Rice-A-Roni and a Win

For the next two weeks I’ll be in the San Francisco area, which means blog posts will be more sporadic and infrequent until the 24th or so. It’s vacation time! I intend to see all that San Fran has to offer, maybe meet up with some friends, and eventually heading up the coast to the Redwood National Park. Maybe I’ll just do some picture blogging. I think I can handle that. No promises though.

So, probably like you, I think of Rice-A-Roni when I think of San Francisco. Well, that and clam chowder and Ghirardelli chocolate. But the point is, I was curious as to why it is the San Francisco treat. Well, once upon a time, an Italian immigrant named Domenico DeDomenico moved to San Francisco and had a bunch of kids who were friends with these Armenians who served a rice pilaf dish that inspired the rice macaroni combination. Add a little chicken broth, bada bing, bada boom: Rice-A-Roni. It was one of those “I came to this country with $5 in my pocket and created this food empire” stories. Aaaaaaah, good ol’ American dreams.

So it really is the San Francisco treat. I probably still won’t eat any while I’m there though.

Okay, and now for the win. No, not that kind of win. Trust me, when I’ve accomplished that win, I’ll use the big font.

Like this!

My friend and likely many of yours as well, Emmie Mears has gotten together with a bunch of cool peeps to for the Searching for Superwomen blog, where geek girls get their geek on. They’re inviting everyone to contribute, male or female, when it comes to talking about showcasing superhero women, girl heroes, and addressing remaining attitudes of feminism in media today. I encourage you to check it out.

Searching for Superwomen

The part where the win comes in, is they recently had a design contest where contestants were invited to design the header, Twitter, Facebook, etc. profile pics. And yours truly, was the winner. ūüėÄ

SearchingheadB

What did winning include? Oh, a little Amazon cash, and goodies like a Walking Dead comic. Plus a chance to get a little more of my designs out there. Who knows, I may want to freelance a bit in the future. ūüôā

Check out the Twitter account and Facebook page to see more of my designs and definitely stop by the Searching for Superwomen blog to check out great articles and maybe see if you want to contribute one yourself in the future.

Next time we meet, I’ll be broadcasting from San Fran, hopefully with awesome pics (or maybe if there’s an incidental plane ride along the way).

Did you know about Rice-A-Roni? Have you been to San Fran? Any places you’d recommend I see or go to eat? Can you catch all of the geek references in my banner design?

Judge a Book By Its Cover

How many times have you heard the old adage:

Never judge a book by its cover.

Well today, my lovelies, I’m here to tell you that if you’re an author that’s a load of bantha poodoo.¬† Everyone will judge your book by its cover.¬† Granted what’s in between that cover should be the gold bomb diggety, but repel potential readers you will if you don’t put at least one-quarter the energy you put into writing the book into creating the cover.

litandscribbles gold diggety jae

Your work should explode into awesomeness every time the reader opens it.

This doesn’t mean you need to design the cover yourself, and unless you’re a graphic designer or artist, please hand that task off to someone else.

I do graphic design among other things for a living.¬† No, I’m not the greatest graphic designer in the world.¬† That title belongs to Paul Rand or Milton Glaser.¬† But I do know horrible when I see it, and unfortunately I see a lot of that in self-pub covers.

But all is not lost!  You can have a good cover, possibly even a great cover if you only take into consideration a few things when pulling it together.
Remember, your book cover is your initial sales pitch to your readers.

These tips will apply mostly to self-pubbers but traditional route authors will also want to take note.  Both of you may work with a designer, and the more direction you can give them the better your cover will likely turn out.

Let’s begin at the core.

THE POINT OF YOUR BOOK COVER

As I said previously, your book cover is your initial sales pitch to a potential reader.¬† You want it to be eye-catching, alluring, intriguing‚ÄĒbut to the right audience.¬† Let’s start with two books as examples: Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Twilight.

These are both well-designed book covers, brought to you thanks to the $$$ the publishing houses had to pay a good designer.¬† But why are they good covers?¬† What do they convey?¬† Even if you’re not consciously thinking it, when you look at a cover, it’s sending you all sorts of messages.¬† Let’s start with Diary of a Wimpy Kid and you can see what I mean.

diary of a wimpy kidBright, vibrant colors.¬† This tells us this book is probably for kids, but also promises to be something fun.¬† It’s fashioned like a real diary with modifications, re-emphasizing this will be the journal entries of some kid.¬† The font itself looks more hand-written, like a comic.¬† And you have a picture from the comics inside, torn out and taped on the front, probably the way a kid would design this book.¬† Then we get a picture of the kid himself, and yep, he does look wimpy‚ÄĒall hunched over and frowning.

TwilightNow compare that with Twilight.¬† Black background, light or white text.¬† The arms are pale.¬† The only color they do use is red, like blood, but still quite muted.¬† If you knew nothing about Twilight, looking at this cover you would still know it’s a story about something dark.¬† The apple suggests temptation.¬† The title has a sort of fantastical/magic look to it.¬† Some kind of dark temptation involving something magical.¬† These are things we notice and process‚ÄĒprobably subconsciously for most of us.

But let’s take it one step further so you can understand the big difference between these two approaches.¬† If we were to switch them up, you can easily see why choosing the appropriate colors and moods for your book cover conveys a lot about what kind of story you’ve got.

diary of a vampy kid

moldy cheese jeff kinney

I hope you’re beginning to see how different designs make things funny or creepy or whatever you’re intending.¬† You’ve just got to put the right elements together (or rather the designer does) and you can have an intriguing cover that tells you something about the book.¬† It honestly doesn’t even have to be that complex.

outliers malcolm gladwellTake this book cover for example.¬† Simple, but effective.¬† It’s white, kind of sterile, like it’s all business.¬† It has some beads on it, one is separate, closer to the title Outliers‚ÄĒpurposely conveying the concept of being an outlier.¬† Granted this particular design it probably more suited to non-fiction, but my point is you can have a good design that isn’t as complex as one of the American covers for the Harry Potter series.

This makes for a good introduction to book covers, and hopefully you’re beginning to understand a little better what kind of thought should go into your cover‚ÄĒwhether you’re doing it yourself or not.¬† You’ve got to think about who your biggest audience is, what kind of story you’ve got and the best way to convey that, and most importantly of all the cover should be something that says, “I put more than 5 seconds worth of thought into this cover.

This is turning into a longer post than I had anticipated, so let’s continue in the following sections:

I’ll share some examples of self-pub authors who did it right, and do my best to recreate some of the less than good covers I’ve seen floating around the Twitterverse.¬† See you tomorrow with Colors, Fonts, & Photos!