One of my favorite projects of the past year was designing the book Tomorrow May Be Too Late by Thomas Marino. The work included the design of the book cover, page layout, and the book website.
From Rich Merrit’s review:
“Banker by day, stripper by night. Twenty-one year old Tom Marino invites you to be a voyeur on a year of his life, one of youthful exuberance and mistakes, loves and loves lost. Enjoy a sexy romp through the late eighties from Philadelphia to New York. You will cry, laugh and grow angry along with Tom as the man he loves takes advantage of him…. His honesty makes this a compelling read and perhaps you will avoid his mistakes, or if you don’t, perhaps you will have as much fun making those mistakes as he did.”
This is how I love to describe the book: Tom was married, worked in a bank & lived a straight life. When he started stripping & fell in love with a guy, it all changed. The book is a ‘naked account’ of his love story during that first year as a gay man. Oh yes, we had fun working on this book design.
AS A FIRST STEP WE LOOKED FOR THE BOOK CONCEPT:
This is the concept that every part of the project should carry along.
A LOVE STORY.
THE BOOK COVER
I consider memoirs delicate works by definition, so it needed to be treated carefully and at the same time it had to be true to the content, including many stripping nights & hot scenes.Â After reading the book and discussing the cover concept with the author we decided to go with a hot-love cover. The challenge was to keep it masculine, because that is also true to the story. Helvetica Neue Caps with strong weight variations was a big part of the answer.
THE PAGE LAYOUT
For the layout, I gave it good margins for holding the book (ideally, the reader’s thumb will fit in the interior margin to hold the book in your hands) and also for resting the eyes. (The book is about 380 pages). For the text: Caxton Light, a very readable font that allows the text block to breathe in a normal line-height due to its small ascenders & descenders.
The Helvetica Neue in different weights (from the cover) worked well for the headings and Table of Contents.
Using the story told in the book as a theme, I’ve done a set of broken-heart-icons to use in different pieces (back cover, chapter numbers, website & more).
The Web site for Tomorrow May Be Too Late has grown quite a bit from the initial idea: we started with a basic book Web site (cover, blurb, reviews, about the author and about the book).
Later we added new features:
- We integrated an author blog to the Web site.
- Shopping cart -very important if you are self-publishing!
- The time frame of the book (’80s) was used to create a soundtrack page with the music mentioned in the book.
The Frankfurt Book Fair is coming up next month and one our clients, Ellen Bryson, will have her debut novel promoted at the fair.
Ceci did the illustrations for the novel (and, yes, it’s adult literary fiction with illustrations). We’re also in the processing of building Ellen’s website. Her novel will be released by Henry Holt in the summer of 2010. I’m going to have more posts about the developing of Ellen’s author website, but for now you can look at the preview page at ellenbryson.com.
Publishers Weekly has a great list of books promoted by publishers and literary agencies at this year’s fair. Here’s the brief on Ellen Bryson’s novel:
On the adult fiction front, Foundry has the debut novel The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno by Ellen Bryson (Holt, 2010); set in 1865 New York, the book follows the titular characterâ€”he performs as the â€œliving skeletonâ€ in P.T. Barnum’s American museumâ€”whose life is changed after being hired by Barnum to be the showman’s personal detective.
There’s a good discussion in the comments over at the BookEnds literary agency blog on the Power of an Author Blog.
Most people are never very interested in blogs that are too personal. No one really cares about what you had for dinner last night or seeing photos of your cat. Blogs are not for writing about your interesting life.
Internet marketers do as much thinking about how to use the net as anyone and view a blog largely as an attraction strategy, a way of bringing attention to one’s products or services. Blogging tools are superb for optimizing a Web site in terms of search engines.
Author blogs and web sites are not so much for an author’s current readers but serve as a strategy for attracting new readers.
Blogs are ideally suited for the non-fiction writer who can write about a niche and gain readers that way. For example, Quid plura? by Jeff Sypeck is a non-fiction writer I came across while reading those comments to the BookEnds post. Sypeck just released a book about Charlemagne. While I don’t think much about medieval history these days, browsing through Sypeck’s site makes me interested in reading the book. Note, too, that Sypeck’s new book also has its own Web site: becomingcharlemagne.com
I have a theory that an author website/blog will one day be the primary distribution platform for an author’s writings. The details of that are for another post.
Meanwhile, here is a great quote from Sypeck’s blog:
I was reminded of the neatest thing about writing a book in the first place: the author’s obsession, developed over years and often nurtured in solitude, finally becomes a shared point of reference through which readers can look anew at some aspect of the world.
Authors and publishers interested in contracting with an illustrator should take a moment to examine Ale’s portfolio. He is an exceptional illustrator. Here are a couple of examples of his works:
Agent Kristin has a post on her blog Pub Rants about the importance of an author having a Web site:
I ended up chatting with a B&N book buyer. She said that the most important tool an author could have is a website.
And I agree. The buyers do actually look at author websites and potentially use them for their internet marketing.
She also has some excellent tips about how authors should get creative with their Web sites. Go read the post.
One recent bit of advice to non-fiction writers: “You need to have a fantastic Website, even before you get an agent.” (link thanks to Joe Wikert).
But based on the July 15 issue of Kirkus non-fiction reviews:
Of the 60 reviewed authors only 24 had Web sites. That’s 40%, which is lower than our calculation for novelists with Web sites.
Amir D. Aczel, THE JESUIT AND THE SKULL
Steve Almond, (NOT THAT YOU ASKED)
Emerson W. Baker, THE DEVIL OF GREAT ISLAND
John D. Barrow, NEW THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
Bill Bass, BEYOND THE BODY FARM
Bob Beckel, COMMON GROUND
Jane Bernstein, RACHEL IN THE WORLD
Nancy Marie Brown, THE FAR TRAVELER
Matthew Brzezinski, RED MOON RISING
James Campbell, THE GHOST MOUNTAIN BOYS
Gillian Clark, OUT OF THE FRYING PAN
Robert Cole, UNDER THE GUN IN IRAQ
Stacy A. Cordery, ALICE
Michael D’Antonio, A BALL, A DOG, AND A MONKEY
Phoebe Damrosch, SERVICE INCLUDED
Christopher J. Dodd, LETTERS FROM NUREMBERG (Ok, Presidential candidates automatically have a publishing platform!)
Dominic Dromgoole, WILL & ME
Norbert Ehrenfreund, THE NUREMBERG LEGACY
Kathleen Flinn, THE SHARPER YOUR KNIFE, THE LESS YOU CRY
James R. Gaines, FOR LIBERTY AND GLORY
John Gray, BLACK MASS
Boze Hadleigh, BROADWAY BABYLON
Lesley Hazleton, JEZEBEL
Andrew Helfer, RONALD REAGAN
Paul Hoffman, KING’S GAMBIT
Corinne Hofmann, REUNION IN BARSALOI
A.J. Jacobs, THE YEAR OF LIVING BIBLICALLY
Catherine James, DANDELION
Robert D. Kaplan, HOG PILOTS, BLUE WATER GRUNTS
Hugh Kennedy, THE GREAT ARAB CONQUESTS
Glenn Kessler, THE CONFIDANTE
Jon Kukla, MR. JEFFERSON’S WOMEN
Alan Lapidus, EVERYTHING BY DESIGN
Jon Latimer, 1812
Paul Maher, Jr., JACK KEROUAC’S AMERICAN JOURNEY
Cristina Marcano, HUGO CHÃVEZ
Marco Martinez, HARD CORPS
Mark Matthews, THE LOST YEARS
Brian Morton, PRINCE
Michael J. Neufeld, VON BRAUN
Henry Petroski, THE TOOTHPICK
Paul Pines, MY BROTHER’S MADNESS
Norman Podhoretz, WORLD WAR IV
Katherine Ramsland, BEATING THE DEVIL’S GAME
Jim Reisler, THE BEST GAME EVER
John Elder Robison, LOOK ME IN THE EYE
Jessica Snyder Sachs, GOOD GERMS, BAD GERMS
Frank Schaeffer, CRAZY FOR GOD
Richard Shelton, CROSSING THE YARD
Peggy Shumaker, JUST BREATH NORMALLY
Ed Sikov, DARK VICTORY
Barbara Sjoholm, THE PALACE OF THE SNOW QUEEN
Jeffrey Toobin, THE NINE
Lou Ureneck, BACKCAST
Charles Van Onselen, THE FOX AND THE FLIES
Geoffrey C. Ward, THE WAR
Susan Warren, BACKYARD GIANTS
Andrew Wilson, HAROLD ROBBINS
Mort Zachter, DOUGH
Keld Zeruneith, THE WOODEN HORSE