Writing for Charity – by Jane Ayres

cover design by Klaus Hartleben

“As a creative I can speak for most of us and say that often our motive is not money, it is to make a difference in the world.” Natasha Steer

This statement, from Natasha’s post on Networking Vs Making Friends, really struck a chord with me about why creatives create.

When I hear about best-selling authors making a fortune I envy the fact they can then give lots of money to charity.  Writing can be a powerful force for change.  But could it also offer a pathway to giving? I thought about how I could contribute more.   I could publish my work and donate any royalties to a charity I cared about. And, rashly, because of my motives, I disregarded a lot of practical advice, believing it didn’t apply.  Of course, whatever your reasons for publishing, if you want to raise money from it, then it is always a business decision, as I have since learned.

Having been traditionally published for over 30 years, and with 20 years plus experience in marketing, you would think I would have an awareness of what is involved.  That’s what I thought.  Funny how you can become blinkered…

I had decided to publish three of my backlist titles for the kindle to raise funds for Redwings Horse Sanctuary, who rescue and care for neglected, abandoned and abused horses and ponies.

I commissioned a professional Medway-based designer, Klaus Hartleben, to create my cover designs as this is the first thing that potential buyers will see.  For a digital book, Amazon is your shop window. Because I was donating all profits from my books to charity, I decided that using the Amazon “free” days to promote the books would defeat the object of the fundraising. ButI have been advised by several professionals that if Book 1 is free for a while (and readers enjoy it) they are more likely to buy the next two books in the series.  So later this month, I will be offering Book 1, Matty and the Moonlight Horse, free for 5 days.

Similarly, I ignored all the advice I read on pricing strategy as part of the marketing plan because the money was going to charity and I wanted to raise the maximum amount from each sale.  But comparing the prices I am charging to other similar titles, my books cost a lot more.  So now I am tweaking the prices and testing the market to see what works best.

No sales = no funds for the horse sanctuary.  So whether your motives are to do something good or to make money to live, I now understand the rules are the same.  Be businesslike.

By Jane Ayres

To find out more about Jane’s publishing experiences, go to her blog www.janeayres.blogspot.co.uk

Her trilogy of Matty Horse and Pony Adventures books for pre-teens and teens (and nostalgic older readers!) are available for Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. All profits from these stories are going to Redwings Horse Sanctuary.

Limehouse Design : This Is What I Do – By Emily Foster

As a fellow creative, you will understand that not everybody understands us.

Since finishing university and making my first proper steps into the world of work, I am often asked what it is I do now. For an elderly relative, it is enough to state briefly that I am working in publishing (books have been around a long time). For my friends outside of the creative industry, this might not be enough; to them, I am the Graphic Designer, and sole creative person of the group. Even though they’re not sure what this truly means, the title seems to satisfy them.

But none of this is enough for my creative friends, nor enough for the Creatabot readers, I feel. The other creatives always seem to ask more questions; they need to know exactly what and how and why. They need the specifics. Luckily, ours is a sharing community, so here I plan to share exactly what it is I do, design-wise, at Limehouse Books.

So what is it that I do? And what does that involve?

First, the obvious. I create covers, and lay out the text, of the books. This involves some direction from my boss, the Managing Director of Limehouse Books. It involves accurate page sizes with bleeds and margins, and exporting to pdfs. It involves liaising with printers and pre-press teams who check (note: check, not fix) your file for you.

What else? There’s design for a purely digital purpose. The Limehouse magazine, for example, which is released online-only, and various digital catalogues. All of these can be seen here: http://www.slideshare.net/limehousebooks. There’s also a few other, little pieces that need to be done. Creating pack shots of books to go on our website, for example, or making an advert as a banner to go on another website. A desktop wallpaper, an event flyer, a cover image for Facebook.

However, all this stuff is still pretty standard. Loads of other companies manage their own creative output just fine. One of the hardest things about working for Limehouse is that we don’t do this with an experienced production team. We do this just us. Just me – the fresh-faced design graduate, not too much experience but eager to learn – and the Managing Director – smart but still doesn’t understand what a baseline grid is.

This sometimes makes for a very scary working day. At the moment we are preparing our next VIB – Very Important Book – to send to print. This project is different as we are producing it in collaboration with another company – so there are more people to potentially disappoint. If this wasn’t enough, we are printing not our usual two thousand copies, but ten thousand copies of this book. If this goes wrong, it will be all our (read: my) fault.

And why am I telling you all this?

I share all this for you to understand. If you feel like you’re in over your head – don’t worry, so do we. We learn as we go along. Being a designer, especially at Limehouse, is much more than knowing Indesign inside out. It’s about having motivation, about listening and learning all the time. Half of what I do now, I didn’t even dream of this time last year. And I hope I still feel the same in another year’s time. 

By Emily Foster

http://uk.linkedin.com/in/emilyjaynefoster

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