It’s springtime! Snow is melting, the sun is out, and I’ve had a great “maker” weekend where all I’ve done is write, design, and further develop a couple of projects I’ve had going. A few days ago I wrote about taking the first steps towards establishing my author branding. The idea solidified a couple of days back, and so began three nights of furious illustration.
Since I still write part-time, my “money job” is still mercifully in a creative field. I’m a brand manager for a software developer, an evolution of an education in graphic design and brand identity development. I have a history of building weird stuff for clients who appreciate that sort of thing, but it’s much more difficult trying to build something weird for yourself while wanting to present a professional image. If you read young adult fiction, you might have seen some of my work already. I’ve produced designs for Kelly Creagh and Jessica Verday before; both ladies are YA paranormal authors. Jessica retired the site I designed for her a while ago to accommodate her expanding collection of work, but you can see the archive for The Hollow at my portfolio. Since I’ve been on contract with Villainess Soaps for years, I’ve also executed on the package design for the Wicked As They Come soap line; inspired by Delilah S. Dawson’s books. (There are more things you can do than produce book marks and teeshirts for your self-promotion, eh? One of these days I’m going to pay it back to Brooke Stant, owner of Villainess, and have her create out soaps for the Wake the Dead characters. For real.)
Anyway, I think I nailed it. I completed my logo, business card, and some preliminary stationary last night (for querying, obviously; totally not being self-indulgent at all, here. Oh no.) I thought I’d share with you how I’ve extended the design to incorporate website elements, my Facebook author page, my Twitter page, and my WordPress installation.
This is all stuff you can do too to customize your author brand experience fairly easily. I’m including a couple of the resources I used. Just check under the photos and snag what interests you.
I really, really like nice typography. The first draft of the manuscript for Wake the Dead is set in Vulpa in Scrivener, and I like the typeface so much that I included it in the branding. The ligatures (those little connecting lines that join the sp and ct in speculative fiction) are a really nice touch. It’s offered as a pay-for-use web font as well, so undoubtedly it will find its way onto this website when I have two seconds to upload the files.
If you’re bored with the default fonts on your computer and your website, I highly recommend checking out Google Web Fonts, Adobe Typekit, or if you’re really indulgent, Hoefler Frere & Jones. Depending on which service you opt for, there are a number of ways to integrate them on your site, even if you’re technophobic and you never want to look at your backend WordPress installation. (There are plugins to do it for you.) Hell, even if you’re not bored with the default fonts, you can differentiate yourself from the hoards of other default font users and do something elegant.
The masthead is set in Gotham. Because Gotham is perfect. It’s like a hug for your eyes even after you’ve stared at your computer screen for fourteen hours straight.
I haven’t yet printed anything, as deceptive as these mockups might be. I’m hellbent on getting the cards letterpressed with painted edges, but the process is expensive, and let’s face it; while I’m not a starving artist, I’m not exactly swimming in offers yet. If you’re interested in what letter pressing looks like, I encourage you to check out these guys on Etsy.
A cheaper alternative for good quality, painted-edge business cards (without letterpress) is Moo’s Luxe line. Great paper. Nice and thick, and they’ll let you customize your design — or don’t. They’re pre-made templates are actually quite nice if you’re not Photoshop-savvy like that.
How much time do you really spend on your WordPress login page? Not all that much, I’d imagine. It’s a gateway that lets you into your dashboard. I’m there for all of two seconds before I leave the page behind, but you know, there’s something infinitely coming home-y about seeing your own iconography on that page.
I’m using the My WordPress Login Logo plugin. It’s light. It’s easy to use. And it doesn’t screw up the rest of the CSS on the page, misaligning the form and everything else that falls under it. Also, if you’re using a computer or mobile device with a retina screen, you can upload an image @2X (twice the normal size) and set a normal height and width to crunch it down to regular dimensions so it displays in high resolution on your MacBook. Pixellation sucks.
For example: I saved and uploaded the graphic at 640 pixels x whatever the height is, but set the image dimensions in the plugin to 340 x whatever half the height is. Displays nice and crispy on my retina screen. Oh, and it lets you upload direct to your media gallery. All you have to do is point to the image URL. Real snazzy.
I realize I’m breaking a couple of best-practices rules with Facebook, but you know what? I have three likes. So screw best practices. (It’s recommended that you use a photograph in the place of your user icon because it’s more personable. For the moment, whatever. In my previous user icon I had my hair dyed pink, I was chugging a pint of beer, and giving the camera the finger. Possibly why I still only have three likes.)
Which, by the way, if you’d like to remedy, you may do so by Liking My Facebook Page. I will love you forever.
This tip is for those of you running Photoshop. You can fiddle around with your user image and cover to your heart’s content, or you can download the Social Kit Plugin that generates social media templates with editable layers that let’s you load your graphics into the file and export each individual image at the prescribed sizing.
The Social Kit Plugin also works for Twitter, YouTube, and Google+.
I hope this post was helpful. If you’ve got any questions on integrations, please drop me a comment. I’m here to help. Additionally, I’m always happy to take recommendations. If you’ve found useful tools that have helped you build our your branding, you must tell me. I really like to nerd on this stuff.