I recently attended the 2016 Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City. Creative hopefuls from around the globe gathered and listened to the wisdom of those who came before us. It’s a wonderful opportunity to make new friends and learn about the forever fluctuating face of publishing.
In order to keep in touch, many delegates bring business cards. However, because I’ve ordered business cards before and I barely use them – the box of 250 is still on a shelf in my closet collecting an obscene amount of dust – I decided to try something different this year. With an additional Los Angeles conference coming up in late August, I figured now was the time to get creative.
As an experiment, I revamped and repackaged a short story I previously published on this blog in 2014. I commissioned a graphic designer to create a “book cover” for the story in question, Fifth Helena Drive, which I later had printed as postcards with my blog URL listed on the reverse. The same designer incorporated the full text and the new cover into a downloadable file that I eventually posted on a standalone page of The Literary Lollipop. The idea was to make it easy for people to connect, stay in touch, and (hopefully) read my story.
I ordered the postcards through Vistaprint, and the software walked me through each step so that I could customize the look and size accordingly. I paid the extra fees for a matte finish and a larger-than-standard size: five by seven inches. All you have to do is upload the art work, drag and drop, choose your shipping preferences, and process the order. Super simple.
What also appealed to me about this idea was that I was making something tangible and, in a more professional and authoritative capacity, sharing it with the world. Well, a small corner of the world, but you know what I mean. I gave away only ten postcards at the Writer’s Digest Conference and the response, I’m happy to report, was positive.
The most pleasant surprise has been the reaction and support of family and friends. When they saw the cover, a visual element enhanced what had been nothing but words; Fifth Helena Drive was brought to life in a new and unique way.
Collaborating with a graphic designer was incredibly satisfying. We went through approximately three versions until we landed on a look we were both happy with. Originally, the photograph of palm trees featured a darker hue of turquoise, but we decided to apply a summery fade in order to convey the retro, California-esque components of the story.
This project inspired a few side effects, most notably a newfound curiosity for the design of book jackets. My usual habit of browsing the local bookstore became a fun exercise in research as each visit resulted in a careful inspection of unusual fonts, images, cool graphics, themes, and ideas. The whole experience was beyond anything I could’ve hoped for, and I have already considered repeating this process with Symmetry.