#ArmchairBEA Day 2: Aesthetic Concerns - Books & Blogs

Brooke Banks | 6:00 AM | |

Armchair BEA

Hello all, back for Day 2! I'm here to answer more questions posed about aesthetic concerns for books and blogs.

The Books:

How often do you judge a book by its cover?

ALL.the.time. I have wanted and read books just because of cover love.

Do you strategize and make sure every book in your series has the same cover design (as far as you are able to) and type?

Gods, YES! For all the publishers that change a fucking series,
[fuck you, you ruin everything]

How often are you surprised by what you find?

Most of the time I’m pleasantly surprised, especially with Indie books/authors. Solid examples like Prepare by Geoffrey German and  The Fox’s Mask by Anna Frost have helped me get over covers. Well, at least look past them easier.

However, there are always those that don’t live up to the cover (*cough* Black City) or misrepresent it. But it’s shallow and often in the case of indie authors, elitist and my preferences will not always mesh with others. I love All Things Urban Fantasy’s Cover Art Coverage feature as a thorough, fun example.

But not only cover complains are equal. The most extreme serious side of misrepresentation is whitewashing. It’s a huge problem and while there have been some strides (mostly due to backlash TBH), it remains a symptom of a perpetuating disease.

There are plenty of examples documented in YA alone. Authors, like Rick Riordan, have zero control of it and even speaking out about it have to sit and wait until the publisher gets its act together.

And if you really have a doubt about whitewashing, here’s another takedown.

Here’s a  librarian discussing children’s covers with 6th graders on whitewashing, gender and body imagine. Part 1 & Part 2.

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 is VERY important. Yes, it’s a shallow thing and ”you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover” usually. Those cases are merely personally frustrating and I’ve felt ripped off and deceived by book cover before. That sucks but reviews are there to help out and it’s just something you get used to since people are so different. But it’s not always about personal preference like with whitewashing.

People may never stop doing it. We’re seemingly hardwired to make these snap judgements of worth based on looks and society’s values influence what we find attractive. Minorities deserve their correct, respectful, human representations in the media and breaking the cycle is huge.

A few token people, movies, and books is not the goal and will not solve this problem. The heteronormative white people society caters to needs to see and be exposed to others. It’s not happening in meatspace with segregated communities, sundown towns, and other such nonsense but popular media can reach them. Even if you think it’s too late for some people, it’ll be easier and better for the next generation. And if not? Fuck those close minded stupid motherfuckers, it’s not about them. It’s about given others a voice after being silenced.

This is, of course, is just a small piece of issues minorities face and we can fight back from all sides. It’s not necessary to focus on only “bigger” systematic social issues. This is something bloggers can support and make a difference in while pursuing your hobby with your friends. Which makes it sadder when people ignore or don’t bother with it.

The Blog:

As a book blogger, in whatever form that takes, branding is important. Your colors, your fonts, your style of review, all of these things come together to make the "brand" of your blog - something that makes your reviews and posts and websites, all your various content, immediately recognizable to the people looking for you. What do you do to create a brand on your site? Do you think about these things?

The most important advice that I’ve ever heard in this regard is focusing on what you want to project to prospective readers. Keep it simple and easily identifiable. You have one shot to make a first impression and after that, you don’t want to be forgotten or confused with someone else.

Mine is simple: I’m broke which does affect how I view things and what I blog about, I like the edgier, darker stuff so I’ve always loved the grunge look, and I love books that take me away with dragons, my favorite fantasy creature, a perfect way to express that. Books have saved life and helped me heal and grow as a person, which is why I love the dragon breaking me out of my prison header.

There’s tons of resources out there to do it yourself (I have a novella full of links from when I did it myself) of course. But if it’s overwhelming, too time consuming, or you don’t feel comfortable there are fabulous designers out there to assist. Mine is done by the amazing Parajunkee. Other awesome people to check out are Nose Graze, Imagination Designs, Bookish Lifestyles and Design by LC

Besides making it pretty, blog layout and accessibility have to be a priority. There are blogs that I cannot stand to visit because things are too crowded, too hard to read, and too hard to navigate. And for me, that’s personal preference. Others will not be able to read or use your site if you don’t actively make it possible.

Some starter resources to enlighten and instruct:
Marco’s Accessibility Blog
Blog Accessibility
The Great Accessibility Blog Roundup

As far as my style as a reviewer…. I’m still learning and growing. Writing takes me awhile and I’m rarely ever confident when I post. I’d mess with my reviews until the end of time trying to edit and “make it right”. So I have to limit myself and just post it. For me, what you read is what you get. And I’m probably the last person you should look to on advice on writing. Lol.

Speaking of which, it’s after midnight and I have to be up in less than 6 hours so, here it goes!

Let me know what you think in the comments. I'm excited to see everyone else's answers.

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