Kindle Forum banner
1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,565 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A bunch of things have come together lately, making me wonder if the time is right for some of my recent thoughts about illustration.

Konrath posted about how he expects books to become even more integrated with the web and communities -- kind of an eBook 2.0. Another blogger, Steve Perry, posted an illustration contest on his blog for people to illustrate one of his characters.

I've been thinking about art as personal branding -- not just covers, but kind of like James Thurber's drawings are indelibly mixed with his stories.

Which brings me to something I posted on my blog last night which I think might be a conversation starter. (This is the end of a post about N.C. Wyeth.):

===
It used to be that most fiction was illustrated -- in magazines, in newspapers. Often multiple illustrations. These days, though, illustration has pretty much gone by the wayside (other than for children). Most of the time, all we have are the covers to tease and tantalize us.

And if all we have are covers, we have an extra problem in this modern age of ebooks. All you see is an itty bitty thumbnail, and even if you have a beautiful Wyeth-quality cover, the reader is unlikely to be swept up by the drama. They won't be able to see it that well.

However, I don't know if you ever noticed books from the old days, before they had a paper dust cover: even though it was the heyday of illustration, the cover itself might only have an impressed logo-like image. A crown or a ship. The really catchy dramatic illustration would be in the frontispiece inside.

In this modern age, even as cover images shrink to postage stamps, and the books themselves are text-only, we can bring back the frontispiece: by putting it on a website.

We have new opportunities now to make illustration a part of the overall online brand or identity of a book or series. The web gives us a wonderful opportunity for supplementation. I hope that people in publishing will make use of it.
===

Many of us are artists and designers, at least on an amateur level. Others work with artists and are interested in art and illustration:

What do you think? Do you see more integration of images via web and social networking? Do you see it already here? Or does it seem to be hot air?

Camille
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,679 Posts
Personally, I don't need illustrations in the fiction I read so it's not something I'm looking for. Some kind of web integration that provides illustrations would be meaningless to me.

It's not something I would look forward to as a writer, either. Seems like it would add expense.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,565 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Asher MacDonald said:
Personally, I don't need illustrations in the fiction I read so it's not something I'm looking for. Some kind of web integration that provides illustrations would be meaningless to me.

It's not something I would look forward to as a writer, either. Seems like it would add expense.
I'm not saying it as something integrated as in the illustrations appear in your book. I'm talking about something much more akin to "buzz." (Also not saying it's something you'd have to do. And opportunity, not a requirement.)

In a sense we're already sort of doing it, but we're doing it in an annoying way as conscious advertising -- say a book trailer. Look at the book trailer for BLAMELESS, a fun animation about how the cover was put together, which should be of interest only to artists, but it was a viral video because it was interesting.

And Steve Perry's contest. He has a very specific idea of what his alien character will look like, so he's holding a contest for people to draw her. Whether that will be successful or not directly, it really digs into the Web 2.0 thing in that:

1.) It's interesting in and of itself.
2.) If he publishes any of the illustrations, they will add interest to his blog.
3.) Those illustrations will be there to capture interest for a very long time.

It's like baseball cards and collector figures. Or an earlier discussion here: mapping your fantasy land and having it up on the web.

This is where I think Konrath is wrong, btw -- the integration will not happen within the book. People don't like to interrupt their reading experience. It's not a social activity, but being invested in the story IS, or can be, a larger experience. It already happens in the traditional publishing world, at least in a controlled and manipulative way. And it has long been happening in the fan world -- isolated from the mainstream. That stuff is all becoming integrated into the web.

Camille
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,292 Posts
daringnovelist said:
This is where I think Konrath is wrong, btw -- the integration will not happen within the book. People don't like to interrupt their reading experience.
Camille
I agree. That's why, unlike children's books, books written for adults are rarely illustrated. With that said, I think some authors are ahead of the curve than others when it comes to utilizing illustrations on the web to attract readers to their books. But I can see why some authors might not use this resource. Not only is it something very few authors have considered, but I think the success of using this strategy strongly depends on what kind of fiction you write. If you write a contemporary crime drama, there is probably little need for you to use illustrations to attract readers to your book. The reader's imagination is suffice to fill in the blanks of the environment and characters of said novel. But if you write a fantasy novel with a unique milieu and cast of characters, this would be a wonderful tool. I've been doing this for quite some time and can honestly say I've gained a number of readers who were curious to find out what my books were about after they were first exposed to an illustration featuring a character or scene from my books.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,565 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I think the curiosity factor is a big one. 

Even with contemporary crime -- the webzines which do really well tend to have provocative images.  (And when I say "illustration" here, I should say that I'm using it as someone in the biz uses it -- commercial images, not specifically drawings illustrating a specific thing.  So logos and photographs count too.)

The gun, the sexy babe, the ominous silhouette standing in the backlight of a mean looking alley. There's a reason why those have appeared on covers of magazines for decades.

On a less sophisticated level: we get a great cover, which is at least legible at thumbnail level -- but very often we look for one that looks even better when bigger.  Why?  Just because somebody might click on it?  Sure, but also because we can display the image at a larger size on our website.  If the image weren't important, we could just put the title in large print -- but we don't do that, why?  Because the image is important.

The thing to remember is that we're not just limited to one, and we're not just limited to "slick" either.  At least those who are interested in images -- artists and people who work with artists.

Think about James Thurber and his cartoons -- those sold a lot of books.

(And I've got to go.  Big protests in Michigan today.  I'll be back tonight, unless we all get raptured.)

Camille
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
I read Konrath's blog but i suppose my posts are rather too long to be included or accepted there.

Firstly, i will say the technology is already there, and here.

I think most people over-complicate things by putting too many words, or sophisticated words, to them. For example

"cars that fly" instead of "aeroplanes" for example.

Everything he talked about can be done but i am not going to go to his site to refer back and forth, i will just

recall from memory.

Adobe has the technology where you can put videos inside PDF's for example.

If you create your book in HTML format, you can include a YouTube video inside it. And if you can embed a YouTube

video into a document, it means you can also embed Facebook content inside it. This means if your book is plain

HTML, then it can show YouTube videos and link to Facebook and other social media, and even contain frames of other

websites inside it etc. The book will automatically update with each and every change that happens to content

linked to it. Like i am saying, with plain HTML, it is possible. However, it will require an internet connection.

(It therefore should be possible to embed YouTube videos inside ePub documents. I think embedding videos inside

ePub documents is very practical. A ePub file is practically a zipped html file. I am not a uber programmer so only

time will tell. )

A alternative to this is to provide your book as software.

There are many learning materials that you can install as software which also play videos etc., and which can even

take you online via a link. You can even watch flash videos and download PDF or even Word documents (any type of

file) from them, and even play pre-installed audio files inside them.

He also spoke of the author having a social network for the book where readers can participate etc.

There are many online games and even some offline games that have such kind of capabilities.

I once test played a game called The Sims off-line. In that game, you can move the players whichever way you

want etc.

There is also Need for Speed 2, which i have had the pleasure to play offline. What is does is you can have

a "movie" replay of your race etc.

One game, if i remember very well it should be FIFA, even allows you to upload your photo and be one of the

characters.

On Facebook, you (now) also have a log of your chat with someone. A chat on many platforms can be copied and

pasted.

If you combine the capabilities of these games and the capability of the Facebook's chat function, you can have

people participate even in the dialogue inside the book, and being the characters etc, and then at the end of it

get a transcript of all conversations etc. And as a result someone has a personalized book copy which he would have

participated in its creation.

On Facebook, you can now even download your entries and photos (input), so i see nothing hard there.

Someone, on Konrath's blog, suggested that it would be expensive to create such a site for one's own books.

Fine.

You don't have to create a site just for yourself. (but if you can, it can give you a competitive advantage against

other authors) you can create the site to be used by authors, just like Amazon is used by authors. Using this

approach one should be able to recover the cost of developing the technology.

Ning did something similar. Ning could have create another "Facebook", but instead it offered its software to be

used by anybody to create a social network for free. Everyone began top build a network with similar features to

Facebook at a cost of nothing. Of course Ning later started to charge a fee.

Instead, in order to make money and recoup the huge investment to develop the technology, one would need to do it

using the "ning" approach.

Ning created the core software and website for people to create their own social networks for free. Later on it

started to charge membership fees.

In the same way, the developers of the technology (who don't necessarily ave to be authors) can let authors enjoy

all the features. The authors therefore don't need to invest in the technology. The principle is the same as the

one you are enjoying and using here on Kindleboards. Kindleboards took money to develop, but you are using it for

free. It still has the option to charge you a membership fee should it one day decide it wants to.

If you are a writer, then be a writer first and foremost.

There is a risk that, if you want a highly visual book with plentiful of illustrations, its readers would find it

better you had made a movie, or movie clip, or even a interactive game, or even a comic book. After all, movie

scripts and comic book scripts are also written by writers.

However, there is nothing wrong putting illustrations here or there. so long as you don't over-do it. Illustrations

could be the thing that gets your readers advertising your book to others by word-of-mouth leading to more sales.

To do that, even now, doesn't require Apple-like designing-genius. You can even do that with a simple jpeg image or

photo.

By the way

I write non-fiction focusing on business matters. I have one book so far, now 1.5 months in the kindle store;

Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #298,899 Paid in Kindle Store. (At least it's not number 500 000!) ;D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
513 Posts
Interesting discussion -
I agree there is potential for using illustrations for brand building on websites - for building interest and anticipation for books still being written for example - and also for books in a series.

" I think the success of using this strategy strongly depends on what kind of fiction you write. If you write a contemporary crime drama, there is probably little need for you to use illustrations to attract readers to your book. The reader's imagination will suffice to fill in the blanks of the environment and characters of said novel. But if you write a fantasy novel with a unique milieu and cast of characters, this would be a wonderful tool. "

Yes, great for fantasy novels, but could also work for branding crime / mystery / thrillers / and other genres, particularly if a unique visual style was developed, that became identified with the series.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
438 Posts
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Take a look at old adventure, romance, and crime fiction pulps. They often had an illustrations heading certain chapters. Not all per se, just a few sprinkled in here and there. Heck, many fantasy writers include maps and such in their works already.

I liked what Konrath had to say, I just think he's so far ahead in his thinking most people can't follow him. He's not talking about the reading experience being interrupted, he's talking about the reading experience being interactive. That's a visionary statement and visionaries are usually alone until other people catch up with them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,292 Posts
T.J. Dotson said:
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Take a look at old adventure, romance, and crime fiction pulps. They often had an illustrations heading certain chapters. Not all per se, just a few sprinkled in here and there. Heck, many fantasy writers include maps and such in their works already.

I liked what Konrath had to say, I just think he's so far ahead in his thinking most people can't follow him. He's not talking about the reading experience being interrupted, he's talking about the reading experience being interactive. That's a visionary statement and visionaries are usually alone until other people catch up with them.
Didn't read the blog, so I can't address its contents. But in regards to what Camille was proposing, new technology certainly does open up a whole new venue for authors to use illustrations to promote their work beyond the typical ad or book cover. But authors will have to think out of the box to capitalize on the new opportunities.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
700 Posts
Apropos of nothing, I really liked the full-color illustrations in King's Dark Tower hardbacks. I don't know that something like that would work for Harlan Coben or Jeffery Deaver, but for Midworld and Roland of Gilead they were awesome. I'd love to see more books with that kind of artistry in them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,565 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
T.J. Dotson said:
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Take a look at old adventure, romance, and crime fiction pulps. They often had an illustrations heading certain chapters. Not all per se, just a few sprinkled in here and there. Heck, many fantasy writers include maps and such in their works already.
Yes, that's kind of where I was coming from. Illustration used to be the norm, and not just in books. Remember that many of these stories first appeared in newspapers -- and were illustrated there. Illustrations were a way of getting people to look closer at the story. You could say that they greatly improved the "click through" rate.

And with books in the store, the map inside the cover and the frontispiece were designed to create anticipation. Before the reader even had a chance to thumb through to look at the first sentence, there was cool stuff to lead him or her on -- aside from the cover.

T.J. Dotson said:
I liked what Konrath had to say, I just think he's so far ahead in his thinking most people can't follow him. He's not talking about the reading experience being interrupted, he's talking about the reading experience being interactive. That's a visionary statement and visionaries are usually alone until other people catch up with them.
I understand what he was talking about. And as others have said, that technology is here. But he kept emphasizing live chats for every chapter, etc. What a lot of studies have found is that a lot of multimedia feels intrusive to the reader. That is, unless they went into the experience FOR the interactivity -- i.e. they're playing a game. But for the kind of thing he's talking about to work well, you have to have the equivalent of an event. For instance, all the people who tweet with each other about TV shows. The reason that works is because they are all watching AT THE SAME TIME. It's a social event.

Now here's the thing, TV, theatrical movies, and home video are three different experiences, and what the audience wants with each is very very different. When video first came out, production houses assumed that the main customers would be the same as for theatrical movies. So they focused on things which would appeal to 18-34 year old men. And for a while they created a self-fulfilling prophesy.

But as they reached deeper and deeper into the archives, and had more and more films which did not do well at the box office available, the audience shifted. Hollywood did a study and was utterly shocked to find that women of a certain age were the biggest DVD buyers, and they liked to buy films they would never see in the theater.

When they interviewed the subjects, what they found was that the women didn't like watching certain kinds of movies in a public environment. If the movie was really personal, they LOVED the movie, but they wanted privacy. In some cases, they didn't even want to watch it with family or loved ones. They wanted, in essence, to experience the movie the way you experience a book.

The same women might still love to watch a "tentpole" blockbuster with a huge audience like everyone else. AND when the younger men were interviewed, they too were more likely to want to watch smaller more personal films in privacy.

While I am sure there will be the equivalent of a "tentpole" movie, books are the natural medium for privacy. You may want to talk about it OUTSIDE the book, but you don't need any technology to do that. We're actually already there in terms of technology. The only thing which could enhance it further is if the Kindle had a better interface for using as a web device. You don't have to switch devices when you've finished a book and want to go talk on Goodreads about it.

To bring this back to my topic -- we can create places for fans to go (our blogs or websites or FB pages) but if we create something they love, THEY'LL create that too. Which is a part of what I also see. Fans will do what they do. They will play and draw pictures and have their own fantasies about things.

While it does provide interesting opportunities -- I guess I don't think we have to be all that proactive about it. (This group tends to take everything in terms of whether it's something for the author to DO rather than just be aware of.) I just see more cool stuff in our future.

Camille
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top