January 2009


So my readers, all three of you 😉 will notice I’ve deleted some pages that have just been placeholders since starting this blog in October of 2008. I will be moving the site to WordPress.org in a few months or sooner perhaps. I’ve never filled those pages as I soon realized the limitations of properly displaying my work made it not worth the effort here. So the new site will have a little bit different structure and will consolidate my portfolio on what I hope will be a much easier to manage and update platform. I’m looking forward to that. In the meantime you can find some cover samples on my old website: Sue Campbell Graphic Designs. In fact that site will become the domain for this here blog.

I’ve “rethunk” the purposes and direction of this site many times since starting it. And I’m curious to know what kinds of information you’d like to see on the blog or on other static pages? Downloadable articles and design tips? Photoshop “recipes”? Marketing ideas? A work in progress section—where you can vote on your preferences for cover designs? Links to writing and design contests? Please comment if you have ideas! And thanks.

A new book cover design archive…

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I’ve come across a wonderful new site displaying “the best in book cover design” (as selected by these folks). It does look to be very eclectic and inclusive of good works. I’ll let this other blogpost tell the story sinice they did it so well. The FontFeed blog also looks to be a good source for articles on design and typography. Here’s the direct link to The Book Cover Archive.

nytlogo153x23Today, the New York Times published an article by Motoko Rich entitled “Self-publishers Flourish as Writers Pay the Tab.” It’s a pretty realistic look at a new world in publishing. Below is my opinion on this situation.

It had to happen, critical mass has been reached. That, and the model practiced by major (mainly New York) publishing houses has at long last proved to be unsustainable. More and more books are published every year in this country, yet the cost is born by those very few “mega-blockbusters” promoted as such by their publishers. Yet by all accounts there are fewer and fewer readers of “books” each year. But readers, when polled don’t always count reading done online, or on other electronic devices, nor audio books as “books.”

Are we witnessing the death (or severe winnowing) of print publishing in the traditional sense of mass marketed ink on paper books, verses the many other delivery methods being explored? It’s hard to say. As a cover/book designer, I surely hope there will still be significant demand for that singular intimate experience that only the visually pleasing, tactile and physical book can provide. After all, that’s my livelihood, and my passion.

As for the new surge in self-published titles of varying quality and aesthetic appeal, I suppose that it’s a great thing for those who want  to share their stories with a few people. But I hope they don’t harbor unrealistic illusions about striking it rich and appearing on Oprah. For every talented newbie writer, and or compelling story that successfully uses this method to springboard to fame and a wider audience when picked up by a big name publisher, there are thousands that languish in obscurity. If fame and fortune were their aim, they may have been better off robbing a bank—infamy seems as marketable these days.

Evidence supports that this can be done though. First, they had to have a good product, but they also had to spend considerable effort, and dare we say a few bucks, in getting the word out about their book(s). I don’t think any self-published titles (with the possibility of rare exceptions) ever got picked up by a publisher without first establishing some significant and verifiable sales. No doubt there are some roses out there in the mass of stinkweeds. Or as Cathy Langer of the Tattered Cover in Denver said, “For every thousand titles that get self-published, maybe there’s two that should have been published.”

What of paying the tab? Mr. Rich doesn’t really get in to the gritty details except to offer $99 to $100,000 as the range of costs involved. Well, that’s mighty big range! If we’re talking print on demand (POD) I’d sure like to know what the author is getting for $100,000! Can you say writer’s beware? I have looked at the so-called “custom covers” many POD “publishers” offer and frankly your baby would be better off making its debut in a plain brown wrapper.

I’m paid to put the lipstick on … whether they are pigs or natural born beauties. And I do it most happily. So all you self-publishers out there, give your natural born beauty its best chance of thriving in this very crowded marketplace. Let me do the cover. (Even e-books need covers.) I can unequivically guarantee you it won’t cost nearly $100,000.

Jim Barnes presents the Moonbeams gold medal.

Jim Barnes presents the Moonbeams gold medal.

I attended the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards ceremony January 23rd in Denver. One of Stephen’s Press’ books, Ensoñsación el Jardín de Sueños (Dreamygirl’s Field of Wishes) won a gold medal for best Spanish language picturebook. Since I live here in Colorado, and the book’s author Jorge Betancourt Polanco  wasn’t able to come I came instead. The book was warmly received and Jorge will receive a very cool medal. Congratulations Jorge!

I also took a quick walk through the exhibits at the ALA (American Librarians Assoc.) Midwinter Conference. There were a number of publisher’s booths and children’s books were much better represented than adult books. It was like a mini BEA except like 1/8 the size!

And on Monday it was anounced that Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book won the most prestigess Newbery award. That’s cool.  Congratulations to him too.

I haven’t blogged about design in a long time. Here are a couple of good design blogs I’ve just run across. First i Love typography is a blog about typography! It’s lovely, simple clean and a great source for font ideas and design ideas also. This guy knows his fonts! Play the font game! (I’m in the “hall of fame.”)

designAnd this one webdesignerdepot. Lots of good articles on webdesign like this one about blog design. Lots of great design links too.

premiodardo_awardAccording to Todd, who bestowed the pass along award on me, the award “Dardos” appreciates the merits – culturally, literary and individually – of every blogger who expresses him/herself on his/her blog.

Thanks, again, to everyone who reads this blog and comments. I appreciate it!

Now then, the rules of Premio Dardos:
1. be tickled pink 😉
2. copy and paste the award picture to your blog
3. write down the regulations
4. link the blog who bestowed you the Award
5. and finally nominate 15 blogs for the Award

Here are fifteen blogs that I definitely think deserve this award in no particular order:

1. Carolyn Hayes Uber — Publisher; she’s my sis as well as my boss, but it really is an informative blog!

2. Vegas Confidential — If you like Vegas, his blog has the latest gossip.

3. Bark Like a Fish, Dammit! — Ursula V. A very talented young artist and author, and she’s just funny as hell.

4. The Dark Salon — Alexandra Sokoloff, writer who is posting some wonderful “how to write” articles.

5. This Side of Paradise — Geoff Schutt is blogging a literary novel one post at a time.

6. Today’s Inspiration — Leif Peng posts beautiful mid-twentieth century editorial and advertising art—fabulous!

7. Drawn! is a multi-author blog devoted to illustration, art, cartooning and drawing.

8. Neil Gaiman’s Journal — OK, I’m a fan girl, what can I say.

9. Red Pen Girl — Freelance editor, and friend Jami Carpenter.

10. Geotripper — The blog of my cuz the “rock doc” geology professor, Garry Hayes.

11. Geoff Schmuacher — One of the most well-read guys I have the pleasure to know. An author, editor, publisher, and news guy.

13. Nathan Bransford — A literary agent. His blog, is fun to read.

14.The Writing Show — Paula B. is going on hiatus? Well, there still some reading (and listening here.)

15. The Murverse —The blog that goes with Mur Lafferty’s I Should be Writing Podcast.

Wow, coming up with 15 was harder than I thought!

And … no, I have no clue what it means.

Cory Doctorow is a well-known, and celebrated young sci-fi author. I don’t know if it’s comforting to know that writers we admire, and who are successfully churning out great work — and regularly — also struggle with the same time issues and distraction problems that we amateurs do.  (Internet.)

Doctorow has some good advice for dealing with distractions in this article in Locus Magazine.

OK, THIS is pretty funny: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200901u/reblock-yourself

Hmm, I posted this with BlogIt from Facebook and it posted it 6 times! Yikes. Plus you can’t tag or categorize the posts. Not so useful, that.

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