Thursday, September 17, 2015

3 Reasons the ‘Look of Your Book’ is important

My own experience is that the look of a book is second only to the contents of a book in importance. It’s that other artistic expression that will sell it, explain it, express it, and hold it in the readers’ imaginations. Tonight, I’ll be appearing on a panel discussion titled, “The Look of the Book” at the Writers League of Texas. I’m looking forward to hearing what my fellow panelists have to say. Here’s why I think the design and cover art of a book is so important.
1)   The cover is the number one marketing tool.
I happen to be a published author as well as a book designer. I’ve been through the marketing paces, so to speak. For my first published book, The Legend of Juan Miguel, which was an bestseller in 2014, I was an integral part of the marketing planning. I learned a great deal from the woman who actually did the marketing. One of the first things she asked me when we began was, “Do you have a good cover? A good cover will make or break a book.”
            Many authors these days concentrate on ebook sales because, frankly, for many of us, that’s where the money is. And ebooks are sold online, mostly through book marketing sites. The first thing browsers of those sites see is the book covers. Sometimes that’s all they see. Many of them judge the books solely on the covers. Or the covers and the first few lines of the sales blur. If the book cover doesn’t catch their attention, the book has no second chance.
2)   The cover image kick starts the reader’s imagination.
Writers—especially fiction writers, but nonfiction writers too—have to catch the reader’s imagination within the first few pages. The story should begin to live in the reader’s mind very early in the process or the reader will close the book and never open it again. The characters and how they look and sound need to come alive in their heads and the book cover often kick starts this process. The reader uses the image on the cover to set the scene in his/her own mind and begin to visualize-fantasize the story. Even a nonfiction book needs to present a good visual for the reader. Thus, all of the photos, charts, and lists often contained in a nonfiction book.
      Without this visual advantage, your readers are swimming in uncharted territory. They’re relying solely on your word descriptions and we all know how tricky description can be. Too much or too little loses the reader. A good descriptive cover image, along with a compatible back cover and inside design, are the author’s main visual aids.
3)   A professionally done design makes your book look professional.
Nothing says “amateur” like a homemade, not-very-good book cover. It’s like broadcasting to the world that you’re just “dabbling” and are not a serious author who’s willing to put time and money into the book’s presentation. Don’t brand your book as a throw-away, unprofessional, amateurish effort by throwing together your own book cover. Your book and you as an author will be forever branded that way.

Visit my book design website, www.idbks.comMy published novels, The Legend of Juan Miguel and The Passion of Juan Miguel, are available on 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

I am the defector, out of step with the walking dead

Leonardo da Vinci famously said, “I awoke only to find that the rest of the world is still asleep.” I know what he means. Once the toothpaste is out of the tube, there’s just no stuffing it back in. Once you’re truly awake, you can sedate yourself, you can hit yourself over the head, you can try lulling yourself with falsehoods, but you just can’t fall back to sleep.
I woke up seven years ago after a severe illness and I’ve been blindingly awake ever since. I awoke to how absolutely unimportant were the things I’d striven for, how empty were my ambitions. What is really important in this life became crystal clear and now it smacks me in the face every day.
That point was driven home to me a few days ago when I tried very, very hard to backslide. I took a job working for a company that does layout and design for hundreds of newspapers all over the country. Actually, I was recruited, so I have somewhat of an excuse for dabbling in the dark side. I worked exactly one day and believe me, I barely made it through those nine hours. Rows and rows of people staring into their computer screens—on deadline—under pressure—in an industrial-style facility akin to a modern sweatshop. During the training, I kept distracting myself by trying to see through the door, over the heads of the workers, through another door, and out a window that looked out on a parking lot with one lone tree. Whew! Enough of that nonsense.
I went home, grabbed something to drink, and sat down to write. Thank you, Lord, for the sanctuary of writing and the blessed freedom to think.
To what do I attribute my defection? A roadblock in my soul with a sign that says, “No turning back. You’ve come this far, don’t be afraid to go farther.” I’m like Siddhartha of old, who by the end of his life had shed the layers of his worldly skins, leaving him defenseless and capable of little else but being aware. And what a big job that is.
If there are others like me, then fine. If not and I am alone, then fine. If I’m just that crazy lady who writes, then fine. God didn’t put me here to march in lockstep with the walking dead. He put me here to connect to the divine in my nature and once I did that, I became authentic. For that there is no cure.
I’m sure you know “I am the defector” is from the song, The Great Defector, by Bell X1. It goes on: “The accountants have taken the movie, Yeah, they’re on the set.” I don’t know exactly what the songwriter meant, but those two lines are pretty descriptive of American life as we know it right now. 
My published novels, The Legend of Juan Miguel and The Passion of Juan Miguel, are available on