Nuggets – Cover Design

Hey folks!

I promised a post a while back about Book Covers, similar to the Web Design Hell post I did for the Fictorians. But then I found Creativindie’s post 8 Cover Design secrets that Publishers use. While he’s talking specifically about larger scale publishers and practices they use to draw in readers, there’s a lot of things that he covers that are good design guidelines.

NOTE! This is useful for writers and designers as well. Pretty much anyone that ever wants to make a book cover.

What it boils down to though is the following three ‘laws’:

1. Make it clear

2. Make it interesting

3. Make it look worth the cover price.

There’s that whole saying about ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’ but people do. They totally do.

Art Student Owl

I do. Why?

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Web Design Hell

This post was originally written for and posted on the Fictorians. You can find it here in all it’s original glory.

Okay, all you writer-types out there I want you to take a deep breath. We’re about to get into some heavy stuff: Websites. I you aren’t familiar with the Oatmeal’s commentary on web design; I suggest you go look at that now. It’ll come in handy later.

This post will run you through the pros and cons of having a writer’s website for yourself and your work, as well as taking a look at how best to approach the strange beast that is a ‘successful website’, even if you’ve never written a line of code in your life.

How do I download an Internet?

But first…

‘Why should I have my own website?’

A personal website lets you raise your hits by having a direct address to point people to, and also by increasing the number of references to you that a search engine will pick up on. It’s not just fans who will be looking for your website but editors, and agents too.

New Internet Kid

That sounds awesome! But…

‘What should I put on it?’

Good question. Each writer is different and so are their needs. For example I’m just starting out with one story published, whereas GRRM is one of the most prominent writers there is right now. What our websites do, and what they have on it will be different.

My needs are: simple navigation, who I am, what I write, and status updates about important news.

George R.R. Martin‘s needs are: consistent branding with his novels, merchandising space and a blog for his fans to keep up with his thoughts and upcoming releases.

So take a moment and list the things you want to get from your website. If you’re not sure what you need, the list below covers the basics, and you can always add or remove things later.

  • Who you are
  • What you write
  • Where to find your work
  • Where else the user can find you

‘Now what?’

Now we have our list of what we need on our site, it’s time to go and actually set up a site. There are two main options you can follow: Pay to have someone else do it, (like GRRM) or do it yourself.

I’ve made a table below to help figure out which option is best for you.

  Paid professional DIY
Cost $500 – $3000 free* – 100$
Custom look and feel Unique to your brand, completely customizable. You get what you pay for in quality. Some customization, unless coding the site from scratch.Reliable navigation with preset templates.
Scope Limited only by what you are willing to pay. Limited by the effort you are willing to put in.
I was a Romance writer but now I write Horror. I need to change my website! That’ll be another couple hundred dollars. Your site has time if you do! You can swap to a new template, or if you coded by hand… it’ll be a while.

 

‘So Building my own…’

There’s a whole bunch of different options from Wix to Weebly, Blogger to WordPress. For today, let’s look at two of the most common website builders that offer free accounts: Weebly and WordPress.

Basically it breaks down to how you want to use your website. Are you comfortable with formatting in a text box (like word document) environment? Then use WordPress.

Or would you rather drag and drop items in and move them around until you’re happy? Then use Weebly. There are some further differences, so I made another table for you, comparing the two below. Keep in mind this is only the currently available information, and plans change year to year.

  Weebly WordPress
Cost Basic: Free
Starter: $48/yr
Pro: $96/yr
Basic: Free
Pro: $99/yr
Storage Space Basic: < 500 MB
Starter: 500MB
Pro: 2GB
Basic: 3 GB
Pro: 13 GB
Templates 100+ (unclear if they’re all free, or some are premium) Basic: 144
Pro: individually priced, $60-$80
Third party: individually priced,
Ease of use Very Easy: drag and drop Easy: Very similar to word processor
Customizability High, Allows for HTML High, Allows for HTML
Domain alice.weebly.com
alice.com for $
alice.wordpress.com
alice.com for $18, able to be added to a basic account
Statistics Basic: number of hits
Starter: referrers, which pages are seen and how often in last 30 days
Basic: Referrers, Number of users vs number of views hourly and then daily
Mobile app Yes Yes
Ads No Basic: Maybe
Pro: No

 

‘Okay I have an account on Weebly/Wordpress’

Great! We’re getting there. But before us lies the path of Design which many an unwary author has fallen into. Remember that Oatmeal comic? Good. Now is when you sit down in front of your screen and take a good hard look at your design skills. Unless you are legitimately comfortable using photoshop and/or familiar with the tenets of good design, use a free template/theme. Most let you customize the headers and backgrounds.

And finally (for now):

Commandments of [Writer] Web Design

  1. Comic Sans is the joke of the typography world, don’t use it.
  2. Limit yourself to two fonts per page: 1 for headers, 1 for text. Using a third font for your Site title/logo is also OK.
  3. You can use Serif or Sans Serif fonts for headers, but use sans-serif for bodies of text.
  4. Dark text on a light background or light text on a dark background. Pick one that fits your genre.
  5. For text over a textured background, be sure that the text is readable. Step back a couple feet and see if you can still see the letters clearly.
  6. Don’t use images that you aren’t licensed to use. It’s the same as a website putting your story up without asking, and not linking or crediting you.
  7. For the love of all that’s holy in the internet, please do not put music on your website. At least music that automatically starts when the page loads. Very little can make a user click ‘back’ as fast as the blare of music into our earbuds.
  8. Test and Preview the design before going ‘live’ (which means the world can see it).
  9. Links away from your page should ALWAYS open in a new window, otherwise you’re directing traffic away from your site instead of supplementing it.
  10. Update, Update, Update! There is nothing more frustrating for users than an out of date website.

Nuggets of Knowledge

*Takes a deep breath from surfacing from work and plotting and writing*

Happy Friday everyone!

Over the last year I’ve emerged from my hermit-hole of writing and met hundreds of writers (not even exagerrating), gone to 3 literary cons, won nano, sold a story and have a handful of others floating around.

I’ve learned a lot.

Over the last couple of days I’ve seen some posts/emails made me realise how much I had learned and made me realise that the little nuggets I’ve gathered should be shared! *throws nuggets of knowledge everywhere* careful, they stain.

But seriously, ch-ch-check it out:

How To Be A Better Newbie Writer

New Internet Kid

I’m a writer!

1. Be Gracious

No one likes a new kid on the block who walks in like they own the place. Many of the professionals you’ll meet have been writing for years, decades and have a lot more experience than you. Be nice, and they’re more likely to want to share information and introduce you around.
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Monday Madness

Hello all you fine people. As this is a Post-con Monday, I’m going to leave you with a link and plug for a guest post I wrote on The Fictorians blog.

It’s all about websites: why writers should have one, and how to go about setting one up for non coders.

Here’s a quick blurb below, but for web-enlightenment, check out the full article.

Okay, all you writer-types out there, I want you to take a deep breath. We’re about to get into some heavy stuff: Websites. If you aren’t familiar with the Oatmeal’s commentary on web design I suggest you go look at that now. It’ll come in handy later.

This post will run you through the pros and cons of having a writer’s website for yourself and your work, as well as taking a look at how best to approach the strange beast that is a ‘successful website’, even if you’ve never written a line of code in your life.