Coffee heat rising

Publishing: Proceeding Apace. Decluttering: Ditto.

 Holy mackerel! It’s been TWO DAYS since I last posted here. How two days passed in an hour and a half escapes me…  Just now I’m engaged in preparing and preposting two months’ worth of bookoids for the Publishing Empire. {heh…maybe that’s what I should’ve called the current enterprise!} That is a much larger job than it seems.

It entails creating covers for 16 books (plus boxed sets, which just now are on-the-side jobs); obtaining ISBNs for each one (a truly time-consuming nuisance: you’re doing well if you can get one ISBN registered in under ten minutes); reviewing, correcting, and updating copy for each book; and posting cover image and contents for each book to Amazon.

I’ve learned you can enhance efficiency and reduce distraction by doing all of these tasks for a bunch of books in one sitting (actually, it’s going to take about three or four days…), rather than breaking in to whatever you’re doing to jump through the endless hoops for one book at a time. And you can post the completed MS and cover art at Amazon and “save as draft.” If you’ve done every step but the last one (and done each step right…), all you have to do on the scheduled “publication” date is go back into your Amazon “bookshelf” and click “publish,” thereby saving yourself a lot of time-consuming hassle on that date, when you might want to be doing something else with your time.

So, here’s an OPINION POLL:

Which of these do you prefer: the one with the black Roberta Stuart byline, or the one with the red?

Draft cover Daniela 2 LO RES

Draft cover Daniela 3 LO RES

The question is, which “Roberta Stuart” byline would be most visible in an Amazon thumbnail? Black? or Red?

Demonstrate the POWER OF THE HIVE MIND and cast your vote for one or the t’other! Tell me in the comments to this post which one you think is more effective.


You’ll recall the last time I visited these precincts, I was considering whether to get rid of the fancy Christofle silverware in favor of some stainless flatware that can go in the dishwasher. Well, my friends, the deed is done. And, after traipsing all over the Web and all over the city, I finally found a set that’s not too cheesy and not too expensive at…so obvious, why didn’t I think of it before this morning?…Williams-Sonoma!!

I did indeed go over to Sur la Table. Total wasted trip. The one set that looked like it might be OK when viewed online had all the heft of plastic. Just junk. And they way they had their flatware displayed — jammed upright into random containers — confirmed that the proprietors regarded the stuff as junk, too.

Revisit Crate and Barrel’s: unappealing, lightweight, not so very junky, but junk.

Across the city, driving driving driving Arrived in another mall that hosts a Williams-Sonoma and a Pottery Barn. At the Williams-Sonoma, in addition to scoring a couple of tasty snacks, I found two sets that appealed. One — the coolest of them — had heavy handles that unfortunately were made of pewter: “hand-washing recommended.” Saleslady said that translates as “handwash, period.” Defeats the purpose. The other was this brushed steel retro design reminiscent of the set my ex- and I bought shortly after we were married, yea verily way back in 19 and ought-67. It was moderately weighty and not displeasing in appearance.

And marked down 20 percent.

Just in case, it was over to Pottery Barn to check out their wares.

Forthwith, BACK TO WILLIAMS-SONOMA. Pottery Barn had a couple of attractive designs but they were…oh yes. Silver plate. Purpose defeated again.

So I purchased the following:


Not too awful, eh? These little gems can go straight into the dishwasher. And, although they’re not as elegant as a set of fine Christofle, they have a decent heft to them and they’re distinctive without being obtrusive.

Kind of interesting, this flatware safari. If I’d ordered the stuff online that appealed to me, from Sur la Table, I’d have been very unhappy and probably would have ended up traipsing to Scottsdale to return the junk. Overall, I went to five brick-&-mortar retailers plus an unknown number of online sellers before finding a design resembling what I wanted. And really…I don’t think I’m that picky! There’s nothing extraordinary about these pieces. Well…except insofar as they display a modicum (and I do mean modicum) of quality.

Think of that.

14 thoughts on “Publishing: Proceeding Apace. Decluttering: Ditto.”

  1. Couple of things…..Liking the new table wear. How sad it is you had to spend so much time looking. I remember back in the day JC Penny and Macy’s had a nice selection of table wear for any budget. I guess that ship has sailed. I too am liking the red for the authors name. But any thoughts to maybe outlining the authors name in white or maybe put the text in blue to pick up the blue jeans and then outline in white to go with the title text. Remember doing just this kind of thing in another life designing , making and selling signage. You do have a “good eye” when in comes to design.
    And finally speaking of driving….Holy cow….car prices/SUV prices! I’m shopping for a nice/cheap SUV as a back up vehicle and the prices are crazy. And a DF just bought a new Ford Escape nice but not top of the line ….35K….I feel faint!……How do folks do it? These payments exceed $500 a month…

    • To outline successfully I’d have to change the font (which is not out of the question). When I put white or black outline on this one (it’s Papyrus), even a very small line overwhelms. In thumbnail size, the red then looks kind of blotchy pink and the black is almost unreadable. In fact, the font here DOES have an outline: the same color as the font. That trick makes the font look bolder — Papyrus doesn’t have a “bold,” so outlining it in the font color gives you a slightly thicker, slightly brighter character.

      When you match the guy’s jeans (tried that) you see the blue is a great deal duller than it appears. Several blues in the palette pick up that shade…but I don’t think it stand out any better. The solution may be to change the font for the byline to something that has heavier lines.

      I do NOT understand where people get the money to live today, especially given that for large swaths of the population, real wages have dropped significantly over the past 10 or 15 years. My son bought an Escape and also damn near fainted. I don’t think his payments are $500 because he’d saved up a large down payment. But still…it’s a ridiculous amount to have to spend on wheels.

      To replace the Dog Chariot would cost between 32 and 37 grand, not counting taxes and registration. In Arizona, the newer the car is, the higher the annual registration fee — and that’s one of the reasons I’ve put off buying a new vehicle. For the first few years, registration is just breath-taking.

    • Funny you are wise and have learned a bunch. It amazes me how much goes into the design of “script” that we take for granted every day. It sounds to me like you have this under control. Just for fun throw that author’s name on the cover with some Edwardian Script in white and see what you think….Glad your enterprise is going well.

      • How perceptive, JestJack!!! Truth to tell, a couple of the other upcoming covers do use Edwardian. And in fact, I’d about decided that Roberta should ALWAYS sign her name in Edwardian script. I’ll try that out on this cover.

  2. Neither the black or red is very clear as a thumbnail. The “Stuart” is very hard to read because of the edge of the arm.
    Have you tried it with white text?

    • That’s kind of what I think about the black & the red. Yes, I have tried white. It stands out…if anything, it’s a little glaring.

  3. I like black. It stands out better where it’s in the shadow.

    Can you change the image to say a sports car and a couple sprawled on the hood?

    Or maybe eliminate the Family at the Holidays so you can move the author name to the top?

    Or put the name on two lines? And maybe a smidge to the left?

    • Those are all interesting thoughts.

      We have to pay for all our Shutterstock downloads, whether we use them or not. So I tend to be pretty conservative about junking an image we think will work. I found a radically different image, but both my partner in this particular crime and I fear Amazon won’t tolerate it — it really is…ahem! Erotic!!! The idea of two people driving and groping was hers, and then lo! We found exactly that in the image above. Ask and ye shall receive!

  4. I looked, very briefly, at some books on amzn and you also could try making “family at the holidays” smaller and one line.

    It seems shutterstock has some good images. I actually had the thought, I wonder if the images sometime spark a book idea.

    • Thanks for the advice!! 🙂

      No, so far as I know Shutterstock hasn’t inspired us; it kind of goes the other way around. We get the story in hand, and then we search for something that will illustrate it and suggest its tone.

      My authors are just amazing! They come up with THE best ideas, seemingly out of the blue. Sometimes I’ll emit a prompt (“Your most memorable quickie” is the basis of the series that will come out in December), but most of the time they dream up the series ideas, plus they sprinkle in a few free-standing tales. If you keep following us, you’ll be as amazed as I am at the creativity and energy of these writers.

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