Friday, June 8, 2012

Am I qualified to write a book about designing books? (WARNING: there's some sex in this post.)

I am not a book designer, but I'm writing a book about designing books. No More Ugly Books! is aimed at writers who don't hire artists. It will initially be published as a $4.99 e-book, and should be out this summer. It's part of a series I will be publishing for independent publishers and other authors and writers.

The low cost of publishing both printed books and e-books has encouraged thousands of writers to quickly become publishers.  A recent survey shows that most self-publishing authors — because of ego, ignorance or financial necessity — design and format their own books. Sadly, many lack the skills, knowledge, experience and software to produce attractive books.

Even sadder, many don’t know what they don’t know.

Because of this, self-publishers often produce really ugly books that are hated by readers and condemned by reviewers. Many are condemned by me. Some creators of really horrid books advise others how to use their dubious techniques to make even more horrid books.
The people who published books with these terrible covers want to advise you. Don't let them.
It doesn’t have to be that way.

If you pay attention to my book, you’ll have no excuse for publishing an ugly book. The books might not win trophies or become bestsellers, but they shouldn’t be laughed at.

While I do not have a PhD in art and my last art prize was won in seventh grade, I may know more than you do.

  • I attended the Paier School of Art (now Paier College of Art) on Saturday afternoons while in third and fourth grade. I did very well with still life, but not with people. We were taught that human beings should be "7-1/2 heads tall." No one in my family looked like that.
  • The California Job Case was an instrument of torture for young teenage boys.
  •  I drew lots of very fine planes, helicopters, cars and ships in fifth grade.
  • I had a mandatory course in printing in eighth grade. I learned and remember about points, picas, en quads and em quads. I can even pick type from a California Job Case, arrange the letters, punctuation and leading into a composing stick, fill up a galley, print a page, and put the type back in the case.
  • I enrolled in a course called “advertising art production” in a community college so I could sit near a girl I had the hots for (and learned about thumbnails, roughs, serifs, white space and more). "Nina" and I worked on some projects together and had sex together. She also had sex with the instructor and with two of my friends (not at the same time). One time she and the instructor and I had a stoned three-way. Nina was very good at art and at sex. The story is in here.
  • I was an award-winning advertising copywriter who worked closely with art directors (inflated title!). In creating an ad there is normally a rivalry between the writer and the “A.D.” Unlike other writers, I was usually willing to cut my copy to make room for bigger illustrations because I realized that almost no one reads the body copy in an advertisement. Headlines, however, are important.
  • I'm a pretty good photographer. My pix have been published in books, newspapers and magazines. I even remember how to develop film.
  • My Halloween costumes always win awards. In 1982 I won "best man" and "best woman."
  • I have published 20-something books, and many have very nice covers. Some of the covers were done in partnership with a professional artist, and some I did myself. One of my amateur covers earned a compliment from a professional book designer.
  • The flames on my book's cover imply burning books. I’m certainly not suggesting that any books — even really ugly books — be burned. The flames symbolize my feeling of intense outrage: I wish that ugly books did not exist.
  • No More Ugly Books! should help.

1 comment:

  1. The cover you show on the right side of the second row is boring, but does that make it "terrible?"