Posts tagged ‘publishing’

July 26th, 2010


by Madeleine Rex

I recently wrote a guest post for Harmony Beaufort’s “Breaking Up Reading Week” (at her great blog, Harmony’s Radiant Reads). I’m really eager to see what topics the other posters received. Mine, however, was book covers. Covers definitely influence my reading, so this was the perfect topic for me! You can find the actual guest post here.

Without further ado…


(For those of you who thought I was going to talk about vampires, you’re probably going to be disappointed.)

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Though this little nugget of wisdom might have been affective a century ago, when book covers were primarily cloth and had little design, it’s a piece of advice that is more smirked at now than followed.

Publishers spend hours of time and many other resources to create covers that are alluring. In some cases that means misleading covers that readers find have nothing to do with the book at all. Why? Because we’re easily sold by pretty colors/people/glitter/fancy fonts. The appeal of anything pretty or mystifying, anything that begs the question Why?, or simply snags our attention while we’re glancing over bookshelves will, most likely, encourage us to pick the book up.

One of the reasons I assume publishers are dedicating more time, energy, and man-power to cover design is the absolutely astounding and overwhelming amount of books out there. We don’t have time to pick up every single one and read the first chapter, or even the synopsis. We’re busy people who are struggling to find time to read at all.

Book covers hugely affect our book buying and reading. Their purpose isn’t to protect the book from coffee stains, it’s to draw our attention, grab us, and entice us to pick the book up and read. The higher number of times a book is picked up, the more likely it is to be bought and read.

Many of the blogs I’m subscribed to have cover-related posts. Every week, they compare newly released book covers or covers that have caught their eye recently. Covers are distracting. The font on them is probably the biggest in the book. The picture the only picture. The color the only color. We say we’re done with picture books, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t susceptible to magic of pretty pictures.

On the other hand, book covers also enhance the reading experience. They can be misleading, but they can also serve as “warnings.” With covers that are done well and do say something about the actual story, we can tell that a book is for us. It’s our color of sparkle. Covers can speak to us on a subconscious level, remind us of things we’ve done or seen, or things we’d like to do. They can speak wonders for a book, or they can be a visual poem. They’re an art form. Images resonate with people. The smoking, blown-out candle on the cover of Looking for Alaska directly serves the book, acting as a beautiful metaphor. You can look at the cover, wonder, and yet never know that a significant facet of the story is staring back at you.

Glitter sparkles, catches our eye, and pulls us in. The synopsis determines whether or not we sign the contract, but the publisher already has us holding the pen.

There you are! I definitely recommend keeping an eye on Harmony’s blog throughout the week!

And, as for you guys: How do covers affect your reading? Do they? What kind of covers tend to draw you in?

June 11th, 2010

The Chirps of Other Wordbirds

by Madeleine Rex

I’ve been gone so long that all my readers must:

  1. Really miss me
  2. Really hate me
  3. Have forgotten me

No matter how you feel or what you’ve forgotten, I am back, if temporarily, with The Chirps of Other Wordbirds, my weekly collection of the fabulous posts I’ve read recently. Most, if not all, are writing/publishing related, and I can assure you that every one is a gem!

First off: I’m sorry. Next week is my last week of Middle School (this is the best sentence ever), and I’ve been busier than usual lately. I haven’t neglected my blog for this long since last year, at which time I shouldn’t have been deemed a blogger. I’m hoping this upcoming week is more prosperous, but, if not, I’ll be back after the 18th!

The Greatness this Week:

The Post: Nathan Bransford, aka Mr. Literary Agent Celebrity, posted about his psychic agent-powers that have told him The Rejection Letter of the Future Will Be Silence. I find this idea incredibly interesting, and Nathan’s thoughts on the incredible nature of publishing in the digital era are well-put.

The Quote:

No one sits around thinking, “You know what the problem with the Internet is? Too many web pages.” Would you even notice if suddenly there were a million more sites on the Internet? How would you even know? We all benefit from the seemingly infinite scope of the Internet and we’ve devised a means of navigating the greatest concentration of information and knowledge the world has ever seen.

So what’s the big deal if a few hundred thousand more books hit the digital stores every year? We will find a way to find the books we want to read, just as surely as we’re able to find the restaurants we eat at and the movies we want to see and the shoes we want to buy out of the many, many available options.

The Post: One of the most discussed topics of the year is the digital publishing revolution. Eric at Pimp My Novel has an interesting take on not just e-books, but on the death of particular publishing formats, particularly audio books and large print.

The Quote:

As we progress further into the Most Glorious Digital Age, mes auteurs, I can’t help but feel that some book formats and practices are going to be made obsolete. Now, before anyone gets started with “Kindle-this” and “iPad-that,” I’m not suggesting that 1.) these changes will render print books in general obsolete, or 2.) these changes will be specific to any one e-reader, company, or file format.

They are as follows: large print and audio books (as they currently exist) are goners.

The Post: Titles catch my eye. Book covers catch my eye. These are the things that make books pretty and shiny and appealing. As a writer, I love titles. Occasionally, I come up with titles before even a fragment of an idea presents itself. Eric (again) posted about the crucial nature of titles and why it’s important to get them right in A Rose by Any Other Name. (Plus, he gives tips!)

The Quote:

Sad but true, author-amigos: sometimes the title you pick for your book is terrible.

Sometimes an author selects a title that simply doesn’t work for his or her genre (e.g. titling a romance Guns and Bros and Explosions). Occasionally an author unwittingly (or worse, wittingly) gives his or her book a title that’s uncomfortably similar to the title of a very different, much more widely known work (e.g. naming a memoir about directing a summer camp for disabled youth in Germany Mein Kamp).

The Post: Kathleen at GotYA posted “I am not Margo… Or John Green,” a post in which she ogles over Paper Towns (review forthcoming here at Wordbird… hopefully) and talks about how, as readers and writers, we’re destined to find authors we want to kill but hug before we do so. They’re too good to be true. Worse yet, their general awesomeness is about ten times what you imagine you could ever achieve. (And I actually said something to that effect to Miranda the other day, and, coincidentally, I was talking about John Green, too.)

The Quote:

It’s not that I don’t love John Green. If anything, I love him too much. You see, John Green is the author who makes me want to fall to my knees and cry, “I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy!”

I have this theory that everyone has an author like that—even if they haven’t come across them yet.

You know that line in “Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen” where the narrators says, “The race is long; in the end, it’s only against yourself.” I believe that line. I really do. Almost all of the time. I suspect there are a few published writers that I’m better than and lots of published writers who leave me in the dust. That doesn’t bother me. But when I read John Green, there are moments when I stop and think that I’m just not worthy to practice the same craft.

The Post: Take Advantage of the Morning, folks! Sarah Enni published a very true post on how important it is to wake up in the morning, free of the troubles of life, and squeeze out a few words. I’ve been writing 500 words in the morning for months, and believe me, those words are precious.

The Quote:

It doesn’t matter what you write down: dreams; conversations from real life or imagined ones; events of the day before — anything at all. “Your primary purpose now is not to bring forth deathless words, but to write any words at all which are not pure nonsense,” Brande writes. Anything your brain comes up with before it is exposed to the daily deluge of external influence.

Have a great weekend!

May 18th, 2010

The Biz

by Madeleine Rex

It’s common knowledge that a businessman/woman needs to know his/her market. Inside and out. Backwards and forwards. Better than the back of their hand.

In the case of publishing, that does not entail following current trends or stealing the voice of a (currently) popular author. That’s like plagiarism of ideas. We all know that 1) If you’re a writer, you’ve probably written pages upon pages in the past, and you’ve got your own voice. Don’t tape over it; and 2) that trends pass. They’re like seasons. Except there aren’t four. There are fifteen hundred million. Keeping up with them will be detrimental to your writing time.

However, you don’t want to be entirely oblivious. I’m not talking of the market, but of publishing in general. Rachelle Gardner recently tweeted something that caught my eye:

“Dear Agent, here is a link where you can see my manuscript.” That is not a query, sorry.

Yeah, no. Not a query. That example screams one of two things. Either the writer had absolutely no idea what he or she was doing or he/she has a terrible, sour sense of humor. I doubt agents are looking for either. Every inkling of information someone could ever dream of wanting to know regarding querying, agents, critiques, publishing, etc. can be found on the internet. It’s all here. There’s a fantastic array of publishing-related blogs and sites. If only one has the will to look.

Elana recently posted about communicating with non-writers. You know; those people who don’t stay up at night pondering how to write a single sentence or accurately describe the emotional aftereffects of murdering someone? These are the people who still believe that you can get your book published with sheer will. People ask me, “Are you going to get it published?” (It being my book.) I tell them it’s not that easy, but what I really want to say is, “Why don’t you try to get it published?!”

Really, this publishing thing? It’s murder. Which makes us all suicidal.

Knowledge, in this instance, is your weapon. Use it. Don’t make a fool out of yourself, and by golly make sure you know what a query is.

I’ve compiled a list of the major publishing blog/sites. Of course, many of you already have your weapon in hand and are ready to face the publishing world. However, if you find that you don’t recognize one of the names below, I’d check it out.

Nathan Bransford’s Blog (The literary agent celebrity.)

Rachelle Gardner’s Rants & Ramblings

Kristin Nelson’s Pub Rants

Eric’s Pimp my Novel

The Query Tracker Blog

Absolute Write Forums

Writer’s Digest Forums (By the way, you’re in idiot if you’re an aspiring author and have not yet subscribed to WD. I’m not going to tip-toe around your feelings here. Do it. Now. You will not regret it.)

Steph Bowe’s Hey! Teenager of the Year (Check out Steph’s blog particularly if your a teen writer.)

Naturally, I’m missing a lot. If you have any blogs/sites you would recommend, let me know. I’ll be adding a separate link column in my sidebar for such things soon.

So, don’t be naive. Don’t assume anything. Just do your research. Get to know your market and the world you intend to live in before you work and live in it.

You wouldn’t by a house without walking through it, would you?