Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Comparative Analysis on a Theme or, Can You Tell What I Like To Read? (part 1)

These are some books I've read lately. You may notice a theme in subject matter. Shh, I like learning.
I've arranged these books by their cover's order of effectiveness. The Introvert Advantage does not look as professional or welcoming as American Nerd. Lets examine why.

There are 4 (very simplified) things that make a cover successful:

  1. Does it properly display the tone and feeling of the book?
  2. Does it help explain what the book it about?
  3. Can you read it?
  4. Is it attractive?
All need to be answered yes for your book cover to be successful.

The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World by Marti Olsen Laney

Judge This Book By It's Cover: 
This looks like the most boring book on the face of the earth. The type is boring and plain and huge. They must think we're old people who have misplaced our glasses. There's no graphic element that describes the tone of the book except a mysteriously broken egg shell. Seriously, why is there an egg? I've read this book cover to cover. I still have no idea why there's an egg. It's broken, so, like introverts are fragile? Except that's the exact opposite purpose of the book. Okay, maybe it's about coming out of your shell. Except apparently in this shell there is nothing. There's not even a tag line to explain the shell.

From this cover I assume this book is boring, possibly super intellectual (since there is some sort of metaphor on the cover that I'm not smart enough to figure out), and probably written above the average reader's comprehension level.

What's Inside is What's Important (except when it's not):
I almost did not buy this book because of the cover. Only after pouring over the table of contents and the introduction (while probably making the people at BooksAMillion wonder when am I ever going to leave) did I purchase it. I had to work past the cover. That is the opposite of what covers should do.

The book itself is the exact opposite of all of my assumptions. It's written for the layman. Even though it covers brain chemistry and behavioral psychology it is very accessible. Many reviews on Amazon complain that it's not scientific enough. The cover lead those people astray too. If it was a friendly cover, maybe with a graphic or picture (something like our next book Confessions of an Introvert) The Introvert Advantage might have better luck with audience.

Other Problems:
Not only do those giant words throw you off because they're so huge, they're also cramped. They're far to close to the edge of the book. They're oddly aligned, and uncomfortably forced into a column, when words naturally want to live in horizontal lines like housewives in the suburbs (this is a real art expression, I did not make it up just now...).

Was this book cover successful? Lets look at our check points:
  1. Does it properly display the tone and feeling of the book?
    • Nope
  2. Does it help explain what the book it about?
    • Not at all
  3. Can you read it?
    • Certainly, because the words are FREAKING HUGE.
  4. Is it attractive?
    • No. If I'm being generous, it's not repulsive. But it's certainly not attractive.
Overall Score: Boo!

Let's Fix it!

Okay, I know this might look like it took me 20 minutes in Photoshop (because it did) and my chick drawing skills might need some work (they do), but let's use some imagination. The logo isn't almost touching the sides, the subtitle isn't frightening small children from 100 paces, and I've placed an accessible metaphor front and center on the friendly-ier-ly colored cover. I've also brought the bold yellow to an element at the top, giving the book balance.

This is still not a good cover (especially because I couldn't be too bothered with actually coming up with a metaphor) but with a healthy supply of that imagination it's less offensive to the eye globes.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Graphic Representation of Cool Stuff You Can Self Produce or, Multitudes of Uses

We're big fans of indie publishing, considering it's what we do here at Matter Deep Publishing.

We've published novels:

We've published children's books:

And we've published art books and catalogs:

We've done all of this under our own steam. We educated ourselves, we've tried things that didn't pan out, and we've stumbled through the dark enough to have some serious advice to fellow indie publishers. 

We figured we're not the only ones, so we reached out to some of our writer friends who also want to help and put together a kick-butt team that has the skills, experiences, and expertise to create a comprehensive How To.

This book will not be only for writers. As is clearly demonstrated above, novels are only a narrow selection of media that can be independently published. If you have an idea for a project you'd like to self produce, no matter the media, you'll find helpful advice in this book.

We're running a Kickstarter for this book, which means if we do not have enough pledges at the end of our set period, we don't get any money at all, and this book will not be produced.

Read More
Watch the video to learn more: 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Anatomy of a Typographical Cover, or, Don't Forget About My Kickstarter!

This is a post about the Kickstater currently running (That sadly didn't fund) for The Indie Guide to Indie Publishing.

I started out with some really conceptual ideas, but I was concerned that they would be too complicated. Covers should be bold and graphic and quick to grab your eye. We wanted to convey a sense of professionalism and for it to look contemporary.

My first interpretation of my thumbnail.

The thumbnail I liked the most.

At first I just tried to get something to look kind of like what was in my brain. I browsed around and downloaded a bunch of free comercial fonts from Font Squirrel that I thought felt right, and in vogue now. I like Font Squirrel the best out of all the free font sites because they only have fonts with free commercial licenses. You'll never accidentally get a font that's free only for your personal use and unknowingly use it for commercially. Font licenses are really scary and confusing, so I like to keep it easy. (that being said, Kabel is also used on cover, and that is a type I purchased for use in Mothership Goose.

Sometimes you go in one direction for a while that brings you to a dead end.

The type was boring and static, so I made a wild and crazy decision to angle the type. I'm a rebel, I know. This also allowed me to enlarge publishing. At this point I had figured out that Indie and Publishing should be the main focus of the text.

Dropshadows! Dropshadows on everything!

The green and the yellow was not going to cut it, and had been intended as a placeholder. So I messed around to find a nice blue and yellow combo.

The flat colors were still a little too boring, even with the wicked awesome angle, so I started playing with textures. They didn't look right. The textures I was trying to use were making the book grungy and distressed. This was the exact opposite effect we wanted for our book. I started trying to use clean and geometric patterns and found something that finally worked.

Textures that didn't work

The Final Product

Font's I Used:
Ostrich - I used this font bolded to make the Indie and the Publishing, and added the drop shadow outline. If you're looking for an easier way for a similar effect trying Langon.

Lobster Two - This type is dangerous, because it's so good. We're starting to see it everywhere, so please, use it sparingly, and appropriately. I told myself I wasn't going to use it, and then I did. Bad Carly. Bad.

Rochester - Used for the "the" and "two"

Kabel - Used for "indie" and the subtitle. This is the font I purchased for Matter Deep Publishing's use.  It really matches my tendency towards retro design, and it's really helpful to have a super flexible, super strong, type that's subtler than a lot of decorative types to use on multiple projects. You use Lobster too many times and someone's going to call shenanigans.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Announcements, Announcements, or The Indie Guide to Indie Publishing

Today I have a cover reveal and two big announcements! 

  • Cover Reveal! The Indie Guide to Indie Publishing!

The Indie Guide to Indie Publishing: A Step-by-Step Guide to Indie Publishing by People Who Have Been There and Done That is a tool, a step-by-step guide to publishing your independent book. Each article is written by an experienced authority from the independent world, and the book includes an index and glossary to help aspiring authors and publishers along the way.  -Kickstarter Page 

  • Announcement Number One! I will be authoring a chapter in The Indie Guide to Indie Publishing!
    • This chapter's working title is something like, "While it's really not a great idea for you to try and make your own book cover if you're not a professional book designer, because it requires a great deal of education and skill, I'm still going to try and guide your maleable little mind so that you can make something that's not an abomination that disgraces us all." Something like that. I'm still working on it.
  • Announcement Number Two! We're running a Kickstarter for this project, and we launched today! There's a bunch of really cool people working on this project, and if you pledge just $15 in our Kickstarter, you're getting a good deal on a book made by 8 incredibly talented self produced authors and yours truly.
EDIT: Sadly, we did not fund. :(

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Feline Sleeping Disorders or, My Step-cat Sleeps Like She's Flying

In an act of shameless self promotion (blogs appear to be excellent in generating self esteem, because obviously everyone wants to know about my life), and to kill time until I can start talking about my upcoming project, I'm going to tell you about my Tumblrs.

This is Morrigan (more-again). She's my step-cat. She likes eating iPhone chords, pouncing on naked feet, and getting stuck in trees at 3 AM, and you've seen her previously get her head stuck in a tissue box, and sleeping on the floor with Sir William.

She also sleeps like she's Superman.

I have created a Tumblr dedicated to chronicling her bizarre sleeping habits. It's not photography genius, or on the standard other famous internet cats have set, but it makes me laugh, and I think it might make other people laugh too. Feel welcome to follow me if you have a Tumblr!

Link to My Stepcat Sleeps Like She's Flying
Link to My Stepcat Sleeps Like She's Flying

You can also follow me on my regular Tumblr, where I mostly post feminism, retro illustrations, and Star Trek stuff:

Link to It's Gonna Be Awesome

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

On Travel (part 2) or, Tired of the Beach

Apparently women taking picture of their feet is a thing? I didn't know, but it's totally something I do.
I'm sorry for being a stereotype.

Immediately after I came home from New Jersey I was dog sitting in a beautiful house in a beautiful neighborhood with some adorable little dogs. This also corresponded to the dreaded Jury Duty.

Now, sometimes I have anxiety about talking to new people and about situations I've never experienced before (college was hard for this very reason) and if can't research it so that I know exactly what to expect, it can get bad. No one I know has served for Shelby County, so I couldn't even ask anyone. Well, of course I was randomly selected to serve on Grand Jury (and I had no idea what that meant) and while I'm walking over to where I'm supposed to go sit, they then tell me that I am also the foreperson. They seriously almost got a look at my breakfast.

Turns out, Grand Jury is the bomb. Grand Jury is basically a step between arrest and trial where a large jury decides if there’s enough evidence to proceed with the case. Half the time we spent learning about the kinds of laws and how the system works, and the other half was actual jurying. My brain was super full of information, and I left really feeling better about the justice system and how it works.

I felt like I was playing house, but the modern sense. It was like I was a single woman working in the justice system with a promising career and no plans of stopping anytime soon! I didn’t need no man, just needed my career, some doggies, and a glass of wine and a jog when I got home. I started to see the appeal! I wish I had pictures of this for you, but I was afraid I’d get in trouble for taking pictures of the courthouse (I got yelled at by a security guard for taking pictures of a government building once in New Orleans), so here’s a picture of the dog sat dachshunds on a jog:

Then Zoom! Straight away I had to pack and hustle down to St. Augustine Florida where I spent a week with Sir William and his family, where I got to play another kind of house.

Castillo de San Marcos - Fort in St. Augistine

Beach living is hard, I’ll tell you. You wake up, you go to the beach, come home, eat some food, go back to the beach, maybe take a nap, get some dinner, go back to the beach, go to bed. It’s a tough schedule. Though, by the end of the week, we were trying to find things to do other than go sit on the beach. I didn’t think you could get tired of the beach. Apparently you can.


One of the coolest things in St. Augustine was The Lightner Museum. This was a museum founded by a man who collected other people’s collections just after the Depression. It’s a plethora of weird Victorian and Turn of the Century knickknacks, taxidermied animals, stained glass, and giant music boxes. It got me jazzed about doing the cover for the next Royer Goldhawk book (which isn’t even written yet!), and there may be some personal project victorian graphic design in my future!

Knickkancks and creepy dolls 
Marble sculture made out of two kinds of marble
Some sweet victorian graphic design

I have no idea... just... what?
-actual lion quote