by admin on January 5th, 2011
We are delighted to have Don Douglas guest post for us about using professional photos to promote your work as an author and publisher. Don is a photographer and owner of My One Thousand Photography in Ottawa, Ontario Canada. He specializes in wedding, portraits, landscapes and food photography. You can view Don’s work at his online gallery at www.my1k.ca.
A picture is worth a thousand words; every picture tells a story; you can’t tell a book by its cover…or can you?
You’ve worked hard to get that manuscript together, and either its been picked up by a publisher, or you’ve made the decision to self-publish. The story, or collection of art, or whatever, is perfected. Now you need that cover art and a photo of yourself for the author page. Sure, you could get your partner, friend or Aunt Ellie to take a snapshot – everyone has a digital camera these days. But if you have poured your heart and soul into this work, shouldn’t it have a proper picture of you for all eternity?
Why would you choose a professional photographer?
A professional photographer has a few things that the other options don’t, including professional cameras and lenses, a studio or lighting equipment to make you look your best. They also have experience and the knowledge that comes from hard work and/or education to know what makes a good composition and make you look your best and most natural. They also (hopefully) know their gear and know what to use to get a terrific shot. They may even have a few ideas outside the box of what you think, that will make your portrait even better.
(By the way, I’d like to point out, that I’m not suggesting that your partner, friend or Aunt Ellie are not good photographers, or don’t have a nice camera for the job.)
What if a professional photographer is just not in the budget?
Your cash has been poured into the book, and hiring someone for this one last thing just isn’t going to happen. Here is some things you can do to get the best shot:
Hire a professional. Okay, this isn’t a joke. There may be some budding pros who need to boost their portfolio. If you can find one, ask if they will do your portrait in exchange for allowing them to use your photo in their portfolio.
Light the lights. Make sure you have sufficient light. Photography is about capturing light. The more light on the subject (you), the better the picture. If its a nice day outside, take it outside – preferably in the early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is lower in the sky. There are less harsh shadows. A nice bright cloudy day is also good as well. If its indoors, make sure there is light on the subject (you) either straight on or coming from both sides to have your face illuminated. The Internet is full of more lighting suggestions in more depth than I can put here. And avoid using direct flash. If you have a flash accessory on the camera, point it to the ceiling or wall (preferably a white one) and bounce the light off of it. If it is an on-camera flash, use some sort of diffuser. This will spread out and soften the light so it won’t be as harsh.
Look out behind you. Really. Look behind you. Make sure there is a nice plain backdrop or lightly patterned background. You want the focus to be you, not the dog in the background. As well, make sure there are no poles or objects “poking” out of your head. You could use Photoshop later, but if you can fix it in the camera shot, do it.
Focus on the face. The reader or perspective purchaser, wants to see the author’s face. Not a full body shot. So keep the picture to the chest up. Also, keep it in a close crop with less objects around you that could shift focus (see above).
No matter which route you choose to get that author shot, make sure the shot looks like you, not a cheesy grin or odd-ball look (unless that’s the look you’re going for). Take some time to consider what you want, and by all means, have fun with it. If you have fun with it, relax and not get too stressed about it, your look will be more natural and it will look more like you.
by admin on December 30th, 2010
This year has been one of our best yet! No, it has been our BEST YEAR EVER! There are so many great memories and here are a few we would like to share with you.
Most favorite moment: A little girl who was afraid of crocodiles coming out of the toilet came to our book launch with her mom who we had met at a show the previous week. We had promised her mom that if she brought her daughter we would promise her that no crocodiles would ever come out of her toilet. Not only did we promise but Anastasia pinky-swear promised and Jo-Anne drew a very special illustration for her in her new Crocodiles and Crumpets book showing how much crocodiles don’t like swimming in toilets or the plumbing!
Best celebration: Our book launch for Crocodiles and Crumpets was the best celebration we have ever had for anything at My Pempek Publishing. We are so very thankful for everyone who made this event come together and be a success! The people we worked with at the Shenkman Arts Centre were incredible and provided a beautiful venue for our launch. We were so happy to have entertainment from Monkey Rock Music to add some dancing, singing and instrument playing to a fun event! Not only that but little Naomi chose to celebrate her birthday with us that day and she brought all of her friends who had a great time! Don Douglas from My One Thousand Photography took some great candid photos and truly captured the fun filled excitement at the event . We had some great friends and family volunteer to help with the games, coloring stations and book signing. THANK YOU THANK YOU everyone!
Most embarrassing moment: As you know Anastasia and Jo-Anne were working on the book up to and after Anastasia gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Two days before the birth while travelling to our last creative meeting we covered Jo-Anne’s front car seat with a tarp just in case Anastasia’s water broke.
Fun Media Moments: We had some great media moments including meeting Charelle from EMC Ottawa in a local Starbucks for a fun interview and an appearance by Anastasia on Rogers Daytime while her baby daughter slept beautifully in the greenroom with papa (baby slept, papa was awake).
Great family and friend moments: Some of our friends and family have asked if characters in Crocodiles and Crumpets were modeled after them including Larry the grumpy crocodile and Elmer the croc that eats all of the crumpets. We will never tell!
Great Partners: Our retail partners like G. Whilikers in Ottawa and our printing partner MCRL have been instrumental in making our company a success! We thank you so much for the partnerships and the quality and reliability of your work. Surrounding ourselves with amazing people and partners makes our work a pleasure!
And YOU our customers, our readers and our friends in the publishing world. Thank you for letting us meet you, get to know you and supporting us this year and we can’t wait to bring you more in 2011!
Happy new year and we wish everyone the best in 2011!
by admin on November 15th, 2010
Who would have thought that a bedtime story that was made up on the fly for a little girl who wouldn’t go to sleep would become a lovely story to be shared with other children and families and quite possibly with other little girls and boys who would not go to sleep? Anastasia Valentine quite literally made the story up and when her daughter fell asleep, went to write it down on the computer. After a few hours of writing and some tired fingers, the first draft of Crocodiles and Crumpets was born.
Crocs (as we affectionately call it) waited a year or so before we decided it was ready to be shared with the public. We started the editorial and illustration process and went through a several iterations of the story to further define the characters, tweek the story line and bring the beautiful illustrations together with the text. This is how our books start to take shape. You can see our written and scribbled on (and more than likely a beverage or two spilled on) manuscript that made its way into the hands of our editor Melanie Pagé and Jo-Anne Guindon to get the process started.
A year later and with Anastasia about to give birth any day the book was finally done! Jo-Anne provided all of the illustrations in digital format including the cover and inside cover designs and Anastasia completed the layout of the actual story using her text combined with Jo-Anne’s illustrations. We receive a proof of the book prior to the volume print which allowed us to make some minor changes. In this case we tested the book on some local families and there was a demand to increase the font to improve late night readings so we increased the font and changed the cover slightly. Anastasia and Jo-Anne signed off on the proof and requested changes and sent it off to print again. Then we waited…and we waited…
We choose to get our books printed overseas using eco-friendly soy based ink. This keeps the costs down as well as providing us with a product that is not only extremely high quality but environmentally safe. The downside to this is that it takes an awfully long time for the end product to travel to our office here in Canada.
And then it arrives! It is not quite as glamorous as you may think. The books arrive on a skid all packaged up and looking quite nondescript. Despite the look of the shipment, it is quite exhilarating to finally see the final product! The books are unpacked, inventoried and quickly shipped out to reviewers and to those who placed pre-orders to get their copy ASAP!
We are now counting down the days to our launch event and gearing up to expand our distribution, and partner with some great companies to increase awareness of our book and also encourage and promote literacy amongst young people in the local and greater community. This is the truly exciting part and its only the beginning!
Stay tuned for more as the My Pempek Publishing adventure continues!
by admin on September 30th, 2010
Many people ask us, “How did you publish a book?” or “ I have an idea for a book but don’t know how to get started.” Over the next few weeks we will be showcasing authors who have taken various routes to publishing. Some are published by My Pempek Publishing and some are friends in the author/publishing world who we greatly admire and who have created beautiful works we just had to share their Journey from Idea to Print.
Today we are featuring a trio of creative ladies who have created a trio of fabulous children’s stories from Little Witch Press in Ottawa, Ontario Canada. We are pleased to introduce you to Susan Atkinson, Author, Elizabeth Todd-Doyle, Illustrator, Kim Dalrymple, Graphic Designer/Web Designer.
They have published the most lovely books entitled:
- Where Do Witches Go?
- What Do Witches Do?
- Witches Don’t Do Ballet
Every author begins with an idea but when a group of creative individuals come together to create books for children there are many sources of inspiration. In fact, the team at Little Witch Press says that “Everything can be an inspiration if you let it in!” They also stress the importance of surrounding yourself with things that make you happy to enhance the creative process.
A solid network of peers including authors, illustrators and other self publishers provide feedback and brainstorm and talk about direction and ideas. While this type of network is important it is equally if not more important is having the support of their family and friends, especially the ones who aren’t afraid to tell you the truth.
Establishing the balance between the creativity of book writing and the demands of daily life requires massive multi-tasking which is a skill they have acquired on their life’s journey as women and mothers. Even though they all have busy schedules, they ensure they make time to be creative.
With all of the options available for authors to publish their works these days such as finding a publisher, self publishing and print on demand, Little Witch Press felt that they would have most control over their product if they self published. This included leveraging their graphic design expertise and superior project management skills for all aspects of the printed product. Soft cover books are the book style of choice as it is easier to handle for their target market of 4-8 year olds.
Like many authors, the business side off book publishing is not necessarily as exciting as the creative process albeit necessary. The creative process is more enjoyable for the Little Witch Press than the process of selling their creative work, however, when it results in a smiling child it is certainly all worth it. They don’t have an established customer list but do have contacts in the media, radio, TV and bookstores to promote their books which are available both from their website and from bricks and mortar stores. In fact, TV appearances are the most effective method in gaining awareness and PR for their books. Getting their books on shelves in book stores is not at all challenging for them but rather having to make them available on consignment requires much follow-up and delayed cash flow.
The most rewarding part of being a published author is reading to the children and seeing their excitement for the books that they create. With more stories and projects in the work from Little Witch Press I am sure that the children can’t wait to read more.
To find more about Little Witch Press, visit their website at www.littlewitchpress.com.
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My Pempek Publishing is a boutique publishing house specializing in high quality, affordable children’s books for children of all ages. A strong supporter and advocate of children’s literacy and cultural awareness, My Pempek Publishing participates in many events and activities that nurture a child’s desire to learn in the local and greater community. For grown ups, you will find tips and techniques the creative writing process and publishing as well as updates on great events that you and the little ones in your care can participate in. Visit us at our online home at www.mypempek.com and sign up for a F.R.E.E. subscription of My Pempek Publishing, Navel Gazing e-zine.