Awesome titles and loglines Equal Success. Check Yours Now With This Free App
A lot of my readers are other bloggers and authors. Well, today’s post is just for you because you are going to love the new app I just found from Michelle (Girl Blogger Next Door). We all know titles and loglines need to be awesome to maximize their impact. Well, Michelle’s new app, Hookline Dynamic, helps with this; scoring them for emotion, excitement and empowerment. All you do is type in your title and immediately find out whether it will invite readers to click it… or not.
If you’re stuck for inspiration, there is also a brilliant “Get Ideas” button. You fill in the answers to the questions it asks and it generates potential titles. Simples.
The app is free but for a small subscription you can access pro features which rate your title depending on whether your prospective readers are young/old, male/female etc for even better targeting.
So, that’s it for this week. I’m off to write.
If you check out Hookline Dynamic, let me know what you think.
PS I just read this back and realized it sounds like a marketing pitch. So, just to be straight, I receive nothing from sharing the app. I just thought it was a good idea.
Planning my picture book video.
I like watching book videos. I can
waste spend hours on YouTube (in the name of research, you understand). There is such a vast range of styles and variation in quality, from professional movie standard productions down to the most basic, obviously home-made, pan-around-a-stock-picture efforts. I love them all.
I always intended on having a video for Better Buckle Up and Things Evie Eats and creating a video for a picture book is easier than creating one for a text-only book because you already have the visuals sorted. But I had a limited budget to work with, so I had to do a lot of planning to get the job I wanted at a price I could afford.
1) Teaser type trailer v complete reading?
The video for Baby Bear by Kadir Nelson is worthy of a Disney movie. It hints at the story but doesn’t tell it completely, just like a film trailer. This is some seriously nice animation but it’s way above my pay grade.
However, I decided on a complete reading of the books rather than a teaser type with excerpts. As a new author, it’s important that people get a feel for your books before they buy, that way parents can be sure what they’re getting. The full reading video can also be used to entertain children on car journeys etc.
One of the arguments against putting the whole book out is that, if people can read the book online, there is no need for them buy. However, my experience is that 1. children read a book they like multiple times and 2. picture books for children sell best in hard copy, so getting them hooked on a story might actually lead to more sales.
2) To see the person reading, or not to see the person reading?
My next dilemma in planning my picture book video was, did I want it to be a ‘story-time’ type video like Eric Carle in this reading of The Very Hungry Caterpillar?
Or did I want to just see the book, like this Usborne Alphabet Picture Book?
I tested several videos out with my grandchildren and found the ones they requested to watch most featured only the book. This surprised me, but they seemed to focus on the story more and were less distracted by the person reading it.
Rather than film myself turning the pages of the book, I decided I could use the file I created in Adobe InDesign to turn the pages digitally. I then used Camtasia, a screen capture software to record me reading the book and turning the pages at the appropriate place.
3) My voice or a voice over?
This was a real dilemma. I never like my Northern accent and paying for a voice-over artist on Fiverr wasn’t too expensive. I spent a long time listening to the various readers but, after recording the page turning, I decided I didn’t sound as bad as I thought. Twenty years of living in Wales has obviously mellowed my voice. And doesn’t Eric Carle’s accent makes the reading of The Very Hungry Caterpillar special? So, I went with me.
4) Intro and Outro?
Up until this point the trailer had cost me very little but I wanted the videos to have an Intro and Outro to give them a more professional look. I worked with PlainSightVFX, the people who did the illustrations for Better Buckle Up, and they used the idea from my website to come up with a graphic. The great thing about this is that I can use them on any video I make in the future. This will keep my branding recognizable too.
Wanna see it? Course you do.
5) Music: the food of love?
The finishing touch was the soundtrack. Music copyright is as big a minefield as photo copyright and again I wanted something to go over the Intro and Outro that was unique to me. The answer was to commission my own piece. I sent several pieces of music in a style I liked as a starting point. They also took the animations I’d had done so it fitted exactly. After all, there’s nothing worse than a soundtrack cutting off or fading out mid-phrase. I’m very excited about it all and the finished videos will be available very soon.
So what do you think about book videos? Love ’em or hate ’em?
This is not strictly a bookish writing post. Sorry. Normal service will resume next week … whatever normal is … but this is something writers may still be interested in.
I recently signed up to Crowdfire. Crowdfire is an app with a host of handy features that help you monitor your Twitter account. And it’s insanely useful.
- You can turn off your Twitter email notifications so you don’t get a message when you get a new follower. Suddenly your inbox is so much clearer.
All you do is log in from time to time to check out who followed you, and decide whether you want to follow them back. And following them is as easy as clicking a button.
Awesome, right? 🙂
2. It also has a handy feature for finding accounts you might like to follow by searching similar accounts or even keywords which is great for building an online presence.
So cool 🙂
3. You can also monitor who unfollowed you and how many accounts you follow who don’t follow you back.
I never really thought about this before. In my naive little way, I assumed I’d done something to offend anyone who unfollowed me? That my tweets were not up to their high standards? They hated me tweeting about my books? And this is where I started to make some interesting discoveries.
- There are a lot of accounts out there trying to sell twitter followers. If I didn’t follow them, they struck me off their list.
This is fair enough. They weren’t reading my tweets anyhow.
2. There are folks without profile pictures and twitter handles they appear to have chosen by dropping their mouse on the keyboard. For example, @kiubydkgf. (Is this a language from Earth or a different galaxy?) These people haven’t posted one single tweet and yet they have thousands of followers.
Why is anyone following these peeps? Why?
I’m not sure what they are achieving with this strategy but they will not get a follow back.
3. And then there are the people who have a legitimate sounding profile, have made lots of tweets and have an epic amount of followers but who follow no-one. That’s right, no-one. And I’m not talking about some faceless corporation or some mega-famous person. I’m looking at you, author-I-never-heard-of.
It appears their game plan is: follow someone, wait until they follow back, then unfollow them immediately. Now maybe in the platform-building world this is a great strategy for … something???
There are a surprising amount of people using this method. But seriously, if you don’t want to read my tweets, I’m damned sure I’m not going to read yours.
Consider yourself unfollowed, weirdo.
To conclude, Crowdfire is a great app (and no, I wasn’t paid for this post) but it has thrown up some unexpected mysteries. If you can explain any of the strange behaviours I’ve described, please tell me in the comments below because I’m dying to know.
P.S. Don’t forget my giveaway on Goodreads for Things Evie Eats is still open for entries until the 23rd August.
Me v Picture Book Text Design.
Have a look at these pages from my grandson’s copy of ‘The Little Boy who Lost his Name’.
I love how the text in the first picture follows the movement of the water and the mermaids hair in swirling lines. The irregularity of the size of the letters and the variation in the boldness of the font makes them interesting to look at.
In the second picture, the text complements the houses as it marches up the hill, whilst the huge word ‘Ants?’ emphasizes the little boys horror when the kindly Aardvark offers him some to eat. Brilliant.
My next book, Things Evie Eats, is a completely different design to Better Buckle Up. The illustrations are painted by an artist rather than being computer generated and I’ve tried to capture the lovely texture of the art paper she used for the pages of the book. This gives it an old-fashioned feel.
After spending so long perfecting the words of the manuscript, I wanted the layout of the text to be visually interesting so that actual letters add to the look of the book.
I chose a font which has simple letters similar to those used in early reading books. This should support letter recognition and help any early readers I might have. I felt this was important even though the book is most likely to be read aloud by parents, rather than by the children themselves,
Here’s a sneak peak at some of my pages.
Cheese Block Tower.
On this page I wanted the text to mimic the wibbly, wobbly tower that Evie builds with her cheese blocks.
Pouring milk down Mummy’s leg.
Here the text follows the milk and cereal as naughty Evie pours them down Mummy’s leg.
Squishy, squashy peas.
This makes use of a different size font and I tried to make the word ‘spoon’ into a spoon shape. This taxed my InDesign skills to the limit.
Spider’s web text.
This is the text that goes with last illustration. It took a while to suss out how achieve the spider’s web and make the text hover above it. Thankfully, my artist drew the ‘biscuit’ spider 🙂
I am not an expert in layout design. In most cases my ideas are greater than my skill set but am still pleased with how the book is shaping up … just a few more tweaks before it goes to the printers.
So, do you like wibbly, wobbly, squishy, squashy picture book text?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Progress report 1 – Things Evie Eats
Just as I was getting used to the days of sunshine here in Wales, this was the view from my window this morning. You can’t see the rain sheeting down in this photo, but believe me, it was torrential. So, as there was no sun to distract me, I spent the day with my trusty laptop.
For those of you who don’t know, my next book is called Things Evie Eats and it’s about a little girl with very definite ideas on what she likes to eat.
Most of the pictures for the book are finished. I am waiting on revisions for just two pages from the artist. It’s been months since I mocked up the first draft of the book, a blend of images from the web and my less-than-artistic stick figures.
Me v an artist
Spot the difference?
Yeah, I’ll probably keep with the writing.
I’m super pleased with the watercolour images but getting them into InDesign required some resizing which was problematic because the paper was textured and if I shrunk or enlarged the image the texture got bigger and smaller too. Worse than that, if I shrunk the image too much the texture didn’t fill the page. Either the image had to cover the whole page or I had to cut the it out. I decided on the second option, which I didn’t really know how to do, so the process involved much complaining about Photoshop.
But then I decided I actually liked the effect of the images on the textured paper better, so I had to put a blank page behind the resized images: involving more complaining about Photoshop.
As well as learning how to remove the background from images, I also figured how to make text follow a line in InDesign, … and discovered the gutters on the house need cleaning out because they look like a waterfall.
However, the majority of the book is now laid out ready for printing. Not a bad effort for a stormy Saturday afternoon.
P.S Don’t forget I have an autographed copy of Better Buckle Up to giveaway over on Goodreads.
I just had to update you with this this screenshot from Amazon.
Better Buckle Up is at no. 5 in the children’s ‘cars and trucks’ category. Squeee!
Yes, I know it has a long way to go to reach Amazon’s all time no. 5 but I was still excited anyway.
I’d like to thank all the people who have downloaded the book since it went live on Wednesday and especially those who have taken the time to post a review. Reviews means so much to authors.
I hope you and your little ones are enjoying the story and are chanting ‘Better Buckle Up’ when you fasten them in their car seats.
Love Suzie x
Launch day for Better Buckle Up
Better Buckle Up has finally been cleared for launch.
A book aiming to make car safety fun, follow Ollie as he drives a fire-engine, a racing car and even a rocket … all whilst wearing his seat-belt, of course.
At the time of writing it’s only in ebook edition although I’m hoping/praying/begging that the print version will be available in the next few days. (See here for the reasons behind the delay)
I hope you’ll check out the book. It costs £2.12 to UK readers, $2.99 in the US and if you’re a member of Amazon Prime you and your child can read it for free.
Pre launch Panic.
Well, I’m looking at the countdown timer for the launch of Better Buckle Up and having a pre launch panic.
This was not the post I was expecting to write. I thought I had things organised so early on. But the print version has been beset with problems. I had to lighten the picture files as they were too dark and I changed the binding from saddle stitch to perfect bound, so that delay was my fault. But, having been told by the printer that the cover file would be OK for both types of binding, it caused problems with the trimming. I mean, they almost cut the bar code off! And it took a while to figure out why it was happening. So that delay wasn’t my fault.
Has it been fixed? I’m still waiting for UPS to deliver what will hopefully be the final proof of the print copy which will then be available in the next few days.
So, it’ll be a soft launch tomorrow. Just the ebook will go live on Amazon. It’ll cost £2.12 to UK readers, $2.99 in the US. Members of Amazon Prime can check it out for free.
Better Buckle Up photoshoot
Another Better Buckle Up photoshoot and I just had to share these pics.
My little model did a great job at looking suitably fed up at the prospect of sitting in his seat.
I think we have a budding actor on our hands here.
Proof delivered … but not to me!
I waited in all day for the courier to deliver my final proof copy of Better Buckle Up. Nothing. And then I checked the delivery tracking. “Proof delivered!”
No, it wasn’t.
The tracking info says it was left it at reception. But which reception? Where?
I’m not panicking.
I still have 14 days.
Got to make some phone calls tomorrow.