August 16, 2013

What I learned from the RWA Conference (which I didn't attend)

I purchased a couple of MP3 files from last month's RWA Conference.  I have not been a member of RWA in years, but in case you haven't heard, after years of ignoring indie publishing, or as it seems to be called more frequently these days, self-publishing, RWA has rather belatedly embraced it, with multiple workshops devoted to this very subject at this year's conference.  The slow pace of acceptance doesn't particularly endear them to me, so I doubt I'll ever rejoin...but that doesn't mean I'm not open to hearing what was discussed at the conference as it pertains to self-publishing.

While listening isn't the same as being there (for instance, with audio-only you can't see the PowerPoint presentations the speakers are referring to, making for a disadvantage), I nonetheless learned a few things I felt were worth repeating.  Author Vickie Taylor, talking about formatting, said that using combination keystrokes to create ellipses and M-dashes will prevent eReaders from doing a line break mid-ellipsis and mid-dash.  To create an unbreakable ellipsis, use Ctrl-Alt-period.  To create an unbreakable M-dash, use Ctrl-Alt-hyphen (the hyphen on the numeric keypad, not on the regular keyboard).

Barbara Freethy and Bella Andre, talking about author branding, agree that even if no one has heard of you, to put your name in big print on the cover.  Freethy also recommends using the same font for your name on all your books (something my cover designer has done for me since the beginning).  My own feelings are that a name in large print will work best for a shorter name (Andre's name is ideal, just 10 letters), or else it's going to take up a disproportionate amount of space on the cover.

Freethy also recommends adding any legitimate benefits to your cover, i.e., quotes from bestselling authors, contests wins or placements, bestselling status, etc., anything that might give your book an edge.  There have been debates about what actually constitutes a bestselling status, and I've decided to leave that one alone.    

Some of what was said was just plain common sense, but worth pointing out, becomes sometimes the obvious doesn't register to hardworking writers.  Andre said that for branding of her Sullivan series she went with the same cover concept...a kissing couple on the top half, a landscape scene on the bottom half.  I did something similar with my Love series, consisting so far of Lost That Lovin' Feeling and Love Will Follow:

Although I've done very little work on the manuscript for Love Will Grow, the last book in the series (it's on my 2014 publication schedule), I've already purchased the cover art for it:

So what if the sand is different shade in each of the three pictures?  They are all sand and water, and that's enough to make the reader see a connection.  Besides, when you've seen one picture of sand and water, you've seen them all.  The thing is to go for a similar look, not an identical one.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about covers in recent months, and I moved the tinkering I want to do to the head of my To Do list.  I hope to have a cover redone for one of my titles, and another one slightly revised, by the end of the year.  I'll be showing before and after photos after they're done.

If you're interested to know what else they talked about in the various RWA workshops, you can peruse and purchase MP3 files for immediate download here.


Ey Wade said...

Thanks for sharing. Some of the info I knew, but its nice to hear it still works and is used.
Your covers are nice and def says 'series'.

bettye griffin said...

Glad you found it helpful, Ey! And thanks for complimenting my covers.