Friday, February 8, 2013

Countdown to a Book 5: All About Image

After decades of work focusing on my craft as a writer, the time has arrived to project a new image as author. This past month has been all about image.

Kathryn Craft
My son, Jackson Williams, an amateur photographer with a good eye, great camera, and even greater patience, took a couple hundred photos of me over a two-day period, from which I selected photos for a variety of uses. The mug shots I had been using, that my husband quickly snapped around my house? Gone. Fresh photos with natural lighting have now taken their place, including a few fun shots like the one in the signature block, below. To the right is the head shot that will serve as my official author photo on my novel.

With that behind me, I devoted the rest of January to designing my author website and starting a new blog.

I had used Go Daddy’s Website Builder software to create my editing site at Writing-partner.com, so decided to go the same route for my new author site at KathrynCraft.com. I favor clean design with plenty of white space to support my message, and the template I chose reflects that. I had to make compromises—templates are convenient yet not completely adaptable—but the expense of hiring a designer was not one I could take on just now, and I don’t know html. But I’m happy enough with the result, and believe it well represents my genre—women’s fiction, also known as book club fiction. What do you think?

Over the years I'd been writing my novel I was developing a memoir as well, so my first personal blog, Healing through Writing, has been a memoir blog. It focuses on the many ways I use writing as a way to heal from the wounds that life’s challenges inflict. I teach a popular workshop by the same name.

Now that my publishing career will be leading with a novel, though, I wanted a blog whose design and content focuses on the shared perspectives I so value when visiting with my friends, fellow book club members, or even strangers. So a few weeks ago I launched The Fine Art of Visiting. Again I wanted design to evoke genre, so I chose a stripped-down Wordpress template whose white space and typography suggest both a literary bent and time out from the constant onslaught of images we fend off these days. I wanted to suggest that this is a place where you can relax, think, chat. What do you think?

While I was working on refocusing my own image as author, the amazing design team at Sourcebooks designed my cover. I’ve been revealing it a bit at a time over the past month to drive my friends and family crazy. I also used the slow reveal to direct my readers to my Facebook Author Page (if you are on Facebook and are interested in updates about my writing, please click through and hit “Like,” as you should with any author you want to support).

Today, for the first time anywhere, I am thrilled to share with our Blood-Red Pencil readers the striking results of the design team’s efforts:


Interesting that it too is spare, directing the eye to what is important. Of course for me that was my name across the bottom. But the woman! That hair! The subtle yet incredible detail that only those who one day hold the book in their hand will truly appreciate. Click the photo to read more about the book!

Altogether these visuals are intended to create a marketing package, or brand, that suggests who I am and where I fit on the shelves—ironically, before anyone reads word one of the craft I spent so many years honing.

Have you yet given thought to your brand? How do you use images to support it? 

If you would like to read more about Sourcebooks’ new Landmark imprint, and their marketing program that supports book clubs, click here.

Just catching up? Here are links to the other posts in this series:
Countdown to a Book 1: Joining Hands
Countdown to a Book 2: Pitching
Countdown to a Book 3: Getting My Agent
Countdown to a Book 4: Developmental Editing

You also might want to check out:
First Steps to Building Your Author Brand by Blythe Gifford



Kathryn Craft is a developmental editor at Writing-Partner.com, an independent manuscript evaluation and line editing service. Her women's fiction and memoir are represented by Katie Shea at the Donald Maass Literary Agency. Her monthly series, "Countdown to a Book," details the traditional publication of her debut novel, The Art of Falling, by Sourcebooks in January 2014. Connect with Kathryn at her Facebook Author Page and Twitter.

40 comments:

  1. Kathryn, Thank you for this concise and inspiring (as in get my fanny in gear) "Countdown to a Book" series.

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  2. Thanks for stopping by, Alison! Stop back to share the fruits of your efforts.

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  3. I love the author photo and the enticing cover art. Websites are easier than a lot of people fear. If you can use a photo manipulation program, you can find simple web building programs or learn to tweak templates. Writers shouldn't be afraid to try. After all, they're creative!

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  4. Kathryn, I have so enjoyed following your path to publication here and adore your new The Art of Visiting blog. I want to pour a cup of tea and delight in reading it slowly. And that cover! Stark lines of beauty that entice us to read it...and that will be a worthy wait. :) Congratulations all around. You have built a wonderful platform to support your debut novel and what I know will be a long career of beautiful work.

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  5. Love. It. What a gorgeous cover, Kathryn!

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  6. Thanks Diana (IndyWriterGirl)! In the six years since I designed my editor site I had forgotten plenty of things, and of course the software was all upgraded so nothing looked the same, but between help menus and phone support I was able to figure out what I needed to.

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  7. Donna, thanks so much for stopping by and for your lovely words. I'm glad you think the wait is worthy because sure enough it will be long—January 2014!—but it seems there's so much to do between now and then I marvel that those who self-publish can get it done faster!

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  8. Marie! Thanks for stopping in (Marie is an agent with the Jennifer DiChiara agency—check her out!). One hallmark of a good cover in the digital age we keep hearing about is that it will present well in thumbnail size and I think this stark image will fit that bill!

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  9. Lisa it's such an exciting day—thanks for being part of the journey.

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  10. The cover is perfect!! and incredible the way it powerfully accentuates the meaning of the title. Either one alone leaves me feeling a bit flat but together WOW!

    Nice job, Kathryn, and thanks for this countdown series. The whole project of creating a book (and its future audience) is the opposite of falling, and you are doing a great job.

    Jerry Waxler
    Memory Writers Network

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  11. Love the cover. So glad to see it in its entirety.

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  12. Jerry, thanks so much for this insightful comment. One tenet of book cover design, as my editor shared with me, is to suggest or hook or raise a question through the combination of words and the image (as opposed to using one to reiterate the other). I'm so glad the combo worked for you.

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  13. Sandy, thanks for stopping in to see it! Sandy's comment refers to a tease I've been doing at my FB author page over the past month, revealing only a bit at a time (The Art/of Falling/The Art of Falling plus hair tips and fingers...). The design of this cover really lent itself to a slow reveal and I couldn't resist. Although it made my agent—who loves this cover and was dying to share it—nuts.

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  14. your cover took my breath away

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  15. Ooh Angel, thanks so much for stopping and commenting! So giggle-happy to share it with you!

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  16. Kathryn: I'm very glad that you posted a link to this on Facebook, as I have been behind in reading your blog and obviously had missed a lot. What wonderful news!

    Having just rebuilt my own Website, I know how all-consuming it can be. Like editing your own work vs. someone else's, it can be difficult to remain objective. Given the potential for "glitches" from one browser to another as well as a the diversity in human response to visuals, you're smart to reach out for thoughts. The headshots are fantastic. Your son could get some gigs from your writing network!

    As for the book cover, is that one from the two-day shoot? (just kidding).

    So tell us, how would you prefer we buy? How can we get a copy?!

    Ruth Heil

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  17. Wow, Kathryn ... a complete make-over ... I'm impressed! As to my own brand ... unfortunately, I've let the forces of nature control it ... now it is more like a Rorschach test than distinctive image ... kinda like my thinking ... diffuse and fuzzy. But there is an upside ... I can be anything anyone wants me to be ... if the pay is right.

    By the way, the book cover is awesome!

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  18. Hi Ruth (The WriteBeat)! You aren't THAT far behind—it's the book cover that's here, not the book! There isn't a link up for pre-orders yet anywhere since it's not coming out until January 2014. But I appreciate your enthusiasm and will definitely broadcast when the time comes!

    Loved your comment about my photo shoot for the cover, lol.

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  19. Thanks Chris! Did I mention my son is a magician as well? ;)

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  20. Fantastic cover, Kathryn! When I clicked on it, I got an incredible blurb, a hook that has me thinking the release date is much too far away. I can hardly wait to read the story!

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  21. Outstanding cover. Love the new shots of you, too.

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  22. Thanks, LD—it's amazing what adding a little light to the subject can do!

    And Linda, thanks so much! That blurb was many years in the making. Guess it had to stew. :)

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  23. Kathryn, you know what happens when the stew sits for a bit -- the flavors blend and it's ever so much tastier than it was when it first came off the stove.

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  24. Love the cover! Congrats on your new book and I look forward to learning of your continued branding and unfolding.

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  25. Congrats! Very dynamic cover design.

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  26. The cover is STUNNING! I cannot wait to read it.

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  27. Now THAT is the kind of cover I would make a beeline toward as a reader. And as a writer, I am blown away! Congrats, Kathryn.

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  28. Catherine and Charli thanks so much for commenting!

    And Jessica, your comment brought a big smile. I think you're right—even I respond to it as both reader and writer!

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  29. Love, love, love the cover of your book. Definitely makes me wonder what the story is about. You are so good about all this branding stuff, too. I still scratch my head and wonder what my brand is. LOL

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  30. Your cover looks fabulous, Kathryn.

    I've always wondered this about books with "A Novel" printed beneath the title... is that the author's specification that it be included, or did that come from the designers or editors? And what is the reasoning behind it? (Is it aesthetic, or is there a concern that readers will not realise this is fiction?) On your cover, I really like it as a visual "pause" beneath your title; were that text not there, I think it would still need a small section of a flourish line or something to give that pause between the title and image.

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  31. Maryann, thanks so much. The branding isn't easy and does not come naturally. I think that part of the "curing" process in the years we are ramping up our craft is to really identify what defines our voice as writers—only then can we translate it into a brand. I'm closing in on it, I hope.

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  32. Elle: (If I'm wrong about this, someone else please speak up.) But I do believe "A novel" began to be added in America with the advent of the memoir boom, for the same reason McDonald's had to add wording to their cups that their coffee is hot: no one wants to be sued for misrepresentation. But I love your perception of its use as a design element as well. I know it can be placed just about anywhere—I'm going to start paying more attention to where it is placed!

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  33. Your photo is just lovely. Your skin is vibrant and your eyes are so blue! I instantly understood why you were promoting a good photographer for your image.It really did draw me in to the rest of what you were saying.

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  34. Mommamindy: Thanks for your kind words. I was always grateful to my husband for snapping my previous photos—it seemed a chore that simply had to be dispensed with in order to conduct business on the internet—but now that I have these I'm most glad I do. It took a long time for me to warm to the notion, but the photo shoot ended up being a lot of fun.

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  35. In this case, a picture tells a story indeed. Great cover, Kathryn.

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  36. Great cover! I'd like to have been there for the photo shoot to see how it was done.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://www.morganmandel.com

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  37. Morgan, a hint: The image is used upside down. ;)

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