. Walk away.

Tip #2 Sit in a departure lounge and people watch.

Tip #3  Have a full English breakfast.

 

Carrying a Card

DSC03047

One of the pleasures of being on holiday is the number of interesting people you meet. Cruising in Halong Bay, waiting at the airport, eating at a restaurant I’ve discussed everything from the American election and the appeal of Donald Trump to the electorate, to the impossibility of working out the price in Dongs, the local currency in Laos which has so many noughts that you are paying for a bottle of water in thousands.

I’ve met a primary school teacher from New Zealand who can raise, shoot, butcher and cook her own lamb and was looking forward to trying out AK47 later on her trip to the notorious Cu Chi tunnels; an American artist and life coach who works in water colours; a Vietnamese guide who was bursting with joy at the fact that he would be a father in a month or two and a student from New York who had never been abroad in her life, but had decided that now that she had graduated she was going to take the time to travel before starting to look for a job.

In all these encounters there comes a point in the conversation when we share what we do. When I say I’m a writer, I’m asked all the usual questions about what sort of books I write. Sometimes I know the other person isn’t really interested and the conversation moves on.

At other times, however, we reach that moment when I wonder if I should give them my card so that they can actually access info about me and my work and possibly even download or buy a book.

So far, I’ve not done it.

Why?

Because it feels like an intrusion. Instead of being on holiday, I am working, selling, marketing myself and my work.

Surely it’s enough to say what I do and leave it at that.

Or am I missing an opportunity that other less thin skinned writers would take?