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.

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!