C O V E R U P
By ~ Steven Miscandlon
By ~ Steven Miscandlon
AUTHOR ~ PHOTOGRAPHER ~ DESIGNER
So here’s the deal. It’s the fourth month of Noir here in BIJOU-town, and our esteemed hostess asked me to write something about book covers, or presentation, or something. Now, I’m no expert, but how could I resist an open offer to spout my opinions to the world at large. It’s what the Internet’s for, right?
THIS ABOUT COVERS IT
~ Miscandlon Photography and Design
As for my credentials … I don’t claim to be a professional graphic artist or cover designer, but it is something I enjoy doing, and the importance of effective design is something that was battered into my fragile brain during my time at art school, half a lifetime ago. I have designed covers for my partner Julie Morrigan’s published ebooks — Gone Bad, Convictions, Heartbreaker and The Writing on the Wall, as well as her forthcoming novel Darke —and was delighted when Luca Veste recently gave me the opportunity to produce a cover for the recently published Off the Record short story collection.
|THE BIG COMBO ~ It's all about shadow and light.|
And book covers? Well, the stark, bold title on Chandler’s first edition of The Big Sleep could teach a few of today’s cover designers a thing or two about how to grab a potential reader’s attention with a powerful but simple design.
We’re told you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. However, you can certainly judge whether the publisher — or author — cares enough about the product to invest in a captivating cover design. Because people do judge books by their covers — it’s the first thing they see, and the thing they will base their first impression of your work upon. Anyone who walks into a book store does it. And that’s no different with ebooks.
I’m lucky in that I’m a keen photographer. I had a few shots used in the recent noir-themed special of Doug Mathewson's Blink Ink magazine, and others published in some more outlandish places, from a French book on street performance and dance, to a UK parliamentary campaign group’s presentation on Scottish gang culture. Most of my book designs so far have been created using photographs that I’ve taken personally.
Stock photography sites can also provide excellent cover images for your book. Pricing structures vary, but some sites offer free, fully licensed images at smaller sizes or resolutions (usually sufficient for ebook covers), with nominal charges usually in the order of just a few dollars for commercial use of larger images.
Critically, this can help ensure your book cover doesn’t breach somebody else’s copyright. As an author, you wouldn't be happy if someone took your writing and used it without your permission, would you? Photographers and graphic artists have the same rights — always remember that just because an image is on the Internet doesn't necessarily mean it is public domain. Downloading an image and using it as an ebook cover constitutes commercial use, and could leave you open to legal action by the copyright owner. Most reputable publishers will credit the cover photographer or designer on the book’s title and copyright page.
Creating an eye-catching book cover isn’t rocket science … but neither is it something you can just throw together in five minutes and hope to end up with a professional looking product. If you’re serious about publishing your book, don’t balk at the idea of hiring a professional designer — spending a few dollars or pounds to get a cover design that’s just right for your book, coupled with the right marketing approach, might very well bring you more readers in the long run. And that’s what it’s all about — creating that visual hook that will draw people to your book and to the important bit … those sexy, serpentine sentences that lurk beneath that classy cover.
© 2012 ~ Author/Designer ~ STEVEN MISCANDLON,
for impact of AT THE BIJOU authors
Quality opens minds ~ View WebTowne's newest site:
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‘Thou shalt commit adultery’
‘But it’s onlyavery little mistake’
AT THE BIJOU's ~ JULIE MORRIGAN
AUTHOR ~ EDITOR ~ NOIR STAR
Waxes Elloqwent ~
In 1631 a reprint of the King James Bible contained a very small error: the word ‘not’, was omitted from one of The Ten Commandments, resulting in it reading ‘Thou shalt commit adultery’. (Full story here for those who are interested) Crown and church were appalled, copies were recalled, and the printers were fined and had their license removed.
It’s now almost four hundred years since the then Archbishop of Canterbury said: ‘I knew the tyme when great care was had about printing …’ and yet in many ways it seems not much has changed.The technology is different, sure, but are our books now free from errors? Judging by the criticism frequently heaped upon small and self-publishers, it would seem not. I, and I’m sure some of you, have bought books/e-books recently and found them to be very poorly presented: badly formatted, full of spelling and grammatical errors, and including inconsistencies of style. I’ve even seen a couple with spelling errors on the cover.
It should be our goal to put out work that is as near to perfect as we can make it, but we must also be pragmatic and accept that the odd error might sneak into a published book. However, that’s all it should be: the odd error. And the shorter the piece of writing, the less excusable errors are.
In order to combat those problems, we need our work to be edited and proofread. Simply put, a proofreader will pick up errors in spelling and grammar, and an editor will nip, tuck and polish your writing until it is sleek and shining.
We must be alert to words and phrases that sound like what we want to say. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve read ‘reign in’ for ‘rein in’, ‘your’ for ‘you’re’, ‘it’s’ for ‘its’, and ‘should of’ for ‘should have’. (And even, on one occasion, ‘as a pose’ instead of ‘as opposed’.) As writers, it’s our job to know the difference and to make sure we make the correct word choices.
We also need to check for consistency. I recently read a story where a name was spelled differently on two lines, one after the other. Similarly, it matters less whether you use single or double quotation marks than that you use the same type throughout.
Having someone check over your work for continuity can be invaluable. You don’t want someone to keep on smoking a cigarette they just stubbed out, to put their jacket on twice, or to take an active part in the story after you have killed them off. (I did this in the first draft of my novelette The Writing on the Wall, but thanks to careful editing it was caught long before publication.)
You may think that if your work is being put out by a publisher, then they will absolve you of some of the responsibility and ensure that it iseditedandproofread, but that may not be the case. Wherever possible, ask for a proof of the formatted book before it is published; that way you can catch any mistakes, whether missed prior to that point or introduced by the publisher.
I’m lucky in that I have an editor and proofreader to call on for all my writing. If I didn’t, I’d have to make other arrangements — perhaps by coming to an agreement with another writer whereby we proofread for each other. Because it’s essential to get another pair of eyes over a document, if only because it’s all too easy to be blind to our own mistakes.
Proofreading and editing is an essential part of the pre-publication process, not just something you do if you have time. You work very hard to create your characters and their world, and to tell their story. You owe it to them — and to yourself — to make sure that when readers talk about your book afterwards, they are commenting on the realistic dialogue, razor-sharp prose and terrific characterisation, not complaining about avoidable errors.
© 2012 ~ Author/Editor ~ JULIE MORRIGAN,
graciously for AT THE BIJOU authors
She takes guts straight to story:
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TANKS jOOLZ annd STeEvInN
~ cuz theigh maik rilly gudt poointz
und dew thiz stuph propheshunooli!
FOR KATIE'S "SHADOWS OF OUR NOIR" ... AT THE BIJOU
This SUPER Weekend?
Why GRIDRON NOIR,
See ya on the bum's rush.
Blitz is on, but no clipping calls.
BIJOU DISCLAIMER: Uh, Coach Cowher is no longer actually IN the action of the glory of the outcome story of the SuperBowl as we know it, but Steeler*Kate can't resist a good plug for the Steel Curtain rising once again ... well, maybe next NFL season.
SEE YOU ON THE '50
Come THIS WEEKEND and natch,
SUPER BOWL SUNDAY!
Images: THE BIG COMBO ~ Movie scenes ala IMDB photo-files
Classic Cover Designs ~ Miscandlon of course
First Edition copy of THE BIG SLEEP that Absolutely*Kate really wished
her hero Raymond Chandler had given her ~ in Amazon classic files
'Rocket Science' by GeospacePlay
Multi SuperBowl winning Coach Bill Cowher ~ NFL and SteelerKate's shrine wall