By Robin Brooks, The Beauty of Books
You have written your memoir. You have put your heart and soul into it. It is your life. It is your breath. It is who you are. Now it is time to put your memoir out into the world. What is the process for doing this? Who are you going to choose to work with who will take the time to listen to the deepest cadence of your memoir and to you, the one who wrote it?
What are the things to know about the person who will take the words you have written on many pages and give them a form which honors all the time, effort, and heart you put into it?
Practical considerations for choosing the right designer:
- Always use a book designer, not just a graphic designer. There is specific knowledge that a seasoned book designer has that a regular graphic designer does not.
- Choose a book designer who knows the ropes in terms of choices for printers, whether traditional offset, short-run digital, or true print-on-demand. After talking with them, see if you feel confident they will be able to act as your guide in this area.
- Make sure the book designer you hire is excellent at meeting deadlines.
- Make certain you choose a human being, someone you find easy to communicate with. Producing a book together is an intimate process of back and forth communication and follow-through, and it is not a short collaboration.
- What are clients saying about working with this designer? What do the testimonials on a designer’s website say? It’s not only important that a book designer be proficient. He or she needs to be a good person to work with, for your soul and for the soul of your memoir.
Practical points for your book’s cover and interior:
- The title of your memoir should include key words that convey what your book is about. Your cover should include one or more key images that support and in some way personify the title and overall message — or soul — of your memoir.
- When prospective readers are looking at books on display in bookstores or on Amazon, they are scanning the titles and covers for what jumps out at them and appeals to them in that moment. A cover needs to quickly imply what’s inside so a prospective reader can make an immediate choice, soul to soul, as to whether they want to buy a book right then and there. For a commercial book, you should be able to read the cover from at least six feet away.
- For the interior, it is imperative that a book designer understands on a gut level who you are and what you are trying to express. Does this person have the ability for subtle sensitivity to fonts, spacing, tone, and white space that will enhance and support your soul’s story, whether it is one of triumph, love, or tragedy, etc.?
- Be that prospective reader when you look at a designer’s website. Do you respond to what you see? Can you tell that the book designs support the story and the personality of what the books are about?
- Choose a designer who is capable of working with the right subtleties for YOUR memoir. Choose what feels right to YOU.
What about self-publishing?
Unless you have a large budget and can afford to pay for at least 500 books printed through traditional offset, the best route these days to self-publishing your book is to print-on-demand with both Create Space and Ingram.
With Create Space, you get an instant book page on Amazon with its tremendous accessibility for readers. With Ingram, because returns are easy, all brick-and-mortar bookstores and libraries will choose to buy through the Ingram catalogue.
If you purchase your own, you will use the same ISBN and Library of Congress Control Number for both.
What about marketing?
There is social media, direct mail to your target audience, Pinterest, Bublish, IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association) which includes so much, book awards, readings, etc., etc., etc. An excellent book marketer to know about is John Kremer at www.BookMarket.com. What marketing plan fits your life and who you are?
Which book designer is right for your soul and for the soul of your memoir?
This is a choice that must support you because, when you write your memoir, you are opening your soul to your readers. This is a decision that comes partly from the gut and partly from concrete information. You’ll need both because you will want to work with someone who honors and supports your soul, as they also help you bring into the world the soul of your memoir. I look forward to discussing these issues and more at the National Association of Memoir Writers Telesummit November 11.
Robin Brooks of The Beauty of Books has been a graphic designer for 40 years, designing everything from ads, brochures, newsletters, magazines, corporate identities, packaging, websites, and books, including some for Viking Penguin and the Waldorf Schools of North America. In the last eight years or so, she has focused on books, specializing in memoirs and personal histories and designing books, too, for artists, poets, and those who write about spirituality.
Robin is also a published author who writes about healing, and an artist. She received her MFA in Sculpture from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and her art has shown nationally.