Every picture tells a story and every story paints a picture – by Jane Ayres

Beware of the Horse 4 (1)
Klaus Hartleben

We are drawn to images (excuse the pun!). People respond more readily to images than words.  They have a more immediate impact on the emotions.  They transcend language and literacy.

As writers, we are using words to create the images we want to evoke, the internal cinematic experience.

A bookshop (or Amazon page) provides a rich gallery of myriad images from which we can make a selection.  If we are attracted to the book cover, we pick up (or click on) the book.  Then we read some words – the book blurb – before making a decision on whether to sample more words.

The importance of the cover image cannot be overestimated.  Somehow, it has to capture the flavour, the essence, of the story within a relatively small space frame.  I wonder if designers realise the major factor they play in the initial success of a new book.

I love working with a designer and am thrilled with the images Medway-based Klaus Hartleben has produced for my book covers.  The internet has also brought me into contact with some wonderful artists and illustrators I would never otherwise have met, and in 2013 I hope to commission some original illustrations as part of the design, which is really exciting.

The Book Designer invites entries for its monthly e-book cover design awards and I would urge any indie authors and designers to submit work for feedback.  You get to see a range of diverse designs which is inspiring and stimulating.

http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2012/12/e-book-cover-design-awards-november-2012/

Interesting how much I favour clean lines, bold powerful images, and neat uncluttered designs, yet in real life I’m messy and untidy.  Or maybe that’s why I appreciate clarity in art!  The psychology of what attracts us and the reasoning behind it is endlessly fascinating.

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

Her recent e-book, Beware of the Horse, is available from Amazon.

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.

An ebook is for life…..by Jane Ayres

(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) By alienratt

In a previous post I quoted author Jonathan Franzen, and do so again as his views are thought provoking. Regarded as one of America’s greatest living novelists, he is not a fan of the ebook.

“The technology I like is the American paperback edition of Freedom. I can spill water on it and it would still work! So it’s pretty good technology. And what’s more, it will work great 10 years from now. I think, for serious readers, a sense of permanence has always been part of the experience. Everything else in your life is fluid, but here is this text that doesn’t change.”

When I first read this quote I immediately thought, what a strange thing to say.  An ebook is forever.  Once it’s out there, it’s there until the writer takes it down.  A printed book only exists while it is in print.  And paper and ink can rot, burn, fade and be physically destroyed. Therefore lost in that way.

Then I thought some more about permanence/impermanence.  When it comes to matters digital, different formats need different hardware to read.  We have a choice of formats  –  kindle, kobo, nook  – to name a few, that all vary.  But if you can read, you can read a print book without needing some special device.

And of course, some digital formats become obsolete. We only have to think about  Amstrad (my first proper computer!), cassette tapes, video now replaced by dvd (which will undoubtedly disappear in time). Content on these formats has been lost.

When I started writing, my work was stored on big floppy disks, then smaller versions for the Amstrad (not compatible with any other format!), then pc floppies, and memory sticks.  Now we can store data on wafer thin cards and out there in the cloud.  All these changes in the space of a relatively few years.  So now I can get a handle on what Franzen is saying.   And it is so easy and cheap to alter digital content compared to amending a printed copy of a book.

Personally, I am a fan of both formats.  I love printed books and I love my kindle.   I’ve also read extended pieces on my blackberry. I can’t help wondering what the future will hold…….

By Jane Ayres

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