Graphic Novels and Comic Books: Not just for kids

a selection of comic books and graphic novelsI am absolutely a book snob and years ago I might have told you that I didn’t consider comic books or graphic novels “real” books, but guess what: I was wrong (imagine that)! People who are visual learners often connect better with this artistic format; it’s been shown that graphic novels and comics increase reading comprehension and inspire creativity. It can also help boost reading confidence in reluctant readers. 

Now to get technical: what’s the difference between the two? Graphic novels contain a complete narrative, whereas a comic book is part of a larger, serialized story. 

And there is something for everyone of every age. Some of the most rich and complete stories I’ve read have come from graphic novels.  I asked the Books Forward team what comics or graphic novels they’ve enjoyed, and added my recommendations at the bottom. Happy reading!

Jennifer Vance, Publicist 

The Netflix series Kingdom is based off the comic The Kingdom of the Gods by In-Wa Youn, (illustrated by Kyung-Il Yang), and after quickly bingeing the seasons available for the show, I knew I had to check out the source material. While the book definitely differs from the show, it’s still amazing. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous, and if you love horror and gore and action, you’ll love this. Oh, and spoiler alert: There’s a whole lotta zombies.

Angelle Barbarzon, Lead Publicist

American Elf by James Kochalka was my first introduction to autobiographical comics. For years, James Kochalka posted a daily comic on his website, typically one to four panels chronicling a snippet from his day like a diary entry. Some days, he shared completely mundane things like stargazing at night with his wife or his cat’s tendency to sleep on his pillow. But other days, he shared deeper glimpses into his life, like the day his first son was born. But that’s just life, right? A mix of ordinary and extraordinary. Sadly, after 14 years, the daily comics came to an end, but they were all compiled into books that you can buy and read over, and over, and over!

Blankets by Craig Thompson is one of those graphic novels that I recommend to people who think comics are limited to superheroes fighting crime or pun-filled newspaper strips. Everything about this book is beautiful — the writing, the illustrations, the stories, everything! Based on his own life, Craig Thompson intertwines stories of two young brothers growing up in snowy Wisconsin with a coming-of-age tale of love, loss and faith. There will always be a place for this book on my shelves!

Hannah Robertson, Publicist

The Gigantic Beard that was Evil has illustrations that are simple but striking, and its message is one I can get behind any day.

Everything about The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg is breathtaking. It made me think a lot about where we come from and where we’re going.

Jackie Karneth, Publicist 

As a fan of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s utopian/dystopian novel Herland and a lover of cheeky webcomics, Aminder Dhaliwal’s Woman World is the perfect mashup heaven made just for me. Have you ever imagined what the world would be like if men suddenly ceased to exist? (It’s okay, you can admit it). Well that’s the premise here, and you’ll get to dive right into the hilarious happenings of a diverse group of female characters as they each navigate life without men. 

Another webcomic-turned-book, Nimona by Noelle Stevenson is the story of a young shapeshifter who suddenly becomes the sidekick of supervillain Lord Ballister Blackheart. Nimona and Blackheart are on a mission to prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin isn’t really all that. And despite Blackheart’s tough exterior, he quickly warms up to Nimona as they begin wreaking havoc together. A funny, witty, and oh-so-smart story filled with magic, friendship, and lots of surprises, this is definitely a “I read this in one sitting” type of book.

Chelsea Apple, Content Creator

I really enjoy the online webcomic Lore Olympus. A version of the Hades and Persephone myth that mixes a modern retelling with a mythical reboot? Sign. Me. Up. The characters are well developed, the story is intriguing, and seriously look at this art

I also follow Let’s Play! When I first started this webcomic, I thought I knew where it was going: a nerdy (but clearly attractive) video game developer becomes next door neighbors with the hot video game reviewer who trashed her debut project. Perfect enemies-to-lovers territory, right? Turns out, I had no idea where this story was going, and I’m loving the fantastic character development, interesting relationships, and the surprising plot!  

Ellen Whitfield, Senior Publicist

My most recommended graphic novel is Check, Please! Ngozi Ukazu’s illustrations are a perfect fit for her story about an ice skater who got a hockey scholarship to a college in the midwest, and has to figure out how to navigate his new campus and coming out to his teammates. Oh and he’s a champion baker. You’ll fall in love immediately, and the good news is that volume 2 is even longer and cuter.

The first graphic novel I ever read (it was only last year!) was Kid Gloves, written and illustrated by Lucy Knisley. It covers her experience with fertility problems, conception, pregnancy and childbirth, and drops some serious knowledge along the way. 

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman took me right back to the uncertainties and hopes and worries and breathlessness of high school. Everyone deserves to be loved like Nick loves Charlie — the way they are together just makes me melt. 

I read Good Talk because of Lupita Reads, and was blown away by Mira Jacobs’s storytelling ability. Being a parent is hard enough, and the responsibilities that come with raising a Black or brown child in America are overwhelming. The author switches between stories from her early life to present day in this intimate memoir.

I have a tendency to look at first love through rose-colored glasses, but Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me, written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, reminded me that falling for someone as a teen can be as difficult as it is wonderful. It captures the highs and lows of that emotional time of life.

Some other graphic novels and comics on our TBR:

 

 

 

How to make the most of the 2020 SIBA/NAIBA Trade Show

Books Forward is so excited for the SIBA/NAIBA Trade Show starting Sept. 21 — check out our exhibitor booth here: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/books-forward/! This year’s trade show is going to look a little different from previous years: for the first time ever, SIBA and NAIBA have partnered up to host a virtual, five-day event. We can’t wait to join our favorite indie booksellers, publishers, and authors online for this one-of-a-kind experience — and we also know that new opportunities can create questions for our authors. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the trade show to help authors navigate this year’s especially unique event with ease!

What does the SIBA/NAIBA Trade Show look like?
Held Sept. 21-25, the trade show will consist of a series of Zoom events taking place across four different channels. It’s a joint event hosted between SIBA (the Southern Independent Booksellers Association) and NAIBA (the New Atlantic Booksellers Association), united under the name New Voices New Rooms. Booksellers will be eyeing new and upcoming book releases!

What does this year’s schedule look like?
You can find the trade show schedule here: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/schedule/. It’s divided into four tracks: Education (panels, roundtables, and more for booksellers), Author Events, Publisher Events, and Networking. It’s interactive and searchable; you can add all events, or just individual events, to your personal calendar; you can subscribe to it; and you can easily share it on social media. You’ll also find all of the participating publishers tagged — just click on the publisher’s name to see all of the events that publisher is participating in.

This schedule is pretty extensive! How will I know what’s happening each day?
Not only is the schedule broken up by day, but the New Voices New Rooms blog will also have a rundown of each day’s events, and is a great hub for finding out info about the show: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/nvnr-news/. Their newsletter will also recap daily sessions and events, as will the SIBA and NAIBA newsletters, respectively.

How many people can attend the online trade show?
There is no attendance cap; there are more than 500 booksellers and other industry attendees registered right now.

Can I still arrange to be featured in an author event?
The Author Events schedule is full, but there are still some advertising options available to reach attendees via the email newsletter or trade show website, which is sure to have high traffic during that week! Find more info here: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/sponsors/.

Do I have to register?
Anyone who is participating in the trade show (including exhibitors) or who wants to attend must register; you can do so here: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/registration/. Registering gets you onto the list of people allowed into the Zoom rooms/events.

If my publisher/editor/representative got me scheduled to participate in a trade show author event, do I still have to register?
Anyone who is attending or participating in the trade show must be registered for the event; this is how you get on to the list of Zoom room attendees. However, it’s possible that SIBA/NAIBA registered you on behalf of your publisher/editor/representative; it’s best to check with your participating organization to make sure.

I am, or my publisher/representative is, participating in the trade show. How will ARCs/galleys/review copies of my book be available?
If an author is featured at an event, New Voices New Rooms will send a Google form to all session participants at the end of the event to incentivize people to sign up for copies; publishers will then receive a list with all the book requests. Exhibitors can also feature galley request forms on their pages in the Virtual Exhibitor Hall!

What is the Virtual Exhibitor Hall?
While we may miss the crowded and bustling exhibitor halls of previous years, New Voices New Rooms has created a really excellent Virtual Hall for Exhibitors, which you can peruse here: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/virtual-exhibit-hall/. When you hover your cursor over each logo, the digital placard flips over to reveal a sentence or two about that exhibitor. Click on the logo to “enter” the exhibitor’s virtual booth, where you can learn more about their offerings and services, and even enter an online raffle! There’s also a searchable directory of exhibitors in the dropdown menu between the sponsor logos and exhibitor logos.

How do I know which booksellers are in attendance?
New Voices New Rooms has created a pretty awesome searchable list of all registered booksellers who will be in attendance — check it out here! https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/booksellers/

Will I be tagged on social media?
New Voices New Rooms is creating graphics and videos that can be shared on social media by publishers and exhibitors; each piece of content will include a list of participating authors’ social media handles so they can be easily tagged online. This is perfect for promoting and sharing specific authors and events!

6 Amazing Book Art Sculptures for National Book Lovers Day

Well-told stories are works of art — and the books that house them can become literal, visual works of art too! In honor of National Book Lovers Day, we’re sharing some of the best examples of book art we’ve come across. From whimsical fairy tale book sculptures, to paper couture, to jaw-dropping literary landscapes, here’s a fresh way to feed your imagination and celebrate your love for literature today!

Did you ever read about Tolkein’s Middle Earth and feel like you were actually there? Well with the incredible book carvings of Guy Laramee, you can actually see the sweeping mountain ranges, dappled scrub, and secretive caves brought to life. Laramee sandblasts his books (sometimes using entire volume sets at once!) to create topographical marvels that look startlingly real and adventure-ready. We can scarcely believe this is paper!

If you’ve ever wished to be transported into a fairy tale, the art of Su Blackwell will whisk you away. From lonesome castles to cheerful tree houses to mysterious woodlands, we can’t stop marveling over Blackwell’s meticulous detail (just look at those leaves!). She also adds lights to her book sculptures, creating a warm welcoming glow (with the occasional sinister shadow) that makes every fairy tale scene come to life. She’s even created life-size set design versions of her book art for the stage–magical! 

Here’s another ultra-detailed book sculptor who is using his art to send a message. Thomas Wightman explores the experience of compulsive OCD within his carefully cut pages and tiny dye-cut letters. Whether it’s a ship spiraling into the papery depths or a book being eaten from the inside out by paper moths, Wightman tackles obsessive compulsive disorder and mental health with deep emotion and stunning craftsmanship. 

Brian Dettmer has found a brilliant way of recontextualizing book illustrations into fresh, multifaceted art pieces. Using scalpels, tweezers, and other surgical tools (thus earning himself the nickname “The Book Surgeon”) he cuts out illustrations and layers them on top of one another to create a three dimensional work of art. The result is contemporary, striking and tactile, inviting you to discover layers of meaning within layers of paper.

Sylvie Falcon is making all of our literary couture dreams come true. The French designer repurposes irreparably damaged books into stunning, wearable works of art. From her pink page tea dress to her stunning book spine ball gown, her fashions look straight out of a fairy tale book (and are probably crafted from their pages!). We’re ready to fall down a rabbit hole or dance the night away in these frolicsome frocks–can we order one to size??

Ready to give paper art or book sculpture a try? Our content creator Chelsea at Books Forward tried her hand at making a wearable paper dress thanks to prixprix’s fantastic Instructables tutorial found on this awesome DIY paper crafts list! She also sculpted a wig with paper mache, origami, paper towel rolls and book pages. Paper is pliable, inexpensive and easy to work with — perfect for crafting, and easier than you think! Ready to make your own book art? Tag us @booksforward to share your creations with us!

Happy National Book Lovers Day! 

JKS Communications celebrates 20 years with launch of Books Forward publicity and Books Fluent publishing

Veteran book publicity firm JKS Communications has been moving books forward for 20 years, and the company is proud to celebrate this anniversary with the launch of two new companies under its brand. Books Forward will continue the signature creative, customized book marketing and author publicity campaigns, and a new indie publishing division, Books Fluent, will provide professional editorial, design and publishing services. 

BOOKS FORWARD

JKS has promoted more than 700 authors, small presses, literary award programs and publishing houses since 2000. The Books Forward team will continue to represent both traditionally published authors and independently published books that meet high industry standards. Services include traditional publicity through mainstream and book-centric media, book tour development, author branding and digital marketing.

Books Forward has a particular passion for books that empower, inspire and move the world forward. Clients include New York Times bestselling author Andrew Maraniss, whose award-winning historical nonfiction examines race and social justice through sports; USA Today bestselling author Jenny Milchman, famous for the “world’s longest book tour”; YA author J. Elle, set to release her #ownvoices debut after garnering attention through a social media campaign; Mary Higgins Clark award winner and national president of Sisters in Crime Lori Rader-Day; indie published success story S.B. Alexander, who later helped Books Forward build its digital marketing division; “The World is Just a Book Away” anthology of stories from Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Academy Award and Golden Globe winning actresses and other world leaders; Chaithanya Sohan, who explores themes of home and belonging in the U.S. through immigrant stories; Holocaust survivor and scholar Laureen Nussbaum, who shines light on unsung heros; and #1 YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick author Cheryl Rainfield, an international child abuse and feminist advocate.

“Our foundation is built on veteran journalists, giving our team a unique strength. Through national media outlets, we share books to make the world a better and brighter place,” the company’s President Marissa DeCuir said. “And it’s that love of meaningful stories that powers our team to share authors’ important messages, and inspire readers with engaging fiction and nonfiction. The world needs some positivity, and readers crave books that matter — to them and to our world.”

BOOKS FLUENT

JKS’ new indie publishing company, Books Fluent, transforms manuscripts into high-quality commercial books that equal or exceed industry standards. 

Having guided authors through the self-publishing process for years, Books Fluent’s team of industry experts expands upon these services. The company offers professional book editing, on-trend cover design and interior layout, savvy distribution plans, and management of ISBNs, copyrights, and other nitty gritty tasks.

Books Fluent’s expertise empowers authors to learn the unique language of this industry and become successful publishers, rising above the competition of more than 3 million books released every year.

CELEBRATING 20 YEARS

Books Forward and Books Fluent will celebrate their launches throughout 2020 with prizes, special announcements and exclusive opportunities for authors and readers alike — including one grand prize of a free book publicity campaign for an author working to help move the world forward. To enter, submit an application here

As part of the company’s continued mission to elevate voices, Books Forward is also launching the #booksforward campaign to celebrate all the incredible ways stories have made the world a better place. Book lovers are encouraged to join the conversation by using the hashtag and sharing about literature that has impacted their lives.

Social media:
Twitter: twitter.com/booksforwardpr
Instagram: instagram.com/booksforwardpr
Facebook: facebook.com/BooksForward

6 Tips to Make You and Your Books Stand Out!

Book Tips Kapow

In the tsunami of books being published, what are some things you can do to really make your book stand out and pop off the shelf?

  1. A book absolutely is judged by its cover! Don’t go cheap. Hire someone who has a great track record of creating book covers. It’s a specialty, and your book deserves to be the “best dressed.” Remember, a cover is just to pull in someone browsing books and get them to read the back cover or pick it up in a shop. It’s not meant to tell the whole story. Intrigue the would-be buyer to lean in closer.
  2. The synopsis or back-cover copy is really important! Don’t allow it to be an afterthought as you’re racing to get it to press. Sometimes it really requires a third-party perspective to write what the heart of the book is . . . as an author, you may be too close to it. Work with someone who has read the book and is involved in the book industry in some way.
  3. Blurbs! Those sentences on the front and back cover of the books by New York Times bestselling authors, literary magazines or celebrities are good to have. People in the industry have mixed feelings about how successful a blurb is in selling a book. But some blurbs can push that would-be reader over the edge to take a chance. A great twist on who to get blurb your book: a bookseller (name and bookstore included) is a really cool blurb to bag!
  4. Releasing your book in November or December to “catch the holiday sales” is a poor idea. Unless your last name is Patterson, Clark or Grisham. If you have control over your publishing date, hold it to the new year. That way the ISBN and copyright dates stay fresh for many months, rather than being “last year’s news” just as people are learning about it. Also, there’s a whole lotta noise about all kinds of things at the end of the year, and you want to have a little oxygen for your book when it comes out.
  5. For the good of your book, make sure you’ve come up with a plan prior to releasing it into the world. Have a website. Have a social media presence. And brand all these as you, not the title of your book—unless you are positive beyond all reason that you will never again in your life write another book. It’s weird to see authors’ profile pictures as a book cover on social media when they have a different book coming out . . . or they forget to update their website. Make it easy on your fans to find you.
  6. And now, the really BIG way to make your book stand out . . . write a GREAT book and edit it within an inch of its life. Most people wouldn’t invite 100 people for dinner without working out the menu and making all the dishes several times to be sure they are the best you can present. Same with a book. Don’t put something out that is half-baked. Many of the authors we work with have at least 4 feet stacks of manuscript pages they whittle through to get an 80,000 word final manuscript.

Cover Story: Heart of Stone

Today, I’m discussing the cover of my latest Ellie Stone mystery, Heart of Stone (Seventh Street Books, June 16, 2016). Readers judge books by their covers. They may not choose the book after skimming it, but they certainly pick it up in the first place because of the cover.

Covers attract attention in a variety of ways. The artwork creates mood through images, colors, fonts, and other elements of design. These are the covers of the first three Ellie Stone novels. The amazing Jackie Nasso Cooke of Prometheus/Seventh Street Book designed them all.

What do we see? First of all, there is a consistency in the layout: a clean font, and similar placement of the text. There’s also the thematic repetition of women’s clothing: shoes and gloves. Jackie strives to maintain the same design basics for each cover to build a look, a branding that readers have come to associate with the Ellie Stone mysteries.

One of many advantages of being published by a press like Prometheus/Seventh Street is that they are willing to discuss cover ideas with their authors. That doesn’t happen at every publishing house. Since the Ellie Stone mysteries are set in 1960-61, the marketing folks told me they wanted a stronger nostalgic look for the Heart of Stone cover. They wanted readers to recognize the era instantly.

From the moment I plotted out Heart of Stone, I knew what kind of cover I would like to see. A summer lake with mountains in the background. Ideally, there would be a wooden dock and perhaps an Adirondack chair. And the item I wanted more than anything else was a discarded women’s one-piece bathing suit that matched the early sixties era. But the perfect image proved to be elusive. The art department considered thousands of photographs, looking for just the right one.

They found lots of docks with lakes, mountains, and Adirondack chairs. But they didn’t look anything like 1961. And there were no bathing suits, except those filled with women.

We tried other ideas. I liked this one, but it wasn’t quite right. No lake, mountains, or bathing suit. And no nostalgia.

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This one was perfect to illustrate the nude bathing that runs through the book, but the title would have been lost against the text in the image.

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Jackie explored several other themes that might fit, but no one was satisfied.

This one is beautiful, but it looks more like a young-adult novel cover. A little too wholesome.

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Here’s an idyllic Adirondack lake, and it has a nostalgic look. Nice, but still no bathing suit, no mystery, no fun. And the orientation is landscape, which in this case wouldn’t have worked for a cover.

Cover Story: Heart of Stone / James W. Ziskin

Time was running short. We were in danger of having to send out the reviewer copies with no cover art at all.

And then, eureka! I stumbled across the photo below on a stock photography site. It took some imagination to picture the final cover, but I knew Jackie could turn this into a gem. First, we’d need to cut it down to fit a portrait orientation. Then we had to get rid of the hat and flip-flops. They didn’t fit the period. But the rest of the photo ticked all the boxes: the dock, the lake, mountains, and bathing suit. The splash in the water was gravy.

Cover Story: Heart of Stone / James W. Ziskin

 

Using Photoshop, I made a crappy mock-up and e-mailed it to Jackie to get her thoughts. She responded almost immediately with the comment, “This one is a contender.” I was thrilled.

Cover Story: Heart of Stone / James W. Ziskin

But my version was far from acceptable. Jackie went to work, removing the hat and shoes, and correcting the color. We wanted a faded Kodachrome look to give it more of a retro mood. Here’s the concept she came up with.

I loved it. Everyone else seemed to be on board as well. But my brilliant agent, William Reiss of John Hawkins and Associates, thought the dock looked a little empty. He said he’d like to see something else there to set the period. He suggested a transistor radio. Jackie worked her magic, found the perfect radio, and slipped it in. It was a home run.

Cover Story: Heart of Stone / James W. Ziskin

 

And so the Heart of Stone cover was born. It’s sexy without being sexist. It’s fun and consistent in style with the covers of the previous books in the series. It even features an article of women’s clothing. And it evokes the appropriate time and suggests the nude bathing I wanted. If Heart of Stone fails to set the world on fire, it won’t be the fault of the cover.

Heart of Stone: An Ellie Stone Mystery arrives in stores and online June 7, 2016. (Seventh Street Books)


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James W. Ziskin is the Anthony-, Barry-, and Lefty-nominated author of the Ellie Stone mysteries Styx & Stone, No Stone Unturned, Stone Cold Dead, and Heart of Stone. Look for Cast the First Stone in summer of 2017.

This post was originally published on Killer Nashville.

It’s Time for Ebooks to Get Innovative and Interactive

I saw something recently that blew my mind: Piotr Kowalczyk pulled together a list of “35 Most Interesting Animated Book Covers,” which left me saying not only, “Wow, these 35 covers really are the most interesting animated book covers I’ve ever seen,” but also, “ANIMATED BOOK COVERS ARE A THING? How have I not heard of this??”

Perhaps you’re sitting back and chuckling to yourself, thinking, “Of course animated book covers are a thing. What rock have you been living under?” But I won’t hear this remark, because I am still scrolling, bright-eyed, through simple animated gifs that bring average ebook covers and illustrations to life, going particularly gaga over the gritty Batman and Joker motifs and, oh yes, the elegant reimagining of the Harry Potter series.

Ebooks are becoming more interactive, and it’s about time, too. In a world where new digital masterpieces continue to flood a thoroughly oversaturated market daily, it’s surprising that more authors aren’t taking advantage of, or at least exploring, new technologies that enable readers to truly interact with the written word—and taking advantage of opportunities to make their ebook stand out from the crowd.

Granted, some of this technology is still in development, but we can’t ignore the possibilities technology affords us not only for publishing work online, but also for creating multidimensional works of literary art.

Consider, for example, Ryan Woodward’s superb Bottom of the Ninth, an interactive graphic novel that not only showcases Woodward’s impressive animation skills, but gives us something truly “novel”: graphic panels that move fluidly with the plot, which the reader can interact with thanks to the tap of a button. The graphic novel, which follows ace baseball pitcher Candy Cunningham, can be read on its very own app, an iPad, iPhone, or online (take a look, it’s super cool).

Consider Eli Horowitz’s The Silent History, a digital novel written specifically for iPad and iPhone and also available via a custom app. This mysterious story about a generation of unusual children who are unable to create or comprehend language, but who demonstrate surprising skills, unfolds gradually via 120 “eyewitness testimonials” about the children’s unusual abilities. Plus, according to the novel’s website, “For readers who wish to explore the world of the novel in more depth, there are also hundreds of location-based stories across the U.S. and around the world. These can be read only when your device’s GPS matches the coordinates of the specified location.” New stories unlocked based on the reader’s physical location? The plot thickens, indeed.

Consider that Al Dixon, the visionary behind the innovative new digital imprint Imaginary Books, is publishing a new mystery novel, the real pleasure in life, in “dynamic typography,” or interactive, animated text. The gritty, animated text is integrated into the plot itself, so that the movement of every word illustrates a plot development, or reveals a clue in a philosophical, slapstick adventure about a man whose life is turned upside down after he receives a mysterious summons to a surreal version of Athens, Georgia, and, after falling in with an eccentric set of new friends, discovers that nothing in his life will ever be the same.

Here’s what all of these innovative digital stories have going for them: They utilize new technology not as a gimmick or a “look-what-I-can-do” bit of time-consuming irrelevancy, but as an actual enhancement to story itself. The technology isn’t there for the sake of being there, but because it actually enhances the story, and enables the reader to interact with the literature in wholly new ways.

In a world where there’s an app-improving update or new system available for your device every week, it’s surprising that tech innovations to digital publishing haven’t become more mainstream. However, the current innovations that exist—or will exist in the near future—offer savvy, enterprising authors a relatively untapped realm of creative possibilities for creating, releasing, and promoting their newest digital book.

Cover-to-Cover

Book Cover

“According to Hubspot, 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text.”[1] This is brain language for Your Cover Matters. More than your title. Maybe more (initially) than your content. People really do judge books by their covers. At the very least, they often decide to purchase a book based on cover.

So, if you are self-publishing, what can you do to make sure that your book cover is transmitting the “Buy me. Buy me,” message?

Here are 3 tips you might not have considered:

  1. Don’t just think about your target audience. Consider your target generation.

According to Stauss and Howe, who coined the theory on generations[2], here are the current generations in the United States:

  • Greatest Generation – 1930-1946
  • Baby Boomers – 1946-1964
  • Generation X – 1965-1984
  • Generation Y/Millennials – 1982-2004
  • Generation Z- 2004 – Current

If you take time to familiarize yourself and research your target generation prior to designing your cover, you will notice facts about what each generation prizes, things they buy/don’t buy, causes they care about, images they appreciate, etc. Applying this information to your cover might auto-attract your consumer.

  1. Your book cover is your handshake with the consumer.

Consider an image that represents your overall content, but does not feel like an inside joke to your potential reader. i.e. My working title for Faking Normal was once 23. While 23 was a powerful metaphor within the book, it was ultimately one that you had to read the book to understand. Faking Normal was a much broader invitation that made people say, “Faking Normal, I do that everyday. I wonder …” 23 wasn’t an invitation; it was a middle school clique that excluded the consumer. Covers can’t afford to be middle school cliques either. They must invite the consumer into the work from across the room.

  1. Ask yourself “What cover would make me buy my own book?”

I suggest you try this exercise: Go to a bookstore. Imagine you’re going to beach or getting on an airplane and you need to find something to read. Go pick up ten titles based on the covers. Lay them out and snap a photo of them with your phone. (Return or buy the books.) Go home and analyze that photo. What are you attracted to about those books? What made you pick them up? You can’t steal those book covers, but you can look for markers among them to include in your cover.


 

[1] http://commerce-futures.com/ecommerce/blog/the-visual-generation–the-ecommerce-revolution-tips–technologies-for-victory.html

[2]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strauss%E2%80%93Howe_generational_theory#Generations:_The_History_of_America.27s_Future.2C_1584_to_2069