Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Writer’s DashBoard: Moving Forward

In a previous post, written nine months ago, I lamented the fact that we writers didn’t have a Writer’s Dashboard that would enable us, through some “algorithmic magic,” to find out where our readers were on the web.  At the time I was writing my first novel, which I intended to self-publish, and thus I was reading up on the various marketing strategies. After reading several books and numerous blogs, I realized that there was really only one strategy:  get on Twitter, create a blog and/or web site, a Facebook page, and then start shouting at the top of your lungs. Let me tell you, there’s a lot of noise out there!

Frankly, I was a little surprised that there weren’t any tools that enabled one to identify web sites whose users might be “predisposed” to like one’s work.  More to the point, how could one identify said predisposition?

I let the idea swim around in my nether region for a number of months, talked to some smart folks about it, tried to move on with life, but the idea kept popping up, especially as I looked, with a fair measure of dread, at my burgeoning Twitter stream, replete with random quotes, e-book freebies, author interviews, and the like. Quite simply, I just haven’t been motivated to compete with my fellow writers to grab someone’s attention via Twitter or any other social media channel. I wanted the whole process to be easier. At least more elegant. Go figure.

So, I reached out to a number of guys I know, all incredibly bright and technically gifted, and – a rarity: they were also writers, or artists, or musicians – so they got it.

So, after a few Indian buffets, we’ve decided to build the Writer’s Dashboard. For us. And for you. But we need your help. Obviously we would like to roll out a version one that has all the bells and whistles in place, but that’s going to have to wait. Instead, we will take a scaffolding approach, building one functional element at a time.

And we need you to tell us what would work best for you.  Think of it this way: you’ve woken up to beautifully radiant morning, you grab your cup of coffee and amble over to your computer, pull up the Writer’s Dashboard to see where your readers are, and you see – what? What’s the first thing you see?

Please leave a comment and let us know. We’re moving forward.



Filed under EBook Marketing Innovations, EBooks and Advertising

Interview with Thomas Mims from Hawk&Moon

Hi, Thomas. Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Hi, Mark. I’ve always been hugely interested in the art of both verbal and visual storytelling. Growing up, I would draw every day-during recess, classes, and in the evenings at home. In college, I studied fine arts and became increasingly interested in the multimedia opportunities software such as Photoshop, Illustrator and Flash offered to artists. These interests have since evolved into a career in digital design and I’ve spent the past twelve years  providing freelance design and development for a variety of creative firms and small businesses. Never failing to keep me on my toes-projects have ranged from print & website design to animation, illustration, and online Flash games.

How did you get into the book-cover design business?
I’ve always been intrigued by allegorical images. The challenge of distilling a larger story into one unique frame seems  to provide the perfect context for inspiration. As a fine arts student, I would usually begin a piece by considering it’s potential as a book or album cover. My early days as a professional designer seemed to naturally focus on commissioned album art, flyers, and posters-all similar to book covers in being a single image meant to encapsulate a larger experience.

When I began contracting for web & flash development, the projects tended to be more about content organization, info design and site architecture-all very interesting, but farther removed from my core source of inspiration. Most recently, I’ve affirmed that visual art is my biggest passion and have returned to pursuing work that is more aligned with my desire to create ….

Do you offer any services other than book designing?
Yes, thanks for asking! Between  my wife Nicole and I, we offer brand identity, print and web design, photography, animation, interactive/game design, illustration, and even audio production.

The main word I hope people would associate our services with is CREATIVE. We’re passionate about producing work which is not only effective and marketable, but also unique and artistic.

What can writers do to prepare for the book  design phase?
One or more of the following:
– Write a brief description of the envisioned cover image (Or better yet, a few).
– Provide an excerpt from a particularly defining moment in your book.
– Send reference imagery: a sketch, a photo, a link to a flikr page or lightbox from a stock photo site.
– Direct us to other book covers out there that you like, and explain what you like about them.

How much do your services cost and how long does it typically take?
We charge  competitive rates between 50-75$/hr, depending on whether it’s time spent researching, photoshopping, drawing, or skydiving over a volcano to get that perfect lava photo. The average book cover costs between 400-700$, with a 10 day average turnaround time.

How can folks get in touch with you?

Helpful things to include:
– Name, contact info, link to work &/or personal site/blog
– Title, general premise & outline of your book.
– Your idea(s) for the cover
– Desired timeline & budget

– Which of the following you need:
– Print cover
– eBook cover
– Wraparound cover
– Inside cover
– Illustrations
– Promo materials, etc.


(Disclosure: Thomas did the cover, trailer, and postcard for my novel, The Book of Margery Kempe, and did a fantastic job!)

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Filed under EBook Marketing Innovations, EBooks and Advertising