Some valuable advice on book-cover design

What first caught my attention about Matthew Iden’s books was his cover designs.


It turns out Matt designs his own book covers.  In his blog, he’s recently started sharing his insights — well worth reading for any indie author!

Here’s one excerpt:

Judging a book by its cover
. . . You are, in essence, using your cover as a proxy for the total value of your book: the plot, the characters, the outcome, the entertainment value, the resonance with the reader. You are asking your potential readers to make the rather amazing decision of whether they will plunk down cash, spend hours, days, or weeks reading your words, and tell everyone they know about your book based on a glance at your book’s cover. . . .

If the messaging vis-à-vis your cover is garbled, confusing, contradictory, or misleading, you’re in trouble. Avoid that situation by putting an unambiguous primary image in front of your reader’s noses.

“When the jobs come back” — NOT!

A group of San Francisco alumnae of Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts recently organized a marvelous summit called “Passion and Possibility in Life and Work.”  As a 1970 grad, I appeared to be the oldest woman in the room, maybe by a couple of decades.  Yet my experience mirrors that of the many 21st-century alumnae: A job can be a useful way to establish your cred, skills, and contacts, but it’s unlikely to pave your career path.

Remember those concrete-mixing trucks whose drums bore the motto “Find a need and fill it”?  Like our college’s 1837 founder, Mary Lyon, we don’t look for vacancies in the existing economic machine so much as for needs to fill.  The 21st century is the Age of the Entrepreneur.  For one woman this might mean forcing open enough doors to wield her expertise in a government position, then an NGO, then academia and/or independent consulting.  For another, it’s linking friends in different organizations who can collaborate not only to place water-collection systems in underdeveloped countries, but to set up instructional programs for the users, and find incentives for financial backers.  For another, it’s funneling her experience with a media corporation into freelance work and then her own start-up.

The great thing about the new economy is that you can be an “emerging artist” at any age. Whether we’re in the starting blocks or the home stretch of our vocations, the path looks less like a track than a mosaic.  Each of us chooses her own direction.  In publishing, where I spent my apprentice years chafing against conventions that often violated common sense, now the workers own the means of production (or at least a hefty share).  This is liberating:  every independently published book can be written at the length its subject demands, launched when it’s ready, and marketed in ways that suit it and its author.  It’s also daunting:  although a true meritocracy is now theoretically possible, the feet on which it stands are Monetization and Discoverability. Are the cleverest marketers also the best content-creators?

From this vantage point, all that’s certain is that the landscape will keep changing.  Stay tuned!

Nothing like a Live Chat with AT&T to kick off a morning!

Charlie: Hello, I’m Charlie, your AT&T Virtual Expert. I’m not a real person, but I’m here to answer questions about your AT&T service. What can I help you with today?
You: Why is this month’s bill higher than ever before, with no explanation?
Charlie: I can help you with questions about your bill. Is this your first bill?
[me: click “request a Live Chat agent”]
Charlie: OK, I’d be glad to connect you to a Live Chat agent. First, can you please tell me your full name?
You: MYOB, “Charlie” the robot
Charlie: Thank you. May I also have your account number?
Your wait time is estimated to be from 2 to 3 minutes.
Thank you for choosing AT&T. A representative will be with you shortly.
All operators are currently assisting others. Thanks for your patience. An operator will be with you shortly.
All operators are currently assisting others. Thanks for your patience. An operator will be with you shortly.
All operators are currently assisting others. Thanks for your patience. An operator will be with you shortly.
All operators are currently assisting others. Thanks for your patience. An operator will be with you shortly.
You are now chatting with Kenneth.
Kenneth: Thank you for contacting AT&T chat customer support. My name is Kenneth. How can I help you today?
You: Why has my bill suddenly gone up with no explanation?
Kenneth: I really apologize for the inconvenience caused to you and will be more than happy to assist with your billing issue And I will make sure that your concern is resolved today.
May I have your account number please?
So that I can help you in a better way.
You: not sure which of the several numbers I’ve already entered that might be — oh here it is
Kenneth: Thank you.
Could you wait for a minute while I am going through your account details?
You: I’ve already waited 10 or 15 minutes – really need to get back to work ASAP
Kenneth: Please allow me a quick minute.
I would like to inform you that Your promotion is expired this month However, I won’t let you pay a penny extra! I’ll take care of your issue right now.
I would like to inform you I have processed the credit of $2.53 for you and hope I was able to get the smile back on your face
You: I was told when I signed up for this “promotion” that my bill would go DOWN not UP when it ended–???
What can I expect after this month?
Kenneth: This month form next month on ward your bill is $38.00.
You: that sure isn’t going DOWN from $19
Kenneth: And As I can see that I can provide you double speed at the same price.
You: I don’t want double speed, I want my bill to go back to the $16 it was before
Kenneth: I do understand that.
However I have put a remark on your account to re apply the promotion on your account.
And you also need to call at 1800-999-1083.
I can assure you that once you will call at this number, you will get the best possible resolution.
You: that’s it for you?
Kenneth: They will give you confirmation number and the promotion will apply with in 1-2 billing cycle.
and I assure you you’ll get a reasonable bill for sure.
You: is that all? now I get to wait another half hour on hold with AT&T?
Kenneth: Congratulations! Your request has been processed and thank you for being so loyal customer of AT&T. We are so happy that you chose AT&T for your service. We look forward to providing excellent service to you.

Goreyana reviews Edward Gorey On Stage

Edward Gorey On Stage is a thoroughly enjoyable publication chronicling Edward Gorey’s theatrical career…In an informative conversational style, Ms. Verburg recounts Mr. Gorey’s interest in theater, beginning in his youth and continuing throughout his life…[particularly] Cape Cod in the 1980’s and ’90s. Ms. Verburg was a hands-on participant (or co-conspirator) in most of these endeavors, and she has many stories to delight the Gorey enthusiast.”