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Five Principles for Using Graphics. Editor's Notes #145
May 15, 2013

The drawing shows me at one glance
what might be spread over ten pages in a book.

--S. Turgenev

A note to some of you
I have spent a very long time trying to get rid of an odd character that shows up on two of my test emails, but not on others -- a very long unsuccessful time. My apologies to those of you who see odd characters.

In this issue:

1. Five principles for using graphics
2. Tickled my funnybone
3. Interesting Web site

1. Five principles for using graphics
From photo essays to children's picture books to how-to texts and novels, writers find themselves in the unfamiliar territory of graphics. (Novels have at least covers, but sometimes have graphic elements that set off sections of the book as well.) A few writers have superior skills with both words and visual forms of communication, but most of us fall short of excellence when it comes to the visual. Let these principles guide you through the world of graphics.

1. Know what your printer needs
Yes, this includes ebooks, which are not actually printed. You may not understand terms like resolution, pixels, CMYK, or RGB, but a good printer will take the time to explain what you need to know. Even if you have a professional designer, it's better if you have some idea of what is important about the graphics.

2. Understand the cost
If you are printing a book with some colored graphics, there may be ways to cut costs if you place colored elements carefully. I stress the word may here, but do ask. If you are creating an ebook, the cost is not necessarily monetary, but there may be a cost in readability because of how the graphics are laid out on the screen.

If you use graphics from stock photo sites, read the terms carefully. Ask if you don't understand. You may have to estimate how many copies you will sell to determine the cost of any graphics you buy.

3. Say more
If your graphic includes only what your text says, you probably don't need both forms of expression. Look for graphics that add depth.

4. Start early
Consider early what sort of graphics you need and where you might get them. This hunt, like most aspects of publishing, often takes longer than you expect -- much longer. At the same time, leave final decisions as long as you can so you are sure you have considered everything possible before signing on the dotted line.

5. Use a professional
Unless you are an expert in visual expression, hire the best professional you can afford to handle your graphics. I took my alphabet book around the province myself, so I saw the physical reactions of buyers when they looked at the cover and again when they opened the book and saw the stunning layouts. The money I spent on my designer sold at least as many books as my words did. I suspect they sold more.


2.Tickled my funnybone
He had a photographic memory that was never developed.


3. Interesting Web site
My apologies to Angel Dawson who gave me the link to her blog back in April while we were celebrating poetry and who then gave me permission to share it with you. Angel took on the challenge of writing one poem per day during the month of April. On the principle of better-late-the-never, here is a link to Angel's blog. May it inspire some of you to go and do likewise.

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