Michael Pert has written a taut, intelligent thriller based on Australia’s role in the troubled birth of East Timor. In the above draft cover, we blended images of Timor and a stark colour palette, and used the striking Franchise for the title typeface.
Author advice guru David Gaughran has posted a very interesting column on the most powerful selling tool for books — personal recommendations and reviews, or “social proof”. If a potential reader receives a strong social signal via reviews or a personal recommendation from a friend, they are much more likely to purchase. It therefore follows that independent authors need to do all they can to foster and amplify such signalling for their own work.
An interesting view from 30,000 feet of the challlenges confronting and opportunities available to independent authors, as posted at The Verge. They have spoken to a few successful authors and author advocates and provide several useful links. One of the best is here with a real trove of resources and advice, especially regarding predatory vanity publisher outfits.
An excellent explanation from the consistently great Veritasium channel examining the way algorithms shape content and vice versa. The sheer volume of posted YouTube videos requires algorithm settings that encourage sensational/clickbait content, and make it difficult for serious content providers to maintain their audience. Some of the principles at play here also show up in surfacing material on other algorithm driven services such as Amazon, Audible, Google and Facebook. A balanced and fascinating examination of a key online issue, presented by Canadian Australian Derek Muller.
Audio books are a fast growing part of the publishing landscape, driven by the ubiquity of smart phones. Recording an audio edition of a book can be extremely expensive and not a little technically challenging. So we were very interested to hear of a local audio book recording service charging reasonable rates. Check out their site here. An explanation of the service to authors here. Check out this book produced by author2audible on Audible, and the author page.
A small selection of colourful cookbook covers completed over the past few years. Anything involving food is always fun!
Thrillers are an enjoyable design challenge — very bold use of highly condensed type, high contrast, extreme emotions and a certain cinematic touch. The Fatal Path is no exception to this general pattern. Here are three alternate versions of the same cover.
Wanissa Somsuphangsri is an extremely talented calligrapher and illustrator based in Melbourne. If you need some highly individualised and polished work, she might be the person for you. We’re currently putting together a cover for an author client who engaged Wanissa and the results are amazing — will post the full cover in due course. Wanissa is also a member of the Letterettes.
Over the past decade Peter Sinclair has produced a series of droll murder-mysteries featuring the spry and perceptive retiree Edgar Hodgkiss, bane of corrupt politicians and greedy developers. We have kept the same basic design, varying the main image and colour scheme. One can only hope this well-written series will soon receive the kind of attention it deserves. New postings of the print and ebook files will be uploaded shortly, and we will post links when they go ‘live’.
A few versions on the theme of ‘digital parenting’ — a thoughtful attempt to promote a rational balance between time on and off screen in a family context, and summarise the latest research on the topic. Published by Hybrid Publishers.
In the latest news from the independent author front , Kathryn Gauci reports back on her recent Bookbub promotion:
“Bookbub was OK but didn't set the world on fire. I think some of that had to do with it being for the UK, AUS, NZ, Canada and India and NOT the US. The US is generally the biggest market. It also adds more to the deal in the first place. The real difference has come with it lifting my profile and follow on orders plus the page reads have more than doubled per day. So hopefully the momentum keeps up. I also put it up on a few other sites for a couple of days at the same time — Fussy Librarian etc, which I think helped. My friend, Barbara had one the week before and spent more on extra promo. Same Bookbub deal as me. She just recovered her cost but the follow-on has improved. Another friend had the US market as well and doubled her money.
It was worth it though. And the extra reviews and ratings are starting to come through also.”
Reviews are a key signal used in the ranking of online books. The more reviews, the higher the book ranks and the more books are sold. Of course, given this logic, reviews have been widely gamed by authors and publishers, to the point when they are sometimes not reliable guides as to a book’s quality and popularity. Authors round up their friends to review their books, or pay other services to generate reviews, or review other authors’ books in the hope of reciprocal reviews. Amazon has been fighting back against this degradation of the reviewing signal — the outlines of said epic struggle are described here, along with the latest strategies for independent authors.
Troy Simpson’s Funny Dictionary (National Library of Australia publishing) catalogues numerous amusing mis-definitions perpetrated by students. One of his fans painted the illustration above — Troy holding the book cover (WorkingType Design).
See here for an account of the amusing speech given at the launch of Troy’s book.
James Pratt has written a cracking thriller novel set in the near future. A resurgent Russia invades an unprotected Europe, with only a small group of special services veterans standing in their way. If they are able to bring an extraordinary secret weapon to bear, they may be able to save Western civilisation. Our cover incorporates some of the elements of the story and uses dramatic colours and high contrast to attract reader attention. Typefaces used include National and Franchise. Published by Silverbird Publishing.
Wayne Pappin has written a heartfelt tale about a small Australian town, focusing on two young men and their travails. He wanted an image of the bridge that features at the heart of the story, which we combined with the two swimmers. The title typeface is Northwell and the subtitle Charcuterie Flared.
Alongside the continuing rise of audiobooks, podcasts have also experienced dramatic growth in recent years. Some podcasts have achieved million plus audiences, which has drawn the attention of advertisers and now Spotify, the giant of music streaming. The podcast space has tended to have a scrappy, DIY feel, but that may start to recede into history. Authors interested in audio books might want to also consider the possibilities of podcasting — there have been several successful attempts to create serialised podcast dramas, an interesting echo of the long-vanished era of full cast radio dramas.
Kritsa is a small and very picturesque village just inland from the northern coast of Crete. Yvonne Payne has written dramatic historical fiction based on Greece’s fight for independence, and now a guide to Kritsa and the surrounding landscape. She wanted a cover in keeping with the earlier covers we designed for her, but showing the broader context of the town and also the smaller details of the streets. Typefaces used include Yana and Nexa.