One would think these principles of cover design to be universal, and yet I’m staring at a couple Japanese novels on my desk, and can’t help but wonder if the standards of design are a little bit different (read: awesome) there. Japanese bestsellers, especially foreign titles, are often printed as bunko, which are similar in form and function to mass market paperbacks in the West. They do tend to be a bit shorter and slimmer than Western paperbacks however, and are usually only about two hundred pages long. Because of this length restriction, many Western bestsellers are often split up into multiple volumes. These criteria mean that cover designers have less space to work on per book, but potentially more books available. You might also notice an almost universal trend of more numerous and larger typographic elements on Japanese covers. As my team has been working on a YA cover, I’m specifically interested in that market. As a teaching example of YA cover design differences between Japan and America, one need look no further than America’s favorite dystopian series about ritual teen murder and bird-themed rebellion: The Hunger Games.
One of the major highlights of At the Waterline is the unique, compelling characters that shape the houseboat community. There’s Dory, the marina’s hot dog vendor and source of local gossip; there’s Barry, an ex-Catholic priest turned alcoholic; and of course there’s Jack, the unofficial harbormaster who’s lived his entire life on the river—his only constant companions being a little dog and an outdated, but fully functional, shotgun. These are characters you care about. They’re duplicitously loveable and frustratingly human, and they reflect our own lives with an intense clarity you can’t get enough of. We hope to market this story to Pacific Northwest readers who genuinely care about the quality of the literature they read.
As I type this, I’m on my third cup of coffee, and I think I slept during that last nap. I can’t really remember. I’m one of the many Ooligan students who work in the professional realm while also pursuing a master’s degree, which means constantly trying to balance and prioritize schedules while facing an endless string of sleepless nights and pots (and pots) of coffee. Now I’m a special snowflake, because I actually work three jobs that all involve complicated children and exist in different quadrants of Portland. But I digress. Ultimately, what I have found through juggling full-time graduate school, multiple jobs, and an attempt at a social life is that I am gathering skills that will serve me well for the rest of my life. Every graduate student I know who also practices a balancing act, whether at Ooligan or otherwise, is learning what it means to get stuff done—and be creative while doing so. By building up our professional resumes while pursuing our education, we are able to provide unique and valuable insight into successful strategies, and we experience what the real world is actually like.
Write to Publish—the annual conference that Ooligan hosts to demystify the publishing world for writers—has come and gone. By all accounts, it went pretty well. For an event that housed two concurring panels and a room for publishing vendors, the rooms were filled and it was well attended. Of course, the logistics of hosting an event is one thing (securing food for the event, finding speakers who were willing to talk, etc.), but getting people to buy tickets and come to the event is another, which is where marketing comes in.
Book marketing is a funny business. First of all, it’s impossible to predict what will sell and what won’t. You just have to put everything you can into attracting an audience and getting the word out, then hope to everything you believe in that people buy your book out of the millions that are already out there. These difficulties are only increased when the book you’re working on isn’t new but, in fact, has been published for twenty-five years.
I recently wandered the YA shelves of Powell’s to take note of the latest cover trends––partly as research for the cover design of The Ocean in My Ears, and partly because that’s the kind of thing I like to do with my Friday nights. In order to focus only on the latest trends and limit […]