Over the years of creating, advertising needs have arisen again and again. In my 20's I worked for a sign company, where I began to learn about ads. I learned the importance of keywords, colors, and even font styles and their roles in your ad.
Though the tastes of people change, the basics remain the same with advertising. When I started my freelance IT company, I began making ads for myself, which was more difficult than working for others. When working for other people, if they were happy, you were pleased. However, for people like myself, who are sometimes OCD, there always seems to be "one more thing" to tweak in things you do for yourself.
A color to change, a font to switch, a better image to find. Some of my IT company ads were ever-changing, which isn't a good thing when trying to brand yourself.
When I began to write and needed images and videos for book ads, I started with the most straightforward route, focusing my time and energy on writing an excellent book rather than branding and ads.
The first book I wrote was for my son-in-law, who I was trying to help start a business. He was out of work and seemed to be ready, willing, and capable of running his own business. I wrote a book about reducing greenhouse gasses and saving energy in your home. I wrote the book around the premise of "things you could do yourself" in your home.
The cover was green, of course, with a recycling symbol and lightbulb on the face of the book. I thought it was genius. Of course, the "energy efficient fluorescent" bulb I used twenty years ago has since been banned because of mercury (the poisonous heavy metal) used in its production, making it hazardous waste for disposal.
I enjoyed the entire process and decided to write another book—this time on the theology of heaven and hell, this too was enjoyable. I wrote another book to help those who felt led to work in the church understand the ordinances from scripture.
The original cover for this book was black leather with a simple title. A classic for the ministry, I thought.
Then I began writing my science fiction novels, and things changed for me. The covers were a little more critical. If you are looking for a book about the church's ordinances, you don't care what book cover it has.
However, when writing a novel, the cover must be an image of your entire work's context and content. No pressure.
Here is where I made what I felt was my error. My first novel, Pandemic Dawn, was a post-apocalyptic novel. Yes, there are self-aware AI beings, but the cover I chose, looking back, really didn't showcase the book itself.
I struggled with the cover and fell in love with an image I purchased the rights to that looked like one of the book's characters.
She would play a larger role in later books, and I should not have used it in the first novel. I didn't realize this until after a year of advertising my book, website, etc. Too late now! I didn't want to throw away a year's worth of branding to start over. Maybe I should have.
That Christmas, I came to realize the error of the first novel cover. My second novel was released nearly three months earlier, and my wife and I were doing our Christmas shopping when I saw it. The book cover of my first novel in the store! Only, it wasn't on my book cover. It was on a bottle of futuristic perfume!
A bottle of perfume had purchased the license to the same image I used for my novel cover. So much for exclusive branding.
I then began to worry about my second novel, whose cover I purchased from the same company as the first image.
It was then I decided to make a change in how I do things. I realized I know a lot of people from around the world. I have talked with people from all walks of life, from everyday people to movie stars. Why am I not employing their help? Why am I giving my hard-earned money to an organization where I don't know a single person there?
It was at that moment when I decided, hire locally first, then self-employed, or do it myself with the help of others.
The last thing I wanted for my novels was to have another book cover on a bottle of shampoo or diapers.
After I wrote Pandemic Dawn Book III: Day of Abomination, I decided to hire a local photographer to do a photo shoot for the book cover.
I searched my town looking for a young entrepreneur who could use the money and the experience, and bragging rights for their portfolio for future work. After searching for a few weeks, I found a young girl who was just about to graduate. I looked at her photos online and knew she had an eye and a natural talent. I emailed her and then met with her and her mother at a local café to talk business.
They were great! I thought to myself, why hadn't I thought of this years ago?
Next was to find models for the book cover. In Pandemic Dawn Book III: Day of Abomination, one of the storylines is about Makayla Atkins. We have experienced her character grow from a child to an adult, showcased as a central character in Book III.
I decided to make the cover reflect her story arc. The backdrop would be her family cabin where she grew up. It was a place hidden deep in the woods where she would later discover was a hiding place for her family. I chose to show Makayla as a little girl standing in front of the decrepit cabin holding her favorite teddy bear on the book's cover. She was lined up with her younger self, her adult self in front of the same house holding a pistol.
When you opened the book entirely and looked at the cover, you could see the image. I loved it!
So, finding the perfect models? I searched locally and found it difficult to find anyone who fit the book's description of Makayla as a young girl and her matured self.
Then I was playing with my daughter, and she grabbed one of her toys, and it hit me, my youngest daughter was the correct age and fit the description! Then my second thought was, my oldest daughter is a perfect match to my youngest!
Using the images of my daughters, I designed the book cover, and it came out wonderfully. It was what I was looking for and was perfect.
I realized, locally first, small business, do-it-yourself with friends help, needed to be my motto.
In my fourth novel in the Pandemic Dawn Series, Before the Sun Sets, I wanted the cover to showcase Tia because one of the story arcs focused on the Apartment Complex and her role.
Again, I began locally, then reached out and found an actress who mostly did voice acting. She fit the part, freelanced, and was multi-talented.
I hired her to make a video and be on the cover of Pandemic Dawn Book IV: Before the Sun Sets.
I also made a few videos for the previous books, where I did the acting, and friends and family did the filming.
I did all the editing, and things worked out fine.
In my latest novel, Losing Dani Strumm, I needed another model. Again, I began my search locally. I told my wife I was having trouble finding the perfect match for the book cover, and as I described the character, she said, you are describing someone we know!
And so, we found the perfect model for the cover of Losing Dani Strumm, locally! I will be revealing the book cover soon to those who have signed up on my website, www,BruceShields.us first, then the world.
So when it comes to ads, videos, book covers, editing, copy editing, whatever the need, locally first, small business second, do it yourself with the help of friends lastly.