Growing in Our Fields of Interest

One of the things that’s important in any field we care about is growth. Are you growing in what you do, in what you care about, in where you want to go?

Based on the true story of the author’s Frenchie who defied the odds in agility

To this end, I think learning more and being involved is important in our being the best we can be, no matter what our interest, professional or otherwise. I am a regular attendee at SCBWI events (more on this sometime soon), but recently had the pleasure of being a guest speaker on a panel for an Animal Writers Workshop. Obviously, the commonality shared by both speakers and participants was our love of animals and writing. My fellow speakers shared their experiences in their writing process, road to publication, inspiration, and the difference in writing for a non-fiction vs. fiction reading audience and more. I spoke on the importance of good graphic design in self-publishing.

Flyer/program cover for the workshop, my design

With so many aspiring writers and illustrators turning to self-publishing nowadays – in addition to or instead of traditional publishing – there are new challenges to be faced. One of them is the importance of a well-designed product, which is where I, as a graphic artist, come in. My talk focused on some of the elements of good graphic design and how they come together to create an appealing book, and especially an appealing cover. I stressed how hiring a good graphic designer is every bit as important as a good illustrator, editor, and printer in publishing.

An adult novel from the point of view of the horse that changed the author’s life.

In a highly competitive field, now expanded due to self-publishing, you have literally seconds to grab the attention of a potential purchaser. A good portion of my talk included show-and-tell using examples to make my points. I brought along a bunch of particularly attractive children’s books from my own collection, had my fellow panelists hold up their well-designed books, and also showed a couple from my local library where I had tasked our librarian to find me some samples of poorly designed covers. I knew we had the right examples when I held up one of them and there were audible gasps from the audience!

It was a fun talk to an interested and interesting audience, with more opportunity for discussion afterwards at tables in an Authors Alley. Panelists and additional writers were  set up for book signings and a get-to-know with attendees.  What made this event so much fun was the sharing of experiences with fellow writers whose passion was our love of animals. Certainly, I had plenty to share, but I also found plenty to learn. And that’s what makes workshops and conferences both fun and important in our lives.

One of the books published by the event coordinator and moderator

If you have a dream, a passion, I encourage you to find opportunities to expand your knowledge and connect with others who share that passion. You will grow in many ways, some unexpected, and be inspired. Of course, if I can help you bring your dreams into fabulous visual format, just contact me and I’ll be happy to help.

 

Bookmarks for Everyone

While bookmarks are clearly a natural fit for authors, they’re also great for all kinds of organizations, both profit and non-profit alike. As mentioned in an earlier post, people ARE still reading books!

And people notoriously love little giveaways. So why not have a bookmark made up for your shop? A bookshop? Well, a double bonus, of course, but any smaller, special interest shop will do well to tuck a bookmark in your customer’s bag. It will remind your customer of the wonderful goodies in your shop, your helpful staff, and the lovely area they visited when they found you. All that in an attractive item that is relatively inexpensive to produce from start to finish.

 

 

 

 

Pictured here is a bookmark I made up for a sweet little gift shop nearby. Sadly, this business is no longer, but the owner faithfully tucked the bookmark into each customer’s bag, a warm little invitation to “please come again” all on its own. I suggested she holepunch one end and slip in and knot a ribbon, which makes an even more effective place keeper.

What about if you’re a non-profit? What better way to keep your cause, your mission, in front of potential donors’ eyes? A bookmark can pack a lot of punch in a small space and provide great imagery that speaks volumes. I designed this bookmark for Mylestone Equine Rescue, an organization I’ve worked with for many years. It provides the basic contact information for the rescue and photos of the horses that are now looking fabulous thanks to their efforts. How simple is this? And who wouldn’t want to keep it, check in on their website, or make a donation?

Bookmarks are a great, simple, and effective way for businesses to make their mark, whether profit or non-profit. And all without breaking the bank. If you think a bookmark would help your mission, please contact me and let me know.

How A Newsletter Works for You

It’s a new year and a new opportunity to reach your audience, be they fans, donors, colleagues, or others who have an interest in you. A newsletter can be a great way to let “your people” know what’s going on with you and/or your business.  Depending on your needs, a newsletter can be sent snail mail, digitally, posted on your website and social media for download, or all of the above to meet your recipients and followers’ preferences.

But here’s the thing –  no matter your delivery system, the newsletter still has to be designed, written, and produced. Of course, that’s where I come in! The newsletter you see here is one I created for Popcorn Park, an animal refuge in New Jersey. ZoonooZ  is the official publication of their Zoological Society.

One of the things that I do for the ZoonooZ (and could do for you) is use my excellent writing skills to write the entire publication from start to finish. After I write it, the ZoonooZ then goes to Popcorn Park’s director for proofing and any corrections in content. Or I can design a beautiful newsletter for you; you can send me all the content; and I can do the layout and prep for e or standard mailing. Or I can re-design that tired newsletter you already have that needs a facelift!

This is a simple 4-pager, and it’s gone through some re-designs over the years since its inception 23 years ago. Personally, I would prefer more white space, but because there is always so much content to squeeze in, it presents a challenge. Your newsletter, however, will have a unique look all its own that represents you and/or your organization.

Who do you want to reach? What do you want to tell them about what’s new with your organization or cause? And if you’re a charity, remember — a newsletter keeps your donors in touch with you and serves as a fundraising piece. Can I help you with your newsletter? Just contact me and let me know.

See more samples of newsletters and other graphic projects.

 

 

Getting to Know You

Beyond meeting you in person, how do people get to know you? Nowadays, the internet is going to be the primary way of learning about you, what you do, and what services and/or products you offer if you are in business. Between a website, blog, and social media, people will know plenty. And then, if they want to know more, they’ll pop your name into a search engine and know more than you’d probably ever think (or want) to tell them.

But let’s go back to that personal meeting and the humble business card. I recently re-designed my business card. The front, as you can see, echoes the exact same look as the header of this site. It includes my basic services, my website, this site/blog, and my e-mail.

The back of the card provides information about an aspect of my business I am expanding, helping people self-publish in children’s books. I’ve detailed my services, provided a few samples, and repeated my e-mail.

Here’s what’s important about the front of the card looking like my web design – when people come visit, using my card for “directions”, they know they’re arrived at the right destination. Each time they look at my card or come to this site, I am now associated with that gorgeous river shot and that I will bring their dreams to life. (Yes, I will.) It’s called branding, or brand recognition. You recognize it best when you see a company’s logo which appears on all their products, communications, etc. However, I’m not that big of a company to need a logo (in my opinion), so I’ll be happy if you just connect the dots.

Let’s take a look at my last business card as it relates to my current website. Looking at a screenshot of my site, you can clearly see that the two are related and the same person. Both utilize my own artwork and a crow. (You’ll have to go to my website to read more on that.)

The card details what I do. It also listed my physical address and my phone number (deleted here), neither of which I choose to display nowadays, nor do I need to. Connected as we all are via the internet, my location is irrelevant, and I choose to make all initial contact via e-mail. I liked this card just fine, but I am also no longer offering some of those services;  the back side of the card needs to serve prospective clients better; and I want that all important visual cohesiveness.

So … getting to know you? I’m very happy to meet you, but when I go home, how will I remember who you are? I just met 30 people! Oh, I know – you gave me a business card. And look at that – I’ve arrived at your website and I can learn more.

How can I help you be better known? As you can see, I have a few ideas, so get in touch!

 

 

Business Cards

They’re light; they’re portable; and easy to save. Business cards really never go out of style, and anyone conducting business of any kind always needs to carry them with them.

The standard business card is 2″ x 3.25″, a little larger than what you see here in the post. To optimize the space on a business card, you generally want to take advantage and use both sides of the card and include as much information as you need to share.  But in some instances, one side will do. Those who take your cards can make notes on the blank side.

Because the space is limited, you want to think carefully about what wording will be on the card – certainly you need your name and/or business name, a visual that tells the story of you/your business, and contact information. In my own business card, upper left, you see only the front. The back features another illustration of mine and all my contact information.

In the card at right, there is no need for extended information beyond what the front of the card shows. What makes this card unique is that I did a portrait of one of Toni’s dogs and incorporated her favorite flower, the pansy, and then used that as the focus for her business card.

Another example of a one-sided card is the one I designed for Laurie Wallmark for her first published children’s book, Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine. It’s simple, to the point, shows the beautiful book cover, and provides Laurie’s contact information.

Bring your business card with you everywhere, ready to hand  out to anyone who wants to know about you and what you do. Include them in mailings, with your product, in other businesses that will promote you, and so on. It’s one of the simplest and most basic ways you can promote yourself.

In addition to knowing what needs to be included on a business card, you also need to know a good designer, and that would be me. Contact me with your business card needs, and check here for additional samples of business cards I’ve designed.

Brochures … for Authors

There are plenty of ways to promote yourself as an author, and here’s another one – a brochure. Shown here is a tri-fold brochure which features a selection of animal books that a well-known local author,  Loren Spiotta-DiMare, has available – some for adults, most for children. On this particular project, Loren had asked for my help in  re-creating the brochure to be similar to her last one. The original designer was unavailable, so I essentially did a new layout, added new books, plus new design elements and fonts. The end product was similar, but clearly new and different.

I’ve worked with Loren in the past in helping her self-publish, as well as with several other projects, so I was happy to bring something fresh to her brochure. The front is simple and tells you what you’ll find inside. In the center panel of the outside of the brochure we have author information and a photo of Loren with some of her children’s books. On the third fold-in panel, are featured four books for adults.

Inside the brochure, above, you’ll see a fairly comprehensive selection of her children’s books, including short summaries and pricing. In the upper right is an order form.

Brochures like this do assume that you have a good selection of books to offer, but a brochure doesn’t always have to have 3 panels, either. It could have 2 panels, or it could just be one – 1/3 of what you see above – known as a rack card. In a case like that, you could feature your book(s) on the front, and on the back, author information and an order form. Simple.
And … any of these can be made into a PDF and shared by e-mail or be made available for download on your website or social media sites.

Where would you use these? Certainly at events, book festivals, and at, and in advance of, school events for kids. You could have them on display, or if you suspected your audience might want to order more than one title, or in multiples, you might send some on ahead of your visit. In fact, send them to anyone you think might be interested in purchasing your book(s)! While I’m not sure of the policies they must follow, librarians might welcome a small catalog such as this as well. Some of the books featured are self-published, but others have been printed by traditional publishers.

If you want to sell more books, you need to be pro-active, especially if you are self-publishing. When you are published traditionally, a huge amount of publicity is done by the publisher on your behalf, far beyond what the average self-publishing author could ever do. That’s why it’s so important to think of how you can promote yourself! If I can help, let me know.

See more samples of my graphic design work.

Fly with a Flyer

At first glance, flyers may seem old-fashioned , but let me open your eyes to a new-fashioned way of looking at flyers. They serve print and digital media equally well, and have a unique way of promoting you that you may not have thought of.

Pictured here is a flyer I did for Mylestone Equine Rescue, promoting their annual Open House. They have a bunch printed out, hand them out to their volunteers, and post them everywhere you’d want an event flyer to be seen. But with the joy of e-mail, they get a boost in far more places than the volunteers may travel.

Everyone at Mylestone can send the PDF I created to friends, family and … media! Recipients all across the state and in nearby PA can print the flyer out and post it in the barn where they ride, their local tack shop, supermarket, etc. It can also be sent to  local and statewide newspapers and/or online publications, along with (or without) a press release and a scan of one of the horses on the flyer for a neat package from which an editor can glean information and images.

I also prep the flyer in a number of formats and/or resolutions so it can be used on their website, Facebook, and other social media. Forget that image of a flyer that only gets handed out on a street  corner (although you could do that, too); it is now a way to promote your event across all media and be seen by people you otherwise might never reach.

Flyers are a great way to promote events (think about your next book signing), plus they have other useful applications. Sign up to follow me and learn more, or contact me with your needs for a beautifully designed flyer!

Check out more of my graphic design samples.