Saturday, July 28, 2012

What Makes a Good Book Cover… for Your Book?

We’ve all heard the saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

That may be so, but regardless, we do buy books based on their covers.

Yes, of course we do. We’ve all been in bookstores and lost ourselves on our favorite aisles. Unless we have a specific title in mind, we leisurely peruse the shelves. If a cover catches our interest, we’ll pull it out – and then flip it over to see what it’s about.

So a book cover, like it or not, has a huge marketing impact on the bottom line of a book’s success.
But what makes a book cover good or bad? To say that a good book cover should be beautiful or eye-catching is subjective: What one person considers interesting may be of little or no interest to another person.

I suggest a slight rephrase of the question: What makes a good book cover for your book?
Here are the two key words: genre and audience. Your cover should represent your subject and closely connect with your audience and what interests them.

Some other factors to consider:
·         A readable font
·         Cover styles typical for your genre
·         Don’t forget the spine and back cover!
If you’re feeling lost, check out,, or any other online bookstore. Then, search for books within your genre to get some ideas for what you like and don’t like about the covers.

We as authors spend the bulk of our time writing, reworking, and editing our manuscripts; that said, if we want to reach our audience, we can’t skimp on the cover. It deserves the same careful detail and attention as our book – because it sets the tone for our story and ultimately acts as a significant influencer in our audience’s buying decision.
Your cover is like gift wrapping or icing on a cake. Make it memorable.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Brave Review

Last week, I went to see Disney-Pixar's Brave with some family visiting from Texas, and overall, I enjoyed the storyline. However, I did notice some underlying threads that disappointed me.

What I loved
The broken relationship that Merida and her mother Eleanor must work to mend is a beautiful picture of repentance, forgiveness and love. Their comical struggle to communicate and work together after Eleanor’s transformation will make you laugh, while the price that their foolish pride could have cost them both teaches a valuable lesson.

I also appreciated that the resolution to the problem is not to simply marry off the princess – as in almost every other Disney-Pixar princess movie. She and her mother grow closer through the conflict, and the conclusion implies that Merida is now free to choose her own husband – when and if she decides to do so.
What made me frown

Disney-Pixar is known for having magic in their princess movies – There always seems to be an enchantress, a witch, a sorcerer, etc. So characteristically, there is a witch in this story.
However, the movie presents her as a whimsical old woman and is not clear whether she plays a good or bad part. Her role helps propel the plot but never identifies her as a villain. I dislike when entertainment waters down right from wrong – and blurs the lines between good and evil.  

What also made me frown was how the movie presents men and fathers. They handle themselves like buffoons, always quarreling and fighting. Merida and her mother constantly have to put them in their places. Granted, the men do not lack bravery – jumping to defend the women against the demon bear – but in general, they act like children.
One last note

Due to the violence and scary scenes, I would not recommend this movie for small children. For older children and families, though, it makes for a good story, a discussable plot – and I should not fail to mention the beautiful Celtic soundtrack.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Catch Up and Ramp Up Your Writing

A week ago, I returned from my church mission’s trip, which was quite simply a fabulous experience. Getting away from the day-to-day demands, bonding with a talented and diverse team, and having the chance to help our missionaries in their ministry are just a few reasons why I enjoyed so much being a part of this trip.

Not so fun were the flights back home which involved a nearly 12-hour stay in an airport with a mere 6 terminals, getting into our connecting city at 12:30 in the morning, arriving at a hotel at 2:30 in the morning and then finally landing in Tampa during Tropical Storm Debbie.

However, I’m not convinced that traveling challenges are the hardest part about coming home. I think harder still is getting back into a routine – specifically, a writing routine. After a mission trip – or any trip for that matter – what is the best way to “ramp up” and get back to being serious about your writing projects?

Never stop writing in the first place
Whenever I go on trips, I take a journal with me. Of course, journaling doesn’t equal the intensity of book writing projects, but it keeps me channeling ideas onto paper – ideas that may even come in useful for future projects.
Get your distractions out of the way
What do I mean by that? Simply this: Take care of any immediate demands for your attention. For me, that list included unpacking, laundry, emails, phone calls, photo development, etc. In other words, take care of what you need to address, and then your mind will be freer to focus on your writing projects.

Pick up right where you left off
Sounds like common sense? Well, it is (and it’s much easier if you left your writing projects in some form of organization before you left). There’s no use staring at the computer screen wishing you were back wherever you just went. Roll up your sleeves, and start writing.

So what helps you get back into a routine after time away?