Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Veteran Black Journalist-Novelist Bebe Moore Campbell Dies of Brain Cancer at Her Home

Campbell started her career as a journalist, writing for the New York Times Magazine, Black Enterprise, Essence, Ebony, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times.

Campbell's last book, Stompin' at the Savoy, was published in September. It's a children's book about a young girl who is magically transported to the famous ballroom where the jazz greats performed. “72 Hour Hold,” is the story of a woman in a love triangle whose life is shattered when her child develops a mental illness. Also among her works were novels, “Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine,” “Singing in the Comeback Choir,” and a memoir, “Sweet Summer, Growing Up With and Without My Dad.”

She received numerous awards throughout her career, including a National Association of Negro Business and Professional Literature Award in 1978, a 1994 NAACP Image Award for literature, a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Grant in 1980 and the University of Pittsburgh’s Distinguished Alumni Award. She was also named an Alumni Trustee of the University in June 2005

After her diagnosis became public, Campbell posted letters on her Web site thanking friends and supporters for their cards, gifts and words of inspiration. Campbell was 56.

Campbell's viewing will be held Saturday, December 2, 2006 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., followed by the funeral service at First A.M.E. Church, 2270 South Harvard Boulevard, in Los Angeles. In lieu of flowers, her family asked that donations be sent to her favorite charities: National Alliance for the Mentally Ill - Urban Los Angeles and the United Negro College Fund.

Bebe Moore Campbell is a gifted writer and will be missed by her reading fans.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Book Covers

What Sells a Book?
People pick up a book for a variety of reasons: they’ve heard about it from a friend or the media, they are familiar with the author and many people believe because the cover entices them to do so.

What Catches Your Eye?
But do people buy books based on the cover design? What pulls you in to make the purchase? Cover art, author’s name, a quick read of the first chapter?

Book Cover Designs
Book cover designs are an essential part of the publishing process. Professional book cover design is essential because readers, retailers and reviewers glance at a book for only a few seconds before they make a choice.

First Impression
A book cover yields most of its power at its introduction to the public eye, after that, the book’s success is riding on the quality of it’s contents (how well or poorly written it is). For most books, the cover is its handshake that greets the world. An attractive cover may also find premium display space in an independent bookstore.

Good vs. Bad Cover Designs
Consumers will purchase a book simply because the cover is beautiful. Some people prefer covers without people on them. Some say a book title taken from a poem or a quote is intriguing. The dust jacket should have a little blurb that gives a good feel for the book. It should be striking and catch the eye and induce a browser to pick up the book.

Some prefer books that weave actual text from the book. Artwork and photographs can take away from the creative effect of a book. A book cover should have something that connects with the story and makes you wonder. Superfluous propaganda about the writer can distract you from purchasing a book.

A Good Marketing Plan
The cover artists themselves become as well-known as the authors and often, the two are tied-in to the reader or collector’s mind. Both large, traditional publishing houses and self-publishers alike are dependent on the cover, initially. But after the initial ”hello” is over, a cover design cannot work alone to sell a book. Write a good book, package it well.

Survey Says...
A Survey published March 3, 2005 by World Book Day, was that 25% of readers claimed to buy books based on friends’ recommendations; 26% bought books based on author familiarity; 6% bought a book because they saw it advertised and only 7% cited cover design.

*the cover design statistic has not changed much since a 1998 Penguin survey.

Free Marketing
Good covers and great titles aside, the fact is that far more people are influenced by good old-fashioned personal recommendations and an author’s reputation. Low first print-runs (less investment from the publisher) have gone on to become huge commercial successes, simply by word-of-mouth.