New Year, New Places, New Faces

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Happy 2018! We thought this turning over of a new year would be a good time to share a few changes that have been afoot at Behind the Book. First, we now officially have offices on both the east and west coasts that is, Rachelle heads up our Vancouver office on the west coast, while Carol has placed some roots on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Lured by the sandy beaches, great hiking, and proximity to new wild places to explore, Carol and her family have relocated to sunny (well, not yet anyway) Parksville, where the motto, "It's a Lifestyle: Live, Work, Play," struck a chord. While we continue to work with clients across Canada, Carol is excited to become part of the vibrant and growing self-publishing scene on Vancouver Island, with events like the North Island Writers Conference later this month.

One of the unexpected perks of our Vancouver Island office is that we're closer to two of our favourite printing reps: Craig Shemilt of Printorium Bookworks and Gerhard Aichelberger of Friesens, who work tirelessly to make sure our self-published authors get exactly what they need to make their books the best they can be.

We've also added a new designer to our team. Based in Vancouver, Jan Westendorp of Kato Design has years of experience as a book designer and photographer, and her keen eye for detail in typography and layout makes her books stand out from the crowd. We've also added digital publishing and author platform to our wheelhouse with Kaleeg Hainsworth and his team of techies at Bright Wing Books.  They work with us to help our clients create beautiful eBooks, as well as customize their online presence (yes, including the dreaded website).

So welcome 2018, and here's to great new changes, opportunities, and collaborations.

P.S. In celebration of our Vancouver Island office and its proximity to Nanaimo, we're sharing our favourite recipe for Classic Nanaimo Bars. Enjoy!

Is My Orange Your Orange?

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Nope, this isn't a post about Christmas oranges, and it's not a deeply philosophical exploration of consciousness either. But, it's still a good question: do we see colour the same way as others, and if not, what impact does that have on creating (or even reading) colour books?

Colour, especially on a cover, plays an important role in situating your book in the right genre and evoking the appropriate emotional response from your readers. Take the internationally bestselling For Dummies books. A lot of market research went into choosing the distinctive, vibrant yellow covers for the launch of the series (which was, incidentally, initially focused solely on software and technology topics, beginning with DOS for Dummies). Test groups found that the "happy" yellow colour evoked the non-intimidating nature of the guides, and they were easily recognizable as instructional/reference books. Today, no matter where you are in the world, those bright yellow covers, and the brand itself, is immediately identifiable.

And yet, according to the technicians at Friesens, colour is a never-ending challenge in the printing and publishing industry: "as we labour towards getting the perfect colours, the person next to us most likely will see colour differently." Even so, it is possible to get it "right." After all, one of our best cover designers is in fact colour blind, and he hasn't done a cover yet that has disappointed. Technology in colour standardization in both digital and press printing has improved in leaps and bounds, and whatever printer you're working with should be able to offer your designer guidance in calibrating their monitor for optimum colour effect and printer matching. Many printers, like Friesens, will even allow you to send test files of several interior pages well in advance of printing your book so that they can output high resolution proofs for you to review.

Colour has intrigued, and baffled, scientists, artists, and philosophers for ages (case in point, check out Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Theory of Colours, first published in 1810!). But if you just want to have some fun assessing the quality of your colour perception, try this colour vision eye test or the Munsell Hue Test.

And finally, we wish you a happy, and colourful, holiday season!      

It Was a Dark and Stormy Weekend ...

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We spent this past weekend dry and in the company of an eclectic group of writers at the sold-out 25th annual Surrey International Writers' Conference. Writers and speakers were there from all over the world, and along with the Vancouver Writers Fest that ran at the same time and the Whistler Writers Festival that took place the week before, this triumvirate of events really raises BC's cred on the literary landscape.

As always, it's great to talk to authors about their books and their publishing options, but what struck us about this event was the clear interest in, and commitment to, the craft of writing. Seasoned writers, editors, and industry professionals gave packed workshops on a myriad of topics from "Weaving a Character Web" and "Building Romance" to power editing, subtext, pacing, plot, point of view, and more. And that was just day one!

SiWC is clearly a terrific opportunity for learning, collaborating, and information sharing, but it's also a great place to enhance your writer's toolkit. Cast in point: Angela Ackerman and Bella Puglisi's series of thesauruses sold out on the first day. We know what you're thinking, and trust us, these are no Roget's. We had a chance to peruse the books before they were gone, and if you're writing fiction, these are must-have guides to crafting unique, emotionally compelling characters and adding depth and meaning to your storytelling. Check them out at Angela and Bella's bookstore.

And one final takeaway: consensus at the conference was that if you're writing your book in Word, you need to stop now and get your hands on Scrivener. This content-generation tool will change your writerly life. But don't take our word for it: click here for a free trial.

Happy writing, authors, and don't forget to mark your calendars for next fall's festivals!