A little about branding book spines for DIY Indie Authors

Thoughts on Entertainment, Writing

As an indie author on a shoestring budget, you may be wondering how you can make your print books look like they belong on your readers’ shelves next to the “big boy” books published with gobs of money and professional art departments behind them.

Using my Visual Arts BA powers and some slightly blurry photos of our booka nd DVD shelves, I thought I’d try to explain some of the elements of good spine branding. Spinal branding? Ouch. Sounds painful.

Let’s get started.

Spines of the AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER DVD boxed sets

AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER (Asian-influenced animated series)

Here’s the three-volume set of the marvelous fantasy cartoon series Avatar: The Last Airbender.

At the very top we have the logotype for the series itself, which any fan recognizes from the show’s intro sequence. But even if you’ve never seen the show, there’s a lotta info packed into that itty bitty logo: first, the Nickelodeon logo (in its signature orange) lets you know the station its from…and all that that implies (animation, kid-friendly, playful, positive energy).

Ah, Word! You and your quote smart unquote quotes!

Finally got smart and added in a new AutoCorrect rule in Microsoft Office 2010: replace —“ (which is what it loved to do to me, all the time) with —” (which will save me a lot of backspacing. In case you have this problem:

File>Proofing>Autocorrect Options (it’s a button near the top).

To make sure you’re getting left double quotes and right double quotes, use the Character Map to insert those marks in the appropriate fields.

Writing

I Aten’t Dead

Art, everyday, Writing

In fact, I just hit 50K words on my nosferatu novel!

And I submitted a fantasy story to the DuoLingo call for stories! That money sure would help me out in buying ISBNs! Or, you know…gas.Various characters and critters (and even a car!) done in ink and marker, made of random shapes

I’ve been using Habitica to help me take vitamins and do art and stuff more consistently. You know it’s an effective program because within a week of joining, I cleaned my desk. (My desk hadn’t been cleaned for MONNNNNTHS and was just buried in papers.) I’ll try to use it to help me update my blog more consistently sheesh!

I’m enjoying Aggretsuko on Netflix (Japanese only please, they added too many swears to the English dub!) and the Great Big Story channel on YouTube.

I’ve been feeling pretty blah this year, but things are turning around now, thank goodness!

(From a comment over at CoverCritics.com)

“I think this cover would not pass my test of imagining it with a title in an unfamiliar language. If you were to do that, would you still be able to tell anything at all about the nature, themes or even genre of the book?”

That’s a great idea. If everything about your book cover was the same (pics, typefaces) but the words were foreign/lorem ipsum, what assumptions would your viewer make?

Cool book cover design tip!

Indie Publishing Friends, Writing

Book Cover Makeover! Before and Afters, yay!

Art, Indie Publishing Friends

A friend of mine wrote a postmodern hypertext (like, CYOA) eBook called LOVE OCTOPUS TRANSFORMATION. My sketch has been on its cover for years now, but since I’ve learned more about eyecatching book cover design, I wanted to update it and make it purdy for her.

Here’s the before:

Sketchy octopus on black background.The test of a good eBook cover: does it catch audience interest? Does it signal the genre?

My old errors: I stretched the text, and you can’t figure out what the illio is in the thumbnail. Genre, what’s that?

Here comes the AFTER!

LOVE OCTOPUS TRANSFORMATION cover 2018. A woman's green face beneath pink tentacles, with the title in bold text.

LOVE OCTOPUS TRANSFORMATION cover 2018. A woman's green face beneath pink tentacles, with the title in bold text.

A mashup of CC-0 photos, a little Krita magic, and surprisingly little futzing in Inkscape for the text!
This one might be a little fantastical for the subject matter, but I think it’s striking! If I could do it again, I might move the author name to the top…but at least the typeface matches her other books! #branding

Do you love BEFORE AND AFTER style book cover makeovers? Comment below with some of your favorites!