Random

Why a Book Cover Matters

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A book cover is designed to answer a question. It fulfills a promise that the book makes to the reader–and this is not all. A book cover has a lot of work to do. It reflects the tone. It suggests the theme. It knows who its reader is and makes that reader want to find out more. Here are some  examples from my own work of a cover’s intention. This book’s audience is primarily women. The bridal bouquet in transition sets up the conflict; the title promises a journey. It speaks to every woman who has suffered hopes that fail. The monochromatic colors, gold and taupe, whisper,...

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The Power of a Blurb

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The aim of a blurb is to sell the book. Its words must pack punch, inspire action; its call creates a desire to read this book. A blurb gives the arc of the story and also shares the tone. It is short, pithy, raises a question and promises an answer. It sashays onto the stage of the the back cover and makes a promise before the curtain rises. Good blurbs sell the one compelling task: inspiring the reader to enter into the world this book creates.

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The Process of Publishing

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“When will your book be out?” the author’s friends want to know. They want to throw her a party. They want her book to be “done,” a happened event instead of a happening that is still in the works. We are still working on the title. She doesn’t have one yet. We are going back and forth to find one that best fits. The cover art can’t happen until the title is found. And cover art is another critical piece that takes time. Both title and cover are a first impression, conveying the theme of the book, or its main idea, reflecting the tone, and enticing a...

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Life Stories are Domestic History Recorded

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General truths don’t interest me. They are either too big or too abstract to grasp. I prefer the truth embedded in a life. Life stories are particular; they start with one person and go somewhere. A long time ago in the dead of the winter, my first winter in Boston, I was cold and homesick. I’d been singing “Dixie” on my walk to the subway while eating a banana. In the blue light of dawn, I noticed the peel had frozen solid in some weird shape. “This just ain’t right.” I said aloud. Winter was beyond belief in New England. It seemed endless. To break...

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Begin at the End and Go Backwards

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In his autobiography Open, Andre Agassi begins with a chapter titled “The End,” and I’m hooked. It is the last day of his professional career. He will play that night at the U.S. Open, and his minute-by-minute account is all about pain management, anxiety management and ambivalence. What is surprising is that a champion feels them to this degree. Repeatedly he says, “Please let this be over. I’m not ready for this to be over.” These words are like a refrain. We are inside his head and it is riveting, engrossing, the suspense building until the tension in that first chapter begs...

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Where do I begin?

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Where do I begin?

The best things in life start small. They have humble beginnings.  If you are writing memoir, write the story that the day holds for you. You can organize later in a three ring binder. If you are writing fiction or non-fiction, write every day. The important thing is to begin writing. My chicks are a great example. These little guys came to me no bigger than a minute in April, and now can they cluck and crow! “Small is good,” says the left chick. “Small grows,” says chick on right who is now a feisty...

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