Yesterday was Friday, July 3 — an observed national holiday. That means a lot of people didn’t have to work. Several people called, wrote, or stopped by during the day and most made sure to tell me to enjoy my day off — or not to work too hard. A nice sentiment, but not one I can relate to. I love my job and am slightly addicted to designing things. The thought of a mandatory day off makes me shudder! I. MUST. DESIGN. SOMETHING!

Do you ever feel this way? Maybe it’s not design, but it could be writing, crafting, or whatever you enjoy. Of course, there are always too many things around the house to do and this could be a good chance to, oh, do the dishes, laundry, clean that messy counter, or go through another purge of the kids’ toys. It’s just that something inside of me screams out that I need to be designing.

Back to yesterday. Our daughter’s preschool was closed and Tom and I work from home. Our son, “Punkin,” is 10 (he’ll hate that I’m using that toddler nickname in public) and had half-day camp, but oh, what to do when “Doodlebug” is home and there’s work to do? Praise God for my darling hubby Tom, because he decided to take her grocery shopping, pick up Punkin and the neighbor boys from camp, and take them all out for lunch. JOY! I had the whole house to myself. Peace and quiet (but for the occasional scramble of dogs’ feet as they burst out the dog door to get the squirrel). It was a glorious several hours, first with my intern here and then alone with those fuzzy mutts and some good music.

Do you ever wonder if you’re a bad parent because you’d rather work than hang out watching My Little Pony with your child? I wonder that. Now, I love my kids and spending time with them, but I seriously struggle with separating wTLC-computer-my-little-ponyork and home. So far the kids don’t seem to be seriously damaged, but I’m determined to be more deliberate about my time with them. Right after I’m done with this post. Which is being written while I play My Little Pony birthday party with Doodlebug right next to my computer. 😉


OK, so I can’t remember the last time I posted here. I’d love to post at least once a week, but designing takes so much time that I don’t know when I’d write! And there’s running the business, kids’ schedules, you know. 😉 Anyhow, I was recently interviewed by a colleague, Michael Dowling, for his newsletter, The Write Stuff. He’s a fantastic editor, ghostwriter, and publishing professional. If you’ve ever wondered whether book design is a luxury or necessity, you’ll want to read this article. You may want to sign up for his newsletter, too, as it always contains great info about publishing and writing.

I’d love to know your experience with book design, good or bad! And I’ll do my best to start posting here much more often. Thanks bunches and blessings to you. 🙂

Just a short post to say how blessed we are to have been serving authors and publishers for more than sixteen years. What started as a freelance gig when I was in high school (26 years ago!) went full time as a legitimate business in December of 1997. Our work and designers have grown so much and we’re beyond blessed as the TLC Graphics family grows each week. Each of you clients — past, present, and future — is a treasured part of this family.

Thank you and may God bless you richly!

There are several fairly basic things to know as you’re writing, before you begin writing, and at least before you move forward with the production of your book. A good designer will want to know these details to be sure she’s creating a cover that will work for your genre and sales methods. Some of these are quite mundane, while others will require you to wear your marketing hat to answer.

  • Your book’s genre
  • Who are your target readers? Male % vs female %, age range, professional status, interest group
  • Are your target buyers different than your target readers? (Think gift books, children’s books, etc.)
  • Books with covers that appeal to you and why. They do not have to be within your genre.
  • Design styles, colors, art, etc. that are unappealing to you and why
  • Book that will be your competition. EVERY book has competitors, no matter how unique. A reader always has the choice to buy yours or one from another publisher.
  • Title and subtitle
  • How the author wants his/her name to appear
  • Is this book part of a series? The series title and titles of several books are very helpful to know up front, even if they may change later.
  • Likely trim size (dimensions of your finished book)
  • Will the interior be black and white or color?
  • It’s helpful to know how and where you may print

While it’s extremely helpful to know these things before hiring someone, your designer should be able and willing to assist you if you have questions.

Enjoy the planning process and if you are here because you took our class, Selling Power of Book Design, thank you for being there! We thoroughly enjoyed it and hope you did, too.


Awards seals for blogHi, guys!

I often hear this question, as awards season begins and people wonder if it’s worth it to spend their money on often pricey entry fees. Our clients win national awards every year and use the new status to actively renew their promotional efforts. It won’t hurt and can help, but be wise about the categories and competitions you choose. While winners usually get some sort of PR from the sponsoring organization, you must promote the book as an award winner to truly take advantage of the honor. Many of these will provide at least finalists and winners with judges’ comments, some provide them to all entries. These insights can be invaluable to your future publishing efforts. In the end, remember that you are simply asking professionals for their opinions — some are more objective than others. 😉

If you think that your book is honestly better than the vast majority of its competitors, you should consider entering a few of these competitions. This is a list of the main competitions for small, medium, and indy publishers, with the first three plus Mom’s Choice generally being the most prestigious. There are others out there for specific genres as well.

IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards:
(Deadline was Dec. 31.)

ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards:

Independent Publisher’s IPPY awards:

Midwest Independent Publishers Association (MIPA) Book Awards (regional competition):

Nautilus Book Awards:

Next Generation Indie Book Awards:

The National Indie Excellence Book Awards:

Eric Hoffer Award (along w/the Montagne Medal and da Vinci Eye also on their site):

Living Now Book Awards:

USA Best Book Awards:

International Book Awards:

Mom’s Choice Awards:

Do your research, produce the best books possible, and good luck! We’d love to know about your successes in the awards world! Share them here and practice your promotional bragging. 😉


If you’re an Austin-area writer looking for answers to your publishing and ebook questions, there’s a whole event waiting for you on Saturday, September 8th.

“Let’s Make Ebook Gold” is the topic for Business Success Center’s fall Entrepreneurs’ Day from 9:30am to 4:00 pm on Saturday, September 8th. Expert sessions will deal with content and cover preparation, contracts and copyright, pricing, publishing and marketing your ebook. Designed for first time ebook creators as well as those who already have experience. The event begins with a networking session for attendees to share their ebooks and ideas.

TLC Graphics’ Tom Dever will present “Content and Covers” in the morning, teaching the best way to format your content for the most popular formats (Kindle, Nook, iPad) and how to bring in graphics and design to make it an award-winner. See the role your cover plays and how it can be a huge asset.

PR by the Book’s Marika Flatt will be speaking in the afternoon session on all things publicity and publishing during her “Marketing Your Assets” session. Other session leaders include: Jan Triplett of Business Success Center and Monica Emilienburg of Richards, Rodrigues & Skeith. Come to the morning or afternoon session only ($50 per session) or all day ($75). Seating limited to 25, so register quickly.

For more details, go

Hi, guys!

This week I was asked by Marika Flatt of PR by the Book (great book publicity firm!) to write a guest post about the importance of book design. I was honored to do so. Hope you like it!


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