Articles tagged "design"

How do you judge a book? By its cover, of course.

The following is a guest post courtesy of Ron Miller, see the author’s information below.

Making sure your book has a good cover is like making sure you are neatly dressed and well groomed when going on a job interview.

Although everyone says you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, this really doesn’t apply to books themselves. In fact, the cover is one of the most important parts of a book. It’s the first thing anyone will ever see and for that reason it needs to make a good impression. If a cover is unreadable, looks amateurish or misrepresents a book, the potential reader may give it a pass and move on to the next book in a catalog or bookshelf.

There are no hard and fast rules in book cover design. Just take a look at some of the superb covers displayed here . They are all creative, effective and no two look alike. Yet, they all follow the same basic guidelines. Even if you are not an artist or designer, you can still make a cover that – while perhaps not as artistic or inventive as some of these covers – can still be attractive and effective. Here are some basic rules of thumb to keep in mind:

  • The most important thing on a bookcover is the book’s title.
  • Keep things simple typographically. You may own a thousand fonts, but there is no need to feel compelled to use them all. Especially avoid really fancy, decorative fonts or using a lot of Photoshop effects on the title. If no one can read the title of your book, you may as well not have it on the cover at all.
  • Likewise, keep your artwork simple. Try to limit yourself to just one image that best represents the book’s genre or what it is about. Avoid the temptation to create a “kitchen sink” cover, where you try to cram in everything you think is important.
  • Another reason for simplicity is that a cover needs to work at all sizes—and even in B&W. Most people will first see your cover as a thumbnail image on a webpage. Therefore, it needs to be as readable at postage stamp size as it is on the actual printed book.

Having read these suggestions, go back to the Indie Cover page and see how many of those covers reflect these ideas.

About the Author:

In addition to the books he has published with Lulu, Ron Miller is the author/illustrator of more than fifty commercially published books. These have received numerous commendations and awards, including a Hugo, the IAF Manuscript Award, the Booklist Editor’s Award and the American Institute of Physics Award of Excellence. Several of his books have been Book-of-the-Month Club feature selections. In addition to the artwork he does for his own books, Miller provides illustrations for magazines such as Scientific American, Astronomy and Discover. Specializing in science fiction and fantasy, he has also created several hundred book covers for publishers such as Tor, Baen, Berkley/Ace, Warner, Easton Press, Subterranean Press and many others.

Black Cat Studios

What’s your passion? Pt. 2

Sketchnotes 2009 & 2010
By Eva-Lotta Lamm

This book contains 2 years worth of illustrated notes (also called sketchnotes) that Eva-Lotta took at dozens of UX / Design events and conferences, featuring talks from over 100 speakers and panelists. Some of the events covered in the book are UXweek 2009, d.construct 2010, Flash on the Beach 2010, etc.

1) What came first, the idea for the book or the sketches?

The sketches came first. For the last few years, I’ve been attending quite a few design talks and conferences and as I have a really bad memory, I need to take notes to not forget everything within days. I’ve always been drawing, sketching and playing around with my handwriting, so it came naturally to include little sketches and some nicely drawn type in my notes. Over time (and with the discovery of others doing these kinds of notes as well and giving them a name: ‘sketchnotes’) my style slowly became more and more visual. Since 2008, I’ve shared my notes online on flickr, but at some point I wanted to make the notes available to people in their original format as well: on paper. So the idea for the book was born. As the sketches are quite detailed, the format of a book is ideal: you can sit down and take the time to discover and let the eye and mind explore.

2) I love the concept, but I have to ask … with the explosive growth of online video and conferences like TED where talks are recorded and posted online, what advantage does one gain by consuming content via a format like sketchnotes?

First and foremost the sketchnotes are a personal tool for me to remember the parts of the talk I was interested in. They are my interpretation of what was said rather than a complete summary. I don’t see them in competition with the video recordings or as an alternative to actually attending a talk. They are an addition, an interpretation, a sort of digest and maybe an intriguing way of getting someone interested in actually watching the video or going to see a talk of the speaker. I leave it up to my ‘readers’ to decide if and why they are interested in looking at my notes.

What’s Your Passion? Pt. 1

As authors, we are all passionate about something.  For many of us, it’s our dedication to a specific topic that motivates us to sidestep life’s daily distractions (TV, Internet, etc.) and sit down and write.  From an author who has skateboarded across America THREE TIMES to a designer whose love of illustration compelled her to publish over 100 conference talks as elaborate sketchnotes, these two Lulu authors are a testament to true passion.

The Skateboarder's Journal - Lives on Board 1949-2009

The Skateboarder’s Journal – Lives on Board 1949-2009
By Jack Smith

This book was written by those for whom the ride is never-ending: by the 15-year-old grom who falls asleep dreaming of skateboarding; by the 40-something “pad dad” you see at the local skatepark; by the women whose stories have never been told; and by the 73-year-old architect who didn’t begin skateboarding until the age of 65. Over 170 stories and 200+ photographs.

1) What made you decide to self-publish instead of going through a traditional publisher?

Since it was my first attempt at putting together a book of my own and really don’t know how the traditional publishing system worked, I decided to give Lulu a try. Previously I had done the layout for a friend’s book that he published on Lulu.  I found Lulu very easy to work with.  I also thought that by self-publishing, I would have greater control over the content.

2) Where does your passion come from to both skateboard across America (three times) and write a book?

The passion for skateboarding across America came from three very different places during three very different times in my life. In 1976, I was 19 years old, living in Morro Bay, California where pretty much the only job for a teenager was working in restaurants, which I had my fill of! 1976 was at the beginning of the urethane era of skateboarding, and I was looking for a way to make a name for myself. One night a group of us were hanging out and someone jokingly threw out the idea of skateboarding across America, within a few minutes the talk turned serious and we decided to give it a shot. I sent a letter to Roller Sports, a wheel manufacturer in Florida asking for sponsorship. A couple of weeks later they responded with a yes and a month later we were underway. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. Heck, we even took a .22 rifle with us, after all we would be skating across the wild west. This was during a time when a long distance phone call was still a big deal; we would call home every few days, with one set of parents relaying our progress to the others. We might as well have been on the moon. We made the crossing in 32 days.

The second trek came about through the urging of some younger friends who had heard all the stories about the first crossing. We decided to do the trip as a fund raiser for Multiple Sclerosis. We had great sponsorship, including a van from Chrysler that we scored when one of the team members, Paul Dunn, wrote a letter to Lee Iacocca. The equipment was quite a bit better than the first time, allowing us to finish in 26 days.  (Thrasher Magazine wrote an article on the 1984 trip, click the following links for shots from the magazine: part 1, part 2, part 3).

Some of Our Favorite Book Covers

Lulu employees get just as excited about great cover designs as the author does. We enjoy huddling together over a computer screen to view the exciting covers that we see on a daily basis. Not only is it the enthusiasm our authors put into the detail of the cover but the outcome from what our designers can do that make a great cover.

Here are a few of our favorites. These were all created using our Premium Cover Service, which is included in our Masterpiece and Laureate publishing Packages:


The Future of the Book

One of our designers sent around a link to this video this morning. It was put together by IDEO, the global design firm, and shows the possibilities it envisions for the book. Some interesting ideas. Let us know what you think!

The Future of the Book. from IDEO on Vimeo.

The Top 3 Most Helpful Services

Here at Lulu, our goal is to help you sell more books.  One of the ways we do this is by providing you with a variety of service options to help you out during the publishing process – from start to finish.

When you buy services from Lulu, you’ll be assigned a project coordinator who will help guide you along the way and answer any questions you may have about your service.

The following are some of what I believe are the best services for getting your book looking its best from the inside out.

Lulu’s new site design

Lulu.com is undergoing a redesign.

See our site with a 960 grid overlay

See our site with a 960 grid overlay

So far, we’ve remade our home page and our Publish section with an emphasis on more concise text and bigger graphics. Our pages are built with using a 960 grid system.

We’ve still got a ways to go. Our Services section is next (I think). We hope you like the direction our site is headed.