Armchair BEA is an online conference that runs in conjunction with Book Expo America (BEA) in New York City.
Day 2 of ABEA continues with questions talking about all things aesthetics — the superficial shit we love and hate at the same time.
Part 1: Book Aesthetics
How often do you judge a book by its cover?
Here’s a pro tip for you kids: whoever told you they don’t judge a book by its cover is someone not to be trusted.
Judge anything and everything. Just be mindful as it is not always the case that authors themselves have the final stamp of approval.
How often are you surprised by what you find?
I don’t know what this prompt is asking but I’ll say that if the cover is not aesthetically pleasing, then it makes reading the blurb more difficult (granted, I’ll still try to get enticed by the blurb first).
Do you strategize and make sure every book in your series has the same cover design and type?
Strategy? Huh. Is it not common sense (is this the right term?) to want your trilogy spines to line up or to have cover art/illustrations and typography to be somewhat the same?
How important is it for the visual art on the outside of the book to match or coordinate with the literature art on the inside?
It’d be nice if the contents on the outside matched the inside but at that point (after finishing the book), the story, for me, takes precedence in importance. Best case scenario is having to explain to someone “so the cover is pretty ugly but the story is awesome!” rather than “wow, this cover is so nice but the story was garbage“. Well, the choice is yours I guess.
Part 2: Blog Aesthetics
Branding is important. Your colors, your fonts, your style of review, all of these things come together to make the “brand” of your blog – recognizable traits to viewers reading your content. What do you do to create a brand on your site? Do you think about these things?
There’s no cookie cutter answer to this.
With using free [Wordpress] templates, I’m at the mercy of being a carbon copy of another blog. Is this a hurdle? Absolutely. But the brand and voice of a blog is so much more than that.
What you see when you get to a landing page — however you find it — is just an initial point of contact. Superficial aesthetics aid in viewer retention, but honestly, it’s finding means to cultivate that relationship that will carry forward much of your future correspondences — even if that relationship is one-sided (as in, they visit you).
Here’s a shitty, shitty example for you:
Every [book] blogger is in a giant room with their tacky little table space to showcase who they are. Some people have foam boards, others have powerpoints (or fuck, even Prezi for added bonus), but many may have nothing. A table on the far right might scream giveaways every ten minutes, the table on the left might be holding court with humour — point is: everyone’s screaming the same damn shit in different ways just as much as certain bloggers will gravitate towards certain things. Like calls to like.
It’s a nice thought to say we all blog for funsies (and therefore fuck statistics and visibility). But while that may be true for some, it’s rarely true for many of us; the degree to which this is of importance varies.
tl;dr: cultivate a voice that works for you, fully knowing that the idea of branding is constantly in flux. It changes. Your voice one year ago is surely different than today, and so it will be one year from now. It’s finding ways to maintain a level of visibility you’re happy with but never settling for.
These are just my two cents as some random enigma on the Internet. I’m mostly full of shit so I don’t even think you should [ever] listen to me. But jokes on you, I told you this after you may have skimmed it hah.
afterthoughtAn // twitter
anotherafterthought // goodreads
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9 thoughts on “[Armchair BEA 2016] Day 2: Aesthetics – Books & Blogs”
I totally agree about the voice on the blog. It’s more important to me than the aesthetics….unless, the blog is so cluttered that I can’t focus on anything. That will drive me away.
I’d say how the blog look is at least 40% of the battle to engage readers. It’s important because it draws people in, but it’s ultimately the content the one which will keep them there.
Agreed on aesthetics. And even though being restricted to templates can be frustrating, I find that even a lot of the custom design that I see has the same basic look and feel to it, even if it’s slightly adapted for different blogs. Voice matters more.
And regarding trilogies, I often don’t even buy them in the same *format*, because I’m prone to finishing a paperback of book 1, immediately reading book 2 on a Kindle, and then preordering a hardcover of book 3. That’s what happens when you try to binge-read before a series is complete. 😛
The one thing that drives me away from a blog / site is too many flashing, crazy graphics. After that, I can pretty much look past most things. If the content is good, I will withstand a color I don’t care for.
My first blog was on LiveJournal, so I understand what happens when you’re limited to a certain…structure. Words are what draw me in. Words and similar reading tastes. Or pictures of David Tennant. I forgive A LOT if David Tennant is in the post.
Reading review copies and ebooks has really helped me not to judge a book by its cover as I don’t always see the cover until I’m writing the review. And there has been a time or two that I’ve done a double take “is that really the cover for the book” because it doesn’t really capture the story.
My most important tip on blog design/branding is to have something that is recognizable across social platforms.
Girl Who Reads
Sometimes the blog appearance distracts the readers from the content. I mean, I’ve seen very talented bloggers who are brilliant writers but I despise going to their blogs because the font they use is too tiny. I think I’m more annoyed with tiny fonts than black background and neon-coloured fonts. No joke.
Very well said, two thumbs up.