Palmettos and Pearls

 

Palm & Pearls BW Logo FINAL

On this journey from writer to author, I have read a lot about the importance of writers to think about their art as a business. I am sure I am not the only one who finds this a bit bewildering and uncomfortable. Surely a writer’s focus should be solely on the storytelling and all of the other bits and pieces that get your book to the readers will somehow just happen. When you think author don’t you think of that person holed up in a cabin somewhere, pounding out the stories and sending them via mail to the publisher that makes the rest all happen?

Well friends, the publishing world has been going through a metamorphosis that I seem to have entered mid-change. There are lots of voices out there and now multiple paths available to the bookshelf, physical or cyber. I have decided to stay out of the debate, I believe writer’s need to find the path that works for them. However, like anything worth doing, I have found that regardless of the path you take, there are certain things all writer’s need to do on their journey.

I have spent a lovely career in education and still have a few years left, but that does not mean I can think of my writing as a hobby or even a part-time job. I need to view it as my second career and everything I do now to build it will help me transition into it as my sole career. So I need to treat my writing as a professional, which means branding, marketing and LLC incorporation are subjects I have had to study.

I am fortunate to be taking this journey at a time when there are many resources and I highly recommend bublish.com if you are not already familiar with all they do to support authors on their journey. For the most part the community of writers is full of mentors.  One thing I decided was I needed to establish a Limited Liability Corporation so that finances for my writing could be separate from my personal finances. I wanted to chose a name that also went along with my “branding” of my writing to express my genre. If I could name my genre it would be Southern Women’s Fiction.  I have yet to find that category listed among sub-genres. The closest ones are: women’s fiction and contemporary fiction. So with Southern Women’s fiction and the setting of the lowcountry in mind, I began my quest for a name.

I googled possible names and had to scratch out a few that were taken. I was left with about half a dozen possibilities. From the start Palmettos and Pearls was on the top of my list but I toyed with a few others. Then I narrowed down and had a few friends give their feedback. Palmetto’s and Pearls won hands down. They all said it was more me than the other contenders. So I got on Legal Zoom, another marvel of the modern world, and processed my paperwork.

In this age of images I knew a name was not enough. I needed a logo, that could go on every book cover and on all my business paperwork. I originally wanted a tree wearing a pearl necklace but we could not seem to get it just right.  The final logo I think is reminiscent of a modern pearl statement necklace, and after all this is contemporary fiction I am writing . The Palmetto tree is an iconic symbol in these parts and just like that I have my own business with it’s own logo.

I am constantly learning on this journey and I hope my logo will grow be synonymous with my author brand. Who knew when I set out to become a published author I would be creating a business. I truly did envision a quiet beach house where I could hide away from the world and just write. I like being in the driver’s seat and I am thankful for the many who have gone before for sharing their knowledge as I chart my road map. I can’t wait to see what I learn at the next stop.

 

Caught In A Cover-Up

WP_20160213_002Conventional wisdom tells us you can’t judge a book by its cover. In today’s book world the opposite seems true.  After all, go in any book store and you will find many books not on shelves with spines out, but stacked on tables so that the cover is in full view of the browsers.

I’ll admit it, I do initially judge a book by its cover. I will be attracted by the color scheme or the cover art. That in turn will lead me to read the title. If that appeals as well, then I will pick it up and flip it over to read the description on the back.  We are visual creatures and accept or reject something from a glance.  Rightly or wrongly, not passing judgment here, just making an observation.

Of course the initial visual attraction can quickly fizzle if what is inside the cover does not deliver.  I believe we have all had that experience of meeting someone and being attracted by their look or even the fact you share one common interest. Only to be disappointed when you get to know them better and find you have nothing else in common or you can’t relate to their values.  Or bought a product based on appearance only to find it lacked in functionality.  However you took a closer look because of that initial attraction.

So here is the happy dilemma I find myself in.  I am beginning the process of designing book covers for the books I plan to publish this year.  These covers need to attract readers to them. They need to reflect what is between the covers. They also need to speak to who I am as an author and convey a recognizable style that will be tied to me moving forward.  No pressure here! This decision is up there with what to wear to an important interview. Fortunately I will work with a professional who can translate my ideas and help me create a cover design I hope will become my signature style.

When I think about my wardrobe or even my home décor, I would say I have cultivated a style that is easily recognizable by my loved ones.  When we are browsing in a store, they will say things like, “That is so you.”  I want my book covers to do the same thing. I want a reader to glimpse the cover and say I know that author.  So while writing the books might be the blood, sweat and tears of the work, the cover decision might easily be the hardest part of the process. I believe I am up for the challenge.

I can hardly wait, and luckily I won’t have to wait long, to see this first cover and this first book revealed. Stay tuned, end of March or beginning of April if the current timeline holds. Then the cover can start catching some readers!

Doors & Decisions: The Outcome

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Shiny and New

So, if you read my last blog entry: Doors and Decisions, I imagine you are saying “Whoa Nellie, where did that color come from?” Particularly since I left you with a red and four shades of green as finalists.

I had given myself 48 hours to make a decision and I am happy to report I beat the deadline, making it in 36 hours. So how did the door end up blue , Sherwin Williams – Aquarium to be specific?  Well I took my original finalists to Facebook where I knew I would get great feedback from a large group of southern women with awesome style that I am blessed to call friends. Then it occurred to me to google gray houses and door colors.

I know…modern magic…you can find anything with a key word and the swipe of a finger.  Loads of images popped up and the blue with the gray struck my fancy. It was important to me to do something a bit different. I was after a lightening and brightening effect after ten years with a black door. A renewal for the house if you will as we begin 2016.

This color spoke to me of the South Carolina coast. A modern, fresh and bright complement to the traditional gray house with the white trim. So here we are with a freshly painted door to start the new year. It turns out the process to arriving at the color decision, really wasn’t about color at all.

For one thing, it is just paint, easily changed. I came to realize that life is actually the same way. If you don’t like the direction your life is heading, change course.  Very few decisions in this life can’t be reversed or redirected. I dare you as we start this new year to renew yourself with something big or small.  It can be something symbolic like a door color or life altering like a career change. This door color decision was really about being open to trying something new.

I learned a bit of how I am growing as an evolving human and what I hope for in this coming year. That is another life revelation from this process, we never stop growing and changing as long as we stayed tuned in. The process in 2015 to live in joy has led me to this point of renewal for 2016.  I want to be fresh in my ideas and energy moving forward.  I want to take more risks. I want to sparkle and shine with joy and zest for this precious life.  I want to continue to connect my beloved South Carolina Lowcountry and the beautiful souls of the southern women I call friends to my writing.

So here’s to 2016, filled with opportunity and possibility (laundry room is looking a bit bland…orange…tangerine?) Make it a time to renew and refresh.  Make 2016 about making the best version of you yet!

Doors and Decisions

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The Finalists

I am generally a decisive person.  I chose the College of Charleston with such conviction I never even mailed off any other applications.  When I decided to buy a house I did it in a matter of a week. I decided I wanted to be a writer and I wrote, the stories just pouring out of me.  When faced with major life altering decisions, I will weigh the pros and cons of each option, but then I commit to one, never second guessing.  So I am in a bit of a quandary as to why selecting a new color for my front door has led to months of mulling and waffling.

My house is a warm gray with white trim and black shutters.  The door is currently black as well and I have always found it to be a bit boring.  I have a natural penchant for things red and it is a classic door color, but it is also somewhat predictable.  I am all for tradition and love classic design, but I loathe being cookie cutter or expected.  On a trip to Dublin Ireland I was taken by the charm of the door colors around the city and was particularly drawn to the green ones.  Green would be a bit unexpected, but not too out there, like say purple ( I like purple, just not as a door color on my gray house).

So I originally brought home about twenty paint chips, about two-thirds green and one third red.  I agonized and culled it down to five, interestingly only one is red.  Then I began to overthink it.  What does the color say about me?  What message would it send?  In my mind red tells a visitor you are welcome, this is a cheerful home with a traditional and confident homemaker.  Green on the other hand, while also welcoming, says this homemaker is a bit unpredictable and likes a modern twist on a classic.  Pardon me while I scream my frustration with myself, IT’S ONLY A PAINT COLOR!

Somehow this minor decision has become a major statement on who I am.  Can I be summed up in a paint color?  I think not, I am a bit more complicated and I would dare say multi-colored than that. Besides, I can change my mind quite easily and just repaint if I find I don’t want to live long-term with my decision, much easier to switch then say the purchase of a car or major appliance. So why the angst?  I bet a psychiatrist could have a lot of fun with this.

So what is an indecisive girl to do?  Well, I have not finalized my decision, but I have committed to a deadline for a decision.  I will make my choice by December 31st so that my first weekend project of the new year will be to paint my door. If there is one thing I have learned to do well is to make a plan and commit to it.

Just like a book is revealed in its pages, not its cover, a home is revealed by its atmosphere not its door color. So with a new year I will have a new door color and regardless of what that color might be I know my house will say you are welcome and this is a place to feel at home.