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Interview with Cover Artist & Graphic Designer- Scarlett Rugers February 22, 2012

Posted by mattfarmer in Uncategorized.
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You have all seen, by now, the wonderful cover for my debut book. It was designed by a friend of mine- Scarlett Rugers, from Scarlett Rugers Design. I interviewed her, briefly, and wanted to share her words with you all.

1. When you hear the word ‘Steampunk’ what comes to mind?

Cogs and wheels and goggles. I have a love-hate relationship. It’s such a beautiful genre, and yet so easily pigeon-holed. Having said that I haven’t exposed myself to a lot of Steampunk literature so maybe I should to see how far and wide the genre spreads. I hope it’s a field that continues to evolve.

2. How did this impression of ‘Steampunk’, which you have, influence the cover design of my book?

I wanted to try something new that still gave the sense of Steampunk without the ‘cogs, wheels and goggles’. To get out of that stereotype without shedding its identity. I resourced things like typography, use of colour, atmosphere and textures to try and bring it together.

3. What was the process involved in this cover? In other covers you have designed?

If you have a book- I want to read it. The whole reason I’m in this field is to interpret to the best of my abilities the most wonderful cover for your story. To give a whisper of what it’s about but still keep it a secret until the first pages. While I’m reading you’re filling out my questionnaire which tells me what you want for your cover!

After reading it I brainstorm. I get familiar with the styles of other books/designs in the same genre. I look at the standards and the covers that have broken all the rules. I gather ideas and pick the best ones and pitch them to you. When you find out which works best for you the next step is resourcing images (if necessary), or fonts. Bringing it all together digitally and then sending it to you for your feedback.

It’s a bit of back and forthing to get the cover just right. If you’ve decided to go with a front and back for the book then we move on to the blurb (which you provide me) and any other bio info etc. After that it’s all up to you to publish it!

4. What is it about you and your cover designs which can set you apart from the rest, and would be a great advantage to other authors out there? 

You’re a writer, I’m a writer. That’s the first difference. I’ve been writing over fifteen years now and designing for six which gives me that insight in to what the author really wants. I can draw from the writer’s perspective and unite it with a designer’s eye.

Secondly I’m passionate. I have a deep love for book design and take great pride in my work. I feel my work speaks for itself and looks professional; the feedback I’ve received is that it’s the quality you would see in a book store and I think that makes all the difference. The quality of the work produced and the intimate details that I go through with my clients to ensure they get exactly what they want.

5. Do you have a favourite genre you like to design covers for?

I’d have to say no because each book has its own personality. Each story is a new discovery, a new adventure. I love trying new things so when my clients give me the opportunity and flexibility to try out different concepts it really excites me! I approach each book individually and recognise it for its strengths, and uniqueness.

6. For an aspiring indie author, what else can you offer them besides a book cover?

Encouragement! I know what it’s like to be hesitant to approach someone to ask for work, and you don’t really know what to expect. It ads a level of anxiety that isn’t needed at all. I’m very patient and open, and I don’t expect you to know how it all works. I know you’ve worked hard to come this far and I’m here to support you and give you that last leg up before the final leap in to publishing.

Product wise? I offer additions like Facebook Banners and website banners to promote your book. It’s always nice to be able to spread the word of the good news- you’re now published! Separate to book covers I design websites, business cards, stationary, brochures, posters, or anything else you need designed.

7. Do you have some favourite book covers out there? DO have a favourite book cover artist?

One of my favourite covers was the editions of Stephen King’s The Dome. There is one edition that has profile images of particular characters looking up. I also love the mainstream cover of the huge dome and the plane crashing in to it over the town.

http://thewitcontinuum.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/stephen-king-under-the-dome.jpg

http://www.fixabook.com/wp-content/gallery/covers/under-the-dome.png

I also absolutely love the series of books designed for Vladimir Nabokov, designed like glass boxes:

http://bookcoverarchive.com/Vladimir_Nabokov

As for designers there aren’t any specific book cover artists that I adore. It’s more a great use of typography is something that attracts me, or beautiful photography. I’m totally addicted to http://bookcoverarchive.com!

9. Where can people find you to enlist your services?

Scarlett Rugers (writing as Scarlett Archer) has just released a book 1001 First Lines which is now available at Amazon! You can purchase a paperback, .lit, .epub, .mobi and PDF versions here: http://www.1001firstlines.wordpress.com.

She has been writing for over fifteen years, completed over eleven novels, and her main drive is in speculative fiction or its contrasting opposite romantic comedic novels. She has a passion for studying the art of story telling and is a grand lover of movies. Her focus in work is book cover designs which enables her to put all her energy in to the area she loves most- literature. You can get in touch with her about getting a book cover designed for you at http://www.booksat.scarlettrugers.com

Act 1 is now up and free to download February 19, 2012

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You can now read Act 1 of my steam punk adventure novel- The Girl From Out of Town. Follow this link – http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/matthewfarmer

The Next step is still waiting to be taken February 18, 2012

Posted by mattfarmer in books and reading, Copy writing.
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What a week! The day that I was supposed to launch Act 1 of my book, and Smashwords fell down. I have been checking their Site Update blog every day, sometimes every hour, but the file validation and conversion program- Meatgrinder, is still off-line. I have been trying every day to get my book up, but to no avail.

It feels like such an anti-climax. I busted a hump last weekend editing, re-writing, butting heads with my editor. And then Tuesday morning… nothing! All week… nothing!

I must say, the marketing campaign I implemented had a lot of people asking me where my book was. I visited my old workplace and they all asked how it was going and when they could read it. My old team leader said she was going to email me on Tuesday to ask how it was going, but thought, with all the excitement I was going through, to perhaps leave off for a day or two. Heh, I like the sentiment, but little did she know…

Copy Writing trundles along well. Two people would like me to write newsletters for them. Which is good, since a job popped up online which had a lot of newsletter components involved. So I applied. There’s a potential informercial magazine concept coming up which would involve interviews and research and writing. It has been a while since I interviewed people. Fun working out the right questions to ask, and transcribing and all that. I do find some mundane things fun, don’t I?

Ah well. time for the weekend. I will most definitely tell the WORLD when my book is ready for you all to have a look at and give me awesome feedback!

The day before the rest of my life… February 13, 2012

Posted by mattfarmer in books and reading, writing.
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A little dramatic, I know, but it is kind of how I am feeling. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, February 14th. The date that I proclaimed I would release my debut novel, The Girl From Out of Town on to an unsuspecting world. Well, if you were reading this blog you might have suspected something.

That plan changed, and I offered a free preview, Act 1, to grab readers who want to know the rest of the story. Still to be released on February 14th. This nearly did not come to pass. I gave one of my editors permission to go balls’n’all nasty on my manuscript. I thought – it’s not THAT bad. I received something to the contrary back from her.

Now, admittedly this was an email conversation, and upon actually talking the news wasn’t all THAT bad. She wanted MORE description. I was sitting in the school of an economics of writing. Write the scene in as few words as possible to get the story across. But she wanted more, more description of the environment. I am creating a rich and colourful world, so I should show the world. And some of the scenes had no direction, there were a lot of names no one would remember, things like that.

This left me deflated on Sunday. But, we came to a compromise. I want to get something out as a free preview. I have added some more colour and depth, I have removed names that are irrelevant, my poor lead character only has 3 friends now, not 4. I removed an entire plot hook since even I saw it was kind of dumb.

And so now I sit, late afternoon, February 13th. I have yet to format to Smashword’s specifications. I must go out and run around a basketball court now. And then come home and figure it out. Should be easy, right?

But, I am sitting here, and I am paranoid scared and proud. I am paranoid people are going to read it and find spelling errors. Words which are spelled correctly but are the wrong word for that place, and they will think- what a hack. Couldn’t get that edited out? I am waiting for me to find something I left in which could have been better! And then I should re-write it and re-publish it and tell everyone- hey! I changed 5 words! Download the new version!

I am scared because I have never done this before. I have let people read my work before, but I knew them. This is the internet we are talking about now. There are far more people out there I don’t know, than I do. There is a possibility they wont like what I have written. I am both okay with this and not okay with this. A) Okay with is because not everyone likes everything. People are entitled to their opinion, and I know, in myself, that it’s a good story. I enjoyed writing the story, I love the characters and the world I have created. So in myself, I like it. However B) because I like it so much, I want everyone else to like it as well. And if they don’t, and if they throw mud at me, that might hurt. That would give my inside voices ammunition to use against me.

And I am proud because this is a MASSIVE step along that journey I started ages ago. I started this blog to chart my journey as a writer, and this here is a massive step along the way. I announced a date and, while I had to compromise along the way, I am sticking to that date. That is something I am proud of.

Tomorrow is most definitely going to be a strange day.

When re-writing becomes new writing February 6, 2012

Posted by mattfarmer in Copy writing, writing.
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February 14th gets closer much faster than I would like. But you cannot stop time. You must face it and accept it and all that deep and meaningful stuff. I am well into Chapter 5 re-write, the last chapter of Act 1, so I am on track to release the free download on time. It is just chapter 5 has now taken on a life of its own.

But it is a good life, I will have to say. In the first draft my heroes received and invitation to the Royal Ball, the bad guys had to go find them, there was a chase scene, and then they bought their way on board a ship. The new version is much better, more action, and makes more sense. There is going to be a bigger fight scene, things are going to explode. What better way to end an act than with explosions!

But, I have reached this place of major rewrite through minor changes back in the first chapters. Keeping one character at a mysterious distance and changing his motivations, and upping he mystery of my female lead has led to major re-writing, for the better, by chapter 5 alone! Amazing to see the amount of change now, from small shifts prior to that.

The copy writing is still bobbing around. The flyer about selling myself has hit an impasse. The first version was good, but it didn’t really promote me as a product. The advice given was going back to basics and doing a features and benefits chart about myself. I have done that, with some input from friends, now its how to lay them all out in a way that isn’t ‘this therefore that’, and rate them in order of significance.

I am prioritising my novel this week, over copy writing, for obvious reasons. But, as I have said before, if a big job comes in and I have to miss that deadline, then so be it. I actually think I would write late into the night on my novel, rather than miss the deadline. Just like the good old days!